Tag Archives: 2013

I’m Relocating!!

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But just online… 🙂

I’ve been handing out business cards with a new website URL on them for several months, so it’s high time I got it set up, don’t you think?? So, here it is…

www.SeeLaurieWrite.com

The new website is a .com, which looks a little more legit than a .wordpress.com site (in my humble opinion), and now that I’m getting my freelance business off the ground, I thought it was time. I considered leaving all the old content here and starting fresh there, but then I thought I may as well carry all my building blocks with me. Some of my older posts here are pretty rough (who knew visuals made such a difference!?) and I’ll continue to improve my content and style as I go along, but a little history never hurt anybody.

If you are signed up to receive notices via email when I post a new entry (You’re awesome! Thank you!!), it looks like those connections did not transfer over to the new site. Please visit me at my new site, take a look around, sign up to get updates, and feel free to let me know what you think of the place. I still have a few tweaks to make… curtains to hang and ottomans to pick out… but it’s mostly done.

Onward and upward, friends!!

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The Ovaries Know

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I don’t think it was coincidence that my ovaries started hurting as I listened to the stories told at last night’s Listen to Your Mother show. Ever since I delivered my third child, my Girl Parts have been a bit more outspoken… letting me know how they’re doing and what they’re up to more often than  I’d prefer. I’m terrified  they will demand their own Twitter account. But last Listen to Your Mother 2013 logonight as my gut started to ache, I had to smile grimace and accept that they were simply in sync with the flood of estrogen that was washing over everyone in the audience. Even those sitting at the top of the gymnasium style pull-out bleachers. It was that deep. It was a show of ovarian solidarity fist-pumping, I suppose.

As many of my readers know, I lost my mother to brain cancer a few years ago. And as others may know, I am the “nonnie” of an almost-3-year-old red-headed spitfire I call the Grand-cuteness. She and her mama are still living at home with us, and the process of preparing them for independence has been slow and, at times, extremely frustrating. Sometimes I even forget to think she’s cute – but not often. My other daughter is about to leave for basic training with the United States Army, and my 8-year-old son can be the light of my life and the bane of my existence on any given day. Sometimes, within the same quarter hour.

So, I went to the show last night fairly confident that there wouldn’t be many subjects covered in the stories told that I hadn’t faced or forgotten about myself as a mother, daughter and woman. But as the show progressed it was obvious I was wrong, and my ovaries knew it.

As with any show about motherhood, there were funny stories and poignant stories and fabulous shoes. Some stories I could empathize with directly as I thought to myself “Preach it sister!”, but others I could only sympathize with, as I had no direct experience with mothers with mental illness, the difficulty some women have getting pregnant, or the emotions that consume the mother of a seriously ill child or one who loses a child.

The women who told their stories last night did so with incredible grace, humor, and strength. Each of them had something important to share, and the lessons were not only applicable to mothers. Humankind, it turns out, is universal. The things we learn from our children and pass on to them as they are growing into adulthood (and even throughout adulthood, if my family is any example) are important to us as fellow humans. Storytelling, in general, is a vital resource of information, compassion, and equity for our species and I am so pleased to see it being cared for and preserved in this event.

Lela Davidson and Stephanie McCratic are the forces of nature that brought this show to Northwest Arkansas for the first time last year and again this year. They both blog and write and get some national attention for doing so, but I am most grateful to them for what they are doing through LTYM. It makes a difference to the women who participated, to the audience who appreciated, and – most importantly in my opinion – to the society that is rejuvenated by the community of humans it creates.

Ladies of the podium – I, and my ovaries, thank you.

War Horse: This ain’t your grandma’s puppet show!

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When I was a little girl I was probably similar to most little girls (except taller) in that I went through a Horse Phase. If you were a little girl once, you probably know what I’m talking about. My mom had sketches of horses in her keepsake box, I have a copper rubbing of a horse in mine. I read Misty of Chincoteague over and over again. One of my daughters read every book about horses she could find. It’s just a girl thing. Like boys who go through a dinosaur phase. 🙂

Years later, I became a lover of all things having to do with the stage. I acted, I sang, I danced, I worked on sets and costumes… I fell in love with the magic and the escapism and the alternate reality that was possible when the design and dialogue combined successfully. When done right, a stage production can suspend disbelief of its audience like no blockbuster movie ever can.

Last year, I learned that this season’s Broadway Series at Walton Arts Center would include the highly acclaimed show, War Horse. It swept the 2011 Tony Awards, it had been made into a major motion picture, and now it was coming to Northwest Arkansas. This show combined some of my favorite things about theater, AND it was about horses! It was a no-brainer that I wanted to see it. When I spotted The Making of War Horse on Netflix, I watched in fascination as they described the process of finding a story that would be able to be told with puppets, convincing the author it would work, and training the cast and puppeteers to make it happen. If I wanted to see it before, that documentary reinforced my fascination.

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I can’t really put into words how much I loved this show. I was enthralled. I was blown away. I was even verklempt at some of the emotional parts of the story. I found myself believing that the movements of the puppeteer who controlled the horse’s head were actually caused by the horse itself. As if the puppeteer was being pulled and moved by the puppet, not the other way around. The ear twitches and head flicks, the snorts and the tail swishes, they all combine to bring the horse to life like you wouldn’t think possible. It was simply riveting theater. I smiled through the entire production for the sheer joy of it. Well, except during the emotionally difficult scenes – of where there are a few. The story does depict a war, after all.

