Daily Affirmation

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

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Marion!

Best birthday wishes go out tonight for one of my oldest and most cherished friends, Marion. We've been friends since the 6th grade - 44 years! - and it's funny how that can seem so long ago on one hand, and on the other it seems like yesterday that we were walking down Chapman Avenue to the Orange Circle to spend the day shopping. Marion and I have been through life together. We used to go to the Orange County Fair, and ride those horrible twisty, upsidedown rides - I can't believe that. They'd make us both sick now. When I moved to New Jersey, she and Jeanette came to visit that first summer. We were shopping at South Coast Plaza before it was so big and chic - when it really was surrounded by bean fields. We were cheerleaders together. When I went to BYU and was so homesick, she came up to visit. She was maid of honor at my wedding, and made the cutest pair of shorts for my first baby, Rex. (They had little yellow duck buttons on them!) She introduced me to my first Nordstrom store. One of my favorite memories (and Katie's too!) was the trip to San Luis Obispo on a train to visit Marion at her parents' house. We had so much fun, and I've filed it away it as one of my favorite trips ever. I smile whenever I remember it. Lots of laughter over the years. Some tears too, but lots of laughter.
I can't think of a year that's gone by when we haven't called each other on our birthdays, and I look forward every year to that tradition. (Although this year I only left a message, and will try again tomorrow - I was so disappointed to have missed her!) If we don't talk the rest of the year, we have our birthday chat. We always wondered which birthday would be the one where we woke up beautiful. On our 50th birthday, she sent me a card that read, simply: "Today it happened. We're beautiful." It was the best birthday message I ever received.
And the strange thing is, no matter what has happened in our lives - joyful, tragic, miracles, losses - it always seems like the last time we spoke was just yesterday. Magically, or maybe because the tapestry we've woven together becomes richer and more beautiful with each passing year, we can always pick up the thread and carry on without missing a stitch. How do I express how much I love this girl? She is so beautiful, inside and out, and so intelligent. She's funny, quirky (I require this in my friends), and I can't think of anyone I'd rather spend time with. When my world was falling apart, she was there, and she understood, and she helped me feel good about myself again. Over the years, she has been invaluable to my confidence and self esteem. I love her as if she were my sister, and indeed, she is a dear, dear sister to me. Everyone should be lucky enough to have one friend like her.
So Happy Birthday, Marion. May all your wishes, hopes, and dreams come true. May your life and heart be full of love. Just look for it - expect it - and it will be there. I hope you got your lemon cake, and that you blew all the candles out. And in a couple of weeks, when it's my birthday, I will look forward to our birthday chat part 2. I love you!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Red Bull Sprouting Wings on the 55 South

This is what I saw on the way to work this morning:

There were three of them, each with two cute girls driving them, and heading towards the beach. Some big doings involving Red Bull, the drink of choice for the twenty-something crowd, I guess. Anyway, it was such a random sight that I (ashamedly) risked life and limb to capture a picture of for your amusement.
It pays to keep your eyes open, and camera at the ready.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Fountains & A Team of Angels Plus Two

Such a busy weekend! The time just flew by, and all too soon it's time to get up early, and go back to work. So disappointing. But we did have fun, and got a lot done too. LaMar was up and out early on Saturday morning. He came back from Home Depot with a new fountain! I know that sounds random, but on our evening walks, we've been admiring how all of the big, beautiful houses we pass all have fountains. We wanted one, too. A few days before, he had found one on sale at Home Depot, but we couldn't decide if it would look right, etc. Well, Saturday, LaMar just took the plunge and bought the thing. Good thing, too - it was the last one they had. (I'll probably see this same fountain everywhere I go now...) The fountain couldn't stand alone, lovely though it is. It needed color and richness surrounding it, so we bought some flowers and colorful foliage to put in planters around the base. We realized on Saturday night that we didn't have enough soil on hand to re-pot them, so it will have to wait at least until tomorrow. Too bad. But the water sound is lovely, and it's all hooked up to a timer so it turns on at 5:30am, and I can hear it while I get ready for work. It turns off all day, and turns on again just before we get home. Perfection, and I am excited about the new ambiance it gives our front porch area.
Later on Saturday my aunt and grandma arrived. LaMar was taking Margie to the Angel game (she loves her Angels!), and I was spending time with my grandma. I was afraid I would be a poor substitute for actually going to the game, but we had a great time. We ordered pizza, wings, and salad, and ate it all while we watched the game on TV. I was a little worried about my grandma and the hot wings, but she loved them! We gabbed, and laughed, and ate, and had a wonderful time - I love every minute I'm able to spend with her. I'm not a huge baseball fan, but I was on Saturday night with Grandma. (She knows all the players names, for heavens sake!) LaMar and Margie returned from the game in high spirits (it had been a good game! Angels vs Minnesota Twins), and the two tired girls made their way over to their hotel room. Just look at the big smiles on all of our faces - we all got to do just what we wanted to do, and a good time was had by all. Go Angels!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wishes & Dreams

