Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Snail Mail

“Anything good in there?” I said, peering over Mike’s shoulder, yearning for a hint of pink, blue, purple, yellow or any color out of the ordinary vs. the stark white of what generally constitutes the making of a bill. “Nope, nothing today Miss…” he said with a grin, delighting in our daily ritual of mail retrieval, then placing all the vanilla “this is due” and “take care of this now” pile near his wallet, where I was sure to never go. Because stacks of mail, particularly that which require monetary compensation, are not.my.fav. What’s the fun in that?!

When it comes to the ol’ white boxed car coming up the street, sure, a catalog is great, but that tends to lead to unnecessary spending with all it’s glossiness and retail appeal. And even a flyer or two can be stomached, as long as it’s something that is accessorized with a steep discount. A hand-dropped invite from a neighbor for Pampered Chef is nice, and definitely a request for your presence at a wedding or shower. Making the top of the list are gifts from Grandma that include seasonal coloring books, thoughtful cards and kind words. But this…THIS…

can practically bring a grown woman to her knees.

A small, thoughtful gift sent just for you. Delivered in beautiful wrapping. Scrawled with a adoring note with words you will forever hold close to your heart. Filled with trinkets you had admired MONTHS ago in passing. Priceless, absolutely priceless.

And last week, we received a hand written letter from family. And ANOTHER darling gift from a friend that lightened what was quickly becoming a stressful situation.

So don’t discount snail mail…there’s nothing like it. With its power it can lift a heart, help someone understand the importance of friendship and their meaning to you in this world of texts and Facebook postings. Unearth a grin that had been hiding beneath clouds all day. Because you took the time. The time to wrap, stamp, post, dig up address and send off, snail mail style.

And compared to snail, all other delivery options pale.

Signed, sealed, delivered…make it yours. And theirs. They’ll forever be grateful.

Body Language

Sometimes I feel like this is what's happening when engaging in conversation with a co-worker...

Other times it's like the language the hubs and I don't so much share...

The thousand-watt smile and guffaw of laughter is what I experience when sharing moments with my son...

But any way you slice it, this body language is undeniable. Adorable. And just plain remarkable.

Oh to have a twin. Note I didn't say have twins, but have a twin...pretty amazing...

PS: It gives me great comfort to find these boys sans pants and sporting mismatched socks. Rock on "good enough" parents...rock on!

Friday, March 25, 2011

TGIF!

This weekend marks all sorts of exciting things...the 'Hawks in the championship, a rare visit from the broham, a vacation day from work, round two of Kindermusik and a complete family-focused couple of days. We.can't.wait.

So although we won't be going TOO crazy in the adult world...
video
it's a sure bet it will be tons of fun in the kiddo universe.

TGIF. May you have the kind of weekend that makes you want to "go crazy!"

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Gear!

“Honey, I don’t know – isn’t a backpack a backpack?” Mike said, beginning to thumb through Sports Guy’s tweets on his phone, a bored expression (or could it be hunger at this point?) on his face. It was “date night” (read: an opportunity to get all the crap done we can’t effectively between work hours and toddler duty), and there we were, making our way through stores on the Plaza searching for the perfect work backpack for my aching shoulders. A boring task. An obnoxious one. But an important one. My cute little Tumi tote just wasn’t cutting it anymore for a gal who spends 40-percent of her job traveling. Ok, it’s cutting it…cutting into my shoulders with it’s enormous frame and weight with all I stuff it with…

So after hours of online research, reaching out to shopping queens, countless discussion with the attention-to-every-detail Mom, we were digging our way through Tumi, North Face, Macy’s, Dillards and Bag and Baggage. The goal: something at least slightly feminine (though you know if I had my way it would be covered in glitter and glitzed and be monogrammed), backpack style, lightweight and just professional enough to pull it off at a decent price. Sounds manageable, right?

Wrong.

So, here’s what I ended up with (though mine has some lighter gray/plum on it):

And I’m happy to report it’s working out amazing well – it fits under the airplane seat, is light weight and has a laptop compartment, isn’t totally unprofessional and even has the added bonus of making me feel a bit like a college student once again. And all for under one hundred bucks. Perfect! Plus, I’ve even seen a few stylish women sporting them with business suits…likely another gal on the move seeking the same thing I was!

