Pulp of lime, Red Vines and good conversation …

Despite the craziness of life, Audi and I recently made a point to get together to catch up. We threw out tons of ideas … lunch, shopping, crafting, cooking, etc.. All fun ideas – but being our usual, indecisive selves – we couldn’t make up our mind. So, we met up for lunch and then sat on my front porch doing absolutely nothing but talking and sipping on a frozen, nonalcoholic (for our pregnant friend), strawberry/lime beverage. The drink was delicious and the conversation was spectacular. We seriously could have sat there until the wee hours of the morning…

I confirmed three key things that day …

1. Don’t be afraid to be a kid.
Of course, there is always the right time and place for such a thing. All and all, don’t be afraid to act silly or get so caught up or worried about what others may think/say about you. Enjoy the simple things in life – playing in the rain, swinging on the swings or whatever else wakes your inner child.  After picking up a package of our favorite licorice, we couldn’t help but relive our childhood silliness by using a Red Vine as a straw. Note: You can sip a frozen beverage through a Red Vine, but it gets hard, fast.

2. You learn something new every day.
I’ve used lime JUICE in plenty of recipes – even lime zest, but never just the pulp. Call us amateurs, but we didn’t know what the heck we were doing. In our defense, it didn’t help the recipe was pretty vague. Thankfully, after some help from our friend Google, we now know how to remove the pulp from lime the proper way. To save you the hassle, here’s a more detailed link to the strawberry/lime drink recipe as well. Before jumping in, make sure you read the “Notes from Kitchen” on the bottom of the page … our batch was pretty tart as well. We’d recommend tweaking the recipe slightly … especially for kids!

3. Getting together doesn’t just happen…
…especially with family, kids, work, community and other commitments. Everyone is busy… crazy busy in fact. But don’t use that as an excuse to put off visiting with an old friend or family. Trust me, I’m fully aware I’m guilty of this too. Ultimately, we all need to make an effort to keep in touch, take time to laugh, and do a better job of balancing our lives between work, family, friends, etc.

Given the 4th of July is right around the corner, I’ll sum up my thoughts with this wonderful quote …

Laughter is the fireworks of the soul.

Hope everyone has an enjoyable and safe Independence Day!

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Have I Mentioned How Much I Love Being Pregnant?

Definitely not me… but I sure feel this beautiful. 🙂

To reiterate the title, I absolutely love being pregnant.  As I type this our little girl is moving and grooving in my belly, it truly is the most beautiful and comforting feeling.  I don’t know if she is happy that she finally isn’t pushed up against a desk at work … I don’t know if she is grooving because she liked the grilled cheese sandwich and apple I had for dinner … I don’t know if she is pissed off because she – well, because she is a girl and sometimes we just have our moments.  BUT she is moving, and that means she is healthy.  That is all hubby and I can ask for.

I have had a fabulous pregnancy so far.  Nearly 30 weeks in and other than an expanding belly and some back aches here and there, I feel no different than I did prior to being pregnant.  (Other than the moving creature inside me mentioned above…)  I still work out at least five days a week – albeit a little less intense, but still staying as active as I feel I can handle.  I never had morning sickness, I have no stretch marks, I haven’t swollen up, and I sleep great at night.  And yes, I am knocking on wood right now.  😉  I am not sure why I have been so blessed, and yes, I do realize how incredibly blessed I am, but I think I can thank genetics for feeling so great.  My mom said the best she ever felt was when she was pregnant with me and I feel as though I am on a similar path.  I can only hope that when our daughter is pregnant – if she decides to have children – that she feels this great.

All this being said, who knows what is in store for me these last 10 weeks, but I do know that this has been an amazing experience so far.  I just have to make sure that I don’t think too long and hard about where she has to come out of, because the thought of her coming out of THERE, is still a bit unsettling.  We will just have to cross that bridge when we come to it.  If it wasn’t for the fact that we can’t wait to see her face, I would probably just try to keep her in there forever…

For all you moms and soon-to-be moms, what was your best part about your pregnancy experience? And for those of you who are trying, what are you most looking forward to?

