Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Case of the Missing Comments

Am I the blog commentor who never leaves? When you see my comment on your blog, do you cringe?

I'll tell you why I'm asking.

Because recently, I'm beginning to think that Blogger has it out for me. Seriously.

Now, I don't know if it's the long day I had that is causing me to think that ... or paranoia ... or perhaps the glass of wine I had with dinner ... but I really think that when Blogger sees me commenting, it decides, "Hey, it's that Leanne chick .... let's mess with her!"

You see, the past few computer jaunts I've taken have brought me to some really awesome blogs ... (none of which I can recall at this very moment, again, that must be the glass of wine's fault.) But I visited some wonderful places. And I commented. Lovely, witty, charming comments (of course). Now, being the obsessed person I am, I have RE-visited some of those blogs, to see if the owners of said blogs had anything lovely, witty, charming to say in return to my lovely, witty, charming comment (do you see the pattern here?).

Anyway, I return to the comments and find ..... HEY .... my comment is not there.

Wait a minute. I left a comment (or so I thought I did!)

Where did it go?

So then I am faced with a decision .... do I RE-comment? (and take a chance that the first one won't magically appear, just as it disappeared, and present myself as the girl who just can't get enough of her lovely, witty, charming self?) Or, do I let it go, and worry that perhaps the owner of the lovely, witty, charming blog decided that I am, in fact, not that lovely after all? Maybe the owner of the blog ... deleted me. Could it be?

Augh!

So, I'm throwing this out there to all my dear blogland friends. Have you ever commented on a blog - then found that it was ... gone? What do you do? I'd love to know, because this has me quite perplexed. What do you think? Should I RE-comment? And be non-officially christened as The Comment Stalker? Perhaps I need to change my button from this . . . .

to this . . .

Oh, No!!!

My inquiring mind REALLY wants to know what you think . . . so feel free to comment. I promise . . . . I won't delete you!!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Obsessions

Do you remember the Calvin Klein add campaign back in the 80's for Obsession perfume? I just watched an old commercial from 1989 on You Tube and it cracked me up. Back then I remember thinking that if I actually wore the perfume I would be as cool as the people in that commercial. (I'm so glad I grew out of that phase.)
(image from Calvin Klein Obsession commercial)

What's funny is that I never really had my own bottle of Obsession. My sister did, though. That's probably another reason why I liked the perfume so much. My sister is 8 years older than me and I have always looked up to her. If she liked Obsession back then, then I must, too. Yes, Obsession was my obsession.

These days, my obsessions range from seltzer to hair products. Still, I have those "things" that I can't live without. Here is a little list of things that I must have every day (or pretty close to it):

CANFIELD'S SELTZER
Seriously. I CAN NOT LIVE without Canfield's Seltzer - original flavor. I know, crazy, huh? I don't know when it started, but this is my all time beverage of choice. It's also what I lean most towards when I'm feeling verklempt [Side note: Natalie from "Mommy of a Monster" - If you are reading this ... VERKLEMPT ... now THERE'S a word for your weekly meme!! Don't you think? ; )] Anyway, I had to have Canfield's seltzer in the labor and delivery room when I was giving birth to both of my daughters, and if I don't have at least 1 can in the fridge at all times ... I'm a wreck!!!
COSTCO
I am a Costco addict! I LOVE this store ... and I always manage to get myself into BIG TROUBLE when shopping at Costco. I mean, do I REALLY need a bag of 100 HUGE Vidalia onions? I don't even like French Onion soup! Seriously! But, I need them! Where else can I buy 10,000 drinking straws and eat lunch for $1.25? LOVE my Costco!

 
HUMMUS
I've written about my obsession with hummus before. It's still there ... going strong. What's really PERFECT, is that they SELL HUMMUS at COSTCO! (I KNOW! I'm in HEAVEN!) I really can't live without my hummus. Yum!

 
STARBUCKS COFFEE
I know. I've had my ups and downs with Starbucks. I've tapped their drive-thru window and lived to tell about it. I've been angry with their employees over their lack of customer service. But when it comes down to it ... I'm a Starbucks Coffee Junkie, and just walking into a store and smelling their coffee brings an immediate smile to my face. Hmmmmm... Starbucks.
Side note: PG is/was a BIG Battlestar Galactica (the newer one) fan. Battlestar Galactica was a Sci-fi show that ran on the Sci-Fi network for 4 years starting in 2004. Anyway, I used to watch the show with him, believe it or not. What he doesn't know is that the only reason I watched it was because they had an awesome female character whose nickname was Starbuck. Her character used to kick-b*** and I loved that!
I LOVE my Starbucks!!!

L'OCCITANE LAVENDER EAU DE TOILETTE
I have definitely graduated from Obsession perfume. And for the past 8 or so years, the only fragrance I wear is Lavender Eau de Toilette from L'Occitane. It is me .... all me ... and the ONLY thing I wear every single day. I can't live without it!

REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NEW YORK
Ok, this one is really ridiculous (as if the seltzer, hummus and coffee wasn't enough), but this is truly one of my worst vices .... I can not live without my Real Housewives shows on Bravo TV. I KNOW. I am so disappointed in myself. But, it's terribly addictive and I can honestly say that I get 100% pure enjoyment from this show (the New York one, specifically ... although I have also been setting the DVR for New Jersey and am quite hooked on that one, too!) I have to tell you how I got hooked on these shows.
A number of years ago my neighbor, Tony, was injured on the job and had to have surgery on his shoulder. He was off work for a number of months, and during his recovery he was stuck at home (and really desperate for adult conversation) for close to 10 months. One day he and I were talking and he said, "Leanne, I gotta tell you. I'm hooked on this darn Real Housewives show on Bravo. Do you watch it?" and I rolled my eyes and said, "Tony, you have GOT to be kidding me??? YOU are watching Real Housewives??" At the time, I had not caught even a commercial, let alone sat down to watch the show at all. But, being the kind and caring neighbor I am, ;) I decided to watch an episode (or two, three, four, maybe, 50), so that I could converse with dear Tony about his new favorite hobby. Can you believe it? I still love to tell people that TONY got me hooked on Real Housewives (and he would absolutely KILL me to know that I was writing about it now, so ... mums the word, ok?)
REDKEN GUTS 10
And as we are talking about "REAL HOUSEWIVES", I'll share my final obsession with you, the thing that makes me "real" .... Redken Guts 10 volumizing mousse. I can't live without it. My hair would not know what to do with itself if not gently persuaded to lift, with the help of this awesome product! LOVE this stuff! Just love it!


So there you have it, my day in, day out obsessions. Things that I absolutely LOVE and hope to never have to live without. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I am blessed to have things that make me happy in my life. And what the heck, if the Real Housewives of NY make me smile ... well ... so be it, right?

What about you? What are your obsessions? I'd love to know!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Love from a happy "almost" 7 year old

This week, our Katie Girl is turning 7... Wow.

I can't believe that this baby

was once this little girl,

who has, before my very eyes, turned into this big girl. 

This weekend, as we enjoyed some special snuggle time on the couch, I asked her to stop getting older. I did. And I meant it. Because if I could have stopped the clock and hugged her forever, I might have just done that. "Honey, would you please stay just the way you are ... just for a little while?" I asked her. "I can't," she answered,"I am going to get older, Mom." 

I bent down and kissed the top of her head, just as I have done so many times during the past 7 years, and I thanked God for sending me this beautiful little girl.

"What am I going to do when you are old enough to have a house of your own?" I asked her. "Oh, don't worry, Mom," she said, "I will always love you." And with that, she leaned up and kissed me, just as she has done so many times the past 7 years. What more could I ask for?

Yes. Life is good. Again.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

My Creative Juices are Flowing!!!

When I was 16 years old, I had a job working weekends and holidays as an Admitting Clerk for a southside Chicago hospital. It was a great job for a 16 year old to have and it really helped me in building some great morals and a strong foundation for the work force. I am very blessed for the lessons I learned at that job. And believe me, I was constantly learning.

My Mom was the Business Office supervisor of this same hospital (yes, that was my "in"). Mom was very well respected, and there were very high expectations put on me to do my job well because I was "Carol's daughter". I worked with a great group of ladies who were ALL my "Mom". There were about 8 women in the Admitting Department alone, plus an additional 25 to 30 women at the Business Office, and they ALL looked after me. I was educated on the fine art of registration and insurance verification, and then moved on to learn the ins and outs of the "Bed Board" (the actual board that displayed every room in the hospital, and who was coming, going, or in each room.) Yes, I was given wonderful opportunities while there and I moved on and up to a number of different positions during my employment. But, like any artist, I was not satisfied. It did not fill my creative void, so I left many years ago. I never looked back, but I will never forget the sisterhood of the women in the Admitting and Business Offices. They were a pretty special bunch of ladies, and I owe a great deal to them.

One of the women I worked closely with was a strong willed, hot tempered Lithuanian named Jovita. I loved working with Jovita. She was proud of her job, and so very supportive of me during our time working together. She knew that I was an Artist, and that my life long goal was not to play the role of Master of the Bed Board, and she supported my dreams so very often. 

Our office had a small bulletin board on that wall that Jovita and I, together, would decorate the beginning of each month. That day was always the BEST day at work because I was able to be CREATIVE. Each time we would start the project, Jovita would say, "Well, Leanne, are your creative juices flowing? What should we do this month?" and off I would go explaining this vision or that vision I came up with for that months board. Whatever I wanted to do, Jovita approved. She let me create freely and openly, and I will never forget that. She took a chance on me, and I owe so much to her.

