Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Boo to You!

Hi Friends--

Hope your Halloween is filled with all your favorite treats.  I will be at swim practice for most of our neighborhood's trick-or-treat hours so I'm going to miss passing out candy to cute kids.  Bummer.  I love passing out candy--it's my favorite part of Halloween. 

That, and the Milk Duds.  

I just love those little boxes of Milk Duds.



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

On Kindness & Socks

Hi Friends,

Yesterday I sent two pairs of fun, colorful, crazy socks to a complete stranger.  I did it in response to this e-mail from my fabulous, adventurous friend, Deanna:

Hey Vicki!
I was wondering if I could ask a huge favor of you, since you are one of the always-up people that I know. I have a good friend back in the States who has had a really tough year, and the tough part isn't even over yet. She is really down, and this month is her 40th birthday, which is leaving her feeling like she's a failure at 40. I was trying to come up with something I could do for her from here, so I had this idea to try and involve the right kind of family & friends I have back in the States. I went on my R&R trip with this friend through France this last summer, and one of the jokes that came out of that was about "pretty socks." One day we were walking through a quaint little French town, and she got distracted by some socks at one of the stores. I still haven't let her live it down. I'm trying to recruit people to each send her a pair of loud or colorful or wild or crazy or just pretty socks. I don't think that at this point that she thinks anybody cares, and I'm hoping I can show her that a whole bunch of people care just knowing her through me.  Hopefully I'll even get a smile or a laugh out of her over the collection of socks that she ends up with. Let me know if you can help me out. I can pay you back in Belgian chocolate when I get back to Europe. And you are still absolutely invited to come bicycling with me this summer - you could be on Champs Elysees to see the Tour de France!

I've written about my friend, Deanna, before.  Deanna is the one who left her safe, comfortable job at Kimberly-Clark (where John works), packed up her life and headed back to school to become a vet, and is now serving in Afghanistan.  Her life is pretty unbelievable.  She's definitely one of my heroes.  I would do just about anything for her, especially if it involved sending fun socks to a complete stranger.

I just loved the spirit behind this request, don't you?

Kindness is the best.

I hope her friend ends up with dozens of new, colorful, crazy socks.

I hope they remind her how blessed she is to have Deanna as a friend.



Monday, October 24, 2011

Seeking Awesome

Hi Friends,

I've been thinking a bunch about priorities lately.  It seems like I've been in a busy pattern for months now.  Months.

I keep thinking, "when this is over, I'll have time."  Then "this" ends, and the next thing pops up to take its place.  Maybe it's just the season of life I am in, but "busy" just never seems to end.  All this "busy" has left me feeling kind of blue.  I'm tired of "busy." 

Two weeks ago, Pastor talked about relationships.  He said that relationships are never static;  you're either growing apart, or growing together.  This simple statement has kind of rocked my world.  It's so true.  When I'm working on my relationship with John, or a friend, or God, I feel awesome.  When I don't, I feel awful.  Without a doubt, I like "awesome" better.  But sometimes, I let unimportant things get in the way of working on "awesome."  Then I feel "awful." 

I've really been wondering why I do this.  Sometimes I do it because the unimportant stuff seems really important at the time.  Sometimes I do it because the unimportant stuff is easier than working on the important stuff.  And if I'm being honest, sometimes I'm just too lazy to work on the important stuff.  I take it for granted and assume that my important people will be there for me when the unimportant stuff goes away.

Today over on Turning Pages Annie talked about "friendship guilt."  I have written about Annie before.  She is a 20-something gal who is definitely wise beyond her years.  Annie referenced another blog where the author talked importance of taking care of Friendships.  After reading both of these blogs, I put 2 + 2 + 2 together and realized that I'm being sent a message.

It's time to work on priorities.  Today.

It's time to be awesome.

Because awesome trumps awful every time.



Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Birthday Repeat//Note to My 17-Year-Old-Self

Hi Friends!

In honor of my big 4-3 (wow!), I'm re-posting the "Note to My 17-Year-Old-Self" blog I wrote sometime last year.  And now, if you'll excuse me,  I'm off to blow out candles and make some wishes.  XO


1. You are not fat. Seriously. In fact, while we’re thinking of it, go ahead and slip on that 2-piece swimsuit and take a big bunch of pictures. One day you’ll be 40 and you’ll drive a minivan and you’ll look back at those photos fondly.