Other “gear” I’ve fallen in love with lately and has made our life just a bit more convenient includes:







































Nalgene bottles for toddlers for their perfect grip size and easy to transition from sippy cup, LL Bean totes for our treks to the pool, a carribinar because you need all the hands you can get and not for the keys, the Marc Jacobs crossbody for the same reason and the Adidas Adizero tennis shoes - in hot pink!, which are ideal for getting back to the gym because they're comfy, sassy and cute..and the break you need from heels.

Cheers to gear! May you be finding the "stuff" you need that makes life simpler and leaves you time and energy to really practice its joys.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Round the Table v.2,458

Each month, “the girls” gather round the table at a dear friend’s house, each toting a delicious item, a smile and the latest round of things going on in their lives. For years, we’ve been rotating through houses, sharing stories, offering advice and laughing until tears roll down our rosy-from-a-tad-too-much-wine cheeks. Some cook delicious, gourmet meals made with the most loving of hands. Others employ their husbands to do just the same, and maybe even fake a bit that she pulled it off. Regardless, it’s a night we each look forward to and embrace with open hearts and minds. And last night was no different.

I don’t know how many girls’ nights we’ve had (likely thousands), but what I do know is they just keep getting better and better…just like the friendship we share in our tightly knit, once-in-a-lifetime circle.

How I ever got so lucky to stumble upon this bunch that holds me up when I’m down, celebrates when I’m up and hangs out when I’m neutral, I’ll never really know, but I will spend the rest of my life cherishing, being grateful, appreciating, supporting and unconditionally loving them. Because being ‘round the table with them is a big part of the magic that life is made up of…and something I know will never end.

"The better part of one's life consists of his friendships." - Abraham Lincoln

Sunday, March 20, 2011

So THAT'S the Secret!


“Yah, so I’m going to check it out at three today…” said Mike hurriedly on the phone as I began to barrage him with questions and gently remind him he was seeking not only for himself, but for his family. “Yep, yep, got it…I know you better than you know yourself,” he said before hanging up, leaving me to smirk as I hit the end button and proceeded on with email replies, meeting agendas and the everyday grind.

Hours later, I hear our family is now part of the Lifetime Fitness family, a gym chain that conveniently enough is less than four miles from the house and chock full of amenities that every girl considers before joining a fitness center. (Wait, er, that may just be a certain plus-size gal that needs some motivation to hop on the elliptical that seeks this kind of luxury…in a gym). Curious, we made plans to do our first drop in on Saturday. And drop in we did…

And it.was.heavenly.

Heavenly in the way the chlorine smelled as it hit my face, the memories of years of five a.m. practices flooding my heart and mind with remarkable moments that cannot be replaced. Smart in the way the employees dress and react so kindly to members, the family changing room clean, accepting and easy to use, and a child care center so darling, it practically trumped the little one’s day care. Refreshing in that not all the visitors were bone thin, ripped and the color orange, that pizza was on the menu as well as protein shakes, and that people were friendly and forthcoming, even in the middle of a squat. Innovative in that their business is very family-centered, they're open 24/7, machines are lined up by working body parts, there are a bzillion classes and the pool is so luxurious, it can practically bring a state champion to tears.

Did I mention I dug the pool?

Likely because the joy experience by our family in two hours on a rainy Saturday afternoon was like being at Disney World. Feeling like vacation, we waded into the zero-entry side, watching as our son’s face lit up in excitement and his confidence grew with the understanding of where his feet met the ground in this crazy thing called water. Deep splashes and giggles coincided, his little pinkies wrinkling as he dove in and out, messing with the fountains and making slam dunk after slam dunk with Daddy. Then, there was the unadulterated magic of ducking in and out of the mushroom and it’s never-ending stream, a concept so surreal to a 18-month old, it would practically make you weep with it’s innocence and wonderment.

So yeah, getting out because of red, droopy eyes and severly wrinkled skin was not an easy task to convince him of. Thank goodness there were Mac n Cheese puffs in the cafe…

After years of pinching pennies and putting ourselves second, we look forward to improving our health and home with several visits a week to what we now jokingly call “the spa.” And as the hubs works to figure out why I’m totally into this place versus those we’ve joined in the past decade, it will be my little secret that it rocks my world you can eat, get a hair cut, work out and zone out all in one place. In Shawnee. Four miles from our house. For much less than a price of a vacation.

Now, here’s hoping all this time at the new place means looking fab in my bridesmaid dress with a svelte new figure vs. just beautified nails and mane…

Winning Wedges

I realize this is a bad title…because your immediate reaction is going to be to repeat the ever-lovin’ words of Charlie Sheen. Am I right, or am I right???