This week, I've been fortunate to have a couple more people "take a chance" on me. And I am thrilled. You see, I've been CREATING!!! and it is so rewarding. I am spreading my wings . . . all thanks to the encouragement I am receiving from this amazing e-course. I am believing in myself, trying new things, sleeping very little (which is probably the only downside), but I'm awake because I am INSPIRED to CREATE. I feel . . . . empowered. Really.

So, I have been given the opportunity to create some blog headers & buttons for a few blog friends. SERIOUSLY. I mean, who would have thought, huh? Do you know that line from the movie "If you build it, they will come"? Well, I really believe in that ... if you put it out there, the universe will return it. If you put positive energy out there, the universe will return it in some form or another.

So, about a month ago, I added a little tab in my labels above that says "Blog Design", and low and behold, some wonderful people contacted me!!! HOLY COW!!!  I've been so excited, I wanted to share the designs with you (click on the "buttons" to link to their actual blogs). So, without further ado, I give you . . .



 











Can I tell you how cool it is to look at these blogs and see my work? My ideas? My designs? It's cool. It's really really cool. I think Jovita would be SO proud of me, and I'd gladly tell her, "Jo - my creative juices were flowing!!!"

So, that's what I've been doing this week . . . how about you? Anything exciting going on with you?

Oh, and 1 more thing . . . if you (or someone you know) is interested in what I'm doing and would like me to design a header or button, please leave a comment below or email me at chaostohappiness@gmail.com. I hope to get more info up on the "blog design" tab soon, but until then - feel free to email me. I think this might be the start of something really wonderful. . . and I'd love to have you along for the ride.

Have a great Saturday!!!

Friday, June 25, 2010

HURRY UP!!! The tornado is coming!!!!

I’ve got issues . . .

They say that admitting you have a problem is the first step in recovery, right?

Well, I’ve got issues. And I’d like to tell you about one of them. . .

Wednesday evening we were in the midst of a crazy rain storm here in Chicago. It was BAD. It’s as if the heavens opened up and the angels threw a party (or poured at least a gazillion gallons of water) down on all of us. Trees limbs were flying through the sky, lightening made it look like it was Studio 54 outside the window, and the thunder … lordly, lordly … the thunder ... it was bad.

PG was driving home from work in the middle of all of it. I was nervous and really worried about him. I wanted to call and check in, but didn’t want to take his focus off of his driving. We had the local news channel on, which dedicated its whole broadcast to the storm. There were tornado and flash flood warnings everywhere. It was a doozie.

In between pacing, calling PG to find his whereabouts, and keeping myself calm (as to not cause any unnecessary stress on the girls), I started to clean the house … and that is when my most recent Random Thinking Moment carried me away …

Because, you know, if a tornado comes and hits my house . . . what will the neighbors think if I have a sink full of dishes and crumbs on the floor? (Seriously). I feverishly took to the dust mop and vacuum, working against the clock (or in my case, the tornado). I kept thinking to myself, “Hurry, Leanne! The tornado is coming!!! You’ve got to get the dishes done and put away!” and “HURRY UP GIRLS!!! Put those toys away!!! Get that rug vacuumed!!!! There might be a tornado, and we don’t want the house looking like a mess for the emergency crews!!!! What would they think????” I mean, seriously . . . this is what I was thinking . . .

So, you see, I’ve got issues.

About 1 hour later, after things settled down, PG walked in from his long ride home. I was still cleaning and by this time, vacuuming the family room. “What are you doing?” he asked (because, you see, he doesn’t see me using that vacuum very often.) “I’m vacuuming,” I told him, “I was afraid a tornado was going to hit the house, and I didn’t want things to be in a mess.”

Seriously. Yes, I’ve got issues.

And I think PG is praying for more rain ... heck, he might come home to find a hot meal on the table if it storms again! ; )

How about you? Any issues you wish to share?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

If I Could Turn Back Time

No, don't worry. I'm not about to break out with a medley of Cher songs right now, although I've got a pretty awesome long blonde wig that I .... WAIT ..... STOP!!!! Ignore that! ; )

This post is actually going to be a serious one. Well, somewhat serious. Because right now, I'm feeling pretty awful. You see, I'm fairly certain that I have ruined my child.

Ok, let me start at the beginning . . . if you don't mind - I'd like to bounce this one off of you. Every parent I know thinks that their children are the best in the world, right? Well, I am no exception to that. If you know me, you know that I absolutely adore my daughters. They are pretty amazing girls who are full of joy and fun. They mean the world to me. For real.

My eldest daughter, Katie, is . . . incredible. She's definitely an old soul - a smart thinker with amazing problem solving skills. She knows me so well, and loves me anyway. She believes in me, when I don't believe in myself. That's why what I am about to share with you makes me so very disappointed in myself.

Have you ever said something and the minute it comes out of your mouth it's like a little bubble floating in the air that you wish you could just pull back in? Well, this is what happened with Kate. About a month ago, she did something that I questioned. Actually, I must have been annoyed by it. So I said, "Katie, why would you do that? Really. I don't know what you were thinking. Use your brain, child."

