Wednesday, December 12, 2012

My Christmas list (of music)

If you don't already know: I'm a music junkie. And there's no other season or holiday that offers a broader repertoire of music all its own than Christmas. I'm not one to break out the Christmas tunes before Thanksgiving (except the ones I rehearse with my church choir starting in September), but I make sure to get my fill of this music every year at this time.

Already my December has been full of music…from my own choir concert and a men's choral group concert I attended to my garbage man's Christmas carols and my frequent car-ride Christmas sing-a-longs with Michael Buble, Josh Groban and others during my commute. This weekend I'm even going with the family to see Elf the Musical, which I'm anticipating will bring additional Christmas cheer—even without Will Ferrell.

Given how much love my Christmas playlists are getting on iTunes at the moment, I thought about doing a list of my favorite Christmas songs. But I quickly realized I could never pick and rank my favorites—there are just too many. So instead, I bring you a different and more random list of favorites to consider… 
I’ve got tons of other categories coming to mind right now (and songs to fill them all), but I'll just leave you with these for now. What would you add to the list?

Fa la la folks! And Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Crazy but thankful

My type A self appreciates (maybe even depends on) going into a work week with laundry completed, a full fridge and a clean home. Today, I experienced the total opposite, despite an extra long weekend. Among other things, my crazy weekend was spent…

  • Hosting out of town in-laws for several days and enjoying a relaxing Thanksgiving Day – fun!
  • Attending my grandpa’s funeral – not so fun, but thankful to remember his 91 years of life alongside my extended family
  • Throwing a two year old birthday party – fun!
  • Spending several hours in the ER with said two year old – not so fun, but thankful that despite a newly discovered peanut allergy, I have an extremely healthy and happy little boy. 

So among other things, you can see that general “life organization” just wasn’t a top priority this weekend. I know that’s ok, but I also feel like my Monday morning was trying to tell me WHY I like to be so organized at the beginning of each week. Here’s what my morning looked like:

  • Realizing at the last minute that I had to be to the office by 7 a.m. today for an in-office wellness screening. But I’m thankful for good health and that I managed to get all passing (e.g. incentive earning) results despite being 17 weeks pregnant.
  • Realizing right after passing the only gas station near my house that my tank was very empty. But I’m thankful that I have a fuel efficient car and convenient access to a gas station down the street from my office.
  • Realizing during my commute that I had another meeting at 7 a.m. and was double booked. This is what happens when I ignore my email on a holiday weekend only celebrated in the U.S. But I’m thankful for understanding co-workers in Paris, Singapore and the UK.
  • Frantically & unsuccessfully trying to turn off and then restart my car in the parking lot only to realize I forgot to put it in park. But I’m thankful that God watches over me and is keenly aware of my occasional (yet becoming more frequent) absent-mindedness.
  • In searching for my security badge (it was 7:02 by this time), I accidentally dumped out my change across the lobby floor. But I’m thankful for the gentleman who chased my change all over the floor and helped me pick it up.
  • The screening people had no record of my appointment. But I’m thankful they let me in anyway. I don’t want to think about how I might have reacted if they turned me away!

So while it was nothing disastrous (and I’m thankful for that), I can’t help but think that things would have gone a bit more smoothly had I felt more prepared for this day and week. Fortunately, my day has since improved and my helpful hubby is even going to stop at the store to supply us with ingredients for a couple of dinners this week. Which reminds me that I’m thankful for incredibly helpful and supportive family and friends. Thanks to them—and so many other blessings—maybe I will make it to next weekend after all!

Is there anything you’re particularly thankful for this post-Thanksgiving week?

Monday, November 12, 2012

TV’s "good ‘ol days"

Now that that my television is finally free of political ads, I’m ready to return to my favorite shows. But I’ve noticed this year that my list of favorites it dwindling. I’ve given up on some shows and simply not allowed myself to get sucked into others. I still can’t help thinking that for all the great new advancements in TV technology, the content we now watch in all its high-definition glory just isn’t as good as it used to be. Though I do appreciate your suggestions for when I do want to chill in front of the tube. 

The shows of my youth are still tops for me. I confess I was a little bit too excited when I heard that Disney might be making a sequel sitcom to Boy Meets World. Though it doesn't top other favorites of mine like The Cosby Show and Full House, I have fond memories of watching Cory, Topanga and Mr. Feeny.

Nostalgia is a powerful thing. I thought the same thing when Old Navy started running TV commercials around back-to-school time this year featuring the old cast of Beverly Hills 90210. That’s brilliant marketing given the fact that many of those Kelly, Brandon and Dylan fans are the very same people now clothes shopping for their elementary-aged kids.

