Friday, December 24, 2010

Hallelujah, hallelujah

Few things make me as happy as when people randomly break out in song and dance. It's been a topic of this blog more than once (here, here and here just to name a few; not to mention the numerous posts about Glee). It's why I continue to hope that heaven will be one eternal Broadway musical. And it's why I'm always a sucker for those flash mob videos that regularly pop up on You Tube. This one is probably still my favorite.

So it's the fifth and final day of OKD blog week, which means my staycation is nearly over and I'm about to spend the next couple of days with my family (as if they haven't seen enough of me and my limited arm abilities this week!). On this Christmas Eve day, I'll just leave you with another great flash mob scene:

And if you aspire to try this at your own local mall next Christmas, just don't let it turn out like this one. Yikes!

Merry Christmas everyone. We'll see you here again in the new year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Been a long week

This was me a week ago today at my third and final snowboarding lesson:

Ok that wasn’t me, specifically, but I resembled that. Kind of. And this is what I’ve looked like for the past week:
I know it looks like my arms were caught up in some industrial equipment, or perhaps burned in a fire. Thankfully, it was neither of those things. But I am nursing two broken wrists.

I’ve been wanting to try snowboarding for awhile and figured now was as good a time as any. And while I quickly learned that the grace I once possessed as a dancer does not at all help when both feet are strapped into a single wood and fiberglass board, it was still fun.

I (pretty much) rocked the bunny hill during my first couple of lessons. But apparently I was no match for Big Foot, the hill on which I caught my backside edge and promptly landed on both wrists. (In my defense, I made it down this hill successfully several times before “the incident.”) My injuries could’ve been much worse, so I am counting my blessings despite my extreme frustration.

I should add that high-school Heather would be totally appalled by thirty-something Heather right now for even attempting snowboarding. In high school, snowboarders were EVIL. The dark side. That’s what my friends and I firmly believed when they got in the way of us much cooler skiers.

So maybe my injuries have helped me come full circle. But then again, I don’t regret trying it at all. And as much as this week has sucked, I don’t want to rule out ever strapping on a snowboard again. But first, I have several weeks of challenging recovery ahead. Already, my family members have been my heroes in helping me manage the day-to-day activities I used to take for granted. Here’s hoping—and praying—for extra patience and perseverance for the long, tough fight back!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It's time to be heard

I've been hanging with my nephew this week and I am wrapped around his finger just like the rest of his family. When he heard it was blog week he decided to have his say. He's pretty brilliant, but can't quite type yet. So this is exactly how he told it to me...

'Sup people?! It's been a month since I got here and already I've gotten a lot of cuddles and am keeping my mom and dad guessing about what all my cries mean. I know they wish I'd just use my words, but where's the fun in that? Everyone thinks I'm SO cute too, which of course I am. You may think that sounds a little self-absorbed, but I rule this place right now, so can ya blame me?!

My mom and dad wish I'd poop a little less and not be so fussy when they're trying to sleep. But my parents are so attentive when I cry, and I love being held by them. They are the best mom and dad I could ask for. They hug and kiss me and laugh at me when I make funny faces or do my MC Hammer dance.

Well I'd love to stay and chat, but it's been a whole two and a half hours since I last ate. Waiter!! I'm in a hurry here! The life of a baby is tough work and I feel another nap coming on.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Going international

The countdown to vacation is on. Last year at this time, I was celebrating the holidays with my family in Hawaii. What a difference a year makes as I now sit in this frozen, snowy tundra, awaiting yet another visit from the snow plow.

My next vacation may still be months away, but as I research my destinations and get my passport this week, visions of my upcoming travel adventure to France and Italy with a dear friend keep me satisfied.

I'm particularly looking forward to France, having studied the language and country a bit in both high school and college. I don't remember much though, so I'll need to brush up on key phrases, such as "Pouvez-vous me dire où Yoann Gourcuff vie? Je tiens à lui rendre visite." (Major Parisien street cred awarded to anyone who can translate that!)

It's amazing that my travel buddy, Tara, is willing to go with me despite all she knows about the "you’ll never believe this" happenings that seem to follow me around. One thing is certain: We'll have plenty of stories to share when we get back.

If you've been to Paris, Rome, Florence or Venice, let me know if there are things we have to see (or avoid). Tara, let's channel our inner Mary-Kate and Ashley for this one.

P.S. A happy birthday shout out to my dear friend (and new mommy of 3-day-old August) Miss Sarah Sue! Have a rock-star day!

Monday, December 20, 2010

From me to you

Hi friends. Welcome to OKD blog week, day one! First of all, let me say that my staycation isn’t really turning out as planned. Since an unfortunate snowboarding incident last week, I can’t tell you how many people have said to me “This story is going to make a great blog post!” And I believe that’s true. But as I sit here typing with just two fingers, attached to two arms in plaster splints, I’m not quite ready to make light of the situation. So let’s save that for another day and talk about something else, shall we?

What better way to begin this Christmas week than with a Christmas letter to you. I love getting Christmas cards in the mail, seeing family photos and reading about what my friends and loved ones have been up to for the past year (even if I already knew). Last year I even told you about my favorite Christmas card of the year. (By the way, I got Joe’s card again last week and the tune was “Garbage Wonderland.” It was, once again, brilliant and made my day.)

I have never sent Christmas cards of my own though. Maybe it’s because I don’t have a kid who took his first steps this year, a promotion at my job or any exciting travel adventures to share. Plus I’ve already shared my pictures on Facebook and interesting stories on this blog. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to wish you and your family a blessed and merry Christmas!

I do always enjoy this time of year for the reflection it brings. Another year is almost behind me, and it brought many happy memories. Celebrating my grandma’s 100th birthday, a reunion with great friends and other fun trips, a job where I get to do what I love alongside wonderful people, exceptional concerts to satisfy this music junkie, a new nephew, opportunities to try new things and lots of laughter with the wonderful people in my life.

It’s been a fantastic year with (as it turns out) a surprise ending! I’ve been blessed to share pieces of it with many of you—both in person and on this blog. So thanks for sharing life with me! I pray you and your loved ones have a merry Christmas and happy new year. But first, don’t forget to check for my daily updates here the rest of the week!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Coming soon...

I stumbled across this website today and thought to myself “oh yeah, that’s right, we have a blog!” So perhaps Jen and I have broken the biggest rule of blogging lately, which is to say something. Jen’s got a great excuse named Connor. My excuse is far less exciting but just as valid—I’ve been busy. But to tell you the truth, I miss having the “that would make a great blog post” thoughts in my day. I’m sure there have been blogworthy moments, but just as soon as one thing is finished, I’m on to the next. There’s been lots of great stuff, challenging stuff, fun stuff and boring stuff. And I’m a little worn out from all the stuff!

But as Buddy the Elf says: “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is blogging loud for all to hear!” (Ok, it’s singing, not blogging, but that wasn’t as relevant.) I’m pleased to say that, during the busy holiday season, I’m actually taking a whole week off work. Staycation! The list of to-dos for that week before Christmas is already quite long, but I’ve decided to add one more thing: The Christmas Countdown Blogstravaganza! Folks, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to read five new blog posts in five days on Off-Key Duets. I’ll post something each day of my vacation, starting Dec. 20.

