Monday, November 30, 2009

November's end

11-30-09 grateful brain
Greg and I had a wonderful visit to my hometown over the Thanksgiving holiday. I managed to be totally away from a computer for 75 hours straight. Greg however, had his Blackberry with him, so I can't say that he was on any computer sabbatical.

Our meal was delicious, Bunny's pies never tasted so good! My favorite also was my mom's dressing with raisins and apples, and of course the sweet corn! Greg and I had fun playing with the kitten, "Trey Kit", which has doubled in size since we last saw him.

We did some shopping with mom, and also helped decorate their house for Christmas. A special treat was having lunch with my good friend Jean Ann and her son Kalen.

All in all, we had a nice, simple, restful 4 day weekend, which will be needed as December is shaping up to be HECTIC! However, I'm determined to focus on the "reason for the season"..... and on Sunday, I enjoyed a wonderful advent service at Westminister.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A grateful heart

11-25-09 celebrating abundance brain
I’m thankful that I have too many things to be thankful for, which makes it impossible to list them all here…… or anywhere! But God knows where to look for my list….. in my heart.

I am slightly ashamed to say that I’m letting my 81 year old mother and her neighbor Bunny, age 75, cook the Thanksgiving meal for my dad, Greg and I. Bunny makes the best pies! I also have to admit that I have never cooked a turkey or Thanksgiving meal all by myself.

I’ve helped my mom prepare the food, and I’m trying to learn from my mom…. But since she is in good health, she continues to host dinner up in my hometown. If you had the choice between my cooking and my mother’s cooking…. It’s a no brainer…. You’d pick my mothers cooking any day!

PS: Typo correction from 11-22-09; I love buttercup squash, not butternut. There is a difference!

ALSO: I’m allowing myself to NOT blog over my Thanksgiving holiday break. Consider, for yourself, spending less time in front of the computer and more time with people over the next few days!.... you can do it..... step away from the blogs!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sticky Note to Self: #3

11-24-09 again with the Unfocused brain

Have you ever found yourself in your morning shower, as you are in your final rinse, STOP.... and wonder if you had put the shampoo on your head and actually washed your hair?

This happens more often to me than I’d like to admit, and I begin to question my short term memory at that point. Usually my reaction is to quickly grab the shampoo and do a quick wash. This might be a re-wash, or this might be the first wash….. who knows for sure, but just better safe than have a greasy hair day. I probably have the cleanest hair in town.

I realized when I did this today; my mind was not focused on my shower, but instead on my morning blog. It’s so easy to run on autopilot, and in most cases no harm is done. However, I remember those heartbreaking cases such as when babies are left in their car seats as mothers rush off to work. I have great compassion for those women, since I believe it really could happen to any of us who get too busy, get too unfocused, and are not living fully in the moment.

Sticky note to self: Stop worrying about the onset of Alzheimer's and instead, focus on living in the current moment……especially since a warm shower on a cold morning is such a wonderful experience!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Home sweet homes

11-23-09 homebody brain
I'm still pondering the fact, that as of March this year, I live in two homes.

Once I got over the fact that we actually can afford both, due to the fact that we bought a modest home in Des Moines when we were first married..... as our income expanded, we did not "move up".

Living in two homes can be fun. It is nice to have a change of scenery every few weeks, it's nice to have more wall space to hang my art, and it's nice to have two different sets of neighbors to interact with... but at times I stress a bit about living this split life.

I recently added a new blog I'm following on my right side panel. "The Jewel Box Home".... I remember visiting this site a few years ago when my friend Kelley told me that her sister had started a website writing about her love of small homes.

At that time I was so impressed, since I knew nothing about starting a website or a blog. After recently re-discovering this site, I decided I wanted to start following again.

First, I will enjoy reading the older posts starting in 2007 and then working forward to see what I've missed. A shout out to Marie in Chicago!

