Coffee date

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I’m attending a child abuse training all day today, so I hope your day is more delightful than mine. I hope the coffee is good. I suspect it’s going to be a long day.

We lost power at work this morning so I’m sitting home sipping my coffee looking over at my African Violets that have come back from the almost dead. I don’t know if it’s the careful care I’ve been giving them or the spider that’s taken up residence in the web above them. Let’s pretend it’s my careful care, Hmkay?

I was really surprised when I saw the brilliant purple flowers peeking out.

Anyway! What’s in your cup? Right now it’s just coffee in mine, but maybe something more exciting if I go into the office or town later.

Speaking of being in town, I was at the grocery store the other day and I almost came home with a lovely lilac colored Gerber daisy plant. My flowers are just making me so happy to see and take care of. It’s not just mine either, seeing other peoples’ and wild flowers make me smile too. I’m not sure what it is this year, but all of the colors and shapes have just struck my fancy in a big way.

I’ve also been keeping them alive better than previously. I won’t lie, I’ve killed a lot of plants historically…a lot!

You know what else has been making me smile? Mint tea. If you catch me in the afternoon, I’m likely to have it in my cup instead of more coffee. I started drinking it again when I was having trouble breathing last week. I must have forgotten how delightful it is, but now I remember.

It’s really nice on ice on a hot night by the soccer field! Soccer can be hot, sticky, and buggy – not my favorite things, for sure. I love watching the kiddos play and taking pics, but lately the mint tea is making it more pleasant.

Have you rediscovered a lovely beverage or food this summer?

While I haven’t forgotten about it, I’m pretty stoked zucchini is back. Grilled? Baked into muffins? Made into chips? I’m game.

How do you like your zucchini? Nik would tell me, “In the garbage”.

Anything fun going on this weekend? We’re working on garlic some more which is good because #saihappiness for tomorrow is to unplug from your phone. I’ll need mine to take pics for a photo series I’m working on, but unless it’s an emergency, I won’t be doing any texting, superfluous calling, or anything with social media etc.

Well I’m out of coffee and need a refill. Have a great day and wonderful weekend!

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Thursday Challenge: 30 Days Happiness Challenge #SAIHAPPINESS

 

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That was a great night. I cried for 2 days after.

Most people will tell you I’m a happy person. (Usually) I wasn’t always, for quite some time I was a pretty miserable human being. I might fake it for a night or two, maybe even have a great night or two, but when I was home by myself, or alone in the car,  it wasn’t a good time to be me.

 

I don’t know what changed in me to lead me down a path to be a happier person but I think butter helped.  It wasn’t something I did overnight and sometimes I slip up.

I might have seen an article like this Ten Positive Psychology Practices for Boosting Happiness or 5 Ways to Practice Happiness. I don’t know how I found the article because although I was trying to find happiness, I wasn’t researching it. I was looking outside of me for something to make me happy.

Turns out, much like the heart for the Tin Man, the courage for the Cowardly Lion, and the brain for the Scarecrow, I had it inside me all along. I just wasn’t looking within.

Looking back, I remember I started seeing the good things happening around me, witnessing/experiencing beautiful moments in life, reforming connections I had let fall away, and allowing myself to be happy for people who might have the things I want instead of being grumpy about it. I asked myself what the best part of my day was, I tried to help others. I started taking time for me to recharge. As extroverted as I am, I still need to recharge my bubbles sometimes.

I consciously chose to do things which made me smile.

An excerpt from a post never posted:

…was telling me about an interaction she had with a member who had approached her, aggressively asking where I was and why I’d quit.

The guard simply told them I had found a place in my life which made me very happy and I was choosing to spend time there instead of on the pool deck.

It was a simple, yet profound – and hit the nail on the head.

I’ve chosen to spend time where I’m happy.

Would you believe me if I told you, “Happiness is something I practice”? It doesn’t seem to be one of those things that IS or ISN’T. It seems to be something I do. The more I practiced and chose happiness, the easier it has become. I guess you could say I made happiness a habit?

