Daily Affirmation

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

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Spicy Changes

Warmer weather on the horizon - it's starting to feel a little bit like summer.  I only have about 4 more weeks to work until my 60 days off.  I'm starting to feel a little bit excited, yet a little nervous too.  What am I going to do with myself?  We always say we'd love to have the time to do all of the things we want to do, but when we finally get the chance, the pool gets muddied by the fact that there will be no paycheck for 60 days either.  So I'm trying to squirrel away a little here, a little there, so I won't have to ask L for spending money.  Like I'm 6.  As luck would have it, all of a sudden I'm very busy - lots of work to do - so I'm making hay while the sun shines.  And making up some mental to-do lists.

Did anyone take notice of the Super Moon last weekend?  Oh, how I wished for a zoom lens for my camera!  We did set up a tripod and managed to get this little picture.

I saw so many spectacular shots taken by people who actually know what they're doing AND have the equipment to match.  One was shot down by the water in Newport Beach with the moon huge and hanging over the water.  Amazing.  As I've probably said before, I love all things star and night sky related.  That moon really was lovely - until the fog rolled in, and you couldn't see it anymore.

We have two of our little ones having birthdays this month.  Matthew turned 5 last Friday.  He told his dad he wanted to go to Hawaii for his birthday, but he looks pretty content to be taken out to breakfast with his family.

L and I sent him a rocket that shoots a car out (he loves it) and a kickboard with a shark's face on it to use at the pool this summer.  I'm looking forward to some playtime with this happy boy in a month or so.

Saturday Mia turns 7.  Right now she's down in Kino Bay in Mexico with her dad's entire family.  It's an annual trip for them - tons of cousins, aunts, uncles, a pool, and the ocean.  What could be more fun than that?  She'll be back in Arizona on her birthday and I'll get to talk to her then, hopefully.  Telling tales of running wild with cousins, and playing every day on a beautiful beach.  I'm sure Massachusetts seemed very far away this week.

And then I had my big adventure in hair color.  I had the opportunity to be one of the "hair models" for a seminar at my salon for a new color technique.  I basically gave them carte blanche.  It's only color.  It can be redone, undone, done over.  And what I got was.... RED ...

Please ignore all of the flotsam and jetsam in my office.  It's hard to tell from this picture just how red it really is.  In the daylight it really does look a lot like this, but when indoor lighting hits it, it's really... bright.  Mom did not like it.  She is easily startled by new looks, and this definitely grabbed her attention.  Oh well - it's on MY head, after all, and I actually do like it.  It's growing on me.  And L likes it.  It's always good to shake things up every now and then.  Keeps boredom at bay.  And this hair color is anything but ho hum.  It's spicy.  Caliente.  And if, ultimately, I get tired of it?  That's what hair color is for, my friends - for change.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Normal Weeks Are So... Normal...

Once again, I've gotten lost somewhere along the way this week.  You would think that I have so much going on that I just can't fit in a moment to blog.  Not true.  At all.  It's been deadly dull, and that's the true reason for not posting.  A real ball of fire trudging down the hall at 8:30 - 9:00 every morning to fire up the laptop and see what the day has in store for me.  From Monday morning through Thursday afternoon it's been a bare half day of work.  And even that was a stretch.  This is not good for my bank account.  Not at all...

Oh wait - we did have a quick stroke of excitement this week: Katie found out she is having a BOY! 

After 2 girls, she is very excited to welcome a little bit more testosterone into the sea of estrogen that currently resides at their house.  I've been trying all week to picture what a little boy will look like, but I'm afraid I'll have to just wait and see.  So we'll have a new little boy of Rex and Ronna's in July, and then another one in October/early November.  L and I are pretty excited - well, as much as L ever gets excited, he's excited.  Low-key is his middle name.

I got the laundry done on Monday in record time.  I've cooked some stellar dinners, including one of my old Martha Stewart recipes I'd never had a chance to try: Shrimp Corn Chowder.  If anyone is interested, I'll post it - incredibly easy and so full of summer flavor and freshness.  I made it with almond milk instead of the called-for half and half (Martha would not be pleased) but it was still rich and thick and so, so good.  And (best of all) because of the milk switcheroo, it was still in my calorie range for the day.  These days, one of the biggest causes of excitement is getting to eat something that seems decadent, but isn't.  This was one of those times, and I was stoked.

I don't even remember what happened Tuesday.  Apparently nothing.  I may have sat outside on the patio in my bathing suit for a little while, but that's about it.  The good thing about that is that my bathing suit is too loose.  Simple pleasures.  I'll have to get a new one in a smaller size, and I'm not sad about it one bit.  Oh now I remember: I went to see my niece Sherri, who was in town for her baby shower.  I needed to give her my gift, and visit with her for awhile.  She looked adorable, and we're all looking forward to her beautiful little Harper's arrival.  I found myself wishing I'd looked that cute when I was pregnant.  You know the type: teeny tiny with a bump just right in front.  I was round ALL.THE.WAY. AROUND.  Not cute.

