Daily Affirmation

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

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Two Day Weekend Is Never Long Enough

It's been a full day.  A weekend that whizzed by, and is too soon over.   The highlight of Saturday was lunch with my son Scott.  It's always fun to spend time with Scott.  He's sensitive, funny, and I always feel good after an hour or two spent with him.  He can converse about so many subjects, and on so many levels that it's always interesting, thoughtful, and hilarious all at the same time.  I'd just gotten my toenails painted a most delicious shade of frosted lavender, rushed to Tustin for lunch with Scott at Wahoo's, and then made my way home.  L was home waiting and was in a Home Depot frame of mind.  I never argue with that as good things always result.

Saturday's result was 2 new curtain rods hung in my office to hold spools of ribbon.  You know - all of those rolls of ribbon that you toss into a box or drawer and you forget what you even have.  Now they're all hanging nicely from a decorative rod on the wall, just waiting to be used.  Love it - another wish fulfilled.

While at Home Depot we also found a beautiful area rug for the room that will add some warmth and color to the room.  Yes, they DO have nice rugs there!  Who knew?  It will arrive about 10 days and I'll post a picture of the difference it makes in the room.  You'll be amazed.

On the way home we swung by Target and picked up a couple more frames.  I was able to frame a lovely print I'd gotten in Hawaii about 5 years ago at an outdoor arts and crafts show in Maui.  It's a print of a silk painting and was matted with the most lovely purple mat.  Unfortunately when we got the frame home the mat was too big for the frame.  Luckily, L saved the day and cut it down for me.

He has such a precise mind and everything always fits perfectly after he gets done with it.  The other item that got framed was the image I purchased from Katie Blacker, one of my favorite photographers that I actually found through her blog.  It's a closeup detailed image of the doors on the Salt Lake Temple, and it's just lovely.  See Katie? - I finally got it framed!  And I love how it looks on the wall next to a montage of old photographs taken several years ago by MY Katie.  She had a great eye even back then.

Today is a blur.  Church, wash, cleaning the house, and making Pioneer Woman's Best Chocolate Sheet Cake Ever for the missionaries who are coming to dinner tomorrow night.  We don't know what we're having for dinner, but there will be chocolate cake.  The recipe is sort of a cross between cake and brownies - very chocolatey and moist, but not as dense as brownies.  You need buttermilk and L went to the store twice yesterday because I forgot about the buttermilk.  I need to be more organized.  And then, at the last minute I decided to make blueberry pancakes that I can heat up in the toaster in the morning and slather with lemon curd to eat on the way to work.  It sounds good in theory - I hope it is in fact.  But then again, you're talking to a person who will eat cold meatballs or chicken for breakfast, so blueberry pancakes with lemon curd should taste stellar.

Caught the last of the Oscars - Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Movie.  I didn't see anything that won, so it wasn't too exciting.  And now they're just obsessing about everyone's clothes.  I'm just not into it tonight, for some reason.  But L is in our room waiting for me to finish here and join him.  And that's what sounds good.  Wash my face and snuggle for a bit before bed.  And that's a fitting end to Sunday night and the weekend.

I also practiced a little bit with my camera.  These are some shells on our mantle.  I was practicing a 
depth of field setting that Katie showed me how to do.  I think it turned out well, don't you?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lexi & Matthew Send Love to Mema & Papa

I dragged my sorry tail home after work today completely spent.  We were sent an email from Corporate today informing us that there are going to be approximately 1500 - 2000 layoffs in the next couple of months.  Yay...  I don't think I'm in any serious danger, but it can't help but be constantly in the back of my mind.  Put a real damper on the day is what it did.  In reality though, I'm pretty much on the bottom of the food chain as far as salaries go, and many of the things I do no one else knows how to do, so it would be a little painful for many if I were to be let go.  Crossing my fingers that that's the case, anyway.

