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For all of you paying attention, yes, the above title is correct. When NOT using an apostrophe would change the meaning of the word (or really confuse people, as in the above case - e.g. CROSS YOUR TS ... "What's a TS?" you would ask!), an apostrophe plus -s can be used to form the plural of letters, numbers, and words. And that concludes the English lesson for the day! :-)
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1. Dr. Seuss Quotes to Change Your Life

I came across this wonderful infographic by www.mamiverse.com and - in honor of Dr. Seuss's birthday and Read Across America day - had to share it! My absolute favorite is #11 ... it's a keeper, and one to be passed along to my children!

Which one is your favorite? (You don't have to pick just one! :-)).

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2. The Candy Man

The first time I met Sam, I was in the midst of my strength training routine. As I strained and sweated to lift the weights just a few more times, he came around the corner and – extending an old-fashioned doctor’s bag toward me – said brightly, “Would you like a piece of candy?”

I stopped what I was doing and peered into the open pouch on the side of his bag to find a multihued assortment of hard candies. I smiled and asked, "Are there butterscotch discs in there?”

“Oh, yes … I’ve got those,” he said with confidence as he dug his hand into the bag and plucked out a golden disc.

“Thank you!” I said, with the giddiness of a child surveying her haul on Halloween night.

He turned to leave, then stopped and glanced at the weights I was using, “You know those come in lighter versions.”

I laughed.

I soon learned his very appropriate nickname - Sam the Candy Man. I also learned what a treat it is to watch him work the room of fellow ‘Silver Sneakers’ exercise classmates, offering them candy and bringing joy to their faces.

Outgoing and jovial, his response to the question “How are you, Sam?” is – with 99.9 percent certainty – always a hearty “Super Darn Whoppin’!” And, as if he has planned it because he knows I love them, there is always a butterscotch disc sitting atop the array of sweets when he extends his bag to me.

I do realize there are a couple rules being broken with this story. The first time I was approached by Sam, I did – in fact – take candy from a stranger. The very opposite of the rule we drill into our children’s brains.

Second, the candy is being distributed and accepted at a fitness club where, it seems, most people would be working to thwart the effects of such sweet temptations.

But, these broken rules are countered by the simple happiness and feeling of camaraderie his smile, his kind greeting, and his sharing of a small piece of candy bring to my day.

Recently, Sam was wearing a shirt with the caption “SAM-tastic!” splashed across the front. I wholeheartedly agree. And, to that I would add “Sweet”.

3 Comments on The Candy Man, last added: 7/18/2013
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3. Switch to BlogLovin' ...

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

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4. Choose Kind

If you and your 5th grade and up child(ren) have not yet read R.J. Palacio's "Wonder" ... do it! It is phenomenal (and the author's FIRST book - - yow!)!
Then, click on the below 'Choose Kind' badge below and join the national movement to 'Choose Kind', proving that each and every act of kindness can make a difference!

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5. Unplug!

Put it on your calendars ... Screen Free Week is coming - April 29 - May 5! Click the link below and enjoy the video!

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6. The Luck of the Irish

In honor of St. Patrick's Day ... a re-posting of one of my favorite stories. Enjoy! :-)

I was standing in line at the post office when I heard, “And how long are you going to be?” I looked behind me to see an older man, possibly in his sixties, with an unwavering face and twinkling eyes that just screamed of dry humor and wit. I smiled and laughed, noting that I just had the one box and would make it fast.

I didn’t expect the conversation to continue. Thankfully, it did.

“My wife has me mailing these birthday cards to Ireland,” he continued gruffly. “We’re always sending things over there.”

Being a travel fanatic, I was intrigued. “Ireland, huh,” I responded, “I’ve never been there, but it’s on my list of places I want to visit.”

“Oh, we’ve been there many times … at least a couple dozen,” he said. “Both of our families are from there, and many are still living there.”

“Really?” I asked, “Is that where you met?”

“Oh no …”, he chuckled. “I was an auctioneer. Traveled all over the place. One day, I received a call from a rancher in central Oregon. I was to come pick up some items that would then be auctioned. That’s when I met her.”

“At the ranch?” I asked, amazed at such a chance meeting.

“Yep … she was the rancher’s daughter. That was thirty-some odd years ago … and things have been going downhill ever since,” he added with a sly grin.

