Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Calming Water

I must admit, when I first packed up my apartment and headed south from Seattle, WA to Portland, OR ten years ago, I was reluctant and a bit teary-eyed. My bonus was going to be living with my hubby ... we'd been commuting between Seattle, where I worked, and Portland, where he worked, for four or five months. The I-5 corridor is lovely, but quickly gets old when you're driving it so very often! My company had an office in Portland ... thus, the reason for me making the move rather than hubby.

Anyone who has experienced the loveliness of Oregon might wonder why I was hesitant to make such a move. Both states are green and beautiful and filled with mountains and valleys and all sorts of natural wonders. And, Oregon is less ... drizzly!

It was the water. And, no ... not the variety of water descending from the sky.

Seattle sits between two major bodies of water ... the stunning Puget Sound to the west, and beautiful Lake Washington to the east. And, in and amongst those major bodies of water are more bays, rivers, lakes, and creeks than you can imagine. I had become accustomed to seeing crisp, blue water everywhere I went ... I biked along Lake Washington, and ran and walked along the Puget Sound. It was not only beautiful ... I found it completely calming.

And, here I was ... headed to a city with a river ... a single, not-always-so-blue river. Secretly, I wasn't pleased. Yes, there were lakes and creeks and all that stuff too ... but it just didn't seem as expansive ... as accessible.

But ... I quickly realized that I had increased my accessibility to the mother of all bodies of water ... the gorgeous Pacific Ocean. This made me quite happy. In under two hours, we could be at the beautiful Oregon Coast, playing on the soft-sand beaches. The roar of the ocean and the warmth of the sand - even when the air is chilly - tops my ultimate relaxation list!

We headed there this past Memorial Day weekend. It was perfect! Technically, the picture at the top of this post isn't from our most recent trip ... it's from last August, when it was a bit warmer and the water a bit sparklier from the sun's rays.

This breezy beach weekend, however, proved to be perfect for kite-flying! So, the stunt kite finally got a good workout!

And, as an added bonus ... we arrived home to find this beautiful first bloom on the clematis ... a perfect ending to a relaxing weekend!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

An Encounter with a Wagon Full of Crankiness

I called my doctor's office today, with the hope of getting my records transferred to a doctor a bit closer to where I live and work. The call went something like this:

Receptionist: "Hello, Dr. M's office, can you hold?"

Me: "Sure," in a cheery tone, thinking she would come right back.

One minute ... two minutes ... three ... four ... maybe I should hang up and call back later ... but, I just know she's going to come back soon ... five ....

Receptionist, slightly cranky: "She's with a patient, but she'll be done in just a minute if you could hold."

Me, confused but semi-cheery: "What?"

Receptionist, now perturbed: "She'll be done soon, if you could just hold for another minute, that's all."

Me, not sure we'd ever even discussed why I was calling: "Dr. M?"

Receptionist, getting crankier: "No ... the M.A."

Me, still trying to play the cheerful card and thinking that, surely, she must have me confused with another caller: "Oh, I just called to get my records transferred."

All-knowing and apparently telepathic receptionist: "Right ... the M.A. has to do that, so if you could just hold on one more minute, she's just finishing up."

Me: "Oh ... okay", I say to no one in particular since she has already put me back on hold.

Thankfully, the M.A. was as sweet as punch, and the remainder of the conversation went as I would have perceived it to go in the first place.

I used to tell our employees that everyone came to work each day somewhere along the continuum of overjoyed, content, or burdened by what was happening in their life at that moment; or what had happened that morning; or the evening prior. I likened it to pulling an imaginary "wagon" behind them ... the wagon might be filled with a combination of good, bad, and/or challenging things ... from their past, in process, or fresh from the morning commute. I knew that wagon played a huge part in that person's life.

There was a rule about that wagon, though ... it needed to be checked at the door when it came to talking with the customers/employees we served. The wagon-load - be it good stuff or bad stuff - was not their issue ... even when the customer wasn't being so pleasant (not easy!).

When I hung up the phone after my call, I initially couldn't help but think how rude and cranky the receptionist had been, and how her attitude could potentially hurt that doctor's business. But, then I started thinking about the wagon ... maybe she had received difficult news, or had a hectic morning getting the kids out the door and making it to work on time, or had more incoming calls and tasks than time available, or maybe - sadly - that's just the way she treated people.

