Monday, August 27, 2012

LML Monday - George Takei, Brad Paisley & Doctor Who

It's Monday once again, my friends. And as always that means it's time to reflect on the things that made us happy over the past week. And of course now is also the perfect time to set the tone for a great week to come! If you missed my take on LML, you can find it here. If you missed the explanation of LML Monday, you can catch up here.

George Takei
As usual, I opened up Facebook today  and found a slew of "It's Monday" pictures in my news feed. (I suppose there's a pretty good chance that you did too.) This one came from George Takei. It's not the funniest pic he's ever posted, but it made me smile, and seemed pretty fitting for how I feel today.

If you haven't "liked" George on Facebook, chances are you have friends that have, and that some of the funniest pictures in your news feed are things that your friends repost from his page. (He posts some of the best, and often geekiest, stuff, usually sent to him by his other awesome fans.) I can almost always count on him for a laugh.

If you don't want to wait for your friends to repost the good stuff, head over there and like him yourself!

Brad Paisley
The other day I was listening to Brad while washing the dishes. My daughter ran in the room, stopped and listened for a second, then smiled and said "Brad Paisley?" I confirmed, and she smiled even wider and said "I recognized him!" Then in kind of a shy whisper she added "He's one of my favorites."

I love that I'm raising a kid with good taste in music. :)

Doctor Who
This past week I finally started watching Doctor Who. (Don't ask me why I never watched it before now, because I have no idea.) But thanks to Netflix I can finally catch up - and now I can finally start getting all of the references that people are always posting! 

So yesterday I put an episode on the computer while I was sitting at my desk, and my son happened to walk in right as it was starting. Apparently the opening credits caught his eye, and he started asking questions about what I was watching. I expected him to run off to play as soon as I had answered his questions, but he just stayed right there, mesmerized. 

Before I knew it he had pulled up a chair, and he sat there and watched the entire episode with me. (This is a kid that rarely sits still for an entire episode of any show, let alone a show intended for adult audiences.) TV just usually doesn't hold his attention. But for some reason, Doctor Who did.

The episode ended kind of abruptly, because it turned out to be a two-parter, and he said, frustrated, "But Mommy, I really want to know what happens next!" I tried telling him that I'd fill him in after I watched it later, but that wasn't good enough. ("But I want to see it!") I finally agreed ('cause I kind of wanted to know what happened, too) and once again he sat there and watched the entire episode with me.

It was definitely a great mother/son bonding moment. And I'm pretty sure that having a six-year-old that already appreciates a geeky sci-fi show like Doctor Who makes me one of the most super-awesome moms in the world. :)

Now it's your turn! Please feel free to share some of your recent LML moments. Focus on the happy thoughts, and let's all have a great week!

And if you're a blogger and would like to get in on the LML fun, feel free to grab the code and join the blog hop! (This is the first time I'm trying this, so thanks for your patience if there are any kinks to work out.) Your post doesn't specifically have to use the "LML" label (although you're welcome to use it if you'd like.) But if you have any kind of happy, positive Monday message that you'd like to share you're welcome to join. The more happy vibes, the better the Monday!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

F is for Flurf

Yesterday, as we were waiting to go pick my son up from school, I took a much-needed break and spent some time in the playroom with my daughter. We started a game that she calls "roll the ball," which is basically just what it sounds like, with the one rule that she decides each time how the ball is going to be rolled, bounced, kicked, or what have you, and then everyone else has to do the same thing back to her. It usually gets pretty creative, and is actually a lot of fun.

But as fun as the game is, it is still basically playing catch, and is only as intellectually stimulating as a game of catch can be. As such, my mind began to wonder, and eventually made its way around to today's ABC Wednesday post. I started to brainstorm "words that start with F" and then realized that it could be another fun game if I brought my daughter in on it.

When I told her that I needed to think of a good word that started with the letter F, she jumped right in. First she looked around for inspiration - "There is a flower on that pillow! That's Tinkerbell. She's a fairy! There's a football!" We took turns for a while, just shouting out every word that came to mind. Family. Fingers. Friends. Fun. Fabulous.

Then my adorable daughter looked at me with a twinkle in her eye and said "Flurf!" On her face was one of the cutest expressions I've seen in a long time. It was a combination of amusement at her own joke, pride for having made said joke, and curiosity about whether I was going to call her on it. When I smiled at her she finally couldn't contain it any more, and she just fell to the floor laughing hysterically.