But what do you want to read about? Remember those Choose Your Own Adventure stories from elementary school where you got to choose the main character’s next move? Well, this isn’t really like that, but you can still have a say in what I blog about during that week. Here are some options to select from (along with some possible headlines):

  • My Christmas card to you (“I didn’t want to pay for postage to send you this”)
  • Snowboarding lessons (“Bruises are my new accessory”)
  • My really interesting job (“Writing about performance reviews, compensation and life support classes…serious fun”)
  • What’s new with my iPod (“Should I listen to the Glee or Cute Boys who Play Guitar playlist today?”)
  • My life as auntie (“I’m so in love with the new guy in my life!”)
  • Planning my spring vacation (“Two thirty-something women take on Europe”)
  • A special guest post from a brilliant and adorable one-month old (“I’m taking a break from filling my diaper to tell you this”)
  • Brad Womack returns as The Bachelor (“My co-workers offered to donate PTO so I could go on this show”)

Are any of those worth pursuing? What other ideas do you have for me? Check back Dec. 20 when the fun (or somewhat tolerable storytelling) begins!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Look who's here!

Connor David arrived on Thursday, Nov. 18 at 8:51 a.m., weighing 8 pounds. He's such a blessing! His mom and dad are tired, but doing great.

I hope you all enjoy a blessed Thanksgiving with your loved ones this week!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Know-it-all at your service

This weekend, I'm celebrating the end of my biggest, annual project at work—benefits open enrollment. It's like the Super Bowl for an HR communications consultant (except without the cool halftime show or a trip to Disney World at the end).

Open enrollment is the time when the lines of my job responsibilities become blurred and I go—unwillingly—from communicator to benefits expert. Each fall, my desk becomes the office hot spot with colleagues stopping by to say "what medical plan should I enroll in?" That question inevitably leads to a discussion about past doctor visits and prescription drugs people are taking. Everyone is careful to not give me too much information, but I always have this fear that someone's going to start talking in great detail about the infection they have on their big toe and the surgery it requires.

I feel like I should start charging for this kind of advice. Or maybe our employee service center folks—the ones who are trained to answer these questions—could throw a little extra on my paycheck one of these days.

It's true that I've learned a thing or two about benefit plans over the years and can even hold my own in a meeting with insurance gurus talking about health care reform, but I often have to remind people that I'm a writer, not a benefits expert. That's actually the thing I love about being a writer. I get to do a ton of research about things I know nothing about, then make it sound like I know it all! Often I'll write something and send it to a client for approval with a note saying "please review carefully; I made some of this stuff up" (no joke).

At any rate, I'm glad to have this project mostly complete for now. I wonder what I'll become an "expert" in next?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Making the most of the wait

It’s November…the birthday month of my soon to be firstborn. Of course, the actual birthday could be hours, days, or weeks away at this point. Personally, I don’t deal real well with unpredictability, so between that and being physically uncomfortable, it’s been a drag at times lately. However, I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been able to maintain a pretty normal routine even into the final days of pregnancy. For me, that is both physically and mentally a very good thing.

I can’t help but think what it would have been like to be my mom (or several friends I know), pregnant with twins, and on bed rest for several months. So yes, I can say that overall I appreciate being able to go to work every day. I’m also thankful for the occasional evening out, like the comedy/magic show I went to last weekend with the hubs, the Sara Bareillis concert I’m heading to tomorrow night with my sister, and the chance to get together with friends for a meal now and then. Who knows how frequently I’ll have those opportunities in the next few months, so I’m going to waddle my way around town and enjoy being as social as I’m physically capable of at this point.

And if this little story makes me sound like I’m handling things well…that’s just because I’m leaving out the part about how I end up whining at home most nights to my sympathetic husband about how I’m ready for pregnancy to be over.

But we’re always waiting for something, right? So fill in the blank: “I’m waiting for ____.” Bonus points (redeemable for absolutely nothing) if you have any advice for handling those waiting moments. Here’s hoping you all find ways to make the most of them!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Finding rest

Today I'm enjoying my first day off work in almost three months. And boy do I know how to pick 'em! Rain, snow, cold and hurricane-force winds are in the forecast. But for some reason that excites me. Because now I won't feel the least bit guilty about just resting. I'm not running errands like a crazy person or feeling I need to be ultra-efficient. Today, my idea of productivity is reading a book, trying a new recipe and, if I'm lucky, squeezing in a nap before I head to church for the evening and then back to work for a couple more busy days.

I've been reminded lately that I'm always in a bit of a hurry. I'm constantly looking at my watch. I drive fast, I work fast, and sometimes I even rush through important moments with friends and family. This fall I even came to the startling realization that, when I'm feeling rushed at work, I actually hold my breath! I told my co-workers that if they find me passed out at my desk that may be why!

I recently finished a book and study through my church called One Month to Live: 30 Days to a No Regrets Life. It offered some good insight about dealing with change and the storms of life, and pursuing your dreams. I'll admit, I thought parts of the book were pretty cliché, but there were some wise truths in it too—particularly as it relates to realigning our priorities and our will with God’s. The writer says: God has given us enough time to get done everything He wants us to do. If we rest in this knowledge and trust Him for what must be accomplished each day, our inner striving fades as we rely more on His plans.

Rest and trust. Two things I’m finding I need a little work on these days. And I'm starting now! How about you? How do you make sure your priorities—including the need to rest—are getting the attention they need?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Laughing at life as I know it

The countdown is officially on…26 days until the date when baby Connor is due to greet his already adoring family. It seems as if things at work are finally close to slowing down, my house is packed full of baby stuff, and life as I know it is all too soon about to change. Maybe that’s why I recently found the current romantic comedy Life As We Know It so amusing. A story about two people who find themselves as unexpected new parents to a one year old, it was as predictable as the previews lead you to believe. But it was also a pretty funny look at what’s likely in store for me.

Humor is a big deal in my life. That’s one thing that I have really come to realize through pregnancy. At first, I was reading everything I could about pregnancy, but wasn’t really enjoying much of it…until I put the books down and learned to laugh at all the changes I’ve gone through in the past eight months and laugh at the great and not so great ways that life will change in the months to come. I appreciated having a predictable movie to deliver some of those laughs.

When my little boy arrives, I want to do all I can to raise him right, but just as importantly, I want to be able to laugh even when things don’t go as I expect (or as a book or another mom says it should). I know I’ll be put to the test on that very soon…so you may need to remind me that I wrote this when I am exhausted and wondering what I’ve gotten myself into!

I sure hope baby Connor learns to smile and laugh early on…he’ll need those skills in this family, and I think he’s pretty lucky that way!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Going clubbin'

Oh, friends…I've missed you! Life is crazy; and that's all I'll say about my recent absence from the blogosphere. But I'm back, for today at least. And I'm posing a question to all of you: To join a health club, or not to join?

Of course, the weather has been so beautiful, even if I was finding the time to work out these days, I'd probably be doing it outside, but I'm starting to warm up to the idea of getting a gym membership.

The pros: My employer is offering a monthly membership discount through my health insurance. Plus, I'm far more motivated by classes where I don't have to work out alone. (It’s so easy to slack off when there's no risk of anyone seeing me!)

The cons: I have to go 12 times a month to get the discount (but one might call that a "pro" if you consider the financial punishment if I don't go). I already have free access to a small workout facility in my housing development. And other people might actually see how uncoordinated and not in shape I am!

I don't want to turn into a well-intentioned but ultimately failed gym rat. I enjoy working out and it makes me feel so much better—physically and emotionally. I'm not out to lose weight, just to stay healthy, motivated and happy.