Of course we all know a sequel is rarely as good as the original. But that’s ok. Thanks to Netflix and Nick at Nite, we can keep watching the originals, too. I even indulged in my boyfriend’s recent kick of watching several seasons of The Brady Bunch and Happy Days on Netflix.

So I guess there’s still no shortage of things to watch. But if the networks decide to bring back another Who’s the Boss or Growing Pains, I’d probably check those out too!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cars and kids


Hello, friends! Pardon my recent absence. When I haven’t been sick I’ve been working and when I haven’t been working I’ve been mothering (often single mothering while the hubs is traveling). It hasn’t left a lot of time for blogging.

I also bought a new car. To understand the significance of that purchase, you must refer back to my drama filled post from a couple of years ago in which I explained my emotional attachment to cars and that I bought a car only to make my husband return it an hour later. I later revealed that hormones may have been partly to blame since I was pregnant at the time. Well, this time I’ve kept the new car past the allowable return period, so like it or not, I’m stuck. But I’m ok with that. It was a well-timed, practical purchase, and no tears were shed in giving up the vehicle I’ve happily driven for over six years (ok, it was a little bittersweet if I’m being honest).

Ultimately, I just don’t think the timing was right a couple years ago, and I was pressured into a decision that I knew deep down was not wise. Of course, it will forever be a funny “remember when…” story  (at my expense), and I’ve made peace with it.

Had I not come to terms with it, I would have needed to think twice about the timing of this recent purchase…since I’m pregnant this time too! Yup, baby number two  is on board and due to arrive on May 1. The hubs and I are very excited. So while there’s lots to do before the new little one arrives in six months, at least worrying about how to fit a double stroller in my trunk has already been addressed! (And no, we did not buy a minivan!)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Almost famous?

While visiting my pharmacy's website (a pharmacy chain that happens to be owned by my employer), I did a double take at the small advertising banner in the middle of the screen—the same image you see accompanying this post. Instantly, I recognized that hand!

And before you start thinking it was some crazy hand twin discovery like the one that Joey had on Friends, it wasn't. No, it really WAS my hand! I remember holding up my colleague's cell phone when she needed a quick photo for an announcement she was writing about this new mobile app.

So now I'm kind of a hand model, right? But just like those artists who no longer want to perform the hit songs that made them famous (ahem, Boys II Men and Vanilla Ice) please remember that I'm more than this semi-famous left hand.

Besides a couple of local TV news appearances and my brief recording artist career for a children’s Christmas musical recording, this might be the closest I ever get to fame. And I’m ok with that. In fact, I usually prefer being a behind-the-scenes gal. I've been a ghost writer, photo shoot coordinator, video producer, media escort and more—all trying to make other people look good. (I'd like to call it humility, but it's probably more shyness and self consciousness.) And yet the satisfaction I've gotten from having my hand in these moments of "fame" for others is pretty great.

So while I won't be accepting an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, etc., anytime soon, I'd still like to thank the many friends and loved ones who encouraged me to become the behind-the-scenes gal I am today. For now, the hand is in retirement, but a comeback is always possible…

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Warning: A post about boogers

I’m sick today. It’s just a cold, so I’m muddling through my normal routines, but it still sucks. And speaking of sucks…should I accidentally pass this little bug onto my toddler, at least I’m armed with the world’s best nasal aspirator to keep his sinuses as clear as can be…the Nosefrida Snotsucker. Essentially, it’s a tube where you put one end in your child’s nose and the other end in your mouth and—you guessed it—you suck the yuck out (don't worry, there is a filter to keep it out of the user's mouth). Sure it sounds gross, but it works 100 times better than those useless bulb things.

What really sold me on this was the funniest Amazon.com product review I’ve ever read. Or, maybe it was only funny to me because it came at a time where I was the completely delirious and sleep deprived mother of a newborn. I’ll let you be the judge, because I’m sharing it here. Enjoy!

Read the full product review

And if you’re not one to click on the link, here are a few of my favorite highlights:

“my wife has tiny nostrils. i can't fit any of my fingers in her nose...it's amazing she can breathe through her nose at all. consequently, our son is also lacking in the nostril-diameter department”

“we even tried a fancy battery powered nose vacuum that made a whirring sound but produced nary a single lump of green gold.”


“if i was a professional booger sucker...and it was my job to suck the snot out of noses 8 hours a day, i would insist on using this thing. but i would want a longer tube, and a holster.”

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Call me, maybe


I promise this isn’t about the most beloved pop song of 2012. I just couldn’t resist that headline.

