Chasing Contentment

Monday, March 31

My folks took the kids to the beach today... Griff and Eliza are both burned today, but they'll be all tanned and gorgeous by tomorrow. And they had so much fun that Eliza went to bed ON HER OWN by 7:45 this evening. Of course, I should really go to sleep soon instead of watching the Astros opening night with Mike since she'll probably be in here wide awake at 3 a.m.

Eliza swimming in the Gulf.

Playing in the sand.

I'm itching to go to the beach myself, so Mike has promised to take me this Saturday.

[  posted by Chel on Monday, March 31, 2008  ]

Sunday, March 30

Two days down, doing pretty good with the parent visit. Mom and Dad are taking the kids to the beach tomorrow (I'm going to be so jealous while I'm at work!), so that'll be fun for them all.

My mom brought a cd of photos from my late maternal grandparents, and it was such fun going through them. My Meemaw also sent some photos, and there were several of me as a child. The surprising thing was just how much Eliza looks like me at that age. I'll have to scan a photo or two and post them later this week. Until then, here's this one of my Gran (people say I look like her, though I don't so much see it myself).

[  posted by Chel on Sunday, March 30, 2008  ]

Saturday, March 29

My parents are coming to visit today... for almost a week... sleeping here in my house. I'm trying some deep breathing techniques to cut down on the stress. Some visits with them have been really amazing (the last one), while some have not (pretty much the ones before the last one). I'm hoping this one goes well.

[  posted by Chel on Saturday, March 29, 2008  ]

Wednesday, March 26

Tonight,my friend, Jodie, was doing my nails, and there was this huge boom. Really huge. We said, "huh," and kept going. Turns out, it was the sonic boom from the space shuttle landing.

Now, I hate space stuff, but it is kinda cool that we live close enough to have heard that.

(AP photo/P. Kizzle)

[  posted by Chel on Wednesday, March 26, 2008  ]

I came home for lunch today because I had a fabulous idea for Aleece's birthday present (more later...), and when I put my keys up and walked to get the laptop, I noticed all of the half-eaten chocolate bunnies lying around. It's like a bunny battlefield in here!

Half a bunny on the newspaper Mike brought home (the man brings home all manner of papers!)...

Little bunny tushie next to my brush in the bathroom...

Three quarters of a bunny next to Eliza's Word World cards...

There were more! But I ate them.

[  posted by Chel on Wednesday, March 26, 2008  ]

Saturday, March 22

One of the blogs that I found during the Ultimate Blog Party is written by Jessie, who, as it turns out, lives in a town about 30 minutes away from us. Now that the crazy busy Easter season is past, she and I are going to get together in real life. How exciting is that?!

Anyway, she tagged me for a fun game, so I'm going to play along.

1. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, the player then tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves a comment letting them know they've been tagged and to ask them to play along and to read your blog.

What I was doing 10 years ago - 1998
* I was pregnant with Griff.
* Working as Assistant Director of College Communications at a small, liberal arts college.
* Hating my jack*&@ of a boss.
* Waiting for Mike to decide if he would continue to work as a reporter for the state Baptist newspaper or take a job teaching at the same college I worked at... his alma mater.
* Thinking about buying the house we were renting.
* Loving Mike.

Five things on my to-do list today -
1. Remember Chick Fil A Spirit Night for Griff's school (show school spirit AND not cook? I'm there!).
2. Read at least one chapter in the textbook for the insurance self-study course I'm taking (I'm wwaayyyy behind.).
3. Read a chapter in my Bible (I'm trying to start a daily reading again... starting slow).
4. Accomplish my entire to-do list at work (YAY, I did!).
5. Exercise.

Snacks I enjoy -
1. Chocolate.
2. Baked Lays.
3. Lucky Charms.
4. Raw carrots.
5. Hummus.

Things I would do if I were a billionaire -
1. Quit my job!!!
2. Pay off my mortgage and car payments. And then, I'd pay off the mortgages of my dearest friends.
3. I'd buy the house next door to us and kick the crazy renters out. I'd furnish it with nice but not overly comfortable things so that family and friends could come stay next door, but not stay too long.
4. I'd tithe. Of course, since we still don't have a church, I'd tithe it to Habitat for Humanity and the March of Dimes.
5. Pay off all of our debt and set up college funds for the kids.
6. Buy a never-ending Starbucks card.