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. - Mark Twain

I don't know about you, but that quote just make me want to go... DO SOMETHING! I think of all the things I secretly dream about doing (and I add to the list daily, it seems), and reading a quote like that makes me want to start planning - yes, definately making plans to make one of those dreams come true. We all have those little lists - sometimes scribbled in a journal, sometimes just etched into our minds - of adventures still beckoning, sights yet unseen, and secret goals just waiting to be accomplished. Our everyday world so often bogs us down, and obscures the importance of living large, and dreaming big. We get lost in the minutiae of routine, and duty.
Actually, my list isn't so fantastic, or larger than life. It's do-able, and in a really humble way. I just need to DO IT. Get off my "laurels" and just make it happen. I get caught up in a silly sense of duty to, of all things, my job. My job, as a friend so wisely put it, is just the place I go every day to make the money I need to do the things I really want to do. I don't think, at the end of my time on earth, that anyone will be impressed by the fact that I was a dedicated employee. More impressive would be setting aside the time and resources to visit Puerto Rico while my daughter and family are still there. They won't be there forever (hopefully), and I want to see this place. And I want to see this place through Katie's eyes.

Other dreams are to see Europe, and if I have to scale it down, then especially Italy, France, and Greece. And, after the Olympics this year (and Emily's glowing description), China is now on my list. I'd also really like to visit Washington to see Marion, and Wisconsin to see Joan - I've never been to either. Perhaps even Alaska to see Jeanette - if Jeanette can tell me when it's not freezing and dark there. Perhaps I'll serve a mission with LaMar one day in who-knows-where.
Along with the travel, I'd like to discover new talents, and rediscover my old talents. Take up painting, and music again. Become more clever and artsy. Maybe learn a new instrument.
I'd like to live in a house where there is room for everyone. This may not mean a new house - it may just mean making the one we have more conducive to gatherings. Actually, this is probably near the top of my list. I've always dreamed of having a house where people would love to come. I'd always imagined a larger house, but maybe I need to become very, very creative with a small space. Make it a happy, welcoming home. This is a particularly wishy desire for me, especially in light of our little grandchildren.
But I'm rambling, and getting lost in my dreaming. I will make each one happen, one way or another. I'll catch the tradewinds in my sails. I'll explore, dream some more, and discover life's richness. Let's make our most precious desires a reality. I've told you some of mine. What's on your list?

...OK - right now, what's on my list is a big cookie from French's Bakery across the street, so I'm going to catch the wind in my sails to make that dream a reality right now. Some goals are easier than others, and unfortunately, the dream of a size 6 is less attainable than that cookie. Extra long walk tonight.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Self Analysis: The Doctor Is In

