Sunday, July 25

*The feasts*

I made a promise to include another post regarding my latter half of the Dallas visit which included both a feast of lobster and that of lamb. It is a great family tradition that we hold dear to take a mass of live lobsters and eat them until we are ill. After that point, we take the remaining meat and shells and from there make a lobster bisque that would put Thomas Keller to shame.

* I must admit though that as I write this, I use the word we rather liberally. All credit is in fact to be given to my glorious and talented father. *

First up was lobster fest. This was a time when as young children, we learned how to eat a rather complicated food and enjoy its delicate flavor.

Max watched Brian prepare to eat his meal full of wonder

Mother displays the fresh out of the pot lobsters to the surrounding children.

All and all, we had a lovely meal~

Next we move onto my personally favorite meal of the year and the reason we saw fit to fly down for the weekend - lamb fest... I will continue with that one next

Saturday, July 24

* What a delight*

Recently, I have begun following the Fly Lady routines again (which you will recall from months past) and my life has once again become rather seamless. I am more able to manage the stresses of work, I answer the doors when people come knocking free from CHAOS (Cant Have Anyone Over Syndrome), and last night, the most remarkable thing of all happened.... Brian invited over a group of friends to play cards for the first time in our eight year marriage!

Brian told me the night before that his buddies were headed my way, and rather than protest, or spend the night in a frenzy of activity preparing the house for guests, I smiled and went about my regular routines. The night of the party, when Brian and I came home from work, we spent about ten minutes getting ready for his guests to arrive. It was darling, Brian put out a fresh roll of toilet paper, put grapefruit scented soap in the bathroom rather than using the usual one in the kitchen, he laid out a hand towel rather than use our usual bath towel from the morning, and then even encouraged me to make treats for his buddies. So, last night I had five people in my living room, brownies, quiche, monkey bread, and a number of drinks in the kitchen, and lively music playing from the TV.

I made sure that they had all that they needed and then gave them some space as Brian seems to be most comfortable with his guests without my exuberance impeding his social mores. I slipped out to run on our treadmill for an hour, took a cool shower, made myself a lovely cup of peppermint tea, did my before bed routines, and then went into our cozy and tidy bedroom to read myself to sleep with the lovely Anne Of Green Gables. I nodded off, listening to my typically silent husband laughing and interacting with his friends in the front room - all because he felt comfortable enough to have them over on a moments notice thanks to the recent re commitment to my life and our home.

*Thanks Fly Lady!*

Tuesday, July 20

i have started several posts lately, but inevitably, i feel that when i haven't posted in quite some time, the next one needs to be brilliant. this is quite a bit of self inflicted pressure, so i have chosen to do what my old college friend Marshall advised me worked best for him. he was an artist and often found filling the blank canvas a far too daunting task as he was in perpetual fear that he would "mess up" his new work by having an errant line, or something that was out of proportion to the rest of the piece. he would often fail to do anything for the fear of destroying his canvas. his solution was a simple one, simply start with the mistake. he would slash a line of color across the canvas in a bold and confident stroke and then from there, he would allow the rest of the painting to form. though he shared this with me ten years ago, it has always been something i have called upon in such a case as this. so, here is my colorful stroke--

*Simple Gatherings*

Over the last month I have been blessed to travel around the country to visit family and have found myself once again impressed by the beauty not only of the people, but of those things they hold close to them in their homes, and the landscapes of the various places in the country. Allow me to make some introductions . . .

Before I left for my family tour, I purchased a lovely orchid to brighten the kitchen (but only after proper coaching from a dear friend of mine who is one of those illusive folks who can keep an orchid alive for years and years) His big hint? Neglect them for the most part and only water them once a week.

First up on the tour- I went to one of my favorite places to visit two of my dearest nieces.

Penny illustrates that for some, posing comes effortlessly. . .

While for others, it is a learned skill. . . (I fall into this category too Charlie)

It must be said though that after awhile, I find that what I am most drawn to in children's photographs are those of them just being themselves with silly faces smeared in chocolate and all. . .

