Friday, June 30, 2017

gullible is also written on the ceiling

I've spent a solid portion of my career as an older sister making up ridiculous things and then trying to convince Emily that they're true.

For example, telling her that the word dolphin originated from the words "dual fin," along with a detailed, fictitious, scientific explanation.

Also, that TCU stands for Texas Christian UniVARSITY since they have a great athletic program.

And my personal favorite, that Bush 43's middle name is actually Dubya.

George Dubya Bush.

So please imagine my delight when I took a photo of a pile of concrete in the Target parking lot last weekend and told her it was snow, AND SHE BELIEVED IT.

My work here is done.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

if you're looking for someone to thank, i'll accept it

I am attending a work conference this week and staying at a big hotel attached to the convention center.  The conference is very large and hundreds of attendees are staying at the hotel.  We all work in the child welfare field, so basically, we're totally in it for the money.

Anyway, at dinner tonight, I paid with my credit card, and when the waiter brought it back to me, he looked at me earnestly and said, "Thank you so much for your service."

I assumed that he could tell I was here for the child welfare conference, and while I don't usually get thanked for doing my job, I told him that I love it a lot and it really is such meaningful work.

And then he said, "May I ask which branch of the military you serve in?"

Wait, what?

Very quickly it dawned on my that he had seen the USAA emblem on my credit card and thought I was a veteran.  He was thanking me for my military service.

Oh man.

I told him that my father-in-law is the veteran, but that I'd pass along the thanks to him, and then my face turned redder than the spaghetti sauce I ate for dinner.

It's a good thing the view from my room is decent, because I may never leave again.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

hopefully there are some painters with a sense of humor at the hotel where i'm staying

I am going to a conference for work this week so I won't be at the office.  Normally I'd be happy for a week off-site, but this week I'm a little disappointed because there is some painting being done in our office lobby and the workers have been communicating about the color scheme via note.

I'm worried I'm going to miss the next chapter in the saga of "what color is the conference room trim?"


I also now realize it would have been helpful if I'd taken a photo of the actual paint.  

Trust me, it lands squarely in the mauve family.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

i hope i can still find that band uniform

I had they day off on Monday so I went out with my sister for a bit, which meant we were tooling around town mid-morning.  Do you know who else was tooling around town mid-morning?  Many, many drivers who did not make quick decisions, utilize turn signals, and/or drove several miles per hour under the speed limit.

At one point I even said to Emily, "Give me the highway at rush hour over this any day.  I would much prefer heavy traffic and aggressive drivers."

Well, I should have been careful what I wished for, because do you know where I found myself yesterday?  The highway at rush hour.

Also, I have to note that in between conversations about sub-par drivers, Emily asked me about a recipe for chicken fajita pasta that I made for her once.  She wants to make it next year at her college apartment, and said, "Well, I mean I could skip the chicken, and the onions.  And the peppers, since I don't like peppers."

"Well, then it wouldn't really be fajita pasta, it would just be pasta with lots of butter and heavy cream."

"I know," she said, "doesn't that sound delicious?"

When you're right, you're right.

Back to yesterday, I had to drive into Philadelphia for a 3:00 meeting.  I left at 12:40 to drive the 17 miles and didn't get there until 2:15.  I would rather drive 500 miles on the highway, than 5 miles in the city.  It stresses me out.  People do crazy things, the roads are nutty, and the GPS gives directions like "use the left lane to turn right" and "use the middle lanes to turn left" because THAT MAKES TOTAL SENSE.

I made some questionable if not downright illegal maneuvers, but eventually I wound up at a parking garage close to the meeting where I was able to park for two hours for the bargain price of thirty dollars.  The parking garage was near several theaters, and the floors were not only numbered, but assigned musical instruments.  If I can't remember I parked on floor 3, there is NO WAY I will remember which member of the woodwind family I parked on, but I do enjoy a theme.

When it was time to leave, I found my car on trumpet and then planned to get to Broad Street because I knew if I stuck with that through 47 stoplights and a questionable area of the city, it's a straight shot home.