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Why you vote the way you do …

Love this designer’s AIGA “Get Out and Vote” poster submission – http://www.behance.net/Gallery/Vote-Posters/84190

On the eve of a very big election day in Wisconsin, I stumbled upon an article so extremely relevant that I just had to blog about it. The article was “Why you vote the way you do” in The Week magazine. It was an intriguing read suggesting that “genes play a role … but it’s six moral values that determine your political outlook.”

Now, before you assume what side of the line in the sand I stand on, I want to say I don’t intend to get on my soap box and preach about who I think you should vote for in the election taking place tomorrow (June 5, 2012). I actually have a cardinal rule of not discussing politics with friends (unless asked). However, reading that article on my couch last night simply made me stop and think – reminisce if you will – about A.) why I vote, and B.) why I vote the way I do. How you ever stopped and asked yourself that … honestly?

I vote because its my right to have my voice heard. Alternatively, I’ve also exercised the right to not have to vote because I wasn’t sure I was informed enough to make the proper decision. It’s the beauty of the USA … voting here is not compulsory and every citizen (of age) holds the right to make that individual choice.

Why do I vote the way I do … sure, maybe my DNA has predetermined some of my voting tendencies … but nurture, my values, education, work experience, my curiosity and search for more information most definitely play a role as well. I’ll be the first to admit I was once young, naive and easily influenced by my peers and by what I heard/read, etc. – especially in my college days. Unfortunately, I fear too many fall into that category – young or old, rich or poor, college graduate or not!

Regardless, my message today is simple … VOTE!

This election in particular is a BIG one. And your educated and informed opinions matter! BUT … please vote for you, not someone else. Make a decision based on your own beliefs/morals/values/etc … vote with your heart … vote with your brain.

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Are you happy? If not, do you want to be?

I actually had another blog piece written to post today, but for some reason I didn’t feel now was the right time to post it.  So that post is officially shelved for now.

Now what to write about?  Well, as I sat on my couch watching the season premiere of Design Star, I decided to hop on the computer and peruse Pinterest.  Because that is what we do now that Pinterest exists…

I open up Pinterest and the first thing I see is the picture to the right.  Man, it struck a chord.

I feel that we are a society of complainers and the complaining is only increasing in magnitude.  Does everyone expect happiness and their idea of a “perfect life” to be handed to them?  Or are they actually willing to work for it?  Our grandparents did… they worked DAMN hard to have the life they imagined for themselves, their children and their grandchildren.  This is why they are the greatest generation – they did not work hard for just themselves, they worked hard for the kids and grandkids that they didn’t even have yet.  Can anyone say the same about us?  Nope, sure can’t.  We are focused on the here, the now and the next handout.  Some people blame our dependance on technology, some people blame the generation before us and starting us down this path, some people just blame the closest target.  But no one is really at fault except ourselves.

I am not a fan of generalities, and I realize I am using them in this post… I know there are exceptions, as I feel I personally am one.  That doesn’t mean I don’t complain – I am human, I complain.  But I don’t expect what I want to be handed to me on a silver platter.  I understand that if I want it, I have to work for it.

I think we all need to realize that if we want to be truly happy – deep down in our cores – we have to work for what we want.  Handouts don’t provide satisfaction, working provides satisfaction.

So ask yourself… are you happy?  If not, do you want to be?  And most importantly, are you willing to work for it?

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Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone …

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Hello friends! As Audra mentioned, we’re back! It was a crazy spring for me with all my preparation for and then actually being out the country for five weeks, but I’m back and finally settled into my usual routine again. There’s definitely no place like home – and having a steady schedule and routine again feels good.

