Sunday, November 30, 2008

For the Grandma who has everything.

I am gift-giving challenged, especially when it comes to our parents. I can never come up with anything they might want or need and hate the idea of being an accomplice to their ever-shrinking storage space.

I'm also a really bad shopper. I over-think and under-spend and have a really hard time making decisions. Give me a month and I will waste it hemming and hawing and driving all over town just to come home empty handed. One year I hesitated so much we ended up picking out Christmas gifts for our family in the Nashville airport while waiting to board our flight home to Reno. We showed up with Titans sweatshirts, country music cds, and local specialties like Jack Daniels and Goo Goo Clusters. It was probably our best gift-giving to date.

This year, rather than drive myself crazy trying to figure out birthday gifts for each of our moms less than a month before Christmas, I decided to try something different. I know from personal experience (I just had a birthday...) that receiving a thoughtful birthday card can be just as sweet as getting an actual gift (even sweeter if your home is dangerously close to its maximum capacity for stuff). Throw in a couple pictures of a painfully cute grandson and you've got yourself a birthday happy that's hard to beat.

It was really easy to make and turned out even cuter than I had hoped. I glued three blank cards together to create the accordian and attached the pictures with self adhesive photo corners. We wrote our well wishes on the back and tied the whole thing up with a pretty pink ribbon.

It's small enough to be kept tucked into a purse for an instant brag book (a requirement for all grandmas), but sturdy enough to be displayed on the mantle without looking too slapdash. And, since it's not a permanent frame, they won't have to feel obligated to find a place for it. I think it's the best non-gift gift I've even given!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with friends, family, football and food. There were many more good things involved (a fat stack of unread People magazines, the super fun game Apples to Apples, Wii fit hula hooping...) but I was kind of on a roll with Fs and didn't want to stop. I think I'll just summarize with a foto. Heh...

So thankful...

I just wanted to let you know that I'm thankful for you even if you never leave me any comments and I have no idea who you are. I appreciate your support and encouragement and am beyond thankful to have found my happy place right here on the world wide web. Who woulda thought?

I hope your Thanksgiving was stuffed full of goodness.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Come up with a new list. Check!

I'm a big fan of lists - to do lists, grocery lists, honey-do lists, you name it. If I can write it down, I will try to put a check mark next to it. Lists help me stay organized and on task while also getting all of the useless crap out of my brain so I can focus on the present moment. I would hate to only half listen to Liam sing You Are My Sunshine because I'm too busy trying to remember to get shredded cheese at the grocery store to really pay attention. (Note to self: get shredded cheese at the grocery store!)

It's not that I can't function without a list because, obviously, I can. It's just that the mundane tasks of mommyhood can actually feel satisfying with a nice, neat check mark next to them. I mean, the only good thing about vacuuming is crossing it off your list, right? If you're like, What about the clean carpet? Isn't that satisfying? you obviously don't have children or pets. Children and pets can undo the most valiant of housekeeping efforts in a matter of seconds.

At the end of the day when the carpet is covered with graham crackers and dog hair AGAIN and you're looking at your husband who just worked all day like, I swear I did stuff today..., your list will totally back you up. No matter what the state of your home might suggest, check enough things off your list and you can't help but feel successful.

So, instead of coming up with a big list of specific goals for the year, I decided I would try to take it one day at a time. I'm hoping that the more lists I make and conquer, the more successful I will feel. As a mom working 24/7 for no pay with no performance reviews or project completion dates in sight, I will take that feeling of success wherever I can get it.

Here is a very general list of things I would like to integrate into my daily life that I will use to help guide my daily to-do lists.
  1. Write - here, there, anywhere
  2. Meditate - surely I can find 10 minutes a day
  3. Pamper - even a shower can be luxurious if you use the right soap...
  4. Move - walk, dance, stretch, sweat, hoop, play...
  5. Maintain - home, finances, health, relationships, cat box, sanity...no wonder they say a woman's work is never done.
  6. Feed - doesn't that sound more positive than cook?
  7. Teach - language, art, music, nature, math, socialization, manners, how to pee in the potty...
  8. Pursue - writing, creative projects, goals, thoughts, challenges...
  9. Connect - with family, friends, neighbors, the checker at the drug store...
  10. Read - it's the easiest way to continue learning
  11. Give - consciously, wholeheartedly, without expectations
  12. Appreciate - I have so much to be grateful for
  13. Manifest - stay present, positive and focused on what I want to achieve. Remember that anything is possible.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Dance dance revolution.

