Thursday, November 26, 2009

My Cup Runneth Over....

I was fortunate, as a child, to be surrounded by adults who were pretty good at pointing out that I had a lot to be thankful for. They weren't annoying or pushy about it, like I am with my kids, but they managed to get that point across. My grandma used to tell me, rather ironically, that my cup runneth over, as she would always be quick to point out that hers was "always upside down". So when I get caught up in thinking of things that I want, I like to sometimes pause & think of all that I have. One of my favorite bloggers, Karen Walrond, of Chookooloonks listed 100 things she was thankful for & I thought it seemed like a cool challenge to take on, so I did it too.

100 Things I Have To Be Thankful For:

(no particular order!)

1. Chuck, Ryder, Wyatt & Brooks

2. Baseball - doesn't matter if Brooks is playing or Pujols is playing, I love the game!

3. Chuck's ability to make me laugh in almost any situation.

4. My clients - every year you guys just get better & better!

5. My Canon 5D

6. Highway 30-A - complete paradise on the gulf coast of Florida

7. My neighbors - one of many reasons we're still on Waverly. They're the best.

8. Sonic Happy Hour

9. My mom's "positive-to-a-fault" spirit

10. Apple - for giving me my iMac & iPhone

11. Ryder's quick wit - though it can get her in trouble!

12. My parents, for never telling me I "couldn't" do something.

13. Bill Bryson, Dave Barry, George Carlin, Chris Rock & Ellen....(I guess that's actually 5 things!)

14. Wyatt's teacher - for having a way with my son that just kicks ass - she "gets" him

15. BC Power

16. My Sauconys

17. Don't laugh. The Prizm & all it represents to me. Simplicity & not keeping up with the Joneses.

18. My Suburban. Shut your ______ mouth if you don't like it. With three kids & a business to run, it's a lifesaver. You can criticize me when you're living off the land & riding a bicycle to your job.

19. Fried cheese

20. Dr. G & Mystery Diagnosis - for giving me a whole new list of things to worry that I might die of....

21. Humor in all forms - it can get me through anything

22. Gladware - seriously, what did our forefathers use?

23. ALL of my photos - and that is 1000's upon 1000's.

24. Flickr - endless inspiration

25. Twitter & the nuts I follow - They make me smile many, many times each day.

26. All Free & Clear detergent - Without this you would constantly see me digging at my crotch so you should put it on your list and be thankful too.

27. Ryder's amazing taste & style, which did NOT come from me.

28. Fiji water - it's better than any other water & don't tell me it's not!

29. Wyatt's gentle nature

30. Pizza Hut - for seeing that we are fed when Chuck travels

31. Hugs from Brooks when I least expect them

32. Fried pickles - Kimberly Brown, you created a monster!

33. Downtown Little Rock - endless shooting locations & tons of inspiration

34. Coach Tim (soccer)

35. Facebook

36. Books - soooo many books & Little Rock's great library system

37. Amusement & water parks

38. 70's & 80's tv re-runs

39. Long johns from Faye's Bakery

40. The Sugar Shak in Rosemary Beach, FL

41. Vanilla pancakes from Great Southern in Seaside, FL

42. Magazines - at least the ones that are left!

43. Art fairs

44. Spaghetti & meatballs, preferably made by my dad's wife, Debbie

45. Red, my dad's dog

46. That someone saw a need for Photoshop!

47. Blogs that inspire

48. The Flying Fish restaurant

49. Martha - I'm thankful for her in many ways.....

50. Albert Pike Recreation Area

51. Brooks' athletic prowess, especially with a baseball!

52. Overgrown fields, bright walls, abandoned buildings

53. Wyatt's curly hair

54. Blue Gulf waters

55. My patio - I swear I'm using it more in 2010

56. Target!

57. Presbyterian Disaster Assistance - These folks are doing great things every day.

58. Tory Burch, Kate Spade & Trina Turk - creative geniuses

59. New journals to begin

60. Fairhope, AL

61. Nancy Drew mysteries

62. Ryder's indomitable spirit

63. My recipe collection - though I don't use it as often as I should

64. My daughter's wonderful circle of friends

65. Light - need it @ home and love it for work!

66. My collection of vintage Christmas ornaments

67. That people are willing to be soldiers, firefighters & policemen & risk their lives for me

68. My vintage restaurant postcard collection

69. REAL Christmas trees

70. Cupcakes

71. Olives

72. Bazzill orange peel textured cardstock

73. Pajama pants

74. My memory foam pillow

75. That I am lucky enough to not have to work full-time

76. Hot baths

77. My Tempur-Pedic mattress

78. My Dad, for having the courage & faith to let me make a lot of decisions myself. I didn't realize how much courage that took until I had my own kids!

79. Free movie bonuses @ Blockbuster, especially when you aren't expecting them

80. That I'm not shopping on Black Friday

81. The little 1950's ranch house that we call home

82. That Chuck has a flexible schedule & can help when I need him

83. Birthday cakes

84. True crime tv

85. Quilts - especially the one I always try to steal from my mother

86. Mare

87. Karl Rove - I just threw that one in there to make you cringe

88. Heroes like Captain Sullenberger, who renew our faith in mankind....

89. People like Dooce, who inspire others to be themselves & be REAL

90. That my kids are all very creative, in different ways.

91. That I've never had to face a real tragedy in my almost 40 years...

92. That Chuck has never lost his job (nor, for that matter, have I!)

93. Chances to re-connect with old friends....

94. All my thread, floss, canvas and needlework stuff. It's my sanity many days....

95. My neighborhood pool & the friends it's brought into my life.

96. My friend Janis, for showing me what true strength is.

97. Gulf breezes - I don't get to be near them as often as I would like but I love them when I do!

98. Entrepreneurs who change the world - and by this I'm referring to the mobile donut truck in Alys Beach, among other things!

99. Tony LaRussa

100. Simon Cowell - surely you didn't think I'd forget him.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Ahhh, the joys of the end of summer.....

