Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Older, Wiser, Happier, Luckier

I was driving home last night, stopped at a red light with my arm hanging out the window, when I heard someone yell, "Hey!" I looked around and idling next to me was an African American man with his front teeth hidden behind a large gold and diamond grill. "How long have you been married?" he asked. I looked confused for a minute, as he looked at my hand and then back at my face. Then I politely smiled, realizing that I had nearly smacked into this same guy while walking in to pick up our Happy Dragon takeout just five minutes before, I said, "Almost 9 years." He shook his head, laughed and said "Well, that's a damn shame. But, congratulations." The light changed, he smiled, flashing his shiny sparkly "teeth," waved and drove off, and I realized that 35 was going to be a pretty good year.

Party time, excellent

Orange Chai Spice Cupcakes

The photog


The Abell GrubesParty pitcher of mojitos

Joe and WSM

The Barnes

My mojito sweater and mojito buzz

My birthday was Sunday. I am now officially in my mid-thirties. 35 seemed a little intimidating at first. But the funny thing is I don't really feel a day over 25, some days barely 16. But I like my thirties more than any other decade. I am more confident than I ever have been in my life. I'm stable. I'm happy. I'm generally less selfish than I was in my twenties. I don't feel like I'm playing dress up in someone's clothes or grown up life. I feel less restricted by what other people think of me. I know who I am.  And I'm pretty sure I'm going to like 35.  And why shouldn't I?

The Margherios

Tasty burgers



After a solid weekend of celebrating my birthday, including a dinner party with good friends and family, pedicures with a couple of my best girls, shoe shopping in which I indulged and bought the loveliest little beauties below, phone calls from friends and family, a Facebook wall full of warm birthday wishes, several relaxing hours spent baking spice cupcakes and a delightful number of birthday cards and presents, I am reminded once again how lucky I am. I sound like a sunny Pollyanna, but damn it I should be, I am a lucky person. So once again, thank you all for making my day, and helping make my 35th year my favorite so far. And though the gentleman with the diamond teeth isn't exactly my type, I'd like to thank him too.

Objects of lust


Photos, except that one with the lady feet, by guess who?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Live Nude Girls

35. Take artistic nude photos of myself.

Why, oh, why is this on my Bravely Obey in Action List? To be honest, this is the one that taunts me the most on my entire list. More than #25 skydiving, more than #3 having a kid, certainly more than #37 learning to make tortillas from scratch. The one I have to work up the courage to even think about. The one that makes my stomach flutter and lurch. The one that seems like an idiotic thing to want to do when you are far from your ideal body weight, over thirty and haven't colored your hair in almost twelve weeks. But.

But, it's still on the list. And I put it there for a reason. I think. Yes, it's there for a reason. And what was that reason again? Oh, yes. I would like to learn to hate certain body parts less. I would like to view myself as a sexy and attractive woman, even without a perfectly camouflaging outfit. I would like to find ways to appreciate a curve or a knee and not constantly critique myself. And while I'm engaged in the long process of losing weight and getting healthier, I want to feel pride in exactly who I am right now. I think women's bodies, of all shapes and sizes, are beautiful. How we carry ourselves, our grace and warmth, curvy and soft or angular and lanky, there is nothing more beautiful than a woman who knows herself and carries her body with pride and strength. I want to become one.

I watched a documentary recently about exactly that type of woman. It followed a group of women who choose to perform classic burlesque striptease and how empowering, freeing and just plain fun it was for them.  And while stripping in its current incarnation seems trashy and demeaning, burlesque has that old fashioned provocative sexuality. The art of covering and exposing, a titillating sense that what is hidden is sexier than showing it all.  I feel like this self portrait photo shoot could be that kind of experience for me. And not in public. And completely under my control.  And hopefully straight up fun. So if I recall, those are some of the reasons I put this ridiculous goal on my list. That, and I'm trying to torture myself.