No, today I’m sharing with the world that, after several good years with my Blackberry and Android phones, I ordered the iPhone 5 yesterday. I no longer want to be upstaged by my two-year-old nephew who also can navigate the iPhone.

While I’m looking forward to getting the phone, I did wonder yesterday if it’s possible to have an interaction with a cell phone service provider without getting severely annoyed. While I got a “new every two [years]” upgrade discount of $50, I was also informed of a new $30 upgrade fee. When I explained to the friendly customer service rep that it would be easier to just say I only get a $20 discount, he seemed confused. This marks at least the second time my math skills have been put to good use in a customer service setting.

I’m also now paying a dollar more per month for my “new” 2GB data plan than I was paying for my unlimited data plan before. So you’ll forgive me if I’m not feeling the love right now for a company that may or may not rhyme with horizon.

All bitterness aside, we’ve come a long way when it comes to communication and I do enjoy being a smartphone user. Usually. (I did, however, text my boyfriend from across the table at dinner the other night while he was engrossed in some app on his phone.) Communication has certainly changed!

So iPhone users, what apps do you find most useful? What can’t you live without? Which ones should I avoid ever using because of their addictive nature and time-sucking qualities?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Show me love...toddler style

With a now nearly two year old, I’m regularly getting to see things through a child’s eyes, and everything old is new again. Suddenly, the same old State Fair is cool because they have big tractors. The zoo is brand new because my little Connor saw a live bear for the first time. And these days, I rarely fail to notice when a school bus or semi truck drives by thanks to an excited toddler in the back seat. Because every day is new and exciting for him, I get to see the world and life in a new way and learn from it. And I think I need that.

One of my favorite recent experiences has been watching my son learn to love. Clearly, this kid gets lots of hugs and kisses, and he’s now practicing what he sees…perhaps to an extreme. At his daycare he started what my husband calls  the “big hug revolution.” When it’s time to go home, Connor announces that he has to give “big hugs” to each child and his teacher. At first, a few of the kids didn’t care for it—some even pushed him away. I tried to tell my son it was OK to just wave, but he wouldn’t have it. He would rather topple an unstable baby over than deny that child a big hug. And now, it’s routine for everyone at the end of the day to hug each other good bye. I’m amazed at what he started. Even the other parents get a kick out of it and remind Connor to give their child a hug before taking their kid home.

And while I’m not encouraging materialism (I hope), he seems to equally show love to his toys. It started with hugging stuffed animals, but has progressed from there. A couple days ago before bedtime I was trying to get him to pick up his toys. I was rushing him to close a closet door when I realized that he had stopped to give kisses to two of his favorite toys.

As I personally work on trying to take time daily for gratitude and thanksgiving, it’s my 22 month old who shows me how it’s done—always willing to take the time to appreciate the people and things around him. I can only imagine what he’ll teach me next!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Minnesota's got talent


I concluded my Labor Day weekend Sunday night with a visit to the Minnesota State Fair. While I enjoyed my annual menu of cheese curds, Pronto Pup, ice cream and Sweet Martha's cookies, I also enjoyed a new fair tradition of sorts. For the second year in a row, I attended the finals of the amateur talent competition.

For some reason, this talent show—particularly the pre-teen and teen categories—is nostalgic for me. When I was the age of these competitors, I may not have had quite the singing, dancing, piano playing or yo-yo tossing skills they have, but I had a huge desire to be a performer. And perform I did! It might have started in second grade when Jen and I, along with another friend, did a dance “recital” to Sandi Patty songs. (God bless our parents and our Sunday School teacher for suffering through that performance in my parents’ basement!)

What followed was several more years of grade-school talent show performances including dances to songs by Tiffany, New Kids on the Block and Madonna. And I put my vocal skills on display through numerous performances in church musicals, summer camp talent shows and school choir. Some of these performances were darn good! All of my rehearsing with friends in front of the bathroom mirror with hairbrush microphones really paid off! And I did join some girlfriends in a quartet for a lesser-known State Fair talent competition sponsored by the old Crossroads Chapel in high school where we took second place.

As I drove home from the fair late Sunday night, I found myself singing (loudly) in my car that very song that we performed at the State Fair 16 years ago. And I was so pumped that I actually remembered my part! I belted out harmonies to Point of Grace’s The Great Divide and let my mind wander to many of these other performances from over the years.

Dare I ask what talent you would perform if participating in a talent show today? What's your claim to fame? Your stupid human trick? Or, what do you wish you could do?