“Well … it couldn’t be too bad if you’ve been together for thirty-some years!” I countered with a smile.

“Well, she was quite the successful businesswoman. I couldn’t give that up,” he said with the dry wit that had become the trademark of our short conversation. He then went on to explain that she had owned several thriving businesses – including a clothing shop and a salon – in the very complex we were standing in. “Back in the day, there would be a line of people waiting to get into her salon,” he added with a hint of pride.

I glanced at the service counter where, fortunately, the customers in front of me were having some sort of difficulty with their mailing progress.

“I can’t believe both of you are from Ireland, and you ended up meeting on a ranch out in the middle of central Oregon,” I added.

It was then that he told me that on one of their first trips back to Ireland as a couple, they decided to check into each of their family histories. Through their research, they discovered that their grandparents had been from the exact same small town in Ireland. His had owned a hardware store; hers had owned a grocery store. They traveled to that little town and discovered that – even to that day - his family’s original hardware store and her family’s original grocery store sat on the very same street, right next door to each other.

“Wow,” I said with all the eloquence of a rock. “That is absolutely amazing … a marriage meant to be.”

The customers at the counter retreated and it was my turn.

I mailed my package and turned, intending to smile and convey wishes for a good day with this man who had shared his wonderful story with me.

He was nowhere to be seen.

I couldn't help but smile. ‘A marriage made in heaven’ came to mind. Yes, definitely that … sprinkled with a little ‘Luck of the Irish’, had clearly brought these two individuals together.

My potentially-tedious trip to the post office was made special, with a beautiful and unexpected story of providence usually saved just for the kids and grandkids. It made this German-Irish girl feel a little lucky too!

2 Comments on The Luck of the Irish, last added: 4/8/2013
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7. A Seuss-tacular Day!

What's better than Read Across America Day combined with
a Scholastic book fair combined with
a celebration of Dr. Seuss's birthday
combined with Grandparents' Day
celebrated by having
visiting readers in the classrooms and
grandparents enjoying a concert put on by the children
plus a special lunch
plus 'Seussville' set up in the gym, complete with
games and candy ...
plus more Cat in the Hat-themed treats in the classroom?!
Not much!
It definitely made for a fabulous Friday
and fun start to the weekend!

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8. Taking the Scenic Route ...

Today, I'm remembering this quote ...

Thank you, Mary Engelbreit, for the artwork.
In the corporate world, I met my goals in a very linear fashion ... working hard & smart, thinking before speaking, being fair, having a positive attitude, showing dedication, and maybe a bit of luck and good timing all amounted to promotions that had me climbing the ladder at a very snappy pace.  

The road to becoming a published author has been, well ... much more circuitous, requiring many lessons in patience and a constant pick-yourself-up-again perseverance. It has been filled with wonderfully uplifting feedback, close calls, and so much knowledge gained, but the time and place has just never been exactly right. It will be (hopefully soon!), but - in the mean time - I'll keep reminding myself that this meandering journey is my 'scenic route' to the reward!

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9. Happy Plate Guy

Long ago, back in the day when I was still participating in the grueling world of dating, my very dear friend was rushed to the hospital. I headed to the hospital the minute I received the call. At one point, when a doctor came in to check on her, I decided to leave her room to give her some privacy. 

That was my first mistake. 

I should have insisted on staying through whatever it was that prompted me to leave!  But no … I was polite and ushered myself to the waiting area.  It was late evening, and the waiting room was quiet and empty.  Except for a hospital employee dressed in scrubs.  I remember thinking that he was cute … and had nice hair.  And, I have to admit I wasn’t terribly disappointed when he started chatting with me … then flirting … and eventually asked me out.

I agreed to the invitation. That was my second mistake.

From what I had seen and heard that evening at the hospital, I pegged him to be the rugged, four-wheel drive driving, sporty type of guy. 

So, imagine my surprise when, upon walking out to his car on our infamous first (and last) date night, I saw a large, dull-butterscotch-colored, 4-door, boat-like sedan … plastered with political bumper stickers.  P-L-A-S-T-E-R-E-D!

As my eyes quickly scanned the myriad of opinions shared via the bumper stickers, everything in me wanted to turn and run!  I decided to give him a chance.  First impressions can be so misleading (by the way … they can also be right!).

Mistake #3 … giving him a chance.

