Friday, January 31, 2014

Nice to Meet You, I Think

I enjoy meeting new people, especially in the most mundane settings. So when I was waiting at a local café for my coffee, and a friendly looking stranger approached me, I didn't think much of it. "Do I know you?" she said. Although she looked like someone I may have met at some point in my Rockford lifetime, I wasn't convinced that I "knew" her.

After a few failed attempts of "do you know so and so, or maybe so and so?" I gave up. Suddenly her thought process changed to "wait, you look like someone on TV! That's it!" Oh, I like this game, I thought. So as she stared at me, I prepared myself for the usual names that people have tossed out during interactions like this before. The most common comparison I get (which I don't see at all, but I once got it twice in one day) is Reba McIntyre. Um, I'm pretty sure she's in her 60's, right? I don't see it, but I've gotten it half a dozen times now by strangers who typically stare at me funny for a few minutes and then share a "has anyone ever told you that you look like Reba?" Yes, actually, as weird as that sounds. I've also gotten the actress from Bones, Emily Deschanel, as well as the actress, JoAnna Garcia Swisher,  who plays Reba's daughter Cheynne on her show "Reba". All odd to me, but hey, I'll take it.

So I wait and wait with my coffee while she gives me a long, once over, when she blurts out "Oh, I know. It's Mary Poppins!!" Well. That is a first. A very first. I wasn't sure what to say. I mean, is Mary Poppins even a real person to look like? I wanted to say "are you sure it's not Minnie Mouse? Or maybe Pollyanna?" All I could do was smile politely and say "huh, okay."

She then proceeded to explain something along the lines of looking like Mary Poppins, but back when Mary Tyler Moore was younger (did she even play Mary Poppins or was this woman sippin more than coffee at 8am?), and finally that I also look like the daughter in the new movie about Mary Poppins "Saving Mr. Banks." She told me I "just had to go see it" so I could see the daughter that I look like. I just might have to do that after all of this.

Needless to say, the Hubs got a few serenades of "Just a Spoon Full of Sugar" throughout that day. I couldn't help it. I felt like I needed to try and channel my new twin. Now if I only I could have a magical tote bag like hers, I'd be all set. Can you imagine how many vintage couches I could store in that thing?

So, friend, who do people tell you look like? Any as weird as Mary Poppins? And I thought Reba was a long shot!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Osage, Oh My!

This past weekend, some of the ladies in my family ventured out for our annual, winter girls' lunch and movie day. It's a tradition about 6 years in the making and I just love it. Lunch is always delicious, the snacks I sneak into the theater are equally tasty and the company I get to keep is wonderful. Side note, I apparently need to step up my theater snack smuggling game. I thought I was skilled by being able to bring in fountain drinks, popped popcorn and sometimes, on a wild night, a mini bottle of wine, BUT my cousin informed me that she followed my lead and was able to sneak in multiple hot dogs, popcorn, candy and small drinks for both of her kiddos. Hot dogs? Well played. I feel a challenge coming on.

Heading into this year's movie "August: Osage County", my cousin had warned us that she'd heard from a few people that the movie was "disturbing". So we went in with our guard up just a bit and then we waited for the impending disturbing-ness to appear. And wait long, we did not. Like 15 minutes in I was disturbed ever so slightly. By the end, I had a full blown stomach ache and pounding headache. I'm not exaggerating. I needed one of two things to cope: an entire bottle of wine or counseling. I left depleted, mentally exhausted and a little grateful of the reassurance that my family is WAY normal.

I think everyone can relate to a little dysfunction junction within their family dynamic. I know in most families, mine included, there's sometimes a little riff of someone not talking to someone else, or someone's feelings being hurt, or someone's struggling with something and although everyone wants to help, no one really knows what to do, etc... Well, Osage County makes your family and mine look like the stinkin' Cleavers on crack. My family? We are A-Okay after watching that  train wreck movie.

If Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts don't wine Oscars, well, then, I just don't know. The acting was insanely real and they took me places I hope never to go again. Will this movie be one that I rent when it hits Red Box? Not unless I feel like punishing myself and stapling my hands to the couch or desk seems a bit more messy than the pain inflicted by this film. Was I entertained, I don't really think so, but I'm not certain. The angst is still too vivid. Granted, they had me from the beginning and they never let me go, although at times I prayed it'd slow down so I could accidentally doze off, but entertained is a strong wrong. Not as strong as the language they use flippantly, but strong.

If you see this movie, be ready. There's not a feel good bone in its body. You will see phenomenal acting, like, some of the best I've ever witnessed, but you will also want to run to confession for the language you just ingested. And when it ends, you'll probably be left hanging more than you'd like. But in all reality, how do you end a train wreck? You don't. It just happens and its ugly.

Enjoy, friend;)

Friday, January 24, 2014

Eat More Chicken & Friday High Fives

It's a sad state affairs over here, folks. I want chicken nuggets. Like, seriously want them. And I just had them for dinner. Sad.

If you're a Facebook friend, you're probably OVER my posts yesterday about Chick-Fil-A arriving to town. I make no apologies for my excitement. Sorry, I'm not sorry. Is it about the food? Probably not 100%, but it's dang close. I'd stand to guess that it's also about what that little restaurant signifies to me as well though. It's a little sliver of home.

With a windchill of -12 and an actual temp of 0, the Hubs and I bundled up and braved the wind to support the new restaurant on its opening day. Everyone we spoke to gave warnings of "have fun waiting 3 hours" "you're nuts; it's going to take forever", etc... I just laughed and shared my confidence in the chicken. This place is not McDonald's or Taco Bell, people. They've got this, trust me. It ain't their first rodeo. And, thankfully, those chicken wizards proved me right. The place was packed with at least 50 cars in the drive-thru line, but we had ordered within 3 minutes of walking in the door. And that, friends, is how you operate a business. Fast and tasty, with fresh flowers on the tables to boot.

If you haven't been there yet, check them out. Not only is their food tasty, with many healthier options, but they are also committed to community. They've donated to EVERY event I've ever approached them about. Every single time, they say yes when I've asked "can you help?" They're committed to their faith. You will not find a Chick-Fil-A open on Sunday. That's the Lord's day and they want their employees to be able to worship and spend time with their families. Their children's toys are educational and not just chincy, plastic figurines. And lastly, they're a champion for education. If you work for them and want to go to college, they'll help you get there. It's "there pleasure". Just ask them. And that's why I've never once had less than stellar customer service within their walls.

Enough about chicken. Let's talk high fives, shall we...
  • It's Friday. Nuff said.
  • Going to see Osage County with my the girls of my family on Sunday.
  • Eating my nuggets last night and wishing I was eating them over a fountain coke with my partner in chicken crime, Tracy.
  • Becoming obsessed with "The Killing". That TV series kept me sane while being sick. If you haven't watched it, do it now. It does not disappoint. It's rare to find shows that actually have solid writing, suspense, and plots anymore. On to season 2 for this gal!
  • Having a husband who took care of me, ran countless errands for flu supplies, and even made some dinner while I was sick. I asked a lot of him in my whimpering voice and he obliged. Thanks, babe!
  • Getting to spend so much time with Wrigley, my nurse's aid over the last week. He was such a good snuggle buddy.
  • Slowly getting my appetite back.
  • Pulling off a farewell reception for our college president with just 9 business days of notice. Yep, 9. From the invitations to catering, décor, gifts, and then the party for over 300 business leaders, politicians and major donors, we did it. I'm not sure I want to ever do that again, especially while sick at home for 3 of those days, but we did it and it was wonderful.
  • Causal Fridays at work. Jeans every Friday just make my overall level of happiness a bit higher.
  • Jason's Deli opening in Rockford. Their tomato basil soup and gingerbread muffins are my homeboy.
Have a great weekend y'all! Stay Warm! 