Wednesday is my day with Mom.  We drove Dad out to Corona and saw that the other side of the freeway was jammed up for miles.  And miles.  So on the way back, we had a little adventure in navigation and took surface streets.  Mom is no help with this.  She couldn't find her car in a parking lot, but I kind of pride myself on a good sense of direction.  My brother pointed us in the right direction and we followed the bread crumbs over surface streets, saving ourselves at least an hour of freeway frustration.  It was kind of a weird day - cloudy and humid.  We don't often get thick air in Southern California, but it was one of those rare days.  We lunched and noshed at Mimi's Cafe, and before we knew it, my brother drove up with Dad and the day came to an end.

Thursday brought an arthritis flareup.  This time it's in my left wrist.  Very stiff and sore, and I wish it would go away.  It's bearable, but irritating.  I think I'll try zapping it with my little Tens Unit tonight.  I always forget to try that.  It's funny how a low dose of electrical current sometimes breaks up a pattern of inflammation.  That evening I was too tired to go out bike riding so we stayed in.  Once every 2 weeks or so I hit a wall and have to take a night off.  That night, I think just trying to ignore a stiff and sore wrist did me in.  I can always temporarily up the dosage of one of my medications but it takes a good 5 hours or so to grab hold.  Ugh...

Which brings me to today - Friday.  I really thought today would be more of the same scant work schedule, but all of a sudden the work started to pile on.  That always cheers me up because I see dollar signs.  Lots of them.  And from the look of things, I'll be busy next week too, so I'm feeling good about that.  Summer time is very slow in my line of work, so when things pick up it's a wave I like to jump on.

I went over to see my aunt at around 4:00 or so.  I thought I would only be there an hour or so, but I could tell she really wanted me to stay and have some dinner with her, so I did.  We sat in a separate dining room and visited over our salads, and I may have eaten a couple of the meatballs off of her spaghetti.  After dinner the facility wound up the Cruise Week they'd been having with a little hour of wine sipping, getting the inmates loose and ready for the Elvis impersonator who was coming at 6:00.  My aunt really wanted to see Elvis, but I knew if I left she'd just go to her room, so I stayed for a bit for the show.  He was really awful, but he was so cute playing up to the ladies.  He kissed their hands, and posed for pictures, and took them for twirls around the floor.  He reached out and held my aunt's hand for a minute, and I saw a little smile on her face.  It was worth watching just for that.

Tomorrow I need to prepare for Father's Day.  We're having Mom and Dad, and two of my brothers and their wives over for dinner.  And one niece.  Incredibly, all of the other nieces and nephews are going to be elsewhere.  It always feels so odd to have everyone grown up with families of their own.  And I have to fit in some time to make L feel special. 

Give him his gift, and do whatever he wants to do - probably go for a long bike ride in the hot sun, if I know him.  He likes to ride out past Angel Stadium and back, so it's the least I can do for my partner in crime.  Because the rest of the day will be devoted to a trip to Costco and Trader Joe's, cleaning off the patio table and chairs, and doing some cooking.  It's going to be a busy day.  I had such big plans for the family gathering on Sunday, but the closer it gets, the more willing I am to just do "something easy."  It tends to make me a better hostess.  As long as we have plenty of food and lots of dessert, Dad will be happy.  He's gotten his appetite back, and is enjoying being alive again, so it will be a good time together with everyone.

But next week, I need to work on getting some jazz into my routine.  Find something to get excited about.  Something besides finding a Trader Joe's version of a Rice Krispies Treat for only 100 calories.  I mean, that was huge, but it really shouldn't light up my week as much as it did.  Diets really do skew your judgement, don't they?

Tip of the week: Check out Passenger on i-Tunes.  Specifically their "All The Little Lights" CD.  I started out loving the song "Let Her Go," but found the entire CD irresistible.  Had to get it.  You're welcome.  

Some of my favorite "Daddy" pictures: 

 The first two are Rex with Lexi, the third with Matthew

Zach and Mia

Have a great weekend.  Go give that Dad and/or husband a special bit of attention and adoration.  They totally deserve it for all they do. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

An Ordinary Week With A Sparkle. Or Two.

I've been trying to spend a little more time with my aunt this week, getting her out and about.  The other day I finished work early, and we had a little excursion to Home Goods.  If you've never been to one of those, it's like a Marshall's for your home.  Furniture, lamps, tschotchkes, bedding, kitchen wares.  It's all there, and it would take me two days to go through it all.  It's all kind of a hodge podge - you never know what you'll find, and that's part of the fun.. Sometimes there's nothing, but the next time you'll come across all kinds of treasures.  Anyway, she didn't feel like going to the local Orchard's to wander in their garden department, so we ended up in Home Goods to look for a little lamp for her dresser to light up a dark corner.  I had a vision of what I wanted to find.