As we drove to the restaurant, talk radio twittering away in the background, he regaled me with all the reasons music radio was bad-bad-bad, along with all the brain-related benefits of talk radio.  A topic that bored my early twenty-something self to tears. 

I began creating escape plans in my head. He continued to chatter about talk radio, as I attempted to figure out the logistics of opening the car door and performing some spectacular maneuver that would effectively and safely fling me from the car, allowing me to land safely on the freeway and quickly escape from being run over by the hundreds of other 60-mile-per-hour-moving cars on the road.  After all, I reasoned, I’d landed safely after parachuting out of a plane. How hard could it be to apply the emergency-landing drop and roll movement I’d been taught to an escape from a moving car?!

I stayed in the car. 

We arrived at Red Robin, ordered, and attempted to make conversation.  As the food on our plates dwindled, he decided it would be a good idea to order dessert.  Red Robin had one of my favorite desserts - apple crisp - so, I folded and ordered along with him. 

That was when he looked at me, then my plate, then up at me again, and asked, “Aren’t you going to make your plate happy?”

“Hmmmm?” I questioned, not certain I’d heard him correctly.

“If you want dessert, you need to eat all the food on your plate.  You need to make your plate a Happy Plate,” he matter-of-factly explained. 

“You know … I’m getting a little bit full.  I think I’ll take the rest to-go,” I replied carefully, not wanted to ruffle any last vestiges of his sanity.  After all … I still needed to get home safely.

Mistake # …. well, I’ve lost count … anyway, that would be letting him drive me to the date location.

Dessert arrived, thank goodness, and I dove into my haven of apple crisp.  But, once again, I quickly got full and had to stop eating before finishing.  I hoped and prayed that he wouldn’t notice my very unhappy plate.  Actually, it was a bowl.  With deep sides.  So, I thought there might be a chance that he wouldn’t see the remnants of apple crisp still sitting inside. 

Of course, he did.  But, this time, he went a step further.  After confirming that I was not, in fact, going to be personally making my bowl happy, he took the bowl, spooned what he could of the remaining crisp, and then LICKED the bowl clean. 

At that point, I remember my shoulders slumping a bit, as I looked around to see if anyone I knew was in the restaurant and watching this whole pitiful story play itself out.  Then I turned to my date, and watched him blissfully finish licking the bowl. “There,” he proudly stated, “now it’s happy!”

Unlike me … who was quite the opposite of happy, and just wanted to get home.

But, no.  As luck would have it, a Halloween store had opened up in the same complex as Red Robin.  Not a nice home décor-type Halloween store, with stylish pumpkins and cute decorative ghosts.  But, the freaky Halloween store, with gory masks and fake blood and cackling voices and grotesque creatures hanging from the walls and ceiling … and that stale, funky smell of I-don’t-know-what.

He was ecstatic over the discovery of this store.  Me … not so much.  Surprise, surprise.  But, being a nice person and a tad concerned about his mental state, I went along with it … walking with him through the store and feigning amusement and delight over the Goth and gore.

Thankfully, the evening ended with me safely arriving back home, sharing a kind thank-you and goodbye, then quickly high-tailing it to my apartment where I promptly locked the door and ran to the window, peeking through the blinds to ensure his car had driven away.

My worst date ever.  But, definitely a memorable and humorous one.

So, thank you, Happy Plate Guy – wherever you are … and, please, stay where you are – for giving me such an unusual, unique, implausible, and – in hindsight – amusing experience. Seriously, though ... stay.where.you.are. 

4 Comments on Happy Plate Guy, last added: 2/16/2013
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10. Come Back, White Witch ...

I'm pretty sure this lovely (and very scary) lady in white might be responsible for the full week of wintery whiteness we just had in our town.


We were encased in fog and sub-30 temps for days, with the trees completely coated in white frost. Gorgeous! A little winter wonderland.

Head a few miles down the hill, and we'd discover blue, sunny skies and temps that were a few degrees warmer.

It just so happened that - in the midst of all this wintery whiteness - we saw the Oregon Children's Theatre's production of 'The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe'. It was like our little city was Narnia ... minus the Turkish Delights.