That’s not to say it sticks around forever. When I choose to be negative and see the worst, that’s all I see. I also know what I’m saying might not be possible for everyone without help from outside sources – and that’s okay! Talk therapy and med therapy may be needed to start you on your happiness journey. Some people may have to work harder at this than others. Some may have obstacles (including themselves) which will make any of this really challenging. Recently when I was really struggling, I talked to my doctor and to help mitigate anxiety, she put me on an antidepressant. It has made my choosing happiness so much easier.

I’m not promising anything. I can’t fix you or make you fix you. I’m sharing what worked for me. If it falls in the category of, “It might help and couldn’t hurt.” for you then please, give it a whirl. Here’s the thing – your first step doesn’t have to be something big or complicated. You can start today! (Really, you can start as soon as you finish reading this post – today’s task is to go outside.)

A wonderful organization which a dear sisterfriend works for has issued a 30 Day Happiness Challenge to their staff and students. (They happen to be where I got my plants!)

Anyone up for a challenge? Let’s do it. I’ll Instagram it with #SAIHAPPINESS If you feel like it, do the same.

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If you can’t see this, let me know and I’ll list them all out for you.

Flex your happiness muscle. I don’t know what muscle that is, but I know we all have one.

Read it! Cop on Her Doorstep

Cop on Her Doorstep by Karen Doctor was provided to me at no charge through my partnership with NetGalley. The thoughts are my own. You can read other books I’ve reviewed here.

If you’re not in the know, I read a LOT of law statutes, federal regulations, legal opinions, etc. I’m not a lawyer, but it’s relevant to what I do for work. At the end of the day (or on my lunch break) the last thing I want to read is something heavy or thought deep provoking.

Sorry Broski. Most days I just don’t have it in me.

What I do want to read is light and fluffy, entertaining bubblegum for my brain. Some of them have neon colored covers, others cute doodles, some even have half naked people. I do like a mystery or puzzle to figure out so this seemed like it would be a good one. Until I realized there was no puzzle.

From Amazon:

In the six years since her husband was killed by S.W.A.T., Carrie Padilla has spent long hours at work, rebuilding a life for herself and her son. The little time she has at home is spent keeping her eight-year-old son out of trouble, but he is all too eager to try to be the man in the house. When a handsome cop shows up on her doorstep, her errant son in tow, Carrie’s heart stutters. The sexy Italian cop sets off all kinds of bells in her system, and she knows there’s only one thing she can do to save what is left of her family, her husband’s memory, and her heart…avoid her new neighbor at all costs.

S.W.A.T. officer Jake Stefani already lost one little boy to gang violence, the dead boy’s older brother is missing, and Jake’s not about to let the same thing happen to a neighbor’s son. He drags the youngster home only to discover much more than a passing interest in the boy’s beautiful, but wary, mother. Forced to take a leave of absence after a bust goes awry, Jake can think of nothing better to occupy his time than to keep Carrie and her son safe, and locate the missing teen who holds the key to taking the gang off the streets, once and for all.

But Jake doesn’t count on his stubborn, intriguing neighbor distracting him from his job, or the passion that flares between them. He doesn’t expect her amazing son to steal a piece of his heart. Jake is ready to risk everything for Carrie, body and soul. But it’s not all up to him. If their new love is to survive, Carrie will need to be strong enough to see the man’s beating heart behind the badge, to look beyond the pain of her past, and decide that loving again is worth the risk.

Then I realized there was no puzzle or case to solve. It was ALL about the love story and stubbornness of two people. I like Jake and Carrie. They seem like nice people and were written decently well. His mother’s meddling reminded me of some friends’ moms but Doctor could have done more with her.

I couldn’t love this book. It’s a cookie cutter romance novel without any real conflict or mystery to solve other than Carrie getting over her preconceived notions and being real about an event in her prior life. The frosting and sprinkles weren’t even that good.

Is this something you’d like to read? Are you a fan of romance novels?

Friday Five

 

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Fithy! Look Doey, boo fithy!

