Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Farewell to Mark & Bennett

For our last early morning, Mark & I took our time running along side the beach. There were more people out than normal on this gorgeous Tuesday morning. The sun glistened off the blue and green water. It was beautiful.

Traditionally, we used to play a set each Friday when he was homeschooled. So in honor of our goodbye, we set out to play the first to 6 games, win by 2. Half-way through the first game, my strings snapped. Comical. We spent the rest of the time attempting to break the remaining strings by hitting the ball as hard as we could.

A bit of confusion due to the Evans' School Thanksgiving assembly had us in a tizzy pertaining to the dress code. Typical. My last day wouldn't be able to run smoothly.

I am headed to watch my smiling (fake) children as they give THANKS for their many blessings. We have a fun filled afternoon planned: lunch @ UTC, ice skating, cupcakes, & hip hop class. I am attempting to keep their minds from realizing that this is our final day as nanny/kids.

But at the top of my list for giving thanks is their innocence as children and their ability to make me smile. Always.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tis' the Season

As the holiday season kicks-off this week, I find myself in a state of utter excitement. I enjoyed a relaxing weekend with Ry, and I am relishing in my last two days with the Rhodes' family. This evening, I was able to spend time catching up with the Schroerlucke clan (basically like my aunt, uncle, and cousins).

From here on out, the rest of 2009 will be a blur. In 6 short weeks, we will be ringing in the New Year. I guess its true...time surely does fly when you're having fun. Much is to be completed before the year's end. I have one chapter in the book to complete. I will be diving into the new career. Kendahl & Peter will get married. Bishop will have his first Christmas. Ryan & I will celebrate our first holiday together. We will gather for the first time without Mama Comley and Papa Collins. It is a holiday season of firsts.

My mind has been exhausted lately, but I always bring the energy during the holidays. Let the games begin!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday, At Last

Friday the 20th. I have been planning and waiting for this day for what seems like an eternity. Tonight begins the 11 day vacation that I will be taking while I spend it with the most amazing man. Well, it's not really an actual vacation. I mean we are not going anywhere exactly. We will be held up in West L.A. like usual, but it will be 11 days together! Woo hoo!

Our activities are likely to include eating, watching movies, kissing A LOT, hiking, driving along the beach, belting out country songs very loudly with the windows rolled down, cooking, and communicating. Many of you may find this to be rather boring, but I have never been so excited for a vacation ever in my life. With the holiday season in full effect, I am happy to be spending it with Mr. Wonderful.

As the week leading up has concluded, I find my room in a scatter of boxes and suitcases. Clothes for the next 3 weeks including work and play (you never know when I might be whisked off to Mammoth or Joshua Tree). Then we have the suitcase (pre-maturely packed by a month) for Kendahl & Peter's Naples wedding and Christmas in Kentucky. There are still hanging clothes. Clothes that remain in the drawers for the few days I will be back in San Diego sporadically over the next month and a half. And the boxes of clothes that I will not be needing until I reside in Long Beach permanently.

Whew, just writing about it makes me dizzy!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

24 of 25...Almost There

With the new job start date approaching rapidly, I have found myself in a tizzy with all of the packing, writing, and holiday preparations. The immediate need to get the book complete has sent me into a Hitler-like work mode. 24 of the 25 chapters are complete. They are complete in content, research, thought, and timeline. I have read them several times, and my grammatical whiz has as well.

And even though I still have one portion to complete, I am feeling a great sense of accomplishment. What started as a bit of therapy has turned into something so much larger in my opinion. It is magnificent for me to think that one day (whether I have to publish it myself or not) I will own a book with a hard cover and illustration that I wrote. It gives me butterflies.

I owe, in part, much of my recent motivation to Ry. He has a way of encouraging me and helping me accomplish the impossible. I am not exactly sure how he does it, but I like it.

In other news, David landed in SD at 10:30am today (from Kuwait). The excitement surrounding the Rhodes' household makes me smile inside. I will be there when the two boys see their father for the first time in 3 months. I know it will be magical. I will cry. Mark my words.

But I will be glad to be a part of such sweetness...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Fruit of the Spirit Is...Patience

Patience is a virtue. Lucky for me, it is a learned skill. By nature, we are not patient people. We often react with impatience out of frustration, anger, or tiredness. Generally, our family (significant other/children/parents) get the brunt of our impatient nature.

