Daily Affirmation

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

Monday, October 24, 2011

Preparing To Pack

Counting down the days until our trip east.  Over the weekend, L treated me to a little shopping spree and I was able to find the perfect (I hope) jacket to go with my dress for the wedding. The reason I say "I hope" is because the dress is being altered (hem taken up) and I wasn't able to try the two together.  So.... as usual I'm flying by the seat of my pants.  It definitely keeps things interesting - I'm never quite sure how things are going to work out but I'm reasonably sure everything will go together.  Picture this, if you will: a plum colored jersey dress, straight cut sheath with a cowl neckline (my least favorite neckline...)  It's sort of snug fitting (not on purpose, I assure you) so this jacket will go over it, and help to camouflage the unpleasant realities of getting older:
ahhh... if only I looked like that in it....

Now - the silly cowl neckline is sort of like it's own necklace, so I'm not going to try and fight with any kind of necklace.  Instead, I got these earrings to wear instead:

I think that will be jewelry enough, don't you?  Add some little gold sandals with rhinestone buckles and you have the outfit.  Now, before the wedding we are supposed to meet at a park for pictures in about 55 degree weather.  If I get through that it will be a miracle.  I don't have any kind of coat that will work with the dress AND jacket - or even just the dress for that matter.  In California we just don't have a lot of call for dressy warm coats.  GAH - I'm not sure what to do there, but I won't last long out in the cold.  If you think of me at around 4pm on Saturday, send up a little prayer that the sun will come out.  Either that, or that it rains, and then the picture taking will HAVE to move indoors.  
From there we all hop into taxis and head to the cute little bookstore where the ceremony will be held for more picture taking and then (FINALLY) the ceremony and reception.  And hopefully some good food. Tim and Autumn have been sending email after email with updates on the festivities, so their energy is in high gear.  I'm excited to share pictures of everything with all of you.  New York at this time of year is so much fun.  
And then, of course, its on to Boston (or actually Worcester, pronounced "Woos-tah") and trick or treating and tons of fun with Mia and Hayden.  Oh, and Katie too.  And maybe Zach, if he's around.  You never know with young doctors.
So today it was laundry day, and tomorrow I need to start organizing the clothes I'm taking so I'm not up all night on Wednesday packing in a panic.  THAT is my usual M.O., throwing things in a suitcase in sheer desperation and exhaustion.  And there's always waaaaay too much thrown in.
Another thing I'm excited about is being able to wear boots and sweaters everywhere except the rehearsal dinner and wedding.  I love the coziness of crisp fall days paired with comfy warm clothes.  It's going to be a quick trip - a total whirlwind - but it's going to be lots of fun.  I'm even going to take my work laptop with me to try and fit in a little work here and there.  In my case, every hour is billable.  So, a little work, a lotta play.  It's going to be a great trip, chock full of family time and memories.  And, if I'm lucky - maybe someone will share some M&M's with Mema.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Style & Deep Dish Pizza

Today my daughter in law, Ashley, had made plans to come over and go to lunch with me.  Luckily (or unluckily, depending on your viewpoint) it was a slow work day so I was able to finish everything up by about 12:30 - just in time to grab a bite!  I was hoping there would be more to do later in the afternoon.  We headed down to Newport and Fashion Island.  Ashley is the manager of a Sunglass Hut and she'd been staking out some sunglasses for me to try.  Four times a year they have a sale for the employees where they can purchase up to 5 pair of sunglasses for 50% off, so this was my big chance to pick out some nice ones. I finally settled on these:
Burberry, with a kind of quilted design on the side pieces.  A little edgy, and different than what I have now.  I was sorely tempted by a pair of Tiffany & Co ones.  They were black with a little flower design in Swarovski crystals at the temple, and the inside and top edge of the frames were in Tiffany blue.  So elegant - perfect lady sunglasses.  But even at the 50% off they were a little pricey so I opted for the Burberry ones, which were a little more practical.  But I'm still thinking about the Tiffany ones.  It was hard to walk away from them.  To be honest, I just felt so pretty, so ladylike, so classy in them.  I looked for a picture of them on the Sunglass Hut website, but I think the style was too new, so you'll just have to imagine them.  Or go to a Sunglass Hut store.
Ashley and I had lunch outside on a terrace that had an ocean view.  Perfect weather, perfect day.  I know I've said it before, but I just love spending time with this girl.  She's smart and fun and spunky.  In the short time I've known her, she's grown in leaps and bounds (as I hope I have) and I always enjoy her fresh personality.  My son Scott is a lucky man.  After lunch we went over to the Sunglass Hut in Macy's, where I monopolized the manager's time (my new friend Ryan) while he pulled out pair after pair of sunglasses.  He showed me his favorites, and gave me opinions on my favorites.  In the end, in the interest of style, every day wearability, and budget, we all decided on the Burberry frames.  I'm excited.  I don't get them until next week (I have to wait for Ashley to buy them for me), so there's the anticipation.  New sunglasses always make me feel like I have a whole new look.  I mean, I probably don't, but it feels that way.
After our Fashion Island outing, Ash and I came back to the house.  She had about a hundred loads of wash to do that I told her to bring over, rather than wasting money on machines at her apartment complex.  I had a little more work to do, she had clothes to fold, and every so often we'd meet in the middle and gab about something.
Finally, at 6:30, my son Scott came over, and L arrived home at almost the same time.  Scott invited us to come have some Chicago style deep dish pizza with them.  L has had a touchy stomach the past couple of days so he declined.  But I didn't.  I went, and Scott is right - that pizza was about the best I've ever had.  We had good pizza and good conversation, and some good laughs.  And an icy Diet Coke.
It was a near perfect day.  I had a whole afternoon to spend with one of my favorite girls on a day when I didn't have to feel guilty about ignoring a big work load.  I literally ran through an entire store full of sunglasses, and got expert advice from my girl and from my new BFF Ryan.  It was like, for an hour, I was their best and favorite customer.  Loved it.  Ate lunch in the warm sun while being cooled with a sea breeze.  Came home, worked some more (made a little more money) and then went out and ate great pizza in the company of my favorite youngest son and his beautiful wife.  A slow, easy day.  But I am going to have to pedal my bike hard tomorrow to make up for it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Riding Flat

