Out With the Girls

Even in the darkest days of my life–the days when I questioned my life, my faith, my purpose, my very existence–I always managed to hold onto a thin thread of belief that the things that happen in our lives happen for a reason. The situations and circumstances we experience teach us important lessons, and the people we encounter along the way help our souls grow and evolve, either from the hard lessons they teach us or from the love and support they bring to our lives.

Every day, at least once a day, I stop in my tracks and marvel at how blessed I am. I’ve got some amazing people in my life.

I mean, some seriously amazing people.

And it makes me chuckle sometimes to think that a whole group of these folks came from what may have, quite possibly, been the most dysfunctional and hellish work experience of my entire life. No joke, folks, this place was like some twisted real-life mash-up of the movies Office Space, Glengarry Glen Ross, and the factory where Tom Hanks’ character Joe works at the beginning of Joe vs. the Volcano.

But that is another story (or rather, a whole series of stories) for another time.

I’m pretty sure the only reason I stayed sane the year I worked there was because the Universe somehow managed to pull a group of seriously fabulous people together under that leaky roof. We all may have walked in alone, but what we’ve been able to take with us has been worth every ounce of frustration we endured.

And nights like tonight, when Sam Bates and Beebe and Katiana and Ashley and Cayla and Morgan and Steven take my daughter out on a special birthday dinner date, treating her to pizza and ice cream and a trip to the bookstore for a few new books and an impromptu performance with a local musician, my heart swells so big with love for these beautiful women that I think for a moment it just might explode. Cadence came home with her belly full and her eyes shining and she couldn’t wait to tell me and her daddy about her amazing night “out with the girls” (and Steven). And I sit here now in my quiet house with Cadence and Henry tucked into their beds and I thank God again for blessing me with these friends who fill our lives with so much joy.

Thank you all for another great night and another great memory. We love you!

1915286_10154382271037119_5750698749160930810_n

12592437_10154382270997119_5621305698956560618_n

12644741_10154382274317119_2309334497961474858_n

12647218_10154382270867119_6253184489158164206_n

Dave Thomas, the Founder of Wendy’s

“Ok, you’re gonna think I’m a total lunatic, and if that’s the case, I’ll understand if you say no, but I’ve got a game that I think we should play…”

Anytime my hubby leads into a conversation with “Okay, you’re gonna think I’m a total lunatic” I know I’m in for something good because, odds are, I’m gonna be game (and I’m probably going to think it’s just as crazy/funny/awesome as my hubby does because, well, we both have a very similar and very warped sense of humor).

The game is called Dave Thomas, the Founder of Wendy’s. Stevie found out about it listening to Episode 20 of the What Say You? podcast with Brian Quinn (Q) and Sal Vulcano, whom you may recognize from the hilarious TV show Impractical Jokers (and if you haven’t watched it yet, do so immediately).

Ok, so here’s the premise, you have to get someone to say the word “Who?” You have to bait someone. You have to pick your moment carefully. If a person knows about the game, they are automatically playing the game. So you scheme and you plot and you pick your moment and you get your friend to ask, “Who?” and then you fire back at them “Dave Thomas, the Founder of Wendy’s!”

Bam! You get a point.

And the game continues.

The game is going on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. January 1, the slate is wiped clean and the games starts over and you play for sheer joy and that gotcha moment where you are victorious and your opponents are kicking themselves and vowing revenge.

Six months might pass, but Stevie could turn to me randomly while we’re cooking dinner and say, “Oh, I almost forgot to tell you who I saw today…” If I say, “Who?” He will suddenly yell, “Dave Thomas, the Founder of Wendy’s!” and then proceed to dance around the kitchen and rile the kids up into a tizzy.

But, sometimes I just might be on my game, and instead of falling into his carefully laid trap, I can fire back with a “Dave Thomas, the Founder of Wendy’s! Booyah!”, and then I get a point.

It’s simple and stupid and so freakin’ satisfying.

When we first started playing, Stevie was routinely kicking my ass. He Dave Thomased me every day for almost a week. I got a little smarter and managed to get a few points here and there. Then we branched out and introduced the game to a few of our friends. Looking through some old iPhone picks from 2014, I happened across this little gem:

IMG_0069

Inspired by my cleverness (and the fact that Beebe and I haven’t Dave Thomased each other in more than a year, I decided to try and catch her tonight while working on my blog post. It took her awhile to answer, and I was afraid I may have tipped her off, but then this happened…

Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 10.34.05 PM

And now my night is complete.

2016 scorecard
Lori = 1
Beebe = 0

Until next time…

Better Late Than Never

So our holiday cards are finally done, stamped, and ready to be mailed. Better late than never, right?