In the summertime, I live for the pool.  It's where I hang.  I usually start out with a book in my bag, planning to relax & catch up on some mystery or memoir that has eluded me during the school year & nine times out of ten, I find myself caught up in girl talk with my posse of fellow pool-lovers & the book never gets cracked.  Usually gets WET, but rarely is it cracked!  I should say this is how I live every summer BEFORE we go on vacation.  AFTER vacation, the forces come together & completely conspire to rob me of my daily dose of Vitamin D, girl talk, concession-stand food & the occasional icy plunge.  This year I daresay I have been ONCE since we returned from Florida on the 12th of July.  The boys just do not want to go.  "It's hot!" "None of our friends are there!" "We just want to stay home!" Ryder still seems to be on board but can go by herself, hook up with friends, and leave me in the dust.  We've seriously entered that stage, at once welcome & dreaded,  of her just not needing us as much as she once did.  So I find myself sitting at home a lot these days, not wanting to drag the boys out in public & corral them in stores, not wanting to listen to them complain about the heat & not wanting to exert the energy it takes to plan outings that are free, cheap & actually have a remote chance of trumping a heated game of Wii baseball or an old episode of Drake & Josh.  The upside to all of this is that I actually seem to be accomplishing some things at home that I've been needing to for some time now.  A massive unloading at Goodwill is in the cards sometime soon.  And my e-bay auction list grows daily.  You may just find Chuck on there soon.  But then who would do the housework?

Every stinkin' year, I say, "We're going to save enough that we can take a mini-vacation right before school starts." Sort of a last-ditch effort to stave off the end-of-summer blues. Then we download the school supply list and I realize that instead of paying for hotel rooms, breakfasts at IHOP, & amusement park admissions,  I will be purchasing 45 glue sticks, 350 markers, 11 pair of scissors & a $150 calculator, not to mention haircuts, shoes & the ever-necessary new backpack.  I could begin photographing weddings again & work all of it in financially but then I would sacrifice my sanity, so the "August mini-vacation" remains an elusive dream. Someday, folks.  Someday.  I can almost hear your sobs....

Speaking of school, registration is today.  School registration is one of my pet peeves.  First of all, I think we're all adults here & a simple "fill this out IF you have not moved or had any major life changes IN THE LAST TWO AND A HALF MONTHS, for God's sake!" would do.  Seriously, folks, is it necessary to have to go fill out the same paperwork EVERY SINGLE YEAR???  Listen:  My doctors have not changed.  My dentist has not changed.  My hospital of preference, should my child become mangled in music class, has not changed.  My address has not changed SINCE 1997!  My marital status has not changed.  My emergency contact has not changed.  Get it???  Can't I just call up there and say, "Yo, the Buttry's are comin' back. Check the box."?  

But if we didn't check in, we couldn't purchase t-shirts or yearbooks or planners or hoodies or PTA memberships or all the other stuff that causes Chuck to look in the checkbook every year & say, "Our kids ARE in public school, aren't they?  I thought that was free."  And when would we get our gift wrap packets to raise money for the school?  Now, I sell the gift wrap each year & my kids get to ride in the limo & I completely understand that we need money to plant flowers and put in playground equipment & pay for an art teacher & a Spanish teacher.  I'm GOOD WITH THAT.  But last year, when the children came home with packets to SELL FREAKING COFFEE after we had sold gift wrap and raised money for this charity and that & had the fall fling fundraiser & were preparing for the Jubilee fundraiser, I nearly hit the roof.  No, my dear children, no matter what two-dollar-plastic-or-stuffed-piece-of-crap you are going to win for selling this, I am not going to hit up the friends & relatives again.  Actually, I'm shocked that they haven't ridden us out of town on a rail already!  I'm convinced that when my Dad kicks the bucket, his inheritance to me is going to be 1850 rolls of giftwrap purchased just so his grandkids could ride in a limousine.  Maybe I can sell it on e-bay and take that August mini-vacation??

So I'll end this bitchy epistle by stating the the only joy of the end of summer is seeing their little backs (with new backpacks!) walking up Waverly to their school & knowing that if we can just get through the next 9 months, at least the July mega-vacation awaits!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Saga of the Latest Stone....

I realize that I, in a moment of unrestrained ambition, started this new blog with the intention of posting creative projects, photo tips, & some occasional witty repartee about this comical life I live.  I, unfortunately, forgot that summer was approaching & it would be approximately three months before I could wipe my ass without a knock on the bathroom door, let alone sit down and CREATE something.  In fact, all of my blog followers have forsaken me, but in their defense, how can one follow something that isn’t moving?

 My summer had been rolling right along at a rather rapid but enjoyable pace, with a vacation to Florida & lazy days spent lounging by the pool with girlfriends.  Then we got back from Florida & my kids decided they didn’t like the pool anymore & things started going downhill. Fast.  Rock bottom was reached last Thursday morning at approximately 8:30 a.m. CST.  The night before I had been unable to sleep for most of the night.  No pain of any kind, just restless & constantly going to pee only to find when I get there that, “Silly me, I guess I didn’t need to pee after all.”  That was my first red flag.

 As Chuck left for work, I had a twinge of pain in my lower left “flank”, the technical word for the part of your back that directly coincides with your left kidney. Second red flag.  For some reason, I dismissed it & sent him on his merry way.  For about 15 minutes, that is.  It was then that I was struck with that indescribable feeling that can BEST be described as someone grabbing your kidney with vise grips and squeezing as HARD as possible all the while enthusiastically dancing the macarena.  Yep, time to proudly announce the arrival of kidney stone #7. 

 I called Chuck & summoned him immediately back to the castle where he found me as close to upside down as I could get, on the couch, writhing in pain.  I had already called my mom & summoned her so she could babysit & the boys’ trauma could end right there, without them being dragged to the ER.  Wyatt was already sure I was on my way out of this world & I would have been ok with that, at the time.  For those of you who have heard that there’s nothing like a kidney stone,  let me tell you – THERE’S NOTHING LIKE IT.

