Monday, December 27, 2010

Here's To the New Year

So you're probably reflecting on the wonderful times had with family and friends over the holiday season. I know that I am. It was our first Christmas in our new house. Our time was so relaxed and easy. Our family made it that way. This Christmas was definitely one of my favorites. Now on to the new year.

I've made the resolutions of spending less, saving more. The eat better and exercise five times a week resolution has been made. The clean out the basement promise always makes me chuckle, too. So this year I still wish for all of these things, but I have decided to try and do things a little more smaller scale. I think this might work. So here goes.

I will put things back where they belong. I will try to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. I will truly ask people how they are and not stop when they say fine. I will eat out once a week and no more. I will limit myself to one soda a day. I will remember that if I can spend $100 on a pair of shoes, then I most certainly can donate $100 to charity. I will read more. I will hug my family and friends more. I will drive the speed limit. That one is going to be really hard! I will sleep eight hours a night. I will hand write a note a week. Post my blog on Mondays. I will cut down on my recycling---meaning I will buy less packaging. I will try and buy organic when possible. I will drive less. I will live in the moment.

That may seem like a lot. It is. A lot of common sense. Things that I should already be doing on a regular basis. In our modern world with all the technology we have we some times lose the common sense part of the equation. Convenience overrides common sense all too often. And that leads to a lot of frustration. And it is so easy to complain about the problems. But to be part of solutions, not problems, is my goal this year. What's your goal this year? I'd love to hear what it is.

©2010 Ann M. De Broux

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Dog Days of Christmas

I did indeed mean to say the dog days of Christmas. With Bailey and Sweet Pea in the house I have been trying to figure out what they must be thinking during this holiday season. Here's a little excerpt:

We sure must be good dogs. Our people have brought us a tree. Our very own tree in the living room. Now we don't have to go outside to lift a leg. And can you believe that they are hanging treats on the tree for us to eat and play with. Could life get any better? So we're pretty happy about the tree, but the round thing that they hung on the door? Not so much. It blows in the wind and bangs against the glass. It's hard to get a good nap around here with all that racket. And what's up with all of the extra light on the front porch. We did lots of sniffing and growling before we figured out that these weren't dangerous.

And Ann, she is baking! Lots of crumbs on the floor to feast on. More than usual. She sure does spill a lot. To our advantage of course. And these things that they wrap in paper. The best gift of all is the unwrapped paper. You don't even need the so called gift inside. Just wad up the paper and let us have a go at it. Walked around the house with a shiny thing hanging off of me. Couldn't shake it. My girl said I looked cute in a bow. I don't know. I'll stick with the paper. And the clean up. What, are they trying to kill us? That vacuum comes out every day lately.

Usually we aren't ones to complain,but the noise in our house! Same songs over and over. You know that we are sensitive to the bell sounds in the songs. It's our job. We react to stuff like that. We were born to patrol. To guard our people. From the bell at the door. You know, FEDEX and UPS. These people get way too close to our house and our family. And they have the nerve to ring our doorbell. The injustice.

We think Ann might need a new dryer. For some really strange reason she's been hanging socks up on the stair railing. We aren't sure if she's being her normal frugal self, or what.

That's all from the dogs. Enjoy the holiday through your eyes, the eyes of a child or wise eyes. Enjoy the beauty of the season from all viewpoints. Merry Christmas!

©2010 Ann M. De Broux

Monday, December 13, 2010

Oh What A Glorious Monday

What a great weekend. You know the feeling. You've slept well. The weekend was filled with friends, family and fun. You ate well. You probably even crammed all of your chores into the already crazy busy weekday schedule. This left time all weekend for relaxing and recharging. You stretch and actually wake up awake. Strange concept, I know. A far cry from waking up tired. And that waking up tired bit gets old.

So you do your stretching and yawning and yes, you did remember to preset and load the coffee pot. So the aroma is wafting upstairs to lure you out of bed. You decided to choose your outfit for the day the night before. No worries there. And the lunches were made last night after supper. Yes! Alright, now this is getting a little extreme, but you actually filled the dog bowls with food ahead of time, too. All of this terrific preparation should allow me at least one extra cup of coffee. Happy Day. Happy Ann.

So I need to be be somewhere at 9:00. Traffic is traveling smoothly. I drop Gracie off at school. Ding, ding, ding. What is that? Oh, the low fuel light is on and dinging. I am driving the vehicle that I don't usually drive because it is easier to park downtown. We have two vehicles and together they measure out to be the length of a football field. Ok, a little exaggeration. But seriously, try and park either one of them downtown in the city lots and it could send you to the crazy farm. So anyway, I need fuel. I stop at a station and pull up to a pump. I proceed to fill the tank. Cool. That didn't set me back too far in time. I start the car and try to leave. The person ahead of me is inside the store and apparently in no hurry to get a move on. I try to back up. There is a group giving another group directions to Chicago. Oh man. Not hard. Right, right and you're headed in the "right" direction. But this obviously bears repeating. Many times over. For the love of timeliness!! Ugh. I have to be somewhere.

Finally the group breaks up and the person ahead of me leaves at just about the same time. Of course. My GPS recalculates and off I go. My appointment is downtown. The maze of one way streets. This is why the need for the GPS. Funny little side story. I received the GPS on Mother's Day from Gracie. My parents helped her buy it. She wrote in my card that with our moving, "I want to make sure when you drop me off at school you can find your way back to pick me up again." Such a funny kid.

My GPS does not fail me. Leads me right up to the front door. And this is where I try to walk in. Not gonna happen. The place is in lock down and you must enter on the other side of the building. Finally I am in. With seconds to spare. Not how I usually like to operate. The appointment was a success. I found a new place and a few spots along the way that I'd like to explore some time. Even with all of my preparations for the busy morning I barely made my appointment. Think if I hadn't pre-planned? Life is funny that way. On to Tuesday.

©2010 Ann M. De Broux

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Simple Homemade Christmas

Man, it was hard getting to you today. My two new pups are crazy nuts. Redundant, I know. But worth it. They are rescue dogs and have just learned to absolutely let loose and play. They rip around the house so fast I only see a blur of fur. Up and down the stairs, across the living room, through the dining room and kitchen and it all starts again. Look out if you get in their way. They must be going at least 20 miles per hour. Thankfully I don't have a house full of precious breakables. As I was climbing the stairs to get to the office they flew by me and before I had reached the office back they came. I got situated in my desk chair, have my soda where I want it and here they come again! This time they come to a screeching halt in the office doorway, each with a ball in their mouth, giving me a look that I could not resist. Many games of toss were played. They are exhausted now and sleeping on the floor by my feet, so I will take the opportunity to write.

I'm on a groove for the holidays. It feels great and I welcome it. We put up the lights on the house and the tree. I have even been making Christmas treats and it feels good. Like it should. I know the reason for the season. And I will never forget it. It's incredibly important and permanent in my life. It's the mainstay that kept my family secure over the past year and some. Maybe that's why the extras weren't that important last year. Oh, and the fact that Scott and I both had foot surgery really added to the disjointed feeling we had last Christmas. So this feels homey this year. And we are having the holiday here at our new house with our family. This, too, feels right. The idea all came about by a few words spoken by Gracie a couple of weeks ago. "Mom, do you think we'll ever have a holiday at our house? I think it would really make it feel like home for us." Yes, Gracie, I believe we can do that. Next came the phone call to my parents and sister with the reception that I knew in my heart would come. Of course we'll be there! That day after school I was pelted with questions. Did you call Grandma and Papa? Did they say yes? Aunt Amy, too? What will we eat? What time is church? We'll still open presents on Christmas Eve, right?

So the baking and making of gifts is underway. It's a homemade Christmas at our house. I can't exactly tell you what we're making for gifts because my people read this blog. But I would love to share some of the easy, and I mean EASY, recipes with you that we have made.


Before I give you the recipe, I need to give credit where credit is due. This is not my recipe. I believe it originated with my friend Sara's mother-in-law, Rita. If she didn't create it, she was gracious enough to pass it on.

One package of Oreo cookies or Oreo-like cookies (I used a generic brand this year and saved $1.50 on each package and it tastes the same to me)
One 8 ounce package of cream cheese
Almond Bark

In a food processor, blend the cookies until the mix is finely chopped. Add cream cheese gradually until mixture balls up in processor. Chill. Break into pieces about the size of a quarter and roll into a ball. Melt almond bark and dip each truffle. Place on wax paper. I use tooth picks to dip the truffles. Later I dollop a little almond bark over the hole left over from the toothpick. Freeze until needed.


Not hard. Melt more almond bark and dip medium and long pretzel sticks. I dip the pretzels about half way. We sprinkled with red and green sugar to be festive!

For this last idea I have to thank the nice lady in line behind me at Aldi. Maybe our paths will cross again some time. We both had our arms full of baking stuff and she shared this recipe with me. Melt almond bark. As much a you want. Or use the stuff left over from the before mentioned recipes. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper and pour melted almond bark onto it. Use the leftover pretzels from above and smash them into tiny bits. Then add crushed peanuts, almonds, whatever kind of nuts you like. Sprinkle these over melted almond bark liberally. Let sit and break it apart later. Almost as you would peanut brittle. Great way to use up leftovers!

Try to keep things simple and enjoy the spontaneous moments. Do something for someone less fortunate. Look beyond the lists and the cards. Really look at people, sincerely ask them how they are. Take the time to listen. These are gifts that truly touch people. These are the best ingredients for a homemade holiday.