Come on, you gotta cut us a little slack. We were totally on the ball with Thanksgiving, getting our Christmas tree up and decorated, buying all of our Christmas gifts and getting them mailed out so people would actually have them to open on Christmas. Hell, we even managed to make it through all 25 days without forgetting to move the Elf on the Shelf. Considering we have an infant in the house and I’m running on an average of less than 5 hours of sleep a night, the fact that we’re getting cards out this year at all is a freakin’ miracle.

Plus, we like to think that we’re being fashionably late.

So brace yourselves friends and family. These little beauties are headed to a mailbox near you.

LR365_Day6_IMG_4351

New Year. New Start. New Project

Right now, millions of people are hugging and kissing and popping bottles of champagne as they ring in yet another new year. I’m sitting in my living room, my hubby and hound dog beside me, my babies sleeping soundly upstairs as I listen to fireworks popping off in the distance.

And I’ll tell you the truth, folks, there is no place I would rather be.

I mean, I get why people get so crazy as they count down the seconds and watch that big ol’ ball dropping in Times Square. It’s a new year, a brand new beginning…even if it is really just another day, another tick tocking past midnight, another series of moments that might pass as quickly and unceremoniously as the rest. It’s really nothing more than a symbol, a man made tradition to mark the passing of time and the turning of another calendar page. But what it gives us is hope, and hope is really the most important thing we have to hold onto.

I’ve never gotten really crazy about celebrating on New Year’s Eve. When I was a kid, it was an excuse to stay up past midnight. In my teens, I often spent the night babysitting kids in my neighborhood while their parents went out to party. During my years in college and living in New York, I hung out with friends and rang in the New Year cheering on my hubby (then boyfriend/fiance) as he tried to bring home the coveted beer pong championship belt and drinking champagne on the roof of Romoser Hall.

And as for resolutions…I’m not really a big believer in them. Most people don’t even manage to make it out of January with their resolutions in place because, let’s face it, anything you think you’re resolute about when the clock strikes midnight and you’re shit-faced and singing and feeling rather invincible tends to get quickly forgotten or modified when you wake up the next morning with a wicked hangover and a whole long list of the same old responsibilities. So no, I don’t really go for New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I tend to start each year with a couple challenges for myself, or a few goals I’d like to reach in the next year, and as long as I keep making strides in the right direction, I consider it a personal victory.

A year ago, I challenged myself to reach two goals: 1) Figure out how to make NY-style pizza and 2) Finish my memoir. I crossed the NY-style pizza off my list a couple months ago (and I have to admit, I’m pretty damn proud of myself for that one). As for the memoir…well, that’s still a work in progress, so I’ll roll that one right over to 2016.

So, here’s what I’ll be working on in 2016:

1. My memoir – I’m still in draft stage, and need to dive back in and really commit to the project. With so many other things happening in my life (my job, my family, a new baby, travel, housework, sleep), it has gotten way too easy for me to just put the project aside. So my goal this year is to work on two chapters a month, and to post at least once a week on the project’s Facebook page. If you’d like to follow along on Facebook, you can find it here: https://www.facebook.com/InASeaOfStrangers

2. My writing – Outside of the memoir work, I really need to start writing regularly again, whether it is just journaling, freelancing, writing letters to friends/family, or blogging. To help keep myself motivated (and keep writing, keep writing, keep writing), I’m committing to another 365 Project here on my blog in 2016. I’m going to post something every day. It might not always be the most interesting read or the best photo, but it will be something that captured my attention and that I want to share, even if it’s just one word or one photo. And it starts right now.

3. My body – After two babies and a whole lot of slacking on even the most basic fitness, I’m seriously out of shape and hating it. Finding balance when it comes to my body image and self-esteem has always been a huge challenge for me, and I know I need to be mindful about making healthy choices to achieve my weight loss and fitness goals. So, to help ease myself into it, I’m jumping on the fitness tracker craze. I’m sure there will be more to come, so stay tuned.

4. My connections – There is really nothing more important to me than the people I love, but sometimes with all the other plans and obligations and distractions of daily life, I feel like I fall short in showing these people just how much they mean to me. So, this year, I’m also challenging myself to be a better wife, a better mother, a better sister, a better friend…hell, I’m challenging myself to be a better person. I’m challenging myself to be more present, to connect and reconnect whether it is through a face-to-face conversation, a text, an email, a handwritten note, or even a smile and a quick hello to the people I pass on the street.

It’s been one helluva year. All in all, I’d have to rank 2015 as one of the best so far. It certainly wasn’t without its hardships. There were plenty of those, believe me. But maybe I’m a little older, a little wiser, a little less concerned with the penny ante bullshit and a lot more focused on the things that really matter, because all those difficult things just sort of faded away and made all the really great things that much more amazing. And as I sit here in my cozy living room, listening to the fireworks, surrounded by the people I love the most in the whole, wide world, I am so very thankful and excited to see what 2016 has in store for me.