So imagine my surprise and delight, then, to come home and find an envelope addressed in RED letters to "Mema & Papa."  Return address: Parker, CO.  It was the sweetest little Valentine's card from our Lexi and Matthew and signed by Lexi: "Alexis"  The day wasn't a total bust after all.  Two sweet little munchkins were thinking of us.  There's nothing like an unexpected surprise in the mail to lift your spirits.  Especially if it's from someone who's as cute as these two are:

Photo by Heather Anderson of TenderShootz

I keep reading about everyone's getaway visits to see their grandkids.  I'm about due, I think.  These little ones are growing faster than I want to think about.  Great balls of fire, where does the time go?  I don't want to be at work collecting purchase orders and keeping schedules.  I want to be visiting zoos and playing games.  I must get my traveling shoes on, and pack some bags.  Soon.

And oh - by the way: if you're going to be in the Southern California area in March, you might just consider attending this little soiree:

Katie is going to have her jewelry for little girls there - and also some for big girls too!  I've heard this is an amazing boutique so if you're in the area, stop by and have a look.  You can also see Katie's jewelry on her MiaMoo site.  If you have little girls who love fun and colorful jewelry you need to take a peek.  I've heard the Easter Bunny likes to shop there...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Here Comes The Sun...Briefly...

I'm listening to the rain coming down.  It's peaceful and it feels good to be inside our cozy house.  This afternoon L and I took a drive down to Balboa Island with my new camera.  I really have no idea how to use it, but it seems the best thing to do is just jump in with both feet and try.  It was cloudy and cool at home but (oddly enough) the closer we got to the beach, the sunnier and warmer it became.  I regretted wearing the old sweatshirt I had on.
We walked down the main drag until we got to the sidewalk that runs around the island.  We walked about halfway around the island's perimeter, stopping here and there to take pictures.  My biggest challenge, I think, is not being self conscious about stopping and taking pictures like a tourist.  Today I was able to forget myself and do just that.  The sun was shining and making the water sparkle.  There were loads of people walking along the water, and even more sitting on benches along the main street, enjoying the sun and frozen bananas and Starbucks.
By the time we'd walked back to our starting point, the wind had picked up and was chilly, the clouds had rolled in, and off in the distance you could see where it was raining - it looked like it was over Huntington Beach.  I was glad I had that sweatshirt on.  I took lots of pictures, trying this, trying that, still having little idea of what I was doing.  But here, back in our warm, dry house, I sorted out the best ones for you to see. And as you can see, I still have a lot to learn.  I tend to tilt the camera so the picture isn't framed up quite straight.  I need to learn to be quicker to catch the shot I want.  I'm still in that "film" frame of mind - not wanting to waste an exposure on a bad shot, so I hesitate, waiting for the exact right moment, and then I miss it.  This is digital - just shoot away!  A good shot will be in there somewhere.
And L just followed along, being a good sport.  By the time I let him get his hands on the camera it was freezing cold.  We'd driven up to the bluffs above Corona Del Mar, the sky was ominous, and the wind cut right through my sweatshirt.  It always surprises me how quickly the weather can change.  All in all it was a nice afternoon - one of those lazy ones where there are no appointments to keep, and nowhere you have to be.  I haven't had one of those in quite awhile, and I have to admit I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Flower baskets on the lightposts going over the bridge to Balboa Island

A cottage with a red door and red Valentine wreath hanging on it

Another sweet cottage - I can only imagine how cute the inside must be!

You can see what a beautiful afternoon it was, and these bright flowers looked so pretty against the blue sky.

The cute couple above and the mom and daughter below were just a few of the many people 
out enjoying the island today.

Sun shining on a dock along the bay, rafts at the ready.  
We could hear seals barking out in the water.

And... here comes trouble:

The skies darkened, the wind picked up, rain was in the distance.  Time to head home.

But wait...  L took a secret shot of me scurrying back to the car from the bluffs, 
a vision in leggings with my hands balled up inside my sweatshirt.  
Brrrrr, I hate to be cold!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

L and the Sick Day

My house is a sick house.  L started to come down with something last night.  He was achey and feverish.  I bundled him up in bed with lots of pillows and tried to make him comfortable.  We had eaten dinner and had watched the Lakers get their lunch fed to them by Cleveland.  I think their humiliation toppled the last defense against the flu that L had, because right after that he started to feel sick.