©2010 Ann M. De Broux

Monday, November 22, 2010

I Fought The Lights, And The Lights Won

It was a few days after Christmas and we were shopping. There was a 90% off sale on Christmas trees. A pre-lit tree that was $199.99 was now $19.99. Are you kidding me? I had spent that much on Christmas lights alone THIS season! I had to get it. And it was tall and trim. The kind of tree that you don't have to move the recliner into your daughter's bedroom for. This tree was going to be my holiday treat to myself. So many had told me about these pre-lit things. Life changing. Saved our marriage. Ok, maybe not, but pretty close. I couldn't wait for next year.

Next Christmas came and I happily hauled the tree up from the basement. This is going to be fantastic I announced to my family. This will alter our lives forever. No more stressing over burnt out lights. No more time wasted switching out light bulbs and manipulating cords. No more extension cords. Life is good. The tree went up so easily. Beautiful lights. We played carols while decorating. Scott and I tucked Gracie in for the night and retired to the living room to enjoy the new tree. What a lovely sight. Our fireplace was warm and we were sipping our cafe mocha. Really, could life be much better? And then it happened. A row of lights went out. I rubbed my eyes to see if I could possibly be wrong. First of all, the instructions read, "if one light bulb should go out the rest will remain lit." And if it was a fuse... Well, we addressed that immediately. Changed the fuse. No go on the illumination front. What the heck?! A few little wiggles of the cord and it was back on. And then off. And so on and so on. Sorry to say I let this pre-lit nightmare consume me.

Really? So these pre-lit jobs are supposed to be the greatest, huh? To make a long story short I ended up buying multiple extra light strands and supplementing the already lit tree. I spent about as much as I did for the tree. And at that end of the season? I cut all of the pre-lit strings off of the tree because I still liked the height and shape of the tree. This only took three hours. Yes, I am a stubborn Norwegian. Those lights are fastened on with these plastic thing-a-ma-jigs that NASA should invest in. There would never be an issue of missing tiles. This year we start fresh with lights and I won't let them get the best of me. I am off to purchase. Hopefully this is it for a long, long time. This year I am going to win the Christmas light struggle. May your holiday season be bright. And not blink, or blow a fuse...

©2010 Ann M. De Broux

Sunday, November 21, 2010

'Tis The Season To Simply Enjoy

Close your eyes. Come on play along here. I want you to think back to Christmases past. Find in your memory the things that really transport you to feeling in the holiday spirit. What did you come up with? Is it family or friends? The sight of Christmas lights? Caroling? Food smells? Tinsel in your hair? Santa accidentally punching his fist through your living room window? Ok, that one needs a little back story. I was probably six and that means my sister was two. Our parents and grandparents had made arrangements for a local man to dress up as Santa and deliver our gifts to us on Christmas Eve. Santa decided to knock on the window of our house and wave. Well, there was ice beneath the window and this plan went sour. Santa slipped and instead of knocking his fist came crashing through the window. Scared us all, but most especially my sister. Poor thing. She hasn't been the same around Santa since. In fact she still takes my daughter to see Santa every year and has been know to break out in a sweat at the sight of the man in red.

Whatever your holiday memory is, I would bet that it doesn't have to do with an actual gift that you received. If it did, it's ok. I'm not judging. But most of us think of the sights, the sounds and the people that we love. So why is there so much effort given to the other stuff? I heard a story once that made a huge impact in my life. A lady who was a perfectionist wanted to get the Christmas lights up on her house. It was a beautiful day and her husband and son didn't want to help, they wanted to play a game of football at the neighborhood park. She was determined and got the ladder out herself. Things were going well until she ran out of ladder. She thought I can do this and reached a little too far. She fell and ended up breaking both arms. She was recovering well, but still was a taskmaster. She wanted things done the way they always had been. But the husband and son refused. There were cards to write and decorations to put up and food to prepare. She kindly reminded the men that at this time of year she averaged only five to six hours of sleep a night because of all of the things that she had to check off of her list. Her husband sat her down one evening and said that her job was to heal and he would take care of the rest---but on his terms.

The woman bit her lip and tried. When December 22nd rolled around she couldn't stand it anymore. Please get the tree she pleaded! Please pick up the turkey and the ham! Please go to the mall! There are so many things to do. Be patient the husband said. It was now December 24th. The family woke up and the son made a great breakfast. Off to do errands the men went. They came home an hour before the rest of the family was to arrive. In they brought the tree. It was free the husband said. There was actually a sign at the tree lot that read "Free and Merry Christmas." The woman said the ornaments and lights are in the attic. The son said, we've got that covered. Out of his coat pocket he pulled two boxes of pink lights. They were the only color left at the local drug store. Up went the tree with pink lights. What about gifts? Oh, we have that covered, too. The husband pulled out a dozen gift cards for the gas station up the road. He placed them all on the branches of the tree. The doorbell rang and the company arrived. A few minutes later the doorbell rang again. Takeout Chinese food had been delivered.
The woman later said that this was the best Christmas she ever had and they now repeat this last minute Christmas every year.

I still believe in gift giving. And Christmas lights and tree decorating. I still enjoy the foods that are prepared at holiday time. But I really think we all need to take a little time out to remember that we can't do it all. Most of us don't want to do it all. We get caught up in the stress of buying too many gifts. Even extra gifts just in case! I know someone who buys multiples of a generic gift every year. This person wraps the gift and keeps several in a closet in her house and a few in her trunk. She's always ready just in case someone gives her a gift and she hasn't gotten them one. It's ok that I tell you this, I checked with her! I dislike the Christmas card writing. I have a rule set only for myself. I only send to out of town friends and family that I don't see often. And I'm done with sending a card to someone just because they sent me one. I try to give gifts of meaning and try to make most of them consumable.

It is a season to relax and not to stress. It is the season to make memories. The season to laugh and spend time with those we love. And yes it's the season for my sister to fear seeing the big guy in red!

©2010 Ann M. De Broux

Monday, November 15, 2010

Simply Nuts

As promised, here I am on Monday with another post. I really believe in keeping promises. I will go to absurd lengths to keep promises because they are that important to me. If I say I will be somewhere, I am. If I say I will do something, I will. That's what you get from me. I'm a bit of a nut that way. There are other ways that I am a nut, too. Believe me.

Have you ever tried to remember a name or a word and it will not come to you? Or you've misplaced something? I have. And I can't just let this go. I'm tenacious. Or maybe stubborn is more like it. Maybe it's the Norwegian in me. No, maybe the German. Here nor there I get it from both sides! I can't let it go. I will think about it all day long. This remembering (or lack there of) will consume me. I will let no other thoughts into my probing mind. People will tell me, let it go. As soon as you stop thinking about what you forgot you'll remember it. You will let a new thought or trigger into your mind and you will remember. Yeah, right? I have pondered something so long that I have even let it occupy my dreams. My husband can tell you how much he appreciates it when I finally remember something in the middle of the night and warrant it important enough to wake him up and share. Not so much.

So the other day, this happened to me. I was crazy out of my mind. Could barely function. I couldn't stop trying to remember a person's name. I had to call her. What was I going to do? I don't even have her name to look her up. This is important. I went through all of the letters of the alphabet. No help. I tried to picture her nametag at our last meeting. No go there either. Practiced some breathing exercises. That didn't work. Went through the recycling bin. Yuck. That needs to be cleaned out. I digress. Couldn't find the piece of paper with her name on it. Tossed cushions on furniture. I checked pockets. And then purses. Aha! I switched purses in the past week. There it was. Once lost, now found after a good five hours of fretting. I called her and acted as though my day had gone well. What she doesn't know won't hurt her.

And here's the thing. I'm actually quite organized. But every once in a while I get a personal reminder that I certainly can do better. I now have this person's name in my phone. I should be set. Unless of course I lose my phone...

©2010 Ann M. De Broux

Monday, November 8, 2010

Commercial Time

Me again. I have made a vow to myself and now to all of you. I will be posting each and every Monday from here on. At least until I run out of ideas and things to talk about. That's funny! Never gonna happen. See you next Monday!

Gotcha Day

A small friend of mine once greeted me with these words---"It's my gotcha day and we're going out to a Korean restaurant to celebrate!" Your what day? Gotcha day he said. It's not his birthday, it's the day that his adoptive family got him---hence his Gotcha Day! What a terrific day to celebrate, I said. I love adoption. My mom was adopted. I know several people who have adopted. These families are whole. They celebrate the fact that someone was missing and reached out to fill that vacancy in the family. Adoption is a beautiful thing.

Now I'm moving on to another kind of adoption. I am not comparing apples to oranges here. I want to talk about the adoption of animals. I am in no way equating the adoption of animals to the adoption of humans. Just wanted to clarify. There are some similarities, though. Our house and our family unit have been missing something since Chester died. I began secretly searching the internet for sheltie puppies. I even contacted a breeder and found out that a litter would be available around Christmas time. Perfect! No need to do any Christmas shopping for the family, I thought. I could already see the Christmas picture in my head. Gracie snuggling up with our new furry puppy. New town, new house, new dog. Then I started asking the difficult questions. How much? Yikes! Are you kidding me? That price was about eight hundred to twelve hundred dollars more than we had ever paid for a dog. Even if I skipped lattes and lunch ( I mean going out for lunch, silly) for the next two months I did not foresee this happening. I felt sad and a sense of relief as the same time. Maybe my dog days are over.