Enjoying others' good talent and good food was a great way to enjoy part of my holiday weekend. I hope you’re also enjoying these waning days of summer!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The working mom tote bag - Part 2

After introducing you to my latest, and perhaps favorite accessory where style meets function, I’m back with more detail. Only I could turn a tote bag into a two part series. Today I’m going to share what’s in my bag…because I think that also says a lot about a person. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way because Delta Sky magazine (my favorite airline’s in-flight publication) has a monthly feature I love that shows what a celebrity has in his or her carry-on bag when traveling. Ok, so it might lose some luster given that I’m not a celebrity, but it’s my blog, so I’m sharing it anyway. “What’s in my bag?” Here’s a peek:

  • Must have item: iPhone
  • Biggest waste of space: A stack of outdated business cards. I can’t remember the last time I handed out a business card, but my Girl Scout roots have me living by the “Be Prepared” motto.
  • Most random items: Some old Post-it notes and a dirty spoon in a Ziploc bag. This apparently accompanied a snack (yogurt as indentified by the dried remains on the spoon) from a recent work day. While I try to keep things organized, there are occasional items that get lost for weeks in my bag. Don’t judge me...change doesn’t happen overnight.
  • Snacks/Treats: Yes! (Sorry if that wasn’t a yes or no question…I just get excited about this category.) I usually slip a few dark chocolate Dove Promises in my bag for those moments during the day when I need a chocolate fix. Other munchies are also standard. You might think the goldfish crackers, raisins, etc. are there in case my son needs them for our ride home from daycare, but no, they are most definitely for me.
  • Bag of choice: A convertible tote from Urban Junket (a Minnesota-based small business)
  • What I love about it: Besides being stylish and big, it’s also both functional and responsible. It has different straps so you can wear it different ways…even as a backpack. Plus, it’s eco-chic, as the lining is made from recycled plastic bottles (next I might need to start composting my own garbage…or not)
  • Other essentials: wallet, keys, Chapstick/lip gloss, laptop, work ID badge

So that’s what’s in my bag! Well, my work bag anyway. I won’t bore you with the diaper bag, the lunch bag, etc. But I am curious, what’s the most interesting or surprising item in your bag?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The working mom tote bag - Part 1

Today’s post is about a purse—my new tote bag to be exact. And bizarre as it may seem, I’m even making it a two part series this week. Hopefully even my male readers will find this an intriguing look into the life and mind of the opposite sex. Why? Because a bag can say a lot about a woman. Even my 21 month old will tell you that ladies (especially mommies) need their bag. He looks for it whenever I leave the house. And on the rare occasion when I just have my keys with me, he reminds me that I need “mommy bag.”

So here is what I think my old and new bags say about me, but you can judge for yourself:

Old tote: I’m cheap (this is still mostly true) and don’t want to replace my 8-year old Target purchase even though I can’t fit anything inside and it’s falling apart. Instead, I’ll just carry several mismatched purses/bags in a disheveled manner. To my fellow elevator riders, please disregard the silly song playing on the pocket Fischer Price toy in my purse that I accidentally hit while schlepping my things into the crowded elevator (this has happened to me more than once).

New tote: I’m stylish, professional and organized…even though I still have lots of stuff. While I didn’t break the bank on a Louis Vuitton, I am willing to forgo Target for something with boutique style because I know I will use it every day. I’ve also abandoned my tendency toward “safe” black or brown and feel a bit like Elle Woods a la Legally Blonde with this pop of color in a sea of drab business black.

Obviously, I love my new tote bag. It’s partly because I rarely splurge on purchases for me. However, there is some irony in this purchase that I can’t ignore. Growing up my sister and I would make fun of the “mom purse” – specifically, our mom’s purse because it was huge and she could use its contents to open her own pharmacy, and tailor, and concession stand. Now here I am, loving the fact that this is the largest work bag I’ve ever owned. And truthfully, anything smaller would have been a failed purchase. Look ma…I can open up my own sundries store now too!

So tomorrow is part two…“What’s in my bag?” Is this an awesome cliffhanger or what!?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Carried away

The Olympics are over and I offer a sincere ‘thank you’ to the Spice Girls for providing my closing ceremony highlight and splendid flashbacks to high school.

As much as I enjoyed all the Olympic heroes and medalists, I came across another hero today who has me simply in awe.

If you haven't heard about the father who completed a triathlon while carrying, pushing and pulling his 13-year old daughter with cerebral palsy, read the story. The physical strength he showed is inspiring, but it’s the purpose behind his feat that brought me a smile (and some teary eyes). Talk about LOVE!

I'm lucky to be a daughter who's loved a lot, too. And it's precious to hear Jen talk about her love for my nephew (and as his auntie, I'd carry him just about anywhere, too…until his sweet chunkiness makes my arms go numb!)  