First he came up to my office and laid down on my new couch.  On my new pillows.  With his sick head.  I tried not to notice, and to be very sympathetic.  Because I'm a giver like that.  And because I love him like no other and I need to share my things with him even if he's sick.  I sat down by him and rubbed his feet while I read "On The Corner of Bitter and Sweet" on my Kindle.  (Very good book by the way - thanks to Sue for the suggestion awhile back!)  The foot rub didn't cure him, but it DID almost put him to sleep, so I made him swallow about 6 vitamin D capsules and a glass of Emergen-C and get in bed.  That is my secret weapon against colds and flu.  I knew we needed to get lots of sleep but I was so conflicted (as usual) between sleep and whatever was on TV at 10:00.  In the end, sleep won out because I figured I'd need lots of sleep to ward off the dreaded sickness myself.  And so far, so good.

L tried to get up and go to work this morning, but no dice.  He was woozy and feverish after just a few minutes of being up.  Back to bed.  I was jealous.  I wanted to crawl back into bed and nap along with him.  Instead, I trudged off to work.  I kept thinking about how nice it would be to be home napping.  But then I remembered that if I were home I probably wouldn't be napping.  I'd be running up and down the stairs serving Diet Coke and Emergen-C.  I'd be massaging feet.  At best I'd be playing Angry Birds on my phone.  It was probably better to be at work today.  (But don't tell L I said that...)  L texted me a bunch of times from his iPhone until I told him to knock it off and get some sleep.

When I got home tonight there was soup percolating in the crock pot, and a baguette of bread waiting to be sliced.  Hmmm... L must feel better!  But when I went upstairs he was in the same position I'd left him in this morning: supine on the bed.  I was jealous.  He does feel better (Yay - thanks Vitamin D!) but not 100%.  I opened the window a crack to let in some fresh air, and let the sick air out.

My friend Wendy sent me a nice card in the mail and it absolutely made my day.  I wondered why I never remember to send cards in the mail, since I enjoy getting them so much.  I'm an impatient person and emails are so much quicker.  So easy, and you don't have to have stamps (which I never do).  But isn't it exciting to get something in the mail that is not a bill, that has a pretty stamp on it, and just looks like fun before you even open it?  So much better than an email.  Better than a text message.  And I don't even know how to tweet.  I will send more cards - to my grandkids, to my family, to my friends.  Its such a nice thing to do.  And I'm pretty sure it wards off sickness by making your heart happy.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Girl Time Is The Best - Even When Scott Comes Too

I had THE BEST weekend!  Katie and Zach arrived on Friday early evening just before I got home from work.  I'd already arranged with Ashley to go to the movies that night so now all three of us were excited to go.  At the last minute Scott decided he didn't want to be left home alone, and because he fits in so well with all of us girls, he came along too.  And I'm so glad he did - he kept us laughing from beginning to end.   We went to see "Just Go With It" with Jennifer Anniston and Adam Sandler.  It's a little bit rude, perhaps, but no bad language or nudity.  Just a lot of funny. 
After the movie we were all starving.  Scott suggested The Hat - famous for their pastrami sandwiches and chili cheese fries.  I'd never been there and I've heard other people rave about it so we went.  I'm here to say I would never eat there again.  Really salty pastrami and the onion rings were over cooked.  The chili cheese fries were just heart block waiting to happen so I passed on those.  I felt like I ate tons of grease.  Yuck.  But we laughed so hard we were crying greasy tears.  I can't even remember WHAT we laughed at.  Knowing Scott and Katie, anything and everything.  I just know we had a great time.  We had someone there snap our picture - greasy food trash and all.
I know... I know... we all look like we'd been gorging on greasy stuff.  I guess one night won't kill you.  Hopefully.  Poor Zach was holed up in my office studying away, and L just shook his head and waved us off.  He knew better than to come, I think.  We would have embarrassed him.

