Thursday, September 27, 2012

Best Gift Ever!

Hi Friends!

Want to know the quickest way to my heart?  Write me a handwritten note.  Want to make me cry?  Fill a book with all sorts of handwritten notes and pictures and give it to me at the end of the season.  That's exactly what my summer team did.  And let me tell you, I LOVE the album they put together for me.  I love that they all got together one night and came up with a book of goodness for me. I love that each page is unique and truly reflects the personality of each swimmer.  Take a peek at what they did:

Oh, my goodness! I love my Pigeons.  And I love that they made this book for me.  Thanks, Pigeons, for putting all that love into one place for me to look at over and over.



PS You can click on any photo to make it larger.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Walk to Defeat ALS

Hi Friends!

On October 7th, I'll be walking as part of "Team Dar" at the Walk to Defeat ALS.  Dar is actually the mom of one of my dear friends, Robin.  She has been battling ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) for almost a year now.  I met Dar last month.  For the past three Thursdays, Robin and I have teamed up to clean Dar's house. It's the smallest possible gift I can give, but to Dar, who is hooked up to a feeding tube and battling to swallow, it seems huge.  Here's what I've learned spending time with Dar:  no one should have to live with ALS.  It's a bad one, friends.  Every time I leave Dar's house I am thankful that my parents and John's parents are healthy.  And every time I leave, I resolve to find a way to help in some way.  So I'm going to do what I've done so many times before:  I'm going to raise money and walk and try to spread the word. 

I know that there are many, many good causes out there.  And I know that times are tough.  But for Dar and all the others that are battling this cruel disease, I'm going to try and raise money for research and respite care.  I'd sure love it if you'd sponsor me.  You can follow this link to get to my fundraising page:

Thanks, friends.



Friday, September 21, 2012


Time: 6:43 pm
Location: John's recliner.  Feet up, dog under my feet.
Drinking: Club soda with lime.
Eating: Spinach salad with Swiss cheese & dry tuna sprinkled with balsamic vinegar.
Watching: House Hunters International.  Maddie loves it.
Feeling: Happy that it's Friday.
Loving: The new stamps I ordered for my Project Life.  Can't wait to use them!
Thinking: Tomorrow is going to be crazy-busy;  Neenah Invite--7 hours of non-stop coaching!
Making: Last week's Project Life layout.
Wanting: Maddie and Emily to feel better.  Poor pumpkins.
Needing: A date night with John.

What's up with you?



Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hey, It's Okay...


Hey, it's okay to spend all day in your jammies because what you wear to bed used to be a dress that you wore exactly once and decided you'd never leave the house wearing again, so technically, you are dressed.

Hey, it's okay to count a pedicure as a work expense in your weekly budget because you have a job where everyone you talk to is at toe level.

Hey, it's okay to use closet-cleaning out time to weed out all the shirts you're tired of seeing your husband wear.

Hey, it's okay to claim to have a dog allergy when your hotel room is at the end of a long line of rooms housing what sounds like an entire dog show.

Hey, it's okay if your idea of cleaning involves moving all the downstairs piles upstairs and into your newly-cleaned out closet.

Hey, it's okay to temporarily block people who post obnoxious things about the candidate you are going to vote for.

Hey, it's okay to read non-educational magazines while you wait for your hair to process.

Hey, it's okay to quit the bowling league, but still want to wear the shoes.

Hey, it's okay to sit in the car in the garage just so you can hear what SVP has to say about your teams.

Hey, it's okay to not understand all the interest in Snooki.

What's okay with you today?


This blog was completely inspired by a list over on The Olive Tree.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Project Life Update//September 3-9, September 10-16

Hi Friends!
I had a few minutes this weekend to catch up on my Project Life pages.  I am officially caught up, at least until Tuesday.  : )  Anyway...these first two pages are from the week before school started--the week that ended with Labor Day weekend. 
That was the week that Emily cut off another 8 inches of her hair to donate.  She is such a giving soul.  It was also the week that ended with a weekend away with Christy and Kate.  A lot of what happened that weekend was emotional--both good and bad, so I decided not to write about it in PL.