Do you ever have a sequence of days where you feel that you're out of touch with just about everyone? I'm there. It's probably just hormones (that age old problem, and, since my doctor says I don't have enough of them, you'd think it wouldn't be a problem, but there you go) - anyway, I'm having a rough few days.
It came to a head yesterday. I had to attend a bridal shower for a co-worker. Should have been a nice occasion, and it certainly was. It was perfection, and the company was good, the food was beautiful - until the question came up at our table: What would you do if you didn't have to work? Virtually every woman at the table said they would work anyway: it defined who they were, they loved what they did, they wouldn't know what to do without it, blah, blah. I sat there feeling very foolish, and not a little uncomfortable. Why? Because I don't want to work, and I wouldn't if I didn't have to. Don't get me wrong - I like my job, and I enjoy the people I work with, but my job is just that to me: a job. A paycheck. Good insurance. I wouldn't in a million years call it "who I am" or have it define me in any way. In fact, most everything that I am even sort of good at has nothing to do with what I do at work every day.
Well, it put me in a funk - a bad mood, if you will, and I spent the rest of the evening brooding about it. I've always been so easily affected by how I'm perceived by others, and that bothers me too. I'd much rather be like my kids, who can adopt a reckless "who cares" attitude. Not me. I brood. Finally, some time in the wee hours, I had an epiphany - perhaps in my sleep, because I can't remember when it came to me. These other women at my table were all SOMETHING: most were nurses, one was a sales rep. All had careers they'd worked very hard at. I have a job. And I never even wanted that. Therein lies the difference.
My real career was raising my kids, and I never wanted anything more than to do that. I took pride in it, I tried to perfect it, I worked at it. And I think I did a pretty good job, all things considered. I love my kids so much. My true career was hindered by having, at a certain point, to get a job. It was harder then, and a lot of the good I had to offer went by the wayside, as I tried to fit into a world I wasn't really equipped to enter. Water under the bridge.
So what would I do now, if I didn't have to work? I would definately make lots of time for my three (THREE! YAY!) grandchildren. They're all far away, but I'd find ways to connect with them in every way I could. I have such a desire to be a really, really, good grandma - the kind my mom and grandmother are. I can do that now, and I try, but after 8 hours at work, creativity and energy are low. What else? I would take up painting again, and no, not with a roller brush. Real, fine art kind of painting. Perfect what I know, take classes to learn more. Perfect that. Play the piano (well, first I'd have to repair the piano... I'll do that while I still make a paycheck). I've had 12 years of instruction, I've played for judges, and I've let it go for years now, other than little stabs here and there. Pitiful. I'd have a garden: flowers and vegetables. I've always liked to do that, but have let that go as well over the years. I would cook more, and entertain more. I notice that when I'm on vacation, I cook a lot, and I really enjoy it - just like I used to. Again, after a day at work, all I want to do is grab a hunk of cheese or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Thank goodness for LaMar, who finds cooking is a good way to unwind from the day. He saves me from myself. I would write: can you tell I like to write? I love how pithy and smart I am when I'm writing. (I am smiling)
So there you are. I think I'm a sort of Renaissance Woman: good at many things, probably master of none, but with curiosity about almost everything. (I get the curiosity part from my dad.) I can probably best categorize myself as not particularly ambitious career-wise (unless I perceive that you think I can't do something, then I'll prove to you that I can), but very intelligent (thus giving me the keen awareness that some around me in the work world see me as a bit of a slacker for only achieving the status of "Administrative Assistant." - or maybe it's just my own voice telling me so. It's the bottom of the barrel, and I know it. I hate that. This leads me back to the ambitious part again (I will be the best admin EVER), but not to the point where I'd actually go back to school at 55 to do anything else, and so you can see where this cycle gets me. Basically nowhere.)
I think the only really good skill I bring to the table at work is that I am good with people. It's a good mom skill - see, now we're back to my comfort zone. I've had that trait always. Every report card I ever had said so: "Karen plays well with others." I like people, love to be around them, love to get to know them. I just need to be more comfortable in my own skin - learn to be proud of who I am, and what I can do, and, most of all, what I want to do. I'm going to work on that. Because that would be an education worth having.
There, I feel better now.

"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when one contemplates the mysteries of eternity... Never lose a holy curiosity." - Albert Einstein

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Babies Are Having Babies

My little brother is going to be a grandpa. I've never known anyone more prepared for the role. Whenever small children are anywhere around, his eyes light up, and he can't wait to play with them. Likewise, Becky, his wife, is also a shoe-in for Best Grandma. They've watched me become a grandma, and have often said that they couldn't wait for their turn. Their turn has come: daughter Emily is going to have a baby in October - the due date, to be exact, is October 31st: Halloween.

