Saturday, June 30, 2012

And the craziness continues...

Well, I'm down to the wire now. My family and I leave for our two-week vacation tomorrow morning. So far I've gotten a grand total of—wait for it—zero bags packed. My mind is swimming with all the things I still have to do: errands to run; stuff to buy; laundry to wash, dry, and fold; suitcases to pack...

I need a packing miracle...or maybe just the hilarious Mr. Bean:

In other news, remember when I peeled my finger a few weeks ago? Well, guess what I did again yesterday afternoon. You got it. Clearly, apples, potato peelers, and I should not mix. However, my kids were kind enough to give me one of their cool
Band-Aids, so it's all good. ☺

Cool,  huh?

Have a beautiful Saturday!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday fun

Happy Friday, everyone!

It's nearly the weekend, and that means it's time for this week's dose of fun. Enjoy!

funnysigns. net

(STOP, collaborate, and listen)

Okay, how many of you have this song in your head right now?  ;-)

Moving on to this week's video... Here's Ellen with more hilarious police reports:

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I'm {blank} because...

I found this meme—started by Ashley at Little Miss Momma—during my travels around the blogosphere and thought it looked like fun. Happy Thursday, everyone!

* * * * * * * * * *
I'm weird because...

• I put hot sauce on my potato chips and popcorn.
• I have to use a comforter when I sleep, even in the summer.
• I can't sleep at night unless the comforter is covering my shoulders.
• I like onions and mustard on my grilled cheese sandwiches.
• I think Cheerios smell bad.
• I sing "Janie's Got a Gun" when I clean the house.
• I am not a hugger (kids, hubby, and parents excluded, of course).
• I reserve a huge part of my brain for celebrity facts.
• I'm terrified of house centipedes.
• I still have all my notebooks from high school and college.
• I'd rather shop for groceries than clothes.
• I don't like clothing or jewelry to be tight around my neck.
• I can't face my husband when I sleep; I feel like I'm breathing in his air.
• I can't start my day without making the bed.
• I talk to myself (and to my characters) all the time.
• I'm compulsive about checking (and sometimes rechecking) all the appliances before I leave the house.

Invasion of the toys! This is why I don't invite you over. ;-)
[My five-year-old son took this picture!]

I'm a bad friend because...

• I wait for someone else to make plans.
• I rarely invite people over. (My house is usually a mess.)
• I sometimes get excited and interrupt other people.
• I'm not good with spontaneous plans. I like routines and schedules.
• I'm secretly glad when plans get canceled because then I can hang out at home.
• It sometimes takes me a while to return e-mails.

I'm a good friend because...

• I listen.
• I'm loyal.
• I like giving advice when I'm asked for it.
• I apologize when I'm wrong.
• I remember birthdays and other special days.

I'm sad because...

• my kids are growing up so fast.
• I sometimes feel like I'm failing as a mommy.
• I live 1,000 miles away from my family and only get to see them once a year.
• I never seem to have time to do everything I want to do.
• I still have a ton of laundry to do before our trip.
• I feel like I don't do enough with my kids.
• I wanted to lose a few more pounds before my vacation.
• my husband drank all the milk last night and now there's none for my cereal.
• I'll only have sporadic Internet access while I'm on vacation.
• I sometimes feel like I'm just spinning my wheels when it comes to following my writing dreams.
• Gossip Girl is ending after next season. (I know I mentioned this earlier in the week, but trust me, it bears repeating.)

Image courtesy of Sanja Gjenero,

I'm happy because...

• my kids tell me daily that they love me.
• I have so many wonderful blogging friends.
• I got my hair cut last Friday.
• my kids are healthy and happy and smart.
• It's almost time to visit my family.
• my kids like to sleep in.
• school's out, so I've been getting a little more sleep each night.

I'm excited because...

• my blogging friends gave me so many great book suggestions yesterday. (Thanks!)
• I'm going shopping for my daughter's birthday gift tonight.
• we'll get to celebrate my daughter's third birthday with my parents
• my friend is having a playdate for our kids this week—and we'll have Mommy time!
• I'll be seeing my parents in a few days.