Based on many, many humbling previous experiences, I'm guessing that anything that makes me this uncomfortable and nervous should really be something that I power through and accomplish. There's got to be a lesson in it. Maybe the lesson will be, don't let anyone, even yourself, photograph you wearing anything less than a head to toe hazmat suit, but I'm a little more confident than that. I'm going to have Joe help me set up the tripod and maybe help me with some angles. But in order to be totally comfortable and have total editing license, I'm doing this one on my own. I'm thinking tasteful black and whites, nothing too racy or over exposed. But something I could be proud to hang on the wall, without making my guests blush, well, not too much. I'm blushing just writing this post, so who are we kidding? But I am crossing the damn thing off my list. I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

One Man's Trash is Another Man's, Nope, That's Just Trash

Joe and I just got back from a mini-break to Omaha. We headed out a bit early from work on Friday afternoon and actually got in before dark. A rare treat, since we usually roll in near 10 pm. We chatted with Joe's parents, Sherry and John, and just hung out. Of course, Sherry forced some dessert upon us. And by forced, I mean, I asked if she had anything sweet in the house, a question I already knew the answer to, and she said, well she just happened to have some ice cream sandwich cake on the premises. Now ice cream sandwich cake, a delicious family recipe, has become a bit of a joke in the Sands family. Multiple and extensive conversations about the limitless layering possibilities. This version was insanely sweet, made with birthday cake flavored ice cream sandwiches, and yes, Jim, layered with multiple levels of Cool Whip and butterscotch. I've finally found something even too sweet for my sweet tooth. After a small sugar coma and some conversation, we headed off to bed. Because what did we need to get up early for on Saturday? GARAGE SALE DAY!

The Epitome of Garage Sale

My warm and fabulous in-laws, as mentioned numerous times previously, live on a lake outside of Omaha. And this lovely neighborhood filled with an eclectic mix of houses, and an equally eclectic mix of people to be honest, has a huge garage sale day, for the whole neighborhood once a year. Over 40 house participated, so we got our sale on. We hit almost twenty houses and collected loot all over. It was hot and sweaty and busy and an excellent way to spend a Saturday morning. Amusing just to see what weird stuff people own, what kind of value they place on their belongings and digging around all the crap to find that perfect little whatever you didn't know you needed. I found a couple of those.

All for under $5

I picked up some books, big shocker. And we scored these cool little metal card catalog boxes. The women we bought them from, for a mere $1 a piece, (we got 5) said that she had bought them from a garage sale at an old library in Western Nebraska. I'm not sure what we are going to do with these suckers, but I know mine are getting a coat of paint, because that yellow is nasty and too 1970's for my taste.

Old card catalog boxes

So we scored books, some cool little storage units and a lot of excellent people watching. An older lady with lavender hair and a matching pedicure, an intense 40-something shopper with a huge pair of breasts hanging around her waist, a man collecting his Scavenger Hunt stickers from each garage sale and proudly wearing them on his shirt, the hagglers and bargain hunters who wanted to argue over crappy extension cords and VHS tapes priced for a measly  $.25, the garage sale operators who bring out everything from their musty basement and label it all with brand new retail pricing, and more mugs than you can imagine. There must be 100 mugs per person in the United States. One thing we didn't come home with was this beauty. If a Porsche is being sold for under $1,000, there must be something seriously wrong. And frankly nothing can quite beat last year's borrowed Porsche.

A Por_che 912

After the garage sale browsing was completed, Joe and I cleaned up and headed out for a little lunch and a visit with his grandparents. We tried a new sushi place, Hiro, and it was tasty, with a simple clean Asian decor. Though I think Blue is still the favorite. We had a roll with asparagus in it for the first time and it was delicious, definitely ordering that again.  Rudely, I couldn't help staring at the strange group of people eating behind us. I couldn't tell if they were family or friends or what. They hardly spoke, hardly looked at each other and seemed totally unaware of how to use chopsticks. Fascinating. Maybe they were on a day pass from the local psychiatric hospital. I'll never know.

It's sushi time, the best time

Then we headed over to Janice and Gus' to talk over family photos and help Janice lay out exactly which photos and which frames she wanted for all of the family photos Joe took last month at their anniversary party.  Joe is going to pull together two large frames with multiple photos in each, after much discussion and talk of mat colors and horizontal versus vertical.  They will be lovely and I can't wait to see it all finished. After running errands around town, we headed back to the lake house for a little birthday dinner with Joe's parents.

Photo project

Sherry's birthday was Sunday so we got to celebrate with some drinks, appetizers, dinner, presents and of course, blowing out candles on the cake. And since my birthday is next weekend, we got to celebrate together. Did you know that Seabreezes are tart and refreshing and the perfect summer drink? And it's a fact that they taste better when served in lobster glasses. And when sipped on a deck overlooking a lake.


Likes the other side of the lens better

Seabreeze and lobster glass

Enjoying my Seabreeze

And presents! Joe bought Sherry and I each a digital picture frame that has Wifi so you can actually email photos directly to the frame itself or add photos using a memory card.  Can't wait to set it up at my office. And I had casually mentioned to Joe that I would love a little piece of pottery to hold jewelry and to add to my growing collection of little pottery.

