If We Were Having Coffee… 3/3/19

21814969688_1b1d6116a5_z

On our coffee date today, we are once again dealing with cold weather and snow. I know, winter just doesn’t seem to know when to let go this year. We can also have a slice of cake with our hot beverages today because… today is my birthday! It has been a great day for me. I’ve stayed inside out of the snow and watched spring training baseball (oh, how I wish I was in sunny, warm Jupiter, Florida!) and Netflix. An introvert’s dream!

We went out (as a family) last night for dinner for my birthday. I had an awesome steak. My kids actually got along for a few hours. We listened to 80s music in the car. I sang. Loud. The kids looked at me like I had three heads but I think they secretly enjoyed it. They gave me a ginormous bag of Cadbury mini-eggs as a gift. Best gift ever.

We’ve had a busy few weeks. Our ski trip to Wisconsin was successful and so much fun. My younger daughter tried skiing – I am so proud of her – but ultimately opted to spend her weekend tubing. She had a blast. My older daughter has become quite a skilled skier. She took on the most advanced slope and didn’t fall once. She also met a cute boy on the slopes and spent the ride home messaging him. Teenage parenting, y’all… it’s not for the faint of heart.

Since we’ve been home, it has been a blur of girl scout cookie sales, illness, and school snow days. Now that we are officially in March, I’m hoping the weather settles. We’ve had way more snow and freezing rain than we are used to.

Catch me up. What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

And stop in to grab a cup with the other Weekend Coffee Share participants here. Thanks to our host, Eclectic Alli!

 

If We Were Having Coffee… 7/31/17

21814969688_1b1d6116a5_z

I know, I know. The weekend is over. Believe me, I’m well aware that it is Monday. I had planned to meet up with you yesterday but it just didn’t happen. I was pleased to see that the linkup was still open (thanks, Diana!) so I thought we could grab a quick cup.

We had a good weekend! My daughter elected to forgo a big birthday party this year in lieu of a sleepover with one friend. So we picked up that friend on Saturday and we went to a bouncy house place and the mall. I know a lot of malls are dying out (and so is ours to be honest) but we found a couple of fun things to do there. The kids did a bouncy trampoline thing (where they connect you to a bunch of big rubber bands and let you jump) and they also rode motorized animal scooters (they are basically giant stuffed animals on wheels). Then we came back to our house for the sleepover.

So it seems I didn’t get much done this weekend. At least, I didn’t get much done that I wanted to. I did a lot of house cleaning on Saturday which led to back pain. I tended to the kids which kept me somewhat busy. Sunday I basically succumbed to headache and back pain instead of being productive. It was disappointing and I hate when I have days like that.

I am waiting for the body shop to call me about my car. It should be ready today. My rental car is nice, but I am ready to give it back and get my own car back. I have missed it!

I am also trying to plan our quick before-school-starts vacation. We are going to South Carolina to visit family (my in-laws) but we also want to take a side trip to the beach. Of course, my husband’s family makes it hard to make plans (which is typical for them). We leave on August 8, so I want to get plans finalized.

Catch me up. What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

Thanks to our lovely host, Diana at Part-time Monster! Stop in and have a cup with our other participants at the linkup here.

If We Were Having Coffee… 7/23/17

21814969688_1b1d6116a5_z

Welcome! Come on in out of the heat. It is not even 10am and it is already eleventy billion degrees. We have had an oppressive heat wave here in the Midwest this week. In St. Louis we hit a record high yesterday (or maybe it was Friday? The hot days melt together in my brain) with an air temp of 108. And we have high humidity so it felt higher than 108. You can take several showers a day and still feel like a sweaty mess.

Given the heat, you may want to skip the coffee in favor of a cooler drink. We also have leftover birthday cake from my daughter’s celebration yesterday. She is 9 years old. It is hard to believe. I know it is cliché, but time really does fly, especially with parenthood. Her actual birthday was Tuesday and we had a small celebration that day. But since I had to work that day, we delayed the big cake/ice cream/presents party until yesterday.  She wore a couple of her presents all day (new leotard and tights and a hello kitty backpack). I also gave her some cash so we will probably hit some stores today.

We were in a minor car accident last weekend. Thankfully, minor is the key word. No one was injured and my car is driveable. There is damage, however, and since we were not at fault I have been dealing with the other driver’s insurance company. We are finally moving forward and I will drop my car off for repairs on Wednesday and pick up my rental car. My driver’s door is messed up and it makes a loud pop sound when I open it so I will be very happy to get that fixed.

Tomorrow is our go-live date for our new software system at work. We are ill-prepared and I expect tomorrow to be a complete dumpster fire. I have two meetings this week (one at 7am and one at 4:30pm), neither of which I really want to attend. I will be arriving late on Wednesday after dropping off my car. And I am leaving early on Thursday to go to my older daughter’s middle school orientation. My coworker is also on vacation. Overall, I think it will be one of those “praying for Friday” kind of workweeks.