The actress playing the White Witch did her job well ... scaring the bejeezus out of our poor daughter. I felt so bad. She was a year+ about the recommended minimum age, but I had to peel her off my arm at the end. She's used to Playhouse Disney and OPB ... not Narnia! :-) It was only because the friendly actress suggested the above picture that K got anywhere close to her!

Today, it's gray and rainy outside ... and I want our winter wonderland back! :-) Oh, White Witch ... where are you?! You can bring the whiteness back ... but maybe leave your evil scariness at the castle. :-)

7 Comments on Come Back, White Witch ..., last added: 2/6/2013
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11. Basic Kindness ...

I had to share this video, after seeing it on the Carrots 'n' Cake blog. Adorable and so very sweet ... it immediately warmed my heart. But, it also made me think about the basic kindness being demonstrated in this video ... by a dog!

Using no words (obviously!), just actions, the older dog communicates to the puppy how to go down the stairs, showing her that it is safe and patiently giving encouraging nudges until the puppy finally does it on her own.

Not one word uttered. Just kind actions.

What a wonderful reminder that we can do the same, so easily, every day. We don't have to say a word. Just be kind.

Have a wonderful day.

11 Comments on Basic Kindness ..., last added: 1/24/2013
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12. I Heard the Bells ...

Five years ago, my husband and I attended an amazing Christmas concert with Steven Curtis Chapman and Mercy Me. During the concert, as a deep base beat and the melody to "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" played ever-so-softly in the background, they shared with the audience a glimpse of the events that had inspired the lyrics to this song, written by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow so very long ago on Christmas Day in 1864.

I was completely unaware of the origin of the song before that night.
After the concert, I investigated further, seeking more detail to the story. I learned that, in a very short time span, Longfellow had lost his wife to a tragic accident in their home, and his son had returned - critically injured - from the American Civil War that was devastating his beloved country.
I can only imagine that his faith was being tested beyond measure and his hope for peace - in his country and his own life - was weak.
Something changed on Christmas Day 1864 when Longfellow penned the poem, originally titled "Christmas Bells". Maybe it was the re-election of Abraham Lincoln and, with that, the possible end of the terrible war; maybe it was the relief that came from his son surviving; or maybe it was the churches that - during the war - would ring their bells on Christmas as a call for ceasefire, bringing peace to the nation, if only for a day.
Knowing the history behind the words has made this song become even more beautiful, sorrowful, haunting, and hopeful.
In many ways, it is a call for peace. Something we all hope for.
So, as the holiday season kicks off, I've been listening repeatedly to this very song .... take a listen to the Casting Crowns version, from their 'Peace on Earth' CD at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7670CXvPX0&feature=related.
Wishing you peace this holiday season!

2 Comments on I Heard the Bells ..., last added: 12/14/2012
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13. Way Too Long ...

Oh my goodness, it has been way too long since my last post. Trees were bare of leaves when I last posted in February .... oh, wait ... they're bare again! Well ... not ours. Here's the view from my office window (sorry for the 'through the screen' photo). See our tree to the left ... completely green! Across the street, you see one neighbor with a tree completely void of leaves, and the other with gorgeous red fall color! Ours will start turning yellow soon ... and we'll be done raking leaves sometime near Christmas! :-) Happens every year ... we have a tree with a schedule all its own!

Life has definitely happened this year ... some things expected, and some very unexpected. Ups and downs. Our always-healthy son having hernia surgery; my mother's passing after a long, brave battle with breast cancer; me completing the Komen 3 Day/60 Mile event, in memory of my mom, with a meniscus torn just two weeks before the event; knee surgery and recovery after the event was over; closing a business ...

Every so often, when I look back over the year, I've let myself think, 'I'm ready for 2012 to be over ...'. But, just as quickly, I reverse that thought when I simultaneously recall all the wonderful things that have happened ... and remember that this has also been a very special year. One that has filled me with gratitude for how wonderful our friends are and what a sweet and loving little family I've been given. Supportive ... caring ... helpful ... generous ... thoughtful ... these words don't even begin to describe what I've learned about the people I've been blessed to have around me.

So, I will savor the last six weeks of 2012, and look forward to a wonderful 2013 ... which hopefully will include a published picture book and MUCH more regular blog posts! :-)

2 Comments on Way Too Long ..., last added: 12/2/2012
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14. In the Words of a 9-Year Old Boy ...