Then my husband had the brilliant idea to look at rescue dogs. Here we go. We contacted the woman who runs the organization and began a daily conversation. Lots of pictures, lots of heartbreaking stories. Who to choose? Scott and Gracie left the decision up to me. He had to work and she had school. I told them, I'm going for one, but may come home with more! They said that they trusted me. I thought, big mistake. I arrived at the sheltie rescue. Couldn't believe it. This is minutes from where we used to live in Appleton. Why didn't I know this when I lived here? Of course I didn't need or want another dog at that time. She started bringing out dogs for me to see. I was in love with everyone. This caused me great heartache. After seeing six dogs and falling for them all, I chose two. I chose a male dog named Bailey. He is such a lover. He spent his first year and a half in a chicken coop. He and I hit it off immediately. Then the inevitable happened. I chose another. Sweet Pea is her name. Health reasons caused her family to give her up.

So last Tuesday was gotcha day at our house. Two dogs were delivered to my house. It already feels like they have been here forever. We weren't trying to replace Chester. He and Winston just taught us what it feels like to have wonderful pets in our lives. And we knew that we had more love to give because of that. So some might say, are you nuts? Ms. Simplify, huh!? Remember, I have always said, if you love something, it's worth having.

©2010 Ann M. De Broux

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Four Months

It's was officially four months yesterday. Yep, four months as residents of Wisconsin's state capital. It has been an adventurous ride. The fact that we sold our house in Appleton in six days and moved here without incident is nothing short of a miracle and we know it. We really do feel blessed. We have had lots of terrific company visit us. Family and friends and friends who are family. We have explored many exciting places in Madison and will continue to. The farmer's market is truly an awakening of my food senses. And on that note---I've started cooking a lot more. Partly because I'm 44 and want to eat better so that I can be healthier. I must say something must be working, at least a little, because I had to buy a belt yesterday. But the main reason for cooking more is to have a great time with my family each night. We sit down, we eat and we share our day's happenings with each other. That kind of nourishment does not come in a can.

Some other happenings in the past four months are that we found a great church. We felt at home there from the start. The new friends we are making are terrific. We are burrowing into our new surroundings. We have routines again. Certain things on certain days. You know how it rolls. I'm learning short cuts around town and what time to avoid the belt line. That traffic is not for the faint of heart. I'm glad it's an option for us. But for some it's an every day thing. Twice a day.

We all had our first birthdays here away from the familiar. For some it was just another day and for others it was both happy and sad. We did well though. And that brings me to a wonderful birthday. Chester had his 17th birthday on August 1. What a great guy. Such a faithful, funny dog. His hips were certainly causing him some trouble, but he was doing very well on all other accounts. Chester made this transition to Madison with us. And he made it easier. Especially for Gracie. Chester was HER dog. They cuddled every morning. She loved to touch the edges of his ears. And he would let her do it. So soft, she would say. We had steps in this house and that was a challenge for Chester. But we made do. He was so laid back and just took every day as it came.

Last week things changed. On Thursday Chester collapsed in our living room. We took him to an animal hospital. They said he had low blood pressure and needed fluids. They would like to keep him overnight. We all came through the back door of our house missing our boy. We got a call from the vet and she said he was perking up and she'd call in the morning. In the morning the same news and that I could pick him up. I was so glad. But something changed in the meantime. They did an ultrasound and found a bleeding mass in his belly. He was 17 years and 2 months old at this time. The chances of him surviving any procedures were slim and even then recovery may not happen. We gathered the family and all were with him in the end. We all held him and talked to him and petted him. Such sadness. We miss him terribly.

On the other hand I want to say such gladness. Chester was with us through all of our huge changes this year. When Winston died Chester started sleeping on Winston's bed and never went back to his own. I think it was his way of staying connected to Winston. And it made missing him more bearable. Chester was always happy to be with us. Whether it was in Appleton, at the cottage, at Howard Johnson's, where Scott lived until we moved down to Madison, or in our new house. If he was with his people, he was happy. I believe that Chester hung on to see us through some of these times of change. I think he held on for Gracie and needed to see her happy and playing with friends. And that's exactly what she was doing on Thursday.

In four months a lot has changed. Mostly for the better. We miss Chester and we thank him for loving us.

©2010 Ann M. De Broux

Friday, September 10, 2010


I love the word mishmash. Almost as much as I love the word rigamarole. The word mishmash exudes it's definition. You feel it when you say it. It means hodgepodge, a bunch of stuff that doesn't fit together. The word speaks volumes. I usually have some sort of mental outline formed in my head before I start writing. Not today. There is so much that I am thinking about. So here goes. Buckle up. Here come random thoughts flying at you!

Thought No. 1:
I'm loving the cooler temps. Fall is my favorite season. We sort of live on the edge of the city. I drive in the country almost every day. The trees are just barely starting to show a little change of color. I'm so excited. And yet don't want the change to happen too fast. It's apple cider, pumpkin on the porch weather and I'm loving it.

Thought No. 2:
I really don't want a Reverend in Florida speaking on my behalf. I saw him on the news today speaking on "behalf of all Americans." He didn't ask me. I must have missed his call. I think what he is doing is sad. He is getting a lot of attention for planning something that is in my opinion ridiculous and hurtful. People who rant and rave half-cocked without accurate information are a frightening bunch. It is true that we live in a land of free speech. I am thankful for this each day. But to take this privilege and misuse it is irresponsible. And to do this with the knowledge that it will provoke violence is doubly harmful.

Thought No. 3:
Had the house assessed today. Cleaned yesterday. Not for the assessor, but because it needed it. Then I stopped at the messy office. It's bad. Scott had to do all sorts of reinstalling of programs after his computer crashed and there is stuff everywhere. Maybe I'll leave it and it will bring the value of the house down. Lower taxes maybe? Nah. I did the five minute shuffle and straightened it up a bit. So, Mr. Assessor came today and I told him my plan to leave it a disaster and the hope that it would bring down the value. He smiled. I think he liked my joke.

Thought No. 4:
My girl will be eleven in 18 days. She can't wait. I can. She's on the edge of bursting into a whole new part of her life. These years have gone by so fast. So much change. She wants to be so grown up and in the next minute she is sitting on my lap when she's tired. I love those moments. I've decided to just breathe. Scott and I have given her a loving home, we have great family and friends that have helped us raise her. We have made mistakes. She has even called us on a few. She's so smart and still so little. I will enjoy all of the moments. Yes, even the ones where two strong wills clash. I'm loving watching her grow into a lovely young woman. With just a dash of stubbornness. No, I don't know where she got that. Smile.

Thought No. 5:
I used to look up a new word every day in the dictionary. I loved doing this. I'm a avid reader and love to write, so this was natural for me. And as luck would have it, or as the saying goes, once you learn a new word you hear it or read it again at least once in the next 24 hours.

I'm off to crack open the dictionary. I want to learn something new today. Happy Weekend!
©2010 Ann M. De Broux

Saturday, August 28, 2010


We were both working full time jobs. We were dealing with Scott's mom's cancer and I had just had my second miscarriage. I thought that a new puppy might fill a void I was feeling. Call me crazy. We went to the breeder. We saw the perfect puppy. He was messy and seemed shy. On the way home he threw up in the car. Carsickness plagued him for a few years after that.

He was so sweet, so fuzzy. We loved him and Chester mothered him. He was a bit delayed in the training chapter of his life. He would come bounding out of an empty room with a little tell-tale trot. We knew what surprise was left for us behind door number one. So we walked and we walked. And we walked some more. Finally, one day the message seemed to make a connect for him. He had the funniest habit of leaning up against a tree when he did his duty. I figured it out. This wasn't for support, it was for privacy. Even a small tree would provide him with what he deemed enough shelter to hide behind and do his job.

When he was four he had a terrible health scare. A wonderful vet had the time and patience, and yes, our money to figure it out. A few months after this we anxiously awaited the arrival of Gracie. Winston was curled up on my lap one day. What was left of it. He snuggled up close to my big belly and all of the sudden Gracie let out a huge kick. I felt it. He felt it. Winston jumped off of my lap with a look on his face that said, "did you feel that and what the heck was it?" As new parents we wanted to facilitate the best way to have Chester and Winston meet Gracie. Scott brought home the little hat she wore for them to smell and process. The day we brought her home, Chester checked her out and moved on. Winston on the other hand made this statement, "this baby is mine!"

He would let us know if she was awake in her crib before she would cry. He would curl up around her on the floor. He was so loving towards her. Then Gracie turned one and became mobile. That was enough for him and this is where Chester took over and has ever since. Winston tolerated her, but not as deeply as he had in her first year.

Last year things began to change. Mood swings, not eating and more trips outside. Our poor boy. We knew something was very wrong. Our vet said we could do lots of tests, but the answer would probably be the same no matter how much money we spent. We made him comfortable. Those sweet eyes became very sad eyes. We had to take stock of the situation. For all of the times that Winston made us feel loved and wagged that tail in happiness to greet us. For all of his loyalty. For all of his shyness and quirky little habits. It was time for us to give him the gift that he needed most from us. We made the appointment. We touched him and held him as he died. We thanked him over and over for all that he had been for us. I have never cried so hard in my life. I'm crying right now.

Winston died just a couple of weeks before his 15th birthday. Chester misses him and so do we. We appreciate the simple gifts he gave us. The feeling of being happy to see someone and the ability to love unconditionally. It's been a year since he died. We're glad he's no longer suffering. He was the best shy, happy to see you, loyal, baby loving dog a family could have asked for.

