Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

As 2008 comes to a close, I want to wish you all the very best of everything this world has to offer in 2009. I've been so blessed in my life to have such wonderful children, who have all given me so much happiness and love - not to mention the 3 gorgeous (and genius) grandchildren I've gotten out of the deal. I have an amazing husband, who understands me completely, and who just lets me go - never trying to rein me in. He is wise enough to know that it makes me want to be with him forever all the more, and to try very hard to be my best self. We have a good life, complete with so many luxuries we sometimes take for granted.
In 2009 I'd like to be able to give more of myself, and think less about "duty" and "work." Enjoy family and friends (and especially time with my beloved grandmother), and all the blessings attached. Make sure I bestow blessings myself along the way, think more about my husband's comfort, and ensure that I miss as little as possible in my grandchildren's young lives.

How about you? What are you hoping & wishing for, dreaming of, in 2009? What are your goals, and what are your plans to achieve them? I'd love to hear. I'm always hoping for some new inspiration, some novel idea or approach to one of my sticky problems. Some things never change, but I'm hoping to change some things for the better in the coming year. Come out a little shinier, glowier, and hopeful on the other end. May you all do the same. Be happy, love each other, love yourselves.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Cuteness

Did everyone have a good Christmas with family and friends? We did. This was the first year since I was 12 that I didn't spend Christmas Eve with my parents and brothers. It was hard to make the break, but c'mon... I'm 55 and a grandmother of 3. It was time. And I'm so glad we did. Rex & Ronna and their two kids, Lexi and Matthew, were at our house on Christmas Eve, along with our in-house son, Scott. Because there weren't hordes of uncles, aunts, and cousins there, we had the chance to bond and play with Lexi & Matthew, and have some fun with them. We let Lexi open one of her gifts that evening: the doggy sleeping bag (see pictures). That alone made the whole evening worthwhile. As she was pulling it out of the box, she kept saying "So cute, so cute! Oh...soft... so cute!" Then she wanted her new "sweeping bag" all spread out so she could kick back and watch "The Polar Express"in comfort. We enjoyed a nice dinner together, and then had peppermint hot chocolate (made with real dark and milk chocolate - so yummy!), and Christmas cookies. LaMar carried Lexi outside to search the sky for Santa, but no luck. Matthew was his charming, happy self - what a good little boy!

On Christmas morning, the same bunch came back, along with my parents, and we all enjoyed breakfast: a frittata, and cinnamon bun ebelskiver (Swedish pancakes). There were many trips back to the stove for seconds, and everyone finally got their fill. Then present time. As always, it was over in a flash (all that shopping and planning - over with in a blink!) But when the dust settled, everyone was happy: Lexi was pulling her new rolling backpack (easier to come see me now!) and lunchbox all over, Matthew was playing with his new Leapfrog playtable, and the adults all hunkered down to visit and enjoy their various gifts. In the afternoon we all had fun making our own panini sandwiches on my new panini grill! (Gift to myself!) After everyone had gone on their way, the rain came pouring down, the house was quiet, and it was so nice to just relax and enjoy the peace of it all: Christmas lights glowing, fireplace burning, the sound of rain on the roof, and just L and I home to enjoy it all while we savored the day's memories.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Grandma Chronicles: Home for Christmas

My grandma got herself sprung from the care facility in which she'd been imprisoned for the last week and a half. I've never seen anyone so happy to get home to her own little bed. She worked and worked in physical therapy to get her motor skills improved, and then...the physical therapist turned his back on her for a second, and she fell. So once again, Grandma is battered and bruised, but still smiling: she got her wish granted to come home.
I went today with my parents to see her and take the Christmas gifts for her and my aunt. Grandma's gift was all about the lotion, and staying hydrated. I got her lavender body lotion, a balm stick for extra dry areas, Burt's Bees lip balm, lavender mint bath/shower gel (organic and with colloidal oatmeal to keep her skin soft!) a boo-boo stick (a wintergreen smelling balm stick that is supposed to heal boo-boos and sore muscles - smells amazing!) AND - last, but not least - Burt's Bees Ageless Night Cream. I applied the cream to her poor little dried out face, and I think it took 10 years off in 30 seconds. Well, even if not, she loved how it felt - she kept touching her face because her skin felt so soft. I'm telling you, a girl can never have too much moisturizer. If your skin is hydrated, and your lips unchapped, you can then summon the courage to do battle with life's challenges.
After a thorough moisturizing, Grandma got up and ate a tuna sandwich (prepared by me!), drank some Sunny D with her new sippy cup (no more messy spills as she works to gain muscle control!), and then ate a See's chocolate. Life was good for a bit. I'm in awe of the fight that 97 year old girl still has in her.
Tomorrow a caregiver arrives fora couple of days of round the clock care, while paperwork is being processed to get her physical therapy and home care organized and started. Thank goodness my aunt will FINALLY be able to take a big nap, and let someone else take over for awhile. Things are looking up a little bit for The Girls. May they each be able to "sleep in heavenly peace" now that Grandma is back home, and out of the woods.

Santa Claus Has Come to Town

Guess who I saw getting a pedicure??


