Stepping Out

Timing.  It was my friend last week.  Momma Debi and I had planned a long weekender to their house in Arizona during Christmas break.  She texted me on a Monday morning, "Do you want to come with me to AZ the end of January?"  I sent back a "Hell yes."  Having no idea how perfect the timing would be for my insides.  Because sometimes a physical separation is necessary to help with an emotional one.  And no one is better suited to squeeze you and wrap you up in goodness than your mom.  No one.  So the long weekender to the sunny desert was soul fixing before it even started.

As I put on my jewelry Thursday morning, I knew airport security would love me.  It is rare I get through without a beep or a pat down.  Rare.  This time, two guys passed me in the tub line while I de-accesorized.  But I made it through the detectors without a glitch. 

Once through security, Techno Momma whipped out her ipad complete with keyboard and felt it was time to go over some Keep Amy Safe guidelines.  She showed me where I could for runs and made me put their address in my phone map to use in the case of me becoming lost.  And then she put the monkey backpack on my back and velcro-ed the other end of the leash to her wrist.  It's like she was worried I'd get distracted by something shiny and wander off.

My mom and I were on the same page of the Vacation Expectations handbook.  The first stop she wanted to make upon leaving the Mesa airport?  Total Wine.  An entire section was devoted to Pinot Noir.  Be still my heart.   

I tried to explain to her that I would behave and she would indeed not need a time out.  But my behaving ability is questionable.

Like when I was done loading the back of the car with our purchases, I grabbed the cart to start pushing it back to the total wine amazing-ness.  A gentleman who was walking by gave me a nod and said, "I'll take that from you."  

I told him, "Well aren't you the nicest?  Thank you.  Now, would you like a hiney tap for the road?"  And proceeded to act out tapping him on his hiney.  I'll just say he was a sport about it and didn't call the police.  

Momma Debi probably wasn't too far off in needing her time out.   

After our wine pick up, food was next on the list.  I kept saying I wanted to find somewhere with real pizza.  The kind that is cooked in a brick oven and has a thin crispy yet chewy crust.  With fresh mozzarella melted into the off the beaten path toppings.  I knew what I wanted.  Momma Debi and her sister who picked us up from the airport agreed it sounded delicious.  

Then it was simply to find a place who did that kind of pizza.  Enter a Barnes & Noble.  The place where my aunt pulled the car up to the curb.  I jumped out, bolted inside, found the nearest employee who appeared like they might know their way around the kind of pizza I was jonesing for and said, "I don't need help finding a book.  I need to know where to find real pizza around here.  Like the kind with weird toppings and real mozzarella cheese and a thin crust cooked over a fire or in a brick oven."  Do you know what I mean when I say that?"

The poor girl with her Barnes & Noble name tag simply nodded her head.  

I kept going, "So...ummm...where would be the closest place?"

She told me Grimaldi's was right around the corner and she assured me I wouldn't be disappointed.  Out the door I went to jump back in the car to yell in excitement about hitting pizza gold.  Except...Momma Debi and her sister had already found the place in their driving around waiting for me.  Turns out they were the real winners in the finding pizza game.  

In a few short minutes, we were sitting in the warm sun visiting.  And I was noticing how my boots seemed to fit right in with the table cloth.  I love a theme.  I can't help it.  

As we waited for our pizza to arrive, the visits were flowing and it was just on this side of fabulous.  I even piped up to the server with that very line and he told me he liked me and then we all looked to the inside bar area and noticed an audience watching us.  I'm pretty sure it was because we were having a server to eater magical moment. 

It was the best pizza I've ever had.  Seriously.  I am going to go right ahead and admit to eating three pieces as the sun sank lower in the sky.

I'm also going to go ahead and admit I became mildly obsessed with the boots and red checkered pattern.  I see a shirt in my near future.  Very near future.  

Next stop.  The house.  I hadn't been there before so I did some exploring and digging around.  And I came to two realizations.  Number one being the house passed my inspection.  More than passed actually.  It received the amazing sticker of approval.  Number two being I now have two cameras in my life.  Watch out people.  Watch out.  If you thought I was trying to capture every single moment before, well this brings it to a whole new level.     

After the complete tour, Momma Debi and I got down to the business at hand.  Picking which bottle would be enjoyed first.  

Our choice was this one.  In addition to the sassy name, the bottle sports a Blends Have More Fun slogan.  We couldn't argue with that.  