Ok.

That was it.

I told her to "use her brain". And while it may not sound like a terribly horrific thing to say, the minute it came out of my mouth I felt like it was a little too harsh for what was happening. The truth is, I can't even remember what it was that she did that annoyed me so much (that tells you how important it was, right?)  Anyway, I feel bad saying those words to her. And it has bothered me ever since. I keep thinking that that is not the way to build up her confidence. That is not the way to get her to believe in all she is doing and believe in who she is. That is not the way I would talk to others, and not the way I would like her to talk to others. My job as a parent is to lead by example, right? What example was I setting to her?

So, this is where the kicker really comes into play. I terribly regret saying those words to her. (SIDE NOTE: If you don't know me, I'll share that I really am not one to regret anything. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and to regret something that I may have done in my past does nothing for my present or my future. Every single thing I have done in my past has brought me to this place where I am today. If anything from my past would be different, I would not be where I am now. And right now, I am in a really good place. So, I spend very little time on regrets. But this is one.) Anyway, a number of times since that day, Katie has referred to that comment. Not directly, but for an example; yesterday it rained and after the rain, the girls decided to go play outside. Katie had nice shoes on, and decided to come in and change her shoes. When I asked her why she was coming back inside so quickly after just leaving, she said, "I used my brain, Mom, and decided I didn't want my nice shoes to get dirty."  (Augh ... I felt so bad that she said that.)

Last week she was doing something and I asked her what she was doing and she said, "I'm using my brain, Mom," and on she went to explain her thoughts.

On one hand I feel like maybe I did a good thing and reminded her that she has a brain - that she can make really smart decisions - and that is a really good thing. But on the other hand, I think that I said an awful thing to her and I ruined my daughter.

I am probably too close to the situation to see it clearly. So, I guess I am looking to my blog friends for their input and to share your stories. Have you ever said something and regretted it? Have I damaged my daughter, who I truly love with all my heart?

I'm looking for a little guidance from those far wiser than me. Please feel free to share your thoughts . . . I appreciate them all!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Note to Self: Don't quit your day job!

Part of my 2010 TaDa List was to improve my photography skills - not only in the actual picture taking department, but in the whole photoshop (and doing fun things with the pictures) department as well. I feel as if I have been lagging behind in that whole creative venture. So last night was the night. I sat at the computer for what seemed like hours and worked in photoshop, trying to make something creative from this shot . . .


I do think the photo above is a lovely, but it's pretty much the subject that makes it so. These are some absolutely beautiful hydrangea's that my mother-in-law gave me from her garden. They really are as beautiful as they look. But I had a vision to do something more with the picture. So, here is my attempt at layers, texture, and Adobe photoshop . . .



I have to tell you - I kind of like it. I am not a computer guru. I haven't taken a class or been schooled, at all, on this stuff (which, by the way, had me thinking that I really should pick up Photoshop for Dummies!) Working on this was really frustrating, yet so rewarding when it started to actually look like the vision in my head. I was completely out of my comfort zone, but decided that it really is something I want to learn more about. I love taking a photograph and turning it into even more. 

Be on the lookout for more photo creations. I may need your help and feed back as I focus a little bit on this next creative adventure of mine. In honor of my new found interest in photography, a quote . . .

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It's about finding something interesting in an ordinary place... I've found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” - Elliott Erwitt

and, a question . . . Have you done something lately that has taken you out of your comfort zone? Have you done something that you never thought you would, but always wanted to? Please share . . . I'd love to know.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Peaches & Peace - in a grocery store

The other night, while grocery shopping, I had an epiphany.

It was an amazing moment. I felt peace. REAL peace. In the produce section of a grocery store. If you don’t mind, I'd love to tell  you about it  . . .

I think they play the best music in my local grocery store. I really do. I’m not sure if it is a tape that they change out seasonally, or some CD that their corporate office mails to them with the orders to play it, or both. I’m certain there have been millions of tests and surveys done to determine the very best music to listen to when buying onions, or perhaps the very best music to play when deciding between Frosted Mini-Wheats or Cheerios. I imagine some Board of Directors sitting in a big conference room listening to Barry Manilow while eating Cocoa Puffs and saying, “Hmmmm… this goes well together! Yes, Barry Manilow makes the list!!”

But, what I’m sure they don’t expect is for someone somewhere to have a break-through regarding their life’s journey while walking through their store.