Guess he gets aching, calloused feet, ingrown toenails, and a yen for a foot massage like the rest of us. He seemed like a jolly old elf in spite of it all.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Chocolate Therapy, Workin' the Camera, and *Stormwatch*

We went to see my grandma this past weekend. She is doing pretty well, but still it was hard to see her in the nursing home. She'd been working hard in physical therapy, and had practiced raising her left arm over and over and over until she could raise it as high as the top of her head. She can kick a beach ball with her left foot, and while doing some eliptical excercises with her arms, her hand slipped off and she clocked the physical therapist on the chin. Take that!
As predicted, she works so hard, and is so much fun that people want to help her even more. I brought her some See's candy (soft centers, no nuts) to *stimulate* her appetite. She had that box ripped open and a chocolate stuffed in her mouth so fast it was a blur. As we were leaving my brother joked that maybe he'd sneak a piece of chocolate out of her drawer. She pointed her bony finger at him and croaked "I'm keeping an eye on you..." She's still quick and funny. And determined to get outta there and go home. It was so good to see her laugh and make jokes. Once, she even caught sight of herself in the mirror and tried to fix her hair. She's still alive.

Sunday afternoon L and I had a photo shoot for our Christmas cards. It was a little pitiful: two stiff photophobic people trying to appear spontaneous and lively for our Christmas cards. Somehow we managed to get a good image after taking 54 shots. I was exhausted, and my hair went a little limp in the process, but I think you'd agree that we were able to appear like fun *festive* people. I'd include the picture of choice here, but its on L's Mac, and I'm here at work. Working on my blog...

On a different note, Southern California is have a torrential downpour. I woke up at 2 or 3am to the sound of pounding rain. I love that, but driving to work was a little hairy. My little car gets a little slippy slidey when there's lots of water because it's so low to the ground. I felt it hydroplane briefly a couple of times. Yikes! But I do love to be inside and watch/hear the rain coming down. If there were thunder and lightning it would be perfect. Even more perfect would be a power outage. Translate that to *Time To Go Home.* But the best thing of all is to watch the local LA news, because they get so excited whenever we have any kind of weather. And tonight they'll for sure be on *STORMWATCH.* Good times. I'm sure other parts of the country find our panic about a sprinkly rain, or even an occasional downpour ridicuous, but hey - a little rain is all we ever get. Until the Big One, anyway. Then maybe you'll all have a little respect.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Girls Need Some Prayers

I 've been busy this past week frantically trying to finish all the Christmas shopping (online of course!) I've almost gotten it done, and packages have started to arrive - so exciting and satisfactory! But in the midst of all the excitement was something that brought me right back down to earth and reminded me of what is really important here: FAMILY.

My sweet grandmother (yes, the one who can eat like a farmhand) had a stroke last week. (I hope it wasn't brought on by the carb-loaded-heavy-on-the-cream-artery-choking Thanksgiving dinner I served her...) She's in a short term care facility trying to rehabilitate. Translate that to she's trying her best to improve so she can go home. But the food has been miserable, and her spirits have sunk a little bit. My poor aunt is struggling with the day to day of it all pretty much by herself, as they live quite a distance from the rest of us. I'm worried about her as well - she won't stop and care for herself. These two ladies (The Girls, as we affectionately call them) are quite extraordinary, and are the family's treasure. There's nothing they haven't done, or wouldn't do, for any of us, and the thought of losing either one is nothing short of SAD. I try not to selfishly wish longer life for my grandma - she's 97, and almost everyone she loves best (my grandpa, all but 2 siblings, her parents, countless friends) have all passed on. Surely, the reunion on the other side, when it comes, will be completely joyful. I'll try to remember that. But in the meantime, I pray for just a little more time with her - for me, for my children, for everyone who knows her. And I pray for my sweet, completely amazing aunt to have the strength to care for her. And to know that she is loved and treasured every bit as much as Grandma. You hear me, Margie? *Every*Bit*As*Much*

Happy Birthday to the Best Mom Ever! (and many, many, many more)

Yesterday was Mom's birthday. True to form, I never even thought of taking any pictures so I'll just include one of her here that I particularly like. (Actually, both pics in this post are the same vintage, from Katie's wedding day 4 years ago) We all gathered for dinner at Gulliver's, across from John Wayne Airport for the celebration. When L and I walked in, the first thing I saw was my brother Matt sitting at the table... huh??? He lives in Indiana! What a great surprise - he and Greta and Ari all flew here to give Mom a birthday surprise. It was so good to see them, and 2 1/2 year old Ari walked around the table several times handing out Tic Tacs. She had the minty aroma of TicTacs floating about her - so cute and good smelling.
Mom was so happy to see them, and my Dad had kept it a complete secret - from her, and all of us. I didn't know he was such a good secret keeper... My dad did his now famous bit of going around the table and talking about all of the great things everyone had accomplished over the year. I've always hated that. Either I haven't done anything great, or my very ordinary "accomplishments" are put out there like they're extraordinary, and everyone knows (me most of all) that they're not - and this was a very low achieving year for me ... auugghhh... It's embarrassing, but for some reason, Dad just loves to hold forth, so you just let him roll while cringing inside. I think it was supposed to reflect back on Mom for being such a great mom - so hopefully it did just that, even though it was all about everyone else. Dad's a funny one... But Happy Birthday Mom! You still have the most beautiful complexion, and I hope very hard that those good genes got passed on to little me. I know you don't like getting older, but you're doing it very well. And I'm right behind you.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen. - Bobby, age 7