Before long, our feet were in the warmly heated pool water and our hands were holding a smooth wine glass.  I convinced Momma Debi to just this one time break her No Glass By the Pool Rule.  Promising her we wouldn't let them out of our hands.  I wanted the cool feeling of glass.  I wanted calm.  I can't speak for my mom with complete certainty, but I'm going to bet she was feeling what I was while we visited the night away.  That being a full and content heart.  I know I was.    

Timing.  It was my friend.  Dangling my feet off the edge of that pool in the Thursday dark night with my mom sitting next to me gave me the it's all going to work out and I'm going to be fine - just fine feelings I had been so wanting to find.  Being states away from my real life was an extra check mark.  Yes, the timing of our mom and daughter long weekender was spot on.  Almost as if it came swooping in wearing a cape to save the day.  Momma Debi might have been wearing her supermom cape too.  But that's because she always does.   


A Comeback in the Finest Form

On Saturday, I sat on a metal chair in an alley patio with the Arizona sun warming my face.   

The atmosphere made complete by lights strung from the roof tops above and grafitti murals painted on the walls.  

Eating fish tacos and nachos for lunch while sipping cucumber margaritas after an unsuccessful jewelry shopping escapade.  

Because it turns out, I don't have eleven hundred dollars to spend on a ring.  Even if I really really really like it.  

The cocktails and salsa accompanied by my mom and aunt's chitter chatter eased my feelings of well, darn it...I need a sugar daddy.  I know those aren't a reality nor a good idea but when a ring calls your name, sometimes those thoughts flash.  

As I finished my last chip, I heard from the next table, "Hey.  Do you live here?"  

I turned my chair a bit to see a man wearing sunglasses and an I'm cool, oh yes I am attitude.  I then replied with a smile, "No.  I'm actually from North Dakota."  

He tipped back in his chair ever so slightly and with even more of an I'm cooler than you chuckle replied, "Isn't that southern Canada?"  

I politely uncrossed my cowboy boot as I ever so slightly leaned forward wearing an I'm going to be so sweet little eye twinkle and came instantly back with, "You want me to call this northern Mexico?"  

His mouth dropped open.  

He looked at me.

I looked at him.

He laughed.  A knee slapping laugh.

I laughed back. 

His wife quickly chirped in with, "I'm sorry.  I can't control him sometimes."  

The man exclaimed before I could get a word in, "She can handle herself."  As he pointed at me with his finger and looked at me with a different light in his eyes.  A respectful light.   

My answer?  

My answer was, "Yes I sure can."  

Then we went on to visit about how I was on a long weekend trip with my mom to check out their house for the first time and how I should really probably move there and Momma Debi chirped in with, "I am not responsible for her actions."  And so on and so on.  

As I stood up, put my own sunglasses on, and walked away in my cowboy boots...all thoughts of wanting or needing a sugar daddy to buy me a fancy ring were gone.  Long gone.  

Because I can handle myself.  


Running with Lemons

It was more than good for this girl's feet to pound it out in the sun this morning.  Running with lemons...well that's an added bonus.  


Punky and her Eyelashes

One adorable baby girl with eyelashes that are unreal coming up.  Punky is over the top cute.  You can't help but want to squeeze her and kiss her cheeks and smell her head and speak in baby talk so her dimpled grin will appear.

At her baptism party a couple weeks ago, I stole her for a few minutes and whisked her out of the chaos to make funny faces together.  Punky delivered on the charming and her dress was worn by Sil's grandma and that is pretty special.  I'm a complete sucker for old; throw in sentimental and I might as well do some weeping in the corner.

Is it not very politically correct of me to declare that Punky is straight up one of the cutest babies ever?

I'm doing it anyway.  Because I love her.  She's simply precious.  


Scraping the Sides

I pulled my gray and yellow handled scissor out of the drawer and used it to slice open the ziploc baggie.  Then I grabbed my spoon to scrape the remaining morsels of peanut butter.  And the whole time this was going on, I was thinking of my grandma.  I remember her using everything until the very final drop.  Toothpaste tubes curled up neatly and then eventually cut open to reveal the last of the last dollops.  Cottage cheese containers washed and used to store those fresh strawberries from the garden.  A squirt of water added to the shampoo bottle to shake and make hair squeaky a few more times.  Greeting cards saved to make decorative place mats.

