Sunday, May 24, 2009


This week went by in a flash. It wasn't necessarily that I was very productive nor did anything interesting. TV pretty much sucked up my time in the evening...had to watch American Idol and Dancing with the Stars finales. Zach had a project due this week--Famous People--so there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth when he uh, "realized" that he was not ready for the speech part of the day. Seems there were a few things last week that he should have brought home to prepare for this week. Crazy how that stuff just slips your mind! Ha.

Now Dan is home for the weekend and the sound of him puttering around the house makes me happy. Fixing my computer that had a virus, mowing the lawn, breaking apart two frozen pork roasts with his bare know, these are the reasons you need a MAN around the house. We had a great night out on the town Friday, celebrating our 17th wedding anniversary. It's always a good night when a date is involved since those seem to come few and far between. Grilled halibut with crab and asparagus made me do the happy dance. Mmmm...

During the day on Friday, Zach and I ran around doing errands. One involved taking back books to the library. It's a goal to not bring them in overdue and I did it this time! At any rate, I cannot walk in that place without finding something that I have been dying to read. And what do you know, it didn't fail me this week. The Gentle Art of Domesticity: Stitching, Baking, Nature, Art and the Comforts of Home by Jane Brocket nearly jumped off the shelf at me. Those of you who really know me probably are laughing extremely hard that this particular book would speak to me, but stop that. It did!

I saw this book at B&N weeks ago and loved the look of it. Beautiful color photos inside and the writer is a very popular blogger in England ( I began reading yesterday and I cannot put it down. The writing is amazing. There is much about color and creativity and beauty, and the things you might expect about quilting and baking and knitting. Oh, and tea and family. This woman is very well educated and her writing style is so lovely to read. I cannot wait to get into her blog.

Here's a quote that I loved on inspiration: "Inspiration is inspiration, whether the end result is a painted masterpiece, a soul-searching sonnet, a richly colored homemade quilt or a batch of freshly baked scones. We shouldn't diminish our creativity by despising the results of our inspiration, but instead celebrate and exploit the wonderful feeling of elevated energy and the enthusiasm we experience when we feel inspired...Inspiration is the opposite of expiration, a drawing in, as opposed to a letting out. We can walk through life without seeing, without taking in the details, the words, the colors, the pictures, and miss the whole point of inspiration. Or, we can adopt an approach that allows us to stop a while and look and listen and reflect and enjoy. We can learn to sift through the mass of stimuli we encounter every day and to focus on what inspires us as individuals and, in doing so, create a way of seeing, a way of being receptive to inspiration. For the one thing that sets creative people apart is that they have all acquired the habit of being receptive to inspiration, actively seeking it or even simply recognizing it. Some may have to travel to the ends of the earth to find inspiration, others may find it hiding in libraries, at that tops of mountains, buried under the earth. But the domestic artist is in the glorious position of being able to find inspiration in daily, domestic life."

So cool. Love this book.

Monday, May 11, 2009

What I Should Have Said

On Saturday, I nearly punched another woman.

Zach and I were so happy to have Dan home for the weekend. We'd had an eventful morning of drinking coffee, puttering around the house and even venturing out for the monthly Costco/Target run. And I had the brilliant idea of stopping off at Coldstone Creamery for a Mother's Day treat. YUM-O.

Upon arriving home, we began to unload the Explorer. I'd gone into the garage when I heard one of our neighbor's yell out at the end of the driveway. I had sticky meat packages in my hand, so I ran in quick to put them on the counter and wash off. As I walked back out to the road to say hi, she says this...Looks like you have the same belly issues I have! (pat, pat, pat) I was still not quite down the driveway so I said, what? Surely I didn't hear her correctly. And then she said it again!!! Yep, heard her right and yep, heard her laugh after she said it.

Dan continued to quickly walk back into the house (smart to stay out of that one!) and the neighbor's dog was yapping and I could see visions of this woman laying on the pavement...but I took a deep breath and ignored what she said. Then I mentioned something about the dog, and told her that I would see her later. And walked in the house FUMING.

Since when did women get the right to comment outright about another person's body shape. Have I seen this woman in 6 months? NO. Do we exercise together? NO. Do we even interact socially? About one bonfire per summer. Do I--at all--think that the two of us are anywhere near the same size? NO.

(deep breathing)

Knowing that I could not say anything back to her face without being unChristian and evil, I thought the next best thing would be to blog my feelings. It's always good to be public about your frustrations, right?