Thursday, January 23, 2014


Ugh. So sorry for my disappearance. It's been pretty touch and go for me for the last 9 days. And I'm fairly certain that there were a few moments when the Hubs wished I would just succumb to the flu and bite the dust. Kidding, of course, but I could tell that he was done being nurse mate to this shut-in. His "can I get you anything's" went from sincere to looks of sympathy to "I'm going to puke if you ask me to run to the store for more Kleenex/soup/Kleenex/medicine/juice/Kleenex". He was done. So was I.

I've never been a flu shot kind of gal. I like to live on the edge like that, I guess. Not. Any. More. I knew my stance had 100% changed when I was too sick to hold my own head up while sitting at Urgent Care for 2 hours wishing someone would just end it all for me. I was visibly angry at anyone who was not sitting in a pile of their our own snot and cold sweats. Oh, your back hurts? Suck it up, Nancy Boy. Don't you see me hacking up a lung over here?! I consider myself a compassionate person, sometimes to a fault, but I had NO sympathy in that waiting room. It was gonna be every man for themselves. I was prepared to start sneezing on everyone until they caved and left.

And how I knew that I crossed over from a virus to Flumageddon was when the Hubs and I were sitting there watching TV and I just started crying. Not just a few tears, but the scrunched up face sort of cry and all I could muster up was a weak and pathetic "I want my mom." He asked "what can she do for you that I can't?" Good point, Timmy. But sometimes, you just want your mom, even at 35. I knew somehow she'd make it better. I was all out of any other ideas or remedies.

So, friends, my PSA for you is to take one for the team and get a flu shot. Sure, a little virus might seem like a good way to catch up on the Ellen Show and get a day or two off of work, right? Not this dang virus! There's no mercy in that dojo, I assure you. When you're on day 5 of a fever,  you actually contemplate clawing your own throat out with a spoon for some relief from the pain, and at your lowest of lows, you pray somehow the mattress would just fold up around you and you'd sink into a sweaty, smelly sheet oblivion, that flu shot looks like a vacation at Club Med. Trust me. I was about two days away from dreadlocks naturally forming in my hair from lack of showering. It ain't pretty, but I'm honest.

Run, don't walk and get it if you haven't. You'll thank me and so will your poor family who would become your around the clock care takers. You're welcome.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda

Over 13 years of my life were spent on ice skates. To this very day, I walk slightly like a duck thanks to spending half of my life navigating with blades attached to my feet. I was on the ice before 6am five days a week and back on the ice by 1:15pm to 6pm. I trained seven days a week. I qualified through the school board to earn school credits for my skating and therefor never ate lunch in my high school cafeteria, nor did I take electives in high school or ever step foot in my high school gym.

Sometimes I'd sleep in my skating clothes just to earn a few extra minutes of sleep time. Mind you, that was 3 layers of tights and lycra. Probably not my smartest move sweat and smell wise, but those extra 15 minutes were golden. I learned things like time management, commitment, training, and pain before many of my peers. I learned I had to get back up more times than I fell down. I learned how quickly you could rise or fall based on your willingness to train. I passed on high school events and wasn't allowed to swim in our hotel pools before a competition, no matter how much that scent of chlorine called my name. Torture for a child.

I was a figure skater.

And although my skates are on the top shelf of my closet collecting dust, the memories and life lessons that I gained through my years of training are never far from my head and heart. They're part of my DNA. When I walk into a rink, mine or elsewhere, that smell brings me home. In seconds, I'm back. I'm home.

Anytime I sit and watch skating, I run through a mental list of shoulda, woulda, coulda's. There are so many things I'd do differently. I'd train harder and stand along the boards less. I'd be less timid. I'd chase my dreams a bit more. I'd check my brain at the gate. My head and mind was my worst opponent every time.

What I'd do the same? A lot. I'd enjoy it just as I did then. I'd learn from the ice, my time management and my coach just as much as I did then.

Whether you love to watch skating or loathe it, I encourage you to watch the gentlemen, Jason Brown, in the attached clip below. Sure, it'll require 7.5 minutes of your day, but trust me, it's worth it. This kid is a force to be reckoned with and he's everything I wish I would've had in me. He's training lived out.