So what's your health club experience? Should I go for it? Does a visit to the health club spa count toward my 12 visits per month?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Appreciating the little things

To all our faithful blog readers, we apologize for the recent silence in our Off-key Duets world (or maybe that’s not such a bad thing). My co-blogger and I have both found ourselves in a bit of a crazy life season lately. Namely, “eat a little, sleep a little, work…a lot.”

Busy times like these makes you focus on and appreciate the little pleasant things of life. So I’m trying to enjoy my perfect fall weather walks outside (meaning, walking from my office building to my car in the parking lot at 8:30 p.m.), meeting a friend for lunch (even if it feels rushed), and getting excited about the fact that one of my favorite movies, Newsies, is being adapted for a Broadway musical.

Incidentally, this is not the first time we’ve found a way to mention Newsies on this blog. We’re sneaky like that. If only I could make the Newsies song and dance strike strategy work for me in my job. Oh well, I’d rather be doing what I’m doing than selling “papes” for small change anyway.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Embracing normal?

As I’ve shared before, I’ve always thought the world would be a better place if life was lived out like a musical, with people randomly breaking into song and dance throughout the day. It would absolutely improve work meetings, grocery shopping, traffic congestion, and just about every other routine that normally comes with a bit of dread. However, after seeing this article about individuals who have actually been doing something like that on the streets of downtown Minneapolis recently, I’m realizing that perhaps the boundaries of my artistic expression haven’t fully embraced this idea after all. The group of “artists” responsible for this little activity are solo dancing down the street as a way of promoting self-expression in public places. Yet, I’m pretty sure I would be a little freaked out if one of these people twirled down the street next to me.

It reminds me of sociology class when we talked about social norms and how people get uncomfortable when we don’t follow them. Like the French guy who used to work in my office and would always stand in the front of the elevator facing the back…oh how I wanted to tell him that’s not the way we ride the elevator in America. I’d have similar reactions if I saw someone walking backwards or jogging with arms flailing (a la Phoebe in a classic Friends moment). These people draw stares because, well, that’s just not how we do things.

Call me a follower if you’d like, but I can’t see myself choosing to twirl and leap down a busy city street...unless maybe it’s part of some carefully choreographed group routine or flashmob. Maybe it’s the fact that I just don’t love a lot of attention, and a gimmick like that would be sure to draw some eyes toward me. I guess I like following the norms most of the time. But you never know, one of these days I may surprise even myself and let the world know that I’m indeed not so normal after all.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Defying Gravity

Broadway + Heather = Happy! What more can I say? While I love to blast the show tunes from my iPod (as I've been doing all day today), there’s nothing like seeing it live on stage. And as Broadway musicals go, nothing tops Wicked in my book. Having just seen it for the fourth time, I'm ready to paint myself green and fly around Oz for the rest of the weekend.

Nothing I can write about it would do it justice. So on this beautiful September weekend, I'll simply leave you with this clip. (Goose bump alert at the 2:50 mark.) Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Play at your own risk

Earlier this week I was walking through the mall and came across one of those child play areas where tired shoppers bring their kids to release pent up energy by climbing on things and running around (while the parents watch closely from benches encircling the play equipment). Before I ever saw it, I heard it. I heard the squealy voices of tiny children…times 50. My reaction? I did not walk by pleasantly day dreaming of the day when I would bring my little guy to this very spot; instead, I promptly shifted course to get to my store destination another way since I already had the start of a headache.

I can’t help but wonder if these crowded, germy play areas are a needed respite for parents with small children, or if they really are hell on earth. Phil and I already discussed this crazy play area and how, once our son is born, we must be careful to never bring him down that hallway of the mall. We’re thinking it might be better if he doesn’t know such a place exists. Perhaps that’s just a bad sign of my future parenting prowess.

I get it. The mall is not much fun for small children. One of my early childhood memories was of my parents asking me if I wanted to go to the mall. I excitedly said yes. However, after we arrived I realized that I had my definition of a mall all wrong. I seriously thought we were going to an amusement park. I suppose I would have been less disappointed if they at least had a play area. My parents probably would have been good enough to take me there. Here’s hoping that someday I’ll have the mental and physical strength to do the same.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Feeling itchy

So much for that cute little bedtime saying "Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite." That was when I assumed bed bugs were some extinct or mythical creature. But now, there are images of them all over my television screen. I can't possibly suffer through one more story in the news about bed bugs. I've shared with you my disgust of bugs before. Nothing's changed—despite a full summer of courageous bug killing at my house.

Sadly, my first indication that bed bugs were making a comeback was not through a media report. Last spring, I was making small talk with a friend and she casually mentioned she was dealing with a bed bug problem in her apartment. While trying to mask the extreme look of horror working its way to my face and taking a couple steps back, I think I said something mildly sympathetic. It wasn't exactly an invitation to learn more about the problem, but learn more I did! I got a first-hand account of what bed bugs do to people and homes, how she discovered them and the extreme measures she had to take to get rid of them. I'll spare you the details but "eww, eww, eww!" about sums it up. (Suddenly I'm feeling itchy…kind of like the first time I heard the story, after which I promptly went home to do all my laundry and vacuum the furniture.)

Now these insects are showing up in 5-star hotels and even invading the Toronto Film Festival. Makes me never want to travel again. I know I can't live in fear of these tiny little guys forever, but I think I might try to (illegally) get my hands on some DEET just in case. (Sorry EPA, but desperate times call for desperate measures.)

I always pictured the end of the world would come in the form of a massive earthquake or some other disaster that plays out in blockbuster movies, but if the bed bug "crisis" keeps up, I'm worried that gazillions of teeny tiny creatures might drive us all to the brink of insanity. Excuse me while I go change my sheets again.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Open house for all students…and expectant mothers

When you were growing up, did you ever have the back to school open house this time of year where you visited your new school before classes started? I remember something like this when I started both junior high and high school where I would go and find my locker and where all my classes were. My husband says he never had this…he just remembers being really confused on his first day of high school. I think that’s proof that it pays to check out unfamiliar territory ahead of time, if possible. Especially if you’re an ultra-planner like I am.

Yes, school open house is sort of what I was reminded of last week when I took the Family Birth Center tour at the hospital where I’ll be delivering my little boy in a couple months. I now know how far the birth center is from the hospital parking ramps (it’s far), and I’ve programmed the OB triage number into my cell phone. We even tried one driving route to the hospital and a different route home to see which was faster. Considering we had to stop for a train to pass on the way home, we’ve decided to take the first route (waiting for a long train while in labor would totally be my luck)!

Overall, checking things out ahead of time helped to set at least a few expectations, which does make me feel more prepared (and knowing me, soon I’ll be creating a well-organized checklist of what to do and what to bring to the hospital). And despite some of the not so pleasant things I learned about labor and delivery (especially considering I had my “preparing for childbirth” class the same week), it was pretty cool to see the room where I’ll meet my little guy face to face for the first time. It felt really real…scarily real at times. So real that I’m actually tearing up at this moment just thinking about it.

Yes, time is flying and the third trimester is here and my countdown to due date has begun…11 weeks to go! Ready or not…the times, they are a changin’ for this mamma-to-be.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Grin and bear it

My dentist told me last week that I need to floss more consistently. Yeah, don't we all. I sort of floss, sometimes. And I'm quite sure no one close to me would accuse me of poor personal hygiene--my peeps are pretty honest. But my challenge is that a good, thorough flossing for me takes at least 15 minutes. My mouth is full of permanent retainers and bridge work that I have to floss in, under and around. It's exhausting.