I said I wanted a dance party for my birthday and by God I got one. I picked the music, my friends brought their game and we totally got down. You know what? No. We didn't get down, we got crunk. It was awesome.

How cool are my friends, dressing all gangsta for me?

Cut a rug? More like f*ck up a rug.

It's a dance off...

...between brothers!

He's bringing sexy back.

Take that and rewind it back
Lil Mag got the moves that make your booty go (smack)


We're pretty fly for a bunch of white girls.

This face showed up in lots of photos: Totally Happy & Content

In case you were wondering what crunk looks like...

Sticky and sweet and windy and cold.

So, I just realized I never mentioned my trip to Chicago to see my sister and Madonna. It's not that we didn't have a great time, because we did. It's just that we didn't really do anything. I mean we did, of course, but we didn't. Does that make sense? I think it's a sister thing.

I arrived several hours before Moose and spent the time getting lost, calling my husband in a panic, hanging up on him for "giving me attitude", paying way too much for parking, shopping but not buying anything, and ducking into a quaint little cafe (I think it was called Borders...) to get out of the frigid wind. (They're not kidding when they call Chicago the Windy City. Holy crap it's windy!)

The view from my seat (on the floor) at the "cafe".

No, seriously. I flew to Chicago to sit on the floor at Borders.

Once I passed this guy 3 or 4 times, I knew I was lost.

When my sister's flight arrived and I met her out front of the airport, we were really excited. Not only had I found the airport (no small feat), we had found each other (what did people do before cell phones?), and we were in a big city all alone together with no plans other than seeing Madonna. As we cruised around in our nondescript gray rental car with the Madonna Sticky & Sweet Tour set list on repeat, we were borderline giddy (and, yes, Borderline was on the list).

We were both hungry but decided it would be best to check in to our hotel and get changed before finding a place to eat. That's when we realized that when Molly asked her husband to find us a hotel - something cheap, near the airport - she forgot to mention which airport we were flying in to. Oops. Oh, well. We had an entire set list to familiarize ourselves with - a little extra time in the car was not going to kill us.

Once we got to our hotel (quite a trek!) and opened up our suitcases, we discovered that we had both packed drunk with the lights off and one hand tied behind our backs. At least that's what it looked like. The contents of our suitcases were baffling, even to us. Between the two of us we had a summer dress, a pair of legwarmers, several pairs of strappy sandals, a hooded jumper, baggy jeans, a winter coat that looked like it had been stolen off the back of a homeless man, yoga pants, a couple silk mini dresses, a few pairs of boots, a black blazer, some scarves and a pair of hot pink and purple striped leggings. Trying to get dressed from that pile was like being on a gameshow. No whammies, no whammies... We each managed to piece together one outfit and proceeded to wear it for the rest of the trip.

By the time we were dressed and had commuted back into town, we were starving. Fortunately Molly remembered the name of a cute little Italian place she had been to before that iPhone helped us find. We blew in off the streets and were so happy to be in a cozy, cheese filled restaurant we could hardly contain ourselves.

Our waiter didn't know what to think about us. Our overflowing giddiness is a little much for people on a normal day but when we're also freezing, starving and on vacation, we can't be stopped. He kept saying, "You're just so...happy," like he had never seen people smile before. We were like, "Yeah, we get that a lot."

In addition to being excessively happy, we are also really good eaters. This can come as quite a shock to some people. When I asked the waiter about the meatball sub, he looked at me like I was joking. I wasn't. He warned me that it was good but really heavy. Molly and I nodded eagerly and I ordered it.

When he brought our food to the table, he said he would pay for our meal if I cleaned my plate. Like this was the first time I had ever faced a meatball sub the size of my leg. Please. He actually seemed a little scared by how wholeheartedly I accepted the challenge. Every time he passed our table I was slightly closer to closing the deal. Ultimately, it wasn't in the cards but, with a little help from my sister, we came darn close. I'm not sure if our waiter was impressed or disgusted. Probably a little of both.

After we ate (and ate, and ate...) we tried to be tourists, we really did, but it just wasn't happening. We were freezing and lost and uncomfortably full. This was the best we could do:

Look, Ma - I'm in Chicago, freezing to death!

