Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Such Little Time

My goodness . . . my mind is a bit silly tonight. I miss my dearest blog friends (that would be YOU) so very much, and decided the best way to jump back in the saddle is to just . . . DO IT! So please forgive me for the randomness of this post, but I have much to share and can't think of a better way to do it than this. In no particular order, here is a bulleted list of the updates of life in our "happy chaos" the past week, or so . . . just to bring you up to speed:

  • The girls have both started their school years off with flying colors! Ella has taken so very well to Kindergarten, and happily exclaimed, "I LOVE IT!" when stepping off of the bus that first day. My eyes were filled with tears for missing her, but seeing her smiling face made it all the better. Katie feels she has the BEST 4th Grade Teacher in the whole school, which makes it extra easy for us to get moving in the morning. She has started setting her own alarm this year (a new thing for us all), and it is much appreciated by this momma . . . especially since her school bus arrives at 7:04 AM for her daily pick up. I couldn't be prouder of both of my girls, and am looking forward to the year ahead of us.

  • I caught a cold . . . I knew it would happen. Katie picked it up during that adventure to New York (remember that one?) the week before school, and generously shared it with Ella, who was equally generous in passing it on to me. It hit me last Thursday evening, and while I was in denial at the moment - I gave in to it on Saturday. It wasn't until yesterday morning that I realized I over medicated myself on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (taking an extra "24 hr allergy pill" each day, along with healthy doses of cold medication and night time sleeping aids.) NOT a good thing, and Phil will vouch that I was in a fairly groggy state all weekend, where much of my time was spent on the couch . . .

  • However, I was just clear headed enough to become completely and totally addicted to Downton Abbey. Have you seen it? I honestly spent ALL DAY Saturday and Sunday watching both Season 1 and Season 2, and now find myself so impatient for the third season to begin (which, to my horror, isn't until January 2013!!! AGHAST!!!) I'm driving Phil crazy, for sure, as I can't seem to talk of anything else, and find myself carrying on like a fancy British Lady right out of the series (and saying things like . . . aghast!) Oh, you simply MUST watch it!

  • That same clear headed state did manage to answer the phone to my old employers on Thursday . . . just long enough to accept their offer of short term work on a particular project they needed help with. I have to laugh, because in the last year of being unemployed . . . I can't even remember if I was sick at all. And here it was . . . days before starting work . . . and I was sick with a nasty summer cold! Ah, what's a girl to do? So, I said yes . . . I took the assignment with open arms. I knew that it would be good for me to 1) make some money right now, 2) reacquaint myself with some old work colleagues, 3) spend some time with adults and 4) get myself out of the house for a bit. So the offer really came at the perfect time. It's really a great opportunity - and it's NOT permanent. So it is sort of offering me the best of both worlds.

  • So,  this week I find myself working full time, while still trying to recover from this nasty head cold, and somehow managing to get lunches and snacks packed, clothes washed, homework done and keep the house a float. Just like all of you. (How ever do we do it?)

  • I've signed up for a local Art and Craft show the end of September, so I have LOTS to do on the art end of life. Unfortunately, I can't get to it this week. But next week . . . I'm back in the studio. Journals. Christmas Ornaments. Holiday picture frames. Jewelry. Calendars. SO MUCH to do! Such little time to do it.

Until then . . . I hope to find some moments this week to get caught up on your lives. I do hope this finds you all doing well and enjoying your days. It's getting darker here a little bit earlier the past week or so . . . fall is just around the corner (YAY!!) I can't wait to start playing Christmas music!

Ok. Enough.    
                      Off to bed . . .
                                         And as always. . . .
                                                                    I wish you . . .
 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Up . . . Up . . . and Away!

I wanted to do something special this year to mark the end of the summer and to christen the beginning of a new school year.  A celebration, of sorts, that all of us in the family could take part in. So, I decided we'd have a ceremony . . . a little presentation . . . to talk about our wishes for the coming school year, and then end it with a special lighting ceremony (yes, I must be going through some sort of withdrawal from the pomp and circumstance of the Olympics.)

We started by each of us making "wish" pages that could hold our individual wishes for the new school year. From "making new friends" to "focusing more", each of us had something that we wanted to wish for in the months ahead. While the concept was a little hard for Ella to get, she still came up with "I want to learn more math" and "I want to make friends". I was pretty proud of her!