Sure, it's more complicated than this. But, when I ran across this gem the other day while re-reading and recycling Christmas cards and school projects, I couldn't help but think what a peaceful, fun-loving world it might be if children were in charge! :-) 

2 Comments on In the Words of a 9-Year Old Boy ..., last added: 2/10/2012
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15. I'm With You ...

Have you heard this song? "I'm With You", sung by Nichole Nordeman and Amy Grant is one of those songs that just latch right on to your heart. Based on the Bible story of Ruth and Naomi, it is a beautiful combination of lyrics, music, and pacing.

Ruth happens to be one of my favorite books in the Bible. First, it's so short (4 chapters!), I can actually say I've read it from start to finish :-); and second, it depicts the story of two strong, independent, brave women who have lost everything (and, yes, one of them becomes very bitter for a while as a result), but work together to put the pieces of their lives back together in the face of great adversity.

It is the story of hope and trusting in the support of family and friends.

And, isn't that what we all strive for ... to be hopeful in the face of challenges, big and small? To be a supportive friend and family member? And, to know we have family and friends that we can rely on when we need it?

8 Comments on I'm With You ..., last added: 10/5/2011
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16. Kairos...

Have you heard of Amy Krouse Rosenthal?  She's one of my writing heroes ... she writes brilliant, unique children's book and entertaining adult books, AND has an inspiring and uplifting blog .... Mission Amy KR. Her most recent Thursday Thingy blog was titled, "Kairos and Chronos" (click on Mission Amy KR and it will connect you). When I first saw it, my mind immediately went to my work in Human Resources and Payroll. KRONOS was our timekeeping system for non-exempt employees ... simply because of that, I knew of the word and its Greek origin .... basically meaning 'chronological time'. But what was this 'Kairos'?

As you'll see if you read the post, it is also the Greek word for time ... but very different than Chronos time. Kairos time is special ... literally. It is the time in which something special happens. It's different for every person, depending on what is special to you, and you often don't recognize when you're in the midst of it.

In the blog post, Amy references another writer, and what she wrote - specifically with regard to a child wanting her mother to just stop and look at her - made me catch my breath.

We live in a world where, it seems, it is important to show how busy we are. Someone asks us, "How have you been?" We reply, "Oh, so busy!" Our attention is divided ... we are working, raising children, blogging, Facebooking, e-mailing, texting, trying to meet deadlines, attempting to get to practice on time, and the list goes on.

But, are we experiencing the Kairos version time? Are we giving our children the Kairos version of time? For me ... sometimes, yes; sometimes, no. It is a great reminder for me personally ... to not just live each day hoping to check all the 'to do' items off my list, but remember to stop and experience all that is beautiful and special in life. So much so, that it becomes a natural part of me. Living the width of each day as much as the length.

6 Comments on Kairos..., last added: 8/26/2011
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17. Good Things Come to Those Who Wait ...

Waiting. I don't think I'll ever be very good at it. For me, it is one of the hardest parts of the writing profession. Not just waiting for any response ... waiting for a positive response! So, once again, I'm turning to the outdoors for a little lesson in enjoying and appreciating the wait. Granted, my garden provides a much more colorful and gratifying perspective on waiting than my e-mail in-box and mailbox. Daily, there are beautiful berries needing to be monitored for ripeness; tomatoes, corn, peppers, and cukes sprouting from blossoms; and new blooms opening on the hydrangeas. It's easy to see that good things await ... and I'm certain that will be the case for the writing as well.

5 Comments on Good Things Come to Those Who Wait ..., last added: 8/3/2011
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18. Summer Inspiration ... Kid Style!

Every so often, they hop off their bikes and scooters, or take a break from playing basketball or flag football, and impress me with their creative side. Whether it's a city of roadways and parking lots made with just chalk and Hot Wheels; a tea party, complete with miniature utensils; a "special breakfast" served on a doll highchair tray; a bouquet of blooms collected from the ground (or, sometimes, from the plant itself! :-)); or a colorful PlayDoh "cake" ... it's a great reminder to me to keep creating characters and writing stories (and not be afraid of NOT creating perfection on the first try!).

7 Comments on Summer Inspiration ... Kid Style!, last added: 7/17/2011
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19. {I Heart Faces} Slice of Life Photo Challenge

I'm having a little photography fun today, and entering a contest with ...

This week's contest theme is “Slice of Life”.