The next day we were even worse. Despite the housekeeper's repeated attempts to wake us, we slept really, really late. Then we stayed in bed for hours looking at wedding pictures and drinking hotel room coffee. Not like the kind you get from the lobby or the adjacent restaurant, the kind you make with water from the bathroom sink and packets of flammable powder. First class all the way.

When we finally got up, we did a little of this:

And some of this:

And, of course, lots of this:

Oh, and eventually there was this...



And, this...



Watching the videos now (they're not mine, I found them online) I can see how they could have been seen as controversial but it didn't feel like that at the time. It felt positive and exciting and amazing - like we were a part of something bigger than ourselves. Bigger than Madonna, even.

I like that she takes something she's passionate about, mixes in a bunch of questionable material and pushes and pushes and pushes until people squirm and talk and judge and think and feel and eventually become passionate themselves. Pretty clever, Madge. Without the controversial bits, she would be just another half naked bump and grinding, guitar playing, double dutch jump roping, bulging bicep wielding 50 year old strutting around on stage in front of thousands of screaming fans. It's the controversy that makes her Madonna.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

List revisited.

I'm officially 31 years young or, as stupid people would say, 29 again. Who would want to get younger instead of older? Maybe when the arthritis and junk kicks in I could understand but for now, I am happy to be one year older and (hopefully) wiser.

Last year was a milestone, my 30th birthday. To commemorate, I made a list of 30 things I wanted to do either when I was 30 or in my 30s. I'm still not sure which. I figured I would review the list to see how I did. Then I can edit for 31 and move ahead.
  1. Start and maintain a blog.
    Check! It's hard to ignore the first thing on the list.

  2. Learn Spanish with Liam.
    I guess we focused on English instead. His vocabulary is mind boggling. He does know some Spanish and we just signed up for a Mommy and Me Class that will meet once a week.

  3. Create and maintain a yoga and meditation practice.
    I wouldn't call it a practice just yet but hope to make it more of one in the coming year. I have found two yoga classes that I look forward to every week and know that if I could just carve out 10 minutes a day to meditate, it would do me a world of good. Maybe I'll start today...

  4. Get so strong and flexible that my back doesn't hurt when I drive.
    I am really proud that I've made fitness a part of my every day life. I'm not exactly there yet but am closer than I've been in a long time.

  5. Get my first grown up car!
    Check! (Maybe this is why my back no longer hurts when I drive...)

  6. Learn to use Photoshop and/or other design software.
    I'm in a Photoshop class right now and have learned my way around a lot of the program. I haven't done a whole lot with it yet but I will. I will.

  7. Design cards and stationary.
    I think I had a very grand notion of this when I wrote it on the list. Like Kate Spade meets Etsy or something. While I am nowhere near checking that off the list, I do stick photos on cards for my family now and then and turn Liam's art into colorful little mailers. That's probably good enough for the time being.

  8. Learn to build websites. Build a website for the Hawaiian condo.
    Nope. Maybe I'll take a class next semester? Or maybe I'm just not that interested.

  9. Do something new each week.
    Who made this crazy list? I mean, seriously, could that be any more vague and impossible to achieve? Maybe it's just me. I don't do very well with vague. I need specifics. Like very specifics. I have stretched myself a lot this year though and am glad to finally be learning what works for me and what doesn't.

  10. Have people over for dinner at least twice a month.
    We totally sucked at this one which is a bummer because we really love having people over. Sometimes it's just too hard to make it work. Must try harder.

  11. Create an even deeper connection with Billy.
    We have definitely made this a priority and I would say, considering the stressful year we've had (financial crisis, anyone?), we've done really well. This one will always be on the list.

  12. Read one book a week.
    As it turns out, I'm a pretty slow reader. Either that or I completely underestimated how long it takes to get through a book. Glancing at something on the bedside table night after night as I stumble into bed is not going to get me to the last page. Reading actually takes time (shocker!). I need to schedule it in to my daily life if I want to get it done. Still, even with my lousy time management, I have managed to read lots of great books and was even invited to join a new book club. I would say that's a vast improvement.

  13. Spend time outside every day.
    I try but really struggle when it's too hot or too cold which, unfortunately, is a lot of the time. I need to embrace that sweating and shivering are a part of life and get my ass out the door.