Regardless, I wanted to pass along a pic of these little beauties:

The perfect wedges for spring for Mom’s on the go who are responsible for chasing after their toddlers as well as balls as they attempt to roll into the street, climbing half-way up slides, crouching in the mud, leaning one-legged at counters, practicing steps, vacuuming with a 30-pounder in one hand before company arrives, carrying the kiddo through the mall as he’s just not that into the stroller, so on and so forth. For these activities and more, this sandal is a dreamboat. And even better…they’re Clarks!

So yeah, they come with a bit of a price tag. But who doesn’t want to drop a few extra pennies (after donating to Japan of course) for comfort, style and sass?

After all, there’s limited time for makeovers, spray tans, blow outs, manis/pedis and all that jazz. Why not just slip on these bad boys to give yourself the big of attitude you may just feel you’re lacking these days? And so what if you happen to sport them with wind pants and your KU tee…

you’re still rockin’ the winning wedge.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Loads of Laughs


You know how sometimes it takes every ounce of energy and inner strength to drive your behind to work, and sometimes, just sometimes, it also takes the perfect NKOTB, Aerosmith, Usher, Adele, Tim McGraw or to plaster that smile on your face before you walk in? Well, in addition to the new sounds of 99.7 (think 90’s alternative) and 102.1, there is now a new strategy to making this grin-inducing, yes-I-can-smirk-and-bear-it-and-will-not-injure-that-beyond-slow-driver station that may help you in this arena.

102.5.

I don’t know the name. I don’t know the story. And I’m not that into comedy. But it does provide me loads of laughs when they don’t seem to be coming too easy some days.

It’s quips of various comedians and the best of their best, back to back. Besides Tosh, Wanda, Dane and a few others, I’m not even sure who these peeps are, but they sure make me giggle.

So come on – turn the dial – and inspire a few chuckles today.

This message not paid for by anyone but a girl looking to keep it positive in this crazy world. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Calgon, Take Me Away: The Travel Version


“Ok Melinda, what’s the secret?” I say to her, watching as her glasses fell slightly down her smooth nose, her well-made, warm eyes rising to meet mine as her hand went to cup my knee that was bouncing up and down from a bout with anxiety.

“You’ve got.to.chill.out.” she said calmly, gazing at me with certainty, grace and understanding, the result of three years working together through life and career coaching, babies being born, promotions being made and office matters bittersweet.

“So, what’s the deal? How do you be ‘on’ all day, plaster a face on and arrive with the same passion and energy, day after 18 hour day? How do you forget you’re missing a husband and child at home, that your house is a wreck, that you’re bone tired and not everyone in the room is satisfied, learning and growing? HOW?!”

Whether you’re an executive, a SAHM, a rock star or scrubbing bathrooms, her reply would be the same: you’ve gotta take care of you.

So here’s some secret tips she shared with me, that are now tried and true after round two at the Vinoy:

1. Create your space: unpack your bag, no matter how many days you’re staying, lining your clothes nicely in drawers and closets. Order fresh flowers. Bring tiny frames of your loved ones. Tote along a fabulous smelling candle and ask for matches at the bar when you arrive. Just like home.

2. Mail your love: particularly for Moms and Dads, duck into the gift shop or at your arrival at the airport and scrawl out a postcard for a loved one at home. Let them know you’re thinking of them and missing them and mail it immediately, with hopes it will arrive before your return trip.

3. Take a minute: use the fabulous amenities, including the gym, media room, spa, pool, sauna, gardens, room service or whirlpool if you can, whenever you can.

4. Load your iPod: bring along tunes that soothe your soul and bring you to your happy place.

5. Cut back on liquor: when you’re on the road, the tendency to ham it up and network generally involves alcohol. But actually, the warm stuff makes it more difficult for you to sleep and function the next day. When peer pressured, ask for soda water or water with a lime and forgetaboutit.

6. Breathe: when it doubt, step outside. Hide in the restroom. Duck into a dark corner. Take five deep breaths and try, try again.

