Behind on the Blogging Game!

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I know I know, I am way behind on blogging. At some point this weekend I will share about my amazing Christmas, New Years and everything in between. I had the flu yesterday, and I can honestly say I don’t think I have ever had the flu before. It for sure makes me grateful for being healthy throughout the year. Since Christmas I have had a sinus infection, a broken seal on the sprinkler system and water spraying everywhere, I spent a day in bed with the flu, and then my car wouldn’t start this morning. All I can do is laugh. J If there is one thing I can encourage everyone to do – laugh a little more. All of these things happen, and sometimes they seem to keep piling on. But, we all make it thru and a laugh is way better than getting frustrated. I hope everyone had a great weekend!

Happy Birthday Gram

What are Grandma’s for? Let me tell you… Grandma’s are there to spoil their grandchildren, give them unlimited hugs, buy them candy at the wrong times, and let them misbehave. Once we grow up they are there to continue to spoil us, begin to teach us lessons, instill traditions to be carried on, pass on family heirlooms, and still let us misbehave, well a little. Throughout my childhood I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to spend as much time with my Grandparents as I did my Mom and Dad. They were blessings to me, and the relationship I had with my Grandma is something I will treasure for my entire life. A little over a year ago my Grandma randomly became extremely sick and passed in about two weeks’ time. The passing of my Grandparent’s has single handedly been the most difficult thing I have experienced in my life thus far. I went through every range of emotions, and not a day goes by where I don’t miss them and wish they were still here. Today is my Grandma’s birthday, its bittersweet – she isn’t here to celebrate any longer, and I don’t know if it should be a happy day or a sad day. One thing my family always does is takes time to celebrate birthdays of family that has passed. It is a good opportunity to reminisce of old stories, share memories, and celebrate who they were.

My Grandma was an incredible lady. Among the many talents she had, her giving heart was the biggest of all. The holidays were one of her favorite times, she loved to buy presents (just didn’t like to wrap them), help families in need, and make the best Christmas dinner ever. She didn’t pass a bell ringer without giving them money, and letters would stack in enormous piles from societies, associations, and charities requesting her donations. She gave to every single one of them and always shared what they were about with others. One of my favorite memories of her is her Christmas routine. Grandma would buy Christmas presents all throughout the year and hide them around the house so my Grandpa wouldn’t add the bill up. Well by the time Christmas came around she would completely forget where she hid things, who she purchased for which person, and the amount of gifts that were purchased. When my Grandpa would leave she would put things in boxes and tell me who they were for, I did all of her wrapping. The formal living room would be completely stacked with presents that I loved to reorganize every time I was over there. (She always thought I was trying to figure out what they were, but in all honesty, I just like to move them around and make them look pretty. promise J) When Christmas morning would come we would all sit in our spots and open gifts. It never failed – I would open up a electric powered battery drill that should be for my Dad, Uncle Kevin would open up woman’s pajamas, and so on. She would hold her pointer finger up to her lips and say “Oh, I don’t think that is yours, but I don’t know who it is supposed to go to.” If one thing was for sure, it brought on a good laugh. After gifts we always ate and the meal never failed to be amazing: prime rib, baked potatoes, asparagus, salad, and rolls. Mmmm, I can taste it right now. She set out the china, polished the silverware and taught me how to set a table. She loved the traditions, using things passed down from her family, and telling stories all along the way. More than anything, she taught us the importance of holidays which is spending time with family and helping out people who are not as fortunate as ours.

Today I remember her for who she was and the positive life she lead. The lessons she taught me, the times she would pick me up, her guidance, support, love, and encouragement to name a few. She was one of a kind and the most amazing Grandma in the entire world. A pure angel, I miss you and love you Grandma, Happy Birthday!