 Off we go, me reclined in the front seat of the Suburban, feet braced against the windshield, as Chuck drove 10 freaking miles an hour.  That was 10, not 100.  TEN.  I kid you not, my neighbor could have gotten me there faster on his Gator.  As we pulled up to a RED light at Mississippi, behind another truck, Chuck said in his calm, lilting voice, “I wonder WHY in the world that guy turned left on a RED light?” to which I replied, “Probably because his wife is passing a f*%$#!g kidney stone in the seat beside him!” and he stepped on it and ran it too.  Now, in his defense, I realize that it probably only seemed that he was driving slow, but by the time we reached the fifth RED stoplight at Evergreen Street, Chuck & I were both feeling like this was the first phase of Obama’s healthcare plan and he was determined to show me what I deserved for casting a vote for that Palin bitch.  “I’ll show you what being denied healthcare feels like, you Republican nit-wit.”  But I digress…we eventually made it.

 Made it to the hospital parking lot anyway.  The drive-thru emergency entrance & covered canopy IS BEING COMPLETELY REDONE (no doubt using stimulus money) because it apparently isn’t up to par or isn’t working right or the owner of the construction company’s brother is on the hospital board.  Dust, Visqueen, jackhammers galore… No chance for “just drive through & kick me out so I can get hooked up to narcotics while you park.”  No sirreee.  We got the last parking space in outpatient parking and I WALKED TO THE ER about a distance of half a block.  Fun.  At this point I’m just happy it’s within sight,  kinda like an oasis in the desert.

 MUCH to my relief, even though the parking lot we used was completely full, the emergency room had one lone woman, in worse shape than me, fighting early labor.  We got checked in and hurried through the standard questions like, “On a scale of one to ten, how bad is your pain?” to which you want to say “Let me tie your penis in a sailor’s knot & you tell me…” “Has your address changed?” Not since the third stone, ten years ago! “Here are your rights & responsibilities as a patient…”  OK, how ‘bout we make a deal? You give me drugs NOW & I’ll be nice and say great things about you!  How will that work? Somewhere about this time, as I am, I kid you not, lying down in a regular chair with my feet straight up in the air, clutching my back, my sweet husband looks down at me and says, “My wrist is killing me.  I wonder if they could check for carpal tunnel.”  And what COULD have transpired at that moment is the best argument the liberals have against concealed weapons, in a nutshell.

 We finished the technicalities & they told us to sit in the waiting room and they would call me back soon.  Thank you Lord, for the genius who put COUCHES in the waiting room so people in agony can lie down & writhe instead of chairs with hard metal arms, like I might want to sit patiently and peruse the latest issue of US magazine while a “renal calculi” of 2.5mm is making it’s way down my 2mm ureter.  Being the only one in the room, besides Chuck, I chose to lie down and again, raise my legs in the air.  I cannot tell you why that helps, but in this case it provided an ounce of relief, which was worth more per ounce, at that moment, than gold.  Chuck looked down and informed me that the entire crotch of my pajama pants was a gaping hole so I laid my legs across him & at that very moment, and I PROMISE you I am not making this up for comic effect, Chuck, my dear husband of 15 years, decided to PLUCK A LEG HAIR OUT RIGHT ABOVE MY ANKLE. I was incredulous.  I mean, what does one say in that situation? “If I survive this, I swear, I’m tweezing your scrotum!?!” Or rather, what CAN one say, in a public setting without fearing arrest?  He PLUCKED a hair out of my leg as I was passing a kidney stone…….it leaves one speechless. And they wonder why we tell “man” jokes?

I finally got back to a bed in the actual ER & it's bed #6, which I know well, because last time I was in that room, I had to be rushed to surgery to have a stone removed with what they call “the basket”.  Hoping that’s not an omen, I settle in & I am (remarkably) attended to in a wonderfully-efficient fashion.  First the nurse came in, a protocol I was very familiar with, to feel me out and see if I’m just there smuggling in a vial of chicken blood to contaminate my urine & try to score a “fix”. When you’ve had seven stones and been to that very ER for the last four, two of which required surgery, it’s pretty easy to prove yourself credible.  The doctor comes in, followed, soon after,  by a little lady whose name I forgot, but who reminded me of Butterfly McQueen.  She tried to whisk me off to the CT scan but the nurses stopped her & asked me if I would like to have drugs now or when I returned from the CT room.  I told them that I had WANTED them at the intersection of Cantrell and Mississippi so I would rather have them NOW, if that wasn’t too much trouble. At this point, I’m thinking that nothing can be worse than the stone, so who cares about an IV insertion?  As they started to do my IV,  I suddenly realized why there were TWO nurses.  Because the one inserting the needle in my arm was A STUDENT!  I thought I was in for a nightmare when the older nurse said, “No! Not there! Down a little!”  But to the student’s credit, she hit the spot & I was soon medicated to my satisfaction.  I was then taken for the CT scan, where I learned that I not only had a 2.5 mm one stuck in my ureter but two others, 6mm and 3mm, just waiting, like Seabiscuit, to come out of the gate.  I was then rolled back to the ER by a jolly little man that reminded me of Sherman Hemsley, though at this point, I suppose it could have been the narcotics at work.

 While I was in the CT room, a morbidly obese man who was alternately puking and panicking was moved into the “room” next to me.  I say this in quotes because when the wall separating you is nothing but a sheet, “room” seems like a misnomer. (At least I wasn’t on a gurney in the hospital corridor next to a man handcuffed to an ambulance stretcher like I was with stone #6.  Don’t think I haven’t lived, folks.) The puking man’s devoted but pure-dee country wife was trying to talk him through his circumstances, but I truly felt like Billy Bob Thornton might pop his head in the curtain & ask if I would like to be an extra in Slingblade 2. There were not enough drugs to deal with the pain of listening to that couple & I began to pray the doctors would just let me go home & tough it out there.

