Saturday, February 25, 2017

what could have been, part 1

The other night I was clicking around to see just how many blog posts I've written in my prolific oh, Laura Darling career, and I stumbled upon a folder of draft posts.  I've officially published 498 posts, but do you know how many are in my drafts folder?


I figured there had to be at least a few gems in those one hundred and fourteen drafts that have never seen the light of day, so I randomly chose one to open, and this is what it said:

I babysat for a few hours the other night.  At 8:30, we brushed teeth and said prayers and then the boys decided they'd like to draw instead of read before they fell asleep.  A few minutes later one of the kids said, "Okay Miss Laura, I made a picture for you.  You look a little bit like a monster but that was an accident."

And then he presented me with this... 

Is it any wonder I didn't publish that for all to see?

I also found a bunch of lists that seem like total nonsense to my 2017 self, but must have meant something to my 2010/11/12/13/14/15/16/holy-cow-how-long-have-i-been-doing-this-self.

For example:

tuna strike
publisher's clearinghouse
chicken follow-up
forgot wallet
still went to atm
power out
got carded
diamond earrings
girls should look for polos  
cooked dinner
ears hurt in the night
2 quarts instead of cups

Maybe it's just me, but I'd love to know how I planned to tie together a post about ear pain during the night, boots, and diamond earrings.  Also, a tuna strike?  Perhaps it's a good things these posts remained in draft.

In addition to the nonsensical lists, there were a few posts that seemed to have a good start and an initial narrative structure. Exhibit A:

Well, I learned a very hard lesson last night.

And that lesson is that potatoes do indeed go bad after a certain period of time.

I was operating under the assumption that potatoes were some infinite vegetable, but last night when I opened the bag to make dinner and almost passed out from the sight and smell, my

MY WHAT? I couldn't be more sorry about that cliff-hanger.

Exhibit B:

Well, this week has been eventful.

I ran to the mall after work on Monday and while I was checking out, I heard my phone ring.  I didn't answer since I was having a nice chat with the friendly cashier, but when I got to my car I saw several texts from my mom asking "Is something going on at your apartment complex?  I see helicopters and lots of smoke.  Is there a fire? Is everything okay?"

There is perk #40329 of living a mile and a half from your parents- someone is always looking out for you.

I called my mom back and told her I was at Macy's, and she reported what she was seeing out her living room window.  I immediately began going through the checklist of "I don't think I left the stove on, I didn't even plug my hair straightener in today, I'm pretty sure I blew out all of the candles" and on and on and on.

And finally my mom said, "Laura.  I'm not saying that you CAUSED the fire.  I'm just asking if there IS a fire."

It turns out that a scrap metal factory across the road from us was burning.  Not only did we have a front row seat to the fire from our balcony, but my brother-in-law and baby nephew couldn't get home due to closed roads so they hung out at our apartment.

Our nephew is three months old, and Matt unbuckled him from his car seat and said, "So, has he learned to crawl yet?"  

We have a lot to learn about babies.

My current posts are probably more well-written than these, but I can't promise that they're as entertaining or mysterious!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

if you need me, i'll probably be sleeping

Since my Valentine’s Day flowers are still alive, it’s not too late to write about it, right?

When I got home from work on Monday, Valentine’s Day Eve, there was a vase on our front step with the most beautiful flowers and a sweet note from Matt.  He is a keeper.
 Matt is on a healthy eating kick and requested that I refrain from getting him candy for Valentine’s Day because that could throw a major wrench into his progress.

So I went the healthy route and made this.
Move over, Martha Stewart.

(I also got him a gift card to Cabela’s so don’t feel too sorry for him.  But he really does love oranges.  By my calculations we’ve eaten 11 pounds of oranges in the last three weeks.)

The real gift last week though was our new mattress. 