©2010 Ann M. De Broux

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Simple Priorities

When Scott and I were first married times were lean. And no, I don't mean we were skinnier. Even though we were. I mean lean as in money was tight. We owned a construction company. We had employees and we paid their health insurance. So each week we paid the bills. Lumber companies, subcontractors, our workers. Monthly we paid the mortgage, insurance and basic utilities. Many times there wasn't much if anything left over. Suddenly paper towels and Kleenex were not so important. You can always blow your nose in toilet tissue and tear up some old tshirts for rags. I became the master at food creations with cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soups. Don't even get me started on what I can do with Ramen Noodles.

We tried to not turn the heat on until the end of October. And when it was turned on we tried to keep the temperature as low as possible. An extra sweater, an afghan, cuddle time---it was all good. We never turned down our parent's invitations to come over for dinner. And somehow our moms always sent us home with wonderful leftovers. We made homemade candles in jam jars and tied a little bit of twine around them for gifts at Christmastime. We held a few back for ourselves and were able to keep the lights on in the house to a minimum. We still managed to entertain. My godfather had sent us two cases of wine for our wedding. One red and one white. We kept a change jar in the kitchen and would cash it in when it was full. I took the money and bought blocks of cheese, paper plates, napkins and cups. We had a bunch of sausage in the freezer. Ta da! We had a wine and cheese party for thirty people. And we still had wine to spare.

Eating out wasn't an option. At least not often. We bought 75 cent shampoo and reused coffee grounds. We would make a full pot of coffee in the morning. Later we would add a couple of scoops to the used ones and get a pot of coffee that would taste just as good. Cable t.v.? No way. Movie rentals on the two for a dollar night. I rigged up a clothes line in the basement and Scott hooked one up for me outside for nice weather days. We took our cans in for cash. Rummage sales. You bet. Had them and shopped them.

Times were lean. They were also good. We had a clear set of priorities. We didn't waste. We rarely wanted. We had shelter, food and other basic necessities. More importantly we had each other. We had our family. We had our health. Time has passed. We have more money. And yes, we have more things. Not too many, though. But we still have our priorities. We still have our family. Sometimes it's good to remind ourselves of the lean times. It's a great way to remember that life was good then and that it is still good. And remembering some of the cost cutting tips, that's helpful, too.

©2010 Ann M. De Broux

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Simply Avoiding the Inevitable...

It's a gorgeous day. I have had the windows open for two days straight. The air smells great. I need to wash out my tubs and the bathroom floors. I think I'll talk and giggle with my daughter for a while first. Then we play with my new iPad. Download a few apps. I decide that's enough and onto hanging some pictures in the new house. Better mow the lawn. Gracie helps. I handle the trimmer. Okay, that was done way too fast. I guess it's lunch time. Heat up some sloppy joes. We eat. Again, done way too fast. I vacuum the first floor. My dog barks at the vacuum. He's kind of lazy today, so all I really get from him is a "mmrrff," instead of a strong "ruff." I say, hey there fella, bark like you mean it! He lays his weary head down and I swear he said, "you bark like you mean it. And by the way aren't you supposed to be cleaning the bathrooms?"

Yuck. I hate cleaning the bathrooms. Especially since I just did it three days ago. You see, after I was done my husband made a valiant effort to kill these little bugs that we have had for a few weeks. He thinks they are called springtails. I think they are disgusting. Please do whatever it takes to eradicate! He made a trip to the hardware store in an absolute downpour and picked up the magical poison to springtails. What he didn't tell me is that the chemical needed to stay on the floors and not be cleaned up for a few days. Ugh! I just washed the floors. Now they are sticky with springtail killer! As I step out of the shower I feel the sticky stuff. Yuck again.

Well, the date has arrived that is acceptable to clean up. But here's the thing, I don't want to anymore. I feel that I have cleaned my bathrooms already. And I am doing everything in my power to avoid this cleaning again. I actually picked up my daughter's guitar and started strumming a little song for her and making up words to the tune as I went. No, I do not play the guitar. I am actually one of these gifted people that can just pick up an instrument and play it. Okay, I'm joking. And now I'm done playing the guitar because Gracie is trying to videotape me playing and I'm afraid it may end up on YouTube. That would be a nightmare.

Time to grow up, Ann. Just go clean the bathrooms. I tell myself, after it's over it never seems as bad as you thought it would be. We'll see...yuck.
©2010 Ann M. De Broux

Friday, July 30, 2010

A Cinderella Story...Of Sorts

My girl is a planner. The Children's Parade was two days ago. Gracie and her friends decided on the Cinderella theme. Days of preparation. Costumes were assembled. Lots of phone calls. Decisions as to who would be Cinderella, the stepsisters. Then the "float" building. Her Radio Flyer wagon was to be the mode of transportation. Scott, Gracie and her friend Abby began the arduous task. A trip to Home Depot. Chicken wire, zip ties and a couple of hula hoops and they were off. Within a couple of hours the shape of the pumpkin had been created. Did I forget to tell you that the parade was in Appleton? And the pumpkin was born in Madison?

The precious produce/float was loaded into the back of the truck and secured. This is where the story gets interesting. As I'm driving through the streets of Madison I am getting the most rewarding looks. You know. The what the heck is that looks. Lots of smiles. I in turn smile back thinking if you only knew what this was. As I get on the highway and reach the 65 mile an hour speed limit, my phone rings. It is the co-creator of this masterpiece---Scott. As we are talking, and yes I know I shouldn't talk on the phone while driving, I look in the rear view mirror. Oh no. Scott, I have to go, the float is flying off the back of the truck. It is literally hanging by a bungee cord. It's riding the rail of the right side of the truck.

This is where it gets a little movie like. And by that I mean dramatic. I look at the girls in the back seat. They are oblivious to what is happening. Ipods are rockin'. I know this float is going to fly off the truck. I check my left side view mirror. No one in the lane next to me. I do this Starsky and Hutch maneuver and jerk the truck to the left. The wagon falls back into the bed of the truck and I take the next exit. We stop and I send the girls into McDonald's for refreshments. Scott and I talk and try to come up with better ideas for tethering. I think I've got it and off we go.

Seven miles later, not so much. That baby is shaking. I don't want to have this thing fly off and hurt someone---or worse. Exit again. This time in the middle of nowhere. I pull off on a country road. I'm readjusting and getting frustrated. After a few minutes my Prince Charming pulls up in his silver truck. I have a silver truck. I'm partial. Now, I'm a one Prince Charming kind of gal, but every once in a while you just need to have another one come into your life---for a few minutes. He says, trouble? I say, not with my truck but with my cargo. He looks at the float and is too polite to ask. So I explain. It's a float for a kids parade and that two girls will be pretty sad if it doesn't arrive safely. To work we go. We lay the thing on its side. We work with bungees and ratchet straps. It finally feels secure. He tells me that he kayaks. Nothing works better to tie down than good old fashioned rope. I'm getting some. I may even carry some in my purse from now on.

He says he wishes that he could do more. He wishes he could drive this float to Appleton for us. I reply, so do I. More importantly he says, and the girls are listening, because he would have loved to see the finished float and see the parade. They smile ear to ear. So do I. I shake his hand and thank him profusely. Off he drives into the sunset. Well, not quite. It was 11:00 a.m. And as I drove off, I thought, I should have gotten his name. I could have sent him a thank you card. I think he knows how thankful we were. The kindness of strangers. Paying it forward. I'm touched.

The rest of the trip was uneventful. We made it. A little bent out of shape. The pumpkin---not me. A little scratched up---yes, me. Rough edges on chicken wire. Nasty. The final decorating went well. Orange plastic table cloths were used to cover the shape. A stem was made out of an empty paper towel roll and some green tissue evolved into leaves. The float and the girls were a hit at the parade. A day to remember. So many Cinderellas, so little time.
©2010 Ann M. De Broux

Thursday, July 29, 2010

He Loves Me

I'm a tough gal. I'm not big. I'm 5'4". I don't know what I can bench press. But I know that I am strong. I can move furniture and do heavy tasks. I'm a worker. I'm independent. And I am lucky to have a man in my life that is the yin to my yang. He, too, is strong. Almost six feet. Broad shoulders. The kind that you can count on. Especially when a girl has a need to lean on them.

He came into my life almost 19 years ago. I knew right away that I loved him. He was from a family like mine. We liked the same things. He loved me even though I couldn't cook. He laughed at my jokes and got my quirky humor. He appreciated my soft feelings for kids and older folks. He waits patiently. Not because it takes me a long time to get ready, but because it takes me a long time to leave places and people. I'm an extrovert and love to visit with people. He on the other hand is an introvert and likes to visit, but has his limits. He loved his mom more than words can say. She died in 1994. He loves my mom. And my dad and sister. He isn't afraid to show it.

When we found out that we would be having Gracie he took care of us. He came home every day, three times, on every shift and checked my blood pressure. This allowed me to stay home and await her birth and not to have to stay at the hospital. He took a picture of Gracie when she was less than a week old in her bassinet without me knowing and had it blown up. It's in our living room now. It can still bring a tear to my eye. It's my favorite. He calms me down when I get fired up. I've been known to be stubborn. I am also a terrible back seat driver---with him. He has this endearing, and at the same time annoying, quality of looking at me while he's talking and driving. Freaks me out.