I have been improving with my running in both speed and distance. I have to keep a close eye on my back and the pain has been status quo (but not worse, which is good). I think the running hurts my hips more than my back anyway. As long as I don’t see a significant increase in joint pain, I keep going.

Catch me up. What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

Thanks to our lovely host, Diana at Part-time Monster! Stop in and have a cup with our other participants at the linkup here.

If We Were Having Coffee… 3/5/17

natalie-collins-57855

Welcome! I am so happy for our coffee date this week. Come on in and grab a cup of your favorite beverage. You can even have some left over birthday cake or some of the kit kats that my kids got me for my birthday.

It has been a long and stressful week here. We had a devastating tornado blow through on Tuesday and left a path of destruction in its wake. My family and my home are all fine, thank goodness. Many in my town were not as lucky and lost everything. This is a small community, so we all know these families well. There was also one fatality. The cleanup and relief efforts continue day by day and will take a while. Local businesses have stepped in to help and the outpouring of donations from locals and surrounding areas has been inspiring. This area has really come together to support those who were affected. While seeing the wreckage and debris (in person as well as all over the news and on facebook) has been depressing, seeing a small community rise up and take care of its own has been heartwarming.

On a lighter note, Friday was my birthday. I took the day off work and spent it with my kids (who were out of school due to the tornado damage) and my mom. While I am old enough to not really revel in turning a year older, I always appreciate time with loved ones.

I am so glad you came today. I have had tunnel vision this week, the tornado and aftermath have dominated my time and thoughts. Let’s talk about you. Tell me everything about your week. Catch me up!

Thanks to Emily at Nerd in the Brain for hosting the Weekend Coffee Share! Stop in and have a cup with our other participants at the linkup here.

If We Were Having Coffee… 2/26/17

natalie-collins-57855

Hello coffee friends! Come on in out of the cold. After a stretch of springlike weather, Mother Nature has decided that it is still winter. It is not terribly cold, but much colder than it has been lately. We will definitely be having our beverages inside today, perhaps in front of the fireplace.

Two things happened in my household this week: my older daughter turned 13 and girl scout cookies arrived. It is hard for me to believe that I officially have a teenager. How can that be? Time goes so fast. It seems like just a short time ago that she was born. I just can’t wrap my brain around the fact that she will be driving in 3 years and graduating high school in 5 years.  Her birthday was on Wednesday and so we didn’t do much celebrating that day since we had school and work. We had a small party for her yesterday with cake, ice cream and presents. I wrote a post for her this week (breaking my long streak of only writing Coffee Share posts) which you can find here.

Cookies arrived on Tuesday. This is a busy and tiring day every year. The truck unloaded pallets of cases of cookies for our entire service unit. We then sorted the cases into individual troops’ orders. Then the leaders sorted their own troops’ cases into individual girls’ orders. Then we waited for parents to come and pick up. I have two troops so it is double the fun. I was very sore the next two days with aching leg and arm muscles. We have lots of deliveries still to make and I have three orders that I need to ship. We have two cookie booths in March. Fun times.

Am I the only one who feels like the weekend coffee share rolls around quickly? Every week I tell myself that I will write a couple of posts during the week and I inevitably run out of time. Like I said, I did get one extra post done this week. *sigh* I really want to do better. If only there were more hours in the day.

Catch me up. What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

Thanks to Emily at Nerd in the Brain for hosting the Weekend Coffee Share! Stop in and have a cup with our other participants at the linkup here.

To My Daughter on her Thirteenth Birthday

You changed my life on a snowy February night in Cleveland, Ohio.

After a precipitous labor and emergency delivery, I spent the first five minutes of your life praying. I begged God to let you live as the neonatal team resuscitated you. When you stabilized, a kind nurse wrapped you up and brought you to my bedside so that I could see you before they whisked you away for surveillance. With china-doll features and eyelashes that touched your cheeks, you were the most beautiful baby I had ever seen.

I flew by the seat of my pants in those early months, following my instincts (and always second guessing myself) and always in haze of sleep deprivation. The toddler and preschool years were a different challenge as you grew into a headstrong and defiant child. While you were a sweet and kind-hearted soul, you were also fiercely independent. You taught me to pick my battles, balancing between helicoptering and giving you the space you needed to learn and grow.

When you started school, you blossomed academically and socially. You are smart and have always excelled with high grades. That makes me proud. Kind, gentle and accepting, you were always a child that teachers would pair with a child who needed a friend. That makes me even prouder. You have even navigated the perils of middle school with grace. So far. I worry, of course. I am waiting for the first broken heart or the first betrayal by a friend – seemingly inevitable pitfalls of the early teen years.