Ironically, patience is rooted in the Latin word for receive. And by being patient, we will receive the reward of harmony. In the Biblical sense, patience means to delay judgement. By taking a deep breath and not reacting quickly, we are allowing God to show us a better option for response.

Common examples of every day impatience were shared within our prayer group. Road rage. Grocery lines. Snapping at our children. Yapping at our spouses. Becoming irritated with our parents.

Through our discussion, we were able to talk out possible solutions to these impatient impulses. In life, we seem to always be in such a hurry to get things done (maybe we should all move to Europe because they seem to be able to take it nice and slow). And we play the waiting game all too often. But if we could force ourselves to slow down, take a few deep breaths here and there, and remember to not take things so personal, we just might overcome our impatient ways.

But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles; They shall run and not be weary; They shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What Do You Say We Blow Off Homework For a Little Bit...

I was faced with a difficult task yesterday. Perhaps one of the most stomach-ing of my short life thus far. When I picked the boys up from school, they immediately shouted "so you're moving to L.A." I was able to dodge the conversation until we reached the car. But from then on, it was full court press questions.

I made it down La Jolla Village Drive before the tears ran down my cheeks. I tried explaining that it had nothing to do with them. I attempted to help them comprehend that they had helped me beyond belief at a time in my life when I was lethargic. I even offered the suggestion that they would quickly forget about me with all the excitement of their dad returning from Kuwait, vacationing in Rochester, and visiting their old friends (and nanny) in Cinci. They weren't buying it.

So I did what any (fake) parent would do...I let them blow off homework and we headed to Belmont Park. We splurged on 4 roller coasters and a pound of candy. We had a blast. It was only for an hour, but it might be one of the best hours that we have spent together.

The honesty of children never ceases to amaze me. They explained that this was the 'best day of their lives'. Good thing because Sunday had been the 'worst day of their lives.' They offered up the solution of me just living at their house forever and them increasing my pay (wise kids!). They admitted that it would be hard to find someone who did all of the things for them that I did. Needless to say, I was flattered and humbled by this little outing.

Their behavior was not a fluke. This morning, Mark had his best AM session ever. His attitude was tremendous as was his footwork and overall work ethic. Bennett prepared breakfast for everyone. The two have yet to argue in the past 48 hours (you have no idea how big of an accomplishment this is for us). I can only hope that once I leave they will continue to exemplify the behavior that I have worked so hard to achieve.

And here's to making this the best two weeks for the Rhodes/Collins duo!

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Last of the To-Do's

As I am realizing my actual time left in San Diego to enjoy the variety of forms of entertainment that reside here, I find myself a bit crunched for time. I have always been pretty simple when it comes to day-to-day living. I take note of the gorgeous surroundings as they take my breath away daily. However, I am not as diligent in taking in all of the activities which bless me. Each time I move, I find that there is a list of 'to do's' that I frantically start trying to complete before my new adventure starts.

Again, as I packed up a few boxes last evening, I was reminded of my burning need to check a few things off the old SD list. The majority of the things have been completed (due in part to having a large group of friends who all moved here from other places thus making our wants relatively the same). I have wine tasted in Temecula. I bought a beach cruiser. I have been to Kate Session numerous times to sip wine, watch the pups play, and partake in girl chat. Shoreclub sunsets have been a regular. My explorations have included PB, MB, OB, downtown, Pt. Loma, and LJ. The only turf left to be seen is Old Town (item #1).

In relation to activities, I was fascinated by the concept of Sarah's Smash Shack when I first moved here. A place to release your anger and frustration by throwing objects at glass walls. Genious. Yet I never made it (item #2).

Now to the good stuff, FOOD! Extraordinary desserts is much like having an orgasm or so I have heard. The rave of this gourmet establishment is enough to make you splurge all 2,000 daily calories on one slice of goodie (item #3).

In the meantime, I will continue to indulge in the things I have been since day one...beach cruiser rides, dog walks, yogurtland (frequently), sushi on Garnet, the club/Shoreclub/homeplate, and the Rock church. And let's not forget the amazing friendships that I have formed and hope to continue in this next chapter.