My mouth hasn't had an easy life. Six years of braces on top of I don't know how many other wires and dental appliances. I've lost count of how many teeth I've had pulled, but it’s more than ten (including four impacted wisdom teeth). I still keep a hefty supply of gauze around for the next big dental disaster. I'm sure my parents gave up several dream vacations to fund the "let's make sure Heather and Jenny can smile without shame" fund. (And I thank them!)

As an adult, I had to return to my orthodontist to have him fix a retainer. He pulled my childhood X-rays out of my file and said "Before you agree to marry any guy, you'd better ask to see his dental records." I laughed. He didn't. He looked me straight in the eyes and said "I'm serious. Your children could be doomed." Awesome.

So yeah, I could probably floss more (and I am trying). But with all the trauma these pearly whites have been dealt, let's agree that some Listerine and Colgate aren't half bad either.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Only in Wichita

I love amusing and random travel stories. I've heard quite a few since I work in the travel industry, and over the years I've collected a few unexpected anecdotes of my own.

Most of my travel has been to major cities, but it seems there is often something uniquely funny when you travel to a more remote area. I still get a kick out of the baggage claim I found when I arrived at my honeymoon destination on a small island in Belize. My husband's travel has brought him to some remote places too. Last week he found himself at the oh-so-exciting Wichita airport. While waiting to board his delayed flight, he sent me these text messages: "The guy working at the gate counter is now working on the tarmac directing a plane to another gate." That was followed by..."Oh, and now he's unloading the baggage." Someone needs to get this guy a cold beverage, because he was working hard! Apparently cross-training is required when you work in Wichita.

I'll spare you several other random stories of ghetto motels, arguing with flight attendants, etc. It's all par for the course when you're away from the comforts of home. Still, I'd love to hear your most amusing travel experience if you have one, so please tell!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Art? I think not

Last week, a co-worker asked me to create a logo for something she was working on. I had to explain (for the 99th time) that we have ONE logo. It's our company logo. Each separate little project or initiative you do doesn't get its own logo. I'm trying to uphold the brand here people. The problem is, when I say "no," my clients often seem to hear "why don’t you go create your own 'logo' using horrific clip art."

With all the nice photography out there, why oh why do you need to use cartoon images and every craptastic color of the rainbow to help get your point across? I used to have a crazy clip art file at my desk where I saved some of the best (and by that I mean WORST) examples. It eventually got tossed during one of my 10 or so cubicle moves in the last four years, but let's look at a couple recent examples:

Nothing says we offer professional injury prevention services better than this guy.

Another client last week suggested we create a logo to promote some continuing education classes we were offering to staff.

Perfect to promote your kid’s kindergarten field trip to the zoo, but NOT for graduate-level education.

And bless their hearts. People have so much fun creating their promotional flyers with clip art and are so proud to show me what they've made. I have to break a lot of hearts when I "fix" them to remove any trace of the perfect images they spent two-plus hours searching for on the Web. I know. I'm being too hard on them and none of you ever want to work with me. I show no mercy. While I might chose something bordering on clip art for this blog, that's only for the sake of irony.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sizzlin’ summer

I’ve had a busy, fun summer, but I admit that my wimpiness when it comes to the heat has dampened a few of my outdoor activities over the last month. I’m just thankful I’m only six months pregnant and not nearing my due date quite yet.

If you live in a year-round warm climate, I know you don’t have any sympathy for our 100 degree heat index day after day lately. However, we Minnesotans don’t sympathize with you in the winter when your 32 degree temperatures make national headlines (try lowering that by 50 degrees and we’ll pay attention). Besides, I did spend an entire summer during college living in Florida, so I get it and I’ve done this before, and I’m just thankful for air conditioning.

Even though the fall is my favorite season and will surely bring cooler temps, I’m always a little sad when the summer winds down. I cringe at back to school ads even though I’ve been at work all summer. And every year when the Minnesota State Fair comes around in late August, my friends, colleagues and I all say, “It’s state fair time already?” We all mean the same thing…summer went too fast.

Speaking of state fair season, who’s ready for something deep fried? You may want to stay away from Indiana though. Their state fair had a meat sundae, a Krispy-Kreme donut burger, and deep-fried butter.

Oh well, it’s summer and we in the Midwest will soon be in sweaters for months, so consume a few extra calories and enjoy what remains of the heat and humidity!

Monday, August 9, 2010

The 100th

Have you noticed how TV shows always do something special for the 100th episode? Phoebe gave birth to triplets on Friends, Alex and Izzie got married on Grey's Anatomy and Barney led a fabulous musical number on HIMYM. It's a big milestone, especially in these days when 10 episodes suddenly make an entire season.

So I want to do something special for this—the 100th blog post on Off-Key Duets. I want to thank you, yes YOU, whoever is reading this, and take a moment to celebrate with Jen. We started this on a bit of a whim just over one year ago. And now, after more than 5,000 visits to the blog from 38 states and 19 countries, we're still here and (perhaps most surprising to both of us) still have things to say on occasion.

It's been fun seeing friends and family weigh in on our random adventures, complaints and questions. And more than anything, it's been a fun way for me and Jen to stay connected with each other—and with you—in the midst of our busy lives.

This next year will be a particularly busy one. The busier we are, the more we have to write about...but the less time we have to do it! So we'll see what happens. No matter what though, we're thankful for each and every one of you who has taken a moment out of your busy day to check this site on occasion. Got something you want us to write about? Let us know—we're likely to have a thoughtful (or snarky) comment about almost anything.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

My exotic summer vacation

Throughout the summer, I’ve seen friends posting photos on Facebook of their summer vacations. Between road trips, mission trips, and other vacations, it seems the people I know have collectively canvassed the globe this summer. Personally, I’ll be throwing my hat into the travel ring again this weekend, and I know you’ll all be jealous when you hear where I’m going.

Fargo, ND…here I come! Yup…take that all you friends who have enjoyed the beauty of oceans, pyramids, and Eifel Towers! I mean, just look at the photos on the visitor guide cover (click the image to enlarge). Where else can you find stoplights, people, an old boat (on land) and furry critters in nature? (Besides any city in North America, of course.)

In reality, I am pretty excited about this weekend. I’m reuniting with some of my favorite people in the world…my college gang of friends. I spent four of my favorite years up in the flat, frozen tundra as a student at Minnesota State University Moorhead (just across the river from Fargo). Also, it will be my husband’s first visit to North Dakota and Northwest Minnesota, and I’m looking forward to showing him around some nine years after my college days. The hubs, on the other hand, isn’t as excited and keeps asking me why we can’t all get together in Breckenridge, CO like we did last year. My answer? It’s not about the place, it’s about the people. Cliché? Perhaps. But true nonetheless.

Weather permitting (and it had better permit or we’re kind of screwed), we’ll enjoy outdoor picnics, strolls around campus, a baseball game, and more. Add some good friends into the mix, and it’s not a bad summer weekend if you ask me.

Here we come…Fargo or bust!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Say it proud

A couple nights ago while watching the So You Think You Can Dance results show, I sent Jen the following text message: I'm going to become a Mormon. Not my typical deep thought during SYTYCD. But Jen didn't even have to ask me what I was talking about. She instantly knew that the Mormon's new ad campaign had won me over.

If you've watched even a single commercial break in the Twin Cities this week, you must've seen their new ads. (This one's my favorite.) These people talk about their jobs, families and hobbies—showing they're just like everyone else. And at the end, they subtly declare their faith.

And you know what? I think it works. The Mormon church won't say how much they've spent on the campaign, nor has it been around long enough for any measurable results. But people are talking about it in the media and at the water cooler. Even me—who has no intention of ever really becoming a Mormon. And that's the whole point right there.