She figured out a way to make everything useful and wasted nothing. 

So this morning, when my spoon was getting after that stuck to the sides peanut butter, I thought of my grandma.  The one who saved and used everything.  And I thought of my young self scoffing at the idea of reusing and conserving.  Oh how we change as we grow.

Earlier last week, a friend asked me, "Do you use real oatmeal?  Like the kind that comes in the canister?"  I replied, "Yes I sure do."  To which she smiled and said, "I figured you did and can you save the canister for me?  I have a little project I want to use it for."  

Of course.  Of course I will save the oatmeal canister so my friend can add some pretty paper and ribbon to transform Mr. Quaker into a headband holder for her little girl.  Because now I don't scoff at the idea of saving and reusing and scraping peanut butter from the sides of a plastic baggie.  Now I'm all about figuring out ways to be better about not taking advantage of all that we have.  I'll all about getting back to our roots.  

Except in the case of glitter glue.  I realize that is not something involved in the roots of our ways.  But my justification is that it can turn something old and boring into something that makes me want to jump up and down while cheerleader yelling.  Besides, I figure if I'm putting the glitter glue on something I already had, it's like the finest form of recycling.  

And here's where I get back to being serious for a moment and say that I still, to this day, find myself missing my grandma.  There are these odd brief times when I wish so much she could be with me.  And every single time one of those flashes of remembrance occur, I realize exactly how much of a formidable force she was in my life.  Molding me and shaping me and teaching me when I didn't even know it.  The sad part is, now I get it and I can't tell her or show her.  But I have a feeling she knows.  In fact, I have a feeling she is still the one guiding me along in this crazy thing called life.

Scraping peanut butter from the sides and saving oatmeal canisters.  Here's to you Grandma Gladys.  Here's to you.  


Bison Saturday

Bison football.  North Dakota State University.  Fargo, ND.  As of Saturday afternoon, they are the Division One FCS National Champions.  I wasn't an NDSU Bison but I did live in Fargo while I attended Minnesota State University in Moorhead right across the river.  I loved MSUM because of their elementary education program.  But I loved living in Fargo and my social life pretty much existed around NDSU and its people.  Tailgating and football games on Saturdays.  Parties on every day.  Brother went to NDSU and lived in a old white house with five other boys.  And my friends and I frequented their house.  It was similar to Animal House.  Real similar. 

Yes, I donned Bison green and gold Bison many times during those college years when I wasn't wearing Dragon red and white.  What can I say?  I didn't want to miss out on a drop of fun.  Two colleges make for better times than just one. 

So you better believe on Saturday I enjoyed a beer with a pickle.  

And you better believe I met up with friends to take in the game.  Coincidentally, all of whom happened to have some sort of connection to my days in Fargo.   

I lived with Natalie for a six month stint in an apartment with vintage blue floral couches.  We referred to them as the blueberry couches.  And we referred to ourselves and our other roommate Elaine as the Blueberry Clan.  Let's just say there might have been some wild times.  We were quite the combination.  When you get two noise violations in your first two days of living somewhere, it might be a sign.   Loud.  We were loud.  Well, we still are.

We haven't lost our fun finder either.  Because when Nat texted me that her friend said it was filling up and they couldn't pull another table over until the entire party arrived, I sensed her panic at the thought of all of us not being able to be together and promptly threw my hair in a ponytail and texted her that I'd pick her up at her house in ten.  We left her husband there to wait for the babysitter.  And I put my mascara on in the BWW bathroom.  Some things are simply necessary when ensuring good times.      

Natalie, her husband, and their two kids recently moved back here and I am so excited about having her in my life on a regular basis again.  Here's to the many ridiculous times I know we will have and let's hope this time, we don't get in any sort of trouble.  Because we are getting much too old for that business. 

Brandon and Jessie are cute.  Jess is one of my forever friends from way back.  Like elementary school way back.  High school slumber parties way back.  Plus, she was a part of my first six months at MSUM.  To this day, there are a few songs that instantly drum up road trip memories with Jessie.  And there was an incident during our first days in Fargo with glow in the dark stars on our faces I will never forget.            