Several months ago Matt started saying that his back and shoulders were bothering him every morning.  I blamed it on the weather, the work bag he carries, too much work around the house, basically anything other than the 6 year old, bottom of the line, IKEA mattress we were sleeping on.
All the while, I kept quiet about my own back and shoulder pain because do you know how expensive new mattresses are?

Finally, my back pain overtook my thrifty tendencies and I came clean about how my back and shoulders hurt every single day and maybe we really do need a new mattress.

We did a little research online and asked around, and everyone we knew told us to get a Sleep Number bed, so we headed to the store on Saturday to test things out.  The salesman, Aron with one R, had us lay down on a mattress.  He said he would adjust it, and to tell him to stop when we felt most comfortable.

I could have laid there forever.

Of course the tester mattress is the fanciest and most expensive mattress money can buy, so after we got our ideal sleep numbers we walked ALL the way to the other end of the store where the mattresses in the price range of the budget minded shopper were located.   

It was like test driving a Mercedes and buying a Kia.

We made our purchase and were told to expect it via UPS in 5-7 days.  When we got the tracking number, Matt was like a kid tracking Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve.  He could not wait to get it.  It was in our town on Wednesday, but the UPS website indicated it was still at the distribution center and not out for delivery.  So, Matt went to the UPS distribution center on Wednesday night AND MET THE MATTRESS.

We put it together when he got home and at this point I was thinking perhaps we’d been the victim of a very expensive scam. 

After the air pump was on for a bit, it started to look more like something I’d want to sleep on.  I said to Matt, “You know, this is really just like a glorified air mattress.”

No kidding,

Anyway, I've been sleeping like a baby since we got the mattress, and I only have one negative thing to say about it.  It makes it even harder to get out of bed in the morning.

The 5am Miracle book I talked about a few weeks ago is definitely not going to happen.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

have i moved to california?

Well, it's currently feeling like May instead of February here in Pennsylvania, and all I have to say is I'm really lichen this weather.

(Just a little fungi humor.)

(I couldn't resist.)

Three day weekends in February are great.  And when the temperatures are in the sixties?  That's just the best. I took three long walks in the beautiful sunshine, went shopping with my mom, Matt and I cooked three delicious meals thanks to a free Hello Fresh box, we got some house projects crossed off the list, I finished a book, kept the windows open all day and savored the fresh air, and spent the day with my cousins and Annabelle yesterday.

And then today, my commute took 3 total hours and I got a parking ticket, so hello reality.  I ran out to move my car at 10:45 and there was a car stopped in the street next to mine.  I wondered how long I was going to have to wait for them to move before I could pull out of my spot, and then I realized it was the parking enforcement officer.


He wrote the ticket at 10:44, one minute before I came out.


So instead of focusing on that, I'm just remembering how fun and relaxing this weekend was. 

Linking with Erika and Ashley  

Thursday, February 16, 2017


Matt and I have music playing almost all the time.  Thanks to our Amazon Alexa, we have constant music in the house, and love a good sing-a-long in the car.  Matt is famous for singing with great enthusiasm, but only marginal accuracy in the lyrics department.  This past weekend we were in Matt's truck and Eric Church's song, "Kill a Word" came on the radio.

We were both singing along but after a few verses, I said to Matt, "Wait, what are you saying?  Kill a what?"

"A worm," he said.

I heard the song as someone singing about all the negative words out there that he would kill if it was possible.

Matt explained that he heard a song about a fisherman who was ultimately unsuccessful in that pursuit since he could not bait his hook because he didn't want to kill a worm.

This past Christmas Matt told me that his dad always thought that the words "oh night divine" in the song Oh Holy Night were actually "oh night-y night."  So I guess that apple didn't fall far from the tree.

I've mentioned my all-time favorite of Matt's lyrical confusions on the blog before, but it's in Circle of Life.  At the beginning of the song, when the lyrics are sung in another language, he swears the words are "Oh my God, a penguin and a llama."

Earlier this week, one of my favorite podcasts, The Popcast, posted on Instagram that they were planning an episode on misheard song lyrics.  They asked for some good ones so I commented with Matt's penguin/llama remix.