By the last 10 seconds you'll see the crowd already on their feet for his ovation. I was giving him one right there in my living room with tears in my eyes on Sunday. He is going places and I'm proud that he'll be representing our country at the Olympics. And for 7.5 minutes, he allowed me to fall right back in love with my sport.

Check him out. You won't regret it!

Friday, January 10, 2014

It's Never Too Late for Popples

Thanks to this blog, a childhood wish of mine came true this Christmas. A few months back, I had shared some of my favorite toys from the 80's, and while I showcased a few of the toys that I actually possessed, I also shared a few of those that I didn't but always wanted and coveted.

Thanks to my mom, a loyal blog reader, I finally received my Popples. Two Popples and they're all mine! I love them both, but Polka Dottie is my favorite. I loved her back then and I love her now. Isn't it fun, even 25 years later, to receive something that you wanted but never got? Thanks, mom, for making a childhood wish come true this Christmas!

And just because I usually do my High Five Friday post, I figured I'd share with you a few more things that make me a happy girl.

These are just a few of the gifts that the Hub lavished on me this Christmas. (He did a great job this year; thanks babe!) It's slightly sad how excited I was to get a real respirator mask for my painting projects. It wasn't even wrapped and I'm pretty sure I squealed a bit. No more shaving years off of my life when I prime or spray! And the shirt he gave me is perfect, along with the mink wine sleeve. Who doesn't need a mink wine sleeve from Restoration Hardware? Um, pretty sure I do.

And lastly, this little man is usually sound asleep again by the time I leave for work, but this morning he was frolicking around the house as I got ready and led me to the couch where he let me know he wanted to be lifted up so he could nap there before I left. When he could tell I was going to oblige he started spinning around with his baby in his mouth to celebrate. So I gladly gave him a lift onto my cuddly blanket and he nestled in with his blue BFF on this chilly morning. It's the little things. He has my heart.

I hope you all have a great weekend! If you're in Rockford, be very careful out there. Freezing rain is just one more perk of this amazing winter we're having apparently. Ugh.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

You'd Know Me Better If...

Every once in awhile I like to do a little post entitled "you'd know me better if" and today just feels like one of those days. I adopted this exercise from a former roommate (and still current friend) of mine who was a high school teacher. She would have her classes pause and get to know each other every so often, but what I loved about this task was that it got them to think beyond the standard "how many siblings they have, favorite colors, favorite teams, etc..."

I would love to hear a few of your "you'd know me better if's" if you feel so inclined to leave a comment below. Feel like sharing? Well I happen to feel like listening and learning, so it's a date.

And just to make it a two way street, you'd know me better if...

You knew that when eating a burger and fries, I must always dip both my burger and my fries in ketchup. It's a must. A simple memory that always bring a smile to face is when a few of my cadets who worked for me ran to McDonald's during their dinner break. I asked if they'd pick me up a burger, small fries and ketchup, please. When they returned, they only brought me one ketchup, of which I'd needed two, with the explanation that "you only ordered a small fry so we only got you one packet." Immediately, one of the other cadets piped in and said "yeah, but she ALWAYS dips her fries AND burger in the ketchup so you should always get her two packets. Duh." I felt so very known in that moment. It's the little things. Don't you just love when someone really knows you?

You knew that I worry about animals constantly in this cold weather. Even more so than people. It keeps me up at night and keeps me constantly looking out of the windows to see if there's anyone to be saved. I'm determined to build some sort of warming station in our woods for next winter.

You knew that I started blogging over 7 years ago as a way to cope with depression. A doctor that I met with suggested that I find a way to write the things that repeatedly and negatively swirl in my head, and it was some of the best advice and therapy I have ever been given.  Praise the Lord, I haven't struggled with it in a few years, but in the process I fell in love with writing so I'll consider that a win. And when the time comes again to go to battle with it, I'll be prepared.

You knew that I told my little Piggy the following two statements at least 30 times a day every day to ensure that he hears the love in my voice since he cannot understand the words per say "I love this boy." "You're my best friend." You'd REALLY know me better if you knew that as this little man gets older, I've come to terms with the fact that those two statements will be the last two things he'll ever hear from me when that dreaded time comes, aside from "thank you for loving me without fail or question, and for letting me be your momma." Ugh, and now I'm crying. Whose idea was this post today?