The next day Katie and I stopped first at Shinoda to get her some silk flowers for the gorgeous hair clips she makes.  Once you're in that place, it's really REALLY hard to get out.  There's Just.So. Much.  Ashley called and asked if we were still coming for lunch so we hustled it up and got outta there.  We had a real ladies' lunch at Champagne Bakery, sitting outside in the gorgeous sunny weather.  It was heaven.  Ash had to get back to work (she is the manager of the Sunglass Hut inside Macy's Men's Store), and Katie and I continued on.  We stopped in at Sephora as she wanted a couple of things.  We were there at least two hours.  Katie wanted to learn to do a smokey eye.  One of their makeup artists took us on and made her up with a smokey eye.  She looked GORGEOUS!  But look at him -  I didn't notice at the time that with his shaped eyebrows and manicured beard he looked like that face where you magnetically drag beards and eyebrows into place to make different faces.  (Can't remember what it's called now....anyone?)

More shopping after that, and Katie left her Shade tank top inside the dressing room at Ann Taylor Loft.  We had such a pile it kind of blended in with the discards.  (She was a little sad about that when she realized it later.)  Finally it was time to go home.  Zach was done with his exam and waiting for Katie.  We were both hungry and she was going out to dinner with Scott and Ashley (Zach's brother was playing college basketball on TV and he opted to dine alone at a sports bar so he could watch.)  L and I went out for a quiet dinner on our own.

I missed (as always) the fun and laughing and commotion.  I was sad that Katie was leaving the next morning.  It was all too short.  But I'd finally gotten the girl time with her I was craving and that will have to do me for awhile, I suspect.  Zach leaves to finish up school in Puerto Rico this week, and Katie and the girls will join him for two weeks at the end of March.  They'll find out where they're going for Zach's residency next month also.  I'm hoping it's not too far away, but it likely will be.  *sigh*  But hopefully it will be a good place to visit!  *looking more cheerful*

Reading back over this, it doesn't sound nearly as fun as it was.  It was just chock full of old inside jokes, banter between brother and sister, and lots of girl time between Katie, Ashley, and me.  We all think the same things are funny, and it was soooo good to reconnect and have some good laughs.  I'm thinking seriously about having a girls weekend within the next year.  It's tricky because Katie will be busy moving, Scott and Ashley are busy figuring out their next move, and Ronna is pregnant and due in September.  But we really must give it a good try and try to make it a yearly tradition.  Because girls just need some time now and then to get together and be silly.  I wonder if Scott will crash that weekend, too...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?

Sorry I've been a little bit absent, but our internet crapped out one night, which caused a chain reaction of not being able to connect to the internet.  Luckily, my husband has a cool head (I was in high panic) and remembered that it sometimes works (in situations such as this) to unplug everything and plug it back in.  Somehow that seemed to work on the little hangover our computers were experiencing from the internet outage.
And hey - guess what?  Katie is coming for a visit this weekend!  Zach has an exam in Los Angeles on Saturday morning so he and Katie will spend Friday night here (Zach holed up in my stellar office studying and Katie out playing with me and whoever else we can round up.)  Then Saturday we can have fun all day until Zach comes back from taking his exam.  *sigh*  Then I guess Katie will want to go on a date with him or something, and I'll have to hang out with L.   Or maybe not - it's all pretty much up in the air right now.  That always makes me feel a little chaotic - I like to have everything mapped out.  But part of the fun is NOT having everything scheduled.  That's kind of how my life goes: I'm either feeling trapped and overscheduled or I have that crazed feeling of not knowing what to expect next.  One thing I do know is that we'll spend a lot of time laughing.  So automatically I know that L will make an early exit - he gets impatient with silliness, and oh, we do get silly.
 L does not have a silly gene.  Neither do Andrew and Tim.  But the rest of us have an over abundance of silly, and we have such a good time when we're together.  I mean, I have a good time with Andrew and Tim too, but it's a dignified good time.  The rest of us are rarely dignified, which kind of horrifies L.  We're breaking him down though.  Slowly.
I'm glad to see that little Mia has inherited the silly gene.  Katie told me tonight that every so often she decides that her name has changed to Pan.  Not PaM.  PaN.  She will tell strangers in Costco that her name has changed from Mia to Pan.  They are puzzled by that news.  Pan tells Katie that she is going to run fast and that Katie should tell her to "Go, Pan, go!"  For awhile she told Katie that her favorite name for a baby was Woohay.  We were all a little puzzled by that.  What is Woohay?  The mystery was finally solved the other day as Mia was watching Dora the Explorer.  There was a character on that day named Jorge and Mia was calling him Woohay.  Mystery solved.  I love that kid.  I'm sad she isn't coming this weekend just because I want to hear all about her Valentine's party at school tomorrow.  I was looking forward to her sweet silliness.  But I'm looking forward to my own baby's sweet silliness.  It's been a long time since it was just the two of us, and I'm really looking forward to it.  It's going to be a fun weekend.