These next pictures are from the week of September 3-9th, which included Labor Day.  We spent a couple hours on the lake that day before we had to head back for swim practice.  We couldn't believe how cold the water was that day.  I guess summer is really coming to an end.
 As always, there was a swim meet and other team activities.
Of course, the big event that week was the start of a new school year.  Oy!  My kids are getting so grown up.  Emily is driving herself and Maddie to school each morning--so hard to believe! (But truly--I do not miss all that traffic around the high school!). 
We ended the week with a little dinner party at the house.  It was completely laid-back and awesome.  I loved every minute of it.

Happy Sunday!


Friday, September 14, 2012

Recap: Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers

The Last Month:   I tell pretty much everyone I run into how excited I am about going to the Bears/Packers game.  I count down the days.   I plan on wearing my Brian Urlacher jersey and being completely obnoxious!
Sunday, September 9th:  The Bears crush the Colts.  Holy cow!  The Bears were AWESOME!!!  They looked unstoppable!  Brandon Marshall + Jay Culter = OFFENSIVE PERFECTION!  The Packers lose to San Francisco. They looked like they had NO defense!  And San Francisco completely shut down Aaron Rogers! After the game, I am more convinced than ever that we are going to crush them with our new high-flying offense and our fabulous defense!  I can't wait until Thursday!
Sunday, September 9th, 10:30 pm:  Actual conversation between John and I:
John:  I need you to promise me you're not going to be obnoxious on Thursday night.
Me:  Pfft!  Whatever!  I am going to be completely obnoxious because we are totally going to win.
John:  No, seriously.  I need you to promise me.  I am going to be in Russia on Thursday, and I'm not going to be able to come and help you. There's going to be all kinds of alcohol involved, and I don't want to be on the other side of the globe when I get a text saying some drunk Packer fan has had enough of your obnoxiousness.
Wednesday, Noon: I have lunch with Karen, my favorite obnoxious Packer friend.  I remind her that we need to place our wager for the game.  We are famous for our wagers.  They are epic.  And this time I know I am *finally* going to win one.  We finally settle on this:  the loser has to wear the winner's jersey during the 12/16 Bears vs. Packers game at the winner's sports bar.  Pictures will be taken.
Wednesday, 5:20 pm:  I announce that swim practice will be shortened on Thursday because Carrie (head coach) and I are going to the game together.  Our swimmers are overjoyed.  One swimmer informs me that I will get beer spilled on me if I wear my Bears jersey to the game.  I dismiss this notion.
Thursday 9 am:  Mike Greenberg picks Chicago to win.
Thursday 9:01 am:  The first seeds of anxiety start to sprout in my stomach.  Greenberg's picks are the kiss of death.
Thursday 10:20 am:  I hear the Jay Cultler "Good Luck" sound clip for the first time, and immediately know Green Bay's defense is going to kick his you-know-what.  Anxiety in my stomach increases a little bit.
Thursday, 2:00 pm: I put on my #54 Chicago Bears jersey.  The first seeds of worry set in about actually wearing a Bears jersey to a Packers game.
Thursday, 3:30 pm:  I step out onto the swim deck wearing my jersey to a chorus of boo's.  Several swimmers are seriously angry about my Bears jersey.  Angry.  Girls who have never been anything but sweet and kind make startling statements about the Bears.
Thursday, 5:30 pm:  Practice ends and I get more abuse.  Carrie, a Packers fan, puts on her Clay Matthews jersey and gets resounding cheers from the girls. 
Thursday, 6:45 pm:  We arrive at Lambeau Field, pay $10 to park in the nearby grocery store's parking lot, and start walking over to the stadium.  For all of my bravado, I am a little nervous about wearing my jersey.
Thursday, 7:00 pm:  The gentleman ticket-taker scans my ticket, gives me a little pat on the back, and tells me to enjoy the game.  There are Packers fans everywhere, but lots of Bears fans, too.  I am quietly smug about what I think is going to happen during the game.  We head to our seats, and I am relieved that the people around me appear to be normal.  Any by "normal" I mean they only have small "The Bears Still Suck" stickers stuck to their foreheads and green and gold sweatshirts.  All the crazy, flag-waving, Styrofoam cheesehead-wearing fans and naked-from-the-waist-up-and-spray-painted fans are below us.  No one says anything about the fact that I'm wearing a Bears jersey.  At least not loudly.  Everyone is in a good mood, and every single Packer fan is joyous about being in Lambeau.  The players are on the field warming up.
