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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

On Turning 40, Part II

So, after writing my last post on turning 40, I interviewed my hubby on the topic. I asked him to list what he DIDN'T like about being 40. At first, he seemed perplexed - as if thoughts on turning forty had never even occurred to him! Finally, I pulled a few things out of him.

Things a Guy Doesn't Like About 40:

1) Body hurts all of the time. (Comment: You should see what he still does to himself...he's too old to slam balls into the biddy-ball length basketball hoop.)
2) Inability to drink as much beer as he used to. (Comment: This is a good thing.)

After naming those two items, Doug paused and said, "Hmmm. I seem to be drawing a blank." Then he came up with another-

3) Forgetfulness.

Then he really couldn't think of anything else and wanted to hear mine. So, after mentioning my list of my appearance deficiencies , another occurred to him --

4) "Oh, yeah, thinning hair!" (Comment: It doesn't bother him so much to use the Nioxin I bought him. You gotta love a guy's lackadaisical perspective on looking good.)

And that was it for the tough-side of 40. Now, what he likes about our age:

1) He's still not 50.
2) Being able to afford things.
3) Watching the kids grow up.

There you have it. So simple. So poignant. Sometimes it takes a list to remind us what's really important.
Here's Doug, spending quality time with the kids at the top of the Willis Tower, aka the Sear's Tower.

Monday, July 27, 2009

On Turning 40, Part I

Things I DON'T like about being 40:

1) My cottage cheese belly (actually started at age 32).
2) Low hanging fruit...not the kind you pick to produce better results.
3) More aches and pains, especially in places you didn't realize you had.
4) Crow's feet, around my lips.
5) Muffin tops hanging over my jeans, shorts, skirts, etc.
6) The fleeting nature of our kids' naivety.

Okay. Reality check. Except for #6, all complaints derive from vanity's perspective. So, have I ever felt good about how I looked? I tried to remember my self-perception twenty years ago and came up with a few things I actually LIKE about being 40:

1) While my tummy isn't so great, the baby fat on my face has subsided.
2) Lower fruit often looks like less fruit, allowing better-fitting shirts.
3) The capability of paying for massages, to ease the intensifying aches and pains.
4) Effortless laughter, to keep the crow's feet around my lips even more embedded.
5) Being mistaken for pregnant, while wearing baby-doll shirts to hide those pesky muffin tops. Who cares if the accuser is thinking to herself how gross for that old lady to be pregnant?
6) Watching our kids grow up to be interesting and caring individuals.

See how much fun this 40-year old Mom had fun with her kid's at the museum?

Okay, it's not so bad being 40. Watch for tomorrow's post: a guy's perspective on turning 40...

Sunday, July 26, 2009


No, this post is not about the HBO series NOR any illegal substance. It's merely about weeds. It's a topic that enters my mind often as I'm pulling shoots of unwanted growth.

Remember the days of picking dandelions and giving them to your mother as a gift? Then, all of the sudden someone bursts your bubble and tells you that a dandelion is merely a weed. (Certainly the informant wasn't a "mother," who would never dream of appearing unappreciative of your homemade gifts...could it have been a father?)

When I first started gardening, I remember my master gardener friend Sharon explaining how certain flowers (like daisies) are practically weeds and become too invasive. I thought to myself, "Good, something easy to grow." Well, now I'm trying to kill off Spider Wort, so I can relate. Sort of.

Since the beginning of summer, I've been purposely growing a weed in my rock garden. You see, it had a bud on it. I couldn't bear to pull it. So, patiently I waited and TAHDAH!

Isn't it pretty? Well, here it is again...a few days later:

Not so pretty. But by the looks of the weed's skeleton, I'll be getting a few more. In the scheme of things, what's another weed?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

In Pursuit of Laughter

I have every reason to be happy. A new position at the Bank. A perfect family. Healthy parents. Wonderful friends. Etc... Yet this weekend I found myself in an insufferable sour mood, wallowing in self pity. Why you ask?

(I started to divulge the reasons, then quickly deleted as I quickly became attuned to my triteness.)

So yesterday as I sat folding laundry before heading to the Fair, something happened. Something pretty wonderful, really.

I feigned a request to borrow one of Alex's skirts. Her innocent and moderately horrified reaction sent laughter through the room.

Ah, the joy of a tear-releasing belly laugh! I decided to find every opportunity to laugh again. And so I fact, it made me wonder how many times in a typical day I miss a chance to laugh. Probably too many.

So from now on, when I started to head down that path of "nobody has it worse than me" (even though I know very well it's not close to being true), I'm going find something to laugh about...

Gotta go. Jeff Dunham is on right now...

Oh, but before I sign off...the skirt I wanted to borrow...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

History of a "Lime" Green Thumb

Circa 1979:The mothers of my two best friends and I come up with an idea to give us kids a bit o responsibility for the summer...a vegetable garden! We'd take our harvest to the Farmers Market for moolah. Dollars and cents fill us with hope. Certainly this will be the start of something big! But after planting the seeds, the newness quickly wears off. Mom does the weeding and harvesting. But she still lets us keep the $2.68 we earn from our Farmer's Market sales.

Circa 1987:My college roommate finds my solitary plant in the trash and gives me a bit of a lecture. Jean revives the plant before it is destined to the dumping ground. I feel like I just killed a cat. I'll never again throw away anything green, unless it's moldy bread.