ps: Here is a little bit of pre-Valentine's Day sweetness - I can't resist these two, but who could?

Friday, February 4, 2011

My Sister-Daughters

The last post about what makes us beautiful got me thinking.  What is it - beyond physical features - that makes us beautiful to other people?  And its funny here how what I see as beautiful in someone else may not be something that the other person identifies in herself.  That's why it's good we're all here together, so we can give each other sincere, positive feedback, see?
Anyway, that train of thought led to the fact that I've always wished I had sisters.  Brothers are great, but I would have loved at least one sister.  Someone to confide in, share secrets with, trade clothes with, get advice from or be a mentor to.  Well, that never happened, but I feel I've got the next best thing these days: a daughter and two daughter in laws.  It might even be as good.

Now of course I've known my Katie, my daughter the longest, and for years (unbeknownst to her) she has been my hero, my "schischter" (private joke).  She has determination and resolve that I've only dreamed about.  She never gives up and she oozes confidence.  I've always admired how she can go out barefaced and look so beautiful.  Makeup is good too, but she doesn't need it to feel good about herself.  She's the quintessential beach girl.  Starting in high school she suffered a broken neck and 3 knee surgeries.  She never feels perfect - there's always an ache somewhere but she never EVER complains.  She never stops living.  She's not defined by her pain and discomfort.  That's been an inspiration to me now that I, too, have chronic pain.  Katie is one of the funniest people I know, and one of the things I miss the most now that she's grown up with kiddies of her own is having time to just sit and talk and really get to laughing about anything and everything.  I wish I had been strong and confident like her when I was growing up, but she's been the best sort of example to me in my old age.  I'm a better person because of who she is.  She is beautiful to me.

Ronna is my oldest son's wife.  She is feisty and strong willed.  This is a good thing because my son is strong willed, and she doesn't stand for any nonsense from him.  She expects him to help out at home and spend time with the children AND with her.  No excuses.  He's a good talker and debater, but she sees through the noise and can cut to the chase.  She brings out the softer side in Rex that allows him to relax and be comfortable in his skin.  She loves her family fiercely and protects them like a mama bear.  I'm just the mother in law, but she's always glad to see me.  We always have good talks when I go to visit, and we both love to go to Sephora.  She has her fears and her feelings of inadequacy - like any of us.  But she faces them squarely, and with great courage she has fought through many of them.  I'm so proud of her.  She is beautiful to me.

Ashley is the newest.  I've only known her for about a year.  But in that year she's shown me grace under pressure, thoughtfulness beyond measure, and a strong sense of humor.  She loves my Scott, and it radiates in her face every time she looks at him.  Every man should be adored like that.  And yet, in her gracious way, she has also impressed upon him the need for improvement.  Improvement in keeping the house clean and in simply being responsible.  Being married to Ashley has made him a protective, loving husband and family man, and it's sweet to see.  Ashley knows what she wants and what she likes, and she knows how to get it.  But its never done in an overbearing way.  This girl has grace and charm, and it's made me rethink being bossy and stubborn.  Surprisingly, she likes to do things with me, and it makes my day.  It makes me feel lucky.  And she is beautiful to me.
While all of these girls are physically beautiful, they are all just as beautiful inside.  And so, when wrinkles, and gray hair, and middle age woes hit, they will still be beautiful: to their children, to their husbands, and to everyone they interact with.  And they will be especially beautiful to me - they are the sisters I never had.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What Defines Beauty