Thursday, 7:00 pm - 7:20 pm:  High school cheerleaders jump around on the sideline (I love that they use high school cheerleaders instead of flashy, professional ones), a drum line bounces around and plays cadences, former players in attendance are announced, and there's a short video on what to do in case of an emergency.  There are large, easy-to-read signs posted throughout the stadium that tell fans what to do in the case of "fan misconduct".  I am strangely comforted by those signs.  Good to know they have procedures in place. I program the number into my iPhone* just in case we score one-too-many touchdowns and make all those beer-drinking fans angry.  A man sings the Star Spangled Banner and four huge American flags are unfurled by what looks like community members (nice).  Fly-over; completely awesome.
Thursday, 7:20 pm:  Bears win the coin toss, elect to defer.  I am bouncing with excitement on my small section of stadium bleacher.  I chat with the man next to me.  He seems like a nice enough guy.
Thursday, 13:37 first quarter:  Jay Cutler sacked.  Fans around me thrilled.  Much high-fiving.  Man on my right reaches over me to high-five Carrie.  I remain optimistic.  I tell Jay to just shake it off.
Thursday, 4:32 first quarter:  Jay Cutler sacked.  More rejoicing around me.  Much shouting about the Bears still "sucking". 
Thursday, 13:01 second quarter:  Green Bay Packers kick a field goal.   I remain optimistic.
Thursday, 1:54 second quarter:  Mass hysteria as Packers fake the field goal and make a touchdown.  I am secretly impressed, but do not admit it out loud.
Thursday, 1:13 second quarter:  Jay Culter throws interception.  Seriously?!?!!
Halftime:  Carrie and I go to find some dinner.  Packers fans throw minor insults my way.  Packer fan allows me to go ahead of him as we climb the steps back to our seats.  Neighbor man and I chat.  I say nice things about Clay Matthews.  He doesn't have any nice compliments to give me back.  He asks if I'm a Northwestern fan.  I explain that I went to Illinois.  He rolls his eyes.  We discover that we both share a hatred for Michigan.  So at least there's that...
Thursday, 8:53 third quarter:  Bears SCORE!!  Thank God for Robbie.  Neighbor man is gone.  I tell his wife I need someone to high five, she says, "Sorry."
Thursday, 3:18 third quarter:  Jay Cutler throws another (!!!!) interception.  Seriously getting mad (on the inside).
Thursday, 1:02 third quarter:  Fumble recovery!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I am the only one who jumps up in excitement.  Remembering my promise to John, I quickly sit back down.
Thursday, 11:37 fourth quarter:  Jay Cutler throws fourth interception.  Fans leap up and yell and cheer.  I am the only one sitting in my row.  I start to wonder if I will be able to convince Carrie to leave before the game is over.
Thursday, 11:22 fourth quarter:  Donald Driver scores a touchdown.  The fans are beside themselves with excitement.  Based on fan reaction alone, I am convinced that Driver could be the first man to be unanimously elected Governor of Wisconsin.
Thursday, 8:14 fourth quarter:  Aaron Rogers intercepted.  Fans irate.  Completely mad.  Shocked that such a thing could possibly happen.
Thursday, 6:54 fourth quarter:  Bears score a touchdown!  Nice man on my right humors me with a high five.
Thursday, 4:09 fourth quarter: Jay Cutler sacked.  I struggle to stay positive.
Thursday, 3:07 fourth quarter:  Jay Cutler, intercepted.  I ask Carrie if she's ready to go.  She is having a wonderful time, but takes pity on me and agrees to leave.  In an effort to get out of the stadium unscathed, I tell each and every Packer fan in my row that it was a good game.  Packer fans thank me and then remind me that the "Bears Still Suck." 
Thursday, 3:00 fourth quarter:  Packer fan tells me to have a safe trip home.
Thursday, 11:54 pm:  I check my phone and notice that I have 21 notifications from Facebook.  I know that at least half of them are going to be comments from Karen.
Friday, 6:30 am:  Girls wake me up.  My first thought is, "I am never going to hear the end of it."  My second thought is, "I look horrible in green and gold."

Gosh, I love football season, don't you?  Go Bears!



PS  For the record:  on the whole, I was treated with respect the entire time I was at the game.  Packers fans, for the most part, are good people. They love their team.  LOVE THEM.