Now one unpleasant truth I've discovered about myself is that I'm a complete control freak.  I like things how I like them.  It's hard for me to change course.  When I have a particular vision in mind, I have trouble yielding to anything else.  Because I know best.  (And here I have to apologize to my children for the years of bulldozing I probably subjected them to...)  But this was my aunt's room, and her shopping trip.  I've been working so hard with her to actually HAVE an opinion.  On anything.  She has bent and given way to others her whole life, and I've wanted her to discover the joy of making her own decisions.  Discovering things that she loves.  And that day she came to love a lamp that I did not.  She admired it's architectural shapes, it's straightforward lines.  It's the first time I've seen her voice an opinion and a reason behind it in years.  And I sadly, but wisely, stifled my own opinion and encouraged her.  She is starting to find her voice.  And that's a Good Thing.

I wandered away, and let her have the fun of perusing this treasure or that one by herself.  I didn't want her to think I was hovering, tapping my foot impatiently.  She is quick to feel that she's taking too much of your time - even if she's not.  When I came back around to check on her, she dragged me back into a far corner to show me a little table she had discovered.  It seems she wanted a small table out on her covered patio where she could pot some plants and putter with trowels and flowers.  And she'd found a perfect little rustic piece for it.  I think it was actually supposed to be a nightstand, but it was painted a very distressed robin's egg blue, had a couple of drawers that could hold gardening gloves and perhaps some tools, and a shelf where she could store a small bag of Miracle Grow soil.  The top will be perfect for potting new plants, or she could put a pretty plant there.  Her choice.

Sadly, we had driven my Miata there, so we had to leave the table there until L could get home with the Explorer, so we took the new lamp (oh my she was excited about that lamp!) and drove back to her place, top down, hair blowing.  I don't think she'd been out of "the home" for that long for quite a while, and certainly not out in the sunshine driving around in a convertible.  She was pretty tired, and when we got back to her room she took a couple of Coke Zeros out of her fridge, and we toasted the afternoon's victories.

Our next outing will be to Orchard for some flowers.  What kind?  Again, that will be entirely up to her.  I like this new-found excitement to grow things.  She had great success with the pansies we planted a few months ago.  Maybe this time it will be petunias, or marigolds.  Maybe just some green plants, but I think she's got the bug for color.  Plants can be soothing and satisfying - almost like a pet.  It will be interesting to see how this develops.  I never - not in a million years - thought she'd want to grow flowers.  People are surprising sometimes, and usually in a good way.

Family news: Mia was chosen as Student of the Month.  She was beyond thrilled.  AND - she is reading on a second grade level, she says - the highest in her class.  I am so proud of her - mostly because she likes to read in bed, just like me.  She has her 7th birthday later this month. 

Hayden had her open house for her next year's pre-school.  I am told she swaggered in like she owned the joint.  Not surprising.  That little girl is SO READY for school.

Matthew, in Colorado, had his graduation from preschool.  He will be a full-fledged Kindergartner next year.  He will turn five towards the end of the month, and is one happy little boy.  I am told he wants a spaceship for his birthday.  His mother has no idea what that means.  I searched on Amazon (where absolutely everything can be found) and I'm not sure either.  I will keep hunting.

My own baby, Scott, turned 30 this past Monday.  That wasn't supposed to happen - I was 30 when I had him, and wasn't that just last week?  He invited me to come for the weekend, but the $600+ price tag on airfare was prohibitive for just a weekend.  Still, on the actual day I found myself feeling sorry for myself that I wasn't there singing happy birthday and giving him a big hug.  I miss the little boy that he was, as well as the man he's become.  He can make me laugh like no other - a valuable commodity.

Tomorrow is payday.  Normally I don't get that excited, but I forgot to turn in my hours for the week before last, and so I didn't get paid last week.  *frowny face*  I'm not sure how that happened, but somehow I got distracted.  I have lots of birthday and Father's Day and baby gifts to buy (June is busy month, as it turns out!) so I'll be glad to have some money again.

The diet is still going well, although I've reached a plateau of sorts, and that always makes me a little cranky.  It's so much easier to do without treats when the pounds are falling off.  But lately, it's just been the same up and down with no real progress.  I know it will happen, but I'm not the patient sort.  I'm all for instant gratification.  It's been a rough few days trying to stay out of the kitchen unless I'm actually cooking.  We're riding our bikes 8 or 9 miles every single night, for heaven's sake.  I've heard about these plateaus though, and I think I just need to relax.  But it makes me grumpy.  I don't mind telling you though, that it's been fun to discover that I really do have a waistline still.  I am still in there, underneath it all.  I'm digging out.

A regular week.  Nothing special, yet there have been moments worth remembering.  Which is why I bother to do this.  Taking the week's triumphs, celebrations, and sparkly memories, writing them down and storing them away to be read and savored again later.  I find that it's the little things that I keep in my heart.  Not so much that my baby turned 30.  More that he wanted his mom to come celebrate with him.  Watching my aunt discover something she liked.  And most of all, realizing that I needed to shut my mouth, stifle my input,  and let her enjoy her little moment of decision.  I learned a life lesson this week.

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