This whole story gives new meaning to the commonly quoted Footprints in the Sand poem. In fact, from now on, I'll no longer think of the Lord just carrying me through the sandI'll picture him doing a triathlon with me in his arms! How cool that he'd do that for each one of us (again and again)!

Monday, August 13, 2012

A summer potluck

Like a Lutheran potluck, this post has a little of everything. It’s a late summer recap of random musings that hopefully includes a dish or two you’ll enjoy, whether it be it vacation, baseball, charity, or perhaps a summer dish of your own. So, let’s dig in!

I recently got back from vacation where we visited family in New York. Sadly, I took almost no photos. But here is my favorite shot from the week…cousins and buddies enjoying their week together.
 I also attended a wedding while out of town. It was a Catholic wedding in a beautiful church, and the entire ceremony I kept staring at the holy family statues up front thinking that Joseph needed a Baby Bjorn to carry baby Jesus around. This is just how my random mind works these days. See baby Jesus (circa 1 AD)…and my own baby Connor and husband making use of the popular baby wearing contraption (circa 2011 AD). 

Recently you may have noticed the “Water of Life” banner in the sidebar of this blog. Compassion International is an awesome charitable organization doing great things for needy children around the world, and I wanted to do what little I could to promote some of their efforts…and give you and other blog readers an opportunity to get involved if you are interested. Through Compassion, I’ve sponsored and corresponded with a girl named Diana in Peru for the last 10 years and look forward to sponsoring another child in a few years who my son can correspond with as they both grow. But even if sponsoring a specific child isn’t your thing, there are a lot of other cool things Compassion is doing and ways you can help. Click on the Water of Life banner on the right to find out about one of their life changing efforts. I may mention others here from time to time as well!

I had my first opportunity this year to see my MN Twins in action at Target Field this weekend. My son looks confused in the photos, but he had a blast. TC Bear (the Twins mascot) has a new fan.

My husband is currently out of town for a couple of days in a state with much warmer weather than Minnesota. There are some potentially exiting things going on in our family. Lots to pray about too. Hopefully I can share more soon.

Well, I think you’re pretty much caught up with my life for the moment. Stay tuned for a less random, more thoughtful blog post next time. Meanwhile, where have your summer plans taken you in recent weeks?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

We've got spirit


If you're tired of the Olympics, I apologize, because I'm still addicted and I can’t not talk about it! The comebacks. The records broken. The teamwork. The people who made it despite incredible odds. Summer or Winter Olympics—doesn't matter; I'm so inspired. And I'm moved to tears every time I hear our national anthem during a medal ceremony.

I'd like to bottle up these feelings of pride to use once the Olympics are over. When political mudslinging and annoying campaign ads take over the airwaves, I'm going to need a reminder of the friendly and sportsmanlike competition of these summer games.

I do wish we had this Olympic pride and unity for other things. Of course, we had "spirit" in high school. I have fond memories of cheering alongside the pep band, waiting hours in line for state tournament hockey tickets and Spirit Weeks. We've even had a couple of Spirit Weeks in my office, complete with a Hawaiian day, 80s day, crazy t-shirt day and, of course, pajama day (don't worry, I changed clothes to attend meetings outside my department).

Maybe we need to bring back Spirit Week. True, a national pajama day won't give me the same satisfying feeling as watching our gymnasts stick a landing or our swimmers being first to touch that wall. But there's not a lot of room for controversy when we share a common goal to have fun and be a little silly. I'm not trying to minimize the very serious issues of our country, but when we're all supporting the same team, it sure is refreshing.

What's been your favorite Olympic moment so far? As proud as I am of all the U.S. athletes, I've especially loved seeing smaller countries cheering for their small contingent of athletes—like when the runner from Grenada won his country's first Olympic medal ever (a gold!) in the men’s 400m. I also admired this very classy show of respect from Jamaican runner Usain Bolt.

Go USA!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Is there any must see TV?


I'm headed on vacation this week (a.k.a. a visit to my in-laws in Western New York), so I'm putting readers in the driver's seat for the week...let me hear ya. I hope everyone is enjoying the Olympics (assuming you share my obsession)!

My TV time has dwindled dramatically in the last year and a half (although my knowledge of Sesame Street and other PBS Kids characters has hugely expanded), but I still appreciate some mindless tube time at the end of a day when I can get it. And yet I still often sit down to find my DVR empty (except for my husband’s shows from Discovery and History channel) and I end up tuning in to a repeat episode of House Hunters. And so I wonder, what’s out there that’s worth watching?

The truth is, I don’t find a lot of time to watch TV, which is why I’m even more interested in quality over quantity these days. We recently considered ditching cable in our household altogether and spending less on a hulu subscription (since we rarely watch anything live anyway), but a couple of weeks ago we gave in to a good deal on Direct TV, so now we have lots more channels…and I still don’t have anything to watch.

