31 December 2012

Miles of Midwestern Prairie Musings

We have driven so many endless miles across the Midwestern prairies this holiday season.

Miles racing across the flat farmlands and soft rolling hills. Through wide open skies that make you feel infinitely small in the best possible way and heavy forests hushed with the beauty of freshly fallen snow.

We rushed across the Illinois prairies to Iowa, swapping smack stories and listening to old school rock with Joe's brother and his girlfriend, ridiculously late to the first family get together. We made it back to Chicago the same day.

We drove through the industrial mill towns of northern Indiana and across the alternating farmlands and woods of southern Michigan towards a quiet holiday with family.

We gave and got surprises and gifts chosen with love. There were calls of Christmas cheer and stolen kisses under the mistletoe.

We delayed a return to Chicago because of a snowstorm and instead spent another day challenging everyone to pinball matches, darts, and euchre in between rounds in my parents' new hot tub.

And when the snow let up, we saw Indiana prairies melt into curving, wooded ravines as we wished yet another set of dear friends the best of matrimonial bliss. And I got to see where Joe got into mischief during his undergrad days.

We still have a bit more Midwestern prairie to make our way through before the holidays are over for us this season. And truth be told, I really don't mind those miles to go yet. The ones we've driven and the ones to go have given us friends and family and holiday cheer and the realization that the agreed upon tunes must be Motown. Joe has also learned that I will absolutely choose old-school Backstreet Boys songs to sing along to at the top of my lungs if he jokingly asks if I want to listen to them when the drive becomes mind-numbing. We've also learned we like our road trips together.

And that, my friends, is the greatest gift of the Midwestern prairie miles - the realization that there's no one else we'd rather travel with, side by side.

05 December 2012

Tis the Season

And time for the simple treasures of the holiday, like this pretty little angel who has graced every bedside table since I was a wee one. Christmas starts for me when she comes out.

27 November 2012

Home


I am jet-lagged. 

There's no denying that it's hit me this time. I'm exhausted at 3 pm, and wide awake at 4 am. 

This morning, instead of tossing and turning in bed and waking up Joe, I crawled out of the warmth and settled on the couch with my laptop to read until I was sleepy again. 

And eventually, much too long later, I was sleepy again. 

So, I padded down cold wood floors barefoot, my hair doing what hair does best at 5:30 in the morning - flowing in random, improbable directions - and my hands cold from too much time outside blankets, I lifted the covers on my side of the bed to slide back into the soft warmth. 

And Joe, in the deep sleep of the early morning, rolled over, lifted his arms just so for me to snuggle back in. Welcoming me home. Beckoning me back to where I belong. 

As my breathing matched Joe's and my toes started to unfreeze, in that twilight stage of awake, I knew I was home. 

Wherever I go, whatever life may bring, I have a home. It's with the man who, in his deepest sleep, (I even asked him this morning if I woke him up, but no, no recollection whatsoever) still loves me with every bit, enough to always open his arms and welcome me home, every time. 

What a powerful realization in such a quiet moment - to know where you belong. To find your home. 

23 November 2012

How My Friday Night Looks



In the middle of "the empty quarter" of the Liwa Desert, UAE, at the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort.

Relaxing on a private balcony, with full glasses of rose, sweet snacks, and great company, toasting a farewell to our Dubai adventure.

I am so blessed. Amazing opportunities to see the world. Great friends in every corner. And a really awesome guy waiting to welcome me home.

The more I whisper "thank you" to the universe, the more I am blessed with to say "thank you" about. So incredibly blessed.

This Past Monday Morning

Sunrise.

Over the Hajar Mountains, UAE.

Via hot air balloon.

I am so lucky.


*Middle picture courtesy my travel partner in partner in crime, 'the Bagel'.





07 November 2012

Argo

I don't often recommend movies as must-sees since I'm well aware everyone has their own favorites. 

That said, the best movie I've seen in a long, long time has been Argo. 

Even though I knew how it ends, since it's based on a true story, both Joe and I found ourselves sitting on the edge of our seats the entire time. 

If you're looking for a movie to see, go check out Argo!

06 November 2012

Date Night

We're in the midst of an unplanned date night. I found a coupon to "our" movie theater for two tickets, two drinks, and a medium popcorn for $14 when I was going through some papers this afternoon. Since the coupon expires tomorrow, date night it is.