  14. Carve out a little alone time (and don’t waste it watching Sex and the City reruns).
    I've done pretty good with this. Waking up early to write and committing to classes at the Y has made me-time somewhat non-negotiable. Me-time is kind of a big deal for a stay-at-home-mom.

  15. Experiment with pattern and texture in my home.
    Hmmm... not yet. Things like pattern and texture cost money which is something we've been a little shy of this year.

  16. Tackle a few home improvement projects (like adding a back deck!).
    I would still love a back deck but, you know, the money thing. We did replace the ceiling of our front porch with lots of help from our in-laws. Perhaps we should have pushed for a back deck instead...

  17. Explore the possibility of teaching.
    I would say check. I got a job as a substitute teacher at a private school but they never needed me on the days I was available. As it turns out, I was majorly relieved every time I didn't get called which led me to believe I wouldn't actually like substitute teaching. Or any teaching. I don't know. I still think it might be a good idea to teach someday. We'll see. I did teach hula hoop classes for most of the year which was great. Maybe I'll look in to teaching more classes like that...

  18. Pursue freelance writing.
    Yes and no. I've pursued it to a point of getting really discouraged but that's where I've stopped. I think this one will have to stay on the list.

  19. Watch less TV.
    I barely even watch Oprah anymore. This blog doesn't write itself, you know!

  20. Get informed (like world events and politics, not E! News Daily).
    I was borderline obsessed with the election and can name more pundits than I can characters on The Hills (if it wasn't for that Us Weekly in my Christmas stocking, I wouldn't even know what The Hills is!). Oh, and I stuck a couple big maps up on the walls so instead of wondering where in the world something is, I can get off my duff and find out.

  21. Continue to learn about finance and investing and apply my knowledge.
    Uh, this is like suggesting to someone who has never cooked that they should host Thanksgiving this year. I need to master boiling water, if you know what I mean.

  22. Find a way to consistently help others.
    Hmmm.... again with the consistency thing. I need a better calendar or something.

  23. Travel.
    We've done OK with this, considering our finances and the 2 year old who insists on traveling with us. We did sneak away to Rosemary Beach without Liam which was great. That is the kind of thing that needs to remain a priority.

  24. Be a more consistent and thoughtful gift-giver.
    Really
    working on this. Damn finances.

  25. Shop at the Farmers’ Market. Buy local food and products whenever possible.
    We're pretty much on Walmart brand at this point so, uh, no. Would love to get there as soon as possible.

  26. Take my new birthday camera everywhere I go. Be bold and actually take pictures.
    I've been pretty good about this one. There's definitely room for improvement but, still, I'd say check.

  27. Make Erin teach me everything she knows about photography so we can start shooting weddings and build a business together.
    I have learned a lot about photography thanks to Erin and the class I took but I was also involved in an actual wedding which made me think, Eek! Weddings are stressful! Maybe photography would be a better hobby than a business...

  28. Work on my retreat idea.
    Not even close to being there yet.

  29. Get pregnant with our 2nd child.
    Uh, not really close to that one either (darn).

  30. Use the law of attraction to create exactly the life I want.
    When I'm good I'm good but when I'm not I'm really not. Like most everything else I want to accomplish, I need to be more consistent and organized.
And with that, I think it's time to come up with a new list...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Yet another birthday post.

Today is my 31st birthday. Am I having a good one? Well, why don't you just take a look at how my day began and judge for yourself...

video

No doubt about it, this is going to be a super fantastic year.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy, happy birthday.

I know it's hard to believe, but this week my blog turns 1. I have been saying NO to Mommy Brain for a whole year and am so darn excited I can hardly stand it. This is sorta how it makes me feel.

The actual date I started this blog was November 8th so I've been waiting semi-patiently for a celebratory cupcake since Saturday. I dropped enough hints to convince my husband that a trip to the bakery was in order but, by the time he arrived, it was nine minutes past closing time. He stood at the glass door, waving cash and pointing desperately at the half empty bakery case while the owner nodded and smiled at him from behind the counter before going back to counting his money.

No luck getting a cupcake on Sunday or Monday because those are the days the bakery is closed. (Seriously, who wants to eat baked goods on a Sunday...?) Today the bakery is open again and I'm debating whether I should wait to see if my husband surprises me with a cupcake, call him at work to beg for validation and chocolate see if he is planning to stop by the bakery on his way home for lunch, or just get myself what I want. If you're married, you know these things are never as easy as they seem.