 Eventually, they told me the 2.5mm stone should pass on it’s own and the other two could attempt to pass anytime OR could stay inside me for 30 years or more.  (Imagine how big that 6mm one will be in like, oh say, 2025?)  And, by the way, the doctor said, “that 6mm one is REALLY GOING TO HURT if it attempts to pass.” Thanks for preparing me, because I’m kinda enjoying the 2.5mm one & the 3mm one should be a PIECE OF CAKE!  Then he gave me the standard instructions: call your urologist & go home and ingest a few 5-gallon buckets of fluid & oh, here’s a little megaphone-shaped thing for you to pee in & look for the stone.  At that moment, the older nurse came in with a wheelchair.  You should know this: I don’t do wheelchairs.  I do Demerol when I have a stone, but not wheelchairs. She INSISTED on the wheelchair (policy, I know) & I thought, “Well, it’s only out to the curb where Chuck will pick me up.” But I forgot the construction.  So I was wheeled, much to my chagrin, ALL THE WAY down the walkway, across the road and across the parking lot to my car.  I survived.  Both the wheelchair ride & the stone.  And Chuck plucking the hair out of my leg.  Hopefully that wheelchair ride won’t be published in US magazine.

 There’s a little more to the story but I will skip that part and tell you, in short, that the 2.5mm one passed.  I will also answer the questions that are bound to be asked because I get them every time.  No, they don’t know what causes mine.  No, they can’t give you something to dissolve them.  Seems like there should be a formula as simple as “stain-dissolving Oxi-clean” that you could just swallow & be done with it, but it apparently is not that simple.  It is true that some people just seem to form them much more easily than others and are certainly more prone to them. I’m also apparently blessed with “small ureters” & a stone that might pass painlessly in some, does not in me. Can’t they just “zap ‘em”? Well, the zapper is officially called EWSL (extracorporeal shock-wave lithotripsy) & the stones have to be big enough that they can’t be passed on their own.  It is not painless. All EWSL does is break them up so they’re able to pass with all the pain and agony that I just went through.  So only special cases can be “zapped”.  The 6mm stone that has yet to get stuck may be a candidate when the time arises.  I’ll be sure to let you know!  Stay tuned for the adventures of stone #8.



Saturday, June 20, 2009

Only Two Weeks To Go.......

Two weeks from today we will be loading up the Suburban and heading south. July 4th we will be in Fairhope, AL where we will meet my dad and Debbie, my stepmom, and hang out at our favorite Holiday Inn Express in the pool & also attend the Fireworks Over Mobile Bay at the Fairhope Pier. Really looking forward to this! The next day we'll load up again and head for the beach house in Seacrest. We had to find a new one this year because the other one sold, so we moved a block over. We LOVED the old one so I'm hoping this one lives up to Pineapple Paradise! Both are in Seacrest, right next to Rosemary Beach, so it would have to be pretty bad to be disappointing. This one is near the pool too, which is great! And we have a gulf view from the upper deck. Can't wait to watch the sun go down!

Friday, June 19, 2009

What We've Been Up To....

This photo shows what we've spent most of our days doing! The pool is open & the Buttry's are present & accounted for! It's been so good to catch up with girlfriends, go to family night & most of all, have a place to cool off! I really want to put a salt water pool in the backyard (that will remain a distant dream, I'm afraid) but I do love our neighborhood pool...

Ryder spent her first week of summer in Paris & Barcelona. She made it home fine, but a bit jet-lagged, last Saturday. She had a great time but would like to go back when she can just shop. :)

Last weekend, Chuck's parents came for a short visit & we drove down to Glenwood, AR & floated the Caddo River. Ryder was still on her trip so we only had the boys. We had one canoe, his parents had the other & we let the boys alternate when we stopped at gravel bars. It was so much fun! Nice clear water and not too challenging. Wyatt even took a couple jump off the rope swing. I wish I had photos to post but I didn't even take a camera. We plan to do it again before summer is over so next time I will be prepared.

I've been reading quite a bit, one of my favorite summer pastimes. I love a good "fluff" mystery & I've been reading Edna Buchanan for my quick, entertaining reads. I first heard of her when I read her true crime books written about her career as a crime reporter for the Miami Herald. I really like her light-hearted style of writing & I've always really admired her as a person. I attempted to read Dear American Airlines & finally put it down because it was just not going anywhere for me. Parts of it were funny, though not uproariously funny like reviews have stated, and the flashbacks to his father's life were really just distracting to me. I'm returning that one to the library. Right now I'm reading The Cellist of Sarajevo and I'm finding it to be quite engaging. It's the story of three people attempting to survive in war-torn Sarajevo & a cellist who plays music every day, seemingly without fear. I find the history of this region rather fascinating & although not a true story, I like how the book makes me feel, if that makes any sense. I have such a list of books I want to read that I could literally just sit in a chaise lounge and read non-stop the rest of the summer.

I've also been photographing quite a bit. I've had the joy of meeting new clients as well as the joy of photographing past clients that have grown up on me! Tonight I'm traveling to Searcy, AR to photograph 2 year-old twins that I have never met. Hope they warm up to me! I'm armed with bubbles and Sponge Bob balls to reward them if they're good!

I'm thinking I may have jumped the gun on re-entering the blog world but maybe I'm just expecting too much from each entry! Hope to get on the bandwagon with more regular posting, projects, photography tips, etc. Especially after our vacation....which, by the way, is two weeks from tomorrow!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Little Champions....

I was never a mom who set out with preconceived notions of what her children would participate in as they grew older. I didn't envision dance costumes, violin recitals, or long days spent in the sun at ball tournaments. I also had no idea what they would become or want to become. I simply hoped they would find interests along the way & let those interests guide them in their own dreaming and decision-making. Although I took piano lessons as a child & learned to play quite well, I never enjoyed it & it certainly never became anything that I had a passion for. After I left for college, I can count on one hand the number of times I have even touched piano keys. So whatever my kids did participate in, I wanted them to choose. After we had children, our first two showed very little interest in sports. Chuck tried a bit harder than I did to steer them in that direction, at least with our son Wyatt, but he just never enjoyed it too much & never had the greatest luck getting inspiring coaches. His best one, unfortunately, succumbed to cancer & his worst one, also unfortunately, is still coaching. Ryder, like her mother, made it clear from a young age, that we wouldn't be choking on any dust or sitting in the hot sun for her. Sports were not an option.