My media-savvy hubby read that there are a bunch of new comedies coming out this fall, which has me hopeful (though I anticipate being greatly disappointed with at least 90 percent of them). My repertoire from the last TV season often includes Parks & Recreation, Survivor and Amazing Race, Modern Family, Parenthood, and currently, So You Think You Can Dance. And that’s about it. Returning blog readers will notice I finally let go of The Bachelor, Glee, and Dancing with the Stars. 

So, what are you watching? Or renting? I'm looking for a few good shows! 

Monday, July 23, 2012

A dangerous trip down the aisle


My health care communications role often requires me to consult the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on information I write for my organization. (Remember H1N1 flu?) It’s good that we have these public health experts to help us prevent a Contagion-like scenario. But I was surprised to see that their latest public service to us was providing a Wedding Day Survival Guide.

My first thought was that someone at the CDC clearly has too much time on their hands (or, is probably planning a wedding themselves). Let's give these people another international health crisis or something. SARS? Avian flu? I just don't see how wedding day survival stacks up. And they try to convince me of this guide's importance by adding that "many of us here at CDC realized that planning for a wedding isn't that much different from planning for a disaster." Well, if that doesn't make me want to get to the altar…!

While the CDC seems an unlikely source, I'll admit to being intrigued by the concept. Actually, having been single throughout the years when most of my friends got married, I wonder if there's more value in a wedding guests survival guide to include things like tips for buying wedding and shower gifts without going broke and how to survive the completely awkward bouquet toss (brides: seriously, just don’t do that to your single friends!). 

Type A planner that I am, I'm sure many of these tips would undoubtedly be covered at my wedding thanks to my emergency-management experience (I'm now a FEMA-certified Public Information Officer)—and a carefully recruited personal attendant. 

Of course, my poking fun at this survival guide almost certainly ensures that there will indeed be some kind of disaster on my wedding day. I know we had a close call at Jen's wedding when our bridesmaid dresses arrived at the last possible minute--due to them being made at a Texas facility that had shut down during Hurricane Ike. And I recall another friend's cake disaster that required a call to the police to open a bakery that was closed on the wedding day. I guess these stories add to the adventure—an adventure that I hear is certain to continue way beyond the wedding day.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Unknown

I’ve enjoyed a slightly slower pace in recent weeks and it has given me added time to reflect (scary, I know). So as I was driving by a neighboring new housing development the other day, I thought about all those new homeowners. All of them built a home in the last year. For most of them, I presume, it’s a house where they plan to spend many more years. I couldn’t help but envy them just a bit. Why? Because I truly have no idea what the next year will bring (despite being a planner at my core). For the most part I’ve found peace with that.

You may recall a post I wrote just over a month ago about some potentially big changes. That specific change to which I was referring didn’t pan out (a change that would have moved me and my family across the country…and it was serious enough that we were driving through neighborhoods on the west side of the Rockies scoping out available real estate). And while I was excited about the opportunity, I’m 100 percent ok with it not happening. I learned a heck of a lot from the whole experience, and my faith was stretched more than it has been in many recent years. However, the cliché is that when one door closes, another one opens, and that’s what my family and I have been seeing lately. So once again, we walk through the open doors and wait to see what God will do.

So in the next year… Perhaps we’ll move away. Perhaps we’ll add to our family. Perhaps my husband could make a 180 degree career change. All of the above or none of the above, it’s all unknown...along with most everything else in life. While there is no answer key, the Bible, of course, has proved (as always) to be a great place to turn. My husband also has wisely reminded me that it is not up to us to seek the answer, but to seek God (who knows and controls it all). So I’m trying to focus not on the waves, but on the One who walks on them. If you have any tips for “the wait” I would love to hear them, as I imagine all of us are waiting on something.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Lazy days of summer

I'm back from a July Fourth extra long weekend up north and I've got the mosquito bites to prove it. Hanging out on the Iron Range toughened me up a little though. By the end of the weekend I thought "Meh, what's a little sunburn and 30 more bug bites… bring it on." And "Who needs indoor plumbing anyway?!"

But the best thing about getting away was the lack of things to do. And by that I mean that I needed some tranquility, some time to be a little lazy.

I’ve been reminded a lot over the past year or so about the importance of rest. It's hard to rest at home when the to-do lists of errands and housekeeping (along with my Type A personality) are always looming. Add my rush-hour commutes, deadlines and the constant barrage of depressing news headlines and it's easy to feel stressed about not only my life and that of my loved ones, but also the world around me.