Lately I'm having trouble concentrating on work or really, anything other than these two things:
1. Food, calories, carb count, etc. etc. (Because I'm trying to eliminate sugar... hahahahahaha!!! Who am I trying to kid??) Actually, I'd love to eliminate sugar, as sugar is not only fattening, but its inflammatory, and I have RA, which is all about inflammation, and my Pasty Doctor (so named because she is pallid of complexion) gives me many many lectures on the evils of sugar. Alas, I can't seem to conquer that mountain entirely. SO - I'm trying to greatly reduce sugar, and delicious carbs so that I can hopefully not be so embarrassed in January when we visit Puerto Rico to see Katie, Zach & Mia, and spend glorious amounts of time on the beach. I can remember when I could drop ten pounds without even thinking about it. Getting older plays some mean tricks on you. Not being able to lose five pounds is one of them. (Never mind the other 25 pounds...)

AND - (which brings me to little Bobby's quote of the day, above)

2. Christmas Shopping List I'm having a hard time getting a cohesive list together! I decide on a gift for someone, and either the item is out of stock, or (more often) just as I'm finalizing that decision, a new, better idea comes along, and off I go chasing it like a butterfly. I can't seem to get down to business and actually get anything done! What is wrong with me?? I realize it's only December 3rd, but I'm starting to get sweaty palms over the whole thing. I'm in Christmas brain freeze mode. Usually, I have everything all planned out by now, but this year is a little different, for some reason. I am in the habit of getting all in a lather over Christmas perfection, but I am being more ridiculous than usual. What is Christmas perfection, anyway? I just want to hug my kids, and laugh with them over Christmas breakfast (the ones that will be here, anyway...), and have some fun with the grandchildren, Lexi and Matthew (Mia will have to wait until January!) And when all the excitement is over, and all have gone home, I want to snuggle with L, in front of the fireplace with the room quiet and dark, except for the Christmas tree lights. Kind of bask in the glow of the day. Heaven.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Can I Have Four More Days Off??

I'm sad to see this long Thanksgiving weekend come to an end. We really had a good time at our house. Not only did we have a magnificent feast on Thanksgiving (if I do say so myself - I mean, just LOOK at that turkey!), but it was also LaMarvelous's birthday, so it was a plethora of celebrations. My grandma and Aunt Margie (The Girls) came to our house for Thanksgiving dinner. I always feel very lucky when we get to have them, because they make everything so fun. They arrived just as we were putting the finishing touches on dinner - and not a moment too soon, because Grandma was STARVING. I'm telling you, she's a little thing, but she can eat like a farmhand. I really enjoyed seeing that. Between the five of us (L and me, Scott, and the girls), we kept up a lively conversation through dinner, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We finished dinner, and Grandma toddled into the living room, where I bundled her up in the recliner for a little nap. She slept for about 30 minutes, and when she woke up she was ready for pie. And not just one piece of pie. She wanted a piece of both pumpkin AND apple! Mercy...

On Friday, L and I went to a movie: Australia. GO SEE IT. We loved it. We also (while waiting for the movie to start) whizzed through a Target (Black Friday crowds and all!) and took a short trip through Pier One. Bought a DVD player for the TV downstairs at $10 off. Pier One was disappointing this time around.

Saturday we actually did go shopping (after L hung the Christmas lights up on the house), and I actually finished my shopping for LaMar - I'm so excited about his gift! He knows one part of it, (I mean, I needed him to try it on) but part of it will be a complete surprise. I love surprising him... Mostly, though, I'm just stoked to cross one person off my list as *Done*. So much still to do... That evening, L's parents took us out to dinner at Maggiano's for his birthday. Yum, yum, yum!

And finally Sunday. Sat through the 1st hour of church. Realized it was the fifth Sunday, which means combined RS/Priesthood meetings. Those are always a bit funky in my book. We looked at each other and booked out of there to the doughnut shop. Sat under the trees at a little park eating a doughnut and me drinking chocolate milk, L drinking (what else?) a Diet Coke. Sat there for 2 hours, just talking and solving everyone's problems - we are geniuses. It was quiet and heavenly. Headed home, cleaned the house, did the wash, grabbed Scott and went out for pizza (seeing as how we'd already done wrong by buying doughnuts and drinks). No one really felt like cooking anyway, and so we kept up the weekend food fest tradition.

To atone, l and I took ourselves over to East Lake, and hiked around the lake homes to burn some calories. There were lots of Christmas lights up, and we got some good ideas for our own house. Maybe we'll implement them next weekend. The lights were beautiful, and reflected off the water. So peaceful.

Tomorrow starts the diet. Again.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pumpkin Pie or Cheesecake?