I worked from home on Wednesday and was CRACKING UP as I listened to the podcast.  I even texted my sister and said "You have GOT to listen to The Popcast this week.  They're talking about misheard song lyrics and I am laughing so hard."

And literally, as I hit send, I heard Jamie say, "Laura5170 said..."



She proceeded to play the beginning of Circle of Life and read my comment and it was so funny and made my day.  I replayed minutes 34-36 it a few times right here.

Apparently I wasn't the only one who laughed because later that night, one of my favorite bloggers posted this on Instagram.  SHE MADE PENGUIN AND A LLAMA INTO A HASHTAG.

I laughed all day today about it and read Matt some of the comments when he got home.

The other comments cracked me up too.  One girl named Erica thought growing up that "God Bless America" was "God bless, I'm Erica."

Tonight The Popcast posted this picture and I am not kidding when I say I am going to print it out and hang it on the fridge because this made my week.

If you need a laugh this weekend, listen a few episodes of The Popcast.  Or watch The Lion King and try to spot the penguins and llama.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

what i read in january

I didn't read too much during the holidays, but I got back on track in January.  January is long and cold and I think we had maybe four days of sun here, so I decided to go with a beach theme.

First up was The Girls of August by Anne Rivers Siddons. 

What's the bigger question, how many books can be written about a bunch of old friends with significant baggage who reunite at the beach and uncover secrets about each other, or how many of those books will I read?  

The answer is likely all of them.

So, this book was about a bunch of old friends with significant baggage who reunite at the beach and uncover secrets about each other.  It wasn't brilliant literature, but it kept my attention and made me feel like I was spending a summer week on a barrier island off the South Carolina coast.  I would give it 3.5 stars.

Next up was another Anne Rivers Siddons, called Sweetwater Creek.  

I loved this one.  It's about a young girl whose mother has been missing for years.  She lives with her father and brothers in the South Carolina lowcountry and they breed and raise hunting spaniels.  There are a lot of quirky characters and unexpected turns and difficult relationships in the book, and overall it had a melancholy feel to it, but it was beautifully written.  I'd give it 5 stars.

I shifted authors after that one, and read Body Surfing by Anita Shreve.  

I started another book of her's this month, A Wedding in December, and I couldn't get into it.  It never picked up.  Body Surfing was good though.  The main character is 29 is has already been divorced and widowed.  She takes a summer job as a nanny for a girl whose family spends summers in their oceanfront cottage in New Hampshire, so you know I was all in.  Even though she's trying to avoid love for the summer, it finds her anyway.  This was a good one, 4 stars.

My final read was a non-fiction, called the 5 AM Miracle: Dominate Your Day Before Breakfast by Jeff Sanders.  

The title contains two things I don't really enjoy, 5 AM, and breakfast.  I am historically not a morning person.  My husband and family are nodding their heads.  I don't like to wake up super early, and even when I'm awake, I'm not really happy until about 9:00 or so.  I'd heard about this book on podcasts so I picked it up at the library with the hopes that perhaps I could transform myself into a morning person.  The book had some good tips for time management, but I think I need one called the 7:15 Miracle.  

Linking up with Steph and Jana today!  Did you read anything great this month?

Sunday, February 12, 2017

i'm an introvert. i don't want to talk about it.

On Wednesday I attended a training for work on collaboration and teamwork.  The trainer had us answer a list of questions to determine whether we are an introvert or extrovert.  I answered all 20 questions true, which means I am introverted as it gets.

(There are 22 numbers on the page, but 11 and 12 are missing, so technically it's only 20 questions.  You wouldn't believe the confusion this caused at the meeting.)

After giving us a few minutes to complete the questionnaire, the presenter said "Okay, who answered all 20 questions true?"

In addition to being an introvert I am also a rule follower, so I raised my hand high.  So did one other person, out of about 50 total people in the training.