We all spend the majority of our time in our homes, so they are a large part of our identify, our feelings of security, and important to our psyche... so the attention and care we give to them is worthwhile.... This weekend I washed the large front picture window.... and the world opened up more clearly to me!

PS: If Greg asked me today if I wanted to sell the KC house and have him work again in Des Moines.... I'd say "no thanks".... let's see how this experiment continues for now. It's my new normal.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday transition

11-22-09 traveling brain
Arriving back in Des Moines this afternoon I was happy to be greeted by our neighbor cat Max and a clean house, thanks to Annika our housekeeper. After many Max hugs and kisses, unloading the car, I then walked over to the grocery store.

I was excited to find a few butternut squash in the produce section. Is it just me, or does acorn squash seem more abundant, and the butternut, my favorite, is harder to come by? If I see butternut squash, I am sure to buy. I'll take this up to my parents for the weekend. It's one thing I can make without messing it up.

At the store, I ran into Jan and Polk with a cart full of gallons of milk…… "buying for the homeless shelter, which our church was serving tonight", Jan explained. That might also explained the wonderful smells that were coming from the church as I walked by….. I knew something good was being prepared in the kitchen this evening.

I also ran into Ruth and her two young girls, more friends from church and then I was happy to be in the check out line with one of my favorite check out guys….. sure he’s a teenager and I’m old enough to be his mother, but I still know a cute guy when I see one….. I’m middle aged…. I’m not dead yet.

All in all, another safe transition back to the Des Moines home…

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Weekend projects

11-21-09 weekend brain part II

Saturday projects included decorating the KC house fireplace mantle for Christmas. Keeping it simple here by just adding "Peace" and a small peace dove. A string of lights around the front window and a wreath on the front door will complete the holiday decoration for Greg. The letters to form "peace" were bought at Hobby Lobby today and I just spray painted black.

Today was a mild day, 57 degrees, but not much sun.... but nice enough to do an outdoor project. A find at a neighborhood garage sale this weekend were two teak wood chairs. After a good scrub down, they were much improved! Here before and after comparison.

Asking for help

11-21-09 weekend brain
Last night I ask Greg if he would be interested in contributing a post for my blog.... giving a "man's perspective" on some of my topics from time to time.

He had some interest, but wondered if he had the time to commit. So maybe someday in the future you might read something written by Greg, but for now, he is concentrating on getting our Christmas Letter completed.

I'm pleased to know that *my man knows how to prioritize! I could learn a thing or two from him!

*Molly's term for husband.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Is opportunity knocking?

11-20-09 pondering brain
This last week I have been thinking and blogging about focus, priorities, and discerning when to say yes or no to invitations and new opportunities.

Well, today I don’t know if I’m being tested again, or being given an interesting opportunity.

A few days ago, I received a comment on my blog post from 11-12-09 “Five Girlfriend Rules”. The comment came from a blogger from the website Vibrant Nation, and she (Beth) had interest in my blog, which has lead to an invitation for me to become a contributor to that site.

I’ve started to explore this site: I love the message stated there…. “Vibrant Nation, where smart, successful women 50+ connect with others to make the most out of life every day"....Hey I even fit that description!

Well?! What does my support system of regular readers, family and friends, think about this? I would need Greg, Renee and Vivian to be my editors correcting my spelling and grammar for sure!

I’m actually amused at this opportunity, and maybe a bit perplexed, since I’ve been struggling over the last month with wondering if my Split-in-Two blog had much value. I started the blog for me to work through my Iowa/Kansas life…. Then continued it for Greg and my parents (so they know "what I'm thinking")… then I continued this summer by trying to amuse my girlfriends…. Now I’m not sure.

I was even toying with the idea of asking you, my handful of readers, to be “guest bloggers” on my site, so I could take a break for a few weeks. I know there is no one putting a gun to my head to post every day, but it’s now a habit of sorts.

ANYWAY…. I don’t want more work or pressure in my life. I’ll need to ponder this further…..what can I say, I'm SPLIT on this...... And I covet your comments.

Thank you... from this faithful but reluctant blogger.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Focus on the positive

11-19-09 unfocused brain
Blueberries greeted me this morning, frozen, but gently warmed in their bed of hot oatmeal.

I have much bouncing around my brain today…. The change of mammogram recommendations… Sarah Palin’s book…… Am I a good enough wife/partner for Greg?.... Christmas and New Years plans….Michael Jackson’s movie….. Unemployment is 10%, but this means (if my math brain is still functioning), there are 90% of us with jobs to get to today.

Hey, life is good…. If you focus on the positive.

Today, I am praying for some focus!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Discerning energy

11-18-09 focus brain

"Just as we need to encourage women to test life's many options, we need to acknowledge real limits of energy and resources. It would be pointless and cruel to prescribe role combinations for every women at each moment of her life. Life has its seasons. There are moments when a women ought to invest emotionally in many different roles, and other moments when she may need to conserve her psychological energies."
-by Faye J. Crosby, 20th century professor

I read this quote recently and it resonated with me. I'm asking myself what Season of Life am I currently experiencing... and what should I be focusing my energies on?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Discerning life's lessons

11-17-09 wisdom brain
Over the years, one thing I have learned is that when you are presented with a life-lesson, you can be expected to be tested on it sooner rather than later. Such was the case last week, as I saw the need to bring more focus in my life, there arose many opportunities to distract me from that focus.

I resolved myself to turn down some invitations and keep the focus on all the projects I need to complete by Christmas.

This has always be an ongoing, continual battle for me: Discerning what activities to say “YES” to and which ones to decline politely with “no thanks, not at this time”.

It is time for me to truly embrace the fact that “I can’t do it all”….. and that’s OK.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Chocolate season

11-16-09 cozy brain
Yesterday was the typical weather you would expect for mid November, cloudy with drizzle, and temperatures in the mid 40’s. This was quite the contract to last Sunday, when we experienced unseasonable temperatures of 68 to 70 degrees with plenty of sunshine.

I can’t complain too much now with the return to more seasonal weather, since finally, for the first two weeks in November, we had the warmer weather that we had been denied in the first two weeks of October. So Mother Nature did come through with some pleasant autumn weather, giving time to complete the year end yard work.

Visiting with my 20 year old god-daughter Chelsea a few weeks ago, she mentioned her favorite season was autumn and winter, which surprised and intrigued me. When I asked her why, Chelsea explained that she loves to snuggle indoors next to a fire, reading a good book while drinking hot chocolate. She likes the feeling of a warm cozy home.

I believe Chelsea might be onto something here. Whereas I dread the thought of winter, the lack of sunlight, driving in snow, and suffering from cabin fever…. It’s good to remember and appreciate some of the positive benefits winter can bring with it and I told myself I would strive to enjoy cold dreary days like Sunday. I ended up doing some Christmas shopping with Molly, since Greg backed down from the movie we had planned.

Molly and I heard Christmas music being played in several of the stores we hit, but not “Sleigh Ride”. So I’m still at a score of “1” for the number of times I’ve heard this so far. Molly liked my game, but she wanted to count the number of times she changes the radio station when she hears the “Shoe” Christmas song being played. I agreed she was onto something with that idea!

Our last stop before Molly took me back to the KC house was the grocery store. She told me about a new seasonal treat to try: Chocolate Mint Milk….

So I bought some. Molly advised to mix half with skim milk since it’s a bit thick and I found it to be a bit too sweet. I mixed mine with the soymilk I like AND heated it…. It does make a delicious hot chocolate winter treat to warm you on a cold wet night.

Now I was ready to sit down and finish the book Greg bought me for my birthday. (more on that in a later blog)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Life in the fast lane: double the fun

11-15-09 sabbatical brain

Both Minis are now clean and polished for the winter and parked in our KC garage.