I’ve been meaning to put fingers to keyboard lately and had some stuff planned to write, but my brain is foggy and the coughing is jarring the thought bubbles out of my head.

 

I don’t know that I have a lot to say today other than I’m thankful for my boss taking my presentation for today because it’s hard to breath, my ears hurt when my jaw moves, and my voice goes in and out. Damn summer colds.

Instead I thought I’d share some of my favorite moments from my trip with Daddy-O to see my nephew. I hadn’t seen him in about a year, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Sometimes if my parents are there, we’ll video chat, but he doesn’t KNOW Aunt Court. (Or Doey as he was calling me. He calls my dad DoDo instead of Gregg-O) Once I gave him ketchup for him to dip his waffles in (I know, gag!) we were super cool and buddies. (I might be the one who introduced him to ketchup on his eggs last year.)

So some of the highlights to seeing one of my favorite little dudes:

  1. Figuring out what “momomarc” was. O was asking for momomarc and although we were getting really good with understanding his language (I speak pretty good “Toddler” but 2 year old with a lisp, dropped consonants, and a little southern drawl took some effort. WORTH IT. His “Call Ma and Beel?” (My mom and step-dad, Bill) was just too cute! And pointing out all the trucks, talking about his daddy and playing I Spy was super cool. Momomarc had us stumped! He was so cute about it, “Momomarc, pweeeeasthe?” so we felt a little bad that we couldn’t make it happen. Finally, we pulled into Wal-mart for snacks and he said, “YAY!!! MOMOMARC!!!” Homeslice loves his Wal-mart.
  2. All of his snuggles and hugs. He’s a little love. Don’t get me wrong, he’s ALL boy. Rough and tumble, climb as high as he can, goes full force 98% of the time. Then he would curl up into me, both arms around my neck, patting my back or stroking my hair. He loves as hard as he plays.
  3. His laugh! I’ll see if I can pull the sound off one of the videos so you can hear it. It’s this little but loud, tinkle of a belly laugh.
  4. When his independent little self (and he is INDEPENDENT!) is unsure or nervous he reaches for your hand or leg and stands as close as he can. It wasn’t often (mostly in crowds or when there were big kids being rough around him) but it was reassuring that he was comfortable with us to reach out.
  5. How much he’s my brother’s son even though they don’t get to spend as much time together as we’d like. My brother is an amazing dude and I’m already seeing the kindness, heart, helping hand, sense of humor, and intelligence from O. It’s pretty amazing.

Apparently he’s been talking about Dodo and Doey for days since we’ve been gone. I miss him terribly already – he’s the kind of little guy that totally changes the energy of the room. Hopefully, we can make plans to get together again soon. He very much wants to go to Doey and Dodo’s houses to play on the vroom vroom and meet The Girls. And we can’t forget a trip to Momomarc to look for Jeeps and big trucks.

I wonder what he’d think of the train that goes past my house a dozen times a day?

I don’t share blatant pics of O on my blog or social media at the request of my brother, but I have tons if you want to see some privately!

Read it! A Crafter Knits a Clue

A Crafter Knits a Clue by Holly Quinn was provided to me at no charge through my partnership with NetGalley. The thoughts are my own. You can read other books I’ve reviewed here.

From Amazon:

When a heartbroken Samantha “Sammy” Kane returns to her hometown of Heartsford, WI, for her best friend Kate’s funeral, she learns that Kate’s much-loved craft store is in danger of perishing with its owner. Confounding all her expectations of the life she would live, Sammy moves back home with her golden retriever and takes over Community Craft. A few doors down Main Street, fellow new arrival Ingrid Wilson has just opened the Yarn Barn, a real “purl” of a shop. But when Sammy strolls over to see if Ingrid could use a little help, she finds Ingrid’s dead body―with a green aluminum knitting needle lodged in her throat.