2. He is not The One. It might seem like he is, but he is not.

3. It is okay to change your mind. You are not expected to know what you want yet. Honestly.

4. Diet Coke is not the answer. If you don’t start, you will never have to go through Diet Coke detox (over and over and over again).

5. Never be afraid to stand up for what’s right. Even if it’s not popular.

6. Keep writing. And save your journals. One day you will get a kick out of reading them out loud to your kids.

7. For the love of God, do not take that M-F 8:00 am math class your first semester at Illinois. You will never be a morning person. Especially in college.

8. Do not stop writing letters to your French pen pal. One day your sister will take you to Paris and it would be incredibly cool to share a cafe au lait with Claudia.

9. And while we’re at it, work harder in French class. It would be nice to remember something you learned in those 8 years of French classes.

10. Pay better attention when Grandma teaches you how to make her spinach ravioli. In fact, take notes. Lots and lots of notes. Even better: video tape the whole session. One day you will want to make her recipe and you will feel paralyzed by the fear of not remembering how to do it. Plus, how cool would it be to watch a video of that day?

11. Gather old stories from Uncle Al. And Uncle Lou. And Papa. And Grandma. Write those stories down.

12. Nobody cares what size shoes you wear. Seriously. Do not wear tiny penny loafers to waitress in just because you think they look “cute” on your feet. If you continue on that path, you will end up suffering through two separate foot surgeries.

13. Umm…that sky-high bang thing? One day you will look back at pictures and cringe. Every time. So just cut it out. And lay off the hairspray while you’re at it.

14. Find a way to study abroad. Even if it means taking an extra job. If you don’t you will always regret it.

15. Do not take honors chemistry just because Tom did. You are not a math/science kind of gal, and the sooner you accept this, the less tears will be shed. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

16. Mom was right about the “Sister’s are Forever” thing. Cherish every moment you have with Christy, because once you graduate from college, you two will never live in the same state again.

17. Start saving money. Now. You’ll need it more in college than you do in high school.

18. Learn how to drive a stick shift right away. One day you’ll want to drive a truck and you’ll have to re-learn how to drive. This will not be fun after you’ve already been driving for 10 years.

19. You are enough. You do enough.

20. You are spectacular.


PS This blog was completely inspired by Andrea over at I loved her list so much, I borrowed a few of her pieces of advice (#1, #2, #4 #8) and embellished them to make them mine.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Card-Carrying Member

Hi Friends!

I have a confession, and I'm not going to lie, for those of you who love and know me the best, this is probably going to come as a bit of a shock. 

Brace yourselves:  I have somehow managed to become a card-carrying member of the United States Bowling Congress.

I know!!  Believe me, no one is more shocked at this turn of events than me! Who knew you could actually be a USBC member when your average is only 42?!? 

I wish I was kidding.  About the 42 average that is. 

But I'm not.

I really am that bad at bowling.

I'm so bad that perfect strangers (no lie!), and members of the opposing teams (often) feel compelled to interrupt their games to come over and give me pointers.  One night it was so bad that the manager of the bowling alley came over and offered me free passes if I'd come in and practice between league nights.

No joke.

Wisconsin folks are raised from the cradle on the three "B"s:  bratwurst, beer and bowling. (For the record, I wish that Green Bay Packers started with a "B";  that would have made my list complete!!)  I, however, grew up in the Chicago suburbs and bowling was not a part of my upbringing.  I can seriously count on one hand the number of times I went bowling as a child.  Bowling just hasn't been a part of my life.  Even so, when Amy (you knew there had to be a reason for this madness, right?) suggested John and I join her couple's bowling league, I actually thought it would be a fun activity we could all do together. 

Oh, it's fun alright, for everyone except me.   It's always fun when you actually knock down some pins over the course of 3 straight games.  Unfortunately, when you're average is 42, there's not a lot of pin-knocking-down-action occurring throughout the night.

I try to be a good sport.  I really do.  I try each and every suggestion that comes my way.  I've tried walking from the back dots, and the closer dots.  I've worked on uncurling my index finger and relaxing my hand.  I've tried taking deep, cleansing breaths and squaring my shoulders before I release the ball.  I've focused on the close arrows and the far-away arrows, and I've worked on my follow-through.  I even practice in front of a mirror in my off-time.* 

Still, my average hovers at around 46.