 

Holiday Fever

Wow, would I do anything for a winter break again… Nothing beats having a month off to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s during college. I am not sure why companies don’t have a winter break policy. If one thing is for sure: the days leading up to a big holiday around the office are nothing short of ‘syllabus day’ in the classroom. I am somewhat guilty of it as well; everyone is passing out cards, desks are full of candy and lights, and Christmas sweaters strike up interesting conversations during the day. I would say my favorite day is the routine ‘Holiday Food Day!’ Nothing beats coming into everyone’s homemade goodies, and the guy’s chips and salsa, bottled pop, and fruit trays they picked up at the local Price Chopper on the way into the office. If I had to put together a list of my top 5 Christmas snacks, this would be my ‘Food Syllabi:’

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Meatballs / Lil’ Smokies

White Chocolate Covered Pretzels

Oreo Balls

Texas Caviar

Regardless, I think it is awesome that coworkers celebrate the holiday season together. After all, we spend 40 hours of our week together, hopefully in the mix you can at least find a couple of people you want to tell Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! It will be sad when Christmas Carols no longer fill our empty cube spaces, décor is removed and packed until next year, people don’t come in spelling like peppermints and gingerbread; and we all get back to work like it is finals week…. every week.  Enjoy your holiday and make an effort to celebrate with those you work with – it will boost your team moral for sure!

Lead a Happy Life

Rain or shine, be happy for today, be thankful for what you have, and grateful for who you are. Too often we get tied up being unhappy about small events that occur during the day, instead of celebrating the day at hand.  So, drop the bad mood, ditch the complaining, and put an end to being glum about things that won’t have relevance in about an hour. Every day is your chance to start fresh, live anew, and brighten your own life. You don’t choose your path, but you can impact the journey. Here is to a great day!

The E! True Hollywood Story of Greg Smith … Aka … My Dad

Let me start off by saying I know the best man in the entire world, hands down. There is no one out there who works harder, cares more, or loves better than my Dad. We all grow up and learn things we wish we would have known years ago. I spent my teenage years living with him as a single parent. Now looking back I realize how hard I was on him, and realizing that he had the most difficult job in the entire world. I was an only child and his solo opportunity to raise someone the right way. With no prior experience in parenthood and a daughter with adolescent drama, my Dad did the absolute best he could. And now I realize how incredible of a job he did. As I grow older I am so regretful for not having the knowledge that I have now. There are times I am still upset or I cry because of the things I remember saying or doing to him. Things that were not fair, not true, and were not called for. But, at the time I didn’t know any better, I was young and even though I didn’t think it at the time, I was dumb. I can still remember him telling me “One day you will understand.” He was the perfect example of being a parent first and a friend second, that now at my age has a whole new level of respect and understanding. We fought, disagreed, and argued about practically everything, well except for KU basketball. But we also got to share our time, meals, chocolate milk shakes, jokes, and pranks. I think about all of the things that he took care of and provided that I didn’t even think to tell him how grateful I was for. The things he went without so I could have the things I wanted. I would say my middle school years were the most difficult, but I think that is fairly standard for most young girls. While high school was better for our relationship, I regret being so busy and not spending the time with him I should have. I worked a lot, I was with my friends a lot, and I didn’t help him how I wish I would have. I can still remember leaving to go hang out at a friend’s house and he would be painting from the time he woke up at 5am, until I got home in the late afternoon. Or when I would leave for the lake on the weekends and he would be working his tail off in the yard on the hottest days of the year. He worked, I played. He took care of everything, and I reaped the benefits. All of these things he did because he was a father, but never once complained about it.

Once I started college I began understanding how great of a job my Dad had done. He led by example and instilled values and morals that I still have today. He wasn’t above listening to my issues and he always had a solution. He put up with all of my ridiculous questions and requests; and always helped me when I was in need. I was only an hour and a half away from home but I didn’t come back or call much. Which is another thing I regret, but we can’t change the past, all we can do is improve our future! Any time something happened he was the first one I called to share the news and I loved hearing the excitement in his voice.