Jen over at Denton's Sanatorium has given us another writing assignment : identify the one physical feature you possess that you would define as beautiful, or that makes you unique and, therefore, beautiful.
I've been thinking about this all week, and searching the mirror each morning trying to decide.  I found it sad that when I was young and truly had some features that were beautiful, I failed to recognize them.  I was always too fat, my hair wasn't straight enough, I wasn't photogenic, I wasn't blonde.  Looking back on old photographs I recognize a pretty girl that I didn't appreciate half enough, and so she never had the confidence that would make her truly beautiful.  Instead I would often try to fade into the background, at the same time wanting desperately to be noticed.  And I'm sure I did get noticed, but the tragedy was that I just assumed I wouldn't be.
Fast forward forty years or so.  Looking at myself in the mirror today, I can still recognize my old self, although features have sagged, gone double, widened, or just lost their luster.  My hair, which used to be the bane of my existence, is now one of my favorite features.  I've come to appreciate hair that has waves, and has lots of body.  Sadly, it's also gone quite gray, so I give it lots of help every four weeks at the salon. It's one of my better features, but because its not quite "true" I can't consider it my best.  I like my eyes too - they've always been a standout feature.  They are large, and, while my eyelashes aren't as luxurious as they used to be, they're still long enough.  My eyes are brown, and I wear green contacts.  The effect of the two combined makes them kind of extraordinary looking and I get a lot of compliments.  But, because they aren't really that amazing color, I can't totally consider them my best feature.  I have to interject here, however, that I think I deserve an "A" for effort in getting good results working with what I have left after 57 years.
My poor body has not fared all that well.   I'm overweight and at this stage of the game I'm having a very hard time losing it.  I have a chronic disease that prevents me from working out as hard as I probably need to.  I can't tolerate a lot of pounding like running or kick boxing, etc.  So for me it's walking, yoga, and swimming.  I'm at least 2 sizes bigger than I'd like to be, but I'm doing the best I can.  There are times when I yearn to be that size I was in my 20's, but mostly I've learned to be more accepting of myself - to give myself a break and some permission to continue to live and enjoy my life even though I'm not that perfect size 6.
So what is my one feature that I take particular pride in?  I would have to say my skin.  My mother takes exceptional care of her skin, and she taught me to.  I have no doubt that we were blessed with good skin, but the good care has paid off.   I have few wrinkles, and rarely get blemishes.  (Now watch - I'll get a big zit tomorrow just to teach me not to be so proud!)  I did have a bout of bad skin when I was in high school - I think that's why I treasure clear skin now.  I can go without makeup pretty easily, and most people don't think I'm as old as I am.  So yes - that would have to be my feature that sets me a little apart and gives my confidence a little edge.  But I can't take all the credit - I come from a line of women who have pretty skin:
My mom here is 80 - look at that glow!  And she has those high cheekbones which I've always coveted...*heavy sigh*  (Let's not go there now...)

And then there's the woman who passed it along to us:

Yep, folks - that's what 99 looks like in my family...

And hopefully I'll pass it along to my daughter and her pretty girls.  

photo by Heather Anderson of TenderShootz

But the thing is, while I enjoy having good skin, pretty eyes, nice hair - whatever it is that's behaving for me on any given day - what I like best of all is that I'm not obsessed with it like I was at 18.  I've learned that it's easy to miss out on the best of times if I fuss too long with my hair, or if I can't go out of the house without makeup.  Good times don't wait on having perfect polish on your nails, and they definitely don't have any patience for not joining in the fun because you've gained a pound or two.  So I've learned to be forgiving of myself.  My body, my face, my appearance won't always be perfect or beautiful.  But what grandchild ever remembered how gorgeous their grandma was?  They remember that Mema always had time to play fairy castle, bake cookies and make them the most important little person in that moment.  That takes confidence folks - to go out in public with no makeup or flat hair.  But confidence is that elusive quality that perhaps makes us the most beautiful women of all.

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