Lamarvelous and I stayed up way too late last night watching Food TV. We're trying to get inspiration for our Thanksgiving dinner. So many choices, and exciting things to try! I have my heart set on trying Bobby Flay's Sour Orange Glaze for the turkey, and maybe adding crushed pineapple and cinnamon to the stuffing to give it a tropical flavor (if such a thing is possible). Bobby also had bite sized berry topped cheesecakes - so cute! Ina Garten made a big berry topped cheesecake, and also a spicy gingerbread topped with whipped cream. But we must have pumpkin pie, so maybe some of these things will be good for Christmas. Too many choices...we ended up having kooky dreams, and I woke up with a big headache, and didn't go to church. (Absence due to recipe overload?) To top it all off, I'm still in a menu quandary. All I know for sure is that the turkey will be fresh, free range, and organic. (And will probably cost $89 instead of the usual $12, says Lamar. But we'll be healthier people for it, says I)

Whatever the exact menu, I'm looking forward to a short work week, 4 days off, and a house that smells like Thanksgiving. We'll eat our healthy, organic turkey, along with cream laden mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, and lots of pumpkin pie. It makes no sense from a nutritional standpoint, but I wouldn't have it any other way. The following Sunday is Fast Sunday anyway, (or Boo-Hoo Sunday, as L and I affectionately call it) so we can repent of our crazy overindulgence. It's starting to feel holiday-ish around here - even if it is 80 degrees.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Scrambled Eggs and Sausage

This morning I decided that I needed to get to work on time for a change, as there were many things I needed to do. In order to accomplish this, I thought I would forgo the usual pleasant breakfast I've gotten into the habit of having with my son. So as I sat there by myself eating a cold chicken apple sausage and some toast, I thought:
Getting to work on time is overrated.

There should be more breakfast time spent pleasantly (if not quickly) with children over pancakes and eggs.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Please help the Flake Family

On November 15th some friends of ours, Chuck and Dori Flake, lost their home in the devastating fires in Yorba Linda. I've known Dori since we were little girls, and their family has provided me with many happy memories. To help them, please click the link to the right to find out how to donate to the Flake Family Fire Fund. Please give what you can. This wonderful family needs our help and prayers!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Yorba Linda Fire cont.

This is what Yorba Linda looked like Saturday afternoon at about 1:30pm. And then it got worse. On the news, it said that 80 homes were lost in Yorba Linda alone. This is in addtion to homes in Anaheim Hills, Brea, Carbon Canyon, and now, Diamond Bar. There are even more losses in the Sylmar fire in San Fernando Valley, and futher north in Santa Barbara. Tragic.
Some were mansions, some were more humble, but all were someone's HOME, with memories and dreams attached. Luckily, the memories can remain and live on, but rebuilding the dreams will be much tougher. Our hearts and prayers go out to all who find themselves suddenly homeless, and to all the firefighters who are surely exhausted and tired of being away from their own families. It seems to be winding down, but then reality will really set in. It's gonna be a long road.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Yorba Linda Is On Fire!

Check it out on the news. It seems like all of California is on fire - or at least the southern part. There's still the Santa Barbara fire, the one in Sylmar that started last night, and this morning one started on the very eastern most part of Yorba Linda/Corona area. It is really going, and the sky is black with smoke. Right now it's 9 miles away from where we are, but it's close enough to be dramatic in effect. The air outside is very smokey so we're staying indoors as much as possible. Poor, poor people who live out there... some beautiful hopes and dreams going up in flames.
I imagine there will be some opportunities for service coming up shortly. At least I hope so. When you're one of the lucky ones, it makes you feel better to be able to ease the pain of someone who was not so lucky. It's heartbreaking to watch someone's life burning up - and so quickly, too.

Other areas of the country have their own particular brand of disasters. High winds and fires just before the holidays seem to be ours. Oh - and that huge earthquake that's just biding it's time out there. Say a prayer for California.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Holidays with No Sugar (well...LESS sugar)

This has been a longest week ever! So busy at work - I actually drove home last night feeling tight and tense all across my shoulders and chest. Funny thing, though, the sensation pretty much disappeared as soon as I got home... But as soon as this weekend is over I'll be so happy! I've got a church lady function tonight that I've got to help with, Saturday night is a huge dinner with 200 or so of our physicians and wives for work, and Sunday I have a lesson to prepare for RS. No pressure there. Somewhere in between I've got to find time to shop for something to wear to the work dinner soiree. Otherwise, I'll be wearing shorts and flip flops.
Mostly, I just want to find some time to be with LaMar. I don't know how I'm going to accomplish that, but I'm sure gonna try. I mean, that's what life's all about, isn't it?
Today is my third day of severely limiting my carb intake. (That is NOT what life's all about...I am feeling a little cranky about it.) But so far, so good. Every time I've been tempted to partake of bread or a yummy, sweet something, someone has been there to shame me out of it. Good. Exactly what I need. So far I've lost 2 pounds - of course, by telling you that, I've just jinxed the whole thing. But the sugar cravings are lessening - I'm not thinking about cookies every 5 minutes. I'm hoping for poundage to disappear. The really good news, though, is that with the lower carb thing, I've actually been feeling less achey, so yay! Pasty Doctor (my naturopath, so named because she is the palest thing going) will be so proud of me! She'll give me another gold star on my next visit. (She really does do that: literally puts a gold star on your chart.) Maybe it'll cause a medical breakthrough. It's ironic, however, that I pick the holidays to start my healthy ways, but when have I ever done anything in it's proper order?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Two Girls From the OC

