Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Letter To T On His Birthday

Dear T-

Today you turn 17 years old.  How is that possible?

You entered our lives on an early fall morning.  After many months of causing all sorts of problems, your birth was calm and peaceful.  

From the very beginning you were the kind of child every parent hopes to have.  You slept through the night at six weeks, and only cried when you were hungry or tired. Always smiling, always happy, quick to cuddle.  Holding you in my arms made me feel complete.

As you grew into boyhood, I realized how special you were.  So full of compassion and empathy for everyone around you.  Smart, thoughtful, sensitive, and kind.  I often looked into your eyes and wondered what was going on in that little brain of yours.

And now here you are, on the verge of becoming a man.  All of those sweet boyhood qualities have remained, but you've become so much more.  You are strong, decisive, fiercely loyal, and determined.  You're also a complete and utter pain in the butt - but that goes with the teenage territory.  Your intelligence and quick wit save you most days. 

In a few short years you'll be heading off into the next phase of your life, and I'm already wondering how I'll get through each day without seeing your smiling face.

As you turn 17, my advice to you is this:  Enjoy every moment.  Always listen twice as much as you speak - you think you know everything, but you don't.  Be humble but be confident. Get up one more time than you fall down.  Keep your sense of humor and never stop laughing.  Whatever you are asked to do, do just a little bit more.  Respect has to be earned. Stay positive and seek happy.

And whether you like it or not, I'll always see you as my sweet little boy, no matter how old you are.  So deal with it.... Love, Mom

Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Fall Trends: Plaid

Back when I was a student in Catholic school, wearing my plaid skirts and green cardigans, I'm pretty sure I swore I'd never wear plaid again.  

This fall, plaid is a popular trend, and I've had to change my mind, because it's so much fun to wear.  My shirt is a perfect transition piece - it combines plaid with a lightweight rayon fabric that's cool and comfy.

I paired it with this bracelet from House of Harlow.  Ever since I lost my watch, I've been wearing more bracelets.  I like this one because it fits tight on my wrist.

If you're not sure about the trend, or want to avoid looking like a lumberjack, try a plaid accessory.  I think I need these Tom's for my collection.

This scarf from Old Navy would be a pretty addition to any outfit.

Give plaid a chance this fall.  I promise you won't look like a Catholic school girl - or a lumberjack!

If you have the time, come check out my new Instagram page.  I'm on day four of 100 Days of Happy, which I'm pairing with my gratitude journal.  96 days to go!

Linking up with Get Your Pretty On, The Pleated PoppyBecause Shanna Said SoNot Dead Yet StyleVodka Infused Lemonade, Why I Do Declaire

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Vancouver, B.C. & Olympics Success

Vancouver B.C. is one of our favorite places to visit, and luckily it's only a two hour drive from our house.  The city is very European, easy to walk around, has delicious cuisine, and lots of fun activities.

On our last trip we stayed at the Pan Pacific Hotel, which is attached to Canada Place, right on the water where the cruise ships dock.

This was the view from our room, which was reasonably priced, even for Vancouver (thank you Groupon)!

Our favorite activity is walking along the Seawall to Stanley Park, where the aquarium is located.  They have beluga whales there - I could watch them all day.

We stopped to take a picture in front of the Olympic Cauldron, built for the Winter Olympics in 2010.

It looked a little different than it did during the games, when the flame was burning and there was a gate surrounding the cauldron.

We were fortunate enough to visit Vancouver during the Olympics in 2010.  I tried for over a year to get tickets to an event - I didn't care which one.  I put my name in a lottery, but had no success.  Tickets in the re-sale market were way too expensive.

We finally decided to get up very early and drive to Vancouver for the day.  Even if we couldn't see a sporting event, we wanted to experience the atmosphere, and knew that it would probably be a once in a lifetime experience.

The city was buzzing, the architecture was beautiful, and we were so happy to be there, taking it all in.  In passing, a young man told us we could probably get tickets for a hockey game if we were willing to wait in line at the ice arena.  WHAT?!?!

Success!!  The Olympic gods were smiling on us that day, and we were able to score tickets to the USA/Norway hockey game - for much cheaper than anything I had been trying to purchase from home.  Obviously, the men in my life were very excited - not only is my husband Norwegian, C is a huge hockey fan.

USA won the game, we had a fantastic time, and returned home exhausted at 1am.

It was our most exciting trip to Vancouver, but definitely not our last!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Back To 1984

Last weekend, my hubby and I ran into a woman we went to high school with, and I was instantly transported back to 1984.  She didn't like me back then, and apparently she hasn't changed her mind.  

In the course of our brief encounter at the store on Saturday, she gave me a once over and a curt hello, then turned to my husband as if he were her long lost best friend.  Very strange.

But even stranger was the way I immediately felt like an awkward teenager, being ignored by the popular girl.

For the purposes of this story, I will call her Sue.  Sue and I could not have been more different during high school.  I was the tall, quiet intellectual type.  My activities included honors classes, basketball, yearbook editor, and volunteer club.  I became "sort of" popular when I started dating my now hubby.  He was the Ferris Bueller of our class, and everyone liked him.  And if Ferris was dating me, I must be okay.