Today it's raining, so neither car will be allowed out! We are back up to owning four cars, (two in Des Moines, two in Kansas City).. but we can't leave the house today and risk getting them dirty! (?)

Molly, it looks like YOU are going to have to drive us to the movie today!

PS: I do have to give Greg credit and thanks for the care he gives to our cars. Everyone is surprise to know my Mini is 7.5 years old. His 5 year old Mini will get pampered too.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

One and counting

11-14-09 holiday brain

Today in the grocery store in KC this afternoon, I heard my first Christmas music being played....mid November...Of course I wasn't ready for that, but I decided I would make a game of it this year.

I will count the number of times I hear the song "Sleigh Ride" between now and Christmas.

Arriving in KC today, I found cloudy skies with slight intermittent sprinkles. Greg hired a neighborhood boy to clean out the gutters while I rested and Greg worked on shining up this "new" car while he listened to the Iowa Hawkeye game on the radio. Greg now has this own Mini Cooper, 2004 S.

Such is life in KC this weekend of mid November. It actually felt good to relax and do as little as possible.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Discerning dreams

11-13-09 Friday the 13th brain
I have a belief that the Universe puts the right people in your life at the right time, when you are ready, and when you need to be pushed in the right direction.

After lunch with Kelley and Molly on Sunday, we three made a quick trip to The Art Store so I could pick up some mat board to complete some framing projects. As we were leaving and saying good-bye in the parking lot, a guy came up to us asking if we were artists. Kelley started singing my praises to this guy and he began to tell us that he was in the process of starting a stationary/card business and he was looking for creative people.

This got my ears to perk up since I have many creative ideas of my own and not enough time to develop them all. I was thinking maybe I could work this guy to further my artistic vision. It turned out this guy had been talking to Kris, a fantastic calligrapher, and friend who works in The Art Store, about doing some work on one of his projects. Kelley and Molly had left, so there I was talking to this guy and he dragged me back into the store to so we could talk to Kris.

Well, after we visited for a half hour, (his guy likes to talk and needs to learn to condense his sale pitch), I started to get a feel for some of his ideas. His ideas sounded interesting, creative, but nothing I would feel compelled to support. In fact, one of his ideas was just of opposite of my vision to inspire positive energy. He had ideas for political T-shirts and cards and was convinced that Bill ORiley would be interested. I can understand there is a niche market for conservative, Fox News watching people, but I’m not interested in “art” that would continue to keep our country focused on our political differences rather than trying to find common ground and unity.

So why did this guy cross my path on Sunday? What was I to learn? Well, he did give me a reflection of myself, someone full of ideas, but a bit clueless on how to proceed. I found his ideas were all over the map, which is how I have felt also with my life lately. This encounter has given me some insight on the importance and need to find focus.

Now Molly and Kelley know the rest of the story, of what happened after they left me at The Art Store.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Five girlfriend rules

11-12-09 silly brain
Molly’s visit this past weekend was an opportunity to get together with another friend of ours, Kelley. The three of us have known each other since 1984 during our swinging single lives in Des Moines. (tongue in cheek)

What do friends who have known each other for over 20 years talk about at Sunday lunch? …. Everything!.... and we can be honest with each other, or at least we vowed to try to be painfully honest with each other as we age.

So one conversation started out with Kelley asking me “Judy, why did you post that picture of your chin and neck on your blog last week? I had not thought anything about it until you pointed it out.”

Kelley is five years younger than I, and now is starting to look at her face and the aging process. Molly, being the savvy one of us, sophisticated farm girl, advised us to try a skin line called Molton Brown.

So as we bemoaned our aging, we quickly came up with a list of aging mis-steps we promised to keep each other from making by being totally honest with each other. Molly and Kelley suggested I blog about this topic, so here goes.