Five of my bad habits -
1. Drinking too much Diet Coke.
2. Thinking bad things about myself in my head.
3. Pulling my cuticles.
4. Spending too much on beauty/bath/hair care.
5. Driving too fast (ironic given that I work for an auto insurance company in their claims department).

Five places I have lived -
1. Arkansas - grew up in one little town & went to college in another
2. Louisiana
3. Florida
(I'm not much of a move around girl.)

Five jobs I've had -
1. Babysitter (every summer through high school)
2. Receptionist/secretary/go get lunch girl for my dad's business (not such a swell gig)
3. Associate Director of College Communications, liberal arts college
4. Temp agency worker (shortest job I've ever had)
5. Claims adjuster, auto insurance

I tag...
1. Alexis - Ramblings from Life
2. Christy - After a Cup of Coffee or Two
3. Amanda - Oh, Amanda!
4. Bee - Will Blog for Shoes
5. Val - Purple Valley

[  posted by Chel on Saturday, March 22, 2008  ]

It's Spring Training weekend here in our house! We're going today to Kissimmiee to meet Chuck, Stacy, and the kids to see the Astros play Cinci. Everyone's got clean Astros shirts & we're all excited. I'll take lots of photos. Until then, here are a couple from last year...

[  posted by Chel on Saturday, March 22, 2008  ]

Wednesday, March 19

I like to post birthday wishes to special people on their special days. Unfortunately, I have six special people in the first 10 days of March, and I worked non-stop during those days. I managed to get Stacy's post up, but after that, all of my good intentions didn't add up to much.

So here's my much-belated birthday wishes to some really fabulous people... in a very particular order.

Donna (or Grannie D as the kids call her) married into our family, and much like Griff, Mike and I didn't realize we needed an Eliza, I think Mike's family needed a Grannie D, even if we didn't realize it at the time.

Mike's mom, Lillie (for whom Eliza is named), had MS and was frail for as long as I knew her. Mike's dad, Jerry (who gets some birthday love here himself), cared for Lillie in such a manner... I cannot imagine the sacrifices he made, and yet, he always seemed to view the life he led not as a sacrifice. He will forever be, in my mind at least, the perfect example of selfless love and marital devotion. He put a face on God's love in the way that he cared for Lillie.

Lillie passed away when Griff was two. And Jerry was alone and adrift after that. And he was blessed when God brought Donna into his life. Like all new relationships, we had to adjust to the idea of Jerry with someone else, but once we got to know Donna, we were able to see just how lovely she is. And she makes Jerry so happy, and I cannot imagine anyone who deserves to be happy more than he does.

And so my happy birthday wishes and my love to both of them.

My brother, John, is the golden child in our family. Now, I'm sure he'll wince and shake his head when he reads this, but he is. And it's hard to deny. He's pretty fabulous. He's kind and generous and supportive and encouraging. If you need someone to help, he's there. And I'm pretty sure all of those really super qualities are the reason he scored as the super hero he did, though we'll give him a hard time about it, without a doubt.

John married a precious woman who had a son from a previous marriage, and again, like we needed Eliza, John needed Zachary. Our whole family did, quite frankly. He's quiet and timid and slow to warm up to people. Which is completely different from my know-everyone children. But once you earn his trust, he's got this little giggle that is just completely captivating. And while we don't see any of them nearly enough, they are deeply snuggled in our hearts.

And last but sooo not least, my grandmother. Meemaw and Zachary share a birthday, so it's twice the fun there on the 10th (at least that's what I hear when she mentions that we never come home). I've been blessed to have grandparents who were young enough when I was born to spend lots and lots and lots of time with me. And who are able now to spend time with my children and with Zachary. Mike didn't know some of his grandparents, and so my family was a bit of a surprise when I brought four grandparents to the marriage. We've lost two of them, and we're even more grateful now for the two living grandparents we have.