Something's got to give.

I've decided it must be the shoes.  Clearly, one can not even think about becoming a bowling goddess without the right shoes.  (Can I get an "Amen," Christy?)

When Amy asked me what I wanted for my birthday from the Bible Study gals, I did not hesitate.  I asked for some bowling shoes.   After scouring the web for "cute women's bowling shoes" I came up with the beauties above.  Hot pink patent leather?  Yes, please!

I can't believe I'm going to admit this, but I'm actually feeling a bit giddy and hoping that my new cute bowling shoes will arrive before the next big league night.

I am positive they will turn my game around.  If not, maybe people will be so busy admiring my cute new bowling shoes that they won't have time to notice all my gutter balls.  : )

A girl can dream, right?


*Complete and total lie.  But this was a suggestion from one of my many coaches.

PS  Want your own pair?  You can order them (here).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Keeping Humble

Hi Friends,

I have a long-standing joke with my kids about what they can and can't bring up in future therapy sessions.  I'm working on the theory that if I joke about my many short-comings as a mom while they are growing up, they'll have nothing to complain about later.  Sounds reasonable, right?  : )

Example #1:  One time I dropped Emily off at school on a day there was no school.  Some teacher found her sitting at her desk, notebook and pencil at the ready.  The startled teacher brought her down to the office so they could call me to come pick her up.  Uh-huh.  That happened.

Example #2:  One time I left a swim practice (where I was the coach), and made it about 3/4 of the way home before I realized I had left Emily at the pool.  Yup.  That happened, too.

Example #3:  One time I forgot to pick Maddie and Jack up after school.  I was on the other side of the universe picking Emily up when I got the call from the school about the other two.  I was 45 minutes late to pick them up.  When I arrived, they were huddled up together like survivors of a shipwreck, clinging to each other for safety.

Should I go on?

Because I can...

My kids never let me forget these events.  They find every possible excuse to work one or all of these stories into a conversation as often as possible.  Complete strangers know these stories.  Usually I just smile and nod while the strangers click their tongues and say, "Oh, dear!  That must have been horrible for you!  Bless your heart!  And you were only in second grade? " 

Just about the time when I'm feeling like I've got it all together, another incident gets added to the list. 

Which what today's post is all about.  Today I forgot to bring Jack to his GT enrichment program. 

And I'm on the steering committee for the GT program.  


I had to go over to Jack's school, talk to the secretary and  the principal, pull Jack out of class and drive him over to where the program is being held.  Of course, when we arrived, there was a flurry of other steering committee people there to greet me (of course!).  Oh, and Emily's best friend, Haley, was also there volunteering from the high school (just in case I thought I could get away with not telling Emily).  : )


Did I mention that I had not yet showered:  glasses, messy ponytail, rubber shoes?

I'm pretty sure this is God's way of keeping me humble. 

I'm also pretty sure I'm taking Jack out to lunch today.  : )




Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Book Love

Hi Friends!
I've got to mention the book I just finished reading:  Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand.  Unbroken is the remarkable, true story of Louis Zamperini, Olympic runner and American WWII hero.  I had never heard of Mr. Zamperini before I picked up this book,  but I know I will never forget him or his story.  We live in a world that idolizes movie stars and athletes and calls them, "heroes."  Mr. Zamperini's story reminded me of what it takes to really earn that title:  courage, sacrifice, bravery, and perseverance.  It also reminded me to be thankful for all the people who are out there protecting our freedom. 

God Bless our troops.



Monday, October 17, 2011

Fall Glory

Hi Friends--

The highlight of last week:  the quiet hour and a half I spent walking alone snapping pictures of all of fall's glory.  I am so blessed to live close to so many beautiful walking trails.  As much as I love walking around my neighborhood, every now and then I like to hit the trail and feel like I'm away from it all.

I found no shortage of lovely things to take pictures of.

Everywhere I looked there was color; gorgeous, saturated color.

One of my very favorite parts of this trail crosses right behind a farm.  Every time I pass by, these gorgeous cows are lounging right up close to the property fence.  They were more than happy to pose for pictures.