How about you? What are you {blank} about today?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I need books!

Image courtesy of Sanja Gjenero
My vacation departure date is looming, and as I went over my many packing lists this morning, I realized that I'd forgotten to include something crucial: books!  I'll have quite a bit of downtime during this trip, including a two-day drive there and back, and what better way to fill the time than to read? Luckily, I still have a few days to get to the library and bookstore—and that's where you come in.

Friends, I need your help. What books do you suggest I take? I like a good story and am open to just about any genre. I posted a list of some of my favorites here. Most of them are classics, but I'm interested in more contemporary books as well; I often head to the New Fiction shelves at the library and bookstore.

So what are your must-read books? Tell me what you've enjoyed recently.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My guilty pleasures: TV edition

Confession: My name is Dana, I'm a thirty-something wife and mother, and I love watching teen dramas.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you're probably aware of my Gossip Girl obsession. I actually caught on to the show late—during the fourth season—but when I saw my first episode, I was hooked. I Netflixed all the seasons and rapidly became a CHAIR fan. (CHAIR is an acronym made from the names of two of the characters, Chuck and Blair. Some fans prefer DAIR—Dan and Blair.) Chuck and Blair have been an on-again, off-again couple, but I'm really, really hoping they end up together. (Yes, I root for TV couples!)

Gossip Girl will be ending after next season, so just know that there will be tears in Dana's house. ;-)

Since Gossip Girl isn't airing right now and I've already caught up on the previous seasons, my current guilty pleasure is Dawson's Creek. I watched a few episodes of this show when it aired from 1998 to 2003, but I was busy with my teaching job then and didn't have a lot of time for TV. Now I'm watching the episodes through Netflix, and I've just started season four. I know how the series ends--I did catch the finale when it aired--but I'm still enjoying seeing how the characters ended up where they did.

And on this show, I'm definitely a Pacey and Joey fan!

What TV show is your guilty pleasure?

Monday, June 25, 2012

We're leaving in a cramped van...

Image courtesy of Sanja Gjenero,

This week I have to do something I really, really don't like to do. Unfortunately, I can't avoid it any longer.

I have to pack.

On Sunday we're going on our annual journey back home to visit my parents. I look forward to this trip all year. Growing up, I was the kid who never really wanted to venture far from family, but as it turned out, I'm the one who ended up living the farthest away. So my husband, my kids, our dog, and I have a thousand-mile trip to look forward to, if I can get over one hurdle:


I don't like packing. Actually, that's a bit of an understatement. I loathe packing, especially since around here it seems to go hand in hand with cleaning.

Confession: I am not Monica Geller.

During the time we're gone, our next-door neighbor will be going into our house every day to check on our cat, and, since I don't want her to think I'm a complete slob, I need to make sure the house is clean before we go. My husband thinks I'm being ridiculous, but I think most women can probably understand where I'm coming from. Also, it's nice to come home to a clean house, isn't it? It's just too bad I have to clean it first in order to get it that way.

So this week will be filled with laundry and folding and packing and finding toys and buying last-minute items and explaining to the kids why they can't take their gigantic dollhouse and big yellow dump truck with us and late nights and exhaustion and looking through the suitcases for things I packed too soon and last-minute laundry and take-out pizza and arguments about what counts as a necessity and trips to the grocery store for snacks and cleaning and more cleaning and moments where I pull my hair out and...

You get the picture. I'm sure you've all been here before.

And since you have, do you have any tips for me? Any stories? Any ways to help me procrastinate?

Because have I mentioned? I really, really don't like to pack.

Happy Monday, friends!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday inspiration

Today's video is a two-minute compilation of inspirational speeches from forty movies. It's creator, Matthew Belinkie, did a phenomenal job of putting the scenes together. You can find a transcript of the video as well as information from Belinkie here.

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

For the love of books

Happy Saturday!

Today I want to thank two wonderful bloggers for the awards they've given me recently: Jaime at Awakenings and Reflections presented me with the Liebster Blog Award, the Kreativ Blogger Award, and the Versatile Blogger Award, and Krista at The Jelly Beans of Writing handed me The Booker Award. Thank you both so much!