Detective Liam Nash is thrown for a loop as every single citizen of Heartsford seems to have a theory about Ingrid’s murder. And nearly everyone in town seems to be a suspect. But the last time Sammy did any sleuthing was as a little moppet. And this is not fun and games. Sammy is eager to help the handsome Liam―who seems to be endlessly inventive in finding reasons to talk with her―and when Liam arrests affable woodworker Miles Danbury, Sammy puts everything on the line to help clear Miles.

As the case comes dangerously close to unraveling, Sammy must stitch the clues together. But the killer has other plans―and if Sammy’s not careful, she may wind up in a perilous knot in A Crafter Knits a Clue, the first warm and woolly yarn of Holly Quinn’s new Handcrafted mysteries.

I wanted to love this book – mystery, crafting, small-town? But I just couldn’t. I think it’s the first in a series and there’s going to be further development, but Sam often comes across as a bratty teen even though she’s an adult who has moved home. I hope she grows.

Conversations between the characters were stilted and odd. Transitions between scenes were awkward.

I did like the small town setting and pictured a lot of the scenes in the book as actual locations in the town I grew up in. I’m hoping if there’s a second book, it flows better.

Is this something you’d like to read? Do you like cozy mysteries?

It got better with butter.

skinny feelsThere was a time in my adult life I weighed 174 lbs and by all accounts looked amazing.  I worked out on a daily basis and had the butt, the legs, waistline and shoulders to show for it. (I also had a lot of stinky, dirty laundry!)

People made comments about how great I looked and I loved it. I was finally doing it right!

I could make any recipe low sugar and as fat free as humanly possible and knew exactly how many calories, fiber, and fat grams were in anything I cooked or ate. Every single calorie was accounted for and I ate just what I “should”.

And I was hungry often, but it was important to fit into those smaller jeans. And I did. My size 14s were too big if I wore them without putting them in the dryer first. I was almost back in my size 12s I hung onto after college!

Looking back, I was lost. My friends were settling down, getting married, having babies or were TOO wild for my liking. My job was out of control work and I think I was looking for something to control in my life. I also hated myself for reasons I still don’t fully understand, but I suspect are tied to the fact that more often than not chubby kids are made to feel less than than their peers. Chubby/fat teen girls are made to feel worse.

I could be nice, smart, or funny as could be (and I tried) but I didn’t ever feel like I was good enough. My grades weren’t good enough, I wasn’t funny enough etc. I often felt like I never measured up and what’s maybe worse, I wouldn’t ever.

I’d been battling my weight largely since I was about 9 or 10 years old. Being fat meant (in my head) I wasn’t worthy and damn it I wanted to be good enough. Carrying that feeling with me for 18 years took it’s toll on me.

Back to butter.

One day I was at a party and hungry. I hadn’t expected to go to this one so I hadn’t prepared anything I “could” eat…instead I had some bbq off the grill and a little macaroni salad (this was pre-gf days). I reasoned with myself I could just run and swim the next day instead of just doing one.

But then they brought out clams and corn with real butter melted for both. And cocktails, and desserts.

That night, I danced the night away under the stars with my friends and friends of friends. It was the first time I really laughed in a long long time.

I was too hung over to work out the next day, but the day after I returned to the gym and sighed as I got on the treadmill. I really didn’t like the damn thing but forced myself to get on it. While I was there, I asked myself why the hell I was torturing myself doing something I disliked so much. But I kept running.

A couple of weeks later found me back at another bbq under the stars, eating, drinking, and dancing the night away – happy.

I went home the next morning and threw away all the no fat/low fat stuff from my fridge and went grocery shopping again. I started cooking with real butter, worked on not punishing myself for eating the “wrong” food (something I still struggle with 10+ years later) and remembered how much I enjoyed food.

These days I eat full fat dairy because it keeps me fuller longer, try to be mindful of sugar and salt consumption, and move more because it makes me feel good not because I want to fit in a particular pair of jeans. I cook with butter and damn it, it tastes good. I enjoy food again.

When I started to let myself enjoy food, I started to enjoy other parts of life again. I laughed more, really smiled, had energy, and didn’t stress out about how many calories, fat grams, and fiber I was eating.

Life got better for me.