The other day, I had a moment like that. I was sorting through the peaches looking for the perfect peach to include in PG’s Father’s Day breakfast when all of a sudden, I heard it … My Song … my song from about 15 years ago. The song? “What’s Up” by 4 Non-Blondes. Who the heck is 4 Non-blondes? Well, if you are my age (eh-hem, 39), you definitely know them, and their one hit wonder “What’s Up?”. I was 25 when this song came out. I am certain of this because the first line of the song reminds me …

25 years in my life and still
I'm trying to get up that great big hill of hope
For a destination
I realized quickly when I knew I should
That the world was made of this
brotherhood of man,
for whatever that means

[Chorus:]
And So I cry sometimes when I'm lying in bed
Just to get it all out what's in my head
And I, I Am feeling a little peculiar
And So I wake in the morning and I step
Outside and I take deep breath
and I get real high
And I scream from the top of my lungs
What's goin' on

And I SING hey-YEAH-YEA-EAH, EAH HEY YEA YEA
I said hey! what's goin' on
And I SING hey-YEAH-YEA-EAH, EAH HEY YEA YEA
I said hey! what's goin' on

This song was my anthem back then … I was 25, I didn't know who I was or what I wanted, but I was searching for a better destination. There was no “I Will Survive” for me, for I hadn’t experienced anything to survive at the young age of 25. But, I did feel like I was trying to “get up that great big hill” of hope … all of the time. When I hear that song I immediately remember how I felt at that time in my life. I was searching. I was … lost.

You know the saying “life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans” (John Lennon said it in a song once.) Well, the other night, as I shopped for the perfect peach to make my husband a special Father’s Day breakfast, I realized it … I had found my destination.

At the age of 25, I did not know what my destination was. I was trying to get there. I was going up hill. I prayed. I cried. I searched.

And holy cow … there I stood in the produce section and realized … I found it. My life, right now, IS IT. My marriage. My children. My joys. My sorrows. My passions. Art. Writing. Laughing. THIS is exactly where I was meant to be. THIS is ME.

And right there, in the grocery store, I was at peace.

And I try, oh my God do I try
I try all the time
In this institution
And I pray, oh my God do I pray
I pray every single day
For a revolution

THAT was a really amazing moment. Yes, life is good.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Welcome The Blogger's Concierge!!!!

My dear blog friend Melissa over at Miel et Lait is starting a new online bloggers group called, The Blogger's Concierge! How exciting, don't you think? I think the whole blogging network is filled with pretty amazing people, and I am proud that Melissa (and Gigi from KludgyMom) is taking this opportunity to form a new network of folks to connect with. It's pretty cool to me, and I like it . . . (did I say I was proud of Melissa? Yep, I guess I did. And, I'm not her mom, I'm not her sister, I'm not her aunt. I'm just someone who reads her blog . . . and I think it's cool when you get to see someone growing in the blog world. I think what she and Gigi are doing is really fantastic. So, yes, I'm proud!)

SO, right now The Blogger's Concierge is on the look-out for their A-List Bloggers. And, heck, I want to be on that list! I mean, I hate to miss a good party, really, I do! And I have this unhealthy Mary Tyler Moore fear of having a party and no one showing up (... that's how days without comments feel, you know? Like I just had a little blog party, but no one came to it. Bummer, right?) So, I want to be a part of this new network . . . I want to be an A-List Blogger! And perhaps I'll be able to tell a few stories to some more friends. Perhaps I'll gain a couple more followers. Perhaps I'll see a few more comments. And perhaps my heart will grow with the friendships I'll make from these new blogfriends. Because, after, it's been a great blogventure, hasn't it?

To be part of their A-List Bloggers, I have to tell them about my blog. . . .

Hmmmmm. . . that's . . . . hard to do. What do you think? What is my blog about?

It's really not a Scrapbook Blog. It's really not totally a Mommy Blog.  It's really not a Home Decorating Blog or a writing blog. It's a blog filled with little day to day stories about my life, and how I see things. When I look at my labels on the right sidebar of this post (of the 220'ish stories I have told) 53 have something to do with CRAZINESS and 83 include stories of ME. So, I guess my blog is about CRAZY ME, huh?

Hmmmmm . . . . I don't know if that will make me A-List.

I guess the biggest thing I try to do is tell a story about something that I am feeling, something I have experienced, something that has moved me in one way or another. And I share that moment with some of my dearest friends (my blog friends), in the hopes that my story will warm their hearts and make them smile.

I think that's really what I try and do here. Is that A-List? I'm not sure. But I do know that this isn't the right place if you are looking for give-aways. There are definitely better blogs out there if you are looking for photography tips. Or for really amazing Scrapbook pages.

But what you will get is honest, truth, and stories from the heart (like this one), stories that will inspire you (like this one) and stories that will make you laugh (like this one or this one) . . . because I believe we all need more laughter (oh, and this one, too.) I don't know. What do YOU think? What type of blog do I have? I'm not really sure. . .

It's just about my life, "From Chaos to Happiness", and what a wonderful life it is!

Hmmmm . . . Adventure? Anyone?

Ok, I have a problem. I think I upset PG yesterday. Yep, on Father's Day of all days.

(Ok, not really. But close.)

Because, as we were driving home from my in-laws (remember? The most magical place on earth?) I came to a realization that kind of upset PG.

What was this realization, you ask?

I, lady of adventure and happy chaos and lover of life and experiences, really really really hates the heat.