BUT …

To put it simply, my time Down Under was absolutely amazing. The Rotary Group Study Exchange to Australia I participated in was a spectacular opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone personally and professionally. I didn’t know who I was going to meet, where I was going to go, what I would learn, what I would miss back home, etc. etc. I had to let go of the steering wheel and go with the flow. Initially, I thought it would be fairly easy and I’d have no issues whatsoever. I was wrong, but that’s okay. The payoff for the mix of sadness, sickness, exhaustion, excitement, anxiety, laughter, sometimes awkward moments, and sleepless nights was worth it. I’m now more confident in all facets of my life. Work life is great – I’ve been able to apply so much of my experiences vocationally and culturally into my daily design doings. Personally, things are spectacular too. While my time away from my hubby wasn’t needed, it sparked another level of appreciation and love for one another.

Ultimately, I’ve been inspired in so many ways…

  • to travel and see/do even more new things (next time with my husband)
  • to speak and present more confidently
  • to be even more globally in-tune with news, events, issues and more
  • to give back more to my family, friends, colleagues and community
  • to take a chance … especially if I’m nervous or afraid

I love the fact that I have developed so many wonderful professional connections and life-long personal relationships and friends on the other side of the world.

All that being shared, I challenge each of you to take a step – however big or small you can manage – outside of your comfort zone. I’m not suggesting everyone needs to skip town for 5 weeks and head to Australia by any means (although its a beautiful country). Just make an attempt to mix things up a bit. Take a chance. The reward(s) will be worth it in the end.

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Fabulous Read: Why I Don’t Love My Children More Than My Husband

My better half…

After a two month hiatus – JENNY AND I ARE BACK!  Sorry kids, life got in the way for awhile and other things took priority, but don’t worry, we never stopped thinking about you.

So why am I writing today of all days?

I just read an absolutely fabulous article on Babble.com titled, “Why I Don’t Love My Children More Than My Husband“.  At 25 weeks pregnant I find myself thinking more and more about what kind of parents we will be and all the new – yet very exciting – challenges we will be facing.  But one thing I have never questioned is that I know my husband will always come first.  He has to.  And I have to come first for him.

Our relationship is the foundation of this family we are building.  If we aren’t strong, the family won’t be strong.  As selfish as it sounds, we must make each other a priority.  Whatever that takes at the time – maybe sometimes ten minutes alone is all it will be, maybe it will be a date night, maybe there will be times when we need an actual vacation (sans munchkin-to-be).

And like the article, hubby and I have been at rock bottom.  But hitting rock bottom and working our way back up made us stronger.  We love each other more today than the day before and the day before that… Everyday we choose one another.  We choose to trust in one another, to confide in one another, to support one another.  I am his biggest cheerleader and he is mine.

As much as I don’t doubt that he must always come first, I also don’t doubt that we have the biggest challenge of our lives ahead of us in raising this little one – but no matter the challenge, we have one another.  That is all that matters.  Together we can make it through anything.

(cue cheesy romance movie music)

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Plan ahead for quality time

I don’t care what anyone says … I don’t find sitting in front of the TV with your significant other, family or friends to be “quality time.” Now, don’t get me wrong …I’m all for kicking back on the couch and relaxing with the TV on, or cuddling with the hubby during a movie (especially on cold, dreary days.)

To me, quality time with someone means interacting with one another… say a day of shopping with the girls, pedi’s with your mom or tackling a fun house project with your significant other. I’ve always thought taking a class with someone would be a lot of fun as well. The options are endless really … cooking classes, dance lessons, knitting/craft courses. And don’t discount a lectured course on a topic you both (or all) find interesting.

Recently, my hubby and I sat through a course on tree identification. While we didn’t say much more than a few words to each other throughout that 2-1/2 hour course, it educated us on a topic we both find intriguing. Come this spring, while we plant another 400+ seedlings throughout our property or while hike around our property, we can engage each other on a whole new level. And that my friends, is my true definition of quality time.

What is quality time for you?