Problem was, I couldn't figure out how to get to Broad Street, so I decided to go with plan b, my GPS.  At that point my only goal was to avoid the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, which features two very confusing, busy traffic circles.

The GPS said to merge onto state route 3007, which I quickly realized was the technical term for the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.  I recognized it because I once led a parade down that very parkway in my sweet high school marching band uniform in honor of the Philadelphia Archbishop's retirement.  

Anyway, there I was on the parkway, quickly approaching the circle of death in front of the art museum.  I defaulted to my unfortunate tendency of just following the car in front of me when I'm not sure what I'm doing.  I figured if the center lane was good enough for that silver Hyundai Elantra, it was good enough for me.

Except the driver of the Elantra wasn't going to my house, because as my GPS yelled at me to MERGE RIGHT ONTO KELLY DRIVE, I stuck solidly in that center lane with my Elantra friend and rounded the circle again.

Finally, and I do mean finally, I got out of the cycle of the circle and made it home. 

You know, maybe driving with the 10 a.m. crew isn't so bad after all.

My new goal is to avoid the parkway at all costs.

Unless I'm asked to lead another parade.

Monday, June 19, 2017

sibling rivalry, take 2

A few months ago, my brother (check out his awesome pics on Instagram) and I took each other on in a photo challenge.  We decided to do a rematch this past week, and it's funny to see how the photos have changed since our last round, which took place in the dead of winter.

There's a lot more green this time.

If you want to vote for your favorite in the comments, the winner gets...well...nothing.

Except bragging rights, which can be worth their weight in gold.

Here we go!









 Begins with F






My Style






In summary, what do you think?  


or 2?


Thursday, June 15, 2017

june things

It's only Thursday but it already feels like the weekend for me because I have off today and tomorrow.  And Monday.  My strategy at work is to save my PTO time so that I don't have to work a full week from May until July, which is probably the work accomplishment I am most proud of.

I also had off last Friday and met Emily at Primark after lunch for some shopping.  I don't know what I did before Primark, but my wardrobe was most certainly not as cute.  I got some tops, new sunglasses, and even a pair of pink pants.  Emily told me they're millennium pink and that's the color of the season.  WHO KNEW?!   What I know is that I've received many compliments on my outfits this week which is nice but also makes me wonder how much of a slob I was looking like before.

I almost got this cup too, but refrained.  I did put it on my birthday list.

Tacos were on the menu for dinner and while I started cooking Matt went across the street to talk to our neighbor, Rob.  Matt just learned that Rob is also a hunter and grew up with chickens, and now the two are great buddies, despite the 30 year age difference.  A little while later I went out to cut some mint from the herb garden out back and saw Matt in a different neighbor's yard setting up a dunk tank.

He really gets around.

After tacos we took a drive over to Gander Mountain, for the second Friday in a row.  It's closing and everything is on sale and in Matt's world there is nothing better than outdoor accessories.  Unless it's outdoor accessories at heavily discounted closeout prices.

Gander Mountain must have already let their proofreader go because their sale signs featured many unnecessary apostrophes.

I saw these fun tops for just $6.00 and while I was deciding which one to get, I heard Matt call me from a few shelves over.

I looked at him and he said "Hey! Did you lose this?" and was holding up A GIANT BLACK BRA.

Now, I don't know who buys their bras at Gander Mountain.  What I do know is that at that very moment, a salesperson walked by and said, "Can I help you with anything, sir?" and I've never seen Matt more embarrassed.

After Matt recovered he put on quite a campaign for buying some freeze dried cheesecake, but in the end we just left with some clearance hunting supplies.

On Saturday morning we BRIEFLY talked about pulling up the rug in the living room, which is a lovely shade of maroon, and many, many decades old.

I agreed it would be a good move but figured we would have more discussion and a little bit of a game plan before we took action.  I guess in Matt's head it was a done deal because I ran out to the grocery store and came home to this.

At least he has knee pads.

Safety first.

On Saturday we went to a neighbor's party for a few hours and then out for drinks and chips and queso because we are wild and crazy.  We'd never been to the restaurant before but it was conveniently located right next to Home Depot, our other date night staple.  We stopped in afterwards and walked through the garden department where we found some blueberry plants with actual blueberries.