Along came Brooks... I'll admit that when we enrolled him in soccer in the fall of '06, I assumed it would be like all of our other attempts at introducing sports and the reception would be lukewarm at best. It was, however, at this point, that fate intervened and we were placed on a team with not only a wonderful, encouraging coach but some of the nicest families we've ever been blessed to know. A couple of players came and went along the way, mostly because we advanced from co-ed and the girls had to leave us, but for the most part, we've been together for 6 regular seasons and a couple summers too. We've become like family and now we have two great coaches who seem to have a gift for being able to encourage and bring out the best in our boys while also letting them know they mean business. The boys have learned how to play to each other, who to pass to, how to call for the ball. Sure, they mess up some and they don't win every game but they're good and it's so good for them. In the beginning it wasn't competitive at all but as they've grown it's gotten that way. For one season, we were undefeated, though the boys didn't even know that until the season was over. I learned quickly that having your kid on the team that everyone wants to bring down is no fun. Thankfully the boys were oblivious. They were "brought down" at the end of the next season and never knew it! Brooks spent much of his first 5 years very shy and NOT very social. Coach Tim & Coach Rohan deserve a lot of credit for bringing him out of his shell. I see him step up & do things now that he would never have done before. What we've failed to teach him about respect, thankfully, they have stepped in and covered. My dream is to be able to point my finger like Coach Rohan and illicit the same response! Brooks loves soccer and he loves them. He's really into baseball now too and after watching him pitch and catch in the yard with Chuck the other night, it wouldn't be fair to deny letting him have a shot at that. His pitches, for a 7 year-old, amaze me. But part of me hopes his first love stays on the soccer field and not the baseball diamond. And then again, maybe there's room for both. It's funny how your children can change you. I'm now perfectly happy for those days spent in the sun at a tournament and even find myself longing for more. Maybe I'll be content at the baseball diamond too!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Sort of like New Year's Resolutions for the Summertime....

I'm a big list-maker. Not sure it really holds me accountable & makes me more likely to accomplish the goals, but I do it anyway. Growing up, my best friend & I would make lists daily. Shopping lists, packing lists for trips we took together, things we were determined to buy from the Hang Ten catalog - you name it, we listed it. Now my lists are more likely to include the usual "what to buy at the grocery store", "what to pack for the beach", "ways to discipline other than yelling at the top of my lungs", "prescription drugs to ask my doctor about", etc. However, the other night, right as the last day of school was approaching, I decided to make a list of goals to accomplish this summer. Nothing big, but something to give me a little direction and be able to look back in August and not think I wasted the time.........So far, this is the list:

1. READ 10 BOOKS. That's about one each week and they can be both fiction & non-fiction.

2. Have my website finally go live.

3. Take two float trips on pretty, clear rivers.

4. Take 50 photos that I really like.

5. Paint the boys' room - finally!

6. Paint my front porch.

7. Find 5 new locations to shoot sessions.

8. Finish clearing clutter from the house.

9. Begin scrapbooking again.

10. Finally take the kids to Magic Springs amusement park, which we have never done.

11. Recycle even more than we do now. We generate a ton of trash. It truly amazes me.

12. Have a street BBQ. Move the grill out front and invite neighbors down for burgers & hot dogs. How long have we said we are going to do this?

13. Try 5 new recipes.

14. Attend an MLS soccer game in Dallas.

15. Rent 5 movies and watch them. (This may seem silly to some but I'm not a big watcher of movies at home & thought I would try to do it more often.)

And on a final note: Only 25 days until we leave for the beach!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Farewell To My Gyno.....

I recently went to my gynecologist in a borderline state of panic, having noticed some pain in one breast. This came only days after my mother was diagnosed with recurrent breast cancer. (Mine turned out to be nothing.) As I checked in, I noticed a sign announcing that my doctor had decided to stop delivering babies. I said an immediate thanks to God that I was past needing those services and went about my visit without another thought. About a week later my mother called me with the news of my gynecologist’s imminent retirement. Your mother is the one you call for support in a crisis of gynecological proportion. She isn’t supposed to be the one who notifies you of one! I immediately corrected her that it was just babies he was retiring from & not the profession as a whole. “No. I don’t think so,” she said, “It’s pretty clear that he’s retiring.” My response was something irrational, I’m sure, like “He can’t be retiring because I’m not done going!” She took that moment to remind me of the Designing Women episode where Suzanne Sugarbaker’s gynecologist retires and her sister Julia says, “Let him go! He’s paid his dues!” I know my mother shared that same thought. In typical “mother-mode”, she appeared at my house the next day, newspaper in-hand, to prove it to me. And sadly, she was right…again.

Now, choosing a gynecologist is no easy task for a woman. I know this, because I’ve been through as many gynecologists as Clinton has girlfriends. In high school, I went to a gynecologist named Dr. Grinny Ho. I challenge you to beat that one. Tell me a funnier name of an actual practicing gynecologist & I will buy you dinner on the spot. He was a nice man & had the redeeming quality of prescribing narcotics for cramps. But eventually, I moved. In college, I chose one from the phone book. Not a method I speak highly of. I thought his name sounded wonderful, like he would be this gorgeous hunk of man who would tend to my issues and give me a little eye candy while there. I was a college girl, after all. Priorities, you know. He ended up looking like the professor from Back To The Future. I will never, ever forget his hair. Or the butterflies all over his ceiling, as if pondering the wonder of the monarch in flight will take my mind off the cold, hard speculum & latex-covered hand.