I do.

I hate it. It makes me cranky. I don't like being cranky.

Once my crevices start a'sweatin' and my hair starts a'frizzin', that's when I call on the almighty air-conditioning Gods to come and do their things. You see, I am a firm believer that crevices just shouldn't . . . sweat. Seriously. And yesterday, it was a hot one.

So as we drove back from the in-laws, PG started talking about what adventures we want to take the kids on this year. . . and he mentioned the possibility of heading back to Wisconsin for their State Fair in August. We went last year (if you remember) and it was a lovely time. But ... it was hot there. Really hot. See . . .

I mean, that was pretty hot. I was pretty warm (and don't you just love the glasses? The one on my nose AND the one on my head?) Yes, I don't like the heat.

But, not ALL heat. I mean, I can handle heat when I am here . . .

(Jamaica 2004, pool side) Or even here . . . .
(same trip) Just NOT here . . .

So, we have to come up with something.

I blame my Dad (isn't that AWFUL? The day after Father's Day and I'm blaming my DAD?!?) If you don't remember, my Dad was a butcher. Well, because of that (and because he worked in a cooler everyday), we were one of the first homes with central air conditioning on our block when I was young. CENTRAL AIR. Ahhhhh, just the sound of it is lovely, isn't it?

So, when it was warm out, like, 75 ; ), Dad would put the air on. He had to (he would get sick in the really hot heat. So, I grew up . . . spoiled.

Heat makes me cranky. Sweaty crevices make me cranky.

SO, maybe I'll have to figure out a way to get here . . .


I mean, I'm ALWAYS up for an adventure!!
; )

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Crafty Project!!

One of the little things I had to do for Katie, when we first put up a "park" for her in the backyard, was a make a sign declaring it what it was . . . "Katie's Park". While the little swing and slide play yard might not have been the biggest or best on the block, it was SO special to her because it clearly WAS hers. All hers. Here's a little photo of "Katie's Park", circa 2006:


Today, the park is still the same, only the baby swing has been replaced with rings, and there are a few coats of stain on the wood. It is one of the best investments we've made in our backyard, and the kids still play on it daily.

While it has taken me a few years to re-do the sign, this weekend we proudly changed it to "Katie & Ella's Park". Here are a few photos from the project before, during and after. . .

It starts with a simple piece of wood . . .


and some paint . . .


add a couple of beautiful names, and a flower or two . . .


 do the same on the back side . . . 


and you have two happy little girls who feel so very very special!

We are enjoying some wonderful days outside this weekend. Hope you are having a wonderful weekend, too! Go find a park and play a little . . . you'll be so glad you did!

I shared this post with Holly over at 504 Main, as part of her Friday "Tickled Pink" festivities! Do you know Holly or 504 Main? Take a look at her blog for more info . . . she's a clever one!!!!

504 Main

Friday, June 18, 2010

Iced Venti Coffee, cream only, NO Sweetener, please . . .

That’s my summer beverage of choice. It has been for a while. I am not a sweet coffee drinker. And in the summer, I love my coffee on ice . . . it’s so refreshing and brings an instant SMILE to my face when I have it. The order seems easy enough, don’t you think? No bells or whistles. No syrups or potions. Nothing special . . . just the coffee, some cream, and a few ice cubes. Easy. Right?

Evidently, not.

Because three times in the past month I have left my local Starbucks with the wrong coffee. I’ve left with SUGARY SWEET coffee.

And that makes me . . . cranky.

I don’t like being cranky.

So, this week I went back into Starbucks with the wrong coffee, and asked for the right coffee. Because, as you know, this coffee is not free. I pay for it. (It’s my vice. My Iced Venti Coffee, cream only, NO Sweetener, coffee. That, and the Real Housewives shows on Bravo – but that’s a post for another day.) I digress, so today I became a little cranky upon my return to Starbucks.

I don’t mean to be a coffee snob – but, I love coffee. And I really do love Starbucks coffee. And I am not brainless, I KNOW how to order my coffee. I’ve perfected the ordering process. I order, very clearly, ICED VENTI COFFEE, CREAM ONLY, NO SWEETENER. Can’t get any clearer than that, right?

Why is it that when I drove back to the Starbucks (after having the first sip sitting at my desk in my office), and when I went to the counter and said, “They gave me the sweetened coffee by mistake, I ordered mine with NO Sweetener” did the employee say, “Oh, ummm, No. I don’t think you did. You ordered it Sweetened”? She was seriously going to argue with me. "No, I specifically asked for it to not have sweetener. I do understand that the iced coffee comes sweetened, which is why I always ask for it without sweetener." I replied. Yes, I was seriously going to argue with her. She kind of looked at me like I had two heads. I looked at my reflection in the window . . . nope. Just one head. One cranky head.

You see . . . I have never worked at a Starbucks. Maybe their customer service model is different then what I might expect. I would hope that any service oriented place of business would understand that the CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT.