Friday, November 13, 2009

All Good Things Must Come To An End

A little over a year ago, I was a lost soul who's heart had been severely broken and self-worth had taken a pretty bad beating. Piece by piece, I was trying to put the puzzle of life and love back together. And then God sent me to the Rhodes family.

In the year+ that I have spent with them, I have been reminded of life's little joys. I have been encouraged to dream big. I have learned to appreciate my talents, and my self worth was rejuventated. They have truly helped pilot the healing of my heart and soul.

As I begin the next chapter of my life, I am leaving them in physical body which is no easy task. A family away from home is how they have treated me. But my spirit will never leave them. I can't imagine not thinking about them for one single day. Whether it is wondering how Liz's book is coming along or monitoring Mark's tennis ranking as he climbs the ladders. I will no doubt miss Bennett's witty remarks that make me burst out in laughter. And David's words of advice on career and love will resonate in my mind for years to come.

I am a better person for having met them. There is no words for how valuable this job has been for me. To touch the lives of children is a surreal and powerful accomplishment.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Un Sentiment d'Accomplissement

My focus this week has been on creating a more centered mind, body, and soul. I have diligently tried to fully engage each part of my tri-fecta being with daily tasks of stimulation. For the body, I have continued my two-day morning running and tennis regime as well as spending an hour strengthening my back and core with yoga practices. To nourish my mind, I have made a valiant effort to read, write, and study French for at least an hour each day. As for my soul, I have used exercise, prayer, and meditation to seek inside myself for inner peace.

Currently, I am on Day 4 of this so-called plan. My body aches in muscles that I was unaware existed. My mind is tired by 6pm and turns to mush, much like Cinderella's glass slipper at midnight. It is a good thing I decided to build nap-time into my daily routine.

But my soul...oh my soul feels such a deeper peace and joy within. Perhaps it is my maturity in age and life experiences that allows this. Or maybe it is the result of my yearly dedication to restoring my life one day at a time. Either way, I welcome it with open arms.

When I look back at my 2009 goals, I see so many of them accomplished thus far. There have not been many moments in my life when I truly took a step back and relished in my accomplishments. I have always held myself to a high standard of near perfection, generally being disappointed or feeling failed by my own standards.

But just for a moment, I am going to savor this feeling of accomplishment. I am going to lightly pat myself on the back and whisper a 'good job' followed by a 'you did it.'

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hip-Hop, Hip-Hop Anonymous

For the past two Tuesdays, little Mark and I have attended a hip-hop dance class. This all started a few weekends ago when the Rhodes were displaced from their home due to a sewer problem in Ridgegate. Their mom was looking for something fun to pass the time. And here we are...

Despite dancing (tap, ballet, and jazz) for nearly ten years as a youngin', my coordination does not carry over into hip-hop. We have learned two dances thus far, and I continually look in the mirror during class and repeat what the Navy boys have been saying for the past 10 months. "You are an upper body dancer. Why don't you try moving your legs or something?" My retorted response is generally "because Shoreclub is not a place to break it down fellas."

Boy am I glad I never had that extra beer to put the courage in me and try! I am going to chalk my lack of flow up to my lengthy legs and awkward height (yes, I know that I am not 6 feet tall but let me just lean on this height thing as I make my point). Half of the girls in the class are pretty darn close to 5 feet. They just simply move better. I think my only saving grace is that there are a few VERY uncoordinated men doing the two-step in class, making me feel much better about myself at all times.

Next week we will begin learning the dance for the showcase in December. In case you are wondering, I will not be participating. Not, I said.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Years ago, I was a skeptic of the correlation between inner healing and physical condition. It wasn't until after my divorce and my ability to quit indulging in self-pity that I began to buy into the dicotmy of body and soul. The concept that when your soul is fulfilled your body is able to heal from injury, stress, and general overuse (and reversely that when your body is replenished, your soul is able to peacefully rest) all of a sudden was becoming a realization to my everyday life.

In early October 2008 (while I was still living in Chicago), I went to bed with a noticeable pain in my lower back. I scanned my brain for any out-of-the-ordinary activity from the past few days. Empty. I had been in my gym routine for nearly 6 months by then. I hadn't started packing so the lifting wasn't an issue. Mid-way through the night, I awoke to my pup growling and grunting as he wanted in on the late night action that occured in the dark alley behind our house, separating our backyard from Jewel (the grocery store).