Molly, Kelley and Judy’s Five Faithful Girlfriend’s List

1.No bright print jackets from Coldwater Creek and no appliqu├ęd sweatshirt’s from craft fairs.
2.No overcompensating with makeup, especially no heavy eye liner.
3.No stray facial hair and if found, it will be pointed out and pulled out on the spot.
4.Honesty about a bad smelling house. If the odor of one of our homes is foul, we will say so, so it can be corrected.
5.One pair of eye glasses on the body at a time. This look is not cool!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

11-11-09 honoring brain

I'm sending out a HAPPY DAY wish to my Dad and all those who have service our country.

AND I hope Greg enjoys his day off work.

My friend Ann, also a Vet herself, has posted a nice remembrance today on HER BLOG and has included information about my Dad. Thanks Ann! Click here to see it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

More ART in Des Moines

11-10-09 artistic brain
After Greg, Molly and I finished up at the Metro Art Festival, we had to go show Molly the new sculpture garden in downtown Des Moines.

My favorite is the “letter man”…. That’s what I call it, and if I was “with it” today, I’d look up the official title and the artist, but I’m lucky just to get this posted today. Maybe I can rely on Ann to comment and include that information for me. Ann is a great resource person when I don’t have Greg and his Blackberry to google answers for me.

I also like the “horse” sculptures and the spider, both of which the KC Art Centers have a version in their collections too. Note: we were not touching the art, we only made it look like we were.

Our last sinful splurged of the day, after a little more shopping then dinner, was dessert at Dairy Queen. Ice cream is not usually my choice in November, but when the temperature hits 73, it just seemed like the right thing to do to celebrate the Indian summer weather.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A peace-filled Indian Summer weekend

10-9-09 joyous brain
Indian summer came this weekend of November with surprising 70 degree sunny weather both Saturday and Sunday. It was so wonderful!

Greg arrived back home on Thursday night and our friend Molly came to Des Moines for a visit on Friday evening. The main purpose of her trip was to attend the Metro Art Festival, which we have attended often together shopping for Christmas gifts and getting inspired for our own projects.

Saturday morning Molly and I first met up with some gals, Sue and Ann, for brunch at a very cool restaurant called Le Mie, which I had not been to before. Ann had told me this was like the food we had on our Europe trip. Ann was right, the pastry was fantastic!

Molly and I then went to pick up Greg and the three of us bummed around the East Village shops for a few hours and also caught part of the Iowa game at a local corner bar. I actually drank ½ of beer! (first pastry, then beer…. What wildness! Hummmm…. What other activities would I take part in rest of the day?)… and Iowa, unfortunately, our football team's luck ran out and we had our first loss/lose of the season.

Finally, we make it to the Art Festival and I fell in love with an artist who calls her creative line, “Mosaic Madness”. Turns out she, Jill Kernodle, was from Kansas City. I asked Greg to buy my Christmas present from her and he agreed. The problem is, that I have unwrapped my gift early and am now using. I couldn’t help myself! That’s OK Greg, you don’t have to buy me any other gifts.

My “peace sisters” are doing to loving this! I'm hanging it on the front door. This picture now shows me that I need to get it hung straight!

Friday, November 6, 2009

What's that smell?

10-6-09 Olfactory nerve part of the brain

I bet money that one of the first things that Greg says when he comes home this weekend will be….. What’s that smell?

My right ear has been bothering me for over a month. At first it felt plugged, then on and off I’ve felt dizzy. My acupuncturist had recommended some ear drops, so finally this week I went to the health food store and found some.

I read the instructions to use a few drops several times during the day. So last night I decided to try some before going to bed. They felt good going in and I got some cotton balls to stick in my ears so that when I laid down, nothing would run out on the pillow.

It didn’t take long before I was saying to myself, what’s that smell? … it didn’t smell bad, the aroma was like some fancy gourmet salad maybe. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

So I looked at the list of ingredients: Wild harvested Mullein flower, St. John’s Wort flower and organically grown Calendula flower with Garlic essential oil, in a base of Olive oil.