She climbed into my lap, and we both shared the laugh. She stopped a few times to say "F is for flurf!" again and then collapse into another fit of giggles. And as we sat there, hugging and laughing, I suddenly realized that sometimes it really is easy to make all of your problems dissolve. Sometimes you can forget about all of the little things that have been taking up space in your mind, and just relax (at least for a little while.) Sometimes, all you really need is a good laugh.

Be sure to check out more Fabulous posts at ABC Wednesday.

Monday, August 20, 2012

LML Monday - Bouncing Back & Sharing the Love

It's Monday once again, my friends. And as always that means it's time to reflect on the things that made us happy over the past week. And of course now is also the perfect time to set the tone for a great week to come! If you missed my take on LML, you can find it here. If you missed the explanation of LML Monday, you can catch up here.

Bouncing Back
Today I am most thankful to say that I am feeling much better than I was at this time last week. That irritating bug hung on for most of the week (no matter how many times I told myself that it was going to go away any time now.) I still have a tiny bit of lingering congestion, but other than that I'm basically back to my old self. And the kids, as usual, bounced back even more quickly than I did. I was very glad to see that they didn't have to suffer very long at all.

Being sick is never fun, but after it passes it does kind of give you a renewed sense of vitality, doesn't it? (At least it does for me.) Over the weekend I found myself doing laundry, cleaning the house, and taking care of all the other things I had been putting off all week - and actually enjoying it, because I could move around without feeling like my head would explode. It never hurts to have a change in perspective now and then. :)

Sharing the Love
Like I said when I started this blog, one of my original goals was "to remind you to always look for the bright side" of any given situation. And as my LML movement started, it's also been my goal to not only have you look on the bright side, but to share it and spread the joy. Focus on the happy side of life, and encourage everyone else to do the same. And I've loved what I've seen!

Now it's time for the next evolution. I've had some suggestions from friends and readers and other bloggers that I host a blog hop (or something of that sort) and let other bloggers help spread the LML joy. I think this is an awesome idea, and I'm sad that it's taken me this long to get around to putting any serious thought into it. Not that I was ignoring the suggestion, but my focus is always pulled in so many directions that taking on something new often has to get put on the back burner.

But as I finally started working on a way to get started... I realized that I'm kind of out of my depth on this one. There is such a myriad of sites and styles and tools and ways of doing blog hops, etc. that I realized I should really get some advice before I dive in. So that's where you come it. If you have any experience in this area, I would really appreciate your opinions and suggestions.

I'm hoping to have something up for next week's installment. So for you other bloggers out there - I'd love for you to start thinking about joining in with your own LML Monday post. I have a feeling that you'll find, as I did, that keeping your eyes open for post ideas will really help you focus on the things that are going well in your life. Projecting the positive always feels better than noticing the negative. Give it a try!

Friday, August 17, 2012

It's All About the Body Art

It's Fun Fact Friday time again, and today we're talking about body art. Specifically, tattoos. More specifically... my tattoos. I know some of you have seen them, but most of you probably don't know the stories behind all of them. So here are the fun facts.

While some people have been surprised by my ink (like I'm not the "tattoo type" or something) I definitely am a tattoo person. But I'm absolutely not a random-tattoo person. I'm all about the custom designs and meaningful images.

This was my first, inked shortly after my 18th birthday (when it was finally legal.) I think of it as kind of the "where I come from" tattoo. It's a groundhog (because I share my birthday with Groundhog Day) holding a yellow rose (because I was born in Texas.) 

Right Ankle

This was my next one, done a couple of years later. It's also a custom design, inspired by a souvenir my brother brought back from a trip to Disney World. I loved the Mickey/Yin-Yang idea, and designed the rest of the band around it. It reminds me to always fill my life with love, strive to live in balance and harmony, and to allow myself to feel the child-like joy that comes from appreciating all of the wondrous things around me.

Left Ankle (outside)
Left Ankle (inside)

This was my third, and perhaps the most poignant, as it is a tribute to the son that my husband and I lost in 2005. I chose the lotus blossom partly because it's a very pretty flower, but mostly because of its association with death and rebirth in Ancient Egyptian symbolism.

Left Wrist

And this is my most recent - my gift to myself on my 30th birthday. The butterfly, of course, is all about growth and transformation, which was going on a lot in my life that year. Not only was it a major-milestone birthday, but it was also the year that I had my third (and final) baby, and the year that I finally graduated from college. This seemed like an appropriate way to commemorate all of that.

Right Foot

So there you have it - the story of my life, in ink. I'm sure there will be more to come, eventually. But for now, thanks for joining me in my little walk down memory lane. :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

E is for Elliptical

In last week's post I talked about one of my favorite words, so for this week's ABC Wednesday I decided to talk about one of my favorite things: my Precor EFX 5.21. Or, in layman's terms, my elliptical machine.

I've struggled with my weight for most of my life. And the times that I wasn't struggling were mostly the times when I just kind of gave up and decided to be okay with being fat. (Not my most brilliant moments, granted. But it was just the way it was sometimes.)

But this past year I've been making great strides (pardon the pun) in my quest to live a healthier life. I'm thrilled to say that I've lost 50 pounds so far - and it feels great! And I've done it all with the simple "eat less, move more" approach.

Simple concept, yes. But that's not to say that it's easy. It's probably the most difficult of all of the great weight loss techniques, because there's no quick fix, no pill to take, and no easy way out. It actually requires a lot of willpower, and a lot of hard work.

And exercise is an even trickier concept when you suffer from chronic pain, as I do. You have to be very careful to find ways to move your body without hurting yourself, and that's often a frustrating challenge. Frustrating, and often tedious and slow, but not impossible.

My elliptical and I were not immediately the best of friends. The first time I got on it, I lasted about five minutes (and thought I was going to die.) It was sad. But I was determined, so I kept at it with the understanding that it would take time. And it did. But the results have been fantastic.

There are still days when my back hurts too much to work out, and there are days when I can work out, but have to do it very slowly and gently to avoid too much pain. But those days are fewer and fewer as time goes on. And now, as I spend 45 minutes to an hour with it at least five days a week, I can see just how far I've come.

I still have a ways to go. But thanks to some healthier eating habits, and many many hours on my elliptical, I'm getting there. :)

Monday, August 13, 2012

LML Monday - Lunch Dates & NyQuil Shots

Yes, my friends, it's Monday. Time once again to reflect on the things that made us happy over the past week. And, as always, now's the perfect time to set the tone for a great week to come! 

If you missed my take on LML, you can find it here. If you missed the explanation of LML Monday, you can catch up here.

Lunch Dates
My son started back to school last week, so we've all been adjusting to the new routine and the full day schedule (as opposed to the half days of last year's kindergarten.) For the most part everyone is handling everything just fine, but it has been a little difficult for my daughter. She doesn't really care for having to go all day without her big brother.

So to help ease her suffering, I've been trying to find fun things that we can do together during the school day. One of the things that we came up with is that once a week we'll go out to lunch together.  She gets to pick the place, and we get to enjoy some mommy/daughter time. And having our weekly lunch dates on Friday means that we have something to look forward to all week.

This past week we went to her favorite Mexican food restaurant for burritos. And as you can see, it was a hit. :)

NyQuil Shots
You know how sometimes when you catch a cold or a bug it comes on gradually, and sometimes it hits you suddenly out of nowhere? This one hit me last night at 9:23. (Ok, that may not have been the exact time, but it did hit that suddenly, some time around 9 last night.) I was fine, and then the next minute I wasn't.

So now I've got the sneezing, sore throat, constant blowing of the nose, and sinuses that feel like they're going to explode and take half my face with them. It feels, in a word, awful. And trust me, friends, when I say that trying to write about loving your life when you feel this terrible can be a challenge. (Honestly, writing about anything when you feel like this is a challenge, which explains the lateness of this post.)

But if you've learned anything from me, I hope it's that life is all about how you choose to direct your focus. You can whine all day about how miserable you feel, or you can be glad that you always keep a supply of NyQuil and DayQuil on hand, as well as plenty of soup and hot tea in the pantry. You can guess which one I'm trying to do today.

I admit that this is one of those times when the bright side didn't come to me automatically, as it usually does. In fact, if we want complete honesty, I kind of had to force it today. (When I'm sick, especially when it's a sinus thing, I have a really hard time focusing, and being happy is not the natural inclination.) It's a challenge, but I'm giving it my all.

So I've been savoring the many cups of hot tea, and appreciating the tasty (and low-cal) soups that I had for lunch and dinner. (Hot soup and hot tea aren't necessarily the first thought when the outside temps are 110+, but I'm hanging in there.) And I'm going with the idea that the NyQuil/DayQuil combination punch will knock this thing out quickly.

Like I said, it's all about focus. And now it's your turn. Please feel free to share some of your recent LML moments. Focus on the happy thoughts, and let's all have a great week!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

D is for "D'oh!"

Today's ABC Wednesday seemed like the perfect opportunity to pay tribute to one of my favorite words in the English language.

I know (because I've heard) some people complain about "made up" words becoming part of our accepted vocabulary, and being legitimized by popular use (and even - gasp - the dictionary!) My response to that complaint was to point out that all words were made up at some point - that's how they became words! The counter-argument of course was "yeah... well... at least they used to have to stand the test of time before they became legitimate words."

Ok, so that I couldn't really argue with. There is no denying that the creation of language has evolved considerably. Modern technology has definitely changed the speed with which new words or phrases gain popularity and become widely accepted (or at least tolerated.) But I think that's probably something we're just going to have to learn to live with - I don't see it changing any time soon.

But even if we were to go with the "standing the test of time" argument, I think we still have to admit that d'oh is now a real word. The Simpsons has been on the air since 1989. That's 23 years worth of d'oh to go around. And around. And around. (Come on. Don't try to tell me that you've never said it.)

But it's not just the word's prevalence in our language, or on the show, that makes it worth noticing. I mean, many of the show's character's have great catch phrases.

Ha, Ha!

Thank you. Come again!

And most of us that are Simpsons fans have probably used several of these in conversation at one time or another. (I know I have been in several situations where a Nelson-esque "Ha, ha!" was completely justified.)

But d'oh is my favorite for another reason - not just because it's funny. I love it because it has given us something to say when we really need an expletive but can't (or don't want to) use one.

Because you know there are those times. You stub your toe on the coffee table. A glass slips out of your hand and spills its contents all over your kitchen floor. The dog jumps on you and gets muddy paw prints all over your shirt. There are just times in life that make you feel a need to yell something. But there are also times when yelling what you are actually thinking would be inappropriate. And thanks to Homer Simpson, you now have something non-offensive to yell. :)

Monday, August 6, 2012

LML Monday - Cute Sandals & Imported Ice Cream

It's Monday! Time to reflect on the things that made us happy over the past week and reminded us how much we love our lives. And of course now's the perfect time to set the tone for a great week to come! (If you missed my take on LML, you can find it here. If you missed the explanation of LML Monday, you can catch up here.)

The Summer of Cute Sandals
The kids' summer vacation may be coming to an end this week, but the actual summer will still be here for a little while. (And here in Arizona, it will still feel like summer long after it officially ends.)  And one of the great things about living in a place where it's SO hot for SO much of the year (because we always look on the bright side here) is that we have months and months and months of great sandal weather.

For years, I was strictly a flip-flop girl. I have a super-comfortable pair of plain black flip-flops that I would wear pretty much all the time unless I was forced for some reason to wear "real" shoes. But this summer, for some reason, I found myself actually buying several new pairs of sandals. (And if you know me then you know how much I hate shopping of any kind, including shoe shopping. So this was kind of a big deal.)

I ended up with quite a few really cute pairs. (So much so that I officially declared this to be "the summer of cute sandals.") And every time I wear any of them, they always make me smile. There are more, but these are two of my favorites.

Imported Ice Cream
There was a time when you could only get Blue Bell Ice Cream if you were lucky enough to actually be in Texas. (It was just one of many reasons why it was better to live in Texas than anywhere else on earth.) But those of us poor souls who were forced to live elsewhere simply had to do without. (Yes, you can have it shipped anywhere in the country, but it costs a bit more than most of us are willing to pay for ice cream. Even if it is the best in the world.)

But thankfully the powers that be finally decided to bless the less fortunate, and started exporting Blue Bell to other states. (It's still not available everywhere, but fortunately for me I live in one of the lucky states.) So now, for the occasional treat, my family gets to enjoy our favorite ice cream. And this past week we tried Blue Bell's latest flavor - Summer Strawberry Pie. All I can say is... YUM! 

So when it's summertime, and it's ridiculously hot outside, we can either whine about it being too miserable to go outside, or we can sit inside with our favorite people and enjoy a nice cold delicious treat. You know which one we chose here. :)

Now it's your turn. Please feel free to share some of your recent LML moments. Focus on the happy times, and have a great week!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Joining the Sisterhood

It's Fun Fact Friday time again, and once again today's fun facts are brought to you by a blogger award. This time I was the proud recipient of the Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award. I was honored with this nomination by Dianne at Knitting Galore. Thank you Dianne!
The "rules" for accepting this award are fairly simple. Besides thanking the referring blog, I have to share seven things about myself, and then pass on the award to seven other bloggers. (I love how each award has its own random number of things.) Anyway, here goes:

1. My parents used to own a BBQ restaurant.

In the 80s my family owned and operated Leo's BBQ in the little town of Blanco, TX. I was fairly young at the time, so I didn't do as much work there as my older siblings did, but I will say that it was an interesting place to grow up. And it offered some of the best BBQ that you could ever have hoped to eat.

2. I was president of my chapter of Phi Theta Kappa.

When I attended community college I was heavily involved in the honor society, and had some of the best times of my life while I was there. I met some amazing people and got to go on some fabulous trips to conferences all over the country. And let's not forget the scholarships that I earned thanks to my service. Those were pretty excellent, too.

3. Academic honors are kind of my thing.

I admit it - I'm a bit of an overachiever. It's true. It's not that I always have to be the best, but I do always push my self to do the best that I possibly can. And I was very proud to have graduated from the community college with Highest Distinction, and then to have graduated Summa Cum Laude from the university. It wasn't easy, especially going to school while also being a full time mom to two little kids, but it was important to me, so I did it.

4. I've never traveled outside of North America.

I've been to Mexico several times, and I've been (barely) into Canada. (I visited the International Peace Gardens in North Dakota, and crossed over briefly into the Canadian side.) But sadly I've never had the chance to visit any other countries. It's on my To Do list, though.

5. I love Monty Python movies.

My favorite, of course, is Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It's just a classic, for so many reasons. And has SO many great quotable moments. (The nights who say "Ni"... Bring out your dead... If she weighs the same as a duck....) I could go on, but I won't.

6. I was once (briefly) a member of The Blue Knights.

It was only for a few weeks, but it was still cool. My brother marched with them for several years, and at the end of one summer they suddenly needed someone to fill a very minor role in the color guard. I was there, and could handle the job, so I got it. It wasn't the easiest three weeks ever, but getting to go to DCI Finals totally made it worth it.

7. My heart still belongs to Texas (and probably always will.)

Like they say, you can take the girl out of Texas, but you can't take Texas out of the girl. It's been nearly 24 years now since I was transplanted to Arizona. And while my new home has grown on me to an extent, Texas will always be my first love and true Home.

Now, as far as passing the award on to seven other bloggers... Well, here I'm going to bend the rule a bit. And I'm going to borrow an idea from Kina at Human in Recovery. As she suggested to her readers/fellow bloggers, if it resonates with you and you feel it fits your blog, please take it for yourself, and pay it forward. The way I look at it, a sisterhood shouldn't be open by invitation only. If you'd like to join, please do!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Flax Brownies

I'm not, by any stretch of the imagination, what you would call a great cook. But I do on occasion like to do a little experimenting in the kitchen. And when I do, the kids love to help. They've been bugging me for days asking if we could make cookies or cupcakes or something (they love to bake, and don't really care what we're making.) So today I finally agreed.

After checking out my inventory and finding a brownie mix stashed in the back of the pantry I offered to let the kids help me make them. And then, thinking back to my desire to add more flax seed to my diet, I decided to try doing some substitutions with the recipe.

I started with the mix, because it's what I had and because I didn't have nearly enough energy at the moment to make something from scratch. The only other ingredients it called for were oil, water, and an egg. I decided to try substituting flax seed for the oil, as suggested on the back of the flax package. (You can also substitute flax for the egg. I might try that next time.)

Never satisfied to sit and watch, the kids have to get in there and help as much as I will let them. They love to help measure and pour, but mixing is the most exciting part. (Plus they know they get to lick the beaters afterward, so that makes it even better.)

I tried doing a straight substitution of flax for oil like the package indicated, but that left the batter way too dry. (Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of that step.) But after I added an extra splash of water it turned out just fine.

And as you can see, the kids were very satisfied with their work.

The verdict? Well the kids loved them, of course. Gooey chocolaty goodness is always a win in their book. My opinion? They tasted fine. The flax didn't change the flavor at all (and I suppose gooey chocolaty goodness is pretty much always a win in my book, too.) The texture, on the other hand... that was a different story. The flax made it, well, different. And kind of strange.

They're not bad. (They're still brownies, after all.) It was a good experiment, but I don't think it's something I'd necessarily try again - mostly because I think there are probably better ways of doing it. For starters, next time I'll make them from scratch, like I used to when I was younger and had more energy.

So before next time, I'll be looking for new recopies to play with. But for now, we'll just go ahead and enjoy these brownies.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

ABC Wednesday - C is for Coloring

I'm a little late coming into it, but I've decided to take the plunge into ABC Wednesday. What can I say? It just looked like a lot of fun. And after the great time I had in last month's Ultimate Blog Challenge. I felt like I was ready to jump into my next adventure. (Like I said yesterday, when one thing ends, it's usually because it's time for the next new beginning.)

So today, C is for Coloring (and all of the joy that it brings.) I know I'm not the only adult out here that still loves to color. There's just something about putting crayon to paper that makes all of my worries seem a little smaller, and my day seem a little brighter.

Now that I'm a mom and get to share the wonder of coloring with my kids, it just makes it that much more fun. And I happily do it every chance I get.