This past weekend was one of those rare ones you keep treasured away in that place in your mind reserved for only the best things. My dearest friend Marion came down for a visit, and so the two of us were together again making some new memories in the place where we grew up, as well as remembering the old times. We only had about 24 hours, so we made every minute count. My sweet husband LaMar (my other dearest, best friend) arranged for us to have a room for the night at our favorite Westin across from South Coast Plaza (thank you, thank you, THANK YOU LaMar!) Scott announded Marion's arrival with "MOM - Popeye's here!" (Please see old picture posted below - he thought her outfit looked like Popeye, and the name stuck.)
We loaded our bags (yes...we each had full on BAGS for just one night - and I was glad I'm not the only one who can't pack lightly) into the Explorer and off we went!
The first stop was South Coast Plaza. She had never been to a Sephora (can you imagine???!!) so we went there and touched and played with makeup and product like two 13 year olds. We used to drive the old ladies at the makeup counter in Bullock's Fashion Square crazy doing just that: touching and playing, and trying on. Only this time we actually bought stuff, so it was OK. We wandered and meandered around the main side of the mall, and then we walked across the bridge to the other side. The last time Marion was at South Coast there was NO other side, let alone a bridge with beautiful lights on it. We took pictures like two nerdy tourists, and laughed a lot.
Once on the other side we headed for a store she was introducing me to: The Territory Ahead. I'm in love with this store: gorgeous colors and textures, yummy tweeds and soft cottons. And the leather bags... well, don't even get me started. We shopped and tried on, and shopped some more. AND - we each made purchases, which we admired once we went to the Westin and checked in. Marion is one of the very rare people I actually enjoy shopping with. I always have. We would make a day of it: shopping and lunch.

But back to our girls night: we checked into our room, and I was regretting mightily that I'd refused LaMar's offer to make a reservation at Maggiano's. The wait was 1 1/2 hours... Same at P.F.Chang at Fashion Island. We got lucky at the Cheesecake Factory: only a 15 minute wait. We made use of the time by taking more pictures of ourselves, and admiring the clothes and shell mirrors in the windows at Gary's Island. FINALLY we ate, and talked and talked and talked... I'm afraid I forced her to order (and share) the Lemon Raspberry Cheesecake, but oh, yes - it was worth it. Yes, indeed - yum yum yum.

After dinner, each being 55 years, we were really tired. So it wasn't the crazy ladies night out of yesteryear, but it was just what we wanted. We went back to the room and compared Sephora purchases. We washed our faces, she sympathized with my zit and swollen ankle, I commiserated with her about her sensitive skin, and we talked for another couple of hours. We kept saying "I'm tired, but I'm not sleepy" until finally we were. We both snored (but just lightly, I'm sure) (oh, the joys of getting older) and I laughed in my sleep and woke her up.
(Please forgive me posting the pic of you in your jammies, but it reminded me of when we had slumber parties years ago. So cute!)
When we got up - oh happy day - we are BOTH breakfast eaters! We headed again for South Coast Plaza to the OTHER side across the bridge and had a wonderful leisurely breakfast, after which we shopped a little more.

Reading back over this, I realize it doesn't sound like much. But how do you describe the time spent reconnecting with your oldest and best friend, and make it sound as wonderful and spiritually renewing as it is? We both felt as if we could have spent days and days, and never have gotten it all said. So we'll store up this memory and take it out from time to time to warm us when life is a little cold. We'll connect by phone, and hopefully, if we're very lucky and the stars align, we'll get to do this again soon - either here, or San Luis Obispo (where her mom lives) or in Washington, where she lives. Even though we're both getting on in years, she will always be to me the same beautiful girl and treasured friend I've been lucky enough to have since I was 11 years old. I love you, Marion - thank you so much for coming - I can't wait until next time!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Don't Forget To Vote!

I don't remember when I've been so invested and absorbed in an election. It's been partly entertaining, and partly a huge concern. But when all is said and done, we can't complain unless we get out there and vote for what we believe in!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy 6th Anniversary to Rex and Ronna

I can't let today pass without giving a shout out to Rex & Ronna, who are celebrating their 6th anniversary today. I love you, and wish you happiness and great joy forever!

No Stuart - But the Pirates & Fairy Princesses Were Out

My beloved Stuart didn't come trick or treating this year. What a huge disappointment! I feel a little bit like Puff the Magic Dragon after Jackie outgrows him. Is our neighborhood too small now? Too close to home? Too old to come with Dad? I don't know, but it put a damper on the night. The other damper was that there were only about 10 little Trick or Treaters total. We had a bit of a panic at the last minute: the orange lights on the Halloween arch shorted out! So just minutes before trick or treaters were due, LaMar and I were out in the front wrapping new orange and purple lights around the arch. (It just wouldn't do to have visitors and no spooky lights on the arch.)
And then we waited. Little Caden and Jimmy from down the street came - they were both pirates. So cute. A few more kids came, but no Stuart. And then came the ones that made Stuart's absence OK: three beautiful little princesses. Oh, excuse me, I was corrected: they were FAIRY princesses, complete with sparkly wings. So sweet. We gave them buckets of candy, they were so cute. Maybe they'll come back next year.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween, Everyone!