So the "in crowd" tolerated me - except for Sue.  She was the pretty, petite, outgoing cheerleader. And she did not care for me one bit.  At the time I had no idea why, but in hindsight I'm sure she liked my boyfriend.  During high school she was rude, dismissive, mean, and always made me feel like I didn't belong.  And in my teenage insecurity, I often believed her.

In all honesty, I had completely forgotten about her until last weekend.  But as soon as she rudely turned away from me, I felt like the quiet, insecure seventeen year old again.

Which is ridiculous.  Since I last saw Sue I have gotten a college degree, had a successful career, married my best friend, raised two great kids, and currently run a business.

I quickly regained my composure, but I couldn't get the incident out of my mind.  I understand high school politics, but what makes a 47 year old woman act like that?  And why would I let Sue make me feel bad again?

Good questions for my therapist, if I had one.  All I know is, Ferris and I happily got into the car and drove away.  And hopefully I won't have to see Sue for another thirty years.

On a lighter note, this weekend I set up an Instagram account.  In my quest to lessen my anxiety, I decided to join #100HappyDays as a companion to my daily gratitude journal. Every day I'll be posting a picture of something that makes me happy.  I hope you'll check it out, and maybe join yourself!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Washington Apples

September is National Apple Month, and here in Washington, apples are a big deal. It's our official state fruit, and we produce about 42% of the apples grown in the USA.

Although the Red Delicious apple is the most popular, I'm partial to the Fuji, and don't even get my husband started on the deliciousness of the Honeycrisp.

Every fall when I was growing up, my parents packed us in the car for a day trip over the Cascade mountains to the apple growing towns of Wenatchee and Cashmere.

I have no idea why we didn't actually go apple picking when we visited.  It's one of the mysteries of my childhood!  My mother loved seeing the colors of the fall leaves as we crossed the mountains, and my father wanted a couple of big boxes of apples from the local produce stands.

We always ended every trip with a visit to the Aplets and Cotlets factory.  I've been there so many times, I think I have their tour memorized.  Seeing a box of Aplets and Cotlets candy instantly transports me back to my childhood.

While I love apples, I cannot eat apple pie.  When I was five, my brother and I got a terrible stomach virus - a day after eating apple pie.  We were so sick I was eventually hospitalized for dehydration.  It wasn't the pie's fault, but to this day I don't even like the smell of cooked apples.  Which is a shame, because I'm told that it's heavenly!

A fresh salad with apples, celery and walnuts, though - sounds delicious!  

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!  What is your favorite apple?  Have you ever tried Aplets and Cotlets?

Friday, September 12, 2014

My Favorite Books - The Happiness Project

I think most of us want to be happy - I know I do.  It's a worthwhile goal that I strive for every day.  This is one of my favorite quotes from John Lennon:

When I was five years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life.  When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I wrote down 'happy'.  They told me I didn't understand the assignment, and I told them they didn't understand life.

I was in an airport bookstore when I first picked up The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  I was hooked by the blurb on the back cover, because it sounded a lot like me. I'm not an unhappy person - I've got a supportive husband, two awesome kids, a comfortable home, a fulfilling business, and good health.  But I definitely could be happier.

For me, this book wasn't a step by step guide to achieving happiness.  A lot of Ms. Rubin's suggestions were pretty basic stuff that we've all heard a million times.  But it did force me to be more mindful of my happiness, and to set up a "Happiness Project" of my own.  

The author's sense of humor, research and presentation of positive psychology, and use of philosophy made the book very enjoyable - just reading it made me smile!

Although I didn't follow every suggestion in The Happiness Project, it did inspire me to look for more happiness in my every day life - and who couldn't use more of that?  

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Teens: DoSomething.Org

Unless someone like you cares a whole, awful lot.  Things aren't going to get better, they're NOT!
--Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

We all know the value of volunteering.  Giving back has an enormous impact on the health and well being of a community.  Doing something good for others has been shown to reduce stress and improve the health of the volunteer.  

My boys have been surrounded by volunteer work their entire lives.  Even as babies I took them with me to various activities, and in high school, they have been required to perform volunteer hours in order to graduate.

But I don't want them to see volunteerism as something they have to do to make mom happy or fulfill a requirement.  I want them to understand that one person can make a difference, that one of the best ways to be happy is to do things for others, and that the world needs their help to make positive changes.

What's the easiest recipe to get a teenager interested in something?  Make it cool, and kick the old people out.   Enter DoSomething.Org.  I'll let them explain. makes the world suck less.  One of the largest orgs for young people and social change, our 2.7 million members tackle campaigns that impact every cause, from poverty to violence to the environment to literally everything else.  Any cause, anytime, anywhere.

My favorite part?  Members are ages 13-25, and anyone beyond that = old person. Love it!

Young people can go to their website and join one of their existing volunteer campaigns, or create one of their own and share it with others.  In the past year, members have collected 800,000 jeans for homeless youth, distributed 73,000 "thumb socks" to remind people not to text and drive, and started a Babysitter's Club, which provides free child care for parents earning their GED.  The list of campaigns goes on and on.

Growing up is scary these days. tells young people that they have a say in where the world goes from here, and shows them how to change things - one person at a time, starting right now. Pretty powerful stuff.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.
--Margaret Mead, anthropologist
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