Monday, August 31, 2009

Fighting the good fight

Happy Birthday Steven!
Yesterday was Steven's birthday. I love that he is always older than me. We had a nice weekend celebration with just the four of us. Happy Birthday Mr. Man! The above cupcakes are from Cold Stone Creamery. Part ice cream, part cake, 100% fabulous. I would totally recommend them. There are two left in the freezer. I think I may need a cupcake intervention by the afternoon.

On Saturday night Steve and I watched the tribute to Edward Kennedy on CNN. Wow what a life. Such accomplishments and such tragedy. I really didn't know too much about Senator Kennedy other than the obvious. Democrat, Massachusetts senator for many terms, advocate for civil rights and health care, he had some issues with alcohol, he was brother to John and Robert Kennedy and he had a brain tumor. I did start to take more interest in him after the news of cancer was revealed. We learned of his brain cancer not too long after Ellie was diagnosed. I recall Dr. Gajjar commenting and saying that even though this was a tragedy for Kennedy (I think he knew there was nothing medically that could be done to cure him) it would probably be a good thing for those suffering with brain cancer. He said more money would now likely be spent on research at the federal level. I hope that is true. There is such little government funding for brain cancer and pediatric cancer as well. But that is a topic for another day...

The Kennedy documentary we watched was so impressive. A great tribute to his life. Edward Kennedy was a man just trying to make a difference. He was flawed, he wasn't perfect and he knew it, he made amends and he kept going and kept trying. That's all any of us can really do. I did not know he had a son with bone cancer. His eldest son, Ted jr, had his leg amputated when he was 11. He survived his cancer and his father was his biggest advocate constantly telling him he could do things like other kids and that he should always be proud of his journey. That's exactly the philosophy we have with Ellie. We are so proud of her. I think the most important thing you can do in life is to see the positive, the miracle, the good. It's so very easy to go the other way. In fact I believe our society pushes us to be negative, to be self absorbed and we aren't cool if we don't trash talk someone and pick apart every little repugnant thing we can. I guess it's suppose to make us feel better about ourselves if we can find someone that we think is worse off. I admit I have been an active member of that train ride at times in the past and made adverse comments about things that really are not a benefit to any purpose or anyone. It's a struggle at times to stay focused on the positive but I can see the changes in me and my attitude over the last 16 months have changed for the better. I have fallen off the wagon a time or two but at least now I am aware of it. I do find myself reevaluating and refocusing all the time and I am in the process of dropping some bad influences that are present. After going through our journey and having this new outlook for the gifts we have been given, there are certain things and people that I just don't want to deal with anymore. Change is sometimes hard but I really feel that personal struggles and challenges makes you more genuine, more effective and happier. Senator Kennedy faced these types of challenges as well and he ignored the naysayers, he tried to argue his point passionately and he never stopped trying to reach his goals. Never give up I guess is the moral of the story. Stay true, stay positive and you'll get through those tragedies and challenges and be better off for it. Thank you Senator Kennedy for your years of service and for holding your family together during the hard times and for dealing eloquently with your cancer.

Friday, August 28, 2009

This post is Kanye approved

Kanye, Ellie's kitten, is about 5 months old. He has been such a treat to watch the past few months. He is definitely crazy, probably the craziest kitten I have ever had but he is so sweet and funny that I tend to forgive him when he is behaving badly. (which he does all the time) He is truly the Dennis the Menace of the cat world and he totally lives up to his rapper inspired name. This cat has edge and dare I say it, cattitude.

The girls have fallen in love with him as have the other cats. Of course there are days when Charlotte gives him a whack with all her claws extended but for the most part she enjoys her new little brother. Tucker on the other hand is not so sure. Kanye likes to chomp on his tail and follow him from room to room sniffing him. He gets easily agitated but would never growl or bark. I think out of all of us, Tucker is the least impressed with Kanye's arrival into the family, followed by Steven who doesn't seem to be wooed by Kanye's cat charms all that much either.

I'll let the photos speak for themselves. The majority of the household finds him irresistable.

Kanye is getting big
A calm, reserved & reflective Kanye relaxes before finding some trouble to get into.

Face Off
Dodge & Kanye face off for a rumble. Kanye is forever pouncing on him.

That's gotta hurt...
Dodge is a good sport. He could easily hurt Kanye but holds back for the most part.

Mr Kanye...
peeking out from his cat condo.