This past week Emily has been in California visiting while her husband is in China on business. On her last night here, her sisters and friends threw her a baby shower, and I was lucky enough to be invited. She looks adorable. Picture a small sprite with a basketball attached to her front, and that's Emily at 7 months pregnant. I know she thinks she looks huge, but she simply looks beautiful, and oh, so cute!

Since I dragged myself out on a school night, I was glad that I was rewarded with a 3-fer: all of the pretty Money girls were there! It was fun to see Emily, since she was the focus of the party, but it was also great to see Sarah and Sherri as well. Such pretty girls, and so fun to hear everything they're doing. It made me tired just to hear it all, but it was still fun.

But best of all was seeing my brother on the fringe of the party, just enjoying the heck out of himself while watching Emily open cute little things, and basking in the sweet glow of grandfatherhood. I've known this boy from day one, and believe me when I tell you that being a grandpa is what he was born to do!
Congratulations to Emily and Kevin on the upcoming birth of their little girl, and double congrats to Grandpa Brent and Grandma Becky: your day is coming!

Friday, August 8, 2008

A Wild Thing, a Little Gentleman, and Their Mom

Here are some new pictures of mellow little Matthew (one month old!), and also some with Ronna and Lexi. Now, if we could only capture the elusive Rex, we'd have a complete family picture. Check out all the beautiful blonde hair on our Lexi- she'll be having a cute ponytail before you know it!

Thanks to Ronna for sending these to me- I love them, and can't wait to see you all next month. We'll have so much fun!
Look at that sweet smile - she looks like quite the little lady, doesn't she? Don't be fooled... she's a wild one - but in the best possible way.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

LaMar & the Bed Nazi

I am the bed linen Nazi. I worked for 2 years selling bed linens - first at Ralph Lauren, and next at Frette. I have had the most beautifully dressed beds imaginable, but sadly, you must sleep in them, and the gorgeous linens do wear out, and start to look a bit shabby. Our bed had reached that point. Up until a short time ago, my Sunday ritual was to wash the sheets, hang them out in the sun to try, and then iron them with scented ironing water before putting them on the bed. Perfection. Gorgeous! It would irritate me when LaMar would try to help, because he wasn't careful to get everything straight, and make sure the pillows all had that perfect little fluff to them: the Bed Nazi. Lately, however, I'd stopped ironing because the sheets were looking shabby, and, frankly, I was tired of them.
Enter the Heavenly Bed. We got our tax rebate check from George Bush, and we spent it on the Heavenly Bed (see older post). It's 13 inches of cushy bliss. Like sleeping on a cloud. And after two almost sleepless nights (why is it that even though something is nirvana, when you're used to sleeping on concrete, you can't sleep on a cloud??) I was finally, FINALLY able to become virtually unconscious last night.
Yesterday afternoon we set out in search of our new bedding ensemble. I had something like this lovely Ralph Lauren "Adriana" ensemble in mind:

(I LOVE Ralph Lauren!) However, our wallet didn't agree with that vision, so we spent hours and hours traipsing from store to store, slowly creating a new vision. It's kind of Asian, kind of beachy, not as Ralph Lauren-ish as I'd envisioned, but I think I like it. What do you think?

We still haven't found a worthy/affordable duvet cover, so for now, we have a Ralph Lauren canvas one thrown on, minus the comforter. This thing (we affectionately call it The Tarp) weighs serious poundage, even without a comforter inside - I think you could make a heavy duty tent out of it. When it was on a bed in the Ralph Lauren store, it was gorgeous, but until I went to haul it home, I didn't realize that it weighed as much as a person. I'd like to find something easier to heft, and a little prettier, girlier, less Zen. (But not too girly - LaMar wouldn't be able to sleep.) All in all, I'm happy with the new look, and the new mood it gives our room. In our travels, we also saw all kinds of furniture and decorator items - I want to update so many things. But last night, I was content to fuss and fret over our new bed's finery, staging a coup with my choice of pillow shams, and dictating every new detail. This Bed Nazi will sleep in fluffy, high thread count comfort like a big snoring (so LaMar says) baby.

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