Hummmm, yes I smell the garlic! I bet I won’t have any vampires nibbling on my ears, and I’m pretty sure if I keep this up, Greg will be driven away also.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Faces from the past

11-5-09 reflective brain
It's November and it is time to start thinking about creating our Christmas letter. Greg and I have been doing a photo collage for a number of years. I also do one for my parents. This year I think I might be in the mood to do something simpler.

Maybe a retro theme..... here are a few my family received from our neighbor friends when we were children. I love how the family pets were included in the family photo!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My parents' old pictures

11-4-09 honoring brain
More old pictures today, since I was playing Bunko last night with a group of women, filling in for regular player who has the flu.I'll keep this post short and sweet!

This December our family will be helping Mom and Dad celebrate their 60th Wedding Anniversary.

Mom always had a crush on Paul Newman and she thought Paul Newman looked like Dad ..... or Dad looked like Paul Newman. Here in this picture I can see the resemblance.

Mom and Dad were married 5 years before my sister finally came along. I'm sure they came to a point of being discouraged, but the lesson of patience, honoring and trusting "God's" timing was important. I believe since my parents had these 5 years together as a couple without children, this gave them a stronger relationship and made them better parents.

After all these years, I'm still trying to figure out which parent I take after the most in appearance. I guess I have Dad's nose.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My first friend

11-3-09 reminiscing brain

I have a lot of thoughts bouncing around my brain, but no real motivation to put them down on "paper" this week.

So instead I'll post this picture. I found these pictures in a folder in a box this weekend when I was doing some cleaning. They belong back in my baby book. Most pictures of me growing up had my sister standing beside me.

Jan was my first friend, the mother-hen and protector type of sister. I was brutally shy as a child, so I relied on my older sister a great deal growing up.

Also included is a picture of my Mom holding me when I was 2 months old- My first Christmas. Also Jan and I use to like to play horse riding with my Dad. To view larger, just click on the picture.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Addition for today:

My friend Teresa emailed and reminded me one piece in the insurance puzzle which I had forgotten to mention: The lawyers and litigation.
Lawsuits were mentioned in the NPR program, but to my recollection, were not the big focus of these two programs.

"Now you know the rest of the story" ??

Unhealthy health care

11-2-09 naive brain
Two Sundays ago, 60 Minutes TV show had an eye-opening report of Medicare fraud. I had no idea it was this prevalent and insidious. The story featured was not about greedy or corrupt doctors or insurance companies filing claims, but fake medical businesses which were created specifically to scam the system.

Last week I also had my eyes open when I listened to the NPR program “This American Life” and their easy to understand programs which covered the history of the insurance and health industries. They took specific stories about people to illustrate how the whole system works, or often the case does not work well.

Part I : (10-9-09) The two things that stick in my mind was how fast the cost of health care has increase over the last few years and at the current rate of growth health care will take up 50% of household income. The first part looks at “who is to blame” and of course the conclusion is everyone is to blame; the patients, the doctors, the drug companies, the insurance company….. The hopeful part was that probably for the first time in history, all the players: doctors, drug companies, insurance companies, and patients realize that this current system can’t continue. It is broken.

Part II: (10-16-09)I found this part to be the most interesting with stories of how drugs companies offer saving to patients, which actually cost the insurance companies more money, thus they have to raise the premiums. Also there was a fascinating comparison with our health care to the growing industry of animal health care. So far our pet dogs and cats fair better than we do.

Listen and be educated as well as entertained! Just click on the highlighted links.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Birthday Halloween surprise

11-1-09 sabbatical brain
A nice way to start out my "new year" is a surprise to remind me that I am still someone's sweetheart. I don't often get flowers, but when I do it is VERY special!
Thank you Greg!

Saturday night Halloween fun at Annual Hoot and Howl. Friend Mark played Julia Childs to the "t".... but then he is a trained actor! Me?.... I was a cross between Ozzy Osbourne and Mick Jagger.