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Let’s Talk About Change.

Change is something that happens to all of us, all of the time… on big and small scales.  Losing a loved one, having a baby, buying a new outfit, rearranging a room in your house.  It is all change – some more impacting than others.

Lately I find myself going through many changes.  Being pregnant and realizing the impending lifelong change of hubby and I becoming parents… job changes… rearranging rooms in our house… and so on.  All of them combined feel incredibly overwhelming.  Even though they all are good changes, they are changes nonetheless.  And change is scary.

Scary to think that the ability for hubby and I to go run out to dinner because mexican food sounds good will be more labor intensive.  Scary to think that we are responsible for another human being.  Scary to think that everything I know, right here, right now, will never be the same.

When the “scariness” of the changes roots itself, I remind myself of all the good that has come from change in my life.  It may have been overwhelming and unknown at first, but all in all, I am a better person for the changes that have happened in my life.  I am stronger and more well rounded person.

Change is scary.  Change is good.  Change grows us as people.

(Can someone remind me of this post when I am going on my third day of no sleep, can’t console a crying baby and am wondering what we got ourselves into?  Thanks in advance.)

How do you handle change?

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Great lessons to learn from man’s (and woman’s) best friend…

Look at that face!

I’m not one of those people who share chain “forwarded” messages. And for those of you who do, I’m not dissing you one bit… most of the messages are quite entertaining & enjoyable. The simple fact is this – I’m not about to bombard someone else’s inbox with these emails if I can barely keep on top of them myself.

However, I made the time to read one recently … I guess it was the title that caught my attention, “A Dog’s Purpose.”  It’s impact was greater than one would have initially thought it could be.

Here’s the email forward – I’m not sure of the original author, but I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

A Dog’s Purpose?
(from a 6 year-old).

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish
Wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their
little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for
a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we
couldn’t do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia
procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good
for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane
might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker’s family
surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time,
that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes,
Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty
or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker’s Death, wondering
aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.

Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, ”I know why.”

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me.
I’d never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try
and live.

He said,”People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life —
like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?”

The Six-year-old continued, ”Well, dogs already know how to do that, so
they don’t have to stay as long.”

Live simply.

Love generously.

Care deeply.

Speak kindly.

Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.

Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure
Ecstasy.

Take naps.

Stretch before rising.

Run, romp, and play daily.

Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.

On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.

When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

Be loyal.

Never pretend to be something you’re not.

If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them
gently.

There comes a time in life, when you walk away from all the drama and people
who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh, forget
the bad, and focus on the good. So, love the people who treat you right.
Think good thoughts for the ones who don’t. Life is too short to be anything
but happy. Falling down is part of LIFE…Getting back up is LIVING…

Have a great life.

After reading it, I now find myself reflecting on my attitude and communications with others every time my pup greets me at the door when I get at home. Her excitement and wagging tail is enough to make me smile no matter how bad of a day I’ve had. All in all, I guess it really just got me thinking … and hope it gets you thinking too – when was the last time you made someone smile?

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So Incredibly Proud To Be An American

This past weekend I went and saw the movie Act of Valor.  One word: amazing.

I am incredibly proud to be an American … I am the girl who always gets the chills and nearly cries every time she hears Taps or the national anthem.  This movie takes it to the next level.

The movie is based on real situations that Navy Seal Team 7 has dealt with.  All of the main characters are actual Seals.  The only actual actors in the movie are the ones listed on Imdb as roles like “Christo’s thug”.

I would highly recommend this movie to anyone.  Be prepared to walk away emotional, proud and incredibly thankful.

On that note, I would like to extend to all United States servicemen and veterans a HUGE thank you.  What you do for our country and its citizens is selfless, honorable and something that we can never truly thank you enough for.  Words will never do it justice.

All I can say is thank you from the bottom of my heart and know that the sacrifice of you and your families does not go unnoticed.

THANK YOU.

www.actofvalor.com

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