Ellie and Kanye
Playing with his best bud Ellie. No hamsters were harmed obtaining this photo.

Monday, August 24, 2009

What did you just say???

Do you have a star crush? That one celebrity that makes you swoon? When I was in my early 20s my favorite television show was the X-Files. I loved the government conspiracy based dark drama about two FBI agents that investigated alien invasion and unexplained phenomena. It's still my all time favorite and it was love at first sight the moment my eyes focused on agent Fox Mulder, played by David Duchovny. I usually don't get too caught up in something as silly as a TV show, let alone a fictional character but there was just something different about Mulder. I was so head over heals for this show and character that I still have magazine articles and cut-outs, a Fox Mulder action figure that sits on my book shelf, the series on DVD, and a limited edition Barbie and Ken doll version of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully (complete with FBI badges). Steven, my sweet husband, has rolled his eyes numerous times at my infatuation over the years and he knows that if we ever had permission to have that one dangerous liaison with another person just who I would choose.

Anyway, where am I going with this you ask. This morning Steve flew up to Boston to catch a Red Sox game with his friend Jerry. While in a coffee shop, Jerry says, 'Hey, that's David Duchovny.' Steve looks up and there he is. Right. In. Front. Of. Him. The clouds parted and the sun began to shine, angels sang, happiness filled the world... OK this only happened in my world but still....can you believe it? He was with his children and no one recognized him. Steve was walking by and David walked into him and David politely said 'Excuse me'. Steve would never invade a person's privacy by asking for a photo or autograph, and 99.9% of the time, I would agree with that... but not this time! I so wish he had his camera and got a photo of the two of them. How weird cool would that be? I probably would have gone over to him and made a fool of myself in some way if I were there. There would probably be a restraining order issued at some point. When Ellie did the commercial with Jennifer Aniston last summer, I asked her bodyguard if he knew David Duchovny and he said he did but he was kind of a jerk. I pretended not to hear that but sadly, I have read on more than one occasion that he isn't too nice when fans approach him. I have blocked that character flaw out and maybe someday, in some coffee shop, our eyes will meet and the angels really will sing...

Just to show that there is a whole nation of Mulder/Duchovny stalkers fans out there, I present the 'David Duchovny, Why Won't You Love Me' song. The video is a bit on the cheesy side (OK REALLY on the cheesy side) but there are some cute photos and I so love the words to this song. I could have written it myself. sigh....

UPDATE--- Ellie just came in and asked me what I was doing. I showed her the post and video and she told me there was something very wrong with me. Too funny and in this respect, true.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

My Bucket List

Now that I am old 40, I have been taking some personal stock on life accomplishments that have been achieved and those that have not. So far, I am pretty pleased with what I have done in my life and there are no regrets. I am so grateful I can say that. I truly mean it, no regrets whatsoever, about anything. How many people can say that!? So... the bucket list of things I would like to do sits before me. I am pretty good at achieving goals (unless they are exercise related) and I feel strongly that most of my bucket list items will be satisfied. Actually, one just was this past week. One of my bird photographs will be published in a NWF (National Wildlife Federation) publication this fall, with photographer credit and everything. Pretty cool huh?
I thought I would share my bucket list on the blog. There are probably more things to add as time goes by but for now here are 20 things I would like to do before I kick the bucket. Here we go, in no particular order.

1. Learn to play piano
2. Learn to speak fluent French
3. Visit Ireland
4. Buy a kayak
5. Continue to be a living testimony for what God can do
6. Meet Bill Clinton
7. Visit Vancouver, British Columbia
8. Camp along the ocean in a tent
9. Write a book
10. Go to a taping of Oprah
11. Be a guest on Oprah
12. Volunteer at an animal shelter
13. Own a summer home on Cape Cod
14. Go on a birding excursion in South America
15. Learn to sew
16. Meet Tina Turner
17. Visit the Galapagos Islands
18. Make significant monetary donations for pediatric cancer via the Friends of Ellie charity
19. Go on an African Safari
20. Visit Alaska

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Hurricanes and Helicopters

Some thunderstorms came through this afternoon so I turned on the Weather Channel for an update. Nothing major coming our way but because it is hurricane season, there was a documentary about Hurricane Katrina playing. Hard to believe that was 4 years ago this month. As I watched I remember the feeling of helplessness to do anything to improve or assist these people as well as the anger that this sort of unpreparedness, lack of communication, planning and action on the part of our federal government exhibited. One line in the documentary summed it up pretty well. "...from internet, cell phones and communication to a third world country in just 8 hours". Mother Nature sure is powerful. Thankfully Hurricane Bill is staying out to sea and hopefully it will bypass Cape Cod and not cause any problems. There was a report from my new favorite place this morning on the news, Chatham MA. All swimming in the ocean has been prohibited due to strong riptide currents. Glad we picked 2 weeks before to plan our visit. I hope my new love does not suffer any damages.