Especially when the CUSTOMER frequents your establishment as often as 3 times a WEEK. Oh, and not to mention that the customer is PAYING. See, the CUSTOMER is ultimately PAYING the employee’s salary, right? Therefore, I digress, the CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT. Because, without the CUSTOMER, there is no need to sell coffee, right? Without the CUSTOMER, there is no way to PAY the employee. RIGHT? So, again, the CUSTOMER is ALWAYS RIGHT. Especially when the customer IS RIGHT.

And let me tell you . . . I am usually a really HAPPY and really NICE customer. Really. I am generally a really happy and really nice person. I am not one to go into a Starbucks and create a ruckus. I don’t do that. That’s not me.

But, if they give me SWEETENED COFFEE ONE MORE TIME, I may have to do that. Because that makes me really, really cranky.

I don’t like being cranky.

(Dear dear blog friends, thanks SO MUCH for letting me vent. I can usually have a pleasant outlook about pretty much anything . . . that is, UNTIL you mess with my coffee . . . and messing with my coffee WHEN I AM PMSing is just about the worst thing that one could do!!! Yes, I know. That probably explains a lot, huh? But, seriously, shouldn't the customer be right??)

PHOTO CREDIT: taken from here.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Gotta Love Pie!

When I was down and out last week, PG made a pie. Seriously. A Cherry Pie. From Cherries that we picked at my in-laws. Seriously.

My in-laws have the most wonderful, magical place on earth . . . I'm pretty sure of it (although, I haven't been to Disney World yet, and I hear it's pretty magical there. Until I get to Disney, I'm going to classify my in-laws home as the most wonderful, magical place on earth!) Especially if you are my daughters. . .

because, at Nana and Papa's, life is . . . fanTAStic! I mean, where else can you . . . drive a tractor? Throw stones in a River? Pick Cherries? Swing from a willow? Run and laugh for hours and hours? Here are some photos taken from the day (again, forgot the camera at home . . . augh! But the handy trustworthy camera phone was oh-so useful!)


Ok, but back to the pie, right? Yes, the pie. Here is a close-up, just ready for the top crust . . .

 
And just out of the oven . . .

Can you smell it? It was . . . DELICIOUS!!! Gotta love that Phil Guy! He is not afraid of the kitchen - at all! And there is something so sexy about a man cooking and baking, don't you think?

Hmmmmm . . . wonder what he'll cook next! I'll keep you posted! ; )

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Believe . . .

A few weeks ago, I purchased a lovely decorative binder to gather all of my creative materials from my "Flying Lessons" e-course. To help decorate the inside, I painted a little Kelly Rae inspired angel, reminding me to "Believe in the dreams of tomorrow!" and I included a little clear envelope where I could write a 'secret' note to myself with gentle reminders to "GO FOR IT!", to "BELIEVE IN YOURSELF" and a number of other little things to motivate me on my creative journey.

I've been carrying this binder with me everywhere. I write notes in it, I keep copies of the posts from class, I doodle in it. It has become my very own creative bible, so to speak. Katie knows that I am taking a "class" on the computer to help me and my "Art" and that this binder has all of my special notes in it. She has asked to look at the binder a couple times, and I love to watch her gently turn the pages as her eyes light up to the art work and doodles held within. 

The other night, I opened up the cover and found that there was something inside the clear envelope. I was puzzled because I knew that I hadn't put anything in there yet (haven't gotten around to writing that letter to myself.) However, it looks like I may not have to . . . because when I opened the envelope and took the paper out, this is what I found . . .  

My Mom is a Artist

Looks like the only thing I needed for motivation in my creative journey is my very own daughter. If she believes in her Mom . . . I wonder why her Mom has such a hard time believing in herself . . . 

It's moments like this when that lump in my throat takes over and I count the MANY MANY blessings I have.

Life is Good.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Me & Julia

Did I tell you that when PG and I were visiting Washington DC last month, I visited Julia Child's KITCHEN?  Yes, I sure did. . .

I've written many times before about how much I love the movie Julie & Julia. It was a dream come true to actually see Julia's kitchen! And it was as perfect as I imagined - so wonderful! I just love how very very practical it was. Everything in its place. Everything has a purpose, and is placed specifically with purpose behind it. How smart. I think she was the original kitchen organizer, don't you think?

As I stood there in the Smithsonian, looking through the glass into this kitchen, I started to imagine what it would have been like to witness Julia herself cooking there. I imagine her moving like a great conductor would during a symphony. I imagine sitting right there, at the table, and watching her cook. How amazing that would have been.

I wonder . . .

If you could imagine yourself sitting in anyones kitchen and watching them cook, who would you choose?

-and- 

If you could have dinner with one person (past or present), who would it be?

Leave me a comment with your answer . . . I would love to know! Or, if you are in need of a blog post subject for today - write about it. Refer us to your blog post in the comments!!! My answers: Julia Child, and I'd have to say if I could have dinner with one person, I would choose Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603).