A slice of our life is checking on our kids before going to bed each night. And, with our daughter, we never know what we're going to find!  Usually, she has surrounded herself with stuffed animals and books and toys, and adorned herself with jewels.  We often find things hiding under the blankets as well.  On this particular night, she was wearing the Simon Chipmunk glasses she had received at a birthday party earlier in the day.  This shot brings a smile to my face and - even though she's sleeping - shares a bit about her "I'll do things my own way" personality!

14 Comments on {I Heart Faces} Slice of Life Photo Challenge, last added: 3/31/2011
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20. A Different Kind of Beach Experience ...

I've written before about my love-hate relationship with deep water (http://crossyourts.blogspot.com/2010/05/deep-water.html).  Add in the fact that - after the Japan tsunami - news in our region focused repeatedly on the fact that our beautiful coast was in the same geological boat as Japan - but less prepared - and I must admit to some lost sleep in the nights leading up to our coastal Spring break vacation. 

So much for relaxing. 

Instead, my head was spinning with all the possible ways my hubby and I could quickly get the children out of harm's way in the 15-20 minutes before the big wave hit, if an earthquake were to happen.

It's not that I think I have control over the situation ... I know I don't.  But - as a mother - I need to at least feel like I have some semblance of control over how our family would respond.  As in ... "Kids, if you feel the earth shaking while we're on the beach, don't worry about your toys. Leave them there. Grab Mommy or Daddy's hand and run as fast as you can."  I didn't want to freak them out, but I wanted them to be prepared for how to react ... just in case.

So, with that ... we went to the beach.  It was cold (thank goodness for extra hot mochas!), but gorgeous.  I took lots of deep breaths.  I enjoyed myself immensely ... especially once we broke out the baseball, mitts, and our trusty beachwood bat! :-)  I even felt some tension slip away. 

But ... it was different.  That feeling of needing to be on alert and prepared was constantly tucked away in the back of my mind and, sometimes, it was right at the forefront of my thoughts as we drove by signs that read "Tsunami Hazard Zone".

I would never want to deprive my family of experiences because of fear or because of my desire to protec

7 Comments on A Different Kind of Beach Experience ..., last added: 4/15/2011
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21. Wind ...

I'm having a little photography fun today, and entering a contest with ...

This week's photo challenge theme is “Wind", and this is one of my all-time favorites ... a windy Easter Egg hunt.  I love her serious expression, the wind-blown hair, and the bright colors of the eggs.

4 Comments on Wind ..., last added: 4/20/2011
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22. Awesomeness .... and, How Vas the Vod-ka?

A HUGE congratulations to my sweet friend and writing club partner, Rachel ... who just finished the first draft of her novel!  Such an incredible milestone!  She has turned a fabulous idea into a future bestseller, I'm sure of it!

I first met Rachel in Vienna, Austria, of all places.  We were exchange students ... she was from Texas; I was from Washington.  I have such fun, fond memories of our adventures there.  In her honor ... I'm re-posting "How Vas the Vod-ka?" below, which recaps an exhilarating and equally hilarious hike we took together in the Alps. 

How Vas the Vod-ka?

One of my favorite memories of my exchange student days in Austria involved a trip to Innsbruck, Austria.

Admittedly, I’d label the majority of Austrian towns as ‘gorgeous and amazing’, but - oh my - is Innsbruck ever cool. It’s situated right in the midst of the Austrian Alps, which makes for great hiking, especially when you’ve been blessed with stunningly beautiful weather.

We visited the Alpenzoo first. Situated 727 meters above sea level and nestled into the mountain, it is the highest zoo in the world. And, as its name would indicate, it is home to animals that originate from the alpine region, showing them in their natural habitat. The Alpenzoo, in and of itself, could be considered a hike for many.

After visiting the zoo, our group split into two and my dear friend, Rachel, and I decided to hike up into the Alps. It was my absolute favorite day in Europe … exhilarating and incredibly beautiful.

Halfway up the mountain, we were joined by Marco from Germany (I couldn't resist snapping a picture of him during one of our hiking breaks!).

We had no clue who he was, but he stayed with us for the remainder of the hike. He seemed nice enough, as did all our fellow-hikers that day. I guess back then crazy stalkers weren’t as prevalent on our minds. I’m still quite certain he was a bit enamored with Rachel!