Here are 10 things that I wish I could have said:

1. At least I don't smoke.
2. At least my dog knows how to walk on a leash. That is the first time I have ever seen your dog on one. Didn't know that you had one!
3. You will always be at least ten years older than me.
4. You may be ten years older than me, but with all your wrinkles, you look twenty years older. I use face cream. It helps around the eye area.
5. Funny thing, maybe you haven't seen me but I have been exercising--running--past your house at least every other day for the past three weeks. I'm guessing that my little winter gut from these last few months will be gone long before yours.
6. Do you own a pair of tennis shoes?
7. Ever seen the movie, Mean Girls? Great one. Maybe you should watch it.
8. Note to self, when greeting a neighbor for the first time in over six months, it would be appropriate to at least say hello before picking them apart.
9. When picking someone apart, how about starting with the hair. Oh, no? Yours looks great? Hmmm...
10. Oh, are you pregnant? A little old for that, aren't you?

Why do stupid comments from people we don't even care about hurt so much? I couldn't pitch that one out of my head all night. I have gained weight over the winter. I was the exercise queen last summer and as soon as the fall hit, I stopped. I hibernated. Christmas was stressful and there were yummy goodies everywhere. Then Dan lost his job and I didn't really care what I ate or how often. So, yeah. I could lose some weight. But the point we dare openly criticize someone for it? Wow. I had another friend mention to me over the winter that we were alike because we "caried our weight in our butts." Did I ASK for your opinion about my butt? Maybe I am sensitive because I have never weighed this much in my life, but good grief. Respect is respect. Let's support each other in the never ending battle of losing weight, not hurt each other.

Keep your opinion to yourself, sister. I'll ask for it if I want it.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

On marriage

Okay, so the story of the day is Kate Gosselin's interview on the Today Show. If you have not watched the clip, you can find it anywhere (today I don't feel like doing links--I know you are disappointed). I happened to catch the interview before taking Zach to school today and I couldn't stop thinking about it. The context for the interview was to promote Kate's new book, but of course Meredith could not avoid discussing the elephant in the room--Jon's alleged affair. Jon had pulled out of the interview at the last minute and issued a statement about the photos from US Weekly. Now video footage has appeared backing up the claim that he is cheating on Kate.

Why do we care? Because the show Jon & Kate plus 8 is the number one show on TLC right now. The whole world seems to care.

Anyway, she made a statement over and over again at the end of the interview. She said that the kids were the focus. They always were the focus. They would continue to be the focus. I wanted her to marriage is my number one priority right now. I wanted her to say, Jon and I love each other and are committed to work through this. She did say that they were working on it privately, but a simple statement like that would have added to her support of their marriage.

A few years ago, Oprah had an author on her show who received backlash because she had stated in an essay that she loved her husband more than her children. I realize that Kate may not have been in the mindset to say that right now on national television. I am sure that she is very angry and embarrassed. But after all is said and done, those eight kids will leave the nest. Jon and Kate will look at each other and the silence will be deafening. Any of us who are married and have kids will feel this same emptiness. And I, for one, don't want to look at my husband and wonder who in the world he is and why we are together. I want our marriage to be the focus NOW so that later we can sit contentedly together and be happy to have loved each other.

Today I saw the cutest couple at the coffee shop. Probably mid-sixties, dressed in their golfing clothes, looking at their laptop together. They were sharing a drink and laughing and looking at pictures together. They were flirty and happy. And most obviously in love.

The picture above shows a couple that was on our ferry to Mackinac Island last summer. I could imagine them in their younger years but on the ferry, they were comfortable in the silence. I imagined him patting her hand, and the look of love in his eyes. They were beautiful. Just like the coffee shop couple. And just like I hope my marriage can continue to be.

I wish the same for Jon and Kate.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Smiling through the tears

Yesterday was a blistering torrent of problems, meetings to overcome problems, meetings to become aware of problems, and meetings about things beyond my control. I found out that I was a 'sporty red coupe' in one meeting, then crashed that beauty in another. And on top of it all, I missed my husband. We're beginning Week Three and I think the first day he is out of town, might become known as The Day to Get Through.

And on top of it all, I met J.

A friend had referred her to me because I scrapbooked. Of course, never denying a chance to talk photos and stories, I chatted with her about why she wanted to begin. Her answer dropped me to the ground. She wanted to scrapbook to remember her baby girl who passed away a year ago. Before that moment, I only knew her by sight and could not tell that behind that sweet smile was a woman in deep pain. Her baby had passed away at five weeks old after a freak accident involving another family member. She had not done anything with the photos since that moment but her sister had suggested she put together an album this week. Tomorrow would have been the baby's first birthday. We decided to meet today at lunch to look through her purchases and go through some of my albums and books to get her started.