Lee and Mary are cute too.  Lee was one of the five boys who lived with Brother in that white house.  Right away on Saturday, he started in with stories of the shenanigans my friends and I used to pull.  He especially enjoys reminding me of the one time I yelled into the answering machine for a solid nine minutes in the wee hours of my second night at college because I needed one of those boys to hear me and go wake up my brother.  Let's just say I needed him to come and get me from a predicament.  Lee is the one who finally heard, woke up Brother, and rode with him to come pick me up.  He also saved Jessie and I from blowing ourselves up while trying to jump start a vehicle.  For real.   

What does one do when they don't have any Bison gear to wear?  One puts the only green and gold in her closet together.  Even if it happens to be a shirt actually from 1983.  The year she was born.  And from the town two miles away from the farm.  Hartland.  Population two.  Possibly three.  Then to make the odd combination better, one asks the guy sitting at the next table to borrow his old school sunglasses with a neck strap.  Because one knows they will really add to the look.  And then she stands during an exciting part of the game and gives the cheesiest smile ever.  

Yes, I have spent this whole time talking about the people, the place, and the fashion statement.  Game?  There was a game going on too?  I really did watch bits of the game as well.  There was even a time when Somebody came back to the table to find me watching the screen and clapping.  And yelling.  Because I never skip an appropriate reason to yell. 

It was an entertaining game and the Bison won.  When it was over, Natalie and I ran around the place giving high fives.  Most people gave them back.  Then way after the game, Nat started telling stories about her daughter who is in kindergarten.  My cheeks hurt from laughing at the similarities in their personalities.  And then, Nat put the icing on my laughing cake when she told me she is the ROOM MOM.  Natalie is the room mom.  Like volunteers in the classroom and plans the crafts/parties of kindergarten room mom.  Far cry from the Blueberry Clan days.  Yet another reminder we are in the land of adult now.     

But that doesn't mean we can't let loose and do some donkey kicking and plastic bead necklace wearing every once in awhile.  Friends, football, fun, and putting mascara on in a BWW bathroom on a Saturday.  Check yes.     


Mod Podge Makes the World Go Round

So I was totally going to just leave those two pictures of glittered up clothes pins from my "think unicorns" previous writing to speak for themselves.  Glitter.  Clothes pins.  Simple.  

But I can't leave them hanging.  They are too much of a heart happy to be left out on the line.  And I will stop now with the clothes pin puns.

Moving on. 

One morning during that lovely week known as Christmas break, Brittany and I had a craftie session in her dining room.  Well first we made the trek with her two girls in tow to the Hobby Lobby and to the Menards to gather supplies.  Then we grabbed the necessary Big Apple goodness.  It really adds to the craftie sessions.  A warm bagel and a hot cup of coffee.  With a side of little hands playing in the cream cheese. 

Then the baby went down for a nap and a movie was turned on for the three year old and Britt and I sat across from each other at a folding table and all was right in the world.  If you need to feel fantastic about life, invest in glitter glue and clothes pins.  I'm telling you, while you smear the glitter glue across the wood of the clothes pin, you will feel a calm sense of happiness.

Never mind that when they are done, you will want to squeal for how amazing they look.  We both obsessed over them for the rest of our craftie time.  Saying things like, "Uhhh...I just want to squeeze them!"  And when Steve came home for lunch, he might have questioned our sanity.  Boys.  They just don't get it.  

Next up was a project Brittany found on Pinterest.  It's about as easy as it comes and will make you want to slap your momma when it's done.  Scrapbook paper.  Ceramic tiles (although ours were stone tiles because the Menards let us down).  Mod Podge.  Clear spray paint.  Felt circle things for the bottoms.  Voila!  Coasters.

I made this zebra set for a wedding present to be used that very night.  The bride can pull off zebra.  I know she can.  She received glitter clothes pins clipped around a red LOVE magnet as well.  Her now husband you ask?  He can just enjoy the glitter and zebra and love right along with her.   

Mod Podge looks exactly like it did when I was a little in the 80s crafting with Grandma Gladys.  I couldn't help but think of her as I painted it on in a perfect manner.  I actually looked up and said, "I could paint this Mod Podge on these tiles for the rest of my days and make the lines all straight and be content."

Here's where I admit I should let some things go because it doesn't really matter if the lines on the Mod Podge are straight because it dries clear.  It dries clear.  And glossy.  So just let it buck.  Unless you're like me and can't do that.  In that case, celebrate the need to obsess and be giddy while you do it.   

And finally, we cut scrapbook paper to the exact size of a clothes pin and went ahead and Mod Podged that right up.  Seriously satisfying.  Try it.