They did a great job with their school year wish lists.


We then gathered outside and read each other our lists. I loved hearing how we each had different things we wished for. 

Then, it was time for the lights. A couple of weeks ago, I picked up a large biodegradable lantern at a local Walgreens. The whole "end of summer" ceremony came to me the minute I saw the lantern. I did my best to hold it straight as Phil lit away . . . .


Carefully following the instructions, we waited until it was just hot enough to fly up . . .

up . . . up and away!


And off it went . . . .

I told the girls to close their eyes and say a little wish as the lantern flew high above us, and then quietly said my own wishes for the new school year . . . . until I heard sweet Ella whisper her  wishes of ". . . chocolate house, and a chocolate bunny, and lots and lots and lots of candy, and oh, please, bring me all the candy in the whole wide world . . . that's what I wish for."

"Ellie!" I told her, "you are supposed to be making a wish for your school year, honey. Something about school, sweetie."

"Oh!" she exclaimed, "AND CAN I HAVE A GREAT SCHOOL YEAR, PLEASE?!?!" she yelled at the lantern.

God Bless this little girl.

Happy School Year to you and yours!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Just the Right Amount of Crazy

Oh, dear . . . so sorry I've been MIA, my friends. I've been on another amazing adventure last week, and have just now recovered enough to write about it. This one was completely spontaneous . . . probably, the most spontaneous thing I've ever done. And boy-oh-boy, it took a LOT out of me.

If you follow me on facebook, you probably already know what I am talking about.

If you don't, allow me to tell you my story.

One of the things PG and I enjoyed most about our single, childless days, was living life off the cuff. To wing it, go with the flow, see where life takes us. Often we found ourselves hopping in the car and heading out for a ride, all ready to explore someplace new . . . it would be nothing for us to realize we had a day off together and end up in St. Louis, or Cleveland, or anywhere imaginable, actually. Life is an adventure, after all.

Well, last Monday night . . . we went on the biggest adventure of our life . . . to New York City.

Yes, we've been to New York before. But most of our prior trips were planned with scheduled days off and hotel accommodations arranged prior to our departure.

This time, we did it a little differently.

We had no intention on going during dinner Monday night. With fresh salmon on the grill and a yummy veggie and couscous medley on the stove, we were settling down for a nice quiet night at home. After dinner, I called my niece and nephew to finalize our plans for the next day (we had planned on getting together with them on Tuesday), and that seems to be where the story really starts.

"What should we do tomorrow?" I asked. We originally thought about going to a water park, but the hot weather was taking a break from us and we knew we'd be cold in the 80 degree expected temp.

"We could go bowling," I suggested.

"No, no bowling," they said.

"We could go to Space Golf," I said. Space Golf is a near by indoor miniature golf place that is all space themed and lit by funky fluorescent lights.

"Yeah, Space Golf is fun," they said. "We could do breakfast first," they suggested.

"Yes, breakfast would be good," I agreed. "Where should we go for breakfast?"

"You know who has good breakfast??!" yelled Phil, who was laying nice and cozy on the couch watching T.V., "New York has REALLY GREAT breakfast!"

And there we go.

Yes, there was a little bit more discussion . . . a great deal of "No! We can NOT do this!" from me, and a great deal of "COME ON!!!! YES WE CAN!!!" from everyone else. Katie and Ella had their bags packed while I was still on the telephone with my sister-in-law, and before you know it, we had made the decision to DO IT. It was 7 o'clock at night, and somehow . . . 2 1/2 hours later (at approximately 9:30 p.m.)  . . . we pulled into my brother and sister-in-laws drive way with our bags packed and a zest for adventure in our souls. We were driving to New York . . . for breakfast.

We drove through the night, and all I can tell you is that about 3:00 a.m., I was beginning to think that this was a TERRIBLE idea. Well . . . maybe not a terrible idea . . . but I sure was exhausted, and had no idea how we were going to make it through the next two days.

As my nephew reminded us many times during the trip . . . YOLO (You Only Live Once) . . . so we lived the next 56 hours to the fullest.

Here are just a few photos from our trip . . .