And finally, you'd know me better if you knew that my mood lives and dies by whether or not I have to go to Walmart. I love shopping. I loathe Walmart. It's full of chaos, rudeness, weird grocery smells that I don't enjoy, and don't even get me started on the carts. I'm convinced there is not one fully functioning cart at a Walmart. They all have at least three wheels going in three different while sounding like a freight train, and without fail, I get that cart and people stop and turn to see who the heck is coming down aisle 5. I'm getting angry just thinking about it. No amount of "falling prices" can make up for my falling mood. Not worth it.

So, what would I know if I knew you better?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

We're Not In Charleston Anymore, Toto

It's no secret that we're slowly freezing to death in the Midwest, aka the North Pole. I no longer refer to my hometown as Rockford. Rockford is gone and I'm almost 99.4% certain that I live in the North Pole, and I have the frozen nose hairs to prove it, y'all. What? Don't act like nose-sicles aren't part of your every day routine too. Oh, wait, they aren't?? Well aren't you something. Pffffffff. I digress, sorry.

Over the last few weeks, I've been reminded that I'm definitely not in Charleston anymore, Toto. Nothing brings you back to reality quite like 20 mile an hour winds of -36 degree magnitudes slapping you in the face.

So, today while I'm still conscious and hypothermia has not completely set in, I bring you the top 8 reasons why I know that I'm a full fledge resident of the North Pole:

  • The snow banks are taller than my Jeep. Mind you, it's only the beginning of January, folks. These suckers are at least 12 feet tall.

  • Can you find Piggy in this picture? Yeah, I could hardly find him myself and I was the one taking it. The snow on the ground is taller than my dog. My poor, little pup tries to potty without all 4 paws touching the ground due to the pain the ice causes him. My friend's dog, well, its paws did actually freeze to the ground and he had to be physically removed. Cruel, I tell you.

  • When you pack beer, champagne and your tall, boot slippers for the New Year's Eve party at a friend's house because you know even the fleece lined tights ain't gonna cut it. I call this look festive/toasty chic. I make no apologies. It's called survival.

  • When you start to use your patio as extra freezer space, you know you've crossed over into North Pole territory. We needed more room after a big grocery haul and the patio, well, it's snow covered and colder than the freezer. I knew I was done for when the Hubs stated while we're watching a movie "Um, I think I just saw a fox run off with our lasagna." I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

  • The icicles hanging from our roof look more like boobie traps and impending death by stab wound than they do frozen water. They're about as tall as I am. Again, only January, peeps.

  • When you have to wear a stocking cap while cuddled under a down comforter to stay warm INDOORS while watching the Bachelor. It's that cold. I'm wearing hats inside. Someone save me. I'm not kidding.

  • And the harsh reality of becoming those people who cancel Saturday night plans with friends because it's too cold and too snowy to venture out. We're either a) old or b) it really is that cold. In our defense though, it was to go to a hockey game and honestly, do you want to sit in a cold rink after braving 2 degree weather and scaling snow mounds 2 feet deep in the parking lot? Yeah, me neither.

  • And lastly, friends in SC text you the following image just to see if "those temps are actually real". Sadly, they're as real as it comes. Just ask my Jeep which is now in the shop due to the excessive cold. Even my rugged Jeep is waving its snow covered flag.

Who's coming to get me and whisk me off to Mexico?? I'll buy the margaritas!

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Birthday Dilema

Right about now, I'm usually beginning the count down to my birthday and looking forward to "my day" with anticipation. This year, not so much really. 35, really? Just why? Why do I have to become smack dab in the middle of 30 and 40 in a few days? I'm not ready, although I have about 112 gray hair that beg to differ. At least with those punks I can try and keep down with some maintenance. The age issue, sadly, I don't think any amount of prevention can stop this train.