Between that and Matt's Gander Mountain moment, you'd think we'd never been in a retail setting before.

Now another weekend is upon and I'm thinking maybe we should take a break from visiting stores, and stay home.

We have a hardwood floor to refinish so we will have plenty to keep us busy.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

five memoirs and a beach read

It's time for Show Us Your Books with Steph and Jana.  My new hammock and lots of days off work have contributed greatly to the fact that I read six books this month!  Also, the theme of the month was memoirs, apparently.

First up was The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch.

A lot of professors give talks titled "The Last Lecture." Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them. And while they speak, audiences can't help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?

When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn't have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave--"Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams"--wasn't about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because "time is all you have...and you may find one day that you have less than you think"). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living.
I loved this.  I was expecting it to be sad, but it wasn't sad until the very end, when I cried.  It was inspirational and interesting to see life from the perspective of someone who knows he is dying.

Next up was Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, by Anna Quindlen.
In this irresistible memoir, Anna Quindlen writes about a woman’s life, from childhood memories to manic motherhood to middle age, using the events of her life to illuminate ours. Considering—and celebrating—everything from marriage, girlfriends, our mothers, parenting, faith, loss, to all the stuff in our closets, and more, Quindlen says for us here what we may wish we could have said ourselves. As she did in her beloved New York Times columns, and in A Short Guide to a Happy Life, Quindlen uses her past, present, and future to explore what matters most to women at different ages.
I did not love this.  I enjoyed the chapter on friendship and there were some funny parts throughout, but it just felt overly preachy to me.  I listened to this as an audio book and it was read by the author, who is from Philadelphia.  I greatly enjoyed her Philadelphia accent.  
The Longest Trip Home, by John Grogan.
Finding your place in the world can be the longest trip home…
In the highly anticipated follow-up to Marley & Me, John Grogan again works his magic, bringing us the story of what came first. Before there was Marley, there was a gleefully mischievous boy growing up in a devout Catholic home outside Detroit in the 1960s and '70s. Despite his loving parents' best efforts, John's attempts to meet their expectations failed spectacularly. Whether it was his disastrous first confession, the purloined swigs of sacramental wine, or the fumbled attempts to sneak contraband past his father, John was figuring out that the faith and fervor that came so effortlessly to his parents somehow had eluded him.
And then one day, a strong-willed young woman named Jenny walked into his life. As their love grew, John began the painful, funny, and poignant journey into adulthood -- away from his parents' orbit and into a life of his own. It would take a fateful call and the onset of illness to lead him on the final leg of his journey -- the trip home again.
John Grogan is the author of Marley and Me, which I want to re-read this summer and am literally watching right this minute.  I love Marley and Me and I loved this book.  I love the way he tells stories and so many times while reading this I laughed out loud and kept saying, "Matt, listen to this story!"

Next I read The Middle Place, by Kelly Corrigan.

For Kelly Corrigan, family is everything. At thirty-six, she had a marriage that worked, two funny, active kids, and a weekly newspaper column. But even as a thriving adult, Kelly still saw herself as the daughter of garrulous Irish-American charmer George Corrigan. She was living deep within what she calls the Middle Place--"that sliver of time when parenthood and childhood overlap"--comfortably wedged between her adult duties and her parents' care. But Kelly is abruptly shoved into coming-of-age when she finds a lump in her breast--and gets the diagnosis no one wants to hear. When George, too, learns that he has late-stage cancer, it is Kelly's turn to take care of the man who had always taken care of her--and to show us a woman who finally takes the leap and grows up.

Kelly grew up in a town nearby and where Matt and I lived after we got married, so it was fun to know the schools and malls and churches that she talked about.  It also made me want to cry several times and by the end of the book, I felt like I knew her and her family.  I really liked this one.


I picked up The Memoir Project by Marion Roach Smith next.  I actually got this book in college for a  class and with all the memoirs I was reading this month, decided to re-read this one.  It focuses on the mechanics of writing a memoir and made me think that I could never write a memoir because the author says to focus on one event in your life, and I didn't think I had anything to write about.  Then I remember I've written a  blog about absolutely nothing for 7 years, so, bring on the memoir.