After moving to Kansas City, my search started once again. I sought an experienced, board-certified male doctor this time & instead wound up with one who looked like a cross between Johnny Cash & Wayne Newton. He stamped my file “chaperone denied” both times he examined me, even though I was never asked if I preferred the nurse to be present. Nice. Completely creeped out this time, I had had enough. I decided to take the advice of all my girlfriends and go to a woman. “You’ll be sooo much more at ease,” they said. Now the entire “do-you-prefer-a-man-or-a-woman” question is not unlike asking someone whether they vote Democrat or Republican. Both can spark a heated debate! People have their distinct preferences, but suffice it to say, she solidified my preference in having a man perform the yearly inspection. ‘Nuff said. Next we moved to Colorado, where I found the gynecologist of my dreams. Not a physically gorgeous man, but he listened & I wasn’t treated like a number. This was a good thing because shortly after finding him, he told me I was pregnant. Although your husband plays the biggest role, by far, in the pregnancy and birth of your children, you have a special place in your heart for the man who not only delivers your child into the world, but orders a steady drip of Demerol & stitches you up with the deftness & talent of Martha Stewart cross-stitching a sampler for the wall of her summer home. This man was wonderful. In my seventh month of pregnancy, I developed kidney stones, literally moments before my husband Chuck’s plane took off for Tucson. Unfortunately for me, not enough moments for him to exit the plane! I was taken to the hospital by a friend and was amazed the next morning when I awoke to find my gynecologist sitting by my bedside. Apparently he had been there off and on through the night since he was on call & felt sorry for me because Chuck couldn’t get a flight out until morning. That’s medical care at it’s finest. When, five months after our daughter’s birth, we got the news that we were moving back to the south, I said, “That’s fine, but no more kids if Dr. C can’t deliver them. That’s it. We. are. done.” God has nothing if not a sense of humor, right?

After settling into our new home and scanning the provider list of our insurance company, I call to make an appointment with one of the few offices listed. They tell me that Dr. Rokas* has an opening and I say, “Fine. Book me.” Now that I’m NOT having kids & I’m much older, I’ve lost some of the gusto & criteria with which I formerly sought out my physicians. I figure a big, Greek guy can’t be all bad. I’ll give him a shot.

I don’t remember a lot about my first visit except for thinking, “He doesn’t look Greek at all.” He seemed nice enough, had a wonderful nurse & I felt very comfortable. I decided to keep him. What I hadn’t planned on was settling down here and eventually having two more babies. I saw him at least once a year for thirteen years and for two of those years, many more times, since I was pregnant. I ran into him on occasion outside of the office, for instance, shortly after my first office visit, at an Arkansas Travelers baseball game. I leaned over to my husband and said, “That’s Dr. Rokas,” & he said, “Wow! She’s gorgeous!” I had to inform him that yes, his wife is gorgeous but her husband is actually my doctor.

Once, during the horrid ice storm of 2000, we were forced to hole up in a hotel for almost 5 days. Chuck came down with a stomach virus with our family of four, my mother and our elderly neighbor all crammed into one room. It was & still is, the closest I’ve ever come to hell on Earth. After an intensely frustrating night with a screaming one year-old, a bored pre-schooler & a violently-ill husband, I announced to the room that I would have Dr. Rokas tie my tubes right there on that hotel bed if he was available. I was officially done. Early the next morning, as I was headed to the lobby for breakfast, the elevator doors opened & there he stood, like a genie out of a bottle, fresh off of a night on-call, ready to grant my wish. Apparently he had no power at his house either & they, too, had sought refuge in this hotel. He didn’t actually tie my tubes that day but his sweet wife did occupy my restless children long enough for me to grab a bite to eat. Two months later, he would give me the news that my third and final child was on the way. So much for that tubal.

I have many memories from the 13 years that I was in Dr. Rokas’ care. Seeing the ultrasound images of our boys and watching our daughter’s eyes well up with tears when she learns that a little sister is not in the cards…finding out when I go in to schedule a tubal that I’m already pregnant and will have to postpone those plans…hearing Dr. Rokas assure me that I AM indeed pregnant no matter how much I think I am not…bringing that third child into the world & getting him to cry when he came out completely silent----at that moment, my doctor was elevated to hero status…and in a moment of serious airheadedness, wrapping my entire body in the small sheet the nurse handed me to cover myself, forgetting to first don the snap-front robe. (She should have handed IT to me too! I thought it was strange but, in my defense, I never saw the robe & I had completely covered myself.) His expression when he opened the door is one I will never forget & that moment of embarrassment is second only to removing my pants at my neighborhood pool to reveal I had never put my swimsuit bottoms on. In all honesty though, if you’re going to kneel eye-level with my vagina, shouldn’t we just dispense with the glorified table runner & get on with it? All dignity went out the door with that one… But I digress…

I will miss him, for sure & I am glad that my childbearing years are behind me. Dr. Rokas was present at both the boys’ births and was just as comforting & wonderful as the doctor who delivered my daughter. I’m glad I didn’t stop with the childbearing like I had threatened to. He has assured me that his colleagues can step in & take over once he’s off lying in the sun with a margarita in hand. I hope so. Because dentists fix teeth & orthopedists repair bones, but a good ob/gyn changes your life. I have three wonderful children to prove that!

*Name changed so as not to force him into hiding from embarrassment!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Need I Say More?

Arkansas is one state that is celebrating tonight! Congratulations to our own Kris Allen for proving the Idol judges wrong and coming out on top! And kudos to Adam Lambert for displaying the style and class he showed all season. Really couldn't call either of these guys a loser. What a great Idol season! Cannot wait to see what they both do...

Monday, May 18, 2009

One of my very favorite children's illustrators, J. Otto Seibold, has teamed with Siobhan Vivian to produce another delightful children's book. Vunce Upon A Time is the story of an atypical vampire named Dagmar who is shy, afraid of humans and a vegetarian! It's been out since Halloween but I'm just now blogging about it. Forgive me. And now you have plenty of time to purchase it before next Halloween! I promise you it will be worth it for the artwork alone. J. Otto is also the artist behind my very favorite Christmas movie ever, Olive The Other Reindeer. (Sorry Frosty, they just nudged past you...) And he's the creator of Mr. Lunch. One of my very favorite creative minds....check anything by J.Otto out for your kiddos and you won't be disappointed.