I received some good advice over the weekend: always check the pressure in your bike tires before going out to ride.  I'd noticed that lately the bike riding was getting much harder.  So much so that I was getting discouraged.  For me, I naturally blame my chronic condition for every weird little thing that affects me.  It just seems to be ever so.  My knee is sore?  It's the arthritis.  Shoulder aching?  Arthritis.  Ankle akimbo?  Ditto - arthritis.  So I was discouraged.  I was sad.  This should be getting EASIER, not harder.  I should feel like pushing the envelope - doing more and more all the time!  Right?  No - it was getting so that I was dreading getting on that bike.
When my friend Wendy and I went out last Thursday morning we both commented on how hard it was to get going that day.  It was a total chore and I couldn't wait for it to be over.  We talked of many things, Wendy and I - one of which was a tire pump.  We didn't have one yet, and I made a note to have L go and get one over the weekend.
Saturday came, and the subject of the dreaded ride came up.  I didn't want to go, but knew I had to.  I must admit I cried a little bit about how discouraged I was.  (I'm not used to being terrible at things and when I am I get whiney...)  It was still early in the afternoon and hot outside.  We decided to go to Target and get a few things - a bicycle pump among them.
When we got back, L checked the pressure in the tires.  It should have been around 60 and every one of them read 30.  I began to cheer up.  No wonder it had been so hard - we were riding on practically flat tires!  Honestly, I'd felt like I was trying to pedal a tractor!
When we finally took the bikes out on the trail later that day -- WHAT A DIFFERENCE!  I sailed along - I felt like singing!  (But I didn't - that would have been embarrassing.)  I was crazy strong and nothing could stop me.  Except L, who said he was tired.  So - mystery solved.  I wasn't going downhill to my slow death - I just had flat tires.
The moral to this story is: when the going gets tough, pump up your tires instead of crying like a baby.

Or -
If your lollipop gets hair on it...

just pick it off...


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Helping Hands & Hearts

I have nothing urgent or even truly interesting to talk about.  Life has been rolling along these past few days in an easy manner.  I've hit a good patch, for which I'm grateful.  I know this peaceful period is temporary - a breather until the other shoe drops.  In talking to friends here and there, however, I can see my current peaceful life isn't a universal condition.  It always amazes me how good the plan was to place us here on earth with each other.  So simple.  I help you, you help me.

When I'm up, I can help you up.  And vice versa.  Should be simple, anyway.  Why then, do we have such a hard time being generous with our time, our patience, our listening ear?  In my case (and I can only speak for myself) I think I'm just inherently self-centered.  I have to fight that urge to have all topics of conversation lead back to me.  To assume ridiculously that I'm the only one who has any worries or tough issues to conquer.
It's been very freeing and eye opening to realize that I'm not the only one with weaknesses and soft spots.  Mine are unique to me, but everyone has them.  Any many times, the very issues and/or character flaws  I've struggled with and have triumphed over have been transferred over to my stash of Things I Can Help Someone Else With.  It's a wonderful feeling.  I've been through the fire, so when I am talking to someone facing that same fire, I can offer my hand, my help, my support.