He respects my opinion. He keeps me safe. He loves our daughter with a passion. He loves our pets. He's kind to strangers. He goes the extra mile. He embraces challenges. He keeps me grounded. I knew I loved him right away. And lucky for me he loved me, too.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Perfect Store For Me

Yes, you read that right. I've found the perfect store for me. And for my husband. And I must say my girl, too. I have to do a little back tracking to set the scene for you. It was a couple of weeks ago. I was letting my almost 17 year old dog in the house and he needed a little boost up a step. As I leaned over to assist I did something to my back. It felt like an electrical shock across the small of my back. The pain actually took my breath away. A day later Scott was rubbing my back as I lay on the floor. Pure torture. I pleaded with him to not rub so hard. He said, "Ann, I'm hardly touching you at all." Of course he wasn't. He would never hurt me. He said we're going to urgent care. And we did. Muscle strain. Rest and relaxers were prescribed.

On to the perfect store. My back was hurting. I was a bit crabby. But I figured the best position for me to be in was standing/walking. We needed to get an iPod charger for Gracie. Off to the Apple Store. Shoot me now. Put me out of my misery. First of all, I don't really like to shop that much. Secondly, an electronic/technology store. Give me break. I said five minutes, no more. I mean it. I know that you are going to find some rocket of a computer system that you just can't live without. Not tonight. I'm in pain. You know I have a high threshold for pain. For Pete's sake, I had a c-section and all I took for pain was Tylenol. This is a BAD back ache. In to the store and out.

We were helped by a guy named Topher immediately. He walked us right over to the display of chargers. Yep, we'll take that one. He said, are you done shopping? I can check you out right here. He pulled out his little iSomething and typed in our purchase. He then slid my debit card through the side of his iSomething. His next question---would you like a paper receipt or should I send one to your email. No way. Of course I chose the email option. Then he slid his iSomething across our package and demagnetized it. No bag needed. OK, I'm now sucked in. Scott says, let's get you home. I say, not so fast mister. I need to check out this iPad thing. They are right there for you to look at and touch and fall in love with. I received another gentle reminder from my guy---shouldn't we go? I said, isn't there some rocket of a computer system that you want to check out?

So after about fifteen minutes, even though I said no more than five, I think I have found the perfect store for my family. We would all find something that would fit us here. Amazing customer service. No frills atmosphere. Nice and bright and simple in that store. I'm hooked.
©2010 Ann M. De Broux

The Links

Have you ever asked a child about a trip and expected to hear about something great? Instead of hearing about a landmark or seeing someone famous or hearing about something historical, you get an answer of, "I ate cereal at 1:00 a.m. at the diner!" Some may say, is that all this day meant to her? Of course not. This little thing was the gateway to all of the big things that happened to her that day. The moments that made her history with her grandparents. But this little thing is what started the converstation.

Little things are important. The little chocolates on the pillow in your hotel room. Someone holding a door for you. Letting a car in your lane in busy traffic. These things mean a lot. It's crazy how these little actions can make your day. I think that I'm going to start calling these moments links. These links get you to a bigger picture. I read a story once about a man who's phone rang. It was a wrong number. Most of us would politely end the conversation and hang up. He asked who she was calling. In the course of the conversation the women said she was calling a person to say goodbye. She was planning on killing herself. The man who answered kept her on the phone. He listenend. When the time was appropriate he told her that he was a counselor and that he could help. She agreed. Talk about a link!

So these things that we may call little are actually our links to other people and maybe a much bigger story. You meet a new friend that knows someone you know. A city is mentioned and sure enough, you've been there. It happens all of the time. If you let it. Take time to let the natural little moments---or as I like to call them---the links happen for you. May the links be with you.
©2010 Ann M. De Broux

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Born Spiller

That's right. I'm a born spiller. Always have been. I dare you to find me in anything that isn't blue, black, brown, denim. I can't help it. I've decided to embrace my fault and just live with it.

After college, I spent the customary hundreds of dollars on a "working" wardrobe. Suits, skirts, professional looking stuff. And if I don't say so myself, I looked pretty good. That is until I spilled on myself. I am not exaggerating here. I spilled on myself every day---at least once. I tried all sorts of things. Drink only white soda, water, eat only salads with clear dressing. Doesn't matter. If you spill on a silk or rayon blend, it still spots. And if you eat salads with clear dressings chances are they are oil based. Lots of dry cleaning bills. Lots of money out the window. So then I tried another tactic. Don't drink or eat much while at work and in the presence of others. Well, this only gave me headaches from dehydration and not eating enough. And then one day a concerned friend asked if I had an eating disorder. I kindly thanked her for her concern and said that no, actually I have a spilling disorder.

I tried to do a study of my behavior. I determined that I am not a slob. I do generally hit my target. But I also spill at least one time a day. I love to talk. I get animated when talking with others. I try very hard to not speak with any food in my mouth, but the occasional mishap has been known to occur. I also have been known to attempt multi-tasking. Dangerous. Should carry a license for that. So the inevitable happens. I hardly even drink in the car anymore. At least not when I'm driving. Coffee, soda, anything is fair game to drip on me.

So back to an earlier post, when I mentioned Gracie's annual check up with her pediatrician. When he asked her what her favorite color was, she said black, because it goes with everything. Yes, I know this is not normal for a child her age, but I figured, no time like the present. She has been trained since an early age. Because, indeed, black does go with everything and it hides a multitude of sins, I mean spills. And she does come by spilling naturally---it's in her genes. I mean it's on her jeans. Whatever. You know what I mean.

©2010 Ann M. De broux

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Today was a good day. We did family things like a family should on a Saturday. It feels great to be a family again. Not that we ever stopped. But living in two separate places made life a bit challenging. Our actual move happened last weekend. And then the week back in Appleton to finish out the school year. It was bittersweet. So nice to be with family and friends. So sad to think of not being with them on a regular basis. I got a bit choked up when I dismissed the kindergartners for the last time from their lunchtime recess. I will miss their daily "funnies." Speaking of funny. There was a great one this last week of school. My coworker and I showed up at work in identical shirts. Not on purpose. We must have had 25+ kids point this out to us. They thought it was a hoot. So did we. Then a little boy insisted that no, the shirts were not the same. We explained that indeed they were. We even bought them at the same store. No, he said. Again and again. Finally, frustrated he said, the shirts had different bumps! OK, I know that you are a smart enough crowd to figure this one out. I'm still laughing.

I have felt myself separating for a while now. From my routine, a little from friends and family. I think this is OK. I don't mean that I have become distant. What I mean is I have been sitting back and observing. I have seen that everyone will be fine. Life will be different, but fine. I have been transitioning. I have smiled at the fact that my beautiful sister has become a part of a great book club. She adds so much life and humor to them and they do the same for her. I have seen a friend's new home and my heart filled with joy at the fact that she and her family have found a place of comfort. I gave a hug to a friend and didn't want to let go because I knew that as soon as I did our lives would change forever. And they have. But we were also texting each other a few hours later.

Change is not always easy. Transitions can be painful. But in the whole scheme of life, I think it's what makes us appreciate what we have. Today is the start of a new life in Madison. My family and friends will be part of this and of course there is always room for more. So now on to the boxes in the basement...stay tuned.
©2010 Ann M. De Broux

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Buyer's High, Buyer's Remorse

I'm going to try and not get all preachy, teachy here. No one likes that. I also believe that I am not a judgemental person. I truly try to see things from all sides. But here is my question. Just because it's there, why do we feel compelled to buy it? Is it because it is the newest, the best, the fastest? Scott and I were at the bank the other day. We were chatting with our banker and sort of joking about the old saying, "I can't be out of money, I still have checks left!" It's really not that funny. There are actually people that believe this. Same with credit cards. Some people think, with all of this available credit, why not spend some more?

So back to the buyer's high, buyer's remorse. As I'm going through my house and packing I am finding a few stray impulse buys. Those really cute flip flops that have the changeable top. Accurately named SwitchFlops. They don't work for me. Yes, they are the right size. Yes, they are the right color. Black. Reminds me of a story about Gracie. When she was three we were at her annual check up and her doctor asked her what her favorite color was. She said, "Black. It goes with everything!" The doc almost fell off his stool with wheels laughing. And to answer your question, she may have heard these words spill from my lips one time. Smile. So the flip flops. I had surgery on the top of my foot right before Christmas. What made me think I could wear these shoes? I got caught up in the moment and they were so cute. Left the store on a shopping high. Today, not so much. Put the shoes on and walked from my bedroom to the kitchen. Ouch!! Having much remorse and pain.

I think that we as a society do this often. We are looking for something to make us happy, feel whole, remind us of a trip, whatever. And then the next day we may be sad, have regrets and the charm of the buy is lost. I'm trying to get better at this as time goes on. Always a work in progress, I am. I'm trying to teach myself that it is OK to feel. To feel sad, to feel elated, to be frustrated and not always have the need to fix it. A lot of these feelings run a natural course in life. The valleys make the peaks feel more special. So my simple tip for the day is not to give up shopping. Just put some thought in to your purchases. Make sure it is something that you can live with tomorrow.
© 2010 Ann M. De Broux

Saturday, May 1, 2010

My Secret Is Safe With Me

OK, just relax, no big, huge, life altering confession coming at you. Just a minor one. You see, I should be going through my house and packing some more. My husband had just pulled out of the driveway in the truck. With a trailer attached. With our neighbor and friend riding shotgun. Looking reminiscent of Sandford and Son. The truck and trailer brimming with lots from our garage. Headed north to the cottage. Much bigger garage there. Not so big in Madison. Hence the trip.