Well, well, this little love of mine does clean up rather nicely, though not too nicely. When dressing a little girl, I have found find nothing more sublime that a child swathed in pearls (often a great juxtaposition) and so while I stayed, I allowed the girls to drape themselves in some of mine.

After a few short days in Las Vegas, I then returned home for a brief rest before I headed out to Dallas with Brian to see the families. . .

Mother greeted us with excess and warm welcome. . .
where we all sat down to a simple but pristine supper. . .

followed by a sumptuous room for my Pooh and I to slip off to by ourselves for some respite from the summer heat.

We were able to head to the arboretum for a picnic and concert in the gardens with the parents and friends.

(mom and dad still look good soaking up the Dallas sites)

While later that night, our party was joined by John and Co.

Once the Houston crowd was in town, Mother decided to impress us all by making a quiche-like side dish that was divine in its utter simplicity (I must admit that the other "adults" in the room kept scolding me for stealing off bits of this heavenly dish prior to the prayer) Know what? I still don't regret it!

Mamie impressed us all by making homemade crescent rolls that looked like chubby happy little babies all snuggled in. (hmm, we ate them though so perhaps not a great analogy)

Stay tuned for part two of the travels.... lobster and lamb fests!

*Side note*
My dear friends, I am aware of the fact that I have copious amounts of photographs embedded in some of my posts. I like it this way. I have found that this has become a living journal in many ways and I am stirred by photographs which is why I utilize them. No fear though, they are easily passed by!

Sunday, June 13

*My favorite time of day*

I don't know if this seems silly, but my favorite part of time day or night is those tender hours when I lay in bed next to my Pooh bear. He is tough to track down at other times of the day, but at night, when we are finally asleep, I love that we are close together. I think about what it is in our daily routine that keeps us from being the couple we once were, but I take comfort in the fact that I feel we express our truest selves when no one else is around, sometimes we aren't even fully there. It makes me smile that rough as it can be after being married for almost 8 years, we still sleep with our foreheads pressed together, our legs intertwined, or lovingly in an arm nook. So, though days may be long and we may seem tough, at night and in the morning, the place I want to be most in this world is snuggling back in bed.

Wednesday, June 9

*When Its Good Its Very Very Good But When Its Bad, Its Horrendous*

Today, with my peers, we attended the highly anticipated business seminar at the Jazz stadium. In my opinion, it couldn't possibly have started much better. Rudy Giuliani spoke on the importance of embracing the new technology revolution in order to be a success in business and life. He urged us to get iPods, iPads, Smart phones, Computers, use facebook, and twitter, and even get a higher degree online. He spoke of the importance of connecting with the world that exists around us. Giuliani stressed that this world has gone high-tech and us being bitter and standing belligerently against the tide makes us foolish. We should not be bragging about our ignorance, desperately clinging to the comfortable, choosing to embrace it our failure to evolve but rather have someone share their knowledge with us, and learn how this new frontier can enhance our lives and make our systems we have in place more efficient. There is no reason to allow ourselves to be intimidated by the new technologies as that is of no use to anyone. Giuliani politely disagreed with 'Bama and his recent remarks at Hampton University where he warned, "With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations — none of which I know how to work," Obama said, "information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation." Giuliani expressed that though essentially all technology has the power to create good as well as damage society if allowed, that is no reason to cower in the face of this revolution and stand idly by as society marches past. He spoke of the importance of expanding our minds by all means possible and most impressively, he sold me on ebooks.

In the second part of his lecture, he suggested a few ways for us to expand ourselves. He shared that he is currently taking an Italian class online and suggested we try not only that but to continue our more traditional education, and to be voracious readers
. He recognized that there are those who currently aren't in the habit of reading and needed to learn to appreciate it and how it relaxes the mind. Simply by picking up a book on a topic that they are already passionate about until they are comfortable with regular reading time, and then to expand their reading selections to a variety of topics from there. In order to both enjoy reading and expand his mind, he shared his habit of always reading two books at once. One book is meant to teach him in some way and works educate and diversify his opinions while the other is simply a pleasurable read. As a result of this study, he has become literate on numerous topics and at the end of a long day, he looks forward to sitting down to take his personal time. Finally, he ended sharing the need to take our new found knowledge and listen to and debate people who have differing points of views in order to understand our world even better.