Circa 1994: Just married, living in town and I (in my early attempt to prove my domestic worthiness) decide our rental house desperately needs a dose of floral accents. After all, we live next to retired green thumbs with inspiring flower beds, which make our house look pitifully barren. I throw a few pretty flowers in the ground and voila! They flourish, creating a nice, homey appearance for our now quaint home.

Circa 1995: Move to the family farm. Can't wait to get busy on the vast amount of yard to flaunt my obvious knack for gardening. But something goes amiss. My only successes are the flowers already planted by my mother-in-law. Everything else seems to flounder. What in the heck happened to my green thumb?

I come to find out that my early horticultural successes were entirely due to our green thumb neighbors. They'd sneak over while I was at work to cultivate, replant or fertilize, and consequently, creating my delusional green thumb.

But if anything, the setbacks make me more determined. After all, who doesn't want to live in an aesthetically-pleasing environment. So, after years of experimentation and talking to other real gardeners, I consider myself, well, a novice really. But I still love it! No doubt it takes patience, of which I lack. But it is so rewarding when a design finally comes together.

Yesterday, we toured the Lauritzen Gardens (where the photo was taken above). Talk about inspiration! But on a much smaller scale, I can have the same enjoyment at my very home...See my lilies below? It's taken me four years, but now I sneak out several times a day to peek at them. (Obviously, I'm on vaca.) As my mother always says, gardening and flowers are wonderful therapy. I hope you enjoy as well.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

What I Need To Get Done!

1. Sleep until 9:00
2. Review session at 10:30
3. Go to Jessup and pay bill
4. Study for Lit & Theory exam.
5. Drink with Meg and Jean.
1. Go to class 15 minutes early, practice progressions.
2. Dictation exam (8:30)
3. 9:30 to 10, practice sight singing.
4. Chem lecture at 10:30
5. 4:30 watch Jeopardy and clean room.
6. Go jogging after supper.

...As I was digging through some sheet music the other day, I found an old tablature notebook from my freshman year in college. Not only did I find Led Zeppelin lyrics, alphabetic listings of my favorite rock bands and music assignments, but I also found a few pages of my lists! Above is a small example. Look at the time I had in between my tasks...that was quite a life. Interesting...There were few "practice piano" tasks for being a piano major. Apparently it was more important to keep my mind sharp by watching Jeopardy.

Oh, to be young again. On the way home from Chicago, my family had to endure another walk down memory lane as we drove through Iowa City. Luckily for Doug, there was a jazz festival going on downtown. As we walked through the crowd, I was immersed in the energy of the eclectic youth surrounding us.

My college to-do lists left plenty of time for leisure. Perhaps I need to take a lesson from my youth. My current lists are chock full, from sun-up to sun-down. Why is that? Because obviously, I haven't grown wiser with age...but, guess what? I'm gonna before I sign off to "live in the moment", I'll leave you with this poignant Kung Fu Panda quote:

"Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. But today is a gift -- that's why it's called the present."

A day at the Chicago Field in the moment by walking through the glorious past...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Back from Vacation

For as much fun as we had, it's always good to come home. I can only take gluttony and leisure for so long...even if I am spending "quality time" with my family.

We began our vacation by visiting old college friends in Monticello. Once again, I find another friend with an insanely organized Pottery Barn house. I should be compelled to dust right now, but here I am, typing on the keyboard...(I must say that a few days free from typing did wonders for my aching hands.) The Kehoe's were spectacular hosts and I'm hoping my husband will be compelled to cook a little more. (Like I'm compelled to dust?)

I won't bore you with all the details of our National Lampoon's Vacation, but here are a few highlights...

*Sear Tower...not the best choice, since "the ledges" just opened. Spending three hours in line to be trapped on the highest floor in the U.S. did little but make us cranky and nervous. Except for Alex of course.
*Field Museum of Natural History...AWESOME! I could have spent much more time here but was outnumbered by hunger pains. I honestly believe that my kids aren't happy unless they spending a bunch of dough.
*Fireworks at the Navy Pier...Moved me to tears, but then again, I'm a cryer...
*Michigan fully experience, should explore with group of girls without husbands.
*The Westin...completely luxurious beds, BUT Mom screwed up. No pool. Luckily the Country Inns at Iowa City on the way home put me back in good graces.

Other tidbits... Alex is a dramatic sleeper. Actually, she's a little scary. Cole holds the world record in saying "Watch me..." After five days together, we could hardly say one word to each other. But today, we're all chatty again...and a bit more productive which makes me happy.

The pictures above were taken in line at the Sear's Tower...A Classic Cole pout...and a typical happy Alex expression.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I Won't Back Down

See this lovely grouping of lilies? My husband thinks it's necessary to hide their beauty behind a rusted 1990 Chevy pickup, a four-wheeler and a lawn mower. Apparently, our garage isn't big enough...although we have an entire farm less than a 1/2 a mile away with plenty o' storage...

"No one comes here anyway!" he declares.

"Are you kidding? What about the mailman, the Schwann's man, the UPS guy...and Lois was just here the other night?" I artfully respond.

So, there it is. The argument of the ages. Aesthetics versus practicality. It's why we spent $4000 on the backyard. There's no way I would allow the grill to sit in front of our house. But since we couldn't beat the wind and keep the grill standing on the backyard deck, we had a very expensive brick retaining wall built next to the deck. It's really pretty, and functional too!

Well, I think I've won this one. I haven't seen the old Chevy all day...I think the lilies got to him...

And look at these Gerbers! They finally bloomed again. Just as we go on vacation. Maybe I should move them near the mailbox for our visitors to enjoy.