And you know what? It worked. Bath and Body makes a fabulous, small stress relief candle that easily made it through security, while the Tampa airport had the perfect postcard with a “dofin” on it for Lawson, and his little picture was darling perched on my nightstand. Michael Jackson was my wakeup and shakeup for the morning, while the Vinoy’s whirlpool in the women’s locker room coupled with the sounds of their waterfall were the perfect end to a 16-hour day. And mornings? Way more manageable with ounces of water in the tummy versus white wine spritzers. Sure, I may not have been quite as fun…but you know what? I delivered a kick-butt meeting that achieved rockin’ results. And I saved my sanity along the way.

So thank you, Melinda, for shedding the light and creating a little Calgon that while on my travel, took me away…

Two Thousand Thanks

“I would thank you from the bottom of my heart, but for you my heart has no bottom.” ~Author Unknown

That one’s for you, dear readers.

Thank you for making what started as a meaningless outlet to something that drives passion into my soul deeper than I ever thought a keyboard, candlelight, classical music and deep thoughts by Megan could ever go. Because of your support, love and readership, I find more comfort and faith in life, its mysteries and its joys by reliving it over and over again. You know…happiness in the making.

Though it seems like peanuts to those that are big-time in the blog world, you brought me to more than 2k hits last month, leaving me speechless and more grateful than you could ever know. Thanks for following, tagging, forwarding, complimenting, reading and just being you.

I owe you a million thanks and more because in this case, 2k thanks just won’t do…

An Affair to Remember

“Yeah, that one’s perfect!” I say to a grinning Erica, watching as she tugged the peacock-feathered headband across her gorgeous auburn hair, the waves falling loosely along her olive cheeks as she assessed the look.

“Great – this is a start to the wardrobe!” she giggled as we collected our things and made our way to the growing line.

We had been talking for hours about the ensembles and accessories she was collecting to bring her vintage photo shoot to life, discussing hot topics such as hounds tooth, where to find the perfect double-breasted, 50’s-inspired jacket and what size heel would still align her with my brother. It was inspiring to hear her chat excitedly, her cheeks flushing with excitement as she described her vision of what their engagement photos would look like, complete with planes, trains, automobiles and of course, their love. Hearing her talk of this adventure was a true testament to what their marriage would soon be: classic, timeless, full of romance and complete with adventure.

And here’s how that dream turned out:

erica & ryan's save the date from courtney rosen on Vimeo.


Pretty fabulous, don’t you think?

Unique, fun, charming, cinematic, a bit sassy and full of unconditional love.

Just like they are, always will be, for better or for worse.

So count me in kids – I will save that date. Because I know with two amazing people like you, this is sure to be an affair to remember…

Monday, March 7, 2011

Top 10 Things the Little Man is Doing These Days


1. Shouting “Almost! Points!” and Slam Dunk!” when shooting hoops in the house
2. Counting to 10 and repeating his ABCs – with enthusiasm
3. Independently playing in tight little corners of the house with trucks, puzzles or intensely flipping through a book (he can “read” ‘Thomas, Peek a Who’ and ‘Baby Faces.’)
4. Passing on blessings when we sneeze: “ Bless you, Mama;” “Bless you, Daddy.”
5. Growing confidence in the water with blowing bubbles, kicking, doing “super baby” and the frog song while ducking his head under the surface
6. Announcing “MOVE PLEASE” to anyone that may be perched on his couch or in Daddy’s chair so he can take over, settle in and enjoy his snacks
7. Playing chase with anyone who wants to burn a few calories, all the while kicking his legs and whispering “shhh” as we creep around the corner
8. Running, running, running and wrestling, wrestling, wrestling…accompanied by screeching giggles
9. Bouncing on beds, couches, dogs, laps and really, any flat…or not so flat…surfaces
10. Obsessing over Yo Gabba Gabba dances and songs and re-enacting the likes of Mya, Elijah, the Roots and Jack Black
Truth be told, there aren’t just 10. Instead, there are a handful of tantrums, diaper changes, moments of defiance and bzillions of precious moments scattered in between. And we wouldn’t change any of them for anything…

LBD

A day late and a dollar short (it would’ve been ideal to sport this at Molly’s wedding), I scored this little number on Nordy’s sale rack. At half the cost, cut well with forgiving lines, comfy material and a bit of flare, it’s the perfect addition to the closet, yes?

From a wedding to a funeral to a cocktail party to a shower, it’s a pluck and pull from the ol’ closet. The little black dress (LBD). And one I’ve been searching for over a decade.

So yeah, I don’t “need” it right this second, but the LBD is classic. And it will be just the “ensem” for one of the soon-to-be sis-in-law’s fabulous wedding events, right?!