Eat lots of candy, be safe, and have fun!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Temptation by Cookie

I've tried, and I've tried. I just can't stop thinking about eating cookies. I think I could walk past candy (unless it's See's), I can talk myself out of ice cream and even my beloved gelato, cupcakes are easy, pie a non-temptation. But a beautiful sugar cookie dusted with powdered sugar? (A double sugar dose) Never. Especially if it is a sugar cookie sandwich with raspberry jam in the middle - a triple treat threat. I have a strong testimony of temptation by sugar cookie. It's really shameful. I'm sitting here at work wishing I were across the street at French's Bakery. What kind of worker bee just daydreams about sugar cookies? )Or, for that matter, blogs at work?)
I'm drinking lots of water, but it just makes me take lots of bathroom breaks. It doesn't make me less desirous of my daily cookie. I sit here and think that now I'll never lose that 30 pounds by January. LaMar simply stopped eating ice cream after dinner, and he lost about 20 pounds. I stop eating ice cream, and I just don't GAIN any weight - unless I also eat dinner and don't exercise. Maybe I need to stop eating cookies too, but I don't know if that's possible. It would be devastating to cut out my favorite indulgence, only to find out I'm STILL chubby. That would be a cruel twist indeed.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

How to Fill A Saturday & Costume Stress

LaMar is in Utah this weekend visiting Andrew, so I'm on my own. Well, sort of. Scott is here (well, sort of...) and I was looking forward to hanging out with him. So far, we celebrated his recent step into the world of employment over pancakes this morning at The Original Pancake House. He had the traditional blueberry pancakes, and I branched out with Hawaiian Pancakes with Tropical Syrup. They were stuffed with pineapple, and the syrup was pineapple too. Delicious! But way too many pancakes. Scott is back in bed trying to sleep off the full tummy and late night before. I am wandering around the house trying to figure out what to do with myself. I don't know what's wrong with me: I used to be able to entertain myself quite well, but lately I just fumble around trying to avoid going to the mall. Pathetic. Not that I don't want to go to the mall - it's more I'm trying to discipline myself to not spend money just because I'm bored. Maybe I'll content myself with going to Barnes & Noble. There's a couple of books that I want to read: - The Secret Life of Bees (the movie was soooo good!) and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (also a movie coming out soon). That way I could satisfy my urge to buy something AND have something to do for quite some time! Genius.

I was going to make some Halloween cupcakes (a Halloween Funfetti cake that LaMar brought home) but I can't think about it now: I'm too full of pancakes. Maybe tomorrow. But here are some fun ways we've decorated our house for Halloween. Take special note of the Halloween napkins. They have the most clever damask Halloween design woven into them. I love that they incorporated a skull, bats, and spider and web and scarey cats into the whole design. Cool. And we found them at Target, of all places. The two little jack'o lanterns are our newest additions. I plug the big one in every night, and the little one runs on batteries. Sometimes I even have to go outside on the porch to look at them from the outside. They make me smile. The little 3 year old down the street asked me what I was going to be for Halloween (she is going to be a pirate). I wasn't going to be anything, but now I have to be something, because she put the pressure on me to perform. I'm kind of stressed out about it. Anyone have any ideas?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Finding Balance Isn't Always Simple

Today is a day of introspection and soul searching. For what, I'm not sure - just a day when I'm not quite happy with Me, and trying to figure "it" out. Part of it, I'm sure is that I'm achey and sore today - more "Joint-ritis" than usual, and that always makes me a little cranky, and anxious to improve myself somehow, some way. I'm middle-aged (oooh that hurts to take the senior discount at movies!), and a tad overweight (and that hurts...), and today I'm feeling very, very ordinary, and not at all special. I feel a need to create, but I don't know what, or how. I'm a girl who used to paint, but I haven't done it in so long, I have a hard time getting back to it. I'm a girl who used to play piano, but my piano is broken and it would take much to repair it. I'm trying to decide if I want to repair it, or just get it out of the house altogether. Right now, it takes up a huge corner of the living room, and is really just a large table holding up a vase full of berry branches. Would I rather have a dining room table in that space? These are choices I have trouble making. I miss playing music, but it would also be lovely to have more dining space. I'm still kind of holding onto the musician part of the girl I used to be. I don't think I'm ready to let go of her yet.
I'm a grandma, and there's a part of me that aches to be a good one. I love those 3 little ones so much, and yet I feel all out of practice. Well, it's hard to feel practiced up when they all live so far away: Denver and Puerto Rico. Every time I see them, it seems that they've reached another stage that I haven't yet seen, and I feel that I've missed so much. One thought that came to me today is that I spend so much time thinking about all of the wonderful things I'd love to do for my grandchildren and children, and not enough time doing. I dither, and I think some more and...and I let myself get paralyzed. I need to pare down, simplify. One of my most precious memories is sitting quietly with my grandma in a chair, and she would stroke my arm up and down. Delicious! And so soothing. So simple. I think my favorite memories with my kids involved simple outings out, and talking. And laughing, lots of laughing. One thing I've always treasured in each of my children is their wonderful sense of humor. They never fail to make me laugh.
I'm a wife, too - LaMar's partner, his true companion. Not a day that goes by when I'm not completely greatful for the wonderful chance I was given to love and be loved by this man. We are so much alike in so many ways, and yet our differences make us very helpful to each other. I tend to be on the lazy side, but LaMar is so hard working he gets me going, if only out of shame. And good wife that I am, I encourage him to stop working so hard, and take it easy - relax....travel...go shopping. I get him to spend money, he keeps me from spending too much. It's a match made in heaven.
So what does all of this teach me? Well, I have a lot to be thankful for. I tend to be overly hard on myself sometimes, but only because I'm a perfectionist. I need to simplify my life - everything I do doesn't have to be on a magnificent scale. Sometimes the best times are just simple, quiet moments shared. Magic on a small scale. Like the time Katie and I were watching shooting stars together at 2:00am - only she was on a beach in Hawaii, and I was home on the patio. Three thousand miles apart, we were still able to share an incredible experience. I want more of that in my life - more of the good that makes your heart soar, and less of the worldly junk that really doesn't matter at all. Sometimes it's hard to know which is which, but I'm working on it.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Blackbird Singin' In The Dead Of Night