Oh, we Christians get people to talk too. But how come the Mormons get a cool ad campaign and we Christians get Kirk Cameron, low-budget theme parks and Abreadcrumb & Fish evangi-tees?

But I suppose the Mormons "we’re just like everyone else" approach doesn’t really work for us. We're not nearly as extreme (or cheesy) as our faith is sometimes made out to be in the media. But we're not like everyone else either. We may be typical when it comes to our jobs, families or hobbies, but there's a reason for this hope we have, and that feels good.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Watch me Wipeout

I can’t believe I’m about to write about the TV show Wipeout on my blog. It’s the show that my husband (and a few blog readers I know) are crazy about, yet I just don’t see the same level of hilarity. If you’ve never seen it, it’s basically a game show series in which contestants compete in the world's largest obstacle course…and there are always plenty of wet and muddy slips, falls, and hits.

This summer, I do often watch it (more accurately, I watch the first half and sleep on the couch for the second half). I admit, I do laugh at least a couple times each episode. Actually, I laugh the most at my husband as he breaks up in hysterical laughter again and again. However, this week there is a new dimension to Wipeout in my household. Brace yourselves…we now own the Wipeout Wii game.

Last night we tried it out for the first time and I confess that we both had a pretty good time. Don’t get me wrong, I completely stink at it (and Phil isn’t much better), but that made for some pretty funny animated wipeouts. I kid you not that it probably took us 100 attempts to successfully make it across the infamous “big balls” obstacle (I will gloat and say that I was the one to finally succeed).

So, you’re all invited to stop by sometime and play along with us, as I think I can guarantee it will provide some good laughs. And to all fans of Wipeout, "Good night…and big balls."

Sunday, July 25, 2010


As I wandered through the aisles at Target yesterday, it was hard to miss the back-to-school section. It shouldn't surprise me anymore, but every year it does. I'm still trying to hang on to what's left of summer even though the signs of fall--in particular, my busy season at work--are all around.

I've almost forgotten what a true summer break feels like. Overall, I think it was pretty uneventful growing up. I vaguely remember spending hours reading Babysitters Club books, occasional sunbathing in the lawn and an annual trip to ValleyFair.

But among my fondest memories are the visits to summer camp. (I know. The fact that I used the words "camp" and "fondest memories" in the same sentence is in and of itself ironic. We all know I'm more of a hotel girl.) But the visits to Lake Beauty Bible Camp with my junior high youth group were just something special.

There were endless games of "Honey if you love me..." during the bus rides (and bus breakdowns). Whipped cream fights, polar bear swims, night games and relays that involved spinning around with my head on a bat. And somewhere in that week of silliness, I managed to learn a lot about my faith too.

In high school, I left the mosquito-filled cabins, crazy songs and questionable camp food for the sweat and sore muscles of dance camp. A different kind of memory, but still a fun part of summer.

Did you go to summer camp? Do you have similar carefree memories? Camp or no camp, I hope you can still enjoy a few not-a-care-in-the-world summer days before another busy fall begins.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ride escalators with caution

I think someone is trying to send me a message that I should take the stairs more often. I already shared my stuck in an elevator story last year, and recently I nearly ended up in the middle of an escalator mishap.

The escalator episode was the inaugural moment of my recent visit to my in laws in Niagara Falls. After finally arriving at the Buffalo airport (following repeated flight delays) around 1 a.m., we stepped on the lone escalator that would take us to baggage claim. The escalator was packed with people. Halfway down, we noticed a commotion. Someone had fallen at the bottom, completely blocking any way off this one-way ride. With nowhere to go, people just started falling on top of each other like dominoes at the bottom.

I soon realized my relatives and I were about to be next. Suddenly, my mother-in-law yelled to everyone behind us, “Walk up! Walk up!” As her instructions made it to the top, we were able to back up a couple of steps…just enough to buy us the extra second we needed for someone to find the emergency stop button.

In the end, we didn’t need to exercise the other options we devised in that moment (like jumping over the side or trying to ride the railing down). I did sympathize with the traumatized four-year-old boy who was in the middle of the people pile. I’m afraid he may never be able to step on an escalator again.

I’m happy to report that the rest of my trip was not nearly as doomed as that escalator ride. Come to think of it, that was my second traumatic escalator mishap. When I was a kid, my just autographed photo of MN Twins player Kent Hrbek got sucked into the mall escalator steps. My mom refused to stand in the long autograph line again for me to get a replacement. Oh, the tears.

Yeah, something tells me I may want to think about taking the old fashioned stairways from now on.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Don't be a dummy

First of all, I need to apologize to the ten or so drivers on I-35W who I either glared or yelled at last night during rush hour. It wouldn't be the first time, but before I write more about driving, I felt the need to come clean.

That said, I do spend a good chunk of my time each work week sitting in traffic and questioning the legitimacy of several drivers' licenses issued by the state of Minnesota. Am I little aggressive/confident on the road? I suppose so. Unsafe? I think not. Maybe that's why it made me smile today when I read that the iconic crash test dummies have now gone on display at the Smithsonian.

I'm sure it was my parents who taught me the importance of always wearing my seatbelt, however I can't help but think Vince and Larry had a little something to do with it too. The only downside of this news is the fact that a piece of pop culture that debuted in my lifetime has now been retired to a museum of American history. That kind of brings me to a whole new level of old. Oh well. Click it or ticket folks!

P.S. Sorry for our absence in the blogosphere this last week. I hope you're all enjoying the summer as much as I am! J and I have each been doing some traveling this past week...and I returned to a few nightmarish days at work. (Blogging doesn't pay the bills, so I had to face the nightmares first!)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Murphy's Law in effect

Murphy’s Law says everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. While that “law” may be facetious, I’m pretty sure my family may be able to add some strong evidence in support of it. Fortunately, it’s almost always related only to life’s minor inconveniences, but why does Murphy’s Law complicate even the simplest tasks? Nowhere in life is this more evident that when trying to make a purchase. (Remember Heather’s waiting in line example?)

The latest example: While trying to make an in-store purchase a couple days ago, I found that placing a special order would be necessary. What should have taken five minutes to order took over an hour, complete with calls to the manager, a little arguing, and even a second trip to the store. After all that, I was told they’d place the order sometime this week. Anyone want to place bets on whether or not this gets done correctly? Did I mention the sales associate wrote the info down on scratch paper?

Of course, in the same week, I got a call that the carpet that I was to have installed this week hasn’t even been ordered yet; I managed to lose my debit card; and I even got a “new” computer at work that’s in worse shape than my old one.

Since these are all minor examples, I can actually say it has still been a good week. And at least I have the means to make these purchases I complain about. I know it’s probably not just me who encounters these daily frustrations, but I might need reassurance (and maybe a good laugh) to prevent me from hiding out from the world around me. Anyone else have a memorable Murphy’s Law experience? Vent below!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Chic bottoms

I was an advertising and public relations major in college. In exploring these two fields of study, I discovered that I had some skill for PR...and little to no skill in advertising. At least not for the creative side of it. But I have a huge appreciation for it. And I would like to pat the creator of this commercial on the back:

The tagline at the end is simply brilliant. I wasn't even sure this was a legitimate product until I saw a behind-the-scenes story on the making of the ad on The Today Show. Did you know they use butt doubles? Yeah, for the close-up butt shots, it's not the same little blonde kid. That's awesome.