We made it above the tree line and, after a few moments of sitting and taking in the beautiful view and brilliant blue sky, decided to commence the joint-pounding trek down the mountain!

Towards the end of our descent, we passed another hiker who was headed up the mountain. As he passed, he greeted us and asked, “How vas the vodka?”

You know how you respond when you don’t really know what someone has said, but you still want to reply in a friendly and jovial way? You kind of do a hearty laugh and throw your head back like you ‘get’ the joke or the funny comment even though you haven’t a clue as to what they actually said?

That’s what we did. And, I think we added something like, “Gut … sehr gut!”

We giggled as we tried to figure out what had possessed him to ask us about vodka. I mean, we knew these particular hills were alive with music, but not vodka-drinking hikers.

It wasn’t until a few laughter-filled minutes later, that it dawned on us what he had really asked.

“How was the walk up?”

To this day, Rachel and I still laugh about that story. And, it just goes to show that the hills are alive … with music, yes … but also with fresh air, exhilarating views, and very friendly German-speaking hikers. No vodka required.
23. When Your Child Gets Published Before You Do...

My son's third grade 'Young Authors' assignment was to write and illustrate an ABC book. He chose 'Vehicles' as his subject ... one for every letter of the alphabet - from Ambulance to Zamboni!

It was a long two months of researching facts about each of the vehicles and creating the final drawings. Somewhere around Ice Cream Truck, my usually eager illustrator was clearly considering the illustrations to be a cumbersome task; and the idea of typing the words on the computer - originally such an exciting prospect - became dreaded. But, he (and I!) made it, and was thrilled with the end product.

One evening, not long after turning it in, I got a call from his teacher. She loved his book, and wondered if she could buy it for her grandson, a fellow admirer of anything with wheels.  I joked with her, "My son's going to be published before I am!"

We created a second copy for her grandson. My son received his very first payment in exchange for his first 'published' book. And - after overhearing my comment to his teacher - he now tells everyone that he published a picture book before his Mom! :-)

Which is just fine with me. I was, after all, one of the people to whom he dedicated the book to ... and, really, what more could you ask for?

6 Comments on When Your Child Gets Published Before You Do..., last added: 6/20/2011
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24. Remembering Grandpa ...

This past weekend would have been the weekend that my little family traveled to my hometown to celebrate my Grandpa Don's July 1st birthday. His daughters, sons-in-law, granddaughters and grandsons and their spouses, and great-grandchildren had traveled from near and far every year since he turned 90 to celebrate his life. He would have been 95 years old this year. We lost him, rather unexpectedly, last September ['For My Grandpa' Post] and have missed him every day since.

This year, we thankfully had another reason to gather and celebrate on this very special weekend ... a reason that would have made my Grandpa Don so very happy. This time, though, the focus of the celebration was a sweet, little 4-month old girl. Grandpa Don never had the joy of meeting his youngest great-grandchild - oh, would he have beamed at the sight of her - but, she was baptized on what would have been his birthday weekend. Watching over us from heaven, I'm certain he was thrilled beyond measure.

6 Comments on Remembering Grandpa ..., last added: 7/8/2011
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25. It Was Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

I'm quite certain I was even more excited than my children that we were going to see the musical, Mary Poppins. They had never heard of Mary Poppins, nor were they familiar with any of the famous songs.  Given that the show we attended was on a weeknight and started an hour before their bedtime, I was banking on the hope that it would be an energetic and awe-inspiring performance.

And, oh my, was it ever!

The cast of Mary Poppins is amazingly talented; and the special-effects and 'mechanics' of what's happening on the stage are mind-blowing!! What an incredible production! We were so happy we went ... and, thankfully, our 9-year old son and 5-year old daughter LOVED it and were entertained throughout the entire production (mostly! :-)).

Our favorite moment was the tap dance number, "Step In Time", by Mary Poppins & the Chimney Sweeps ... including Bert walking up the wall and tap-dancing (and singing) on the ceiling! Incredible. It made me want to learn how to tap dance.

The kids have been attempting to sing "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" ever since. Since it's a new word to them, it has been entertaining to hear the variations they come up with. :-)

If you have the chance to go see the Broadway Across America tour of Mary Poppins ... do it! And, enjoy! :-)

3 Comments on It Was Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!, last added: 7/15/2011
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