This weekend we got the house ready for Halloween. We set up the spooky arch, put the orange lights on a timer, installed the skull fence, and hung up the ghostly pirate. At dusk, the orange lights on the arch lit up, and the Halloween Holiday season officially began at 142 Preakness. I'm hoping to add something new this season, but I haven't yet found that hoped for object. I like the Halloween section of Target, so perhaps I'll head there. I saw (on Martha Stewart) a centerpiece that was constructed of a small skull and bones arranged on a cake plate under a dome. Where do you find things like a small skull and bones? I shall be on the hunt.

In other news, I've planted the blackbird again. This is a small black spooky bird that I've had for years. Scott and I give it back and forth to each other, hiding it here and there. I think its lost an eye, and it's tail feathers are a bit shaky, but the game lives on. The last time he gave it to me, (in a dark hotel parking lot in Utah, just before he drove off) he told me to close my eyes and hold out my hand. I felt something small and soft put in my hand, and when I opened my eyes there was this little black...WHAT IS THAT??!! Scared the @#*! out of me, but it was just that freaking bird. Where did I hide it this time?? Mwahahahahahah! I'm waiting for Scott to scream like a girl. He already said the skeleton pirate will scare him every night when he comes home. This little bird just jumps out and gets you when you least expect it, and definately WHERE you least expect it. Hehehehehee (demonic laugh) I love Halloween...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Devil is a purse...and rain gives peace

Lazy, lazy Saturday today - so nice, for a change! LaMar and I actually slept until 9:00 this morning. Unheard of, at least for LaMar. He's usually up and out the door on errands by 8:00, and I'm at least UP. Today, though, we were sleepy slugs, and it felt great... kind of like this:
You know - when you sleep so soundly that your hair goes completely crazy? We got up...sort of... and watched Conference from Salt Lake for awhile. I still love the fact that you can watch it, at home, in your jammies if you want to. For at least half of my life you had to get in your church clothes and haul over to the church to listen to it. We've come a long way, and I love it. But, at home or not, it sets a nice tone for the day, and it was nice to hear the good words of wisdom and encouragement. Be hopeful, have faith, stay the course. That was what I mainly got out of it today, and after the discouraging events in the world of late, it was good to be reminded to hold on to our hope, and not let bad times overwhelm us.
Before long, LaMar really had gone on to the errand phase of his day, and I - well, I was still lounging around in my jammies. Talking to Scott, talking to Katie on the phone, just lounging. It seems I rarely have the time for that, and so I enjoyed every minute. Why is it, though, that we always feel that we should be busy? It's so hard to just savor sitting and talking - I usually feel I should be doing something, ANYTHING. But today, I really tried to just sit and talk, and enjoy doing only that. It took effort, but I did it, and it was so nice. Later on I balanced my checkbook, paid some bills, read everyone's blogs, made my comments, and then, while LaMar went to his session of conference, I drove myself crazy by looking at shoes and bags on line. I found one gorgeous bag: a dip dyed purple patent leather satchel to die for. I have no money to spend - why do I do this to myself?? Sigh...
LaMar finally returned, and we headed off to our favorite Mexican restaurant, Mi Casa, in Costa Mesa. It was yummy as always, I ate too much as always, but when we walked outside, something was different: it was RAINING! Well, not really raining - more like sprinkling, but that's good enough for me. It had been trying to rain all day, and I was kind of looking forward to it. I'd donned a sweater, and, for the first time this season, I broke out the Ugg boots. (I love those things... so cozy!) Anyway, it rained/sprinkled all the way home, and as I'm sitting here I have the window open, and can hear the rain coming down. The air has that wet earth smell that comes up with a first rain - I love it! From all predictions, the weather will warm up again this next week into the 80's and 90's, but for now I'm basking in the illusion that fall weather is here. I can hear the rain, I can smell the rain, and I can feel the cool, damp air. Fall is here, if only for a brief moment.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I see the wierdest things on the way to work sometimes. Today it was the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile. Right on the 5 freeway heading south! Remember the Wienermobile? When I was a little girl I would hear it's appearances with Little Oscar advertised "at a shopping center near you" and I would be so excited, hoping that my mom would take us. She never did, and I wanted a Wiener Whistle so bad! Some of my friends had gotten them, and they were very desireable. Apparently, there wasn't much to do back in the 50's but go to supermarket appearances by the Wienermobile. It was exciting stuff for a kid, though.
Nonetheless, it made a dreary drive to work a little more exciting, and brought back some childhood memories (although the old Wienermobile has been souped up quite a bit!) I was a little disappointed that Little Oscar wasn't driving it, but in all reality, he's probably about 98 years old, or quite possibly not with us anymore. I googled "Wienermobile" and came up with the picture above, which is exactly what I saw. It said that it doesn't have a sun roof - it has a BUN roof. And the seats are relish colored. Gotta love that.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