So while there is no easing back to work this week as I catch up on what I missed and head into my busiest quarter of the year, I'm thankful for time to disconnect from work, media and the routine to spend quality time with good people, enjoying God's creation, laughing and prioritizing some good rest. I hope you're taking some time this summer to do the same!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Swimming lessons...for mom

Chances are, wherever you are, it’s hot outside (unless the far southern hemisphere is well-represented in my blog readership). It’s probably the perfect week to stay inside with air conditioning. However, it’s also a holiday week and the ideal time for enjoying summer fun, so undoubtedly at some point this week I’ll be heading to the pool with my little boy as we’ve done a few times this summer already.

In preparation for this summer activity,  my toddler had his first extra-curricular activity this past spring…parent/child swim lessons at our local community center.  My husband and I took turns in the pool with him getting him used to being in the water. Connor did really well; I think it’s safe to say he’ll probably be a good swimmer as he grows. It shouldn’t be surprising since the hubs swam competitively in high school.

But there was also a chance my son would take after me. In the spirit of full disclosure, I should just tell you: I can’t swim. I was always a bit embarrassed to say that growing up, but now I might as well fess up. Oh, I tried mind you (or rather, my parents tried to get me to learn, and I fought it kicking and screaming.) I can jump in the deep end and get myself to the side of the pool, and  I could float if I needed to, but I wouldn’t completely trust myself being in waters deeper than five feet with my child.

So don’t tell Connor’s swim instructor, but those lessons might have been for me as much as for my son. And it’s quite possible one day my son will save me from drowning.

I hope you're also finding fun ways to stay cool this week. Have a safe and happy Independence Day!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Infrequent fitness

When my alarm went off at 4:45 a.m. this morning, I promptly reset it for an hour later and went back to sleep. Another failed attempt at hitting the gym before work. But with a pretty modest goal to wake up early just once per week, I’ve still got four more chances to get my morning workout in, so I’m not feeling too guilty.

I once shared with you my considerations for joining a health club. I followed through and decided the frequent fitness discount through my health insurance would be just the motivation I needed to stay healthy and justify the expense. (Keep in mind, I'm not chasing kids around like most of my friends, so I actually need the exercise.) Problem: In the last 20 months, I have met my 12-visits-per-month discount requirement exactly one time. (But I’ve been so close many times!)

I’ve found plenty of reasons to not get to the gym three times a week. And most of them are legit. But there’s always a little bit of guilt when I look at that membership payment on my credit card statement each month. Even so, I’m not ready to admit defeat when it comes to the gym.

At work this last week, there was a discussion about what physical activity we would try if we had no fear or physical limitations. (Think about it!) I realized that perhaps my commitment to exercise sometimes fails simply because I haven’t found a health club activity that really excites me. Yet I can watch an Olympic gymnast (can’t wait for London!) or an episode of So You Think You Can Dance and be inspired to do (or make a sad attempt at doing) split leaps across my living room.

Oh well. If and when I need to tighten my budget, the gym membership may be the first thing to go, but it has definitely had value for me too. I’ve met some important goals along the way, learned some new fitness routines and am reminded after every single workout how fantastic it feels to have completed it.

Monday, June 18, 2012

I said I would never...

The only way to learn some things is by doing. In my corporate life I think it’s called experiential learning (learning on the job as opposed to going through training, reading about it, etc.) I’ve recently come to the conclusion that 99 percent of learning how to be a parent comes from experiential learning. So it’s no surprise that I have A LOT to learn. But I’ve also made some progress in the last year and a half. Evidence of that can perhaps best be seen by looking back at some of the things I said I would NEVER do as a parent…things in which I’ve done an about face on when faced with reality. For example, before I was a parent I said I would never…

…Use the TV as a babysitter. Yet I’m pretty sure on a recent rainy weekend my son watched no fewer than 3 episodes of Sesame Street…and part of the movie Cars…and probably some HGTV.

…Take a small child on an airplane. But then my entire husband’s side of the family was a plane ride away, and I wanted my son to know daddy’s side of the family. So we’re getting ready to plan our third trip to New York with a baby/toddler in tow.

And, as previously quoted on this very blog, I said I would never…

…Take my child to the crazy, loud, germ infested indoor play area at the mall. But on a rainy weekend when breakfast was done by 8 a.m. and naptime wasn’t until 1:30, I caved. And I’ve caved again since then. And my son loved it. And I was just thankful for something to do with him!
So, I’ve learned to be careful about saying, “I’ll never…” I already stand corrected on at least 100 child rearing topics, not the least of which was breastfeeding, daycare, sleep training, and the list goes on and on.