Switching topics, I have this weird thing going on with my left ear. It's like a pulsating helicopter sound that I can hear. It's throwing off my balance just a little bit but is more annoying to listen to then anything else. It comes and goes but it's here more than gone. Of course I have googled my symptoms and there is everything from possible fluid blockage to an impending aneurysm slowly making it's way up to my brain to signs of old age. I am only 8 days into my 40s....oi vhey! I am going to visualize fluid and call Steven's ENT doctor on Monday. If I don't make it due to an aneurysm explosion, thanks for reading.

The thunderstorms have cleared and Steve and Ellie will soon be home from dropping off Emma at grandma's for a few days. School starts in about 2 1/2 weeks so Emma is spending the next few days hanging out with her grandma. Ellie will miss her but I am sure we can find some fun things to do. Steve actually flys up to Boston Monday for a RedSox game. He has his birthday on the 30th so this will be a good present for him. Hopefully the Sox will win and make him happy. He is going with one of our friends who is a die hard Yankees fans. Let's hope they make it out of Fenway Park alive.

Can you believe that I do not have any photos in this post? I think that is a first. Not that I don't have a slew that are waiting to be downloaded but I will get to that tomorrow. :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

These are a few of my favorite things...

Because I am a bit brain challenged from last week's vacation, the loooong drive home (summer traffic on I-95 on a Sunday is totally not fun) and working for way too many hours this week processing orders, I have decided to have a blog update full of fluff. That fluff consisting of some of my favorite things that I have been enjoying over the last 2 weeks. In no particular order...

Aren't these the absolute cutest?
These are Japanese erasers that I found in New England.
The hamster is my favorite.

Steven turned me onto this. It's really yummy and mix in some granola and woo hoo, it's a party in your mouth! It has Bifidus Regularis so you know it is good.


My girlfriend MaryAnn showered me (no pun intended) with all sorts of lavender goodies for my birthday. The above shampoo is fabulous and if we had smello-net you could smell for yourself just how heavenly the lavender soap is. ahhh....

Any trip to the Cape is not complete unless a stop to the Christmas Tree Shops is planned. They have all sorts of cool stuff at great prices. Case in point, this plant stand (that I put together all by myself) was just $20.00. I haven't officially decided where I am going to put it but I really love it!

I bought this print in Chatham at a juried craft festival. It is of a photograph of a local house that has incredible gardens. The artist used a technique called glicee to make it look like it was painted. It will always remind me of our fabulous time in Chatham.


New bookmarks from Tickle Bellies!! I love them and I am adding new design choices this week.
They have been selling really well and I am very happy with them.

Another Birthday present, this one from my girlfriend Laurel. I collect Williraye folkart and this is a great new addition to my collection. I haven't seen my mom yet since my birthday and I know she has presents and I do believe more Williraye awaits me in the future. These chicks are hanging out in my kitchen now. Love them!

A CLEAN and GROOMED Tucker! He came back from the kennel all prettied up and smelling good. Not as good as my lavender soaps but better then when we left before vacation. of my favorite shows returns. Project Runway airs tomorrow at 10pm on Lifetime! "Make it work people...."

Monday, August 17, 2009

True and Undeniable Love!

Our vacation is over, my birthday has passed and summer is coming to an end. It all went by too quickly but I enjoyed every minute of it. What a wonderful time we had in Cape Cod. It was really perfect. I am so much more aware now. Aware of life and living. To be able to look over and acknowledge my girls smiling, laughing, and enjoying the moment and to really fully understand in my soul how blessed we all are to be here...does it get any better than that? Thank you God for giving me these days and for giving us the gift that cancer has brought us. The gift of appreciation. This wonderful reward brings tears to my eyes when I see and feel all of the many blessings we have been granted and allowed to experience. Thank you Jesus.