.....................................

Bill just came home for lunch with a teeny tiny brown paper bag. He handed it to my with a look that said, Don't get your hopes up, and grimaced a little as I pulled out, not one but two cupcakes.

Sweet.

"I'm so bummed," he said. "They didn't have your favorite kind."

Bummed? Ha! Not only did I get two cupcakes instead of one (woo hoo!), they were delivered to me by my sweet and supportive husband who would go to the ends of the Earth to celebrate my successes. Bummed? No. I'd say elated is more like it.

I'm all full up of sugar and carbohydrates now but managed to save a little room for comments. So, go on, wish my blog a happy birthday. You know you want to.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Roll with it.

Hey Roller Queen, I know you're like the Queen or whatever but would it kill you to lighten up a little? I'm not trying to get up in your space or put a kink in your backwards booty shaking skate-style. I'm just trying to look coordinated, keep my ass off the floor, and have a good time. OK?

I mean, why you gotta look so surly all the time? Is it just too hard to smile with that whistle clenched between your teeth? If it's just for me (as I suspect it is), it is totally unnecessary. I haven't even fallen once tonight, OK? Why don't we make a deal - I will give you all the ass shaking, red rag waving space you need if you promise to stop toot, toot, toooot!-ing every time you see me. OK? And no more crossing the floor to sneak up on me. That's just rude.

I mean, why can't you just be cool like the guy in the tight black jeans and flat ironed hair who is rocking out with full body shake downs and heavy metal air guitar? I've skated close to him once or twice (we all have - those moves require a lot of space!) and yet, he hasn't blown an angry whistle at me once. In fact, when his hair isn't in his face, he smiles at me when I skate by.

Or Carl. Why can't you be like Carl? Did you see that he skated with me tonight? Yeah, I bet you did. I didn't hear you whistling then. We skated together for like three songs and not once did I hear that whistle. And you wonder why I take it personally.

For a while there I thought you were whistling at everyone in our group. We talked about it over fountain Cokes and the consensus was, That Roller Queen is one mean mo fo! But, then, you go and smile at the blond girl in my group and give her a thumbs up. What the hell? I mean, where's my smile? My thumbs up? Have I not been begging for it all night long?

I want to like you, Roller Queen, I really do. But, a whistle? Even you have to admit that's a little hostile. Not to mention redundant. I mean, you have ROLLER QUEEN printed on the back of your shirt. What more do you really need? Unclench your teeth and put away the whistle. You don't need it. None of us do.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Celebrate.

At the top of the hour when the polls in California closed and CNN projected Barack Obama the winner of the presidential election, our house blew up. We jumped around the living room, screaming and crying and hugging and shaking our heads in disbelief.

We popped more bottles of champagne and ran outside to scream into the night.

We found fireworks left over from Independence Day and made Os for Obama with our sparklers.

We came back inside to listen to the speeches and toast each other with more champagne.

"We don't have to pretend to be Canadian when we're traveling anymore!"

"We elected a black president!"

"Nevada turned blue!"

"He proved you can take the high road and win!"

"It's a landslide!"

"My son has a President he can look up to!"

"We survived the Bush administration."

"We chose hope over fear!"

"Barack Obama is the President of the United States of America!!!"

Barack Obama is the President of the United States of America. It's almost too good to be true. I have never been so proud to be an American. What a night!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A change is gonna come.

I got all teary eyed in Zumba again this morning. When our instructor switched on this song for our cool down and giddily told us it was the theme song for the day, the lyrics seeped into my soul and reminded me of the monumental importance of this day.


A Change Is Gonna Come - Sam Cooke


All around me sweaty ladies were hooping and hollering like, Woo hoo! Obama Mamas! Yes we can!

Today is the day. Can you feel it, too?

If you haven't voted yet, VOTE! Then chill some champagne, call your friends and get ready to celebrate. A change is gonna come...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Treat.

We did it. We got a photo of the whole band:

Gracias, Robin, for capturing us in all our glory. And for introducing Liam to the wonderful world of Milk Duds and letting him barge in and play your piano.

After we managed to drag Liam away from the piano, we only trick-or-treated at two more houses before calling it a night. Well, three more if you count the wine shop.

It was a very happy Halloween indeed.