This is the first time I've received The Booker Award, so I thought I'd focus on that one today. Here are the rules:

1. This award is for book bloggers only. To receive this award, the blog must be at least fifty percent about books. (Reading or writing.)

2. You must share your top five favorite books.

3. You must give this award to five to ten other book blogs you adore.

Like most of you, I read a lot. I have a master's in English literature and am rarely without a book in my hands, yet I find it very difficult to list my five favorite books. I like so many, and my favorites change depending on my state of mind and stage in life. Since it's impossible for me to list my top books, I decided to give you a list of several books I love instead, presented in no particular order:

1. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
2. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
3. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
5. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
6. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
7. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
8. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
9. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
10. Delights & Shadows by Ted Kooser

There are so many more, but these are the books on my mind at this moment. If you ask me tomorrow—or even in an hour—the list might be very different.

Now it's my turn to present these awards, and since I've seen them circling the blogosphere pretty frequently lately and no longer know who has already received them, I'd like to give them to all of you! Take all four or pick and choose (just grab them from my sidebar).

Finally, speaking of books, I found this wonderful YouTube video showing what happens in a bookstore after hours. Enjoy!

Have a great weekend!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday fun

Has your week left you feeling like this?

Here's a dose of funnies that should help. Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

First friends

Thanks for the kind (and often entertaining!) comments on Tuesday's post. I enjoyed learning more about you, and as far as I'm concerned, we're all BFF!

Writing that post started me thinking about my first friends, the ones I've known since I was mere moments old. Today I want to introduce them to you.

Here I am with Baby:

I think we're watching TV. Aren't we adorable? ;-)

And here is a younger version of me with my friends Panda Bear and Mouse:

I'm not sure what that look on my face is all about...

I know: I wasn't very creative at naming things back in my childhood years, but I assure you that age has brought wisdom in that respect. My kids' names are not Boy and Girl. I call them He and She. ;-)

Regardless of their uninspired names, Baby, Panda Bear, Mouse, and I have enjoyed a friendship that has lasted all my thirty-something years. They've traveled with me from state to state and house to house, and they're among the possessions I intend to pass down to my children someday.

So tell me, who were your first friends—real or, as in my case, stuffed?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sorry...and some funnies

I've been having Internet and Blogger problems today, so I've been unable to comment on your blogs. I have a post prepared, but I think I'll save it until tomorrow since it's already so late here. (It's nearly 5 p.m., and I usually post much earlier.)

If my Internet cooperates and allows me to stay online, I'll start visiting your blogs and responding to your comments in just a few minutes. (Cross your fingers!)

Again, I'm sorry for the delay. In the meantime, enjoy these funny cat videos. ☺

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

If we're going to be BFF, you should know...

I need some of these!
(Photo by Petr Kratochvil, courtesy of Public Domain Pictures)
♥ My feet are almost always like ice cubes, even when it's 95 degrees.

♥ I can't swim. I never had the opportunity to learn, which is ironic since I grew up along one of the Great Lakes. My husband is a fish, and I'm adamant that both my kids learn to swim. (My five-year-old has already taken lessons.)

♥ I have never dyed my hair, although I suspect that day is coming soon. (Darn aging!)

♥ I love meatloaf but can seldom make a loaf that stays together, even though I let it rest before cutting it.

♥ I love dresses and would wear them every day if I could.

♥ I hate matching up my husband's socks. They all look the same to me.

♥ I've never left my kids with a babysitter. (This explains the next one.)

♥ I haven't been to a movie theater since 2006.

♥ I must dip my pizza in hot sauce.

You'll never find one of these in my hand!
(Image courtesy of Sanja Gjenero,
♥ I never iron. If something is wrinkled, I just toss it into the dryer for a few minutes and hope for the best.

♥ I always have laundry waiting to be washed.

♥ I put chocolate chips in a bowl and then dip a spoonful of peanut butter into them. Yummy!

♥ I was shocked a few years ago when my doctor told me that I'm 5'3". I always thought I was taller.

♥ I've been wearing glasses since I was five.