Now I have twine strung from all kinds of areas of my house.  Around bathroom mirrors.  Above the fireplace.  Across coat hooks.  And I have been clothes pinning up photos and momentos like a crazy girl.  Let me tell you what.  Putting a picture up of people you love with a glitter or a zebra or a houndstooth or a polka dot or a floral clothes pin on a piece of twine is guaranteed to make you clap your hands together and shout out a "Hell yeah!"

Now I must admit I agonized and googled and dictionaried to decide if clothes pin is one word or two.  Cothespin?  Clothes pin?  Clothespinning?  Clothes pinning?  I went with two.  And I'm sticking to it.  


Painting the Fresh On

Christmas break is over.  Today was back to work and back to reality.  I have heard it, as I'm sure you have, referred to as "back to the grind."  Usually uttered with a tone of negativity and maybe even a grunt of disapproval thrown in for effect as well.  Shoulder slumping.  Can't forget the shoulder slumping.    

But here's what I decided last night as I was leaned against my couch painting my nails.  It's not a back to the grind situation.  It's an opportunity to start fresh.  Not only because it's a brand spankin' new year but also because it's the start after a break.  And sometimes all we need is a little break to help us take a different perspective.  A new beginning does not deserve the negativity of "back to the grind" but rather, because it offers an unveiling of possibilities, it is completely worthy of a high five and positivity. 

My this whole going back to work and new year thing is a unicorn in disguise viewpoint was helped along by my visit with Karen yesterday.  We went for a mid-afternoon shopping excursion followed by an early dinner with a side of goal setting.  If you will remember with me, Karen is the friend I went through grad school with and she is the friend I trained for and completed a half marathon with and she is the friend who pushes me while I push her back.  

Yesterday, with our shopping bags on one stool and our butts on two other stools...we both had the frank realization some improvement is needed in some areas.  You know you have a good friend when they help you grab the mirror and hold it up and look into it, really look into it.  After honest talk and the willingness to accept responsibility, we both came to two goals each.  I'm not referring to them as resolutions because really, they aren't that.  They are goals.  Straight up need to go through a process to get to the end.  No magic.  No quick fix.  Hard work.

Karen's goals are her business.  But I'm going to share my goals because accountability is a must for me.  And call me crazy...I'm just the sharing type. 

Goal Number One:  Finish this getting healthy journey.  I have come a long way but there is still a bit to go.  I am confident in finishing this goal.  Running alternated with a Jillian Michaels DVD that makes me want to cry and being strict with my eating what came from the ground and had a mother philosophy will get me there.  It just takes work and time. 

Goal Number Two:  Stop spinning in my thoughts about the things in my life which I have no control over and start adjusting my attitude to tackle those things.  I'm not sure if that's clear so let me say it this way too.  Quit over analyzing and trying to know the end all the time.  And when those feelings creep up, replace them instead with the attitude of gratefulness and happiness.  Power of positive thinking and attraction put to use. 

Now, exercising and eating are easy.  Real easy.  Changing thoughts?  That's a whole different story.  But I'm going to give it a strong will powered effort. 

So after arriving back home, I felt refreshed.  Ready to tackle this next phase of my life.  

I'm twenty-eight and a freaking half which means I have one more half to finish the journey of making it the best year ever.  Half full.  It's half full.  And it all started with painting my finger nails last night.  This sounds corny, but I believe when starting a new beginning, looking the part is important.  Put together.  Be put together people.  It helps put the rest of your life together as well.  That's my two bits.

But don't let the notion of being put together stop you from answering a text message with those wet nails because you are aware the sender of said message knows your nails are wet and is simply trying to get your goat.  Because it's important to win in those situations.  It's important to smush your fresh paint to make a point that you are not too serious to partake in ridiculous banter.  Because you know what?  You can always repaint the nails.  You can always start fresh.  Start over.  Begin again.  

However you want to say it.  You and I get a new beginning as we head into 2012.  Let's not go "back to the grind."  Let's dive in and work hard and go through the process to create something better. 

Sure I wanted to whine this morning about my alarm going off at four thirty, but then I remembered it was time to think unicorns.  Yes, you heard me.  Think unicorns.  So I popped up, worked out, drank coffee, and read part of my book club book before work.  And I felt content.  All before seven thirty in the morning.  Here's to kicking those two goals of mine in the pants.