Weekend goodness....

Finally we get a break from the clouds & rain! What a great weekend we just had. I could go for a slight rise in temperature but the sunshine was wonderful. Funny thing is that my kids are now so conditioned to being inside, we practically had to drag them outside kicking & screaming. In all honesty, they were not out there nearly as long as I had hoped & I'm considering telling a little white lie regarding the positive effects of Vitamin D. Builds muscle, makes you run faster, gets you to the next level on Lego Star Wars for Wii....whatever it takes...

Wasn't too creative this weekend, with the exception of this bouquet, which, I must say, I am quite proud of! Needed a little "pick-me-up" for the living room, so I went to Kroger and purchased 5 of their"3 for $12" floral selections and put this arrangement together. I'm loving the greens and purples with just a hint of white. It makes me so happy, I'm dreading the day it begins to wilt. I did buy a few more succulents this weekend but I have done nothing with them so that will have to wait for a new post. They are seriously addictive!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Add This To My List....

I have long been satisfied with traveling within the United States & the Caribbean. In fact, it irritates me how some get so obsessed with Europe, the Orient, etc. that they take for granted what is right under their nose! Sure, some day I would like to take in a little more of the earth, but for now, I'm happy to skip the Xanax prescription & travel by boat or car. Flying is not my thing. Really, the only country I have on my "must-see-before-die" list is Greece. But today, I add another.....Have any of you ever heard of the Whitsundays? The Whitsundays are a collective of 74 islands, off the coast of Queensland, Australia, bordered by the Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Sea. BEAUTIFUL. Apparently, folks, it really looks like the photos. Blue water and white sand so fine that NASA has used it to make the glass for its telescopes. (And the penalty for taking some can run up to $5000! I'll just sit in it, thank you.) Both Fool's Gold & Muriel's Wedding were filmed on Hamilton Island, one of the 74. I think a week at the Daydream Island Resort & Spa might be just what I need. I mean, seriously, this is stunningly beautiful landscape. And I'm trying not to think about those deadly jellyfish I saw on Animal Planet that are native to Australia.......

Monday, May 11, 2009

Art Fairs & Art Links!

My husband, Chuck & I love to explore art fairs but find little time to do so now that we have three kids. They don't seem quite as interested in them as we are! We used to love going to the Plaza Art Fair in Kansas City, the Cherry Creek Arts Festival in Denver & the Fairhope Art Festival on Mobile Bay in Fairhope, AL. I was also lucky enough to attend the Broad Ripple Art Fair in Indianapolis with my mom -- great show! I love art fairs because, regardless of budget, you can usually find some little work of art or craft that was created by hand, something not always possible in galleries.

Now that we have little time to travel to these events, I'm loving the internet and the surge in popularity of sites like Etsy, Poppytalk, and papernstitch. Soooo many creative minds out there just creating like crazy and many of them doing it as their sole source of income. I encourage you to browse these sites if you haven't. Make it a goal to find something for your home. This morning I've been surfing papernstitch & found the following items that I would love to add to our decor....

With my love of Airstreams, this caught my eye by the talented Jenni Horne.

Love this planter by Irene McCollam & Leslie Greer of Greenware Design. I want to hang one in my bathroom. Or a couple of them together! This is a favorite shop because I have a soft spot for succulents.

One of my favorite artists, Sarah Ahearn, has a great little shop with delightful collage art. Check out her blog too for some inspiration! I dream of taking one of her classes someday!

Finally, I love these little magnets & think I might have to get them while Brooks is in his robot/monster phase!

Friday, May 8, 2009

So Glad I Went....

Today, Kris Allen, one of the American Idol Top 3, came home to Little Rock & Conway to perform and film footage for the Homecoming show on Tuesday night. I am sooo glad I decided to go. It made me really proud to be an Arkansan & really proud to be a part of something, that for Kris, is HUGE. The turnout was wonderful, especially considering that he is appearing more than a couple of times today in different venues. It made me hope that I do as good a job turning out a boy as his parents have. Not a star, but a good boy. He just reeks goodness and humility. His family made an appearance about an hour before he did & his mother just seemed to be bursting with pride and overwhelmed by the support for her child. It sounds corny but the entire experience was just heartwarming. I really can't say enough good things about Idol, because I think it's been a great catalyst to bring families together. I can't tell you the last show we all viewed together before Idol began. And although our teenager is a bit too cool to join in now, it really is something that we all enjoy watching and commenting on. Overall, it's fairly positive, feel-good, reality tv, and that's something that's hard to come by these days. And have I mentioned how much I truly love Simon???


I had my eye on this book when it was first released. Summer is my season. I live for it each year. I spend the winter in complete hibernation, decked out in old sweatshirts & jeans, waiting for the leaves to turn green, the neighborhood pool to be filled to the brim & the humidity in Arkansas to reach unbelievable levels! I love not having to get up & get the kids out the door. I love for them to be able to play in the neighborhood late in the evening. I love an impromptu firefly hunt with no rush to get to bed by 8:00. I love our day trips to Albert Pike Recreation Area to play in the river and grill hot dogs. And I LIVE for our annual beach vacation. Summer is nothing but good for me. And this book embraces it wholeheartedly. Author Suzanne Brown has done a great job of capturing it in all it's essence. The subtitle, "A User's Guide", could not be more perfect. Filled with gorgeous photos that are an inspiration in & of themselves, the book includes such things as:

* a great recipe for key lime pie
* ideas for planning an awesome 4th of July
* how to grow a herb garden
* how to hang a hammock
* how to make a tire swing
* how to lure butterflies to your yard
* how to use a skim board & ride a boogie board
* how to fly a kite
* how to skip stones
* how to run a lemonade stand
* how to whistle on a blade of grass
* how to identify stars & constellations
* history & information on summer staples, such as beach cruisers, margaritas, the bikini, the
Adirondack chair, flip-flops, etc.