Today J and I met at lunch. I showed her some simple ways to tell her baby's story suggesting that she celebrate her arrival and remember on page that her baby was incredibly loved. She has an older son and this book will be healing for him, too, and will serve as a wonderful memorial as he grows older. A fast formula concept that I suggested was to use a two-up album with simple, designed pages placed throughout where she could write the birth story, the details, how J decided on her name, who was waiting for her, and even some notes from family members sharing their love. Not knowing how many photos she had, I thought that it would give her plenty of space.

She was beaming the entire time and we got inspired through conversation. We are both mothers and could share our own versions of the births of our kids. We laughed about how neither one of us were planning on buying preemie clothes, but did out of necessity. Later as we started to pack away my stuff, I realized that there was a packet of photos sitting underneath some books.

Are these your photos? Yes, she said smiling.

As I opened the packet, I cried inside. Here was a stack of prints only about an inch high. The life of one tiny baby that fit in the palm of my hand. The pictures were too close and pixelated and blurry and there were far too few. One of baby and dad. One of baby and mom. One of baby and grandma. A bunch with big brother. I exclaimed over them as if I was holding that baby in my arms and could smell her newness. Look at her feet! I love that little tiny dress! Aren't babies funny when they make that face? I think she liked her brother alot. And look at him hug on her. Love that. I looked at her face and she was beaming again.

She didn't care that there was only a tiny stack. She had pictures to cherish her entire life. She didn't see the blurry shots or see the awkward angles. She saw her baby who has a name and a birthday. She could hear that cry and smell her newness and feel the softness of her cheek immediately after she was born.

I can't wait to see what she will create. And I know that no matter what, it will reflect her. She will have begun a different stage in her grieving and will have something tangible to hold in her hands. Documenting the stories of our lives, both bad and good, is important. Whether we have a camera that is from the dark ages or a slicked up 2009 model, it is vital that we record snippets of the day to day. We never can tell what lies around the corner.

I was listening to Christine Dente's Out of the Grey album today (yes, that is OLD!) and I heard this...

If I know you
You will turn this day
Into a perfect surprise.
If I know you
Like I know I do,
The worst of times
Will work out right

And I smiled.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Mother's Day Wishes

One of the grand things about having a blog is that you can write out wish lists for others to see. I know my husband reads this blessed thing and will be rolling his eyes as he reads this. And so, the wish list might just stay as, well, wishes. mean publicly saying that you want something does not guarantee that you will get it? Guess I will find out.

I thought I would start my first list for Mother's Day. I like to enable others and pass along important shopping information when I see it. Sort of like a personal shopper. These are the things that the little people or the big guys in our life might take the opportunity to purchase and give to us on that special day with shouts of love and exclamation for all the joy that we bring into their lives! *note to self: don't get carried away--remember husband reads this.

Okay, so my list would start with this: BOOKS. Sorry, I seem to have a thing for ALL CAPS today.
Anyway, here is one that I think could be a new fav, Perfectly Imperfect by Lee Woodruff. I read this excerpt online and immediately loved this book. If I could only write non-fiction like that--! I had already been captured by Lee's writing when I read, In an Instant, the story of her husband Bob's war injuries and how their family survived the ordeal. This one should be a good read, too.

Another book is Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. I have already read this book, but have given and recommended it over and over. I want my own copy, dang it. I have a funny story of reading this on a delayed flight with Dave Lewis, my sales director, on my left and a stranger on my right. I was laughing out loud and sharing with them and in turn, our whole row began laughing out loud. THAT's how good that book is. I love happy books.

A cool gift for the scrapbooker is one of the monthly offerings from Jenni Bowlin or Studio Calico. Lots of fun goodies in the kit and plenty of inspiration. A great price for everything included, plus ideas galore on the site for what to make.

If you don't know how to use your Photoshop Elements very well, Jessica has the class for you. It's called Photo Editing and with video and assignments, sample photos to practice on, and great teaching techniques, Jessica Sprague will help you learn how to use that software quickly and efficiently. What's really, really cool is that once you have taken the class, you can go back to her site forever to refresh your memory or re-watch a video. Unlike a class that I took last year online. It was written on a blog and then she never would give us a full print out of the entire class for reference. Ever try going back to a blog to find out what you learned on day 6? Think about would now be at the bottom of the blog...and what was it you wanted to find? I'm just saying. What a pain! Anyway, this class seems pretty cool. And it is 20% until Mother's Day.

Well there are a thousand things that I could post here...Target gift cards, iTunes gift cards, Starbucks gift cards. But what's the point?

My biggest Mother's Day Wish came true in 1998 when Mr. Zachary Daniel Bennett came into the world. I couldn't have this day without him. And for that I am forever grateful.