I managed to pull myself out of bed and to the kitchen door, but as I sleepily wandered down the 4 step-3 step combo leading to the backdoor, I felt a sharp pain stinging from my hamstrings to my lower back through my spine and up to my neck. I braced myself by holding onto both door panels. I was terrified to sit on the stairs, fearing that I would not be able to get up if I sat. A wave of nausea overcame my stomach caused by the excruciating pain.

By God's grace, I crawled back up the stairs into the bathroom praying the entire way that I would not throw up in our kitchen. You see my roommate at the time was a bit like Hitler in her ruling (in her mind, she somehow actually owned the house and I was the renter. Note that we both rented the house together from a Spanish woman).

Anyhow, I slipped into the bathroom to wash my face off and furiously looked for pain medicine. The medicine cabinet had been free of any meds. I am not a fan of medication including Tylenol, Advil, Midol, etc; however, I would have paid a pretty penny for some at that moment. Failed mission. I again crawled through the chilled, tiled floor and rolled back into bed. In severe pain.

The next morning my back was tighter than a tight rope in the Cirque du Soleil. I cranked up the seat warmer as I drove the hour commute to work. The thought of sitting from 8 to 6 made me quiver with dissatisfaction. I knelt for the majority of the day because the physical act of sitting was too painful to endure.

About 10 days passed and my back returned to a functional state, just in time for me to drive the 2090 miles from Chi-city to Sunny SD. I vowed to take care of my back as soon as I made the move (along with a plethora of other life altering/bettering techniques and practices). Low and behold, I began yoga a few weeks after settling in.

In 2009, I started out doing yoga once or twice a week. I was a bit religious in my practice. I was successful in strengthening my lower back and my core in order to relieve some of the pain. Meanwhile, I also created a peaceful state of being for my soul (and my mind temporarily). As all things do, my commitment to the practice wavered in the summer.

But as we descend into the 2009 calendar year and prepare to enter 2010, I vow to regain the balance of body and soul. Whether I have to practice at home or at a studio, I need that tranquillity.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Once an Alpha, Always a Pi

In a conversation I had this morning, I was reminded of my dedication to Alpha Delta Pi. And the question of loyalty was posed as a 'why are you still connected and how is this strong commitment developed?'

I wasn't quite sure how to answer the question exactly. I mean I have loved ADPi since the first day of rush back in 2001. It is where I met my 5 best friends. It is where I became an avid eater of strawberry ice cream mixed with oreos. It is where I gathered and shared my ideas. It is where I began my joy for planning events.

And as I have grown older and moved across the country, the first thing I look for (pre-move) is the ADPi Alumnae Association. I have repeatedly become a part of the group in a very involved manner. Everything from serving on the board to being an advisor.

When forced to think about it, I guess my loyalty developed to the strong women who I have encountered in this tremendous organization. And I have learned so much about myself through them...which is why we live for each other.

Friday, November 6, 2009

If You Could Do Anything...

Our prayer group met today (usually we meet mid-week) because we thought a two week void was not going to be feasible for us women. So we decided to keep it light and have a 'fun' topic.

Shannon chose to pose the question: "if you had no constraints (husband, kids, financial), what would your dream for yourself be?"

The majority of the group's dreams included traveling of some sort or interaction with various cultures. We laughed at the prospect of 'getting out' into the world and escaping our current surroundings. But the truth of the matter is that we all were/are longing to stimulate our intellectual side. We each have a yearning to learn more, interact with others, and contribute to the world.

I found myself surrounded by a group of extraordinary women (not that I wasn't already aware of this) who bring so much depth and growth to my life. And for that, I feel truly blessed to be apart of such a gathering.

To be enriched by a wiser woman (women in this case) is one of the greatest gifts a female can earn. I often seap the rewards of their life lessons to me week after week as I begin to live my life by their example. Each woman in the group brings a strength but innocence that allows me to expand my knowledge for Christianity and everyday life.

And in return, I hope to somehow, someday be able to contribute to their lives as well.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Financial Stress

My last two blogging exercises have been less than enthusiastic. I don't believe it to be the lack in motivation to write as I have been continually piecing together the book. However, I do feel that in the past two days nothing has occured in my daily life to be emotional enough about; thus forcing my writing to be rather mundane.