So, happy birthday to all of you. My life is richer and fuller and more wonderful because of each of you.

[  posted by Chel on Wednesday, March 19, 2008  ]

Monday, March 17

Last week was exhausting. I worked 55 plus hours at work and then came home to try to hang out with Mike and the kids, plus trying to get through the 1500 or so blog posts at the Ultimate Blog Party (it's been great, and I'll let you know when I finally make it through them all).

So here's a quick update on us...
** I'm behind at work, but I'm catching up. And I'm proud of my efforts. And despite my previous supe's suggestions to the contrary, I did get a raise. We all got our letters today, and I was pleasantly surprised.

** My new supervisor is a delight. Now, eventually, I may discover that I'm not loving him so much. But right now, it's such a difference from my last supe that I'm just so stunned at the lack of yelling that I'm ... loving it.

** We live like pigs. But I'm adjusting. No one else seems to mind.

** Eliza's refusing to go to bed these days. She's sitting here now at 9:11 p.m. watching "Two and a Half Men" with us. (I'm convinced she's too young to know what's going on.) She's exhausted, barely blinking, dazed. But she refuses to go to sleep, dang it.

** We met someone down the hill from us who has kids about our kids' ages. Mike thinks the husband may be one of the mechanics at his new favorite auto shop. Saturday, we took the kids, along with Eliza's friend, Haylie (from the daycare), and Haylie's mom to the movies. It would be really nice to make some friends. I've been missing the girls - and one guy - in my old section, and I thought today, "we should have a cookout and have them over." And how exciting!! That's the first time I've had that thought in two years. Things are getting better here.

** And last, but not nearly least, my stylist went on maternity leave, and I've got bad hair. I hate bad hair.

[  posted by Chel on Monday, March 17, 2008  ]

Sunday, March 9

Hi, ya'll! Welcome to the party! I loved last year's Ultimate Blog Party, so I had to play again this year.

So, come on in... step over the clutter. I know that since it's the Ultimate Blog Party, I should have picked up a bit, but who has the time? We had the cousins this weekend, so the house looks a bit like... well, like there were four kids here all weekend.

Mine are the dark-headed ones. The cousins are the blondies.

But a good Southern girl like me knows that even if the guests have to step over the clutter, they should have something yummy to eat. I made a chocolate pie yesterday (my grandmother's recipe), so help yourself to whatever bits Mike and the kids didn't eat. I don't make the meringue pretty, but you'll lose yourself in the filling.

This is Hayden and our Eliza and the yummo pie.

My grandmother, now, she is a good cook. Come back around the holidays, and I'll offer you some of her famous Oreo truffles.

So, now that you've got some pie and a Diet Coke (I'm pretty sure I handed that to you as soon as you came into the house), have a look around. All of the artwork is original, painted mostly by my brother and my friend, Aleece. Kate sketched the nude of me, but we keep that in the master closet. Don't go there.

Mike's probably outside by the grill. He's very supportive of girly parties as long as he doesn't have to join. He's not much of a joiner. But he grills a fabulous hamburger, so stick around long enough & you've got dinner.

The kids are around here somewhere, though you've probably already met them. Griff probably tried to tell you a joke or suggest a Mythbusters experiment you could do with that Diet Coke. And I'm sure Eliza's already been talking to you, asking if you want to see her pink and more pink room.

Pink on pink, no joke.

So, now that you've seen the house, met the man and kids, and had some snacks, we should chat. I'm a working mom in my late 30s. I hate the clutter you had to step over, and I hate having to work as much as I do at my current job, and I hate big birds. But I love Starbucks and chocolate and laughing.

I'd be lost without good friends and soft pajama pants and my new iPhone. I've got about 204 days left in my 101 Things in 2001 Days.

I make beaded jewelry, and you can go through jewelry boxes of my creations at Created by Chel or at Etsy. My favorite thing is to have someone say they want this or that in this color and then I just get to play. Love that.

If you've never been here before, I'm pretty open and casual and love having friends over. Stop by again.

Now, shoo. I've gotta do a bit of laundry and eat a fudge bar and post-party things. Take care now.