Jen, I implore you to please get your hands on some of these while supplies last. I want my nephew to be this cool.

Now when there's a lull in your Fourth of July BBQ conversation, you can discuss the virtues of jean diapers. You're welcome. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Lessons from Toy Story 3

This week I saw the movie Toy Story 3. Like the previous movies, it’s clever, funny, and an all around good story. Andy, the boy with the toys in the movie, is headed off to college. Not surprisingly, I got all teary at the end of the movie. It was bittersweet simply because I could relate. I often have a hard time with change, even when the change is entirely positive.

We all know I’m sentimental; I mean, remember my emotional car story? It’s that same sentimentality that causes me to hang on to a sweatshirt from my high school dance team, even though I haven’t worn it in 13 years. It’s also the reason I sat in my freshman dorm bathroom stall with tears in my eyes after my parents dropped me off at college. I just knew it was a defining moment…old memories were simply that, and new memories were about to be made.

Defining moments. They are the reason I’ll celebrate at my cousin’s wedding this weekend and the reason I’ll be sad to attend my uncle’s wake tomorrow after cancer ended his life. I just pray that all of us will use well the moments we’re given.

There’s one more defining moment for me this week. Today I’ll find out that baby Knight is a…[check the comments on this post later today, I’m about to go get a look at baby and hopefully find out the gender]!

Monday, June 28, 2010

A century of Mabel

Today is a pretty special day for my family as we celebrate the 100th birthday of my grandma, Mabel Wadding. Actually, we celebrated about a week ago with a big party (look at the pic—can't you tell we're all having the time of our lives?!). But today it's official, and any loved one who achieves centenarian status definitely deserves a shout out on this blog.

Long before the days of incubators and neonatal ICUs, my grandma survived her first few days in a shoebox sitting by the fireplace—weighing only three pounds. And she's proved to be a survivor ever since.

I could tell you countless stories of her life and her "Mabelisms" that never cease to make me laugh (or roll my eyes—like when she insists I haven't eaten enough when I've already had seconds and thirds of everything, or her concern that my "tootsies" will get cold when I'm going barefoot).

But simply put, if you've met her, you love her. She's just such a cutie and I'm in awe that, after all she's been through in the past 100 years, she continues to live an active life and always show concern for others. Plus, she raised my mom well and I'm reaping the benefits of that too!

(Not to be outdone by grandma, I also owe my brother-in-law some birthday wishes today…Happy Birthday Phil!! Hate to be a downer here, but something tells me your wife may outlive you…it's in the genes!)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Under construction

As I've mentioned before, the older I get, the more of a homebody I see myself become. It’s my place of refuge, even if much of my time spent there is spent on cleaning, laundry, and kitchen duty. However, every once in a while, something upsets the balance of my home. Lately, that has been construction work to finish our lower level (previously just an unfinished storage room…but soon to be our new office).

Fortunately, the workers are there when I’m at work myself, and we have no other living spaces on that level of our home. Still, we come in from our garage to a mess of construction dust and plastic curtains, and I can’t seem to get upstairs fast enough. And because the workers leave the door wide open when they’re working, I spend my evening chasing after gigantic flies who have found their way inside. It’s just weird knowing that while I’m at work, strange men are entering my home and using my bathroom every day (yes, these are the kinds of weird things I think about).

Then, when we do cross paths with the workers, it’s not easy to communicate with them. Earlier this week the hubs stopped home and told one of the workers when he was leaving so they would know to shut the garage door when they left; in response, the guy gave him a confusing look, smiled, and simply pointed to another guy who actually spoke some English.

I’ve known many people who have lived in home construction for months or even years at a time (including plenty of do-it-yourself types) and I have to give those people credit. I hope we never have to move to a “fixer-upper.” I can’t wait to feel fully settled at home again. After all, there’s no place like it!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Precious time (wasted?)

I took the day off on Friday and decided to enjoy the peace and quiet of my neighborhood. During the weekend, the streets and park trails nearby are always bustling with people. But on the weekdays, it's quiet. I enjoyed the "me time," walking to the lake and sitting on the beach for awhile. (I was mesmerized watching a rowing club practice.) It was a perfect morning and I kept thinking I need to do this more often.

Then, to further postpone my house cleaning, I decided to hit the pool for an hour. I got to the pool…and there she was. That girl. I've probably been to the pool 30 times in my 4-plus years living in my condo. No matter when I go—morning or afternoon, weekend or weekday—that girl is always there.

She has food delivered to the pool. She pays her bills from the comfort of her chaise lounge. I find myself wondering what her story is. How can she possibly have this much free time on her hands? How can she sit there all day and not get bored out of her mind?! (And, has no one told her about melanoma yet?)

Cleary, daily tanning at the pool is not my thing, but maybe I could learn something from her obvious expertise in relaxing. I don't know her real story, so who am I to judge how she spends her time. On Friday when I saw her yet again, I thought about the fact that I have my own time wasters too. Some could argue I spend a little too much time browsing iTunes for new music or watching reality TV (or even blogging).

I often feel guilty when I take "me time" like I did on Friday. But I think there's something productive about occasionally wasting time. I need that to recharge and regain my sanity. It's healthy, and I could stand to do it more often. What are the time wasters that help you recharge? (I promise not to put you in the category of that girl at the pool!)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Why my dad rules

So, Father’s Day is coming up and, knowing my dad, we’ll be celebrating by letting him go to the driving range by himself (trust me, it’s what he wants). This year, Father’s Day weekend may be slightly upstaged by a different, once in a lifetime, family occasion (which we’ll report on soon). So, I’m going to talk about my dad a little early.

Lots of people say they have the world’s best dad, but I’m pretty sure my dad truly does rank at the top of the pack. Here are just a few reasons why:
  • My dad is crazy. If you’ve met him, you know. There would be far less laughter in my life without my silly (sometimes embarrassing) dad.
  • He is a human jungle gym for kids. When I was young, he mastered the art of getting me all hyper and giggly right before bedtime. I can’t wait to see him play with my kiddos someday.
  • My friends always thought my dad was super cool (and it’s a fact that my friends are incredibly bright people). Sometimes my friends even wanted to hang out with him, which was a little weird.
  • He would do anything for me. Over the years, he has rescued my sister and me from stranded cars, moved us multiple times, been our handyman, and our biggest cheerleader in everything we do.
  • He spends quality time with me from family vacations, to daddy/daughter dates growing up, to hockey and baseball games.
  • He made sure I grew up knowing what it meant to be a Christian.
  • He encourages me be myself. I’m reminded of the time I had to fly halfway across the country to have a very difficult conversation with a colleague. We joked about my fear that I would be a big cry baby, but in the end my dad told me, “just be yourself; you’re sensitive, and it’s okay if you cry” (and I did). Having that reassurance from my “tough guy dad” that I didn’t have to act tough meant a ton.
  • He told my husband to make me happy or else…
I could go on and on, but that’s a good taste of why my dad is pretty darn awesome. Happy (early) Father’s Day, Pappy!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

All aboard the hot tamale train

Oh, So You Think You Can Dance, how I love you! Welcome back to my television screen, where I will replay your contemporary, jazz and hip hop routines over and over again until my vocabulary overflows with adjectives like "raw," "organic," and "buck."

On Thursday, we got to meet the top 11. I'm pretty pumped about the new format this season where I get to see some of my old favorites as the all-stars. So far, my new favorites are Lauren and Kent.