Perfect birthday present

If anyone could buy something like that for me, and pick exactly what I would love, it would be Sherry. She knows my style and my colors, and I'm sure Joe gave her tons of details, but she gave me the perfect little piece of art. It's modern and funky with all the colors I love. It looks perfect on my dresser and really ties my little collection together. I was just thrilled. Sherry is just that type of person. Her gift giving is one of her talents, and she is such a thoughtful, warm, silly, enthusiastic person. She brings joy and stability and kindness to everyone she knows. Happy Birthday, Sherry.  Thank you for being exactly who you are and thank you for your son.

Not the flying monkeys!

Men and the Grilling

The Log Home

After a tasty dinner, John and I took the dogs for a walk, originally planning to go all the way around the lake, but the humidity and the constant barking wore them out, so we headed back to the air conditioning and the carrot cake.

The beasts relaxing together

Saturday night was a sweet summer evening spent relaxing, feasting and chatting with people I love. Just a perfect way to celebrate Sherry. (And kick start my birthday, since I really strive to stretch out the celebrating as long as possible, 'cause why not?)

Late August Birthday Girls

Sunday morning and Sherry's actual birthday, so we started it off with a sweaty, humid walk around the lake. Followed quickly by showers, because damn it was hot. I think we were all a little rank after that walk, ok, I should speak for myself,  I was. And then more celebrating and eggs benedict.  A little family brunch with Joe's grandparents and aunt. If you are ever in Omaha and looking for a cozy little place for brunch, give Taxi's a try. It's got a European bistro vibe and an extensive menu. The ladies love it.

The Underhills

Poached Eggs and Asparagus

The Wuppers and the Birthday Girl


Just listening for once

Wrapping up one of those rare weekends. We didn't get together with friends. There was no one else staying at Sherry and John's house, it was just the four of us. And as much as I love it when the house is packed with family and kids running around, and the weekend is packed with friends and get-togethers, it was relaxing and refreshing to just stay around the house and talk and read and catch up, oh, and the eating, always with the eating. Ice cream sandwich cake, anyone?

Some photos by Joe Sands, some photos by me, if you really care who took it just click on the photo. If it's really good, it's probably Joe's.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

10 Hates 10 Loves: Tuesday Edition

Let me get the hates out of the way first:

  1. Getting a piece of something green stuck in my teeth and no one telling me at the office until the courier, whom I do not know, politely mentions that it looks like I'm growing lettuce in my mouth.
  2. Stepping in a puddle while wearing sandals.
  3. Close talkers or close standers. This isn't Japan, you don't need to stand one inch away from my face so that I can hear you clearly.
  4. Martyrs, not like Jesus, I like Jesus just fine. More like people who take on more work than they can realistically handle and then want us to prostrate ourselves in humble appreciation of their glorious dedication. Just ask for help, damn it.
  5. Sandal wearers who don't trim their toenails. Then I have to stare at that long Frito growing out of your big toe, because it's there and for some reason it won't let me look away once I've spotted it.
  6. The fact that my hair is so oily I have to wash it everyday. If I don't then I look like I just escaped from the set of Reality Bites by the end of the day. I've got Ethan Hawke hair today. 
  7. My dirty desk. Even though I clean it weekly, the stupid thing is dusty again in a day. This office is like a friggin' cabinet maker's workshop, it's so dusty in here.
  8. When drivers in front of me constantly glance down at their map, then come to a complete stop in the middle of the road. Maybe just pull over?
  9. Mac versus PC font issues in my marketing materials. Shouldn't a pdf look the same on any computer? Do I really have to use Arial to solve this problem? Please, no.
  10. My own short fuse today.
That would be me and my greasy hair on the left, in case you haven't seen the Gen-X delight that is Reality Bites.

Whew, that felt good. Now in order to give myself an "attitude adjustment," as my father would say, here are ten things that actually make me smile and not want to throttle someone today:

  1. Bagel Thins, the chewy, delicious toastiness of a bagel with 110 calories. 
  2. This lovely lyric from The Avett Brothers song, Ill with Want -"Free is not your right to choose, It's answering what's asked of you." I'm still thinking about what that really means.
  3. When someone cancels a meeting that I didn't want to go to in the first place and I get two hours of my life handed back to me.
  4. The morning ritual of grabbing coffee, kissing Joe and yelling bye to the dog as I walk downstairs to the garage. And the fact that 50% of the time, Joe yells something that I can't quite hear, because I'm already in the basement, but I'm pretty sure he's saying "I love you," again.
  5. The Oatmeal
  6. Little kids singing along to horrible pop songs on the radio
  7. While working at my desk in Kansas, fantasizing about traveling to Egypt or France. Fantasizing is free.
  8. Letter openers, sharp and heavy and I like the sound they make tearing through the paper.
  9. Trying to decide what kind of cupcakes to make for my own birthday party, is that weird?
  10. Ice water, really cold ice water
Why is today the kind of day where I could have easily listed 1,000 things I hate, but coming up with 10 measly things I love was a challenge? That's ridiculous. Got a couple you want to share or vent about? Go for it.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Brunch is the New Dinner and a Movie

About 99.5% of our close friends have children. This means that a social life that used to include lots of dinners out around town trying new restaurants, movies followed by deep discussions and the possible ridiculous miniature golf outing or multi-margarita night has changed a bit. It looks a lot more like this now:

The girls

Look at that grin

Can I keep this one?

Tickle claw wouldn't stopHillary and Helena

Our social life now involves things like brunch at one person's home while kids run and play and scream or gnaw on plastic toys while adults talk about parenting and work and dream vacations and lack of sleep and trying to cram in exercise or alone time or date night time, passing around sleeping babies and talking about our newly purchased iSomethings or that documentary we DVR'd last week or the beauty of Netflix instant watch or the books we are reading. My life has changed because our friends' lives have changed. Joe and I find ourselves sitting at train themed restaurants and yelling to talk to each other over the sound of screeching train tracks and super excited children.

Fritz's Woot WootFritz's Woot WootFritzi's Woot Woot

Fritzi's Woot WootFritz's Woot Woot

I sometimes miss our pre-kid social life. I occasionally miss the adventures and the new experiences out and about. But let's be realistic, we were never crazy partiers. And Joe and I still get to do these things. We still have the luxury of sleeping in and drinking too much occasionally. The luxury of long spontaneous dinners where we only have to feed ourselves and not another ravenous small person. And we have a few couple friends without young children. Okay, one.  So I'm not complaining. Just stopping to observe in this brief quiet moment alone on a Sunday afternoon.

Shannon, Dominic and Michael

Miss Madeline

Most of our close friends are friends we made in college or high school. So we've all essentially grown up together. Stopping to think about where we have all come from makes me proud and happy, but a touch melancholy at the same time. Those free college days are gone. Maybe it's the fact that I'm turning 35 at the end of the month. Maybe it's the fact that I just finished serving our second Sunday brunch in a row to friends with chubby armed, drooling adorable babies under the age of one. Maybe it's the ongoing realization that the next ten to twenty years will be filled with so much change.  And I have no idea what to expect. I like that and I'm scared by it. I feel like Joe and I are both on the edge of something new lately. New work/creative challenges, new expectations for ourselves, possible new small family member at some point. I feel edgy and unsettled and that's not normal for me. But that edginess has an energy and an electricity that is invigorating.

Aedan and Benjamin hug it out
Amidst all these new possibilities and upcoming changes, today I just feel grateful that we still get to spend as much time as we do with our friends. We make the time for each other. And it's different than family. We continue to choose each other and choose to make time in our lives for each other. So thank you for that. Thank you for making sure we all get squeezed in. I feel grateful to have a group of friends that will listen to me, that know me so well that even if we don't see each other as much as we used to, we are still connected. We speak the same language.

Aedan and his impressive train trackTara and Madeline

The balancing act that is parenthood isn't lost on me. I like to think that our flexibility and our understanding, and frankly the sheer enjoyment that Joe and I both get from hanging out with kids, just enhances our friendships and makes the fewer times we get together still enough. Will that make it an easier transition for us when we have kids? I hope so.  I know we will continue to meet new people and create new friendships, especially when we have a kid. But I also fear the growing apart that happens to some friendships as kids age and the focus becomes school, and sleepovers and neighborhood friends and fellow parents. Priorities shift and they have to. So I'm savoring today. I'm savoring the fruit salads and crappy train delivered hamburgers, and the screaming fits and the plastic toys scattered around our living room, and the great if stilted, while someone wipes a small snotty nose, conversations.

Caroline and Maddox

So ignore my bittersweet, wistful, getting-old post here this afternoon.  I'm excited for whatever comes next, really I am. Just look at the adorable pictures from the last few weeks of Uncle Joe and Aunt Kassie's kid time, how could I not be excited? I'm going to go get another cup of coffee and buck up.

Mr. Maddox and Mac

99.5% of photos taken by Joe Sands. Who else would have so many perfect baby pictures?