♥ I am a middle child, but there are thirteen years between me and my oldest sibling, so I've always felt like the oldest.

♥ I've never been able to fold a fitted sheet.

♥ I have two stepsons who are in their twenties and live in New York City.

♥ I am a perfectionist, which can be a blessing but I've found it's most often a curse.

♥ My favorite color is red, and my favorite number is five.

♥ I don't like sharing my food. (Okay, I'll share with my kids, but don't ask me to pass my plate around in a restaurant. If you want what I have, you should have ordered it!)

And now I leave you with this scene from Friends--the one where Joey and I have something in common:

What about you? As your blogging BFF, what do I need to know?

*(Inspired by Ashley at Little Miss Momma.)

Monday, June 18, 2012

You heard what I said!

Image courtesy of Jean Scheijen,
I am a broken record. I noticed recently that, as a
mom, I find myself saying a lot of the same things over and over again each day. Here are just a few:

Stop that!

Eat your food.

Do you need to use the potty? Are you sure? Are you sure?

Did you wash your hands?

Where's your milk cup?

Where's your water cup?

Did you turn off the light?

Turn down the TV.

I'm sorry.

Say you're sorry.


Be nice.

I like you, too.

It's almost naptime!

It's almost bedtime!

I didn't hear you say please.



Because I said so!

Hurry up or we'll be late.

Okay, but only one.

I'll be done in a minute.

What do you want for a snack?

I love you!

Whew! I often think I should just record myself so I don't have to repeat these things so many times--but really, what would be the fun of that? ☺

Finally, I'd like to share this video called "The Mom Song," where a performer uses two minutes and fifty-five seconds to sing about all the things a mom says in a 24-hour period. She set her song to the tune of the William Tell Overture, and it's absolutely hilarious! Enjoy!

What things do you find yourself saying over and over again each day?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

For all the dads—and those who love them

Happy Father's Day!

My dad is my hero, and this video expresses just what he means to me. Enjoy—and have a wonderful day!

Lyrics here.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Just fabulous!

Happy Saturday!

This morning I want to extend a huge thank-you to the three wonderful people who've presented me with awards in the past week or two:

♥ L.G. Keltner at Writing Off the Edge honored me with a Fabulous Blog Ribbon and a Stylish Blogger Award;

♥ Nikki at Inspire Nordic presented me with the One Lovely Blog Award and a Stylish Blogger Award;

♥ and Funny in My Mind at In My Mind It's Always Funny handed me the Liebster Blog Award.

Thanks so much to all of them--and be sure to visit their amazing blogs!

This is the first time I've ever received a Fabulous Blog Ribbon, so I've decided to post about that award today. Here are the rules:

1. Post the rules on your blog.
2. Name five of your most fabulous moments, either in real life or in the blogosphere.
3. Name five things you love.
4. Name five things you hate.
5. Pass the ribbon on to five other bloggers. (Leave them a comment to notify them of their win.)

Okay, here we go:

Five Fabulous Moments:

1. the call that came the day I finished my Master's thesis and informed me that I was hired for my first real job: teaching English and journalism at a college in Nebraska

2. my wedding on a riverboat

3. the moments I found out I was pregnant with my children

4. the births of my children

5. meeting so many kind, talented, and amazing people in the blogosphere

Five Things I Love:

1. chocolate (I'm craving chocolate-covered potato chips right now!)
2. writing
3. reading, especially if it's raining outside
4. cute shoes
5. Mexican food

Five Things I Hate Dislike:

1. drivers who think they are entitled to cut in front of traffic
2. cleaning
3. hair in my food, especially if I'm at a restaurant
4. handling raw chicken
5. being outside in really hot weather, which for me is anything above 75 degrees

I'd like to pass this Fabulous Blog Ribbon, as well as the rest of the awards, to five (I'm choosing six!) very deserving bloggers. Take all the awards or chose the ones you want (just grab them from my sidebar)!