As the day progressed, I appreciated the remarkable opportunity to have the pleasure of listening to Zig Ziglar, John Walsh, Colin Powell, Mit Romney, Apolo Anton Ohno, Sarah Palin, (ok, she was a total moron when seen in person as she couldn't keep her thoughts straight wit a flatiron), and several others regional characters. Though a half dozen of the sessions were fun, inspiring, and thought provoking, a few were more in line with the late night slap chop/ sham wow characters or America's newest sweetheart, Tina Fey. I tried desperately to remember that the reason we were able to have all of these leaders fly out to speak to us is because someone has made this a profitable venture and could afford to pay them for an appearance. Though cerebrally I got it, there were a few who squeezed the life out of the chance to do just that and came within an inch of my sharp mental obliteration technique.

Bob Patelle was the most adamant opportunist of the presenters. Mid way through his seminar, he shifted us all into the land of late night television testimonials and pitched us all real good. Rather than discuss principles, he shared his website, rather than share knowledge, he praised his free lunch session between breaks, and rather than expand our interests, he hocked his courses which were not $3999, not $2999, not $599, and no not $399 but if you were one of the schmucks who is lead by loud music, a booming voice, and a quarter pound of charm, you could get his courses for the special one time offer of $99 !! Just because he wants to help you out and because he connected so deeply with this audience, he is going to send each of those lucky drones home with a free trial offer of his website, a free trial of his newsletter, a free coaching session with his "talented" life and financial coaches, and a TWO DAY ONCE IN A LIFETIME SEMINAR
with him and his team in the upcoming months at a hotel near you!

Well, now is the time to take a deep breath shake it off, take just a moment, and then do as my newest buddy Giuliani suggested... take in all of the information possible-including likely morons whose point of view actually might have lowered my already tenuous IQ, and then filter the good from the bad keeping only the true gems. Oh, and its a good thing he suggested we have a sense of humor about life, so rather than be shocked and offended that a "cutie" basketball mom - sorry I might have liked her when she claimed hockey, but as politicians are chameleons in public she tried out a different persona today. Anyhow, though I'm an ardent opponent to the current administration, I find it shocking as this lady with the "precious" voice and perfectly teased hair who seemed completely ADD and incoherent was nearly the Vice President of this lovely country, I have Tina Fey to make horrendous encounters of this kind a bit more delightful in hindsight.

Thank you all and as Tina would say.... Have a good night New York!

Monday, June 7

*Eloise at the Plaza*

Well fine, perhaps I am not Eloise and rather than the Plaza I'm staying at a lovely downtown Marriott, but I do still love the idea of taking full advantage of a hotel stay. Tomorrow afternoon, I work in Salt Lake and wont be returning home until roughly 7 PM. Though this seems reasonable, I have to be back up there the next morning at 6:30 AM for a huge event at the Delta center with thousands of people to listen to a leadership seminar given by the likes of Zig Ziegler, Rudy Giuliani, Sarah Palin, Mit Romney, General Colon Powell and several more. Realistically speaking this means that the traffic will be horrendous, the parking would be impossible, and the stress of doing all of this with my peers as well as my District Manager and my Regional Manager present makes my eye twitch. So, not one to drive an hour and a half in the morning while battling deadlines, traffic, and peer pressure, I decided to chose easy. I used one of Brian's gift cards and got a hotel suite three blocks away from the event. Now rather than the drama, I have scheduled to have a girls night of shopping and fun downtown, a plush robe for a lovely bath, breakfast in bed, a wake up call and then a leisurely stroll to the arena. Now fingers crossed that it works out that these best laid plans are worth the extra few hours of sleep and some self inflicted pampering.