Here we all are, waiting patiently for our hotel room to be ready.
We were . . . exhausted . . . having just spent the past 16 hours in the car.

But . . . WE MADE IT!
I couldn't have been prouder of Ella and Katie.
They truly are wonderful world travelers and completely went with the flow the whole trip.
Phil was able to get us two rooms at the Warwick Hotel in New York City.
Thank Goodness for the iPad and 3G service.
He secured our rooms through priceline.com as I drove us through Ohio.
We were really happy with the room and hotel!
Totally recommend it if you find yourself traveling to NYC!

After a quick shower and a moment to stop and catch our breath, we were famished and found our way to one of PG's favorite New York Deli's for matzo ball soup, and corned beef sandwiches.
Soooo soooo good!


Seriously . . . . delish!

We were on a tight schedule and only had time to visit a few places.
Since my sister-in-law and niece had never been to New York before,
we wanted to make sure they saw the sight of the World Trade Center.
The area changes so much each and every time we are in New York,
and while we weren't able to get in to see the memorial, we did see the new building that is in construction.
It is almost complete, and is quite stunning.
We also visited Station 10, the fire house directly across from the WTC.
Nothing can prepare you for the poster of the fire fighters who perished that day.

Time Square at night . . . amazing.

A quick visit with Auntie Ria at her office in Manhattan on Wednesday.
WONDERFUL!

And of course, a little bit of shopping for more NYC souvenirs.

Yes, I do!

We were back in our car by 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, and drove straight through the night, again. My nephew, Brandon, had his first day of his Senior year of high school on Thursday (not to mention Phil and my sister-in-law both had to work on Thursday), so we HAD to get home. After a long long long long drive (I swear Pennsylvania takes FOREVER to drive through), we pulled into their drive way at 3:30 a.m., and into ours 10 minutes later.

Our adventure . . . was over.

We slept a few hours, then started our day. I am fairly sure we all were in a fog for the next few days. Only now do I feel like I am back in the land of the living.

But I will tell you this . . . it was the best adventure I had ever been on. Our girls had a WONDERFUL time and were so great through the trip. And I am so glad we did it.

Will we do it again?

It's HIGHLY unlikely.

But, do I regret it?

Not for a second!

Yep, You Only Live Once!

And last week, I think I lived enough to last me a long long time!

;)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

What Blogging has Taught Me

I went to dinner with an old friend of mine last week.

Susan.

She makes me laugh until I cry, this Susan girl. And then when I calm myself down, I laugh some more.

Friends like that are good to have. Susan and I have known each other what feels like a lifetime ago, when we both were childless and single, living our days working full time and doing community theater at night. We were young. We were fearless. We lived life to the fullest.

While we are still pretty fearless and still live life to the fullest, we now do so with our spouses and kids in tow. Susan still does a great deal of theater, except now she gets paid for it. Me? I make art.

The last time we had dinner together was probably 5 years ago. Facebook has kept us in contact with the little updates here and there, but it has been way too long since we sat face to face and talked. But it felt like we just did it last week, that's how comfortable our friendship is. We each had long stories to tell of our lives the past few years, we cried real tears as we told stories of painful moments, and we spoke honestly about the journeys we were on - knowing full well that we both have some adjusting to do, but admitting that we were smelling the roses more often than not.

She wanted to know all about my leaving the health care field I had worked in for 25 years, how did it all come about? And . . . my blogging and art. How did I start? When did I start? What is it all about?

I started thinking about this blog of mine.

I love this blog.

I think I would be lost without it.

Like a dear old friend, blogging came along when I needed it, and it taught me that it was OK to share my stories with others. That somewhere in this world, someone would understand what I was feeling, and sharing my experience with others will not only help me feel less alone, but might help someone else feel less alone, too. Blogging taught me that it was OK to want more than just being the Worlds Best Mom. Actually, it taught me that there is no such thing as the Worlds Best Mom . . . and that I'm doing just fine as I am. And that even though I am here to help my kids make their dreams come true . . . Blogging taught me that doesn't mean that I have to stop dreaming for myself. The inspiration, the encouragement and wise words that I would soak up from other blogs have left me with the hope to believe in myself. That was a pretty awesome lesson for this 37 year old mom (which is what I was when I started blogging) to learn.