"Two people," the trainer said, "Wow.  And you actually admitted it?"

Here is the upside to admitting in front of 50 people you are as introverted as humanly possible.  No one calls on you for the rest of the day.  During the next exercise, we had to write what month/animal/car/food/color/etc. we would be and why, and then the trainer called on participants to share.  I am here to tell you that while everyone else had to share their reasoning at least once, I did not get called on a single time to explain why I would be ice cream and April and green and a dog.

(Because ice cream is refreshing, April is the beginning of the best time of year, green symbolizes hope and a fresh start, and everyone loves dogs.)

I got home from my meeting Wednesday night and snow was in the forecast for the next day.  It was supposed to be especially bad during the morning commute, so Matt and I both planned to work from home.  I've never met anyone who loves a snow day more than Matt.  On Thursday morning, he was up, had cooked us an elaborate snow day breakfast, and made a fire in the fireplace all by 6:45 a.m.

I am not kidding.

The snow was over by 9 and we only got about three inches, which was a third of what was predicted.  But it's a darn good thing Matt shoveled a path in the yard.  It's tough to navigate through two inches of now.

(Ask me how much I loved that path the next afternoon when I had to go get the eggs from the chicken coop).

(A lot.)

As for the rest of our snow day, we worked and then made these delicious pork chops for dinner.

I initially typed "chip" instead of chop and I think that's a Freudian slip because what I wouldn't give for a chip right now.  Matt and I are trying to eat healthy which means zero chips.  However, our neighbors were over at our house a few weekends ago and their daughter is selling Girl Scout cookies.  We ordered three boxes but only had a $20 bill.

Here's a tip for kids who want to sell Girl Scout cookies to Matt.  Tell him you don't have change for a twenty because then he will say, "Well I'll order twenty dollar's worth then!!''

Our neighbors brought over our five boxes the next day and each night, Matt goes upstairs to the kitchen and brings down two napkins with two Girl Scout cookies inside of a mystery combination.  Then he asks "right or left?" and I pick a hand and am surprised at the combo.

Will it be a s'mores and a do-si-do? A thin mint and a shortbread?

Or the best option of all, two tagalongs?


We have a wild life.

I don't think introverts typically enjoy surprises, but this is one I can live with.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

i'm going back to school. kind of.

My car, affectionately known as Old Blue, is a 2009 Ford Focus.  There are many words one could use to describe my car, and quiet is not one of them.  When I turn the car on, accelerate, or drive up the slightest incline, Old Blue sounds more like a motorcycle than a than a small sedan.  And driving up a hill sounds like a helicopter is taking off.

I usually deal with this by simply turning the volume up on the radio.

On Friday night, Matt and I were going to my cousin's birthday party.  We knew parking would be tight, so we opted to take the Focus instead of Matt's F-150.  He drove, and I prepared him for the noise he would hear.

And then Old Blue was as quiet as a church mouse.

So I said "Okay, you're really going to hear the noises when you go up the hill past that light."


"Just you wait until you have to merge onto the turnpike."


Old Blue made a fool out of me.  Naturally, Matt credited the smooth and silent ride to his self-proclaimed stellar driving skills.

The next day we heard about an app that scores your driving abilities, and because we love a little competition, we both downloaded it.  The app scores you on five areas: braking, acceleration, cornering, speeding, and phone distraction.  

Matt came home on Monday night proud as a peacock because his score was a 100.  Mine was a respectable 94.  Keep in mind that Matt drives two total miles per day on quiet suburban streets to the train station.  I drive a minimum of thirty miles on the highway at rush hour.

The app tells you where you went wrong, and my infractions were for harsh cornering and speeding.  After I admitted my vehicular shortfalls, I tried to justify it by saying "Well, everyone speeds on that road."

I drive a lot for work, so I've accumulated a few hundred miles since Monday.  I'm proud to say my score has increased to an almost perfect 98.8.