A highway runs parallel to this trail, but you would never know it.  It is so peaceful.
What is it about walking on a trail?  Maybe it's just the pleasure of walking with no destination in mind that makes it so special.

Get outside and take in the season's glory.  I promise you won't regret it.



Saturday, October 15, 2011

Just in Case I Haven't Mentioned It...

I can't believe I haven't bragged about my 6-0 Illini!  I'm so excited!!  They are playing Ohio State right now.  I'm hoping to come back and change that to 7-0. 

I love my Alma mater!




Friday, October 14, 2011

Right Now

Hi Friends,

I am so glad it is Friday.  It has been a difficult week.  We had an emergency at the pool that has kind of knocked me off my feet.  Everyone is okay, thank goodness, but I am still processing what happened and why.  Here's what I know for sure;   when faced with an emergency, you do the best you can with what you have.  I'm pretty sure I learned that from being a mom. 

Have a great weekend.



Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lessons Learned

The ones who seem the most unlovable need the most love.
Humor helps smooth over the pain of grammar.
Sometimes you have to be tough.
Sometimes after you're tough, you'll feel bad.
Most of the time, being tough is exactly what they needed.
Teaching accountability is almost as important as teaching grammar or flip turns.
Recognizing effort is important.
Remembering that people have lives outside of the classroom or pool is important, too.
Sometimes I'll be the only one who sees potential.
It is my job to look for potential.
Appreciating the people who make my job easier is vital.
Sometimes finding a positive is hard. 
There's always a positive.
It is important to greet to each and every person;  even if they don't say "Hi" back.
Everyone needs someone who believes in them.
90% of my job is helping others to believe in themselves and their abilities.
Don't fake it.
If you have to fake it, be convincing.
If you mess up, take responsibility.
I'd rather be remembered as the one who cared than the one who was always right.
What I say and how I say it matters.
Sometimes what they take away from a workout or a class will have absolutely nothing to do with what was on the lesson plan.
Sometimes you need to abandon the lesson plan or workout and meet people where they are.
Kindness wins.
I am in control of creating my own legacy. 



Linking this up with Heather over at Life Made Lovely.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

To Paris, With Love

Hi Friends!

Here's a little peak at the goodies I put together for Tess, my international swap partner.  After exchanging several lovely little e-mails with Tess (yay for Google translator!), I learned that she likes to sew and crochet and make jewelry.  Sounded like a good excuse to head over to Joanne Fabrics to me.

My little trip turned into quite an outing as I hemmed and hawed over color schemes and fabric patterns.  I discovered that it's kind of hard to pick out fabric for someone you don't know.  I wish I had asked her about favorite colors before I made my trip.  In the end, I decided to go holiday red and green.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that she will be making a few Christmas crafts in the next few months.

I decided to add a couple of gift tags, too:

I hope Tess enjoys her little package of crafting love.



Monday, October 10, 2011

A Touch of Fall

Hi Friends!

Wisconsin is busy doing what it does best:  Fall!  It is stunning up here.  Seriously lovely.  We are having the most glorious fall:  sunny, crisp, and colorful.  My house is all dressed up for fall, too.  I can't get enough of oranges and yellows and browns and golds right now.

Oh fall, you are definitely my fave.

Hope it is sunny and glorious where you are, too!



Friday, October 7, 2011

ABC's of Me

Hi Friends--

I am totally stealing this "ABC's of Me" from the fabulous Jeny over at Jenypenny. (So glad you're back to blogging, my dear!).  And the photo comes from one of my very favorite blogs, Meadowbrook Farm.  And no, the photo doesn't have anything to do with this post, I just like it.  It's pretty much fall perfection in a photo, don't you think? 