I sat across the table from my friend thinking how blessed I have been to have met the people I have met, to have connected with them both in this real world, and the online world as well. When all is said and done, that's what this life is all about. It's not about the car that I drive, the house that I live in, or the shoes that I wear. It's about the relationships I have made along the way. It about the friend that I have been, the love that I have given, the happiness that I have shared. And I hope I have given back as much as I have received.

That's what it is all about. And that's what blogging has taught me. And it's been one of the biggest lessons I've ever learned.

Wishing you peace, my friend.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

7,200 Seconds

A couple of weeks ago, I had two hours to myself.

Two whole hours.

Katie and Ella had swimming lessons, and since Phil was scheduled for an upcoming business trip that would have him away (and free from parenting duty) for 10 days, I thought I would take advantage of the time and decided to stay home instead of going to workout. Phil took the girls to the club, and I was all alone.

For two hours.

Isn't it crazy how fast two hours can go?

It's really just . . . 7,200 seconds.

Really.

As I closed the front door and took a great deep breath, I started to think about what I could possibly do with my new found free time. The house was so quiet, not a television or computer game was on, and only the sound of the air conditioner running could be heard.

What to do with my 7,200 seconds? While I could have worked on my robot dance, cut coupons, or done some online shopping, I stepped into our kitchen, and saw this mess waiting for me . . .

. . . as if we just received a phone call telling us to evacuate our house immediately. Truth is, our house looks like this most mornings (note to self: work with the girls on cleaning up after they eat.)

The sink was even worse . . .

Breakfast dishes were piled high, and from what I could tell . . . they were making no effort to clean themselves (mean dishes).

I'm one of those people who can't sit down until the house is in order. My husband, on the other hand, could leave the whole house in disarray and lay down for hours, not at all being bothered by the conditions of his surroundings. Me? I can't do it. I have to clean up before my soul will rest. It took about 1,200 seconds (20 minutes). Not bad.

I have three little pieces of art that sit on the window sill right above my sink. These little goodies, along with my brave girl pin, make the time at the sink so much more enjoyable. The center wood piece was made by my beloved friend Isabel at Oodles of Doodles Art Studio.  (Check out her Etsy store when you have a chance . . . . LOVE her work!)


All three of these little sentiments make me so happy, and if there is ever I time I need to be happy . .. it's  when I have dish-pan hands.

I started thinking about the new school year, and how my little Ella will be heading off to Kindergarten this fall. Her first full day of school is August 22nd, and . . . I'm not ready. Ok . . ok . . . I'm kind of ready. But some where deep inside of me is a lump just waiting to work it's way out.

While she has been in preschool the past two years, there is something significantly different about Kindergarten. This year, a ginormous yellow bus will pull down our block and stop in front of our house and wait patiently for my little girl to board. A GINORMOUS YELLOW BUS. No longer will I will driving my bright eyed baby girl to school, and turn to see her smiling face while traveling down my favorite road in town. Nope. She takes the bus. I'm now very familiar with Katie being gone and taking the bus, but this year with Ella - it's quite a change.

And it's not only the bus thing that is different . . . but this year, she'll be gone five days, as opposed to four, and for 3 1/2 hours each day, as opposed to two.

3 1/2 hours, or 12,600 seconds. Five days a week . . . .

I'll have 63,000 seconds each and every week. To myself.

Considering it only took me 1,200 seconds to clean up my kitchen one day . . . I'll have lots of time available each and every day . . . for my me.

I'm getting back into business. Planning for my next steps. Creating. Drawing. Painting. Writing.It may be time to get back into the work force, I still have to determine that. But I do know that in two weeks, I will definitely be heading back into my studio. I am selling my art at a show the end of September, and have LOTS of work to do.

And I am excited.

63,000 seconds for Ella to start living her life. And 63,000 seconds for her Mommy to do the same.

Life is . . . exciting. hopeful. a blessing. and so very very GOOD.

Peace, my friends.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Three Little Birds - Three Little Words

A happy song is playing in my head today. You know the one . . . Three Little Birds, by Bob Marley. I love Bob Marley, a true genius at putting words together with a rhythm and beat that moves my soul. I have always been a fan of his, way before I took that trip to Jamaica in 1995 with a friend of mine. When I hear Marley, my eyes close and before I know it, my body is swaying to the beat with little dips of the head taken here and there.