1. Funny In My Mind at In My Mind It's Always Funny
2. Nikki at Inspire Nordic
3. L.G. Keltner at Writing Off the Edge
4. Fran at Broken Cookies Don't Count
5. Mel at The Positive Pessimist
6. Danielle at Sweet Tea Reads

Have a wonderful Saturday!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

For you ♥

The past couple of days have been a little difficult for me, but you readers have been great and have cheered me up immensely. Today I want to share two videos with you to express my appreciation for your kindness. The first is about true friendship (in this case, a sweet video about tortoise helping tortoise), and the second is a touching and inspiring video about motherhood. I hope you enjoy them!

You all are the absolute best! Thank you for helping me when I was down and for all your advice about preschool graduation and motherhood. ♥

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I survived (but just barely)

At my son's preschool graduation last night, I saw kids who looked like this:

Is it over yet?
(Image courtesy of Michael & Christa Richert,

and this:

Why are all these people staring at me?
(Photo by Tiene Alles,

and a lot of them that looked like this:

(Image courtesy of Billy Frank Alexander,

And all of them were completely adorable!

However, I, as predicted, looked a lot like this:

Where have all the years gone?
(Image courtesy of Michael & Christa Richert,

and used up my share of these:

*sniff, sniff*
(Photo by Shari Weinsheimer, courtesy of Public Domain Pictures)

Surprisingly, though, my tears weren't sad tears, at least during the ceremony. Some of the kids did the funniest (and sweetest) things as they walked into the gym, and I couldn't help but laugh until I cried. One little girl skipped down the aisle, her ponytail flipping from side to side; a little boy with spiked hair loped to the front of the gym, his hands in his pockets (I nicknamed him Rico Suave); and another little girl speed-walked to her chair, a wide grin splitting her little four-year-old face.

My son looked a little worried as he waited for his turn, but once he started down that aisle and heard the applause, he was smiling from ear to ear. I was so proud of him!

Image courtesy of Chris
When we got home, however, it was a different story. I lost it then because all I could think about was how quickly these five years have gone and how recently it seemed that I was holding my newborn son in my arms. So much has changed since then, and I know so many things will continue to change, but that doesn't make the changes any easier. Last night I cried the sad tears.

However, when my wonderful preschool graduate saw that I was upset, he went to his room and came back with his beloved Mickey Mouse doll, which he handed to me. "Mama, you can sleep with him tonight if you want to," he said.

And you know what? I did. And today I feel much better.

Have you ever been comforted by a child?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Break out the tissues...

Image courtesy of Moi Cody,
my son is graduating from preschool tonight!

I can't believe how quickly the school year has gone. It seems like yesterday that I was taking his first-day-of-school picture on the front step. He was so excited, thrilled to be going to preschool at last, but now it's all old hat for him, and he can't wait to move on to kindergarten. Yesterday he had his kindergarten screening, and I took him for a walk through the halls of his new school. His eyes lit up when he saw all the cool, "big kid" stuff, and he told me he wants to start going there tomorrow!

I know I'm going to be a teary mess when I see him walking into the gym tonight, and I'll probably be sobbing outright when he receives his diploma. It's hard to believe that the baby born by an emergency C-section in late February 2007 is now a smart, capable, independent little boy ready to go off to all-day kindergarten without me.

For the past few months, my daughter has been telling me that she doesn't want her brother to go to school because she's going to miss him too much.

All I can tell her is that I will, too.

So does anyone want to cheer me up and keep me from crying all over my keyboard? And more seriously, for those of you who have trod this path before, do you have any advice for me?

Monday, June 11, 2012

The one where I flay myself

I am an accident waiting to happen.

Finger? Apple? Who can tell the difference?
Photo by Petr Kratochvil
Courtesy of Public Domain Pictures
It's true. Last month I wrote about the undeniable fact that I'm a klutz, but what I did to myself yesterday goes beyond that, even for me.

Picture it: Western New York, my kitchen. I had just finished making egg salad sandwiches for the kids, even managing to cut them into triangles successfully (i.e. without slicing off any of my limbs). The house was peaceful, the kids watching TV in the living room and neither fighting nor whining for their food. Satisfied with the sandwiches, I turned to the day's fruit, a lovely apple. I washed it, dried it, then, remembering that my two-year-old dislikes the peel, I reached for my potato peeler and began stripping away the skin. All was well--until it happened:

I mistook my finger for the apple--and I peeled it.