Monday, June 14, 2010

Oh, the Places She'll Go!

PG took this photo while going on a bike ride with Ella this weekend.

When I saw the photo, I cried.

I can't believe I am a Mom.
I can't believe she is mine.
I can't believe how big she is.
I can't believe that I am blessed with two daughters. 
I can't believe that they love me, unconditionally.

I can't believe that some day she will be big enough to leave home,
and follow her dreams.

May she always be happy.
May she always laugh.
May she always explore.
And may she know that I will always be right behind her,
in case she needs me.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Creative {heart} Journey

I've been reading so much lately about starting a creative business, all due to the brilliant mind of Kelly Rae Roberts and this e-course I started at the beginning of the month. I am not sure what my goals are yet (and that's a big thing I have to figure out). But her words are so inspiring, that I find myself reading her daily class notes over and over, dreaming of living a creative life.

It's funny how, when you throw yourself into a creative journey, you begin to notice things a little differently. You look at the ordinary moments in life and pull out something different from them. Kelly Rae has always looked for {hearts} in her surroundings and she often encourages others to do the same. However I have never played along in this "search for hearts" game, as my mind is usually focused on so many other things that I forget to STOP and take the little moments in. As a result of this creative journey I am on, though, I'm noticing things I wouldn't have otherwise noticed.

Like last week, when PG and I took the girls to Potbelly for lunch. As Katie ate her PB&J sandwich, I looked down at our table and saw it . . .

A {jelly} heart.

We didn't have our camera with us, only PG's phone (so this was the best shot we could get.)

I looked at that heart for a long time. The simplicity of it and how it fell into that perfect position from Katie's sandwich . . . it was really . . . beautiful. I realized at that moment that even in my search for a creative life, I am surrounded by love. And that was a pretty great realization.

So, my challenge for you this week is to look around for the symbols of love in your every day life. You may be surprised where they turn up. If you find any, I'd love to know! Take a picture, blog about it, spread the love. You'll be glad you did!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Mmmmmm . . . butter

I pride myself in keeping a well stocked "cubbard" and refrigerator. My sister laughs at me because I always seem to have the ingredients needed to make even the most obscure recipes. You need a spice? I've got it! Out of sour cream? No problem! Forgot to pick up eggs? How many do you need? I've got 18 right here!

So it was nothing new to pick up the phone the other day and hear my neighbor on the other end, asking if she could borrow a stick of butter.

Butter. BUTTAH. That Yellow Goddess of all things Good and Delicious! The one thing that I could (but NEVER have) bite right into . . . . ah, Butter. If I could have, I would have given both Katie and Ella the middle name of "Butter". Yum.

Imagine my horror when I looked into my frig and discovered . . . I was OUT . . . of butter.

WHAT!?!!?!!! HOW COULD THIS BE????

"I'm out of Butter!" I told my neighbor.

"Oh, that's ok. I have to run to the store, so I'll pick some up," she said.

"No... no... you don't get it. I am OUT of BUTTER!!!!!" I said.

"Yes, I heard you," she answered. "It's ok."

"But . . . I've never been out of BUTTER before. I think . . . I'm in shock . . ." I told her.

"It's ok," she said. And like any good friend, she offered help, "I'll pick some up for you when I go to the store right now. OK?"

"Yes . . . that would be so nice . . ." I answered.

Oh, Paula Deen, don't give up on me yet. From now on, I promise to keep a closer eye on the butter situation in our house. Cross my heart.


Me as Paula. . . the Paula Deen of our block. Scary, isn't it?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Father's Day - A Repeat

The best fathers I have ever known . . . 

My Dad, Joe
You were a wonderful father, a good hard-working man who was always there for his family. I am so blessed that YOU were my Dad. But, you were taken away too soon. You never got to meet your granddaughters. Yet they are so much like you, its as if you picked them out for me. I miss you so very much and think of you every day, Dad.  I love you.

My Father-in-law, John
Your hard work ethic and loyalty was so admirable. I was proud to be your daughter-in-law. You always had a great story to tell. But you, too, were taken from us all too soon. And I miss you daily. Katie will never forget her dear "Bumpa", and neither will I. I love you.

My Father-in-law, Rich
I'm so grateful to have you in my life. You love us all, and you can always make me laugh. I am forever grateful that Katie & Ella have you, their Papa. They love you and I love you, too.
My Husband, PG
Honey, you are an absolutely incredible father, and every single day I thank God that our daughters have YOU in their lives. From the moment they were born, you were there - hands on. For feeding, changing, baths and fun, you've done it all, and continue to do it all. You are everything to them. Together, we make a really happy home for these little girls, and I am so grateful that you are my partner in life. I thank you, and I love you, so very very much.



These are four of the very best men I know, and the four father's in my life.
They each gave so much to me.
I am forever thankful for each of them.  

Happy Father's Day to all of the Father's in your life.
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