I plan to try several of the ideas & hopefully I will remember to post them as I do. If you enjoy summer, this is a must-read for you. If you don't enjoy summer, maybe it's what you need to change your mind....

Monday, May 4, 2009


Our annual beach get-a-way is exactly two months away. Every year when the time draws near, I really enjoy reminiscing by going back through the photos that were taken the year before. It never fails to amaze me when I notice how much the kids have grown and matured. Although Brooks looks pretty much the same - piercing blue eyes, shaggy "do" and a smattering of freckles across the nose - he has a more mature look that makes me just a tad sad. Every day he loses a little more "baby" and gains a lot more "boy"! There are so many things that I'm soon going to miss - his love of monkeys and how George, his best monkey, is still his favorite companion, his sweet little accent that is unique to him (& his buddy Sammy!), and the fact that he still likes to snuggle. I guess it's always hard to see the last one grow up, even though there are habits and stages that I will gladly usher out as maturity bears down on him! It does seem though, as they age, what we remember is the sweetness and not the fits and mischief. I think that's exactly how it was intended to be & although I often struggle, I'm trying so hard to cherish the good stuff! Remind me of this tonight when I attempt to get him to go to bed.

Note: Letting this shot of Brooks serve as today's photo of the day!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Photo of the Day

This shot was also taken on my little photo safari last night. As I was rounding a curve in Little Rock's Stifft Station neighborhood, I caught the reflection of the neon signs in the window at Pizza D'Action in my side mirror. Not swift enough with my reflexes to safely grab the shot, I had to circle two more times and make a conscious effort! Totally worth it. I think my ISO was set at 1250 or 1600 and I think I used Program mode on my Canon 5D. Focus was manual and I had to hurry before a car came up behind me. Thankfully not many out on this rainy night!

Official White House Photostream

I think it's pretty cool that there is an official White House Photostream on Flickr. This was one of my favorite shots, though I couldn't help but think of the criticism that would abound if the same shot was a Republican office holder. "What?? The economy & swine flu & war and pestilence & Britney possibly pregnant and he has time to play with a football?" Love that the photostream gives a glimpse into their lives and shows that they're just human like the rest of us. You should browse it. Just click the link under the photo. The shot of them watching a 3D movie is pretty neat too.

Photo of the Day

Technically I missed a day because it's 12:36 on the 2nd but I'll just do two today! One really early and one late! Tonight I went on a little creative photo safari, shooting at night, in the rain. Loved it. One of my very favorite types of photography....and soooo fun to experiment with!

This photo is of a string of lights that hangs over the entrance to the Flying Fish restaurant. To get this effect, you need to have a lens that is "fast" which means it has an aperture that will open wide (f1.2, 1.4, 1.8, 2.0, 2.8, even f4). For optimum creative control, you should also be able to focus the lens manually (AF lenses usually have a switch on them that you can flip to MF). Your ISO will depend on how fast the lens is. I believe this was at 800 or 1000 speed because it was black dark outside. Experiment with different ISO's until your histogram pleases you. I set the control to Av or "aperture-priority" which means I selected my f-stop (in this case f4, I think) & the camera did the rest. Turn the focusing ring until you see the blurry dots in the viewfinder and snap away. You can do this with most kinds of light bulbs, Christmas lights, even sparkles on water....I shot with a Canon 5D and tweaked the saturation a bit in Photoshop CS3. Feel free to leave a question in the comments if I left something out & I will try to reply soon!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Photo of the Day

I know the days when I walk in a room to find this are really numbered. Afraid this could be the last time, I actually grabbed the camera and clicked before they had a chance to duck.

Ongoing Project....

After cross-stitching for years, I have branched out into embroidery. I've listed this as an ongoing project because, at this point, "ongoing" can be read as S-L-O-W! I'm still learning. I'm sure if any readers out there are experienced embroiderers, they will be able to tell just how novice I am! But I found this pillow kit on deep discount and it spoke to my love of bright colors and purple, in particular. I have, however, decided to skip the pillow part & just frame and mat it for my wall. The kit is by Kristin Nicholas, who also has a blog. I love Kristin's work and her love of color. She has a great book, Colorful Stitchery, that I highly recommend, as well as a book for teaching kids a love of stitching, called Kid's Embroidery.

It's hard for me to convey what an escape needlework is for me. I read once about a woman who found solace & strength in knitting when she faced the death of a child. Thankfully, I don't know what that feels like but I do know that it certainly helps me unwind & forget after long, stressful days.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Photo of the Day

I found this patch of heaven on the busy city street that I drive down each day to deliver my daughter to her middle school. Beauty really can be found most anywhere.

Project of The Week....Succulents

It's my hope to feature a weekly project on writecreateclick. It might be something to improve your home, a project to do with your kids, a project to bring out your inner artist (we all have one, you know) or just a simple craft to do for yourself or give as a gift.

This week's project would fall into the "improve your home" category & is one of my favorite things to mess with - succulents. Succulents are plants that retain water in their leaves which often gives the leaves a strange "fat-looking" appearance. Succulents originate in arid or desert climates but they do surprisingly well anywhere, as long as the soil is dry or sandy and the water is sparse. I love that they require little care & was shocked to find that some of mine that I failed to bring indoors actually survived the Arkansas winter (not exactly Phoenix!). This morning I took my favorite brown containers that held my paperwhites over the holidays & replaced the bulbs with several varieties of succulent. You should try it too. Mix equal parts potting soil and sand and plant several varieties in each pot. Don't worry about crowding. They are more attractive if the pot is full.

If you're looking for succulents, I highly recommend Chris Olsen's Botanica Gardens if you're in Little Rock. He usually has a great variety to choose from and several sizes of succulent as well. It's just a great little shop & a gardener's wonderland. I challenge you not to find something that you want! If you aren't in Little Rock, many home centers carry succulents too, but I encourage you to try your local garden shop first! Good luck!