Monday, October 27, 2014

#156 He Spoils Me

Weekend I’d Forget


I have reached a weekend where there wasn't anything too spectacular that occurred.

So if I bore you with the simplicity of this Weekend I'd Forget, I apologize.  

I've never been too big on shopping at Ikea.  It isn't anything against Ikea.  They have some good products, a lot of which can be obtained at a cheap price.  My limited shopping there might reside on the fact that most locations are at least a half hour away from my home.

I found a need to go to one though, and Saturday Hubby took me there.

One day, I will have the perfect kitchen with a walk-in pantry and a wide open section just for my spices.  Until that day, I have been managing my spices in the most cluttered of ways that although I could have pictured it for you to see, I have opted not to.  It's such a mess.

I decided I should look into a spice rack to make my life easier and save my kitchen from the aggravated screams of frustration I let out whenever I need to search for an obscure spice hidden among the rest.

Spice racks are down right expensive.

The best price I could find was $70 and I wasn't even thrilled with the shape or color.

Then I found Ikea's individual racks at $3.99 each.  Sure, they need to be assembled.  Sure, the wood is probably cheaper than the fancy spice racks I've researched.  But I can make it what I want it to be.

We bought five and I'm going to paint them mustard yellow to match my Kitchen Aid mixer and teapot that are both the same color.

It's going to be awesome.

It's the little things in life that excite me.

Friday, October 24, 2014

#155 He Loves Fridays


Friday has been my favorite day of the week for a long time.

For a while, I thought it was Saturday.  Saturday seems like the perfect candidate for favorite day of the week.  Being sandwiched between a day you can stay up later and another day off from work you would think it's a real winner.*

*Of course, unless you work retail, then none of this applies to you whatsoever.  Been there, done that.

I suppose I love Friday because it gives me something to look forward to.  It's the breath of relief from a hard worked week, and the guarantee of two days to rest.*

*Of course, I write this at an odd time in my life having been unemployed for the last four months.  Pretty much every day is a day of rest.**

**Don't take me seriously.  I have been actually 'working at home' and completing a lot of personal goals, not just sitting around relaxing.***

***I promise.

Fridays should mean a big party.  The week is done, it's time to celebrate.  Sure, maybe I didn't finish everything I planned to, but whether or not my work goals are completed, the week is.  As long as I gave it my best, that's worth celebrating.*

*I'm always looking for a reason to celebrate.   

Celebrating the end of the week looks different for everyone, and with many it becomes a tradition.  For some, Friday night is always pizza and a movie.  For some, it might mean family game night.  For the longest time, in my family, it meant dinner together--namely my dad's famous hot wings. 

The last year I taught third grade, my students really embraced my love  for Fridays.  In the morning when I would greet them as they walked into my classroom many would say, "Happy Friday!" grinning from ear to ear up at me.  There was one student in particular who would always come over to me on Friday mornings and say, "I know you're happy today.  It's Friday!"

One of my coworkers would do "Fun Fridays" with her class.  I might have been a little biased because I love fun and I love Fridays, but I thought, "Yes!  This is what it's about."

I'm a little over dramatic and over celebratory, but I think we should find joy in small things.  

Even if it is only a day of the week. 


Monday, October 20, 2014

#154 He Embraces Different Cultures

Weekend I’d Forget
The groom looks well guarded

This weekend we attended the wedding of a coworker/friend of Hubby's  It was our first ever Pakistani wedding and I was a little excited, for several reasons.

1. I love experiencing different cultures and learning about traditions of those cultures.

2. Though I knew the food would be on the spicier side, I couldn't wait to try it..

3. I got to hang out with some of Hubby's fun coworkers.

4. I was going to wear a saree.


Several of Hubby's coworkers travel often to India for either business purposes or for family.  One of his bosses was so sweet and picked me up a saree and all the elements that go along with it* on her most recent trip.

*Note: A saree looks oh so much simpler than it is in reality.  To ignorant American girls like myself, it seems like a skirt that you simply slide into, zip up, and then a piece of material that is easily flung over your shoulder.

No.  No.  No.

It is like wrapping yourself in a table cloth.  The most exquisite and finely stitched tablecloth ever.  And doing so in a way that it doesn't look like you are wearing a ten foot long piece of material.  I'm pretty convinced you would have to be more than a pro to be able to dress yourself in a saree without any help.

