Saturday, September 28, 2013

A Hidden Perk

Most people, when they hear about my volunteer work with the Red Cross, always seem to ask, "What's it like?"

And I'll mention the constant traveling, the variety of sleeping arrangements, the amazing people that I meet all over the country, as well as the high-sodium food that one devours while on deployments.

But, little do they know of one secret little perk, which I'm about to share with you all today.

I'll let you read the text conversation I was having with my supervisor yesterday...her words are in grey; mine are in green:

A "rub down"???!!!


Oh my goodness, I laughed. And laughed. And laughed. As frustrating as it can be for me to text (I have never developed the knack for fast texting), it's things like this that keep me texting.

So...a rub down. Don't tell anyone about this little perk - it's a secret.



Friday, September 27, 2013

What We've Got Here....

The power of communication.

Several days ago, I used my hotel room's one laundry bag and one laundry sheet/list to send an order of dirty clothes out to be washed. They did a wonderful job (same-day service, as well!), and it was now time to send out some more.

A bit of a problem, though - they had never replaced the bag/sheet that I had used for my first order.

So, yesterday morning, I left a brief note for the hotel housekeeper, that read:

"May I please have a laundry bag and sheet?"

When I returned to my room last night, I had exactly that waiting for me:

A laundry bag and a sheet. A BED sheet. Ack.

Obviously, what we've got here is a failure to communicate...can someone PLEASE tell me what that thingy is called - the list of the laundry, with the prices, that you fill out and leave with your bag of dirty clothes?

In the meantime, I not only have to wonder what the housekeeper thought I wanted with an extra bed sheet - but I am totally impressed that she gave me one.



Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Purple Mountains Majesty

Another day...another dollar.


As a volunteer with the Red Cross...I don't get a DIME for all of this fun I'm having...I get it for FREEEEEEEE!!! Squeeeeee!!!!!

Today was pretty typical...we hit the road early, to begin the 45-minute drive north to Longmont, which is quickly becoming our home-away-from home. We usually arrive a bit early, so a quick trip to our favorite Starbucks is always on the agenda - and we can sip our morning libations and get the caffeine pumping while conference-calling into Headquarters for our morning updates.

It rained/snowed a few days ago, and the peaks off in the distance are wearing their "white hats" - which offers a beautiful backdrop as we prepare for our day. Colorado is certainly one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited, and it never gets old....

After the call, Allan and I begin covering the various Red Cross sites within the town...we have Emergency Aid Stations set up, as well as Disaster Recovery Centers. In both areas, clients can come and perhaps talk with a mental health worker, or pick up cleaning supplies for their home. Allan and I bounce back and forth between the sites, seeing how things are going and talking with the various clients and volunteers to make sure all is going well. Besides the residents, we've chatted with Red Cross volunteers from all over the country, doing a variety of functions within the organization. It's fascinating to see how everyone works together for the mission - which is taking care of the people affected by the flooding.

Lunch in Longmont has been at the local Panera's Bread - as they have a dedicated gluten-free menu, which makes ordering a meal a heck of a lot easier on me. Today, the manager called me by my first name without me telling her what it was, and as I looked at her in surprise, she explained, "Well - you've been in here almost every day - I recognize you by now."

See. I TOLD you I should just become a resident of Longmont. Everyone knows me by name. Hee.

Speaking of knowing people, I have a friend in Longmont (of COURSE I do, as I seem to have a friend in just about every city in the world, which is pretty awesome!) Anyway, Jan came over to one of the sites in the afternoon so we could have a brief reunion. She quickly filled my partner and I in on the situation around town - who is still having difficulty accessing their home, who needs supplies, etc - and it was very helpful. Getting a handle on things by talking to the locals is HUGE - and very, very informative.

What's weird is that I hung out with Jan just three weeks ago when I was in Estes Park for Girls Weekend Out - and here we were again, meeting up after a disaster pummeled her community. Who would have ever have guessed we'd be back together again so soon, and under these circumstances??!!

Jan and beautiful Colorado....

The rest of the afternoon was spent chasing down some leads and collecting more information...pretty typical lately for us. After another long, long drive back to our hotel, I love nothing more to kick off my shoes, put my slippers on, and just veg out.

I've been working seven days straight, so tomorrow I'm taking a much-needed day off. Big plans are in store - I'm going to go visit the mountains, and then head down to Denver "proper" - to take in the sights and the sounds and the scenery and the culture. Perhaps some culinary delights along the way, as well.

This is the halfway point of my week down, one to go. Proud of what I've done, but knowing I have much more to accomplish before heading home.



Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Rainbows, Lollipops and Gumdrops...and Cats??

Wouldn't it be lovely if life consisted of nothing more than rainbows and lollipops and gumdrops???

And actually, I'd add chocolate to that list, too, because we all know DARN WELL that life isn't worth living without chocolate.

Unfortunately, real life just doesn't work that way. There's a little thing called the "Pendulum Theory" - that says for every swing to one side of a continuum, there will be an equally strong swing to the opposite side.

Yesterday, life was rainbows and lollipops and gumdrops - with a bit of awesomeness on the side. So...what would today bring??

Good question...and let's just say that today was...interesting. Let's just say that most of today was spent diffusing potentially explosive situations - and although we were ultimately successful in dealing with certain issues, it took most of the day - and most of our energies - to handle things. In some ways, it was a very good learning experience, as we all must learn to deal with potential adversity - especially on a disaster response - so it was all good.

I DID manage to sneak in a highlight, though. Way, way back in the fall of 2008 - probably at this exact same time of year - I was deployed in Galveston, Texas - working with fellow Red Cross volunteers after Hurricane Ike. There, I met Ron - a pretty cool guy that was on my ERV crew.

Me on the left...Ron on the Galveston, back in 2008....

After the disaster, Ron went back to his home in California, and I went back to Kansas City - and although we would periodically stay in touch on Facebook, we hadn't seen each other in person since.

Ron and his wife, Suzanne, moved to Boulder, Colorado a few years ago. And guess where I was today? I just happened to be in Boulder, Colorado. In fact, after our "situation" was handled, I gave Ron a call to see how he was doing - and his house was amazingly less than a mile from where I was. Well. It was a no-brainer that my partner and I just HAD to swing by and see Ron and Suzanne. Seriously, after not seeing someone for five years or so - and they're less than a mile away - it was destiny.

Ron & Suzanne have continued to be Red Cross volunteers, and recently worked as managers at a Red Cross shelter here in Boulder right after the flooding:

Ron at the shelter...with Suzanne in the middle....

We didn't have much time to spend with them, but we spent a delightful hour sharing Red Cross stories and life updates. This is the cool thing about my experiences in Red Cross - I seem to have "family" in just about every city in the country...and no matter where I go, I'll always be able to hook up with someone whom I may not have seen in five years.

All in all, not that bad of a day - although it certainly had all the makings initially of something disastrous.

Besides - Ron and Suzanne had cats. And life can NEVER be disastrous when a contented, purring cat is sitting on your lap.



Monday, September 23, 2013

THIS Is What It's All About

Wow. Today.

How do I describe it?

Today was truly one of those days that reminds me why I do it. Why I take off, with no warning, leaving my friends and family behind, to head off to the next disaster. Why I put up with disorganization, frustration, strange hotel rooms, strange roommates, and less-than-ideal circumstances.


Today, the citizens of Lyons, Colorado were FINALLY being allowed back into their devastated small mountain community in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. My partner and I went early so that we could be there when they came in, and after going through the National Guard checkpoint, we found the other Red Cross volunteers who were waiting with supplies, tools, snacks and water.

Soon, they came. The people came. And words cannot do justice to what I saw today, and what emotions I experienced.

We sat back and just observed at first, as we didn't want to disrupt the reunions taking friends, neighbors, coworkers - reunited with each other after not seeing each other for two weeks. Some didn't know if others had there were hugs, tears of joy, and literally, dancing in the streets. I cried for them, and I cried with them, as they all attempted to tell us what it had been like...the uncertainty, the not-knowing, the frustration, and the fear.

It was amazing. It was restorative. It was hopeful.

It made me so proud to be a part of see the determination and resilience on the people's they checked on each other and began making plans on how to rebuild their town.

Not even a flyover by Vice-President Joe Biden in a low-flying helicopter could interrupt the hugging and talking going on...he didn't even rate a glance from the town, as they could only focus on each other.

A few photos:

This lady insisted on taking me for a short tour, to show me where the bridge USED to be...and now it's gone, as well as the road behind her...

I talk with a city employee of Lyons, who tells me her amazing story of survival and rescue during the flooding....

A retired 911 dispatcher from the city came by to not take anything, but just to thank the Red Cross for being there....

That small park behind the ERV was soon full of people...a neighborhood block party like no other....

There's no better feeling than knowing you're helping people after a's not about the stuff, but about the hope....

This is what it's all about, folks. This is what it's all about.

Neighborhoods. Community. Support. Love. Hope.



Sunday, September 22, 2013

Me? Accosting? I Hardly Think So!

I feel so "Lois Lane."

I am LOVING my new assignment in Public Affairs with the Red Cross, here in Colorado. I'm not sure if it's because of my love of writing - or my love of talking - but either way, I was BORN FOR THIS.

The last few days have been spent chasing down leads for stories - and then talking. Lots and lots of talking and trying to flush out an interesting "human interest" story....

My partner, Allan, was telling someone else why I'm good at this job, and he said, "Sherri's good at accosting people."




I looked at him in askance, and he quickly amended his statement.

"I mean, 'approaching' people and putting them at ease."

Well. Much better. I don't like to think that I "ACCOST" people. Gah.

However, I'll let you be the judge. It just so happens that a few photos were taken today while I was covering the Disaster Assistance Center, in Longmont, Colorado.

I submit into evidence, Photo #1:

Talking with Dorothea, a volunteer who is doing casework....

...and Photo #2:

Talking with Edith, a FEMA worker....

Seriously, does that look like accosting??!!!

The Disaster Assistance Center, or "DAC", is like a "one-stop" shopping for assistance after a disaster. Numerous agencies and organizations set up booths/tables in one centralized location, and people can visit the booths of the various agencies that can possibly offer them assistance. This is a relatively recent idea, and it's pretty cool. In the old days, a family may have to drive all over town, trying to hunt down the places that could offer help - which could not only take a lot of time, but could also leave open the possibility of missing out on assistance.

The last two days, I've been covering the DAC in Longmont, but tomorrow, I'll head north to Lyons, Colorado - where the DAC will just be opening. It hasn't been able to open until now due to the extensive damage in the town - so this will be interesting.

Hopefully, I won't be accosting anyone - but I WILL sniff out some good stories.



Saturday, September 21, 2013

Attacked By A Bear???

If I could summarize my entire day in one, entirely too-long and entirely not grammatically-correct sentence, it would go something like this:

After a long and sleepless night of tossing and turning in a strange bed, because I have the curse of never adjusting quickly to new sleeping surroundings or new roommates, and after driving to headquarters in Denver, only to be told that we were now to be reporting to a DIFFERENT headquarters in Denver - but far, far away from the first Denver, which is weird, and then fighting traffic (and on a Saturday???!! Gah!) for a forty-five minute drive north to Longmont to report on the activity there, and after meeting an awesome 7-year old Cub Scout who donated popcorn to the Red Cross, and after meeting a fellow Kansas Citian who is volunteering in the disaster, which shows that it truly IS a small world after all, and after talking with, photographing and helping numerous Coloradans affected by the recent flooding, and then after driving endless miles to the warehouse in order to get a different story, and after making an emergency trip to Target to buy a car charger for my stupid @J%J@@@ i-Phone because it dies the minute you turn it on, which drives me totally CRAZY - GAH! - and then after eventually making our way back to our hotel so I could sit down and actually write the stories that I heard today, and after ordering a mediocre bunless hamburger from room service so I have at least something in my hungry, cavernous tummy, and after discovering numerous, mysterious red welts on my right arm while showering tonight that look like I was somehow attacked by a vicious tiger without being aware of it -

--after all that --

I am organized, showered, rested and ready for whatever tomorrow brings me.


Except for the mysterious tiger claw marks on my right arm.

Not a good picture - but what the heck??!!

What is the deal with THAT??!!

That will remain a mystery, I guess...perhaps I really DID get attacked by a tiger - or more likely, a giant, Coloradan black bear.

Because I may not know how to write a grammatically correct sentence, but I DO know that I'm more likely to be attacked by a bear in Colorado than a tiger.




Friday, September 20, 2013

It's An EEP! Kinda' Day!

There are some days that are just...different. Crazy. Insane. Bizarre. Rewarding. Scary.

Oh - did I mention awesome?

Today was one of those days....

My day begins with a Public Affairs meeting/teleconference at 8:00 am. Different counties within Colorado quickly check in with reports as to what is going on across the state. We learn that Vice-President Joe Biden may possibly be visiting the affected areas on Monday, and we begin planning our course of action of how to deal with this potential media frenzy. EEP!

We no sooner end that meeting when we rush to the all-staff meeting at 8:30 – and because of the large contingent of volunteers now in Denver, our “meeting” is held in the parking garage of the hotel we are using for Headquarters. That's certainly a new one. I've met in a lot of places - but NEVER in a multi-story parking garage. Felt a bit "Seinfeld-ish." After the usual reports from various areas, we are warned of the hazardous materials that are floating in the standing waters, and are told to be careful. EEP!

That meeting finishes up at 9:00 am, so I then rush to Orientation, required for all newly arriving volunteers, no matter how long they've been with the Red Cross, where I quickly learn more about the region and the culture. We’re also warned of dehydration, altitude sickness, brown recluse spiders, and rattlesnakes. EEP!

After this, I rush back down to my department, where my boss quickly goes over the assignments for the Public Affairs crew. I will be paired up with Allen, a volunteer out of Santa Cruz, California. We are told to head up north to Longmont, to “chase” ERV’s, who will be distributing clean-up items to affected households. I need to get stories, get photos, and get information – measure the “pulse” of the community, so to speak. This does not get an EEP, as this is a good thing, and I'm excited to get to work.

Running into Lloyd, as he delivers supplies...I met Lloyd originally a year ago in Tampa, and we've been buds ever since....

Initially, Allen and I head to the warehouse, so we can meet briefly with the ERV coordinator and get the names and telephone numbers of the ERV’s who are heading to Longmont. After checking in and talking with some old friends, we begin the long trek northwards, where we meet some of the residents, hear their stories, and take some photos. Not everyone we meet will become a story – or a photo – and that’s just fine. Some just want to talk, but don’t necessarily want to be quoted – or photographed. Part of our job is being sensitive to people’s feelings and needs.


At some point, we come across a severely damaged motor home park, which is being heavily guarded from looting by the Colorado National Guard. We stop and talk with them, who tell us that the residents there are in dire need of clean-up supplies. A quick phone call is made to one of the ERV crews, and within two minutes, we’ve got clean-up kits arriving on the scene and being distributed. This is when my job is rewarding – getting results, and getting them fast.

We leave the motor home park, and while sitting at a stop light, feel a sudden jolt from behind. Although we were warned of rattlesnakes, we weren't warned of rattled residents. A lady, who has lost her trailer home to the flooding, has accidentally rammed into us with her monster truck, and after exchanging information, and reassuring her that it was an accident and no one was hurt (other than our poor little car), we begin the trek back to Headquarters. EEP!

Time is then spent writing up the articles and editing the photos that we’ve taken, so that we can get them submitted to our boss by our deadline. In the meantime, Red Cross calls and tells us that we’ve been reassigned to a new – and improved – hotel for the night (as the previous night, we were sleeping in a staff shelter at a horse barn/rodeo events arena. In hay. With the animals). So – a quick detour to grab our luggage, so that we can – at some time – head to Aurora, and our new lodging – after putting in a 12-hour plus day. EEP!


Is it any wonder that exhaustion sets in? And it’s only my first day?



Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Truth Comes Out - Why I'm a Red Cross Junkie

My friend Donna and I reunite back in 2008 in Louisiana...

My first official day here in Denver, to volunteer with the Red Cross and the Colorado flooding. It's a typical travel day/first day experience...lots of hurry up and waiting, lots of confusion, lots of excitement at seeing old friends, and lots of anticipation as to what the next two weeks will entail.

Today took a unique turn right at the airport, as I was waiting to board my plane to Denver. As I was reading a book, a young lady walked up, saw my ID badge, and says, "Oh - Red Cross? Wait - you're Sherri??!!" Looking at her in confusion, she explained that she was from the Topeka, Kansas chapter - and had talked with a mutual friend of ours that had told her I'd be going to Denver. She introduces herself as Meghan, says she will be doing Public Affairs as well, and instantaneously, a new friendship is forged. That's kinda' how it rolls in the Red Cross.

After an uneventful flight, Meghan and I get a rental car (a black Volkswagon Passat - interesting!), and begin the drive to our Headquarters. It takes forever - not due to mileage, but due to bumper-to-bumper traffic along the highways. Gah. I thought I'd left this behind me when I left New Jersey/New York all those months ago.

Arriving at Headquarters, we quickly go through Inprocessing, and then to Transportation, where I check in our rental car. Every where I turn, I am running into familiar friends and old faces, and so some time is spent in reconnecting and reestablishing the friendships that have been born from many a year, many a disaster.

That's what is so cool about the Red Cross. Sometimes, people will heap praise on me for volunteering to work at these disasters, and it always brings twinges of guilt. Because - as strange as it may seem - I always seem to come home with so many blessings, so many gifts, so many fortunate experiences - that I feel it shouldn't come at others' misfortune.

For instance, I have worked for some of the most AMAZING managers in the country. From Shawn, I learned organization and purpose. From Donna Z, I learned singleminded determination on finishing a job and finishing it right. In Joplin, it was Joe, who taught me how to look out for my subordinates like I'm the Mama Bear and they're my cubs....In Hattiesburg, Janet taught me how to not only organize a department of people, but keep them inspired and see that their needs were met. I've learned forklift skills, truck-driving skills, lifting skills, paperwork skills, managing skills, organizing skills, and mediation skills.

I've been mentored by some pretty awesome people, and I'm always not only excited to be in their presence, but also humbled. I learn...I learn...and I learn...and I then try to use those skills and ideas for the next time that I'm in charge.

I've also learned how NOT to do things, and as unfortunate as those lessons are, they're necessary.

In the meantime, I've met dozens of men and women from all over this country - and our friendships just grow deeper and stronger the more we keep running into each other on these adventures. I consider them my family, and so I'm fortunate to have a family reunion every time I'm deployed. We smile, we hug, we do a quick 1-minute "catch up with life", and then we hit the ground running and get to work. Hard.

So...if people ever wonder why someone would do this crazy life...THAT'S why. Not only do I get so many rewards in helping others - but I am rewarded by the people I work for and work beside. I get to stretch and challenge myself in situations I would never have dreamed of, and I am developing new skills and new knowledge, constantly.


Anywho...after checking in with Public Affairs this afternoon and taking care of the necessary "first day" business, AND after a delicious gluten-free dinner at TGI Friday's (they have a dedicated gluten-free menu - woot!), Meghan and I are settled in our motel room, enjoying some quiet time. Tomorrow, we'll get our official assignments...don't know where, don't know what, but we will go where the wind takes us.



Back to the Future

I should have just stayed.

If you remember, I was in Estes Park, Colorado - just two short weeks ago...enjoying the beautiful scenery, as well as the rocking rhythms of the Scottish & Irish Festival. Who would have ever thunk that a mere short time later, Estes Park and surrounding areas would be devastated by floods and mudslides??!! So know that I was JUST there, and everything was so...serene. The calm before the storm, so to speak.

Seeing the tragedy grow larger by the day, I knew it was just a matter of time before I would be deployed with the Red Cross...and sure enough, the phone call came yesterday.

So...I'm finishing up some last-minute packing this morning, and will soon be flying right back to Denver - where I'll be reporting to Headquarters this afternoon in a new role as Public Affairs.

Kinda', sorta', scary, when I've never done Public Affairs on a national level's really only been in the past month that I've officially become part of the local Public Affairs team. My previous experiences on national disasters have been with sheltering, or feeding, or in supply/warehousing. My confidence level in THOSE areas is pretty high - but not so much in PA, although I'm sure I'll be fine...having the gift of gab, and the gift of written communication, will all come in handy, for sure. Not to mention - the blessing of absolutely loving on people, and wanting to listen to them talk. I could listen to other people all day, drawing them out to share their own this will be right up my ally, I think.

Such is the life of a Red Cross volunteer...never knowing when - and where - the next adventure will be...but learning to roll with the punches and dealing with adversity with patience, flexibility and a good sense of humor.

Back to Denver...back to Estes, stay tuned!



Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Why I Don't Listen to Hubby



Trust me - this is NOT a "man-bashing" post, as I really, really love my think of this as more of a, "They just don't get it???!!!" post instead.

The other night, I was working on my Top 10 Guilty Pleasures post, and I got into a conversation with Hubby that went something like this:

"What would you say are my guilty pleasures?" I asked.

Hubby immediately replied, "Peanut butter M&M's."

"Ha! So true! I've already got that on my list," I said, adding, "But what else? What else do you see as my guilty pleasures?"

He pondered for a minute or two, and then said, "Your chocolate milk that you drink every night before bed."

"THAT'S not a guilty pleasure!" I shot back.

"No? Then what IS it?" he asked.

"It's calcium," I said. Anything used for medicinal purposes is NOT a guilty pleasure in my book. I'm sure my doctor would agree, as HE'S the one who said I needed calcium for strong bones and such. What does it matter if I jazz it up a bit to make it more tolerable??!!

Obviously, the man needed a lesson in what exactly constitutes a "guilty pleasure", so I decided to give him an example.

"Honey, something like my addiction to the 'Real Housewives' television series is a guilty pleasure," I explained.

"I HATE that show!" Hubby exclaimed. "It's trashy, it's vile, and it has NO entertainment value whatsoever."

"EXACTLY!!! Which is why I love it, and why I only try to watch it when you aren't here," I said. "So - think some more, and tell me what my guilty pleasures are."

So...Hubby ponders a few more minutes, and then brightens and says, "I know what it is! SHOES!"

"Shoes???!!!" I look at him in disbelief, as I can't quite believe he dared to go there.

"Yes! Shoes! You have WAY too many shoes," he says, indicating our closet. Yup. He went there.

Giving him The Death Glare, I firmly and emphatically stated, "To begin with, you can never have too many shoes. And besides...they're essential. They protect my delicate feet. If you really think about it, they're just as important as the chocolate milk that I drink every night. They're medicinal, so to speak."

With that, I crossed my arms and challenged him to argue with THAT logic.

"I give up," Hubby shrugged...and went back to reading his book.

And he wonders why I don't consult him more often.



Tuesday, September 17, 2013

10 on Tuesday: Guilty Pleasures

Okay...'fess up. We've all got guilty pleasures, including me...and it's interesting to hear what others will admit to. So, with that in mind, today's 10 on Tuesday post are your little secret indulgences that get you through life. Mine - in no particular order - include:

1. The first day of school.
I love my kids. I really do. But I also love the first day of school, when I know that my house will be a little quieter, a little cleaner, and a little more peaceful as the kids all head back to school. And I feel guilty about this, somewhat, as I think it makes me less of a mom when I am secretly happy that my little monsters are gone for the day. Oops. Did I say "monsters" out loud? I most certainly meant to say, "angels." Ahem.

2. Sappy historical romance movies and books.
When I'm all alone, and I find myself with free time (which is a rarity), I love nothing more than curling up on the sofa and watching such classics as "Pride and Prejudice" or "Jane Eyre"...or reading a good, juicy novel by one of my favorite authors, Victoria Alexander. Whether it's Mr. Darcy or Mr. Rochester - I am totally swooning and totally using a Kleenex to dab that foreign material out of my eyes that always seems to appear when indulging in these mini-escapes.

3. Fleece sweatpants.
When I'm out in public, I like to dress up a bit...but when I'm home - alone - you will find me diving into my favorite pair of grey sweatpants. They're soft. They're comfortable. They're cozy. They're fashionably a train wreck. And yet I feel like I can conquer the world while wearing them, although I would NEVER, EVER step out into the world wearing them. YOU WILL NEVER SEE ME IN MY GREY SWEATPANTS (although I'm secretly hoping I get buried in them, so I'm soft and comfortable and cozy for eternity.)

4.Peanut Butter M&M's
They are seriously the MOST PERFECT INDULGENCE EVER and I can never, ever get enough. Eep.

5. Real Housewives of...Anything
Okay. I admit it. I am inexplicably intrigued by the antics of the women on all of the "Real Housewives" television series. It's trash. It's a train wreck. It's television at it's worst. BUT I CAN'T HELP MYSELF. Gah.

6. Barry Manilow
Don't laugh. Really. Don't. But when I'm home alone, and I need a pick-me-up, I can dance around the house to "Copacabana" and all is right in my world.

7. Coach Handbags
For reasons that I don't even understand myself and are absolutely beyond my control...I seem to have a visceral reaction whenever I see a beautiful, new Coach handbag in a boutique. My heart begins racing, my palms begin twitching, and I covet - COVET, I tell you - the purse. I MUST HAVE IT AND I MUST HAVE IT NOW. Sometimes, I'm able to fight that little devil on my shoulder that whispers, "Just do it. Just buy it." But other times...sigh. It's a losing battle.

8. Sleeping in
I would if I could. And I used to. But - guilt got the better of me, so I now set my alarm for the ungodly hour of 6:15 a.m. every morning, just so I can hug and kiss the family as they head out the door in the morning. Every now and then, though, I say, "Screw you, guilt - I'm catching a few extra zzzzz's." And it feels so, so good.

9. Reading the paper in bed
I am spoiled rotten, and I know it. Hubby brings the newspaper in from outside every morning, and will lay it next to me in when I DO rise (& shine? Hardly.) at 6:15 a.m., all I have to do is roll over and grab the paper and begin indulging in the day's news. Sometimes, he even brings me my Chai tea...and then I REALLY feel like the Queen that I know I secretly am.

10. Fast, red cars
In Florida, I drive a red convertible Mustang. And here in Kansas City, I drive a red, sporty souped-up Taurus. I like my cars red. And I like them flashy. And I like them fast. And there's a tiny part of me that says I should be driving a minivan, so that I would fit more into a "mom-like" image. But then I squash that tiny part of me as I go zipping down the highway, nibbling on my M&M's, while Barry Manilow plays on the radio.

And life is good.

What are YOUR guilty pleasures??!! Don't be coy...time to confess. I'd love to hear them!



Monday, September 16, 2013

Ego Veni Vidi Vici


I have to admit...that after I graduated from college, I thought I was pretty darn smart.

Okay. Wait. Let me clarify that.

Actually, to be honest, I've pretty much always thought I was pretty darn smart, because I'm kinda' modest like that. Yup.

But then...a curious thing happened....

I had kids.

And I realized just how dumb I really was, and how much I still had left to learn.

Take last night, for instance, when I learned something new from our 14-year old daughter. We had gone out to dinner with some other family members, and Daughter was explaining to them how she's currently studying Latin, in order to help her better understand scientific terms.

As she's explaining why she's studying Latin, she says, "Yes, well, it IS the language of love, you know."

Actually, I DIDN'T know, and sat there puzzled for a minute...until it dawned on me. She's heard that Latin is a Romance language. Ergo, (See what I did there?? Throwing in some Latin while discussing Latin??!! I amaze myself sometimes...), it must mean it's for lovers.


I really didn't have the heart to dispel her theory.

But time you're feeling in the mood and want to romance your lover...whisper some sweet Latin in his (or her) ear...and watch them swoon.


*Image from HERE


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Drama Queen's Most Excellent Adventure

Take a half-dozen or so women, who've known each other since high school (for the most part)...

...send them on a weekend adventure to Estes Park, where the country's largest Celtic festival is being held...

...add in some men in men in kilts...more beer...rhythmic music...and more vodka...amidst the beautiful backdrop of the Rocky Mountains...

...and what do you have??

One wild and crazy Girls Weekend Out, filled with adventure, dancing, drinking, eating, giggling, sharing, talking, forging new friendships and strengthening old ones, and laughing. Lots and lots of laughing. Yup - pretty much filled with everything but sleeping. Gah.

Observations made over my Most Excellent Adventure:

*It IS true what they say about what authentic Scottish men wear (or don't wear, so to speak) under their kilts. EEP!

*Bagpipes are truly some of the most amazing instruments that were ever invented. I'm not musically inclined, by any means, but I can strum a simple song on a guitar - or pluck out Chopsticks on a piano. However, I don't think I even know how to hold ON to a freakin' bagpipe.

*Speaking of bagpipes, when a hundred or so bagpipes begin playing "Amazing Grace" - I will always, always cry. Always.

*It is always heartening to spend quality time with girlfriends, bonding over our shared experiences of womanhood...especially when every one gets along and there is no drama....

*Haggis is disgusting...and yet, Scotch Eggs are God's gift to mankind...

*I don't have a lick of Scottish or Irish in me - I'm German, and when I watched the parade with the different clans marching, I was a little I know I'll never have that. As we all know, whenever Germans organize and begin marching in parades, people tend to get nervous....

*The band Albannach is pretty hot...I watched them in concert five times over two days at the festival, and every time, they brought down the house. Tribal Scottish music...with drums pounding and a bagpipe amazing.

*Needing a break from two days of the festival, dealing with almost 80,000 barbarians, we spent Sunday in Rocky Mountain National Park, and it was absolutely stunning....

*Actually, we didn't even have to venture into the park...the view right outside the back door of our condo was pretty freakin' amazing....

Yes, a most excellent adventure, and one that will always be remembered.