No matter the reason ... her wagon was sitting front and center during her call with me. A wagon filled to the brim and translating over the phone into crankiness ... even to a customer talking nicely back to her.

Hoping your wagon and all those encountered today are full of good and pleasant things!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Perfect Walk and Perfectly Charming Children's Board Books

What a wonderful weekend! After weeks of torrential downpours, we had a gloriously sunny day ... perfect for a walk!

What better way to start out Mother's Day weekend, than with the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk. This was our 8th year making the trek in honor of my mom (a survivor); in memory of my grandmother; and in honor of a dear friend of mine who just finished a year of grueling treatment. We had a great time breathing in the fresh, cool air ... and watching our son not only walk the 2.5 mile route ... but hop, skip, and jump through most of it!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I've written previously about children's book author, Karma Wilson. I hope to someday have a collection of entertaining published books to my name like the collection she has ... she truly is amazing! Her "Bear..." books, in particular, have been a consistent hit in our house ... always on our list of 'go-to' books.

Recently, I was lucky enough to win three of her children's board books. I was ecstatic! And, they came signed to my kiddos ... so cool!

The first two - "Hello, Calico" and "Uh-oh, Calico!" are absolutely adorable and charming. My 3-year old loves them, and the stories - told in very catchy rhymes - are fun for my 6-year old to read to his little sister. The illustrations (by Buket Erdogan) are a perfect combination of vivid color and sweetness.

The third book, "Beautiful Babies", is a touch-and-feel book that is beyond cute. Being a photography buff, I was excited to learn that Karma 'illustrated' the book herself, using pictures she had taken. What a thrill ... to write a book and illustrate it with your own photos! This book is perfect for babies, toddlers, and animal-loving preschoolers. My daughter flips through it, feeling the little animal noses, feathers, and fur, as she falls asleep at night.

If you have little ones or are looking for the perfect gift to give a preschooler, toddler, or baby ... you might want to check these out! They are sure to bring lots of smiles!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Mother's Day Must-Listen

Amy Grant, one of my very favorite singing, songwriting artists, has released a song for Mother's Day that I absolutely LOVE! If you have two minutes, please click 'play', sit back, and listen ... it's so worth it, whether you're a mother, daughter, sister, grandmother, father ... well, you get the idea!

"She Colors My Day" has an awesome melody and the most perfect words (which, despite the song's upbeatness, still managed to bring tears to my eyes!).

The music video (which I didn't think was supposed to be out until mid-May!) is below:

Could this song be any cooler? Well ... if you consider that Amy Grant and songwriters Cristina Carlino (Philosophy founder and creator) and Stuart Mathis are donating all artist and publishing royalties generated by the sale of the song "She Colors My Day" to the Entertainment Industry Foundation's Women's Cancer Research Fund ... then, yes!

Enjoy ... and a very Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

My Young Author!

Imagine my thrill when I opened the envelope from school and pulled out a letter that began with the following wonderful words: "CONGRATULATIONS! Your child is a Young Author's Conference winner!" I was verklempt! When I was just a wee one ... well, in the 6th grade, so not-so-wee ... I was a Young Author's Conference winner, so I was thrilled beyond words to have my son follow in those particular footsteps for his picture book titled, "The Zoo".

It almost made up for that other thing he wrote in school a couple weeks ago ... the one where they were describing each family member's hobbies ... what they 'liked' to do. He wrote that Dad liked basketball and football, little sister liked playing and dolls, he himself enjoyed playing with trucks ... and Mom ... well, he wrote that I liked washing dishes and laundry. Seriously ... I almost cried. Not photography, not gardening, not softball, not exercising ... but washing stuff. Grrrrrr......! Actually, maybe if I looked at it as a hobby I would, in fact, enjoy it more. OK, maybe not. I have to admit, though ... he's a smart one ... I AM a bit obsessed with cleanliness ... and, apparently, it's quite evident to my children! ;-)

Anyway ... back to my Young Author ... he ended up getting 3rd place in his first grade class, made more special by the fact that two of his dearest buddies were the ones who received first and second! A very fun day for all of them ... and their proud parents!!