Hubby tried to help me, but as soon as we got to the wedding, his boss took me into the bathroom, and redid everything.

I'm pretty sure I had more fun wearing a saree than I did my own wedding gown.

The bride and groom were married the night before.  But the reception was quite an event by itself.  The groom and his groomsmen did a dance for his new bride to start things off.  Then the brother of the groom and father of the bride spoke.  My favorite thing that the bride's father said was, "Respect and you will get respect.  Love and you will get love."  Now there is something lacking in far too many marriages today.

We ate shortly after and I loved the food so much I went up for a second plate.  I thought the tandoori chicken would be too hot for me (I mean, it's in an orange sauce after all) but I loved it!  It reminded me of hot wings.  To calm the spice a little I mixed it with rice and occasional bites of naan.  There also was a lamb stew that was phenomenal.  The lamb was so tender and juicy I secretly wanted some mashed potatoes to throw it on top of.

Even better than the food was the way everyone was dressed.  It really put American weddings to shame--at least concerning the way the women were dressed.  In America, it seems the only people who need to wear floor length gowns to a wedding are the bridal party.  But here the dress of every guest was elegant and the only women in shorter dresses were American.  I counted at least five different dresses that I desperately need in my life.

I'm pretty sure that Hubby regrets bringing me.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

#153 He is Afraid of My Dad

There are some people who, though they are not trying to, have a mean, don't-mess-with-me look about them.  Bullies leave them alone, pick pockets look the other way, while others are plain intimidated by them.

I am one of these people.

Of course, I didn't know I had 'the look' until I was in my late high school years.  Even then, I didn't realize what kind of power 'the look' gave me.  

It was a high school friend who clued me in to the fact that I had 'the look'.  She admitted that when I first visited our school--in first grade--she thought to herself, "I do not want to be that girl's friend.  She looks mean," and she avoided me for our second grade year for fear that I would beat her down.

Hearing that made me chuckle.  As I got older, I learned to talk the talk to match 'the look', but ultimately I've always been the type of person who gets punched in the face for trying to stop a fight, not start one.

My father has 'the look'.  But anyone who knows my father knows that he is a stand up guy; someone who is slow to anger, someone who will spread himself thin in order to help others, and someone who is certainly not to be feared.


Regardless of dad's laid-back nature, his occasional corny joke, and track record of kindness, when we were dating my husband was terrified of my dad.  Every time he confided this to me I would laugh at him.  My dad was the dad who out of nowhere blurted out the word "Boogers" loud as a fog horn to make my brothers and me laugh.  He was the dad who spanked me with a flip flop when my mother couldn't deal with me anymore.  He was the dad who hid Game Boy games in his shirt pockets when he came home from work.

There was nothing terrifying about him.  

I eventually learned to find the realistic side to my boyfriend's feelings.  After I'd had a laugh about it, I realized it was the most respectful feeling my boyfriend could have for my father, even if it made no sense based on how my father treated him.


When we were married for a few years, Hubby told me that he was still afraid of my dad, and that he would probably always be.  I knew then that it wasn't 'the look' that had intimidated him.  Sure, maybe on their first hello it had been, but 'the look' couldn't put that type of undying fear in a man.  

It wasn't a matter of what dad did or didn't do.  It was a healthy fear that all men should have of their father-in-law.  A realization that though they may now be family, should that husband do anything to that father's little girl he quickly will discover why a father is to be feared above all men.   


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

#152 He Works Overtime

Weekend I’d Forget
I have had, yet again, another jam packed weekend.  I'm starting to think that ever since I began holding myself accountable for reporting one positive from my weekend, subconsciously, I've been making sure to pack my weekend with so much that I have to fight with myself over what to write about.*

*It's really been that good.**

**I dare you to take the challenge.  Find something good in your weekend and report back to me.

This past weekend my brother, Joel and his wife, Mallory, were back in town. You might remember my recent post about them and their new job.  We all have been so fortunate. They left in August expecting not to see family again until Christmas, maybe.  Their route has placed them in NJ for the past few weekends leaving them plenty of opportunity to visit immediate family.

Hubby worked a ridiculous amount the past two weeks, so the only negative of my weekend was that he was at work instead of with us.