I thought I would sweep out the garage which is now practically empty. Reorganized a bit. Then I sat down for a minute to go through the mail. Big mistake. Do you remember how I was an Olympic junkie? Well, did you know that the Kentucky Derby is on today? Did you know that it is raining cats and dogs there? There are all sorts of human interest stories happening. The hats. There is a lady with a hat the size of an actual umbrella with a garden that must weigh 2o lbs on it. She will definitely be seeing her chiropractor on Monday. The famous people.
Diane Lane, Bode Miller, Aaron Rodgers, quarterback for the Green Bay Packers! Sorry, I'm a little happy about the Pack. I'm a season ticket holder by marriage. Then they show me the gorgeous roses, the mint juleps and the horses. The beautiful horses. So shiny, muscular and poised. Yeah, I'm hooked. I'm staying until this is done. I'm actually planning a trip to Kentucky for next year's race. No I'm not. Just daydreaming.

So, if I were to have a horse and the funds to back it up, I think I would name it "My Secret Is Safe With Me." This of course would be in reference to May 1, 2010. The day that I should have been packing...
© 2010 Ann M. De Broux

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mission Control, We Have Landed

I need to be more regular in posting to my blog. I say this to myself several times a day. Lately it hasn't been easy. My mind has been cluttered, my heart has been heavy and I haven't been sleeping like I should. Why? Because Houston, we have a problem. I don't want anyone to worry. This is all fine now. But along the way the turbulence was more than bumpy. Scott started searching for a new home right after we sold our house here in Appleton. Not a minute sooner, because we knew that we would find the perfect house and not be able to make an offer until our house was sold.

So the search began. We spent hours pouring over listings on the Internet. Fun? Not so much. Mostly because we would find a house and it would be sold within 24 hours of our discovery. Scott visited many homes. Wasn't feeling it. We spent an entire weekend, beautiful weather weekend, inside on the computer looking at houses. We found one! Called the owner as it was a FSBO, For Sale By Owner, for those of you who don't know. This house was so pretty. It was green---I mean environmentally constructed. So quaint, we loved it. Scott asked one simple question, being the former cop that he is, how is the crime in the neighborhood? We've only had two murders in the neighborhood in the last couple of years. I said, do you think that this guy was joking? Scott said, at first I did, but then he went on to explain in more detail. Check that house off the list.

So, last weekend we looked at nine houses. Of course we found the perfect one---only 30 minutes from the city on a good day. We know some do this, but the commute is not for us. Defeated, I came back to Appleton. Scott went to six open houses on Sunday. Nice house, not so nice neighborhood. Nice neighborhood, not so nice house. So sad how the foreclosed homes are damaged and neglected. Then the heavens opened, the angels sang and yes, something glorious happened. Scott found us a house. It's brand new, in an area that we like, close to work and had a great park nearby.

Simply have faith that things will work out and they usually do. The trip there doesn't always go the way we want it, but a safe landing makes it all worth it. Take off: 38 days and counting...
© 2010 Ann M. De Broux

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What Was I Thinking?

So yesterday I went shopping for a book. The book is called How High The Moon, by Sandra Kring. I love her writing and she is a friend of mine. Her book is one of Target's Bookmark books. I walked excitedly into the store and expected her new release to be featured on an end cap. Much to my dismay it wasn't there. What? Had not the whole world been waiting with anticipation that matched mine? I'm not kidding. I had cleared the calendar so that I could devote all of my free time to this new work.

Well, I saw some employees stocking new books, Cd's and DVDs. I said to myself, step away and let these folks do their work. Shop around a little and check back. If you've read any of my earlier posts, you know that I don't just shop willy nilly. I shop from a list and I shop with purpose. But here I was free from the shackles of my list and I was killing a little time. I wandered over to the clothing section. My sister had on a cute sweater the other day and I thought I might check those out. Found 'em. Found my size. Soon to be mine.

Back to the books. Not out yet. I've got to go. Other things need to get done today. A few more stops and I'm home. Perhaps I should try on the new sweater (and of course pick out one that I will be saying bye to---you know, one thing in, one thing out rule). I try the sweater on and holy torpedo! Yeah, I meant to say that. Not holy Toledo. Why did I not try this sweater on in the store? Why didn't I think about it for 24 hours? Should I consider reduction surgery? Isn't Madonna's "Vogue" out of style?" I'm pretty sure you get the picture. Man, do I wish there was some one I could call to come and see this.

Back goes the sweater. Bad impulse buy. Should have tried it on before I left the store. I'm headed back tomorrow. I should have stuck to my list. I haven't found a book that doesn't fit me yet. OK, maybe one, but that's another post for another day.
© 2010 Ann M. De Broux

Monday, April 5, 2010

Moment By Moment

Have you ever tried to explain to a child that they should live in the moment? First of all---most of the time they do, so this may seem like an unnecessary task. But I happened to have birthed a planner. Now that we have some direction in our lives, and know where we are moving, she wants to boogie. She's cleaning out drawers and lining up books by topic and wants me to get her boxes and a Sharpie. This girl wants to pack! I had to sit her down and run through some simple breathing techniques and gently remind her that it is two months until closing.

She needed to be told that if we pack up our whole house now, what will we live with day to day? I would rather wait a while longer and sift through things slowly. Get rid of some, sell some and pack the rest when it's time. That's a hard concept for a ten and a half year old to wrap their minds around. Actually, I talk a great game, but it's hard for my 43 year old mind to embrace, too. Our new town and new house are things to look forward to. But to leave the only house that she's ever known and the town where her family and friends are, these are things too painful to think about at times.

I explained the saying "hurry up and wait" to her today. It's like running in place, I said. You're supposed to be in the ready mode at all times until you get the call to action. It's exhausting, I told her. And it's sort of a waste of time, too. Kind of like worrying. So, today I suggested let's live in the moment. Let's take one day at a time and enjoy it for what it is. There will be sad times and mad times and hopefully lots of glad times. But if we take it slowly and remember to breathe, all will be accomplished, memories and plans will be made, and the packing will get done. In the meantime, we will have had two months of great moments in the town that we hail from. With the people we love. Gracie (and me, too), breathe in two three, out two three...
© 2010 Ann M. De Broux

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

More or Enough

We're all living in the same economy right now and times are lean. I'm not telling you anything that you don't already know. We are absolutely barraged with this information every day on the news and in the papers. So I have a question for you. How do you shop? For more or enough?

What do I mean? Do you shop for more stuff because you can, because it's on sale, because it gives you comfort to have more? Or are you a shopper of enough. Enough to eat for a week. Enough to wear for a season. I'm an ENOUGH shopper myself. I know MORE shoppers though. I prefer my way because I like things simple and cleared out. I also have have environmental concerns that I often think about. Do you know that there is now a chip bag that disintegrates quickly in compost? Cool. What will they think of next?

I saw a show this weekend about a hoarder. Wow. I had never seen anything like it before. This woman's husband had died and because of the tragedy in her life she tried to fill this void by shopping. She never threw anything away. Rooms were stacked to the ceiling with not only material goods, but the garbage that was created by them. Even food garbage. So sad. Once she received counseling and help disposing of her things, the woman's life took a turn for the better.

So when I say MORE shopper I don't mean hoarder. I wanted to qualify that. And you know what? The MORE shoppers are the ones who always have things on hand. I know because they have come through for me in a pinch. When I have run out of something. When I didn't have enough. The more shoppers also buy things on sale and get great deals.

Now, as I get ready to move my household, to where I'm not sure yet, I am glad that I am an enough person. Less to pack, move and dispose of. But I do have to be thankful for the more people. We balance each other out. For me, right now though, enough is good.
© 2010 Ann M. De Broux

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Price of Beauty

We certainly are a society of smelling good, looking young and just down right fighting the natural progression of our aging process, aren't we? Hey, I am not criticizing. I'm just stating the facts. I fall into the trap myself. I'm no fashionista. Prefer jeans myself. I do not wear much on the side of make up. Cherry chap stick and under eye concealer and a wisp of mascara are it for me. If I don't do the concealer and mascara, you may not be able to see if my eyes are open or not. Yes, I shave my legs. Oh, and I do color my hair. Yep, fell into that one a few years back.

It's hard to admit to the gray. It is distinguished for the fellas, but can make the ladies seem tired and older than they are. So, yes, I played around with color a little bit. First I was blonde. Way too much upkeep for me. Then more red. Which actually turned orange. No thanks. Back to the brown with a little tiny bit of red. That's where I'm at now. Every seven weeks, back to the shop for a tune up. Those roots are one thing that I can count on. You can set your watch to them.

Have you ever had your eye brows plucked/waxed? I did this once while waiting for the color to grab onto my stubborn grays. The stylist so innocently said, "Ever had your eyebrows waxed? It might be nice to shape them up a little." So, I calmly laid my head back on the soft towel and felt the warm wax being applied above my eyes. I actually thought at that very moment, life is good. Then the little strips of paper and within seconds---RIP! I can't really type the thoughts that went through my head. Oh my word! My left eye started watering like someone had turned on a faucet. It watered so profusely that my eye actually clamped shut. I looked like Rocky. Like I had taken a huge hit. Then my left nostril started dripping. Like, I'm not kidding. The kind of dripping that calls for shoving a Kleenex up your nose.

The stylist said to me, "Wow, I've never seen that kind of reaction before." Well, I said, you won't see it again either! Here's the thing. I didn't even need my eyebrows waxed. They are naturally kind of shaped and thin. No uni brow thing going on. I did it because everyone else does. Well, to answer the proverbial question, if everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you? The answer is no and I now say no to the eyebrow waxing, too. Just writing about this experience brings back a few tears to my left eye.