Evidence that Brian and I have actually successfully relaxed in the past. Hopefully we will have a repeat performance.

*update* the girls cancelled on me so I shopped alone, I ended up at dinner with some of the out of town managers and sat next to my DM trying to make conversation that would not result in her rolling her eyes in my direction, oh, and the demons who had the room next to mine at the hotel had their TV blaring until past 3 AM and held the social event of the season in the hallway directly in front of my room when mercifully around 3:30 or so, I was able to drown out the din with Celtic chants from my iPod. Looking on the bright side, at least room service woke me from my near coma-esque state with eggs benedict at 6:09 so I was able to make it to the stadium a full hour before anyone other than my work buddies showed up. At least we got to pick our seats, eh?

Saturday, June 5

*Today's Spring Cleaning*

So today I lack the will to work. This is an issue. So, what I have chosen to do is to use you as my manager, and share my goals for the day. Later, I will check in and see how I do. Here goes my list as well as some before and after photos that I have included. After all, everyone has times where they would cringe if company showed up unexpected... I may as well admit it to myself and share with you a few before and afters. Enjoy!

-Do more dishes
(to finally clean up from the lingering remnants of the memorial day party.

kitchen counters before

kitchen counters after

-Snuggle Brian on the couch watching How I Met Your Mother for our version of quality time
(this photo is just for us)

-Clean up the bathroom

The bathroom before

The bathroom after... everything in its place and smelling fresh

-Put away the cursed laundry

Before hand, even Bella looks clearly ticked

-Wash even more laundry
(no one is perfect so lets push that to tomorrow)

-Make the bed

Bedroom before
Bedroom after a good clean

-Photograph the house for Mom and Mary
(this is on mom's flickr album)

(ran out of time, essentially ran in the hose rather than a lovely shower)

-Head out to dinner and a movie with Madison
(well we did get dinner, but went to Sephora rather than a movie)

-Finish my Capote book
(this is my before bed ritual which I will finish right as I finish this post)

hmmmmm i think that is it. Ta ta for now!

Tuesday, June 1

*Some Days Make You Work For It*

Most days I am happy to head to work, but other days--- well, it's a real effort. Today was one of the latter. It is tough working at a job where the bigger the sob story the client gives, the more they are used to getting in fees reversed etc. This leads to an environment where people who view themselves as victims thrive. At times, this makes it difficult for me to be empathetic towards each story as often I have heard a version of it a dozen or more times a day. Today, I sought desperately to cling to the positive moments. The one I grabbed hold of was when the wife of one of the guys who works for me brought in her three year old twin boys to visit and chat for a few minutes.

At the ripe old age of 29 and with almost 8 years of marriage under my belt, I have finally gotten to the point where I am fixated on having my own children and doing something I consider a valuable investment in my daily life. Though working my regular job is important on the surface and I recognize that what I do can truly change peoples' lives, I want to make a difference in a smaller sphere. Rather than teaching virtual strangers financial independence and how to budget,
I want to spend my time shaping the character and the memories of my own children. I can't wait to teach them how to sew, cook, tell a great story, journal, and travel adventurously. How amazing it would be to make a difference in my own particular way. It is surprising to say this aloud as for years I was far more interested in buying heels than diapers, and I didn't believe that I would ever feel that having children would be anything other than an opportunity to damage another human being. Suffice it to say, lots has changed in a year. So for now, until I have my own brood, I am adopting the children around me.

With that, please allow me to introduce you to a few of my favorite little friends in the neighborhood...

Adam decides to rock out in my glasses

Luke's effervescence makes me realize that having a boy might just loads of fun

Little dirty toes are just a few of my favorite things

Spencer and Adam were well behaved. . . for a moment

Thanks for hanging in there raising those boys Troy and Katie and giving me a reason to smile on days such as these

Megan and Cory, thanks for bringing Luke into my life. His kisses and piggie sounds always are guaranteed to make me crack up~