I’m still a work in progress because a lot of things are deeply ingrained in my thick skull, but I try to remember it’s all about balance. If I don’t manage what I should at one meal? There’s another to work it out.

(I should note that the perceptions and feelings from my youth aren’t necessarily what people intended. While there were people who said and did mean things to me because I was chubby by their standards, I also knew wonderful people who never intended to harm me. I also own that I could be a little snot sometimes and not always as kind as I could be. Pre-teen and teen age years were rough man.)

Coffee date

#greggoandcourthittheroad

Today, I’m having a slushy because Daddy-O and I are on a road trip to see OG! They didn’t have any purple flavor slushy (which is my favorite) so I went with orange. Generally speaking, if it’s this hot out and slushies are an option, I’m having one.

Thanks for stopping by! What’s in your cup?

Being on the road with Daddy-O means I’m not at my desk on a Friday, again. It’s all good, I had a lot of vacation time saved up. I won’t be at my desk the next couple of Fridays either because of trainings. It does make the rest of the week a little more frantic, but it all works out.

Speaking of working out, I’ve been taking plank and dance party breaks here and there and tossing some Sun Salutations in when I have an extra min or two. 6 or so mini breaks of a few minutes each adds up, right?

Wednesday, I also chased the kids around the beach for a bit. We went to a lake not far from us to meet Nik’s cousin and his family. While plans didn’t work out as we hoped, the kids and I had fun in the water before we met up with them and a nice visit once we found them. It was a semi challenging day, but we all have those and we move on. By the way, I forgot how much work it was to run through thigh deep water!

My muscles are waking up again and protesting some. I’m sure more will wake up after chasing OG around this weekend. Home slice loves the playground, swings, slides, and the hotel has a water park.

What are you doing this weekend? Anything good? What’s your favorite piece of playground equipment? I love the swings.

Thursday (1)3: Questions I’ve asked myself lately

Fotor_153056343977161Welcome to this week’s version of Thursday (1)3 where I’ll give a little blurb or insight into part of my life. I’ll alternate these with Thirsty Thursday posts and any Guest Posts which come in.

This week’s list is longer because I think about a lot of things. Sometimes I’ll be having a thought and my thought will have a thought. My brain is sort of like a TV on channel surf.

Don’t be afraid or confused by the inner workings of my brain. It’s lately been a fun place and not as dark. Some of the thoughts are pretty normal. Some of them admittedly are not.

Then again, I’m undoubtedly not too normal and that’s just fine by me. Normal is boring.

If you’re curious to know, I’ve given the answers to this particular set below too.

  1. Why did I save this link/pic/article on facebook?
  2. Was that animal sound inside or outside?
  3. When did I lose the ability to hold a plank?
  4. Where did E hear THAT word?
  5. Is this my thought or Adri’s?
  6. Can I really read and review 100+ books in the next year?
  7. Am I talking to myself?
  8. What the heck is Nik doing?
  9. What row/stitch am I on? Is this even the right pattern for this project?
  10. Am I doing this bonus grown-up thing right for N and E?
  11. What did I come into the kitchen for?
  12. Do I really need to keep this or is it okay to throw away/donate?
  13. What sort of events is it okay to make/send cards I’ve made? Birthdays and happy events, for sure. I know people get a kick out of it usually. But what about more somber occasions?
  14. How does [insert name here] even tie their own shoes?
  15. What the hell kind of bug is THAT??!??

And now some answers…I have no idea why I saved that link. / That sound? I’m not going to go find out unless I hear it again. / Not sure, but you can get the planks back if I get my ass to the mat. / E probably heard that word at day care or from the other kids at her mom’s house. / Eh, the thought could go either way. We share a long distance brain some days. / I might be able to pull the book reviews off. Some are kids books and N and E are excited to help me. I think. / Of course I’m talking to myself! The kids and Nik all have selective hearing it seems. (The answer is also yes if I’m home alone.) / I’ve stopped asking what Nik is doing, only asking if he needs help. He does the same for me. / Shrug, it makes for interesting crochet if you don’t know for sure. It all comes out. / I worry about this all the time but try like hell to do it right. Hopefully, I’m getting some right. / I have no idea what I went into the kitchen for to be honest. If there isn’t a timer going off or something I can smell in the oven all bets are off some days. / It’s almost certainly okay to throw away or donate if I’m asking the question. / I think it’s always okay to do a handmade card, but sometimes more generic is better. / I doubt they do tie their own shoes, they’re idiots. / I don’t know what that bug is. (Nik and I are up to about 8 bugs we’ve never seen before.)