I know, I know. Disgusting, you say. Believe me, you're not wrong. I'll refrain from posting a picture.

(You're welcome.)    ;)

Yes, he may look innocent enough lounging there among
the potatoes, but don't be fooled. That peeler is pure evil.
Image courtesy of Sanja Gjenero,
I'm still not certain exactly what happened, but I do know this: that peeler is pure evil.

Of all the klutzy things I've done in my life--slicing off the tips of several fingers with kitchen knives; walking into walls, counters, and tables; tripping over toys, coffee tables, and nothing at all; falling down (and up!) stairs, and more--taking my skin off with the potato peeler ranks right up there with the most uniquely interesting ways I've hurt myself.

And frankly, it makes typing really difficult.

What's the most klutzy thing you've ever done?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday inspiration

Happy Sunday!

I have two videos to share with you today. The first one is about the power of words:

The second video is Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway." It's not a new song, but it has an inspiring message, particularly for people who are trying to follow their dreams:

Lyrics here.

Have an inspiring Sunday!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

So lovely!

Many thanks to my friend Angie Richmond at Write Me Happy, who recently presented me with the One Lovely Blog Award. I'm honored that she thought of me! Make sure to check out her blog, where she tells us all how we can live a creative life.

Like all blog awards, this one comes with some rules, including:

1. thanking and linking back to the person who presented the award,
2. sharing seven things about yourself, and
3. nominating and contacting other bloggers you admire.

Since this is the One Lovely Blog Award, instead of sharing seven facts, I've decided to show you some of my Pinterest pins and tell you about seven things that I think are lovely. Here they are, in no particular order:

1. Butterflies: If you're one of the readers who found my blog during the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, it's probably no secret to you that I love butterflies of all types because they represent so much: strength, hope, resilience, new life... However, I do have a soft spot in my heart for the Monarchs.

2. Shoes: I blame Carrie Bradshaw for my shoe obsession, which coincidentally seemed to begin right about the time I started watching Sex and the City. I'm not a fashionista by any means, but I do love a good shoe, especially stilettos like these by designer Christian Louboutin. Will I ever own a pair? Probably not, but a girl can dream!

Source: via Dana on Pinterest

3. Vintage dresses: I love anything retro, especially dresses from the 1950s. Lucky for me, my mom was a teenager then and saved a lot of her clothing, which I had so much fun trying on as a kid! (See my R is for Retro post for more on that.) My mom didn't own this particular dress, but I think it's absolutely gorgeous!

4. Abandoned buildings: I might be in the minority on this one, but I think abandoned buildings are lovely; they're tragic and sad, yet I see hope in them as well. As a writer, I can always find many stories ideas whenever I think about the people who once called the four walls home.

Source: via Dana on Pinterest

5. Art: I'm inspired by art and artists. I've always had an affinity for Monet and have marveled for hours at the beauty of his paintings. This particular painting catches my eye because something about it reminds me of my childhood home along the shoreline of Lake Superior:

Source: via Dana on Pinterest

6. Rings: I adore rings! Back in the days before I was changing diapers, I used to wear one on every finger. Now I wear only my engagement and wedding rings, but someday I'll bring out the rest of them again. I found this one recently and thought it was gorgeous:

7. Tulips: My little boy is the reason I'm in love with these flowers. I wrote the story in my T is for Tulips post, but the gist of it is that tulips were the first flowers my son "bought" for me, and he was so proud of himself when he handed them to me and, with a huge grin on his tiny face, said, "These are for you, Mommy!" Thinking of that memory still melts my heart, and I will forever associate tulips with my little boy.

There you have them: seven things I find lovely, courtesy of my Pinterest page. My boards are still pretty sparse since I'm just starting to pin again after a long hiatus, but if anyone wants to follow me, you're more than welcome. And, although I'm not going to nominate specific bloggers, if you'd like to snag this award, please do so. I think all of you (and your blogs) are lovely!

So tell me, what do you find lovely?