Our trip to Cape Cod was fabulous and I am now head over heals in love with Chatham, Massachusetts. Since I was in my 20s I have always wanted to have a summer home in Madison, Connecticut. I grew up in a neighboring town and Madison is one of the prettiest towns in New England. There have been many happy memories for me in this town and I always find myself drawn back there in my mind. In fact to prove my love of this little town, Ellie's middle name is Madison, so there you go, I am like a town stalker or something. The shoreline there is beautiful and the downtown in quaint and inviting and you can leisurely stroll in and out of shops and stop for a coffee (or a diet coke) and pass by fellow Main Street shoppers and say hello and they say hello back... it's all so wonderful. There is old New England charm with a fast forward lifestyle. This was always the place I would daydream of summering at and possibly living year round should we ever make the move back north...that is until now. OMG (can I say that now that I am 40? Should any adult say that?) I am totally infatuated with Chatham, MA! It is so perfect. Really, really perfect. I know if I drove up there in January when it was snowy and cold, I would totally feel different and the romance may be over but from May to September I am in love. It was like Madison but multiplied by 100. The houses were all immaculate in their cottage ocean scene vibe and there were flowers...EVERYWHERE. Black eyed Susans, Impatiens, Hydrangea and so many roses tumbling over fences. There were glimpses of the ocean and boats from so many view points. Boats anchored by the shore just bobbing on the current waiting to be released and taken for a spin. The sky was crystal clear and so blue, the sand was warm and soft, the dunes were so Cape Cod perfect and the feel of being in one of God's favorite places was evident. I still love Madison but Chatham is my new muse and I will be dreaming about our time together for a long, long time.

Here are a few photos from our trip. There are more over on my flickr account to the right. I honestly didn't get to take as many photos as I would have liked. I am sure if you polled Steven or the girls they would totally disagree but this place is just so special and I came no where even close to capturing it but someday I will return with camera in hand to properly capture the essence that is Cape Cod.

Steve and I on the sand dunes.

Nantucket Sound
View of the grasses facing Nantucket Sound in Chatham

House in Chatham
Chatham house off of Main Street

Family Love
We had a great time and cannot wait to return!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

New England getaway

We are on day three of our vacation. We drove on Sunday and were in Connecticut on Monday and drove up to Yarmouth, MA on Cape Cod yesterday. The drive wasn't bad and so far the weather is OK. It was great Monday and Tuesday but today was a bit overcast and cloudy but no rain so I am not complaining. It was only about 70 degrees today and a welcome change from the 90 degree weather we were experiencing back home. Emma is the only one that complained she was cold and missed the warm weather.

On Monday we drove around to some favorite spots on the shoreline and that night my girlfriend Laurel had a little birthday party for me in anticipation of my big 4-0 birthday this Friday. It was wonderful and so sweet. Here are some photos.

Birthday decorations
the flowers are from my girlfriend MaryAnn's garden. So pretty.
The gifts are from Laurel and MaryAnn. There are streamers and balloons on the walls.

Opening gifts... boy do I love to do that!!!

Birthday Loot
Pretty presents
photo by Emma

Blow out he candles
Ellie helps me blow out the candles and make a wish!
The girls and I spent the day along Long Island Sound and the Connecticut River. It was a bit on the hot side but we still found lots of ways to have fun by shopping and hanging out. Here are the highlights.

sail Away
Sailboats in Essex on the river

Hanging out on the dock by the river in Essex. It was a beautiful day.

Dock Rocking
Emma & Ellie get their groove on while rocking the dock.

Piggies in the water
We all sat on the dock and plopped our toes in the river. It was heavenly...until Ellie saw a fish.

Madison CT
Along the shoreline in my favorite town, Madison.

Ellie & Mommy
Me and Ellie in Chatfield Hollow park in Killingworth

Killingworth CT
The girls hang out at Chatfield Hollow.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Vacation Bound

I am working today to finish up orders and then tomorrow the girls and I head up to New England. Steve will join us on Thursday in Chatham, MA for the remainder of our trip. I haven't been to Cape Cod in about 17 years and I am so excited to go. I checked out the 10 day forecast and the temperatures will be in the mid to high 70s with partly to sunny skies. I will take it! It was a beautiful day here today but I believe a heat wave is on the horizon for us. It has been rather humid lately so 70 degree weather sounds fabulous! It'll be nice to put a sweatshirt on at night while we take our walks. Pretty soon these will be the sights before us! Woo Hoo!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Idol Madness