Yes, I still have a lot to learn. And I’m finally ok with that.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Homes sweet homes


There was a time in my youth when I loved paging through catalogs looking at toys and games—daydreaming that I was the owner of whatever the “it” item was. At some point though, I became less interested in wanting a trampoline and paging through the JC Penney Christmas catalog. Instead, I found myself browsing Sunday ads for home furnishings and looking forward to catalogs from West Elm. Now I shop primarily for towels, rugs, pillows and just about anything for my home—and I love it. But with a small condo and little room (and cash!) to spare, I've taken to dreaming instead of redecorating.

To support these daydreams of mine, I’ve become addicted to HGTV. I’m not much of a do-it-yourselfer like many of my crafty friends, but it certainly provides inspiration. I absolutely love looking at other people’s homes. Not in a creeper way, of course, just in a “someday I want to…” have those countertops, buy that bedroom set, paint a room blue, or whatever fill-in-the-blank applies kind of way.

I’m obviously not the only one because we have model homes galore in this city. I’m a sucker for the Parade of Homes every fall and spring. This month, I’m also hoping to hit the Luxury Home Tour.

If I sound too materialistic, let me assure you that I have no desire for even half of the amenities these million-dollar homes offer. I much prefer a small, cozy place to call home. Just give me a front porch and a few big windows overlooking an idyllic little neighborhood and my daydream is complete!

So what does your dream home look like? Or what HGTV-inspired project would you like to take on? I’m always looking for more ideas to add to my “someday” file.

Actually, as I sit here at my “dining room” table (it’s part of my living room), I feel a nice breeze through the window and am looking around at all the ways I’ve made this place home over the years. I’m pretty content. I like being home.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Anticipation of iPads and other things

Never have I seen an adult be so excited for a FedEx delivery as my husband was a couple of months ago, all because he ordered the new iPad.  Leading up to the delivery of this technological treasure was a bit like waiting for the birth of a child. He talked about it often and delicately planned for its arrival. After tracking it online for over a week, he worked from home the day it was to be delivered since it required a signature. But, just in case he was otherwise engaged when they came, he printed off and signed a FedEx permission slip and taped it to our front door for the delivery guy to leave it outside our door without a signature. That’s anticipation, people. It finally arrived and it seems to be all that he was hoping it would be. And my reaction to it all? I thought it was completely charming in a tech geek sort of way. His anticipation was marked by pure excitement. And while I gave him a hard time about “Paddy’s” arrival, that excitement is fun to see at any age. (And, I have been known to use Paddy every now and then too.)
I wish that all forms of anticipation were as absolute as waiting for an iPad with a tracking number. As a family we’re anticipating some things lately, potentially big things…or possibly nothing at all. I’m excited, anxious, impatient, and a bit stressed out at times. I am so thankful to know that God is always trustworthy, always in control. I’m doing my best to hold on to all things with an open hand, but at the same time, I’m a very human person in a very imperfect world. So my selfish wants, insecurities, and emotions get the best of me at times. That said, if you’re someone who prays, I’d really appreciate your prayers that my entire family would fully, and with excited anticipation, trust in all that God has for us!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Is creativity for the birds?


I write about plenty of dry topics in my job like health insurance, retirement plans, employment policies and technology systems. While I try to make these topics sound friendly at best, I don’t usually get to be humorous or sarcastic when I write (except in this blog), so I appreciate people who have that creative license in their work life. 

Groupon’s copyrighters often do a nice job with this (including plenty of funny analogies—and some that are just plain groan worthy). Earlier this year while preparing for a California vacation, I signed up for the San Francisco Groupon in search of some good deals for the trip. I was particularly intrigued by their promotion of a deal at a falconry center.


How does one make calling birds of prey sound like a worthwhile purchase to the general public in 50 words or less? With something like this:  


The call of the wild is like a call from an elderly grandparent: Though you can’t quite make out what’s being said, you feel better about yourself when you answer. Pick up nature's phone with this Groupon.


Let’s all give a collective slow clap for this copywriter. If you’ve ever talked to an elderly grandparent on the phone, you know exactly how true this is! 


While the Falconry Experience didn’t make it onto the short list of activities I participated in during a very rainy vacation, it gave me a good laugh and led me to their website where I learned a thing or two about the “majesty of the ancient art of falconry.” Who knew?   

 
I should acknowledge that Groupon as a whole has made some communication blunders. But let’s not let that spoil these kudos for clever promotional writing.


Makes me think… perhaps a clever analogy or sarcastic plug is necessary to explain why reading (or writing!) this blog is a good investment of time. If you have any ideas, sound off in the comments!