Oh, and I forgot... thank you for your lovely hostess gift. What a delightful guest you've been. If I were to get a specific lovely gift, I think it would be one of these...

#20 -- a $50 gift certificate to (I love writing notes!)
#52 -- a Jendi Jean Bag - Eliza has this precious little pair of jeans I could use. I might just have to get one for my birthday even if I didn't win this.
#114 -- a $20 LUSH gift certificate from After a Cup of Coffee... Or Two. I mean, come on, who doesn't love LUSH?

[  posted by Chel on Sunday, March 09, 2008  ]

Saturday, March 8

[  posted by Chel on Saturday, March 08, 2008  ]

Thursday, March 6

Today, Mike checked Griff out of school early (despite being in not so swell shape in two of his classes and having an upper respiratory infection) for their annual Spring Training Skip Day.

The two of them drove to Kissimmee and watched an Astros game together. While they were standing in line to buy tickets, an older gentleman approached Mike and asked if they needed tickets. Mike said yes but that he needed to use his debit card (you can scalp tickets here in Florida... who knew?).

The gentleman said that since they were Astros fans (plenty of logos on them), he'd just give the seats to them. He's from Houston and has spring training season tickets. And if you'll look past Mike's thumb on his iPhone screen, you'll see what good tickets they were.

I figure that even if Griff grows up to hate us, he'll always remember Spring Training Skip Day with his dad. It's hard to beat sitting in an outdoor stadium, in the warm sun, eating a dog and snow cone, watching a little baseball... all the while skipping school.

[  posted by Chel on Thursday, March 06, 2008  ]

Tuesday, March 4

I'm thinking the ortho might have told me yesterday that my shoulder, arm and hand would hurt like heck today after that cortizone shot. I ended up staying home from work today, which will hurt my dependability, but I could hardly move my arm this morning. My range of motion in that arm is much better today, but still remarkably painful. Dangit.

Best I can tell, getting old bites.

[  posted by Chel on Tuesday, March 04, 2008  ]

Monday, March 3

I worked overtime again yesterday, and in doing so, I forgot to post a Happy Birthday wish to my sister-in-law, Stacy.

So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY a day late.

I have always liked Stacy, but since we moved to Florida, I love Stacy. She was my first - and for way too long, only - girlfriend here, and I have been soooo grateful to have her. She's been so very many things to me, and I will forever be thankful for her.

But even past that initial, gut thankfulness, I love Stacy for who she is. She's loads of fun to be around... silly when you least expect it. She's more reserved than I am, so when she feels comfortable enough to be really loose and trusting and vulnerable with you, it's fabo.

She's this super mother. I swear, comparatively, I look like Cruella DeVille. Her kids simply adore her, which is really lovely to see. And it goes without saying, of course, that Chuck would be lost without her.

And I am blessed to have her in my life, not only as family but as a friend.

[  posted by Chel on Monday, March 03, 2008  ]

I went to the ortho today, and he says I have an inflamed rotator cuff and bursistis. Which, of course, makes me a 70-year-old baseball player. The ortho did assure me that I was oddly young to have bursitis. And my general practitioner says that young women typically get this in their right arms because they drive with their left hand while reaching around with an awkward motion to get to the kids in the back seat with their right hand. Lovely, huh?

After the x-rays, he gave me a cortizone shot in my shoulder (that's when Mike, who was kind enough to drive me to the appointment, went to sit in the waiting room). I had no idea it would hurt so much. Or for so long. I'm hoping it'll ease some tomorrow.

Today was my first day with my new supervisor, and I was a little zoned. I hate that. I really want to make a good impression. Maybe tomorrow.

[  posted by Chel on Monday, March 03, 2008  ]

Sunday, March 2

I saw this on a friend's blog & I had to play...
Your results:
You are Spider-Man

Wonder Woman
Green Lantern
The Flash
Iron Man
You are intelligent, witty,
a bit geeky and have great
power and responsibility.

Click here to take the "Which Superhero am I?" quiz...

Mike scored 60% as the Green Lantern.

[  posted by Chel on Sunday, March 02, 2008  ]