Last night I took the girls and Emma's friend Allie up to DC to see the American Idols concert. Emma and I have watched American Idol together for the last 3 years. It's one of our things we do together. Ellie watches on occasion but the show cuts into her bedtime so she watches on a limited basis. This year, Allie and Emma both have cell phones and would text each other a gazillion times during the show. Emma's top choice quickly became Adam Lambert and Allie liked Kris Allen. I preferred Danny Gokey... those glasses are just too cute and his raspy voice was awesome. We had pretty good seats at the concert and it was clear early on that even though Kris Allen was voted in as this year's winner, this crowd was here to see Adam. Every time his photo appeared on the jumbotron, the audience shrieked. Emma convinced her sister to join in with the yells of appreciation for Adam. Allie and I could only cover our ears in fear of rupturing an eardrum.

The concert was good. Lots of different styles of singing but thankfully there was just one or two group songs. I am not a fan of the theatrical style dancing and singing that American Idol is known for when it's group song time. I could handle one or two. After the concert we noticed that in the section next to us, people with backstage 'meet and greet' access were assembling. I thought hmmmm.... how can I get the girls passes. It really wasn't too hard. I saw an important looking gentleman with a kind face walk by and I positioned the girls and asked if there were any extra passes. He was so nice. He told me he had posters. He could get us posters and a key chain but he didn't have any passes. He worked for the Verizon Center and wasn't affiliated with the tour. I told him that was fine that I just had to ask. He came back with merchandise and then told us to wait right where we were, he had a plan. During our wait time, one of the Idols aunts came over to give us a pass. Anoop is a performer on the tour and his aunt had one pass and wanted us to have it. I was so thankful but it was all or nothing for our party of 4. In a few minutes, our night in shining armour returned with 4 backstage passes. The girls were beyond thrilled. That was quite easy. Ask and you shall receive. Thank you unknown, kind faced gentleman for the meet and greet hook-up. I will let the photos tell the story as they always are the best way to go.

Concert Goers
The girls are ready to go. Emma wore blue in her hair in honor of Adam Lambert

Ready to Rock
Miss Ellie is ready to party wearing her AI t-shirt and rock attitude

Check me out!
Look at my cool Adam Lambert shirt!!!

Wooo Hooo
Ellie gets her groove on.

Danny Gokey
Danny was fabulous. He is a genuienly nice guy too. He should have won.
I hope Emma doesn't read this.... hee

Kris Allen, the winner, was very good but not quite as good as....

Adam! The crowd was absolutely crazy for him. Emma said the college girls in front of us almost passed out. Really?

Too funny
I love this shot. Ellie just makes me smile. She is headbanging or vibing or something rock-n-roll related.

I don't think Emma will ever be the same again. She kind of color coordinated with him.

Danny and Ellie
Ellie and Danny - so cute together. :)
Even though in this photo, Danny reminds me of Jimmy Neutron from Nickelodeon.
sssh.... don't tell him I said that.

Allie & Kris
Allie shares the spotlight with her favorite, Kris.

There are more photos of the remaining Idols on my flickr account. We didn't get home until 2am but the girls, especially the older ones, had a night they soon won't forget.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I ♥ Faces - 'Summer Series'

I ♥ Faces has a new challenge this week. Normally, it's just one photo that they allow you to submit that sums up that weeks theme. This week however, they are looking for a series of photos that tally up your summertime experience. That's tough to do because so many themes are running wild this summer for us. I have to pick a direction to go in so I am portraying a slice of the nature that we have experienced over the last 2 months in our backyard. Enjoy!

Little Chickadee
Early summer and the Chickadees are singing loudly wooing their mates.

Technically, this is not in my backyard but it is down the road at the lake that our neighborhood borders. Close enough in my book.

Garden Crayfish
This is our pet Crayfish. He lives in our garden and comes out at night looking for frogs and bugs.
He is nameless but if he did have a name it would be Clive or Otis or Manuel

Blue Bird Dad
Daddy Bluebird covered in spider webbing brings breakfast for his kids.

Hot Pink
We don't just take photos of birds.

Zebra Swallowtail
a beautiful butterfly came to visit one day.

Mr. Squirrel
Even though we have a love/hate relationship, I thought I would include Mr. Squirrel. His 85 other friends that like to visit too, well, I am drawing the line.

Stopping to smell the flowers
This is the wildest thing I have seen in my yard all summer.
Quick run and take cover! aaa....there's another one on the chair!