The top 11 also got 11 seconds to introduce themselves to America. Kind of reminds me of how we all need the standard "tell me about yourself" response to rattle off in job interviews. (Except in job interviews I don't usually talk about my plan to become a professional contemporary, Broadway, hip-hop, salsa dancer...even though I'm determined to find a way to make this a highly sought after skill in my corporate office.)

If you had 11 seconds to introduce yourself to the world, what would you say? I'm a writer, definitely not a speaker, so my 11 seconds would probably sound something like Kent's when he immediately got tongue-tied. Thinking they'd just do another take, he stopped for a moment and then said "what?! I don’t get to re-do it?" Finally, at about the 10-second mark, he just shouted "I'm single!" Bless his cute little heart. I'm sure we can all think of millions of seconds we’d like to re-do, but instead I guess we just do our best with the one take we get (and hopefully learn to laugh at ourselves for our flubs of all sizes).

Ooo, did you catch that? A life lesson and a dance lesson all in one episode! Nice. Enjoy your weekend folks and don't forget to check out the Tony Awards on Sunday!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Spelling reform

I love that America is full of passionate people willing to take a stand, donate money, and volunteer time for things they believe in. I don’t always identify with another’s cause, but that’s generally ok. Then again, there are certain causes that I think are just downright stupid and a waste of time. Case in point? These people who protested outside of last week’s National Spelling Bee to call for the adoption of phonetic spelling because, basically, they think regular English spelling is too difficult.

Now, I write for a living, so you’d think I’d be against this cause because of my devotion to the English language. But the truth is, I’m a terrible speller. In fact, had I worked in corporate communications 30 years ago and had only a typewriter to work with, I would have been in serious trouble. Spell check is a godsend for me. (On the other hand, my co-blogger was once a top speller in her elementary school back in the day.) Nevertheless, can we all agree there are more important and sensible things to fight for? We’re not asking people to read Chinese here. If you want to fight for better literacy, I imagine there are better ways than this silly phonetic spelling campaign.

And c’mon, isn’t there enough edge-of-your-seat drama at the National Spelling Bee as it is? Remember this girl? Keep on spellin’ crazy kids!

Friday, June 4, 2010

What I get to do

I think four-day work weeks are great, except that I usually still have to figure out how to cram five days worth of work into them. Oh well, TGIF anyway. I usually avoid blogging about my job. I like my job, but writing about it in my off hours just doesn't sound fun. But there are oh-so-many blogworthy moments related to crazy clients with over-the-top requests (and over use of really bad clip art).

My church has been doing a sermon series on faith in the workplace for the past few weeks. There have been some great messages about working with difficult people, embracing our "calling," etc. But the whole basis for the series has been around a single phrase: I get to go to work. Not I have to go to work—or some variation of that, which may or may not include the words "sucks" and "BOO!" But, it's our privilege to go to work—to help meet people's needs, to provide for our families and to grow as a person.

I get to go to work. Such a simple idea—yet so difficult for me to keep in mind during the day-to-day stress and frustrations of my job. Consider the fact that two days ago, a bird pooped on me in the parking lot at work. (Really, I can't make this stuff up.) My first thought was to curse the wretched place of employment where I both figuratively and literally get crapped on. While I don't think we have to outright thank God for the crap in our jobs, I know I could be better about staying positive.

Currently, my employer is preparing for a nurses strike so I'm learning a lot about unions, negotiations and federal mediators lately. It makes me think of this:

Somehow, I don’t think this strike will be quite as fun. No Christian Bale on the picket line either. But even so, at least I get to go to work.

Monday, May 31, 2010

A near perfect recipe

  • Several days of warm, mostly dry weather (but I admit I've spent a lot of it in air-conditioning)
  • No work (at least not the required kind that I get paid to do)
  • Outdoor baseball in a sparkling new, packed ballpark (and a win for the home team)
  • Time spent helping and having fun with with family and friends
  • Sleeping in and taking naps
  • Reading a good book

Thank you, God, for Memorial Day Weekend! Being on a lake was about the only thing I missed, but hopefully I’ll have that opportunity sometime. What were you all up to?

And, of course, a gigantic thanks to all those for whom we celebrate this holiday!

So, am I the only one now counting the days until July 4th weekend? Welcome summer!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It's the little things

Yesterday, I was just beginning to facilitate a big meeting at work when my phone rang. Thinking it was one of the meeting attendees calling for directions, I quickly took the call. My side of the conversation (overheard by others in the conference room) went like this: "Hello this is Heather. Yes. Mmm hmm. Ok. Yes, I will definitely be there. Thank you so much for letting me know. Ok. Thank you. Bye."

An important update from a colleague? No. It was my hairstylist calling to confirm my appointment for today. I don't know which is more sad: The fact that I tried to make the call sound important or that, had I actually looked at the number when my phone rang, I would have immediately known it was my hair salon. What? Not everyone has that number memorized? I thought that was one of those emergency contacts.

I don't think I enjoy getting a hair cut or color any more than the average gal, but particularly with the gross humidity and 90 degree temps of the past couple of days, my hair appointment was one of the major reasons I got out of bed today. Isn't it funny how we so often need these "little things" to make the other 90 percent of our days more tolerable?

So I escaped work a little early and I feel about 10 pounds lighter with a fresh haircut. And now that my stylist and I are all caught up on the gossip of each other's lives, I get to settle in at home for a couple more little moments that I love: An evening of Glee and reading my favorite Bachelorette recap (so far I’m cheering for Chris from Cape Cod!). Reasons to get out of bed tomorrow? I haven't decided yet. I'd better think fast!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

True confessions

So far this week I…
  • Got all situated in my car only to realize my keys were still inside my house
  • Cried for almost no reason while at work
  • Stopped singing a Christian song in my car in order to yell and honk my horn at the oblivious cell phone talker who cut me off (totally going against my post from last week, I know)
  • Seriously contemplated walking out to the parking ramp around 2 p.m. to take a power nap in my car in the middle of my work day
  • Got up three times in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom
  • Cooked dinner with my husband only to decide once it was ready that he was going to have to eat it all by himself because it was totally unappetizing to me
So yes, to quote a t-shirt I saw recently: “I’m pregnant…what’s your excuse?”

Of course, the truth is that all of the above could easily happen to me sans pregnancy too, but alas, I’ll take an excuse where I can get one. And, sarcasm aside, I’m excited and anxious about becoming a m…mo…MOM in six short months (not to mention there are a bunch of happy soon-to-be grandparents, aunts and uncles in my family)! So, I may not know the first thing about being a parent, but thanks to my amazing family and friends, I have no doubt that this child will be very loved.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

My week in haiku

A busy and stressful work week, plus a warm and sunny Saturday, equals me not wanting to sit in front of my computer for very long. So just take a moment to catch up on my life using everyone's favorite 5-7-5 formula.

Rainy, cold weather
Ceiling leak above my desk
Wet files make me mad

Car hit baby bird
Already dead before me
I did not kill it!

Exhausted Friday
Daiquiri and shopping help
Slept for 10 hours straight

Tried a run today
Almost met same fate as bird
Will stick to walking

Pumped for Tuesday's Glee
Neil Patrick Harris guest stars
Sings Aerosmith. YES!

Anyone have their own haiku for the day? Maybe some other time I'll summarize my life in txt msg or tweets instead. And speaking of Glee (because of course I couldn't haiku my life without mentioning Glee...did I just use "haiku" as a verb?), see if you recognize any blonde chicks in this classic "glee club" video. Ah, high school.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Slow down?