Once college was over and I moved back home is when I truly began to recognize how much I value him as a father. I was no longer so young that he couldn’t tell me some things I needed to hear and he never stopped teaching me. There were so many times when I realized I was turning into a mirror image of him. And, even though I don’t like to admit it, the things he always told me that I never wanted to believe he was wrong about were actually true. Like: shoes right inside of the front door isn’t the best storage place; dishes are easier to clean when they don’t sit out overnight, not to let your car run on empty in the winter time, and grass is not the best parking spot to name a few. Long story short, I began to realize he was right, he was smart, and beyond anything he knew what was best for me.

As years have passed I notice more and more every single day how lucky I am to have him as my Dad. He didn’t sell me short by letting me get away with things; he held me responsible for my actions and made me pay for my mistakes. He encouraged me to work hard and help others so that I could be proud of the work I had done. I can hear his insert right now: “If you are going to do something half-assed, then don’t even do it at all.” He taught me to treat other people well, help those in need, and always return things in better condition than when you borrowed them. He made me learn a lot of things on my own, but always helped me pick up the pieces when they fell. He held me accountable for a lot more than what other kids my ages were – another Dad insert: “I don’t care if they don’t have to, they are not my kid, you are,” but I had his advice along the way. He didn’t give in to all of my requests; I always wanted that master bedroom, but he insisted it was his, because he was the ‘master of the house.’ I don’t know that he would like to admit it but he is sentimental and taught me to hold onto things so I will always have memories with people who aren’t around anymore. I knew more than anyone he always had my back and would protect me against anything. So many of the things he taught me are the things that I appreciate the most in my daily life now. I can hope for nothing more than to be more and more like him. My Dad has the funniest sense of humor, the best stories, and the most genuine laugh.

As times continue to change I know I will be even more thankful for him. He is the one person in my life that I know will never let me down. I can go to him with anything and I know with certainty he will do everything in his power to make it better. While he is still my Dad above and beyond anything else, I know now we can also be friends. He is the person I talk to almost every morning on the way to work, and I cannot tell you how much that time means to me. When something good happens he is still the first person I call; and when something bad happens I know his advice will fix it. And I still ask him outrageous questions. I look at who I am now and I can do nothing more than hope that I have made him proud, put a smile on his face, and carried on his legacy that he would want me too. I am so thankful for him and everything he has done for me. He is the ultimate father and someone I love so much. I just hope he realizes how grateful I am for him. I love you Dad, thank you for everything.

Holiday Giving

It is the time of year where I am in the Christmas Spirit, as we call it in my family. It would be of no surprise to find me randomly burst out in Christmas Carols, donate extra time, give gifts, and consume more peppermint flavored coffee than the other 11 months of the year. While the holidays for me have always been such a special time to celebrate, it is also a time to remember that not everyone is as blessed as I am. I have been lucky enough to always have my family close, be able to buy the gifts I want to give, and have the ability to make a difference in someone else’s life. Some people take for granted that their parents live right down the street, their Grandma can make the best Christmas meal around, or that Santa has enough money to drop gifts down their chimney. There is no time better than today to not only be grateful for what you have, but take time to bless someone else who is maybe not as fortunate. There are so many things you can do to give a little holiday cheer to someone else. Here are just a couple of ideas that are impactful:

  1. Blessing someone doesn’t always mean handing out money – volunteer to serve or prepare food for a local shelter or soup kitchen.  Here are a list of those in the KC area – http://www.homelessshelterdirectory.org/cgi-bin/id/city.cgi?city=Kansas%20City&state=MO
  2. Adopt a family or sponsor a child – there are places all over that have Angel Tree’s, but you can also go through local charities to adopt a family. My favorite to work with is – Catholic Charities of N.E. Kansas – http://www.catholiccharitiesks.org/page.aspx?pid=274 . They have an incredible program where families are selected based on income level, degree of need, and they have a lot of information about who you are adopting. They are so easy to work with and when I have adopted thru them I always get a personalized thank you letter from the family. Not meaning I do it for the thanks, BUT meaning you know the family is actually getting the gifts. That is a reassuring feeling.
  3. Find a local school and donate  – many school counselors and principals (of schools or churches) usually are aware when they have families that are struggling. They will typically let you drop off gifts or meals for these families to them for delivery.
  4. Pay it forward – Nothing is better than ordering at Starbucks and someone in front of you has paid for your drink! So, pass on the favor.
  5. Give something anonymously – if you know of someone who is having a hard time – help them out. You can leave them a gift card, present, anything that will help them out a little.
  6. Invite the lonely over for the holidays – if you know of someone spending the holiday by themselves then ask them to come with you and celebrate. Most people just want to be around others on the holiday, especially if they don’t have family close.
  7. Donate needed winter items – there are so many people that don’t have socks, boots, hats, gloves, or coats for their families. Take time to clean out your closest and donate unwanted items, or if you have the money then buy new. Rather them giving them to the Salvation Army donate them to a school or church where people won’t have to pay for the items.

Gifts come in small and large packages! Don’t ever forget that what may seem like something small to you, might be a huge help for someone else. Be thankful, be thoughtful, and be caring. If you have the time, give it. If you have the money, donate it.

Be as energetic as a triple shot!

Today I was reading my horoscope and it said that I have the energy effect of a triple shot latte on everyone I meet. Which immediately sparked the question – is this a good or a bad thing? If I had to guess I would say more times than not it is a good thing. Who doesn’t want a pick me up, a smile in the hallway, a joke that doesn’t really make sense, or be greeted with a big hug?

I have always loved to make others happy and I laugh probably more than I should; but at least I am not sitting in the corner pouting. In my opinion there is nothing worse than someone who likes to be miserable, or answers a question with a negative response.  

You will never get a hello from me that doesn’t have masked excitement behind it! And, I won’t ever be able to tell a story without laughing before I get to the punch line. But, that’s me and I don’t really see myself changing anytime soon.

I think we can all make the world a more positive place one shot at a time. Oh, and just for kicks I would be a triple shot of peppermint mocha.

Wiz the Season

Sometimes I feel like I live a life where random things always happen that would only happen in my world. Last night we got home late from the KU game and Patrick noticed a few little spots of liquid by at the bottom of the tree. Figuring Scout had gone to the bathroom ont he floor he sent him outside as punishment. Well, when I walked over to help clean it up I noticed the entire tree skirt was wet, and the puddle was way more and farther back than what Scout could have accomplished. Then, we came to the realization that LeRoy had hiked his leg on the Christmas Tree and marked it. We got a good laugh and then got it all cleaned up. If there is one thing I have learned is when chaos sets in there is nothing better than a just laugh. It really is the best way to deal with these kind of situations. Unexpected things happen, it is all in how you deal with it. If nothing else it provides a good story to share with others.

No Shave November

No Shave November…

Wrapping up the month I’d like to give thanks to all men out there who participated in No Shave November this year. For those of you who were not aware; all of those hairy men walking around were not sporting laziness; they were actually supporting prostate cancer foundations and bringing awareness to men’s health. This month, also known as Movember, means some men chose to sport only a moustache rather than the full beard. Either way, it is an incredible way to support such a great cause. More than anything it is encouraging to see men partaking in coming together and proactively supporting the research of something that could ultimately impact their life.

It is astonishing to know that one out of every six men is diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. This year there were about 240,890 new cases. No Shave November donations have already been recorded at over 7.5 million dollars in November 2011. This is a huge impact for just one month of fundraising.

 For years we have seen women come together to support Breast Cancer Research, and now you can’t go anywhere without seeing something pink in support of this illness. My hope is that people will catch on to what November stands for and soon we can make as much of an impact on men’s health as the Susan G. Coleman foundation does for women’s.

So, whether it’s a patchy beard, scruffy stubble, or a barely-there stache it is incredible to see men participating in this cause and not caring if they will be judged by others.

If you would like to make a donation to prostate cancer here is a link – http://www.pcf.org/site/c.leJRIROrEpH/b.5822013/k.C005/Donate.htm