I ended this month on a light note, with Sweet Girl by Rachel Hollis.

Max Jennings is in a bad mood. It’s not anything you did; it’s just that secrets from her past make it her natural state of being. But she’s not going to talk about it or share her feelings, so don’t bother asking.
Max’s bad mood means that very few people actually truly understand her or know that her secret dream is to be a pastry chef. When a rare opportunity to work for world-famous Avis Phillips presents itself, Max jumps at the chance. Avis and her staff aren’t stingy with the tough love, so Max spends every spare minute practicing her craft. As she bakes brownies and custards, cookies and galettes, she builds an unlikely friendship with a man she once loathed and finds herself falling into something she’s spent the last six years avoiding. Will she let her painful past stand in the way, or will she muster the strength to forgive herself and realize her full potential?

  This is the second book in a series of three and it was a perfect light, slightly cheesy read.  I finished it in two days, but it has a cute story line and reading the descriptions of all the baked goods made me hungry.  I have the third book in the series on my kindle so I will probably read that this weekend.


Did you read any good books this month?  I think I need a break from memoirs for a bit, but I'm all ears for suggestions!

Friday, June 9, 2017

i bet cleopatra could afford any beauty treatment she wanted

First, I should start out this post by saying that our neighbor got a new hose.  And now I'm afraid she's discovered my blog.  But, her pool is filled and our yard isn't a lake, so I guess it all worked out in the end.


Matt texted me the other morning to tell me he had been in the elevator with the CEO of the giant company that he works for.

Those numbers shocked me because I work for a non-profit and am apparently a little out of touch with how much money business people can make.  There are no Ms where I work.  We are solidly in the G territory only.

But I am still willing to pay a price for beauty, and when I went to the dermatologist last week, she prescribed a lotion for my face to reduce a few scars I have.  She said something about peptides and how it rebuilds collagen, so I was ALL IN.  I know some people are all about natural products for your skin, and I get that, but I've struggled with my skin for a long time, so I can really get behind some potions and/or prescription medication.
In fact, last week Michelle texted me that she'd heard the secret to beautiful skin is Cleopatra's Choice Shea Butter, so she ordered herself a jar and was going to report back on the results.  I say if it's good enough for Cleopatra, it's good enough for me.

My prescription came in the mail yesterday and then, to continue on with the medical theme of the day, Matt and I sat down after dinner to look at my health insurance options because it's the least wonderful time of the year, open enrollment time.

Whomp, whomp.

(I've written this story on the blog before, but insurance is not my wheelhouse.  When I got my first job, I brought all my paperwork home to show my parents and excitedly shared with them that I could choose a cafeteria plan.  The reason I was excited about that was because I thought cafeteria meant lunch.  My dad broke the news that it's a type of healthcare plan and not a grilled cheese and carton of milk every day at noon.)

I tried to log in to the benefits website and kept getting an error message that my username and password were incorrect.  I did a search of my email inbox to see if I had the info saved in there.  I didn't find it, but what I did find was an email from the benefits website with a password reset every single June since 2012.

Nothing like a tradition.

As I worked on logging in, Matt said, "So, how much did you spend on medical expenses this year?"

He may as well have asked me how many blades of grass are in our yard.  I have no earthly idea.  Whenever I go to a doctor, I slide that insurance card across the counter and hope for the best, and then submit my receipts for reimbursement if I have to pay anything out of pocket. What I don't do is keep a running tally of all that in my head.

So, we pulled up the record of my expenses and it was like Great Grandma Laura moved in.

Turns out I've spent a lot of time (and money) this year at the podiatrist, dermatologist, and the dentist for a sweet night time mouth guard.  Matt said maybe we should just go ahead and add a line item to our budget for me to get my hair washed and curled every week like our grandmothers do because EVERYONE IS A COMEDIAN.