At my last house, my commute to work took 12-15 minutes every day. Now, my morning commute is about 20 minutes on a good day (with some minor speeding involved) and up to an hour and 20 minutes on a bad day. While I know plenty of people who have it worse than that, it does mean that most days I spend a least some time just sitting in traffic. Those are the moments when I feel like the guy in the movie Office Space who sat in traffic and watched an elderly man with a walker pass him on the sidewalk. It's frustrating, wasteful and an extreme test of patience.

However, I recently was forced to think about my disdain for the slow lane from a book I'm reading. The Life You've Always Wanted is about practicing spiritual disciplines, and in it I was reading about the importance of an unhurried life. Let's just say I couldn't relate very well to the unhurried life, which was not a good thing. In looking at suggestions for the hurry-sick, the chapter talked about the practice of "slowing," described as "cultivating patience by deliberately choosing to place ourselves in positions where we simply have to wait." Say what? No thank you. Then, the very first illustration instructed this: "Over the next month deliberately drive in the slow lane on the expressway. It may be that not swerving from lane to lane will cause you to arrive five minutes or so later than you usually would. But you will find that you don't get nearly so angry at other drivers."

Well, I admit I haven't made a month-long committment to this, but on numerous occasions it has come to my mind (usually right when I'm about to scream at another driver), and it has caused me on at least a few occasions to pause, relax and simply sing along with some good music rather than yelling in my car for no one but me to hear. I guess that's progress.

Of course, if you're like me the "slow lane" pretty much follows my car around anyway (ala the Office Space clip mentioned above), which might be another reason to make the most of my car time with a little music and reflection rather than the sound of my honking horn. I think in some small way it actually may help me to add an ounce of patience to my life.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Hug a mom today

It's been a nice weekend of celebrating my mom (whose birthday always falls on the same week as Mother's Day). She's smart, funny and patient and has given me more hugs than I thought humanly possible. (And just like me, she likes to tell the long version of every story. Every detail is important!)

I moved back home for a year after college and on one day—a really bad day—I remember my mom coming into my bedroom, sitting on my bed with me and singing this song:

We laughed, we cried, oh yeah, it was like something out of a Hallmark movie—a Hallmark movie MUSICAL, even better! Nine years later, I can still hear my mom singing (badly) "Where can you goooooooo, if the world don’t treat you right? The answer is hoooooooome…"

Many days since then, I've needed that reminder. What a blessing that I can always go home and have such a dear friend waiting to see me. I love you mom!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My life as a musical

I may have said this before, but my perfect world involves a life lived as a musical. Yes, whether I’m at the office, at home, or in a public place, I would randomly break out in an inspiring musical number that reflects my mood. Others around me would join in, we’d throw in some choreography and, in the end, it would make me feel happy.

But the real, not-so-perfect world often involves feeling like you’re one of the few with common sense, where you work your rear off to please people and they still seem disappointed, and where things simply don’t go your way. (And the soundtrack is silent.) Alas, welcome to my week. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a pretty happy person. But sometimes I have those days…and sometimes those days string together and I just want to throw in the towel. That’s when I need a little reminder of my perfect world. Hence, I found this to cheer me up…

Ah, I feel a little better now (and might want to go back into the restaurant business). Now I should just stand up and start singing “Tomorrow” from Annie and things would really start to turn around!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

What are you reading?

A good book at the end of a bad day has a way of turning things around. I love stepping into someone else's world (real or fictional) for a laugh, a cry or some good drama (but not the scary, gory kind of drama). I'm lacking anything new on my bookshelf right now and I could have used a decent page turner this past week. And now that the lounge chairs have come out of storage at the pool in my condo development, I'm definitely going to need some quality reading material (other than People magazine, of course) for some poolside weekends.

Since Jen got great music suggestions a few weeks ago, I thought I'd follow suit by seeking some reading recommendations. What are you reading that I need to put on my summer reading list? What are the classics you could read again and again? What made you laugh? What made you think? What made you say "I wish I had written that!?"

I don't necessarily need a deep read. I don't care if it was featured on Oprah's Book Club or won a literary award. It's almost summer, and since I have no vacations planned, a fun and light-hearted read might be my best getaway of the season. So please, arm me with a reading roadmap to help me navigate the next few months.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Emotional attachments

There are not many things I hang onto for sentimental purposes. I feel tremendous satisfaction when I can fill a garbage bag with “stuff” to donate or throw out. I try not to be too attached to material stuff. However, I have always had weird emotional attachments to the cars I drive. I’ve even named my cars. It’s not that my past vehicles were so good to me that they deserved my affection (it has typically been the opposite), but I get comfortable in what I drive, and I’ve made my vehicle purchases carefully. That is, until last weekend…

After being repeatedly asked by my car dealer to trade in my car (there is high demand for my current vehicle on the used lot), the hubs and I decided to check things out. Well, LONG story short…we bought a new car. But as soon as I began signing the papers, I started to feel uneasy. “Why are we spending money on a new car we don’t need? I love my car, why am I giving it up? Do I even like this new car?”

It went downhill from there.

We headed out to my trade in to remove my personal belongings. That’s when I started crying (yes, crying) and told Phil I wasn’t sure this was the right decision. I figured I was just being my overly emotional self and tried to move on. But the uneasiness only got worse. Finally, the sales guy handed me the keys to my new car. I got behind the wheel and headed home…in tears. I cried the entire drive home. At this point, I was sure we had made a mistake. I didn’t want to drive this car for the next 10 years. I didn’t like the color. It just wasn’t me. All I wanted was my cute little Toyota Corolla back.

And so my amazing husband came to the rescue. We got home and he announced that he was going to take it back for me right away (thank goodness for the three-day, no questions asked return policy). Still in tears and thoroughly embarrassed, I said, “No one actually does that! No one returns a brand new car! But…you would really do that for me?” Yup, he drove it right back to the dealer, told them we made a mistake and that he needed to get my old car back. I have never been more happy to see my cute little car pull into the garage!

One day I’ll be ready to part with my car, but it wasn’t time to breakup yet. So we wasted five hours on a Saturday…at least I got my car cleaned out!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Don't bug me

I adore springtime. I've been bursting with productivity lately because the warm sunshine and longer days are so motivating. But there are two things about spring that I hate: allergies and the return of bugs. Thank goodness for Claritin D. But, I’m still unsatisfied with the bugs.

Every day this week I have killed a spider or some other unclassifiable insect or flying thingy in my home. The other night, I had a dream (or was it…?) that something was buzzing in my ear and I woke myself up when my hand started flailing around my head.

I know these are all tiny, relatively harmless bugs. I know spiders are "good" because they eat other bugs. And yes, I can put on a brave face when others are around and pretend like that spider who can outrun a cheetah is no big deal. I was even on a first name basis with the pest control guy at my former office where we had a bit of a cockroach problem. But honestly, killing bugs in my house takes about as much courage for me as running into a burning building. And have you ever noticed that when you finally do kill a bug, you only think it's dead? Nine times out of ten, that sucker (no matter how crushed it is) somehow revives itself as soon as it's picked up with a tissue.

Disney makes movies in which the bugs talk, dance and save the world. They want me to think bugs are fun and friendly. No. They are not. They are icky. They belong outside and not in my house.

I don't need you to tell me all the gross facts like how the average person eats eight spiders in their lifetime or whatever. I've heard it. But if anyone has any brilliant advice to keep the bugs away—or to overcome my fear in some way that does not involve a Fear Factor-like stunt of letting hundreds of insects crawl on me—let me know. I'm over having all these extra roommates.