Bring it.

And here’s a little hound dog selfie to help ring in the new year…

Hound dog selfie

Elf on the Shelf 2015 – Day 19

It’s been a bit of a rough week. Lots of projects keeping us busy at work. Lots of activities with Cadence’s school as the year winds down for her Christmas break. Stevie’s office Christmas party on Wednesday. Tickets for Stevie and I to go see the new Star Wars movie late Thursday night. Somehow, every free moment just seemed to get filled up with something.

And then, little H-man got sick.

Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, we noticed he sneezed a couple times. No big deal.

When I came home for lunch Wednesday, Mom mentioned that he’d been coughing and sneezing quite a bit, and she’d had to wipe his snotty nose a few times.

By the time I got home from work, the poor little dude was coughing, sneezing, wheezing, watery eyes miserable. Mom said she’d thought about calling me at work since he seemed to be getting worse so quickly, but she hated to bother me knowing how busy I was.

Stevie and I were supposed to go to his office’s Christmas Party at home of NU President Hank Bounds, but I couldn’t leave Henry home so miserable. I decided to stay home with the kiddos, while Stevie headed out to the party.

Cadence was crushed. She’d been looking forward to a night hanging out with her friend (and babysitter extraordinaire) Sam Bates for like a month, counting down the days on her calendar on her way to Christmas. Had the heartbreak come a day or two before, it may have given her some time to prepare, but she was hit with the bad news of Henry’s sudden illness and a total change in plans when she walked in the door from school. Poor girl couldn’t hide her disappointment, and it wasn’t long before the tears started flowing.

When we asked Cadence why she was crying, we expected her to say she was sad because Sam wasn’t coming over. Instead, she sobbed about not being able to find her My Little Pony coloring book.

I honestly didn’t even remember that she had a My Little Pony coloring book, but apparently she did and we were suddenly nearing Defcon 1 because she couldn’t locate it.

Stevie and I scoured some of the familiar spots with no luck. Eventually, he had to leave for the party, but Sam Bates saved the day by asking if she could come over and drop off some gifts and hang out for a little bit.

Thank God for Sam Bates. Seriously, I may not have survived the evening without her.

And luckily, whatever crud struck Henry ended up being relatively short-lived. He ran a low-grade fever and had a bit of congestion for a day or two, and then the illness just sort of faded away.

Friday, Cadence’s godmother, Tammy, and I got to go spend some time helping out with her class Christmas party, and then Tammy came over for her and Cadence’s annual gingerbread house building. The two had a blast as always…

IMGP1679

IMGP1680

IMGP1681

IMGP1676

IMGP1678

And then, late last night after Cadence finally wound down from her class-party-gingerbread-house-construction-sugar-high and fell asleep, Cosette and Leo saved the day by finding the missing My Little Pony coloring book, right where you’d expect it to be hidden in a random Rubbermaid bin in the basement.

Way to go, elves. You guys rock.

IMGP1690

IMGP1684

IMGP1686

IMGP1685

IMGP1689

Elf on the Shelf 2015 – Day 15

The last two summers of my high school career, I practically lived in a tent on the shore of the Harlan County Reservoir. Most weekends I spent camping with my friends (more like my second family) Scott and Tammy and their daughter Katie, and I wouldn’t trade the fun we had or the memories we made together for the world. Other weekends, I sequestered myself in my campsite alone, soaking up the solitude near the campfire and writing, writing, writing.

Always writing.

Funny, I don’t have much desire for camping anymore. Looking back at all those weekends at the lake, I see them now too with a much sharper perspective, and I realize they were a bit of a band-aid on the loneliness and depression that defined my adolescence. And while I still enjoy the occasional late night campfire, that’s about as far as it goes these days. I have no interest in trying to sleep with only a thin sleeping bag between my body and the cold, hard ground. I enjoy hot showers and running water and clean toilets too much to spend more than a day away from them.

Plus, I married myself a city boy whose idea of “roughing it” is going more than 4 hours without a satellite or wi-fi signal.

Cosette and Leo decided it might be fun to give it a go when they found Cadence’s little toy camping set in the basement but, like Stevie, they stayed close enough to home to make sure they were warm and comfortable and within a few steps of a well-stocked refrigerator.

Cadence wasn’t quite sure what to make of the elves this morning, but giggled madly at how Cosette and Leo were trying to squeeze themselves into a tent and onto a little 4-wheeler that are way too small.

Silly elves.

IMGP1646

IMGP1645

IMGP1644

IMGP1643

IMGP1641

%d bloggers like this: