Friday, July 22, 2016

Have a Breezy Weekend

Happy Friday, friends! I don't know about you, but Friday is definitely my favorite day of the week. What are you doing this weekend? My mom is leaving on a jet plane tomorrow for the Big Apple, so I'll be living the carefree life of a bachelorette for the next few days. Think Domino's, magazines and Hallmark Channel movies. I mean, why not throw ALL caution to the wind and just be completely decadent?? If not now, when? Or maybe that's just my coy way of rationalizing my behavior? Either way, I hope you all have a relaxing -- and decadent! -- weekend, and here are my favorite finds from the wonderful Web...

10 curly-hair realities...

Stranger Things on Netflix looks great, doesn't it? Super suspenseful!

Look, even Justin Bieber has Pokemon fever.

Wanderlust is a pretty powerful thing.

Google just launched a new set of emojis promoting gender equality.

Facebook is predicting the end of the written word.

Sparkly bracelets are a must-have, right?

How normal are your digital manners?

What pretty string lights and green foliage!

Who was the heartthrob in the year you were born?

A Buffy The Vampire Slayer adult coloring book is coming...who's excited?

One woman with a disability on the importance of selfies.

The joy and anxiety of being an introvert.

Baby sloths are just too cute for words.

Ode to slow reading.

These letter boards would be great for my to-do lists.

Can Michelle Obama be my best friend?

Haha, it's the first commercial for Sony Walkman!

Fun conversation toast, anyone?

Twitter is now accepting requests for account verification...

And as always, feel free to connect with me on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Bloglovin! See you there, friends! xoxo

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Family Photos: Summertime Happenings

Well, it's official: We're in full-on summer mode over here! This week, especially, has been brutally HOT, so our life has looked like this: sit in air-conditioned house, sip lemonade, play cards, repeat as needed.

Not that I mind, honestly. Being able to blog in the cool comfort is my ideal dream. And, these pics are pretty much proof, as if they were a modern-day time capsule of Summer 2016. I can just imagine future generations stumbling upon these photos hundreds of years from now -- oh, that would certainly be interesting, wouldn't it?

Anyway, starting with those cute Royal Pains bobble heads. Remember when I blogged about my love of the show? Well, I tweeted my post to the show and they messaged me saying they'd love to send me a prize pack in honor of the end of the show. Lo and behold, these little guys showed up on my doorstep a few weeks ago. They've found a permanent home in our kitchen...

Our library reopened a few months ago after a beautiful remodel and I (finally!) got to see the finished product. It's such a gorgeous place -- all shiny and new -- with huge windows in the lobby that let the light in. Oh, that's me in the second photo, in case you couldn't tell...
As my mom commented on this photo: "Now that's an after-dinner snooze." I'd say that's pretty accurate, don't you think??
We've been playing sooooo many rounds of rummy -- every morning, after lunch and right before dinner. We play in sets of 10,000 points and I've only won ONE set...can you believe that?? That's criminal; I think my mom is stacking the deck or something. She plays all innocent, but something tells me that she's got lots of tricks up her sleeve. As I tell her, she's lucky that I view these games as more of a social occasion, so I don't get too competitive. But, if I was a betting woman, we'd most definitely have some problems on our hands!


And, lastly, a few of Ms. Bear thrown in for good measure -- because she's a natural in front of the camera, don't you think? At 60, she has SO MUCH energy! Far more than both Janelle and I combined, and, honestly, she just puts us to shame sometimes. I often wonder if she'll ever stop or if she'll keep going and going forever, just like the Energizer Bunny. Right now, my money is on that bunny.

How's your summer going, friends? What have you been up to? Have you taken any trips recently? Or, are you more of a summer homebody like I am? Isn't it going FAST?!?!?!? xoxo

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Love Lounge: The New Way To Flirt...Without Words?

Are you emoji obsessed? I'm typically a word girl, obviously, but I just came across some pretty intriguing statistics all about the state of flirting in our modern, text-centered society.

The results in capsule form: Flirting is a-changing!

DrEd, an online doctor service, looked at tweets from men and women in the United State and Europe and analyzed the 10 most-used emojis with romantic or sexual suggestions. The "smiling face with heart-shaped eyes" and "face throwing a kiss" claimed the top two spots...
"With only 140 characters allowed per message, Twitter demands brevity from its users – and lengthy hashtags or phrases can often be replaced by a single well-chosen emoji. The availability of hundreds of distinct emojis, ranging from faces to symbols to food, has inspired many on Twitter to come up with their own new meanings for some of these unique icons," the study reads. "And while emojis themselves are not explicit, this coded language quickly led to the emergence of a new kind of flirtatious and sexual shorthand, where romantic overtures and taboo topics can be casually suggested with just one or two otherwise innocuous characters."
I suppose all this change was inevitable. It was only a matter of time before technology and the way we flirt caught up to each other. BUT, guess what?? This really, really doesn't bode well for me in my effort to resist late-night messaging, so I'm thinking my war on that front will continue for the indefinite future. Of course, I won't be sending any of those sexually suggestive emojis since I'm nothing if not an old-fashioned lady, but the temptation will be there to shoot off a series of smiling faces and hearts. I mean, it's so easy, you know? Should flirting really be that easy? With words, you have to put some thought and effort into crafting the right ones -- you have to be on your feet and witty at the same time. For me, that's one of my favorite things about the whole art of flirting. It's that give-and-take, cat-and-mouse chase that is so thrilling. Is that just me??

What are your thoughts on these cutting-edge results, friends?? Do you find yourself falling into the habit of using emojis more often these days? Which one is your favorite?? xoxo

P.S. Fun emoji hats! :)

How I Feel (In 5 Photos) Wednesday.





"My darlin', turn the radio up for that sweet sound...Hold me close, never let me go...Keep this feelin' alive, make me lose control..." --Eric Carmen

[Photos via That Kind of Woman]

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Tuesday Tunes: Britney Spears' "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman"

Editor's Note: Song lyrics denoted in bold italics.

As I've said before, I came of age during the HUGE teen pop explosion of the late '90s. For anyone not in the know, this was a grand old time to be alive. It was a far simpler time, long before the modern trappings of things like the Internet and Donald Trump, and life moved at a much slower pace. As you can probably imagine, I was just as obsessed with pop culture back then -- maybe even more so than today -- and I easily got swept up in the bubblegum pop craze that all my fellow young people got hooked on. Christina Aguilera, Mandy Moore, *Nsync, the Backstreet Boys -- they were all in constant rotation on my CD player. And yes, I'm talking about one of those classic CD players; they just don't make them like they used to, do they?

But I digress -- that's another topic for another post. Like I said, I jammed along to the sweet sounds of that pop music and memorized all the lyrics -- ballads were usually my favorite, in case you were wondering. Through it all, though, one favorite stood out above the rest...

Britney Spears' "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman"
From Britney

Back then, there wasn't such a thing as fandom names, but if there were, I'm pretty sure I would have been in that squad. I mean, how could you NOT love Ms. Brit? She sang. She danced. She got to be on the arms of one Justin Timberlake in a matching denim ensemble that was downright fly for its time. But more than that, she was real. It was a refreshing quality for a pop singer; it felt like she could just be one of your girlfriends -- you know, the kind you hang out with on a Friday night and gossip down at the local ice cream shop. Her songs, naturally, also spoke to me. They told the sorts of tales of teenage yearning and growing and broken hearts, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I'd spend hours watching her videos and singing along at the top of my lungs.

I used to think
I had the answers to everything
But now I know
Life doesn't always go my way, yeah...
Feels like I'm caught in the middle
That's when I realize...

It really is true what they say: Youth is wasted on the young. It's the time of our lives and we don't even know it. We think we know everything, though, and won't listen to anyone who tells us differently. Never mind the fact that we haven't exactly seen the world, but we like to think we have the answer to all the questions in the universe. What must it be like to be that self-assured? I certainly don't remember how it felt, but it must have been comforting to feel like there wasn't any problem we couldn't solve or any obstacle that we couldn't overcome. Those coming-of-age years? They were like living in a cocoon -- a protective shell -- that hadn't hardened us to the world yet or made us jaded. We saw the world with such innocent eyes and fully believed that's how we'd see things forever. I know I never envisioned a future in which I wasn't wearing those rose-colored glasses.

I'm not a girl
Not yet a woman
All I need is time
A moment that is mine
While I'm in between

Yet as we get older, life quickly becomes complicated. We're wrestling out of that cocoon, but we're not a butterfly yet, so it's not like we can exactly just fly away. We're caught in the middle and it can be an overwhelmingly scary place to be. We've got time, but sometimes, time is the last thing we want. We welcome it, but also rail against it with everything we have. Even now, I still feel that way sometimes. We want to grow up, to move forward, but we're scared. Deep down, we wonder if we can do it and we doubt ourselves. Those inner voices can get mighty loud at times -- don't you just want to tell them to SHUT UP already??

I'm not a girl
There is no need to protect me
It's time that I
Learn to face up to this on my own
I've seen so much more than you know now
So don't tell me to shut my eyes

Eventually, I suppose, we all get to a point where our confidence takes off -- soars like that butterfly, perhaps?? We realize that, YES, we can do this crazy thing called life. We've been through a lot and don't give ourselves nearly enough credit. We're stronger than we think and far wiser than we may feel.
I didn't really come to that conclusion until after my father died, and I don't think it's a revelation that anyone else can lead you to. It's all part of that journey you have to walk on your own, at your own pace, in your own time. Maybe we'll always be on the journey, and we'll just stop at different stages in life. I sort of like to think about life in those terms, don't you?? Sort of how we never really stop learning. We also never stop growing and learning more about who we are... xoxo

Found: Fun Emoji Hats





Guess what?? Now you can wear your heart on your head! How fun are these emoji hats from EmojiCaps! I love the idea of letting everyone know exactly how you feel -- you wouldn't even have to say a word. If someone asks you how you are, you just point to the hat... xoxo

Monday, July 18, 2016

10 Lessons Learned From Our Hospital Heyday

Yesterday was a VERY big day -- and by big day, I mean of the medical variety, of course! It was an anniversary, to be exact, and it was quite an important one.

The 20th anniversary of my very last surgery!

Honestly, if you had asked me way back in 1996 when this medical roller coaster we were on would slow down anytime soon, I would probably have looked you straight in the eyes and just laughed. Why? Because back then, during our hospital heyday, I didn't think our seemingly permanent residence in doctors' offices and hospital rooms would EVER end. We joke now that any song from the '80s and early '90s is a "hospital song" and that's completely true. We marked the years by the number of appointments we had and the number of miles logged in the car.

But you know what? I'm not sure I'd change one darn thing about those years. As odd as it sounds, those years shaped me into the person I am today and I don't know if I'd be 'me' without them. I mean, remember our hospital tour photos? Oddly enough, there's a sheer amount of joy that comes through in those photos!

Is that weird? I don't think it is, so to celebrate this important medical milestone, here are some lessons learned from our hospital heyday...

You're far more capable than you think you are: It's amazing what you can do, even when things seem impossible and overwhelming. Even when things got tough, the pressure of it all somehow pushed us forward. Maybe it was all that adrenaline coursing through our veins?

Life can still be beautiful: We may have been going through some admittedly hard time, but my parents made a concerted effort to make sure that the medical world wasn't our life 24/7; it could have been very easy to just let that world consume us, but we had a life outside of the hospital, and for that, I'm so grateful.

It IS possible to have fun while in the hospital: I know, the word 'fun' isn't usually in the same sentence as hospital, but you'd be surprised how exciting it can be! Late-night trips around the hallways! Endless hours of daytime TV! Afternoon breaks in the cafeteria, complete with an ice-cold lemonade! And of course, swooning over all the cute (and smart!) medical residents who come by your room! Yes, it is quite the life.

I'm far closer with my family: Being in the hospital gave us all the chance to bond, and I don't think we'd be as close today if we hadn't gone through those times together. It all made us see what was truly important; in a strange way, I'm glad we had those experiences and that we had all that time together, especially in light of the short time we ultimately had with my father.

Fight for what you need: In the world of hospitals, you have to use your voice and ALWAYS be your own advocate. Speak up. Ask questions. Don't be afraid to be firm about what you need. If you don't advocate for yourself, who else will?
Since my parents were by my side every step of the way, I invited Ms. Bear to share the lessons she's learned over the years. Take it away, Mom...

Melissa, the human calendar, brought it to our attention yesterday that it has been 20 years since she last had surgery. For a person who had 26 surgeries in her first 15 years, that’s a pretty momentous occasion. And, it fell on National Ice Cream Day to boot! Anyway, she asked me to write 5 things I learned from everything medical that we went through...so, here goes...

Sometimes in life, if you know what’s coming up, you would give up and be convinced you could not do something: If I would have known what was in store for us, I would have spent all my time worrying about how I would cope with it, instead of enjoying the moments that all added up to our lives!

Denial is not an altogether bad thing: Sometimes you have to pretend things are normal in order to keep one foot in front of the other. As Martin Crane said on Frasier, "Denial is the whole secret to holding up!"

Good things really do come from bad: If anyone would have told me that some of our best family times would be at Children’s Memorial Hospital, I never would have believed them. But they were, and none of us will ever forget them.

When bad things happen, it brings out the best in everyone: We met tons of great people who helped us along the journey we took with Melissa. We realized that we were stronger than we ever thought we were. We met people we never would have met before. We know our way around Chicago like we lived there (and we kind of did!).

And, finally, no matter what happens in this life, if you have your family by your side, you are truly lucky and you can get through anything: So, Melissa, I say to you….Congratulations for getting to where you are today. Thanks for being part of our family! We did it! And now, let’s get our ice cream!!!