I really don't judge any one's need to care for their body. People want to look good. Of course we want to smell good and not offend. I truly don't even care if people want to put themselves through some medieval types of maintenance, surgery, whatever, if it makes them feel good. I think that the world is full of beautiful people. I love the variety.

Personally, though, if I'm armed with my chap stick and concealer---ok and a little bit of hair color, I feel pretty good.
© 2010 Ann M. De Broux

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Feeling Disconnected

I'm feeling disconnected a lot lately. I don't mean on the phone or the computer, just in life. I'm almost always a very calm and laid back person. I make decisions and I make them quickly. I use my gut instinct probably 90 percent of the time. I am not analytical. I do not comparison shop. I am always thinking that there is someone that I would like to spend time with, or a book that I would rather read, or a charity I want to work with. I want to hold my almost 17 year old dog more than I want to spend time comparing prices. And I've mentioned before that I really don't shop much anyway, so this not comparing doesn't bother me too much.

What bothers me is not knowing which direction my family is headed. My husband took a job in another town and is enjoying the work. We miss him---a lot. We have our house up for sale because we know that there is not work in our town for him and apparently not for me, either. We have some options, but you see that's what is making me feel disconnected. I don't know where we are going. It's unnerving to not have some kind of idea where you are headed. I can hear it now from many. The future is not mine to choose. Want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans! I've heard these sayings. And to some degree they are all correct.

I guess for the first time in my life, my gut can't tell me much. I haven't trusted it over the past year and maybe this is karma. The moment that we are living right now is sort of like the ninth month of pregnancy. Everything is ready, car seat is installed, feeling uncomfortable---let's get this done! We can't wait for the next chapter. We are fortunate. We are blessed with great family and friends. Scott has a job with benefits. Finances are secure. We have a lot to be thankful for. Just not liking the hurry up and wait mode we're in.

It would be a relief to know what our future holds. But instead of wasting any more time worrying, I'm going to go and hold my old dog and enjoy the moment.
© 2010 Ann M. De Broux

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Commercial Break

Howdy, it's me. So, the other day I kind of got overambitious and wrote two entries to my blog. I'm sort of afraid you'll miss the first one if I don't mention it. It's called, "Yep, It's That Time of Year---Again." I guess it deserves special mention because right now at this very moment I am in the thick of it. Getting ready for the almighty garage sale. Enjoy this glorious Monday. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, it's like 50 degrees out and I'm---you guessed it, in my basement getting ready for the big one!
© 2010 Ann M. De Broux

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Just Call Me Julia!

All right. Sit down. Don't drink anything---for fear of choking or just making a mess. Are you all settled? All dangers of hurting yourself are at bay? We can continue.

I am not a cook and never have been. But I do like to eat. Here's a little personal history for you. My Mom is a great cook! So is my sister. Where did I fall short? They cooked and I set the table. The utensils were placed correctly, napkins folded neatly, nice flower arrangement. And then the three of us would get to talking and I would just sit back and watch the two of them spin their magic.

Fast forward. College. The food at the time was really bad. Mystery meats and such. Captain Crunch for breakfast, salad bar for lunch and dinner. Post graduation. I found myself a job with a restaurant in the building. My favorite benefit to the job. Never kept more than soda and cereal at home. Then I met my man. I had lived in my apartment six months when I met him. We were out on a weekend and brought a frozen pizza home to make. The next weekend we did the same thing. I went to turn the oven on to preheat and much to my amazement it already was---preheated. I had left the oven on all week! I should also tell you that before the pizza incident, the oven had never been on. Remember, I lived in this apartment for six months before meeting the love of my life.

Well, lucky me. I landed a man who can cook. Whew! And he is a great cook. I mean it, I'm not just buttering him up now. But he didn't have the time. So with that little kick in the rear I got somewhat motivated. Love to grill. Crockpots are great. Eating out is ever better, but expensive. So I have finally come to a point in my life where I cook because I have to, and I do it BIG! I bought my big stock pot at Target. It allows me to quadruple soup recipes with nary a spill. Love it. When I buy meat I separate, marinate and freeze. Ready made meals in a jiffy. When I make casseroles, meatloaf, spaghetti, I make amounts like I'm serving a Lenten supper at church and freeze it.

I bake under the same rules. And I'm a huge advocate of the big bowls of fruit and veggies in my kitchen. Plus those heaping bowls of fresh produce double as the centerpiece to my correctly set table!
© 2010 Ann M. De Broux

Yep, It's That Time of Year---Again

What time of year do you say? Rummage sale time. Yes it is. People are itchin' to get out there and find some deals. It's been a long winter and the malls and thrift shops are just not enough anymore. People want to be OUTSIDE experiencing nature while shopping.

So to prepare for this annual event, I have begun to purge and make my separate piles of stuff. I ask myself, where does this stuff come from? I actually don't shop much. Does it reproduce in the dark? Anyway, there's too much stuff in my house and it has to go! For instance, do I need a wreath for every season and holiday of the calendar year? It was cute for a while, but now I'm feeling burdened with wreaths and want to pare down to some classic, multiseasonal ones. Don't get me started on the other holiday decor. There will be much of this available at a very discounted rate also.

Then the kitchen. How many glasses do I really need? I used to have 12 or 16. Can't remember. Some breakage has occurred, mostly at my own hand, and now I'm down to WHAT, 24 glasses? Crud. I think I have done some souvenir shopping along the way and in a weak moment had to get the complete set of Shrek glasses from McDonalds. Really, Ann. Not sounding simple. And pans and trays and bowls. Let me just say this. I will never, ever, in my lifetime have a party that would be big enough to use all of the extra afore mentioned. Geez! I will cater first and buy biodegradible cups, plates, etc.

On to the purses. A woman can only carry one at a time, so to have too many is ridiculous, right? But come on. They always fit. Well I have the solution. I'm not really making a pitch here. But there is this type of purse that you buy "shells" for to change the look. Why don't I think of this stuff. Anyway, I have one---love it. Takes up little space on the closet shelf.

And on to books. There are times in my life when I just have to have the newest release RIGHT NOW. I buy it. I read it. And I pass it on or sell it. Never in my whole life have I reread a book---ok, portions of the Bible, but that's it. So I purge books at this fine time of spring. Not too many though. I tend to use my local library so much more.

After all of the complaining and going through kids clothes and toys and towels, etc. the day is finally here. Please let the weather be great. We always pick up lunch and sit in the driveway chatting in between sales. At the end of the day(or should I say weeks of planning), you hopefully have made enough money to cover the newspaper ad and lunch. You and your house can breathe again.
© 2010 Ann M. De Broux

Monday, March 1, 2010

Olympic Withdrawal

I have a confession to make. I watched more t.v. in the last sixteen days than I may have watched all year. As many of you know, I am a reader. I am in no way anti-t.v. But here's a basic fact that limits my time watching the tube. We don't have cable or satellite or any digital whatever. No, I am not living back in the 60's. Although I sometimes feel that I really was born to be a hippie. We just have chosen to not have cable t.v. We haven't had it for almost 13 years. We've saved a lot of money without cable.

I know I am missing all sorts of programs that make life richer. Truly, I know this. But here's a little cheat. Some of these programs you can see for free on the internet, or you can get the season on DVD at the library. Anyway, I digress. The point I was making is that I LOVED the Winter Olympics this year. I never have before. What changed? What changed was the human interest stories that absolutely made the Olympics real for me. It made the athletes a daughter, a son, wife or a husband, a dad or a mom. It brought the whole deal to my level. Because you see, I am a daughter, a wife and a mom. I could relate. No, not to the training and dedication to a sport that is crazy fast and totally out of my league. But to the fact that these athletes have lives. They have people that support them. They have had loved ones die. They have struggled. That's real.

And the commercials. Does anyone ever tire of hearing Morgan Freeman's voice? They aimed at the same lofty goal. They showed the triumphs and defeat that the athletes go through. And most importantly some really smart ad executives remembered to thank the moms. Simply brilliant!
©2010 Ann M. De Broux

Sunday, February 28, 2010

These Times They Are A Changin'

Does anyone really like change. We all have to live with it. Sometimes on a daily basis. But do we like it? It can make us feel unsure and uncomfortable and down right scared. I love the quote from Rosanne Cash, "The key to to let go of the fear." Easier said than done, right? In the first post to my blog I mentioned something in my life that really ROCKED it. It wasn't just my life---it was my husband and daughter's too. I could even go further and include my extended family. We had a job opportunity that was the perfect situation that you could possibly imagine. Work that my husband is great at, with a company that respects their employees. State of the art equipment and a benefit package that would make you weep.

Then on a dime, at the very last stages of the process, without any explanation things did not work out to our benefit. Devastation isn't even the word that describes what our family experienced. We had been led to believe that this was going to happen. Yes, there were a few final hurdles, but it was looking solid. And then the call or should I say text that read "I'm coming home." A day early. I knew this wasn't good. My husband was back in town within three hours of that text message. No real insight as to what happened. His gut and his analytical mind told him that everything went well. He enjoyed meeting the people he would potentially work with. Liked the facilities. He was getting excited. And then nothing.

Bless the Human Resources person that he worked with because she did stay in contact and answer a few questions for him. She seems so kind and really thought that this was a done deal, too. But through a series of unfortunate circumstances it obviously didn't happen.