It's hard to predict what medical expenses this year will bring, but we did our best and then I went upstairs to wash my face and put on my new potion.  When I came back downstairs Matt gave me a kiss and quite literally got stuck to my face.

As it turns out, that stuff is like glue and I put on a liberal application.

"Umm, what is on your face?" he asked me.

"About $16.72 worth of magic," I told him.  

Although if it improves my collagen and peptides like I think it will, it's priceless.

I just hope it's covered by my new insurance.  If not, Matt might have to ask the CEO for a little bonus the next time he sees him in the elevator.

Monday, June 5, 2017

an excess of junk food, and fans

Matt and I went out to dinner on Friday night.  It was a beautiful night, and we sat outside and dined on organic, locally sourced cuisine.

Just kidding.

I had a drink called Mermaid Water, we started with an order of "junkyard fries" that had so much cheese and ranch dressing we had to eat them with a spoon, and then I decided to keep it light and ordered loaded nachos for my dinner.

It was delicious.

On Saturday, Matt walked outside to mow the lawn, and we discovered that we were basically living on waterfront property.  Our neighbor was filling her pool with her garden hose, but the part of the hose that was lying on the grass had sprung a leak, which she'd tried to repair with a band aid.

An actual band aid.  Meant for a paper cut.

She came outside to check on things, and Matt went over to talk to her.  She told him she didn't know why the pool was taking to long to fill, and he suggested the leaking hose.  She acted like that was crazy talk even though we could all clearly see the ineffective band aid, but she offered to turn the hose off anyway while Matt mowed the lawn.  He said he didn't mind, he was really just concerned that her water bill was going to be very high, and that our grass wouldn't dry out instantly even if she turned off the hose.

She still insisted she couldn't see the water ponding in our yard and Matt said, "The birds are swimming in it."

It brought back memories of the time we called the police a few years ago because our yard was a lake.  It was wintertime and we thought a neighbor's pipe had burst, but no one was answering their doors.  The police looked around and found out the hose was running at the house two doors up the street.

Also, speaking of calling the police for non-emergencies, my friend called me last week to tell me that she'd called the police because she heard someone yelling "Heeeelp, heeeelp," in the woods across the street from her house.  The police arrived and it turns out IT WAS A GOAT.

She's new to country living.

Last night we went up to bed and turned on our multitude of noise machines.  I kid you not, we sleep with the ceiling fan, a window fan, an oscillating fan, a small fan on the nightstand, a humidifier, and a white noise app set to the sounds of rain on a lake.

Amidst the cacophony, I thought I heard something else.  Finally, I said, "Matt, do you hear that?  I think I hear someone."

"Yeah," Matt said, "I brought the Amazon Alexa up.  I'm just playing a little Bad Company."

Nothing like a little Bad Company as you drift off to sleep.  But maybe tonight we won't even need the music or the white noise app, because it's raining and we now have our very own lake in the backyard.

Time to buy a boat.

Friday, June 2, 2017

i wonder what he would say if he ever got a pedicure

Well, I got back from my work trip tonight, and luckily my mom saved me by picking me up at the rental car office so I didn't have to field questions about my exercise habits from my pal Romeo, like I did on Tuesday.

But that didn't stop me from asking the tough questions when I got home.  Matt made burgers for dinner, and while he cooked I sat at the island and floated out deep, philosophical scenarios, like "We have a pinkie finger and pinkie toe, so why do we have a thumb, but a big toe? Why don't we call our thumb our big finger, or our big toe our thumb toe?"

Can you tell I've essentially spent the last 48 hours all alone with my thoughts?

Of which there are MANY?

Matt responded by saying, "Well, It's actually called your PIGGY toe, not your pinkie toe."


"So, if you hurt your tiniest toe and had to go to the doctor, what would you say?" I asked him.

And he said, "I'd tell him that I hurt my piggy toe."

Let's hope his toes stay injury free for the rest of forever, and that this little piggy goes only to market and not to the emergency room because that would be quite embarrassing.

Anyway, my favorite thing to do when I get home from spending a few days in meetings and hotels is to take a nice, long walk in the woods.  Bring on the weekend and the fresh air and hopefully, a few walks.