So here you are… an official teenager. You may be a bit too fond of your phone and your tablet but you are a pretty amazing kid. You are polite and respectful. You love animals and they are drawn to you. You are good with children. You have a servant’s heart. You love the service projects that we do in scouts and you joyfully give your time and talents to others. You are a gifted musician, though I wish I could convince you to put your heart into it. While you have many interests, you have yet to find something that lights a fire in your soul. I pity anyone who tries to stand in your way once you do find that something.

You are not perfect. You need to be kinder to your sister. I know she’s a bit younger than you and sometimes you find her annoying. But she’s your sister. She will always be your sister and I hope that someday she will be your best friend. She balances you and I wish that you would appreciate what she brings to the table. You can also be hard on yourself. I understand that. Believe me, you come by that honestly. My advice is to loosen the reigns and learn to let some things go –  the things you can’t control. Spinning your wheels with stress and anxiety only hurts you. It has taken me a long time to learn that and I expect that it will be the same for you.

My dear daughter, happy 13th birthday. I love you more than you will ever know. You have brought immeasurable joy into my life. I am proud of the young lady that you have become and I am excited to see what the future holds for you. You are my heart. Always.

 

If We Were Having Coffee… 2/19/17

natalie-collins-57855

Thanks so much for being patient with my tardiness. I planned to meet you for coffee this morning… but my morning got derailed (as often happens). After that, I just didn’t have the time or mental energy to meet. I’m sorry. No, I don’t want to talk about it. I even thought about skipping our date altogether BUT I didn’t want to miss the first week in our new digs. Thanks to Nerd in the Brain for taking over the hosting duties.

It has been a decent week here. We have had amazing weather for February with sun and warm temps. I had a day off work which is always nice. My day off was a busy one but a busy day at home is a million times better than a busy day at work, wouldn’t you agree? My accountant also finished our tax return and we don’t owe the government money. Win. We will get a refund and be able to pay off some bills. Double win. I had parent teacher conferences this week and I never, ever tire of hearing how great my kids are. After a dismal start to my day, my Sunday turned out okay. I spent lots of time with my kids and watched the Walking Dead.

I am still trying to herd cats. Literally. There is still tension among Gracie and Charlie and the new cat, Precious. They have their good moments, though so we are making progress. Then hissing and swatting starts and we take a step back. Stay tuned.

I have only eaten one bag of Cadbury mini eggs since last Sunday. I know that may not sound like much of an accomplishment. Trust me, it is.

Spring training is officially underway. Pitchers and catchers reported by Valentine’s Day and the rest of the squad came several days later. Opening day is right around the corner.

I have some planning to do this week as my daughter’s birthday is Wednesday. My older daughter will be 13. I can’t believe that I will be the parent of a teenager.

Catch me up. What would you tell me if we were having coffee? Stop in and chat with the other weekend coffee share posters here.

 

photo credit: Unsplash

Weekend Rewind 2/21/16

weekendrewindrevised

It’s time for Weekend Rewind – my weekly casual post to chat and catch up. No prompts, no rules – anything goes.

Let’s get random…

Nothing like a little Monday morning edition of Weekend Rewind (i.e. my weekend was too busy and went too quickly).

First I want to say happy 12th birthday to my daughter, Kiera! She had a great birthday weekend. I took her shopping and we had cake and ice cream with the family. She picked up some crafty things – a giant wooden “K” to paint and put on her wall, a small chest to stain and some fabric. She is also the proud new owner of a Betta fish. His (or her? Who knows?) name is Peacock, since his coloring is reminiscent of peacock feathers. We got the fish along with a small easy-cleaning tank system that is staying in her bedroom. This will be the first pet that is completely hers that she is 100% responsible for. God speed, Peacock.

Now I just have to plan her “friend party.” She doesn’t ask for much, she just wants to invite her couple closest friends and go into the city to a pizza/gaming center and have a sleepover. It just means that I have to talk to parents. I try really hard not to let my social anxiety affect my kids, but the more social they get, the harder it gets for me. I’ve been meaning to call one particular mom for a couple of weeks and I just keep putting it off.

On a more somber note, my chiropractor died over the weekend. He went into the city Friday and he was to spend the night at a friend’s house and then attend a medical conference on Saturday. He didn’t make it to either engagement. I found out on Saturday that he was missing and obsessively played out all kinds of foul play scenarios in my head. He was found on Sunday in his car (in a store parking lot) dead of an apparent heart attack. He wasn’t particularly old (in his 50s) and he was in pretty good shape so this was unexpected. I have been so sad about this since I found out. He was a gentle and personable man. When I threw my back out last spring and hobbled into his office scared and in awful pain, he was so kind and helpful. He has been treating my dad for years. You will be greatly missed, Dr. Bert.