I know this is something that we do as parents.  We try to help our children avoid the same pitfalls and alligators that we've already wrestled with.  Sometimes they listen, sometimes they don't.  I've been lucky in that regard - mine have mostly listened and I've actually learned many things from them.  It's been a good win/win partnership for me.
But friends?  I've not had a lot of experience where I was the one to offer a helping hand.  My friends have tended to be further along in competence dealing with life's issues than I have been.  But maybe I've progressed.  I've had the lovely opportunity of late to be able to listen, and sympathize and, hopefully, offer something that helped.  It's felt really good to give back, or pay forward, all of the kindnesses and patience that I needed to accept over the years.  Not that I'm pleased to have friends who are struggling with this or that - it just makes me happy to have something to offer them, instead of a blank look.  You know - that kind of  "OOH, ooh - I've been through that!  Let me help you if I can."  Bad experiences are just that - bad.  But successfully coming out of them makes us stronger.  We've bulked up and have some muscle to flex, and better battle strategies.
I guess my point is, unless we're willing to pick our brothers and sisters up, and help them dust themselves off while keeping the alligators at bay, we might as well be in this adventure alone.  There's safety in numbers, my friends.

We feed off of each other, gain strength spiritually and sometimes even physically by helping each other through this earthly mine field.  All with the help of Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father, of course.  They are the Light that shines in the darkest night, the warm quilt of comfort and love.  And its a crazy, colorful quilt - stitched and interwoven with pieces of all of us.  But it's beautiful.  So let's be good to each other.  Patient.  Generous.  Helpful.

Sunday School is over.  Amen.  Sometimes these thoughts need to find a way out of my head.

My daughter and I each have a Mac.  The other day we installed the Face Time app onto our respective computers, and we've been having such fun being able to chat AND see each other.  Mia held up her bandaged knee and said she has "hundreds" of boo-boos from falling off the scooter.  Poor thing - she takes after her Mema, who has the most scarred up knees in the country.  Hayden waggled her bandaged finger in front of the screen.  Nothing wrong with the finger.  She just wanted a Princess bandaid.  I love it - I can be silly and goofy and they appreciate it. It helps me to feel closer to them and keep up with their lightning fast growing up speed.  I need to talk the Denver folks into getting a Mac so we can do the same thing.  I guess I could do Skype with them?  I will look into that.
Three more weeks until we head east for the wedding and Halloween with the little girls in Boston.  Katie sent me a picture of this little sugary confection sitting in a cornfield:

Someone had made the dress and sent it to Katie so she could photograph one of the girls wearing it.  Mia refused to put it on, but our Hayden loves pretty things.  An amazing little creation wearing another amazing creation.  And that is what's waiting for us in Boston.  I'm getting impatient to go.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Time On My Hands

Work was a little slow today.  Sitting by the window in my office, I could feel the cool fall air - crisp and clean after our rainstorm yesterday.  I decided to take my camera downstairs and see what I could learn.  I've been listening to my daughter tell me about ISO settings and shutter speeds, but it's hard for me to learn anything until I actually try it.
At first I just went outside.  I put the camera on a manual setting and just played around with the ISO and shutter speeds.  A few blown out pictures, a few too dark, and then this one:

See the little spider web?  I didn't even see that until I downloaded the picture onto my computer.  A happy accident!  Our patio isn't much to look at right now so I moved inside and just snapped a few of my favorite things inside the house.

This is one of the first things my husband and I bought together.  We got the vase at Z Gallerie, filled it with berry branches (just like they did in the store), and it sits on top of our piano in the back corner of the living room.  I don't remember where the tassels came from, but I like how they look on the vase.

Next, a little trio of my favorite collection of seashells.  I have a lot of them, and I'm always looking for more.

On the mantle I have something I really like - a wasp nest.  I got it when I worked at Ralph Lauren.  It was one of the props the visual team used in one of the bedroom setups on the fireplace mantle.  When they were changing out that room they let me have it, as they were just going to throw it out.  And it's been on the mantle in our house ever since.  It's a little weird, but I love it.

And finally, up on a little shelf is a blown glass vase I got at the Sawdust Festival in Laguna Beach one summer.  It sits next to a porcelain vase that was in L's apartment went I met him.  It's a little representation of things we each brought into our new life together.

It was fun working with the camera, figuring out the right settings.  I'm learning more every time I use it and it's so much fun!  I need to learn at warp speed so I can take good pictures at the end of the month when we're in NYC and Boston.  I imagine L will commandeer it when we're in NYC, but when we're in Boston I will take control as I'll have two little girls to chase after and photograph - I can't wait!
Yep - it was a quiet day - not as hectic as Monday through Wednesday.  I enjoyed having time to sneak away from my work laptop and play with the camera.  I even had time to make Pioneer Woman's recipe for Apricot Bars - kind of an oatmeal cookie crust with apricot jam in the middle.
When L got home from work we loaded the bikes on the rack and took off for our bike ride - we got in 5 miles before it got dark!  I'm liking this more and more, and I'm feeling a lot more confident on the bike.  We got home and had a steak salad with fried onion strings on top - another Pioneer Woman recipe.  It was a good-for-you salad with a small bit of naughty in the form of the onion strings.  And now it's time to call it a day.

...Did you hear that?  The apricot bars are calling to me.  I don't think they should be ignored.

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Remarkably Unremarkable Weekend

There's a change in the air today - a slight hint of distant rain, combined with a cool breeze.  Rain is on the horizon, we hear, over the next day or two.  Autumn, although here officially, is still making it's grand entrance.  The weekend was characteristically warm.  After watching our church's conference broadcast from Salt Lake in the morning and early afternoon, we felt a little slow and lethargic.  Feeling a need to move, L and I took the bikes out on the bike trail on Saturday around 4pm.  It was lovely.  Most of the cycling crowds had cycled and gone.  There was shade over the trail in spots and it was a really enjoyable ride.  We rode 9 miles!  I remember feeling surprised at how easy the ride had felt and I was encouraged by the improvement.  Once home and cooled off, I felt like I could hop on my bike and do it again.  We grocery shopped afterwards and then drove down the hill to our local pizza place and shared a small pizza and some wings.  It was one of those unremarkable, yet totally enjoyable evenings shared between two people who are completely comfortable with each other.  The kind of evenings great weekends are made of - even though you can barely remember what you did afterwards.  I do remember starting to make a Christmas list... I know, I know... ALREADY.

L went to the trouble to snap a little picture of me on the bike trail during our rest stop.  Note the glowy complexion.  That's what 4 1/2 miles on a warm day does to you, my friends.  Pay no attention to the love handles and bulges.  I'm planning on them making a slow exit over the next few months.  Hope springs eternal...
Sunday was a slight repeat of Saturday, in that we spent the morning and afternoon again watching Conference from Salt Lake.  In our church, it's where you get the best spiritual lift, and kick in the pants to improve in this area or that.  After listening, you are ready to get out there and Do Good.  But being human, we need the pep talk and instruction in another 6 months, so every April and October we enjoy listening and finding spiritual strength in this way.
After conference L and I had planned to take the bikes out again.  We went a little earlier than we'd planned (and so it was a little warmer) because Mom and Dad called and wanted to come over.  They were probably feeling our lethargy of Saturday and needed to get out of the house.  No matter - we were making our skillet quiche thing that feeds an army, and we had a fresh loaf of rosemary sourdough bread to go with it.  But before they arrived we wanted to get our ride in, and our goal was to go 10 miles.  Piece of cake, we thought.  Yesterday's 9 miles was a walk in the park.  We chose to go a different direction on the trail, towards the beach.
I could tell by the time we'd gone a couple of miles, that this ride was much harder.  Maybe it was that we'd gone on a long (for us) ride the day before.  Maybe it was because it was hot.  Maybe it was the fact that the wind was blowing harder.  Or a combination of everything.  Whatever.  I thought I was going to die, and that I would never be able to sit down again.  But I didn't want to give up - I'd rather pull my eyelashes out than quit.  But I'm not above complaining and whining - which I did at the 5 mile mark as we drank our water.  And then we saddled up to ride back.  Ow. Ow. Ow. I think I need to get those padded cycling pants that L has, because my whole backside hurt.  Clearly I have miles to go before I'm really in shape.  But we did it! - 10 miles.  19 miles total for the weekend.  I'm stoked.
L is on his way home right now and we'll get on our bikes and go out again - but shorter because it'll be dark.  I don't know what we'll do when it gets dark at 5:00 - maybe I'll be more brave about riding on the street by that time.  But maybe not.  All I know is that I'm excited about the workout - it truly is work, and it's so good to feel that I'm finally doing something that gives my heart and muscles a workout without beating me up. (No trashcan run-ins lately...)
And hey - speaking of autumn, Katie just forwarded me the cutest picture of Hayden in a new little hat.  Is this not the cutest fall look?  If you like Etsy, look for Tanya's Tangles - she is the artist behind this amazing little hat.  I'm wondering if she makes them in Skylee's size?

And then, just for pure fun, here is another new one of Hayden.  I have no idea where the headpiece or tutu came from, but this picture is the stuff dreams are made of - well, at least THIS grandma's dreams!

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