After experiencing firsthand that no major city or state in their travels has pizza that compares to New Jersey, Joel and Mallory were craving the best pizza on earth.  Our original plan was to get some, then go apple picking.

If you were out and about on Saturday, you know that was a laughable option for the day.  It poured all night and into the morning, leaving us staring at the empty pizza boxes, bellies full, wondering what to do.

Mallory and I still had pie on our minds so to Johnson's Farm we went.*

Johnson's has recently opened a second location, and even though it is much closer to my house I couldn't risk that they would have the exact same experience I was looking for, in other words, the sweet potato pie I had been craving.

*Mallory had never been, and it was only when we arrived that Joel remembered having taken field trips there.  


No one can go to Johnson's Farm and simply go into the bakery.  It just feels so wrong.  They have their animal farm, Halloween shopping, a hayride, pumpkin picking and apple picking all going on at the same time.  Though stopping in the bakery had been our original intention, the hayride immediately took precedence.  The rain had stopped, but we still decided apple picking was a bad idea.  The ground was still wet and muddy.*  While most people get on and off of the hayride from the designated stops for pumpkin picking and apple picking, we stayed on and enjoyed the ride, taking in the corn fields, the pumpkin patch, and the rows and rows of apple trees.

*Naturally, Sunday was the perfect apple picking day and we had already made plans to do something else!

When we ended in their bakery, I had to look the other way from the apple cider donuts.  They were calling my name, but so was the sweet potato pie and I knew only one could* win.

*Not really could.  Both of them really could win.  Should is probably the right word.

I'd love to own a farm one day, but Hubby always tends to shoot this dream down.  Every time I talk about owning a farm he tells me that I only want to live on one, and have other people to do all the work.

I don't want to admit that he's right, but he has a pretty good track record of times he's been right vs times he's been wrong.  


Monday, October 6, 2014

#151 He Attends Recitals

Weekend I’d Forget

When I was in sixth grade, my parents bought me a violin.

No wait.  It wasn't quite as simple as that.

When I was in sixth grade, I got a violin after months of pestering and promising my parents that I really, really, really wanted one.*

*I promise--I will quickly bring this to the year 2014 and my weekend.

My brothers carried on their lives perfectly content with only the piano lessons my mother had been giving us.  The boys wanted nothing to do with sitting down in front of an instrument and practicing over and over again.  In fact, my brother Joel told me recently that he would fast forward parts in movies with music just to ensure that my mother didn't hear it and tell him to practice.

I, on the other hand, complicated things by adding a second instrument.  Of course I never saw it that way, aside from the first two years of learning to hold it and make more than screaming cat sounds,


In many ways though, the violin shaped my high school years.  In the very beginning, one night a week my father took me to lessons at the mall.  I was the last lesson of the night and we often left the mall as all the stores were bringing their gates down and locking their doors.  One night turned into two nights which were spent between lessons, orchestra, and string ensemble.  The rest of the week I would practice for two to three hours a night.

Then I went to college and saw people who had been playing violin probably since they said their first words.  It wasn't their fault, but I eventually intimidated myself down from wanting to major in music performance, to majoring in music education, to finally minoring in music.

After I graduated, the violin remained in the case and was only pulled out if I was asked to play in church.

There was a series of events leading up to the present, but the straw that broke the camel's back was my recent unemployment.  It seemed like the perfect time to begin taking lessons again.  After attempting on my own to get back into my old practice habits, I knew I needed professional intervention and so for the last three months I have been taking lessons with a friend of the concert master* from my college orchestra.

*The concert master is the guy who stands up to begin the tuning of the orchestra.  He's the top violinist and the conductor's right hand man.

While I loved my college violin teacher I have learned so much more in the past three months than I did in three years of college.  The truth is, like I said in my last post, the information was all probably right there in front of me during that time, I just wasn't ready, mature, or smart enough to grab it and use it.

This weekend I went to see my new teacher perform in Princeton with a pianist and a singer.  He soloed five pieces with piano accompaniment and the last piece the three instruments played together.*

*Yes, it is unique for voice and violin to 'play' together.