Today, I'm singing his song.

Rise up this mornin',
Smiled with the risin' sun,
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin' sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true,
Sayin', this is my message to you-ou-ou

Singin': "Don't worry 'bout a thing,
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right."
Singin': "Don't worry (don't worry) 'bout a thing,
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right!"
Oh, how I love that song.

A week or so ago, my friend Leslie from "Words of Me Project" posted an update on facebook asking what three words described how you feel at that moment. I commented "content, calm, hopeful", and I don't think there are any other words that could have said it better. 

Here I am, a couple weeks later, and I feel the same exact way.

Calm
not disturbed, agitated, or excited; under control
tranquil; serene

Content
satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else

Hopeful
full of hope; expressing hope
hope - the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best:

I'm so grateful for this time in my life. So blessed for all that I have been given, for the opportunities I have been handed, for the love I have received, and for the life I have.

It's taken me a while, but I truly realize that everything is going to be all right. No matter what happens in life, everything is going to be all right. Really. It's all right.

And every morning, I have a gentle reminder of just that . . . right outside my window.

Our sunflowers are on their way out for the season. They've grown just about as tall as they will grow, they've shined and brought us such joy this season. The heat is finally getting to them, as well as the birds. Three Little Birds. (Well, maybe four or five or six). The neighborhood finches (or, as I affectionately refer to as finchies) visit the sunflowers all day long and feast off of their goodness.


Perhaps it was their visit this morning that first put the song in my head . . . Three Little Birds, pitch by my doorstep . . . singing sweet songs . . . of melodies pure and true . . . singin' this is my message to you-ou-ou.   


Yes, my friends. Calm. Content. Hopeful.

That's me.

What are you right now? Leave me a comment with three words that describe you today. I'd love to know.

And I like it.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Our Visit to Madison

During our trip to Milwaukee last week, I knew that I had to do everything in my power to get myself over to Madison. Not only the state capitol of Wisconsin, but Madison is the town where my very favorite store in the whole wide world is . . . Anthology.

Have I ever told you about Anthology?

I first came across Anthology at The Creative Connection event I attended last September in Minnesota. The store was a vendor in the amazing marketplace at the conference, and I immediately fell in love with their table of vintage paper goods. I could have stood at their booth for hours (. . . wait a minute . . . I think I did stand there for hours), and I even threatened to pack myself up in one of their boxes so that I could find my way to their store. I knew their store had to have been even more wonderful than the booth . . . and it became my dream to visit it someday.

The owners of Anthology are sisters Sachi and Laura Komai, and they remind me very much of me and my own sister (who is also a "Laura".) These ladies are absolutely sweet and so very kind, and were so very humble at all of the gushing I did over their creative treasures. I think I probably scared them a bit, as I have a hard time controlling my excitement when I see them. But they handled me so gracefully and didn't squash my excitement one bit!

There is just something about this store that fills my creative spirit and makes me so very very happy. Maybe it is a picture perfect example of what I could only dream of my business being. Maybe when I walk in there, I think, "Yes . . . this is exactly what I want to have/do/be, only in my neighborhood." Whatever it is . . . the minute I walked into the store, I was like a kid in a candy store. It was so very exciting.

Here are a few photos that I took while there . . .




 




I'm sorry the photos are a bit blurry . . . I think I was so excited over being there, that I couldn't stand still enough to snap clear photos!

If you are traveling to Wisconsin in the future, stop on by! I am certain you will love your visit.

Their info:
Anthology
218 State Street
Madison, Wisconsin 53703
608-204-2644  

Regular hours: Monday through Saturday 11 am to 7 pm;
Sunday noon to 4 pm (start of daylight savings time to the end of December)
Winter hours: Monday through Saturday 11 am to 6 pm;
Sunday noon to 4 pm (end of December - middle of March)


And while in Madison, after shopping at Anthology - make sure you walk right over to The Old Fashioned restaurant for a lunch you'll never forget. Known for the best fried cheese curds in Wisconsin (and YES, I'm telling you . . . they were MELT IN YOUR MOUTH incredible! We had to order SECONDS!), you will be glad you did!


I truly can't wait to go back!!!
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