A. Age:  Really??? 
B. Bed size:  Queen

C. Chore that you hate: Unloading the dishwasher.

D. Dogs:  Buster, the super dog!

E. Essential start to your day:  chai tea latte

F. Favorite color: sea glass blue/green

G. Gold or Silver: silver
H. Height: 5'9.  But I think I'm shrinking in my old age.  If this keeps up, I may get to shop in the petite section before I die.
I. Instruments you play: (used to...) clarinet, viola
J. Job title: Assistant Coach, Adjunct Professor

K. Kids: Emily, Maddie, Jack

L. Live: Wisconsin

M. Mother’s name: Elenor
N. Nicknames: Mom, Mama, Coach

O. Overnight hospital stays: 3 for births, once for asthma in high school

P. Pet peeves:  people who don't let you in in traffic, people who are rude for no reason

Q. Quote from a movie: "I guess the kidding around is pretty much over."

R. Right or left handed: Left

S. Siblings: Tom, Tommy, Christy, David

U. Underwear: Yes
V. Vegetable you hate: Brussels sprouts

W. What makes you run late: Trying to shove 10lbs of stuff in a 5lb bag.  Always.

X. X-Rays you’ve had: Left foot, teeth, right arm

Y. Yummy food that you make: I'm pretty famous (in my own mind) for my chocolate chip cookies and monster cinnamon rolls.  Also?  Appetizers.  I rock the appetizer.
Z. Zen time:  Any time I get to sit and read and get lost in a good book.

Happy Friday!



PS  Not sure what is up with the spacing on this one, but I'm running late (see W above), so no time to fix.  Sorry!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Two New Things

Hi Friends--

Do you read The Modern Marigold?  If not, you should!  The Modern Marigold a lovely little blog written by a very creative woman named Amanda.  I have been reading Amanda's blog and following her Pinterest boards for a while now.  I adore her style.  This week I stumbled upon her new "pin-did challenge."  The idea behind her challenge is to encourage people to actually make something they admired enough to pin on their Pinterest boards.  Amanda's challenge made me smile--for months now I have had a ball pinning this and that to my inspiration boards.  Each time I do, I think, "Oh, I am totally going to make that!"  Let's just say that my boards are chock-full of inspirational pictures of things that have not turned into reality. Until now that is.  Now I've got Amanda's "pin-did challenge" to prod me into making something (because you know I love a good challenge!).  Each Tuesday she will host a link-up where bloggers can link their pictures/blogs detailing their creative projects.  I am totally going to take Amanda up on this challenge!  One good project a week will keep my creative juices flowing, for sure.  Be sure to check back next Tuesday to see the first project.  Oh, and if you want to follow my Pinterest boards, click (here).

The other little project I got involved with this week is an international craft swap organized by my super-creative friend, Monika, over at I Love It All.  Monika and her friend, Sophie, hooked up crafters from around the globe for this fun swap.  My partner is Tess who blogs at Tess & Lena, and lives in France.  I am excited to put together a fun box of craft goodies for Tess to use.  I will be sure to post pictures of what comes my way from Tess.

I'm off to figure out which pinned craft I'm going to make this week.  Hope you have a fabulous day!



Monday, October 3, 2011

What I'm Working On

Hi Friends--

I was zipping through Pinterest this morning and spied this fabulous illustration of Galations 5:22-23.  We are studying this passage in my Bible Study. 

A sign?  I think so. 



Awesome illustration origionally from (here)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

30 Days of Lists//Update #3

Hi Friends!

Happy October!  Can you believe it?!?  September is over, and so is my "30 Days of Lists" class.  I loved taking this little class, and I'm thrilled with how my book turned out.

All the pages and embellishments made for one very thick mini-album:

I got a little behind on my lists toward the end of the month, but I officially finished list 30 last night, right on schedule!  : )  Here's pictures of the last of my lists:

The kids and I had a good time coming up with what we'd do with our lottery winnings:

What do you like to do when you're sick?  Here's my list:

Last Sunday the prompt was, "Today's To-Do List."  Here's mine:

List #26 was "Things to Do Before My Next Birthday."  This one felt a little like a "To Do" list since my birthday is in October.  There's not a lot of time left to plan big adventures before the 23rd:

The kids thought list #27 was fun.  They had no problem coming up with my overused words and phrases:

List #28 was hard for me, "If I Ruled the World."  Wouldn't world peace be perfect?

September 2011 was pretty awesome, so coming up with list #29 was easy:

And last, but not least, list #30 was "I Am Proud of Myself For."  Here's what I came up with:

And there you have it!  I'm going to miss doing my daily list.  This class was so much fun.  You can see my other lists (here), (here) and (here).

Have a wonderful weekend!



Linking up with Heather over at Life Made Lovely