Look what I found right after Valentine’s Day (!):

20160217_174733.jpg

Finally! And then this weekend, I found these:

20160221_184310.jpg

“What are these?!” I said incredulously as I plucked them off the shelf. WHITE mini-eggs. These are new! So, of course, I had to try them. They are filled with white chocolate so you must like that type of chocolate to enjoy these. I was both excited and apprehensive to try these newbies because my mini-egg addiction is bordering on out of control and I was hesitant to make it worse. They are… okay. I find the white chocolate to be richer and therefore I couldn’t eat as many in a sitting (which is not necessarily a bad thing). While I do like these, I don’t think I will buy them again. I am a mini-egg purist, so I prefer the originals (to the dismay of my waistline). Note to the Cadbury people: Nice try. I appreciate the attempt to branch out, but stick with what works. My original advice stands: expand the original product to more holidays!

Tomorrow is Girl Scout cookie delivery day. I am taking the day off work to sort and organize hundreds of cases of cookies. Wish me luck.

Have a great week, everyone!

 

Casual Fridays 7/17/15

jeans enhanced

Happy Sunday! That means it is time for the latest installment of Casual Fridays (Sunday morning edition), my weekly chat post – no structure, no rules, no prompts, anything goes.  And please also check out Casual Fridays over at Helen’s blog, Good Woman.

Let’s get random…

So instead of getting closer to Friday this week, I actually got farther away… it’s Sunday morning. Fail. I debated whether I should post at all but I thought if I skipped the post altogether it would be an even bigger fail. Then I wondered if I should change the name – after all, it is no longer Casual Friday if I am posting on Sunday. But then I decided better late than never. And it’s my blog anyway so I can do what I want. Even if it doesn’t make sense to anyone else.

My job continues to suck my energy like a leech, but things are getting better. I think. By the end of the week, things felt like they were settling a bit. I didn’t feel quite so frazzled. I have a lot of patients next week but I have Wednesday blocked for office time so that is the beacon of hope to which I am clinging. I’m determined that next week will be a better week.

Yesterday was my younger daughter’s birthday. Seven years old. My memories of that day in 2008 are still clear and vivid. It’s hard to believe seven years have passed. Caitlin is my sweet, impish little sprite – a ball of energy and light that just goes at life full force.  She says things on a daily basis that make me laugh and warm my heart (or sometimes scare me, as I feel like the teenage years with that one are going to be a challenge). I am constantly reminding myself to learn from her and see the world the way she sees it. So a day celebrating her is always a good day.  And she did have a good day, full of love and presents and cake and ice cream.

We did something really fun this past week – a sleepover at our local zoo with both scout troops. Between the kids and parents, we had 30 people. Being an animal lover, the zoo has always been one of my favorite places. And it’s a favorite of my girls, too. There were activities for the kids through the evening and then we did a hike through the zoo after dark. It is such a pleasant place after the crowds clear out. We took a flashlight tour of the herpetarium (the reptile house). We slept outside under the stars. The only bad part of this was that it was crazy hot and humid – but after about 1am, the humidity broke and it was comfortable. It was pretty amazing gazing at the stars and listening to the sea lions bark and the lions roar. We were up by 6am and had breakfast. Then we took a morning walk through the zoo and got to pet the stingrays. It really was one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences that I know both my girls and I will always remember.

Before the night hike, we were sitting on a balcony over a lake doing a frog watch. Basically, the guides played various frog sounds for us and then we all went silent and just listened to the sounds of nature. I sat back in my chair and looked up at the sky, lost in the vastness of it. It was mid-evening and with the humid haze there weren’t many stars out yet. But I saw one and I focused on it. Wrapped up in the sounds of the frogs and birds and insects, I had a conversation with that star in my heart, trying to glean its wisdom. I felt connected to the universe and my soul felt full. I was so thankful for that moment of peace and clarity. I have thought about that moment often during my busy week.

Well, I have to get on with my Sunday. Cleaning and laundry, so exciting. I am also going to take my girls to see Minions this afternoon. Have a wonderful weekend and upcoming week, everyone!

Live

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “In Loving Memory.”

Today Word Press asks me to write my own obituary.

Today is my birthday.  While I am not old, I am getting older.  I am tired and I have aches and pains.  My metabolism is slowing down.  My body is starting to betray me.  But I have a lot of life left to live (or so I hope).

But today –  on my 41st birthday – Word Press has decided to throw me in the grave and start piling on the dirt.  Not today, Word Press.  Not today.

In the last several years, I have seen way too many loved ones taken before their time.  Cancer.  Chronic illness.  Accidents.  I refuse to dwell on death.

To me, it doesn’t matter what pretty words are in the obituary.  What does matter are the feelings and memories that are left in the hearts of the people we leave behind.

So go out today and love.  Make memories.  Live.  That’s what I will be doing.