We don't know if it was normal rush hour traffic, rainy rush hour traffic, the traffic mess caused by President Obama being in town, or some combination of all of the above, but when it took 30 minutes to go a mile, it was no surprise we missed the early movie.

So we wandered Target for a while and now we're relaxing in the Starbucks next door to the theater.

Joe's checking election results and I'm checking out the Blogger app for my first ever smartphone. And truthfully, I couldn't ask for a better unplanned date.

Plus, with any luck, the results will be in by the time the movie ends. And these two former poli sci majors will have been spared the agony of waiting for hours for the results.

05 November 2012

Creative Compliments: From the Archives

I found this compliment the other day, when I was going through one of my notebooks. It was a snippet of a conversation Grandma and I had during one of my visits with her this last year, and well, it still makes me laugh: 


"You're beautiful, Grandma."
"Oh, thank you! That's the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me. You're going to have LOTS of boyfriends."
"I don't think Joe will like that very much."
"Oh well. You're going to have LOTS of boyfriends because you are so nice."

30 October 2012

Four Things

I just can't resist sharing these four items that had me gasping out loud this week: 




3) More reason to love Chicago:


Cityscape Chicago from Eric Hines on Vimeo.



18 October 2012

A Genuine Thank You


Part of me is superstitious enough not to breathe this out loud. I'm afraid to say it because what if admitting it makes the opposite come true?

But if I'm honest, it's bubbling up and I just can't keep it inside any longer.

These days.

These moments.

This love.

This life.

Well, it's pretty damn perfect.

My heart is full to bursting. And I find myself thrilled with the sheer pleasure of being alive these days.

(Which is why I was hesitant to admit it out loud.....what if I've just jinxed myself?)

Life is good.

I find myself enjoying everything. And breathing breathless "thank you" prayers often.

Food tastes better. Maybe because I'm being pickier about what I eat (and not settling for eating just to eat.)

The fall colors are just stunning. Like gasp out loud at the vivid beauty stunning.

The crisp weather adds some color to my cheeks and entice me to coocon into soft, comfortable layers. Some obsessive sale hunting has added some fantastic additions to my wardrobe, making what I'd previously settled for feel fresh and new again.

I seem to have settled into a comfortable mix of adventure and down time. This fall, it seems like every two weeks or so, there's a new adventure to enjoy, but those few weeks of downtime leave me feel revitalized.

Even when we feel cash-poor these days, well, there's the realization that we really are rich. We're rich in love and family and friends and solid values and a great love of life.

All of our needs are met. I could not ask for more.

There's some amazing simple pleasures I adore these days. The sunlight warming my toes from the kitchen window. Freshly washed sheets. The realization that I can now warm up my slippers in the dryer on demand for those extra cold days.

I'm slowly rediscovering my love of wandering for hours with my camera again. I lost that mojo for a while.

But more than anything, just as we've talked about over and over these last few months, we're so lucky in love.

All the struggles and heartaches and doubts and fights we've had over the last few years have all been worth it. Every moment of doubt has come back a thousand times in moments of love.

We're both amazed that given all the struggles we experienced in those early years - extreme long distance, extremely pathetic salaries, doubts of when we'd see each other again, doubts of whether the magic would still be there the next time we saw each other - we're still here, stronger than ever. And everytime I think, "this is it. I can't possibly ever be more in love with him," I find myself falling all over again.

It really is a beautiful ride.

And the possibility.

Oh my friends, there's a world of possibility wide open to us again. That too, makes me gasp out loud at times. There's so many possiblities and we're excited to see where life may take us, together, of course.

But mostly, there's sincre love and appreciation for how wonderful life is these days. It's purely magic. And I admit all this not to brag or boast, but as a genuine thank you to the universe.

17 October 2012

Creative Compliments: Never Eat Alone

I treated myself to lunch out today.

Just a bowl of soup in a local cafe. Nothing too extraordinary (and quite frankly, the food was a little disappointing). The cafe was crowded, and an older couple sat down next to me. When they finished up, the wife kissed her husband and left. The gentleman then turned to me and said,

"Pretty girls like you should never eat alone."
 
 
We chatted for a little longer and as I got up to leave, he finished the conversation by telling me,
 
 
"Keep smiling.....that smile will take you far."
 
 
Such a sweet unexpected conversation in the middle of an ordinary day. It will leave a warm glow for the rest of the day. 

11 October 2012

Puppy Negotiations

This is a normal conversation between Joe and I lately (and yes, lately includes two minutes ago...):

Joe: Look at this cute puppy. (showing me a random puppy picture on the internet)

KtMac: He's so fluffy!

Joe: Yes.

KtMac: I WANT him!

Joe: You want all the puppies.

KtMac: Yes, I NEED ALLLLLL the puppies.

Joe: You can't have all the puppies. 

KtMac: Okay. Three!

Joe: One.

KtMac: Okay. Thirty!

Joe: One

KtMac: Thirty Three!

Joe: I don't think you get how negotiations work. You may have one.

KtMac: I do too! Thirty three!

Joe: At this point, you're getting half a puppy.

KtMac: Half of thirty three!

Joe: You may have a hamster or a fish. No puppy.

KtMac: Okay. One puppy. Let's go tomorrow to get him.

Joe: ........

Sesame Street

This makes me so happy!


In honor of Americans with Disabilities month, Sesame Street is introducing a service dog in training on the show. How cool is that?


And side note, how cool is it that Sesame Street has its own Tumblr too?

10 October 2012

The Ying and The Yang of My Personality



Life has settled down around these parts. 

Dare I even say it? We've found routine and perhaps a bit of boring and a lot of ordinary

And well, if I'm honest, it's exactly what my wild and restless heart has needed for so long. 

Because, if I am honest with myself, I really am wild and restless at heart. I want, I need, I crave adventures and travel and excitement. I feel stifled and a bit choked if I land at home for too long without another adventure on the horizon. 

But, on the other hand, I'm a perfect content homebody too. I can, and often do, pick curling up on the couch with Joe and a good book and some hot chocolate over a wild night out dancing. The wild and the content. The restless and the homebound. The ying and yang of my personality, if you will. 

And I savor these routinely lazy days at home. When an outing to the library is the grandest adventure of the day. Or when an impromptu dinner out to celebrate a small (but not really small) work victory of Joe's becomes a perfect date night out. 

There's been exquisite pleasure in time spent in a real kitchen again. I've been trying new recipes like crazy lately. Probably 4-5 new recipes a week, plus a few of my own invention. I've mostly figured out what Joe and I like and don't like in the kitchen. Some things that I like, but Joe doesn't, I just treat myself to at lunch when he's in the office. But is there anything more homey and loving and wonderful than a loaf of homemade bread just out of the oven? Made to go with homemade soup?

The wild, restless heart of mine doesn't mind these quiet days at home. Not so much. It understands....I need balance.....and quiet days at home are the rest I need to gear up for the next adventure. Or two. Or five, or....all lined up sooner and faster than I dare to hope. 

So, rest up, savor these days, my content homebody self. Adventure is out there calling. You'll answer that call soon enough. 

03 October 2012

Seven Minute Challenge

I read somewhere online, (and didn't make note of where), that October's fitness challenge should be 60 minutes of planking. When I read that, I laughed. Who wants to hold the plank pose for 60 minutes straight? 

Then I read, and realized the challenge was two minutes a day for a cumulative total of 60 minutes worth of planks by the end of the month. When, where, how you do those planks is up to you. Most likely, I'll do one minute of traditional forward planks and thirty seconds each of side planks. And since I can squeeze in two minutes of planks anywhere at anytime, that makes sense to me, even with my busy schedule and travels planned. So I'm in. 60 minutes worth of planks by the end of October. 

And while I'm at it, I'm challenging myself to meditate for five minutes a day during the month of October. I always say I want to try meditating but leave that for "someday." And then "someday" never comes. Surely I can find five minutes a day to focus on my breathing and clear my thoughts. 

So seven minutes a day for better health. I can do that. Anyone want to join me this month?

01 October 2012

5 Things Making Me Happy Today

1. This snapshot of me. Taken by our six-year-old neighbor yesterday before he hijacked my camera to take a hilarious video of me. 


2. This view. Seen daily on my morning walks. I'm excited to see the start of some fall color.

3. These ducks. Mostly because they bring back happy memories of going to the duck pond with Daddy Mac when I was little.

4. This blue heron. He's been keeping me company on my morning walks lately. I love having a bit of nature as a respite from city life within walking distance of home.

5. These blooms from Joe. Two weeks old and still going strong. And a smile on my face everytime I see them. So loved!

24 September 2012

A Breath of Fresh Air

Autumn arrived in Chicago this weekend. Both according to the calendar and to the cool, crisp weather that flowed in.

We had no real plans. And between the weather and the weekend off, it was the proverbial breath of fresh air I needed. 


To slow down. 

To breathe.

To be. 

This last month has shown me the incredible awe of life. 

From the slow, heart-wrenching good-bye to Grandma, to a much-needed, long-planned weekend getaway to remind us of how much we love we're lucky to have, to a long-anticipated, absolutely awesome weekend long celebration of promising new beginnings (more on this to come!), it's been a month that has shown me all the wonders of life. 

The joy. 

The heart-break. 

The incredible love and support. 

The absolute pleasure of being silly over nothing at all with great girls. 

The great friendships. The ones I knew I could count on and the ones that emerged to surprise me. 

The fact that sadness can sneak in and surprise you in a moment.

And the fact that life, awe-inspiring life, can bring you back to joy and happiness and balance. 


Balance. 

That's been the key. 

Well, balance, and a whole lot of love from my guy. 

He's so damn great. I'm a lucky girl. 

So this weekend was blessedly lazy. I spent hours on the couch and on the balcony. I've put a serious dent into reading Anna Karenina finally. (I've started and restarted it far too many times to count. And for the first time, I've gotten more than 100 pages in.)

I also spent hours in the kitchen. Baking bread and muffins, making pizza puffs, and having phenomenal success with my first-ever attempt at homemade soup. Sausage and kale soup, to be exact. If there's interest, I'm happy to share some of my recent recipe successes. 

We also spent time in the local dive bar. I'm beginning to think of it as "ours," and we're finally on a first-name basis with the bartender. 

We also spent hours with our downstairs neighbors. They're pretty much the people we hope to grow up to become in the next ten years. They just may be the one of our favorite parts of moving into this building....and they're moving out in a month. It breaks my heart, but the four of us, well, we won't let a little thing like geography keep us apart.


And most importantly, Joe and I spent time loving on each other. I am so amazed at how far we've come in the last five years. The people we've grown up to be and the incredible love we've been lucky to enjoy and the fact that, if anything, I'm more in love with him today than the first time I really, really realized I loved Joe. 

So that breath of fresh air blowing around these parts? It's been much needed. And greatly appreciated. Even if I'm not a fan of waking up early, early, early on these chilly mornings to drive a guy to the airport....(and he may have a few iphone pictures as proof/blackmail.)

I'm rejuvenated now. And with any luck, back to regular posting again. I've missed this space and these friends!

12 September 2012

Pure Michigan

Joe and I escaped Chicago over the weekend for a long overdue trip for just us two. 


We packed up our bikes and stopped for lunch with dear friends in Ludington, on Michigan's West Coast. From there, I drove Joe a bit crazy as we drove down some curvy backroads until we got to the Sleeping Bear Dunes



From the top of the dunes, even though the water looks like it's right there, it's actually three miles from the top of the dune to the water's edge. It's one of the most beautiful places in America, but it's also one of those places you have to see for yourself to understand the majesty and beauty of these sand dune "mountains."


Michigan runs a national advertising campaign, trying to encourage tourism with the slogan "Pure Michigan." I think this picture could absolutely be part of that advertising campaign!


From Sleeping Bear Dunes, we drove through Traverse City up to Mackinaw City, right on the very tip of the Lower Peninsula. By the time we reached our hotel for the night, we'd been on the road for 16 hours (including all our leisurely stops). It sounds like a lot of driving, but we opted for more scenic back roads and pulling over where and when we wanted, since we didn't have a set agenda. It made for a relaxing day. 


I tiptoed out of our hotel room very early to capture sunrise at the top of Michigan's Lower Peninsula. And to capture the beauty of the Mackinac Bridge, which connects Michigan's Upper and Lower Peninsulas and is the largest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere. 


Then I wised up and climbed back into bed for a few more hours' sleep before we got up and took the ferry over to Mackinac Island


Mackinac Island is a charming island in the Straits of Mackinac, separating the Upper and Lower Peninsulas between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. The island is eight miles around and no cars are allowed on the island (even the Fire Department uses horses and bicycles to respond to calls!). We took our bikes over on the ferry and spent the morning leisurely riding the island's perimeter and seeing its natural sights.  




We spent the afternoon exploring Fort Mackinac, which sits just above the harbor and has the dubious distinction of the being the site of the first land "battle" during the War of 1812. (The Americans surrendered promptly without a fight, so "battle" is a bit of a stretch.) The best part was, there were minimal tourists on the island since it was the weekend after Labor Day and most families were back to school. 


Even though I grew up visiting Mackinac Island, this visit was the first time I ever spent the night on the island. It was relaxing to enjoy the island's charms without hurrying to catch the ferry back to the mainland the same day. We both slept well with the cool Michigan air blowing through our windows, and we enjoyed a leisurely trip back to the mainland and down to Grand Rapids for lunch with my brothers before heading home to Chicago. 

It was an absolutely fantastic weekend. We had fantastic weather, some great meals with great company, a relaxing pace, and I do believe Joe is now as in love with Pure Michigan as I am. (For vacations! We love Chicago far too much to give up living here just yet!)

Here's hoping we don't wait quite so long for another weekend away for the two of us!

Dress Mess

I have bad luck with dresses. 

Which is a bad thing, given how much I love wearing dresses.

There's an infamous incident floating around amongst my friends, involving a night I was having too much fun to just go home after a wardrobe malfunction. So we safety pinned it up, and I stayed out until I was ready to go home. 

Over the weekend, Joe and I had a little weekend escape together (more stories on that coming soon!) and for dinner out, I opted to wear a new maxi dress. 

Because I'm me, I opted to ride my bike anyway even though I was wearing a maxi dress. That lasted all of five minutes before I got my dress caught up in my gears. 

Joe was able to rescue it. Amazingly enough, there were no holes in the fabric! But, a good quarter of the back bottom section of the dress was completely covered in bike grease. 

We went back, locked up the bikes, and I wiped down the grease as much as I could. I still wore the dress out to dinner, even if Joe and I had a private chuckle every time the dress was complimented. 

Since then, the dress has been soaking in cold water and ordinary dish soap. 

Miracle of all miracles....almost ALL of the grease is gone. There's a few tiny stubborn spots, but if I can't get those out, oh well, no one will actually see them. 

Just in time too....I have plans to wear the dress again this weekend!

07 September 2012

Oh, Amazon...

I downloaded a few Berenstain Bears books to read to Grandma while she was in the hospital on the iPad. 

Grandma really enjoyed reading those books this past year and we thought she might enjoy hearing a few stories again while she lay there. 

But we have the iPad synced with my Kindle so Joe and I can share books anywhere, anytime. 

Amazon, in its big brother way, now has recommended every single Berenstain Bears book available for e-reader as a must-read for me now. 

Oh, Amazon.....

04 September 2012

Loss


Loss.

It's a funny thing.

No matter how prepared you think you are, no matter how expected it may be, no matter that everyone, every single person, will experince it at some point in their lives, when it happens, well, nothing is ever quite the same.

I can go hours without issue, just settling back into the every day routines of our life, but then there's that moment, a memory, a glimpse of a momento, or a random comment, and there it is. Loss. Just crashing over you in a wave of grief.

This was an expected loss. When I last posted two weeks ago, I was praying for the reminder that even as we prepared our final goodbyes, even in the midst of loss and heartache, that I would remember that there will be moments of absolute peace too.

But what wasn't expected was how quickly the loss came. Or the fact that it didn't come the way we'd all prayed for.


Two weeks ago, in the afternoon, we thought we had more than six months, but less than a year to say our goodbyes. By the time I went to bed that same day, Grandma had already been admitted to hospice in the hospital.

I learned a lot of lessons in these days. But most importantly, I learned, you die as you lived. Some go quietly, some go alone, some go surrounded by family, some go peacefully, and some go fighting.

And that Grandma of mine, well, if you ever met her, even for a few moments, you'd know feisty and stubborn were the cornerstones of her personality. She was sweet and loving and thoughtful, but above all else, she was feisty.

So when I first heard "you die as you lived," I knew even in her last days, even with all the pain she was in from her rampant cancer, even with her memory loss and confusion from Alzheimer's, I knew she wasn't leaving without a fight: I was right.


But in the midst of the heartbreak and the loss, there were blessings too. Bittersweet, to be sure, but gifts all the same.

Everyone made it home in time to say good bye to Grandma and tell her that we love her. She went surrounded by love, on her own terms. Joe was an incredible support for me while I tried my best to support my parents and my brothers. We got a few moments of genuine recognition from Grandma, where she knew who we were and just why she loved us. There were beautiful views and stunning sunsets every night just to remind us life does go on. I was able to bring Grandma some comfort in ways that only I could. We learned how generous and understanding people are when they realize you're grieving. And we know, without a doubt, Grandma's been reunited with my Papa. Finally.


We're going to miss Grandma. No doubt about that. But as my brother said, "Rest in Peace Grandma. Love you. Best thing you ever did was give birth to my mom. Thank you." She may be gone, but her love lives on. 

** All images just one of the many stunning sunsets we saw from Grandma's hospital room window. Such a beautiful reminder of life.**

21 August 2012

Peace


The view from my desk today. Beautiful blue skies, warm breezes, and just peace. 

A deep peace. Even knowing life has some heartaches to throw my way. I know the coming months will not be easy, but I'm at peace today. 

I have a good, strong love with Joe. I have fantastic friends and phenomenal adventures lined up. And I know whatever comes with Grandma, that my parents and my brothers and I, well, we'll handle it all the best we can while we love each other like crazy (and keep each other laughing best we can). 

So even though today's phone call pulled at the heartstrings a bit, I feel nothing but peace today. And I post this picture as a reminder to myself for the days coming ahead....there'll be blue skies again. And more importantly, there'll peace, so much peace, again. 

20 August 2012

Bookworm


In fifth grade, I was the class bookworm. 

No joke. 

My main memory from fifth grade was looking up to realize I was being scolded once again for reading a "fun" book underneath my desk during lectures. 

That happened almost daily. Sometimes more than once a day too. 

Our desks that year were the little tables with a shelf underneath for us to keep our school supplies in. Perfect for subtly pulling out a chapter book when we were supposed to be reading a textbook or taking notes. 

But in fifth grade, subtle isn't really an option. I'd often get so engrossed in whatever book I was reading at the time that I forgot to look up and around or move around a bit and not make it quite so obvious I was reading underneath my desk. 

But, my teacher, bless her, knew enough to not take away my books when I got scolded. 

I had a lot of problems with my hearing fluctuating that year. I suspect that if I added up the days, I probably spent more time without hearing that year than I did with. And well, school gets boring when you can't hear at all. There's only so long you can lip read before you get tired of trying to figure out the topic of conversation, and if the teacher was calling for answers from the class, there was no way I could read lips of every student, so eventually, I'd give up. 

I'd take a break and seek refuge in the book of the day. Because even when I couldn't hear, books remained my true friends. There were whole worlds out there to discover, and reading was one activity that I could do anytime....whether or not I could hear. 

My teacher would eventually catch on....probably because I was the only one looking down when everyone else was watching her....she'd come by, scare the crap out of me (not intentionally) and when she had my attention, scold me for not paying attention, and walk away. 

But she never took away my book, because she understood. Sometimes, I just needed a break. Sometimes, I just needed a friend. Sometimes, yes, I was just being rebellious (as only a bookworm could be). 

That empathy, well, that made her one of the best teachers I ever had. The fact that she didn't take away my books, well, that guaranteed that books have always been one of the best friends I ever had. 

17 August 2012

A View, Finally



After two years of being eye-level with the sidewalk, my office finally has a view again. I adore seeing the trees and sunlight, and watching the schoolkids on their way to and from school every day. 

16 August 2012

Cherry


Nothing quite like a bowl of cherry color on a grey, rainy day!

15 August 2012

Proof


This box is proof that sometimes you really can buy happiness.

Proof that sometimes you really can revisit childhood. 

I saw this adorable storage container at Target tonight. 

In rare KtMac form, I may have gasped aloud. It made me so ridiculously happy. It still does.

And then I remembered, I had a white comforter as a kid, completely covered in pastel colored hearts exactly like this box. When I texted a giddy picture to Mama Mac, she also commented on how similiar it was to the comforter I loved the stuffing out of as a kid (no joke....I loved it until stuffing was literally falling out of it).

With the box on sale, I was sold!

I haven't discovered just what I'll use it for yet, but who could resist a little box of happiness?

14 August 2012

Blue Skies


Blue skies
Smiling at me
Nothing but blue skies 

13 August 2012

Pro-Tip Re: Hearing Aid Batteries


Hearing aid batteries are expensive. No joke. 

For standard behind the ear hearing aids and my particular model of cochlear implant, I've always had to use the largest hearing aid battery available: 675. When I used a hearing aid, I used one battery at a time and each one lasted roughly a week. In this cochlear implant, it takes three hearing aid batteries at a time (it's heavy on my ear some days) and they last roughly 3-5 days at a time. 

In Target or the drugstore, you get a pack of eight 675 batteries at once. Each package costs between $8-10 depending on sales and sales taxes. I was lucky for a few years and Grandma would go crazy buying me hearing aid batteries when they were on sale with her seniors' discount. But that was before the Alzheimer's set in. 

Luckily, a few years ago, I discovered Costco sells hearing aid batteries. They sell the hearing aid batteries in packs of 40...for $9.39 a pack. 40 hearing aid batteries for the same price as 8 batteries elsewhere. And these batteries last....usually about a week (so, longer than the packages I found elsewhere). 

Suddenly, that $55 annual membership to Costco is absolutely worth it. I share this little find because I'm sure others out there are looking for the best prices on hearing aid batteries....or may someday find themselves needing hearing aid batteries too. 

12 August 2012

Handsome


I adore this handsome man. 

11 August 2012

Again


One step in front of the other. That's all. That's everything. Especially when you get up again no matter how many times you fall. 

10 August 2012

Happy and Light


My friends, it's Friday night. And my heart is happy and light. 

It's been a quietly wonderful day. Joe and I snuggled extra late this morning, which encouraged Joe to work from home for the day. It was a rainy morning that turned into a sunny (but windy) afternoon. There was coffee in the morning with some rainy day musings while I tried my best to ignore the snippets of Joe's teleconference leaking out from behind the closed office door. 

There was a long lazy afternoon for two working out on the balcony. But it was so windy and chilly, we found ourselves all bundled up...pants and sweatshirts and socks and a wool blanket carefully carried home from Scotland. 

There was a leisurely post-work soak in the tub for me. And lots of laughter and stolen kisses. But more than that, there was a happy heart. Full of love and grace and gratitude. For you. For all of you. For all the support and encouragement and love you've sent my way these last few days. 

It makes my heart happy and light. And for that I thank you. From the bottom of my happy and light heart. 

09 August 2012

At the Top


That's me up there. Way up at the top. I was eight years old. 

Shortly after this picture was taken, my dad had it blown up to poster size and framed in my bedroom. And there it hung until I moved out for college. 

My dad had this picture blown up to remind me, no matter how difficult the challenge, no matter how big the mountain, no matter how much my tears may blur my vision, I can and I will reach the top. 

This picture was taken on my fourth grade spring campout. It was the first time I'd ever seen a climbing wall, nevermind climbed one. I didn't have any hearing that day

After the guides gave a brief introduction to the wall, I noticed most of my classmates were queuing up on one side of the wall. I thought they were crazy to wait, so I went to the other side of the wall, where there was a much shorter line. 

Because I couldn't hear instructions, my dad (in the grey hoodie) stood at the base of the wall and banged hard on the left side if I should move to the left for the next handhold and banged the right side of the wall if I should move to the right side.

We developed that plan after I was already halfway up the wall and had fallen off once. I was so stubborn, that even though I was crying, I didn't want the guide to lower me down until I'd reached the top. 

And with my Dad's help, I reached the top. 

After I was back on the ground and had stopped crying (falling off was scary) and I could read lips again, my dad finally told me that I'd chosen the harder wall to climb. There were far less handholds and so many of my classmates had chosen the easier side of the wall to try their climbs. 

Ever since that day, whenever I've struggled or wanted to give up, my dad has quietly reminded me of this picture, of this day. I can and I will reach the top. And he'll always be there to help me if I need him. 

08 August 2012

Part of Who I Am: An Introduction to Growing Up Hearing Impaired

This story is only part of my story. It is only a part of who I am. I do not define myself by this story. But I do know that understanding this story goes a long way towards understanding me on a personal level. And I gladly share this story, but never have I shared it all at once before.

It's hard to write down your story. Even just a part of it. So it's taken me quite a while to find the words to share without it becoming an overwhelmingly long story. Even edited down, even when I know I'll share more snapshot stories later on, it's still quite long. Just the same, this is just an introduction. There will be more stories, some that share more details, others that share a little more insight, to come.

Because it's such a long introduction, you can read more following the jump.

Every Single Day


I'm a lucky girl. I know it. 

Joe doesn't just tell me he loves me. He shows me. Each and every single day. 

And he constantly finds new ways to show me. He's in a conference this week for work, and yesterday they were passing out Starbucks' gift cards as a reward or motivator. Joe came home and gave me the gift card. So I can go work out of Starbucks for a change on a day when I get restless. 

Such a thoughtful, selfless gesture. And moments like these make me so thankful we're together and so in love.