In The Pursuit of Happiness: Jennifer Aniston on Society's Expectations For Women

She'll be there for us -- see what I did there? Jennifer Aniston stood up to body bullies everywhere last week when she took to the Internet to dispel those pesky pregnancy rumors that she just can't seem to dodge these days.

Everyone's favorite friend (ha, I did it again!) penned a refreshingly real and honest essay for The Huffington Post in which she took aim at the unrealistic expectations our society places on women...
If I am some kind of symbol to some people out there, then clearly I am an example of the lens through which we, as a society, view our mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, female friends and colleagues. The objectification and scrutiny we put women through is absurd and disturbing. The way I am portrayed by the media is simply a reflection of how we see and portray women in general, measured against some warped standard of beauty.
But what I *really* loved? I mean, loved to the point that I wanted to pump my fist in the air and scream, "YES! Thank you, Jennifer! That's one victory for women!" -- however, I'm in the quiet library right now, so I figured that wasn't the very best idea...
Here’s where I come out on this topic: we are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child. We get to decide for ourselves what is beautiful when it comes to our bodies. That decision is ours and ours alone. Let’s make that decision for ourselves and for the young women in this world who look to us as examples. Let’s make that decision consciously, outside of the tabloid noise. We don’t need to be married or mothers to be complete. We get to determine our own “happily ever after” for ourselves.
Hmmm, writing our own version of happily ever after. In our culture, that's sort of a radical, out-there notion, isn't it? We're conditioned to want and strive for certain things in life -- boyfriend, wedding, house, kids. In that order. If we deviate from that script, even ever so slightly, we're criticized or labeled or bullied. And even though it shouldn't, all this finger wagging can mess with our confidence and sense of self. We start to question if we're on the "right" path and what is wrong with us if we're not.
I know I've never been immune to all this bullying, and I'm forever having this internal conversation with myself where I'm trying to talk myself out of getting down on myself. Because it's all too easy to let that outside noise become the voice you start to hear in your head -- and we all know that outside noise is the LAST thing you need to be listening to. It lies and tries to get you all sorts of worked up. At the very least, I've found, it just makes you extremely tired and exhausted.

So, I say we change the conversation. I say we stop putting ourselves and others down just because of those crazy "expectations" we grew up with. I say we start living life on our terms, bullies be damned. And at the end of the day, I say we start celebrating each other because we're pretty darn awesome just as we are. Who's with me and Jennifer?? #BeBraveBeYou xoxo

P.S. More wise words on feminism, finding balance, body image, mental illness and being yourself! :)

Man Candy Monday.

Happy Monday, friends! I don't know about you, but I'm ready to tackle the new week! I'm super excited about the post Ms. Bear and I are co-writing this afternoon; it's going to be fun! Also high on the Fun Meter? Today's guy, who made me laugh for seven seasons as Buffy's faithful sidekick. He battled demons on the show, but he's shown determination in battling his own personal demons in real life. His smile is infectious. And he seems like the type of guy you'd just want to chill with and shoot the breeze...

NICHOLAS BRENDON!!!!!!!!!!





"No one escapes being haunted by something that absolutely terrifies them to the core, but very few feel it's okay to admit what it is that haunts us."

Friday, July 15, 2016

Have a Relaxing Weekend

Good afternoon, friends! How are you doing today? What are you doing this weekend? I'm really looking forward to just hanging out and relaxing -- that's what summers are for, right? Also, my mom and I are collaborating on a post on Monday, so get ready for that! The post is about a medical milestone -- one I wasn't sure I'd ever see, actually! Until then, I hope you all have a relaxing weekend, and here are my favorite finds from the wonderful Web...

Can you spot the cat in the photo?

Money-saving hacks you need this summer.

How a good Netflix marathon can get you through the hard times.

Eeek, would you go down this glass slide?

Should wedding invitations go digital?

Ooooh, is Tom Hiddleston planning to propose to Taylor Swift?

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Nivea's robotic seagull giving you sunscreen at the beach!

The original Planet of the Apes is returning to theaters.

How cool is this hot dog beach towel?

Four tips for being a gracious guest.

Writing lessons from a kindergarten class.

The early '90s fashion scene in New York City.

It's about time disabled characters were prominently featured on TV shows.

Staying near water can change our brains, according to science.

YES!! Nintendo is releasing a miniature version with classic games!

Wise words.

How pretty is this rainbow of flowers?

Honeymoon advice from the experts.

What a romantic outdoor wedding!

And of course, my heart and thoughts are with everyone in France following yesterday's tragedy. Please love another, today and always.

And as always, feel free to connect with me on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Bloglovin! See you there, friends! xoxo
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