Each song he played I thought was going to be 'the one' that I told him at the end was my favorite.  Then he started another which mesmerized me and had me wanting to rush home to practice.  There was a part in one song where he plucked the strings* with his left hand while bowing that had me shaking Hubby's elbow and looking up at him with a shocked, excited, goofball face.

*Pizzicato is when the violinist plucks the strings.  It is most often done with the right hand.

I left, as I often do from situations like this, inspired to do better, to reach higher, and believing that I can achieve more.

What what the best part of your weekend?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

#150 He Practices Good Habits

In the ten years since my teenage years ended sometimes I am convinced an eternity has passed.  Nineteen-year-old me is only a fuzzy memory, someone I don't know anymore.  Yet somehow, it also feels as if I blinked and the years trickled through my fingertips never even giving me the chance to realize what was happening.  It was only yesterday and I was nineteen.

I know, many of you who are a few years older and wiser might read this and laugh.  Nineteen, a memory?  You wish, right?  

My nineteenth birthday with Gram

But I have always been too 'grown' for my own good.  I have always had a mentality too far ahead of my time.  Ah, the misfortunes of being an older sibling!  Even so, I missed the same important values that it seems every person is doomed to speed past during their teen into twenties years.  Values that could have spared a lot of pain, a lot of heartache.

The expectations of a teenager never translate into reality.  Of course, if you are past the age of twenty-five you've probably discovered that for yourself.  If only there was an older version of each one of us that could come to slap us in the face at the age of sixteen and set us on a clearer path. 

But we have to make those mistakes, don't we?  Try to convince an eighteen-year-old of the right choice to make and you'll realize it.  You'll go blue in the face, your knees will scrape from dragging on the ground pleading with them, and after it all you'll realize this was yet again a life lesson not only for them, but for you as well.  Teenagers will make mistakes.  Unfortunately, they can't be saved from them.  Only guided.

My twentieth birthday with the family

My last job gave all the staff the book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People to read.  The book has changed my entire perspective on how I treat people, how I plan the actions I take in life, and how I react to situations of conflict.  If I had this book ten years ago...let's be real...I probably wouldn't have read it.

My kindergarten class recited these habits everyday last year.  We started with one habit every other week until they had them all memorized.  It isn't just another rote exercise.  Having these habits in their minds helped even five and six-year-olds with problem solving and attitude adjustment.  In my own life, I have found it helpful to be able to pull the appropriate habit out of my memory to meditate on when I am dealing with something relevant. 

Here they are.  In italics is their elementary level description.

Habit One: Be proactive; You are in charge
Habit Two: Begin with the end in mind; Have a plan
Habit Three: Put first things first; Work first, then play
Habit Four: Seek first to understand, then to be understood; Listen before you talk
Habit Five: Think win win; Everyone can win
Habit Six: Synergize; Together is better
Habit Seven: Sharpen the Saw; Balance is best

Values like these only help to change us for the better.  They help to make us into the best version of ourselves possible.  In my life, the focus I've fashioned is this: Everyone matters; Speak less; Listen more; Family is forever; Don't sweat the small stuff; Focus on what is most important.

I fail.  We all do.  But knowing that there is an intelligently formulated plan to follow, one that can bring about successes--whether large or small, helps me to get myself back on track when I fail.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

#149 He Gives Long Hugs

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month.  I've posted in the past for World Down Syndrome Day (3:21) details about Down syndrome, what it is, and the impact my brother has had on my life.

You can read those posts here:

All That Matters About People With Down Syndrome 
Jonathan in the Special Olympics of NJ

I hope one day I'll be used to do more to help individuals with Down syndrome than simply dedicating an occasional blog post to them, but until I can be used in a larger capacity this will have to do.  It is my heart's desire to help people with Down syndrome to reach their fullest potential and, most importantly, to be treated by society with the respect and love they deserve.

To promote awareness and recognize the incredible individual my brother, Jonathan, is, here is a glimpse of what Down syndrome has looked like in my life.

What Exactly is Down Syndrome?


It's a baby.


It's a baby becoming a boy.


A boy becoming a man.


It's a smile.

Phone Pictures 169

Long hugs.


It's laughter.




It's challenges.


And sometimes tears.


It's pushing the limits.


To discover something wonderful.


Something you never believed could be wonderful.


Something special.

girls and jon

Something we need.


Something we should all try...


To be just a little more like.