I’m quite sure I’m not alone in most of these so feel free to let me know if you’ve had these thoughts or other random questions you’ve asked yourself.

Read it! She Was the Quiet One

She Was the Quiet One by Michele Campbell was provided to me at no charge through my partnership with NetGalley. The thoughts are my own. You can read other books I’ve reviewed here.

I’m pretty sure I thought this was a YA novel and looking for a quick read when I picked this one. It isn’t a YA even though it’s about the high school prep school crowd. But it was a pretty quick read. I think I read this over a couple of lunch breaks.

From Amazon:

When twin sisters Rose and Bel Enright enroll in The Odell School, a prestigious New England boarding school, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. But the sisters could not be more different. The school brings out a rivalry between them that few ever knew existed. And the school itself has a dark underbelly: of privileged kids running unchecked and uninhibited; of rituals and traditions that are more sinister than they seem; of wealth and entitlement that can only lead to disaster.
For Sarah Donovan, wife of an ambitious teacher who is determined to rise through the ranks, Odell also seems like the best thing that could happen to their small family. But how well does she really know her husband? What lengths will he go to to achieve his goals? And when one dark night ends in murder, who is guilty, who knows the truth, and who has been in on it all along? SHE WAS THE QUIET ONE.
Because murderers are almost never who you expect.
In a novel full of twists, turns, and dark secrets, Michele Campbell once again proves her skill at crafting intricately spun and completely compelling plots

She Was the Quiet was pretty good. It pulled me in to the story reasonably early on and was a decently entertaining easy read. However, it wasn’t as twisty, turny, or “thrilling” as the description let on. I figured out the ending pretty early on but kept reading to see how she got us there.

The characters were okay, but nothing really interesting or compelling. It seems like every story needs a “wet noodle” and Sarah certainly fit the bill. None of the characters wowed me and Rose was sort of whiny.

This novel should be re-categorized into YA genre.

Is this something you’d like to read? Do you like psychological thrillers?

Mission Move More

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Physically, I felt really good when this pic was taken.
Mentally, I hated myself.
Is it possible to find a balance?

Moving more. No, not packing up all of our belongings and moving them to another home.

Please, G-d, not that.

I’m talking about moving my tush more. While I’m incredibly happy these days and in a mentally great place, I also feel physically blah and “sloshy”. I think the “sloshy” feeling may be a result of all of the delicious chips and queso Nik and I have been eating as an appetizer before dinner and the home made ice cream we’ve been having for dessert before bed. Maybe? It’s possible.

I’ve also been antsy – which annoys me. For my sanity, and the sanity of those around me, I need to not only eat better than I have been, I need to move more.

How to stay motivated, though? When we have the kiddos, it’s usually not a problem to keep moving. We play, we dance, I chase E. When we don’t have them? My butt and the green chair or couch are good friends.

I think I need to get some sort of routine going. I have yoga on the TV, Wii, a road that’s 1 mile long and mostly flat (there are a lot of bugs though). I know of pools I can swim in if I’d like to make that work. There’s a gym downstairs in my office and a yoga instructor (who I don’t like very much) comes to the office once a week.

I have options to make this happen even though I’m not working in the pool anymore.

Now to figure out how to MAKE myself do it. I tried to set up a yoga group while my bro was in Germany, but I failed to keep up (although it’s been a fun group). A co-worker and I keep talking about going for a walk at lunch, but it doesn’t happen.

Any suggestions? How do you motivate yourself?