It's fall, and it's 80+ degrees outside. I realize this is normal for California, but I want to wear sweaters, and stop using the self tanning lotion on my legs. To top it all off, I have a cold. I hate having to work when my face feels THIS BIG, and I'm snuffling, and coughing - but you're not quite sick enough to stay home, especially since you just got back from a week's vacation. Ugh. The good news is that I think I've turned the corner, and it will get better from here. I've even heard that the weather is going to start cooling off a bit.
All I know is that I love fall, and I can't wait for the first day of October so we can hang our spooky pirate, and install our haunted arch over the walkway. Getting ready for Halloween signals the start of the whole holiday season. The nights are crisp, soup tastes good again for dinner, and it's nice to be snuggly under the warm covers at bedtime. I put our amber glass pumpkins on the table and get out all of the little Halloween decorations I'm starting to collect.(Again. This time for grandchildren!) On Halloween night I look forward to the 10 or so little trick 0r treaters we'll have (our neighborhood doesn't have many children), and I especially look forward to seeing Stuart every year. He started coming about 4 years ago when he was a red headed 3 year old (a dinosaur if I remember correctly), and I look forward to seeing him - and now his little brother - every year. I have no idea where he lives. He's just Stuart, and he comes with his dad.

So get ready for autumn weather - the temperatures will cool down, and we can break out the sweaters and jackets. First I'm going to get rid of this cold - maybe a nice cup of hot chocolate will do the trick? Mmmmm... with a peppermint stick.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mema Goes To Denver

Yes, I'm back from Denver- and we had a GREAT time! It was just as whirlwind as I'd thought it would be, and it's never enough time, but I had a chance to see Lexi in action, and to spend some quiet moments with Matthew. To make a long story short, here was the basic itinerary:

Monday - travel day
Tuesday - Grocery shopping. Ronna had been visiting California, and the fridge needed stocking!
Wednesday - The Denver Zoo. More on that.
Thursday - Cupcake making and delivering. Playing at a little park.
Friday - The mall, of course. That night Lexi and I played while Mommy and Daddy and Matthew went out for a quiet dinner.
Saturday - Time to pack, play a little, and go home.

Grocery shopping is always fun in Denver because we always go to their beautiful, new Whole Foods Market. This is when I get to pick what to eat and do the cooking. (At home it's usually LaMar.) We had crabcakes, garlic salmon kabobs, some good fresh veggies and salads, and lots of chocolate brownies. I thoroughly enjoyed cooking and eating all of that good food. And while we were shopping, Lexi got to ride in a really cool little red car/shopping cart.

On Wednesday went to the Denver Zoo. I didn't think the kids would last very long, but thought we'd give it a shot. To our surprise and delight, Lexi loved every minute, and Matthew was an angel. We saw elephants ("Huge!" said Lexi), a polar bear sitting in the water with (even more fascinating to Lexi) his large toy ball floating nearby. She was quite impressed that the bear had a toy. The otters were another favorite because they swam so fast. The monkeys came up close to the window, and were fun to watch. She had fun trying to feed a peacock her sucker. We spent lunchtime throwing the breading from the corndog to the birds, and loving how fast they'd come after the bits. After lunch we rode the carousel, saw giraffes (even a baby one!) and were just in time to see the hippos get fed - a real treat. Lexi called them "Ho's." That brought a smile to lots of people's faces. At the end of the day, a good time was spent looking at all kinds of animals and birds, and everyone was tired on the way home.

Thursday's activity was cupcake making. I'd brought Ronna a book called "Hello Cupcake" (I highly recommend this book) and we decided, for our maiden cupcake experience, to make the owl cupcakes. We made 10 of them, and let Lexi decorate the other two herself. So much fun! I can't wait to see the creations Ronna comes up with next. We were sick of chocolate frosting (if that's possible) by the time we finished, so we took all of the cupcakes to her friend around the corner, and they were happily received. Who wouldn't want to eat an owl cupcake??

Next on the activity list was going to the mall to pick up some pictures taken of Matthew. We stopped at my favorite store, Janie and Jack, and found some cute jackets (Lexi's was 60% off - YAY!) and so now both kiddies can sport new jackets this winter. I love that store... That night Ronna was itching to get out of the house with Rex, so I decided to stay home and do some playing with Lexi so they could have a nice dinner without a running commentary from Little Missy. (I'm telling you, Lexi can talk your ear off!) We ate dinner, watched Wow Wow Wubsy, Mickey's Clubhouse, and Maggie. We colored. We played monster, and ran through the house (thanks, Dad, for that inspiration - the tradition lives on, and Lexi loved it). I gave her a piggy back ride upstairs for her bath, and she played in there until it got cold. Finally, it was bed time, but she begged and pleaded to sleep with Mema in "Mema's bed.... prease??" What could I do? We laid there, and, of course, didn't sleep a wink. Mommy had to put her to bed for real when she got home, and that's the beauty of being Mema - it's not your job anymore to enforce bedtime!
Saturday morning was spent with Rex and everyone, and I packed as well. Too soon it was time to go. I am missing Lexi's little voice already when I'd ask her if I could get her some juice: "You sure can, Mema!" She pronounced our cupcakes "Dewicious" and her idea of displeasure was to fold her arms, shake her head, and say "Hummph!" So funny.
Matthew is sweet and happy - so grateful for any attention you give him. He smiles so much he just wiggles, and those blue eyes... oh my. He is adorable.

Thanks Rex and Ronna, for the wonderful time. I can't wait to see you all again soon. And Lexi and Matthew: Mema loves you, and can't wait to give you lots of smooches!

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