But as the last few days have built up, I have become greatly emotional about finances. Finances were never a struggle for me growing up nor in my early days of adulthood. I could not fathom how or why people did not pay their credit cards in full each month. I did not understand the term 'in debt.' I do now (and have for almost 2 years) and I loathe it.

And it often feels like no matter how hard I work to get ahead, I still can't break the barrier. I long for my days of having minimized expenses and maximized income. I pray to the Lord numerous times a day to please help me out of this financial hole that I no doubt have created for myself.

I am not proud to express this in writing (although I find myself constantly verbalizing my frustrations). I can't help but allow financial woes make my blood boil and my mind race with anxiety. It is the biggest trial in my life at this point. And I have vowed to make 2010 the year it changes.

Because I will be physically nauseous if I make a credit card payment in 2011.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Treat Yourself...Or Someone to a Spa Day

For my one year anniversary with the Rhodes, the family made a spa day appointment for me. I have been longing for one of those for nearly 3 years. I am going to be beautified and renewed this morning. I can hardly wait either.

There is something about a spa that rejuvenates a woman's beauty, self-confidence, and spirit. The feeling of having your muscles relaxed and a brand new layer of skin on your face. I have been so tense in the past few years as well as close to broke monetarily that spa days seemed to be a thing of the past.

Not today. Today I will relish in the spa for the morning/afternoon!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dream, Dream, Dream

Dreams are such a radical thing. They can appear to be incredibly real as if they have happened in real life or they can be as distant as the planet Neptune where you can't even remember seeing them. They can be pleasant. They can be horrid. And it is a mystery of how the subconscious frivolously works while we sleep.

I had a nightmare last evening that lasted well into the morning until I was woken by the frantic beeping of my alarm. It was so real to me that I remembered every last detail. I could recall where I was standing in and out of my house. I could remember the phrases that had been said by each member of the cast. I could swear by the cold sweat I arose to that these events had taken place.

They say that dreams mean something. I don't have the slightest clue what this dream could mean! But I think I am going to try and figure it out for fun...


Monday, November 2, 2009

50 Things I Am Thankful For...

In honor of my 50th blog post and the month of THANKS, I am going to note 50 things that I am thankful for. Here it goes...in no particular order

1. my family
2. my health
3. Beaumont
4. God and His role in my life
5. Kel, Kim, Linds, Allison, & JL
6. living 8 blocks from the beach
7. having a job
8. being able to enjoy all 5 senses
9. yogurtland
10. mc donald's
11. starbucks
12. Ryan
13. the ability to laugh and smile
14. my mom's poppy seed bread
15. my precious nephew Bishop
16. the ability to persevere through hardships
17. a good glass of wine
18. the vineyards of Cali
19. the mountains and lakes of Geneva
20. the animals of Australia
21. my car
22. French language and culture
23. the sun
24. my education
25. kisses from Ryan


26. Christmas decorations
27. dolphins
28. diet coke
29. country music
30. fresh air
31. driving through the countryside
32. flying overseas
33. Sunday dinners
34. the ability to cook
35. the therapy of writing
36. dressing up for Halloween
37. reading books
38. the feeling of being in love
39. life's little surprises
40. scary movies
41. m&m's
42. all things chocolate
43. homemade cakes and pies
44. gift cards to Target
45. heartbeats
46. getting to say goodbye to my grandparents
47. storytelling
48. Marquette's 5am wake up calls
49. advice from true friends
50. the world

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Home Sweet Home

After a fun-filled weekend in the bluegrass state, I am back home in San Diego. I always find it to be a bittersweet experience when I visit Kentucky especially when the trip involves Lexington. I have so many memories from college where I spent a grave amount of time trying to 'figure myself out.'

While I was excited about the girls' trip, I was also apprehensive as all six of us can be quite domineering at times. But with great certainty, I can say that it was by far the best trip we have taken together. We conversed about adult issues. We laughed out loud about the past. We dealt with our awkward run-ins with grace. We visited our old spots. Most importantly, we enjoyed each other's company.

And as we each journeyed back to our respective places of residence, I was reminded of how amazing these girls truly are. I miss them dearly already, but I look forward to the next time that we get to see each other. In my latter years, I have come to geniunely appreciate the time we have together.

Until the next time ladies!