*I didn't really do this.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Eleven years. 
Eleven years ago I was on the way to Dallas-Fort Worth airport with John, Maddie, and newborn Jack.  My funny, full-of-life grandma had died the night before, and Jack and I were going to fly up for the funeral.  Maddie, then 3, watched a video during the hour-and-a-half-long trip, so we had no idea what had happened.  We found out only once we got to the eerily-empty airport.  In those early hours following the attacks, airline officials truly had no idea when airplanes would even be allowed to fly again.  When we got back in the car and turned on the radio, they were just announcing that the Pentagon had been hit.  It felt like the end of the world.
Of course, we didn't get to fly out that day.  No one did.  I didn't get to go to the funeral.  My sister read the speech I had lovingly prepared to read at Grandma's funeral.  I spent the week mourning my grandma and all those who had died.  I watched the coverage until I was numb.  It was a horrible, horrible time. 
Once the week was over, we planted a tree in our front yard for my grandma.  I asked the nursery workers to find me a tree that would turn brilliant, beautiful colors each fall;  a tree that would be as full of life as my grandma.  We have since moved away from that house, but I'm sure that Grandma's tree brings the new owners of 6185 Laura Lane great joy each fall.
As always, September 11th also reminds me of who our nation's brave heroes really are--those who are willing to run into places while others are running out.  Thank you firefighters, police, EMT's, and all of our military who keep us safe.  God bless you all, as you serve and protect us.



Monday, September 10, 2012

30 Lists, 1-8

 Hi Friends!

Here's a peek at the lists I've completed for the 30 Lists creative challenge I am doing.  Figuring out what I want the cover to look like always seems like the hardest part (weird, I know).  I decided to go with a mustard and gray color pallet (just like my new bedroom!).  Yellow and gray just seem to be working for me lately.  Each time they run the 30 List challenge, they change the list topics, so each time I end up with a completely different book.  Totally fun.  Here's shots of my #1-8 lists:

I'm off to get yesterday and today's lists completed. 

Have a wonderful, creative day!



Saturday, September 8, 2012

Around Here...

Around here, three fabulous kiddos went back to school.  Two out of three were pretty nervous about their new schools.
Around here, there is already homework, and every day someone comes home with a list of a few more school supplies they have to have by the next day.
Around here, we began the new routine of school drop-off and classes and swim team practice and later dinners.
Around here, we're gearing up for a week without John.
Around here, we found out that Emily made it into National Honor Society.
Around here, we're getting ready to build some built-in shelves in the dining room.
Around here, the washing machine is working overtime.  So many towels.
Around here, we're more-than-a-little giddy that it's (finally!) football season!
Around here, it's about 20 degrees cooler than it was on Tuesday. Delightful!
Around here, I'm cooking chicken and browning sausage for the jambalaya I'm serving at a dinner party tomorrow. (Love my bowling group!)
Around here, I'm gearing up to start a study of James.
Around here, life is good, and people are so happy that it's Saturday.

What's happening where you are?



PS  This is the first year that I don't have a picture of all three kids together on the first day of school.  Emily wasn't even up when I took the picture of Maddie and Jack--Juniors and Seniors didn't have to report to school until 12:10 on the fist day. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Beautiful Ruins//Book Review

Hi Friends!

It seems like forever since I've done a book review, but this one was worth the wait, I promise.  As I was sitting here trying to find all the best adjectives to describe this brilliant book, I stumbled upon a review by Sara Habein.  It opened with the following fabulous paragraph which made me laugh out loud and clap my hands in agreement:

Let’s get one thing out of the way up front: Beautiful Ruins is an absolutely perfect book, and if you read any review that claims otherwise, then that reviewer is trying too hard to be a smug killjoy and they should not be trusted. You should perhaps ask them if they also enjoy popping children’s balloons and talking on their phone during movies because only a jerk would hate on this book.
Oh, friends! I simply adored this book, and I know you will, too.  If you love character-driven, sweeping stories that are both wise and funny, don't pass up Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins.  It is fabulous.  Seriously fabulous.  I'm not going to give too much of a synopsis because I don't want to give anything away.  Suffice it to say, it's got movie stars and remote Italian villages and flawed heroes and Richard Burton and Liz Taylor.  It's got characters that you're going to love, and characters that you will hate.  It has characters that you want to end up loving, but you won't, because some people can't change.  If that's not enough to get you to immediately run out and pick up a copy of Beautiful Ruins, then I don't know what to tell you.  This book is a gem. 

PS I wish I wasn't done with it.