As I was checking my score this morning, I get a text from Matt that said "Oh yea, police school is official."

Several weeks ago, our local police department advertised for the spring session of their Citizen's Police Academy.  Matt's dream job is to be a police officer, and I love men in uniform, so obviously we applied.

And then we joked about what would happen if one of us got accepted and the other didn't.  Neither of us have criminal records and we are upstanding citizens, but we thought it would be funny. 

After I saw Matt's text I immediately checked my email so I could read my acceptance letter.

And there was nothing.  

Newsflash.  It was not actually that funny.

And for a brief moment, I thought, "Officer Gillespie can see the app.  He knows I speed occasionally and maneuver harshly around corners."

Matt double checked his email and it turns out the officer simply spelled my name wrong.

I can't blame him, because I did the same thing.

So, we will be reporting for police school on March 1st.  My goal is to have a driving score of 100 by then.  

Hopefully I'm not pulled over for speeding in the meantime.

Monday, February 6, 2017

i still might spend it on BonneBell Lip Lites

When I was probably about twelve or thirteen years old, I was switching out my winter and summer clothes when a flash of brilliance struck.  I decided I'd put a ten dollar bill in the pocket of my jeans, so that when I pulled them out of the closet the following fall, I'd come across that little surprise and be delighted to remember I was ten dollars richer than I thought I was.

I told my mom about my idea, and she said, "Well, if you're the one that puts the money in the pocket, it's not going to be much of a surprise."

She was right, so I kept the ten bucks and probably spent it on some BonneBell Cappuccino Lip Lites and a tube of roll-on body glitter.

Today was unseasonably warm for February in Pennsylvania, so I wore a light jacket I hadn't worn since last spring.  When I got to the office and put my keys in the pocket, I felt a piece of paper.  I figured it was an old receipt, so imagine my surprise when I pulled it out and discovered that it was in fact a ten dollar bill.

You would have thought I'd won the lottery.

If only my thirteen year old self had known that in fifteen years, I would be leaving money in my pockets and really and truly forgetting it was in there.

It's just as great as I imagined it would be.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

the epilogue is my favorite part

I've been reading a lot lately, and tonight I realized all the books I've been reading have a theme.

Give me all the beach reads. 

Last night I was reading the last few pages of Sweetwater Creek, and as I turned the page, Matt looked over and said, “Hmm.  You actually read that part of the book?"

“The epilogue?”  I said, “Of course I read it!”  

“Oh,” he said, “I don’t read any of the optional extra parts."

Matt isn’t a huge reader, but he reads here and there and evidently, sticks to the meat of the book.  No time for a prologue or epilogue.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who reads the extra parts.

When he said that, it reminded me of a few years ago when I was driving my coworker, Jen, and we were on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  The turnpike has billboards with lights and a message that says "Urgent message when flashing - tune radio to 1640 a.m."

We passed a sign with the lights flashing, so I immediately tuned my radio to 1640 a.m., as directed.

And Jen looked over at me and said, "Wow, I've never been in the car with anyone who actually did that."

Well, I'm a rule follower on the roadway.  And on the couch when I'm reading a book.

Speaking of work, the heat in my office has been broken for the last ten days or so.  My desk is right beneath the vent, and it’s been continuously blowing a stream of freezing air.  I haven’t taken my coat off in days and even had to work with my gloves on occasion.  Yesterday a maintenance man popped his head in the office and said, “Hey, look out, we’re conducting a wind tunnel test!”  

Because "wind tunnel test" sounded ridiculous to me, I assumed he was joking around.  So I laughed and said, “Well, I sure feel like I’m in a wind tunnel!” and continued on with my work.

And three minutes later, black soot came falling like snow out of the aforementioned vent, located directly above my head.  I had my gloves on, but I wished I had been wearing a hat.

But, what stopped coming out was cold air, so I guess the end justified the means.

If only his warning had come with flashing lights and a pre-recorded message alerting me to the impending conditions.