With this day approaching, I've been trying to wrack my brain on what I'd like for my birthday. People have asked and all I can say is "let me get back to you on this." Sorry, Mandy.  I haven't been able to think of one thing outside of the newest Hillsong United CD. When I told the Hubs that I'd asked his sister for a CD for my birthday, he just looked at me blankly and then asked "what are you 12? Was it Ace of Base per chance?" Um, no, dude. I'm about to be thirty stinkin five. You try to be creative with your wish list at a time like this.

So as I continue to mentally prepare myself for the big ole 3-5 that's about to smack me in the face sooner than I'd like, here is a list of what I'd like for my 35th year of this sweet, little life that I get to call my own:
  • A healthy 35th year that feels like I'm approximately 32
  • For our family to grow by one
  • A safe and successful Ironman Triathlon for the Hubs, and safe travels for the rest of us as we cheer him on
  • A marriage for my brother and his fiancé so that they don't have to stay oceans apart
  • Another year with our grandparents and may it be filled with health and happiness for them
  • Another year with my little Piggy
  • The Hillsong CD (yes, I'm one of about 1,203 people in the world who still listens to CDs in my car. I didn't even know that was "uncool" until I saw the way he looked at me. Oh well.)
  • Anything anyone else would like to lavish on me. After all, it's not about receiving, but more so about giving and who am I to deprive anyone their joy of giving. I'm just selfless like that.
  • Oh, and a few less gray hairs. Pretty please.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Holiday Hiatus

If you're still faithfully checking this little blog of mine after I've been my holiday hiatus, thank you. You're the best, you really are. Thanks for giving me the space and down time I needed "to rest" without writing me off.

Is anyone else out there a little bummed that it's all said and done? Anyone else out there battling a holiday hangover? No? Me neither. I was just asking, you know, for a friend of a friend. Duh.

How do the holidays come and go so quickly? How does a month full of celebrations only seem like a solid two weeks? If there was ever a time when I wish the clock would just slow its roll a tiny bit, it'd be the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And also maybe the days when there's no snow and it's a lovely 75-80 degrees. Those days could stand to take their sweet time as well.

With it all said and done, I pray that you had a wonderfully, cozy Christmas filled with good friends and good food, family, parties, and quiet moments at home next to the tree and the fire. I know we did and I'm so thankful for each moment.

Tomorrow I'll share a few highlights from our celebrations, but today I bring you my favorite holiday moment of 2013. On Christmas Eve, Tim and I had the pleasure of spending the evening with both of our parents and my brother. The night began with church together and ended with appetizers, cocktails and a fun holiday game in our home. The conversation was way better than the food, sorry all for not bringing my appetizer A-game. Next time, I promise. But as they said a few times within our Christmas Eve service, that night "was light, and He called it good." It was good indeed.

What part of the night that I'll always cherish, was sitting 7 people deep in a church row together, all worshiping our Lord on the Eve of His birth. And it was good. So very good. I got a little teary a few times it felt that good. Here was little ole me, sitting smack dab between my two, loving, amazing families. Some people are not fortunate enough to have even one loving family, and the Hubs and I, well, we have two. We're so blessed in that realm. And in Heartland Church tradition, the entire congregation stood together as we sang the final song of the night Silent Night. And in keeping with the tradition, they encourage everyone who came with someone else to spend those few, precious moments in hugs, holding hands, swaying to the music together, or however your family shows love. They also encourage you not to touch or do anything weird with the person next to you if you didn't come with them, so we obliged as well.

So there we stood, 7 people deep, with arms wrapped around our people next to us and worshipping our Lord. Two families meshing together in the middle. And, I'm not kidding you, It. Was. Good. And I will hold that moment in my heart forever. I hope it's not the last time we get to do spend our Christmas Eve like that, wherever we're all together. At my church or somewhere else. Maybe it'll start a tradition elsewhere, but in those moments, for those three versus, you simply CANNOT not feel His love for us and ours for one another. He. Is. Light. And. He. Is. Good. And all of the angels said Amen.

Thanks to both of our families for choosing to spend your night with us. It was one for the books!