So here we embark on a week of change at our house. The first week that my husband starts a new job---away from us during the week. We know that we are fortunate to have a job because many don't. The circumstances are less than ideal, though. We will make the best of it and hope that it turns into something better. We have each other. We have our faith and our health and for all of these things we are grateful. We'll see him on the weekends and holidays. Already planning our first trip to travel and see him. He has a great pool where he's staying. My daughter wanted me to mention that.

I'll close with a quote from Benjamin Franklin, "When you're finished changing, you're finished." Well, Ben, we're not even close to being done yet!
©2010 Ann M. De Broux

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Aren't Gifts Great?

Well, they certainly can be. Then there are those gifts that we have all been given that are not so great. I don't want to step on any one's gift giving abilities, so please take what I am about to say with the knowledge that it is coming from me---the girl who has a tattoo that reads SIMPLIFY! Okay, I should have maybe put that little tidbit about myself in my profile, but I wanted us to get to know each other a little more before I disclosed that information. I fought getting a tattoo for years. So many I knew were getting them. I wanted my tattoo to really mean something to me and I wouldn't get one until I was sure of what that important meaning would be.

So the day came, when I was 37 and approaching 40, you know, in three years, and I had an inspiration. Why not have my tattoo read SIMPLIFY? It is the one word that encompasses all that I believe in. If you clear out the clutter, you feel better. If you donate, you have given to someone. If you take the time to make the time, the important things in life bubble to the top of your list. So I did it. I walked into the parlor and had my word. The artist that had been recommended to me said, "Are you sure you don't want me to jazz it up a bit?'' And then immediately after, "that would just complicate things." l liked this guy right away. He got it.

So, on to gift giving. There are those times when an actual material object is appropriate and genuinely wanted and appreciated. But think about all of the other times. You need a hostess gift. A gift for a client. For your friends, a work gift exchange and the list goes on. How about we start a movement? We only gift consumables? Make it personal if you like. You know the favorite coffee shop that your friend likes---perfect, a gift card. Make it generic if you don't know the person well. Make your famous pickles and gift them. Your friend appreciates this more than there are words in the dictionary to describe. Friend, you know who you are.

So, in a nutshell, spice up some one's day with flowers, gift cards, handmade, home-cooked consumables. They will use these gifts and remember who gave it to them while enjoying it. And by the way, for those of you who don't know, my tattoo is on my shoulder. Smile.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

It's the famous day of hearts. The holiday that you either love or hate. You love it because you are in love or hate it because you're not. It can be almost sickening with all of the cupids, flowers, candy, cards, etc. Sorry to all my friends in the business! I'm going to make a suggestion for this particular holiday. Here goes.

Let's just celebrate each other. Celebrate anyone you like. It can be your neighbor, your friend, your sister/brother, your husband/wife, child, parent, you get it. And I'm going to take a moment to celebrate someone from my past. I'd like to tell you about her. She is the closest thing that I have had to a big sister. We used to live across the street from each other. She never made me feel like I was bothering her. She raised my training wheels up bit by bit until I learned how to ride my bike. She gave me her hand me down jeans that were worn to perfection and man, did I feel cool when I wore them! She makes the best cheesecake. I haven't talked to this person that I celebrate for quite some time. I just found out that she has an inoperable brain tumor. I am so sad. And yet I celebrate her. She fills my heart with her courage. She has put into perspective the stuff I was complaining about yesterday. It doesn't matter that much. It's just life.

That's my simple point for the day. Life is for living and celebrating. Celebrate those that have made a difference for you. Love them. And go ahead and buy the flowers, cards and candy, too!
© 2010 Ann M. De Broux

Thursday, February 4, 2010

One Thing In, One Thing Out

So about three years ago I really did the BIG house cleaning. Call it what you want---spring cleaning, getting ready for the rummage sale cleaning---just know that it was monumental! I have a mantra that helped with this. Is it useful? Is it sentimental? Does it just make me happy? And if all of those questions have been answered and the final cumulative answer is no, then I say, when in doubt, throw it out! Sometimes I mean literally throw it out, like in the garbage. Other times I mean recycle it or donate it.

Now that the BIG clean is done how do you maintain it? That is where the one thing in, one thing out rule comes into play. If I buy a new book, shirt, rug, whatever, I make sure one of the same goes out. This will often stop me from buying in the first place. If the rug in my back hall is perfectly functional and I'm just sick of the color, I try to reason that I don't need to buy a new rug. If I have tried this thought process and I still WANT a new rug, then I clean the old one, donate it and then purchase my new rug.

It really is as simple as it sounds. I do it all of the time.
© 2010 Ann M. De Broux

Monday, February 1, 2010

Twenty-four Hour Rule

Twenty-four hours. One day. Not long at all, right? Unless you're waiting for a favorite someone to arrive on a plane. Unless you are waiting for test results. Then twenty-four hours can feel like an eternity.

So here goes. I need to make my usual trip to the store. You know, Target, Walmart, Shopko, you fill in the blank. I make a list and check it twice. I may know my store so well that I actually make the list follow the floor plan of the store! I'm just saying I'm a little particular. Anyway, off to the store I go. What's the first thing I notice? I left that pretty little list on the counter in the kitchen! Crap. Oh well, I think that I can remember most of it.

First thing I get smacked with is the new holiday stuff in the Dollar Spot. How cute. I've always wanted measuring cups in the shapes of hearts. Wait a minute. I hope that the company that manufactured these cups really measured accurately, otherwise all I'm buying is cuteness. And I also dare say that I don't want to throw off any of the scientific reactions that my recipes call for. Being the fantastic cook/baker that I am (it's o.k. to laugh if you know me) I would hate to have faulty measuring cups in my possession.

Onward. I'm pretty sure I needed paper towels. And Kleenex. Well, I'm right here in the toothpaste aisle I may as well pick up a few tubes. Are we out of mouthwash? Yep, I think so. Lotion aisle. It's winter. Never can have too much lotion. And cold season. Don't get me started. Some pain relievers, cough drops, those little things that cover the tip of our battery operated ear thermometer. I need those, too.

Across the aisle. Look at the new book releases! If I purchase this one I get a $5 gift card with it. Well, I'm always one for a deal. And I'm expanding my mind and educating myself. How can a girl go wrong. Wait. The book I'm buying is the third in a series. Of course I should buy the other two or I won't really get the third book.

I know that I need garbage bags. What? Are you kidding me? There are liners that you put in your crock pot that virtually make for no clean up. Have I been living under a rock? I look down at my cart. It's looking kind of full. I'm pretty sure that I have everything that I came for.

I check out with my favorite gal. She's always so nice and we banter as usual. She gets me. We have the same kind of humor. I like that. I seek her out on purpose. I'll even step back in line and allow someone ahead of me so I can be in her line.

I bust through the back door. Bring in my numerous bags. Empty them and put my purchases away. After I'm done I look over at the counter. Staring me right in the eye is my pretty little list. I do a quick little look-see to compare my receipt with my planned list. Oops. I did remember the garbage bags and paper towels. But I came home with no less that 15 other things that weren't on my list and that I didn't need.

Has this ever happened to you? Me either. I was speaking hypothetically.

So, I came up with the twenty-four hour rule. It starts with TAKE THE PRETTY LITTLE LIST WITH YOU. Then, anything that isn't on the list, think about for twenty-four hours. You think I'm nuts, don't you? Try it some time. Stick to the list. Anything that is an impulse buy---RESIST! A day later you probably won't even remember that you wanted the heart-shaped measuring cups. Think of all of the money and time you will save. I know that I have.
© 2010 Ann M. De Broux

Sunday, January 31, 2010

It's In The Mail

Okay, who of you, have ever misplaced an important piece of paper? Say, for instance the verification of rabies shots for your dogs that you need in order to renew their pet licenses? It was right there on the counter the other day. I set it out for my husband to take to work with him. He was a cop and he could walk our forms and check right up to the front desk and renew the licenses. Sounds convenient, right? Right. So here I was. The last day of renewal was upon us. I reminded him to grab the forms and check, and have a nice day!
I had just gotten a call to sub at school this particular day. Glad I could rely on my husband to help with the licenses. "Where on the counter did you say?" Right there, I said pointing to the leaning tower of pieces of paper. Not seeing the forms he says. What. Come on. Papers start flying every which way. Man. Not the start to the day that I wanted. Worked all day. Stopped at the vet clinic and got new copies of the rabies verification and ran down to get licenses myself. I did all of this to avoid the extra fees I'd have to pay for paying late. Nothing like waiting until the last minute, Ann. No one's fault but mine.
That's it. No more piles simple girl! From that day forward, it hasn't been perfect, but certainly better. My new rule is this: As I am walking back up the driveway after getting the mail, I recycle EVERYTHING that isn't important. It doesn't have a chance to even make it into my house. Sounds simple and it is. It's the first of many things that I will tell you about that have changed my life. It's helped make room for the more important things.
© Copyright 2010 Ann M. De Broux

Fresh Start

Tomorrow is February 1st and I'm admittedly starting the new year a bit late. I was born a simplifier. I must disclaim that I am not a professional. All of the information that I will share is strictly from personal experience and knowledge that I have gained through reading. I have thought about starting a blog for some time, but you know, life got in the way. Well, life was really "rocked" last week (I will share more about that later) and I decided that there is no time like the present! I used the exclamation point there to inspire myself. I'm hoping it works.
© Copyright 2010 Ann M. De Broux