My 8 year old son was my date for the show, and he was also riveted by the production. (His favorite part was the goose. :)) He was able to follow the story and only occasionally had to ask who the characters were when there were several people on stage in uniform. He understood some of the nuances of the story, and I attribute his comprehension to the outstanding story-telling that was done by the puppeteers, the design of the show, and the cast. I think I could see this show over and over again, like some people used to go see the musical Cats back in the day. It’s just that good.

If you have seen the movie version of War Horse, you’ll be familiar with the story, but I still encourage you to see the stage production. The things that the cast and designers do with minimal sets and outstanding lighting and sound design will amaze you. It’s worth the ticket price, I guarantee. Given the scale of the show, you may even be better off in the back of the theater where the available tickets are, because you’ll want to take in the entire view of the stage. Tickets are on sale through the box office at 443-5600 or online here. It’s only in town for a couple more days – so don’t miss out!

In addition to the fascinating production, Walton Arts Center is featuring some fantastic public art during the annual Artosphere FestivalThe Herd is making it’s way through the lobby… Sun Boxes are singing on the plaza (here’s a video!) and I always love to see the Stickworks figures that I helped create for last year’s Artosphere. So much awesome in one place!

The Herd at Walton Arts Center

Stickworks at Walton Arts Center

Have you seen War Horse? Share your impressions of the show!

Cheaper Than a New Car

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Maybe it’s a natural result of having kids. Maybe we’re just a lazy family. It doesn’t really matter what behavior leads to the smell… it turns out that on any given day my car and my husband’s truck may just have a funky odor. I’ve frantically thrown everything out of my car before looking for THAT SMELL, and rejoiced upon finding a half-full container of orange juice. If you don’t know what spoiled orange juice smells like, believe me when I say it’s not something you want in the 8×6 box that is the interior of your car. Nasty.

So the other day when I climbed into my husband’s truck for an afternoon drive and immediately thought “what’s that smell??” I knew it was time to do something about this apparently chronic issue. We just paid our last car payment, so a new one was out of the question. I was going to have to settle for a #FresherCar. I ran by my local Walmart supercenter at lunch the next day to peruse the air fresheners, and came across air filters. Did you know that the interior of your car is called a “cabin”… just like a boat or a plane?? Yeah, neither did I! More importantly, I found out that there are air filters in our cars that are made to be changed regularly to keep the air inside the cabin clean. I have owned lots of cars, and this is a fact that somehow eluded me. I hope I’m not alone here… feeling like a girl. 🙂

So I found these FRAM Fresh Breeze cabin filters, and they claim to clean the air 6 times better than standard cabin air filters because they use Arm & Hammer baking soda. Just like grandma used to put in the fridge. If grandma used it, it’s gotta be good.

FRAM Fresh Breeze air filter

There was a little catalog hanging off the shelf to help analog users look up the make and model of their vehicle… but do you see the little QR code there on the box? Yeah, I whipped out my iPhone and pulled up my ScanLife app… I feel all hip and tech-savvy when I have a chance to use it. It’s the little things, people.

And what do you know – that little code took me to the FRAM app and let me look for the correct filter number right there. And even better – it included an installation video! We were in business – and that filter was in my cart. (For a complete ride-along of my shopping trip to Walmart, check out my Google+ album here.)

FRAM Fresh Breeze app

The box promised a 15 minute installation, and of course I’m assuming that’s an optimistic prediction. But seriously, it only took me 12 minutes to pop that thing in. I had to un-hinge the glove box (easy), and pull out the old filter… gross… it might be hard to tell, but the one behind is the original (which had probably been in there since we bought the truck) and it was full of grit and bits and nastiness. Can you see the sparkly shine on the new one on top? Maybe it was late and I was hallucinating a little…

FRAM filter vs. old filterJust slide it in and close her up, and we’re done!

FRAM filter install

Have you used the FRAM Fresh Breeze filters? Go check out the FRAM Facebook page and let them know what you thought. And if you’re shopping for filters, be sure to take advantage of this rebate offer! They’ve got my DIY-friendly vote, for sure. And I am definitely looking forward to my next Sunday drive.

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias® and FRAM #cbias #SocialFabric

A Sunday drive.

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We’ve been looking around for a parcel of land that will provide a little place to go camp, hike, stargaze, hang out and listen to birds and breezes… all for under $20,000 and within an hour of our house. High hopes much?? 🙂 So every now and then the hubster finds a couple of contenders and we head out on an adventure to find the listed property and decide if it’s worth keeping in the contenders column or if the description is highly creative.

Most of the time the places he finds are off a dirt road (always a good sign!) and often the map online doesn’t quite match the roads we have to travel. Today was one of those days. One of the properties had some breathtaking views, but we had to put the truck in 4WD and low gear to get up the road to reach it. While it would be a great place to hike, and there was a cleared area to pitch a tent, we’d really like to find something that we could invite friends to, and all of our friends don’t own 4WD vehicles. So, it’ll be on the “it’d perfect if…” list.

Elkins, AR mountain views

While we were walking the property I got a little melancholy, thinking about the land my grandparents owned. It was wooded, with some pasture where they raised cattle and grew a gorgeous big garden. The spring breaks I spent there were full of wildflowers, fossil hunting, and learning about the bird calls and plants we found on our walks in the woods.

On the property we visited today there were trilliums growing, and shelf fungus… wild violets and lichens. As we drove down the dirt roads I lusted after large flat rocks that had recently been unearthed by the road grater. They reminded me of drives I took down the roads near my previous house (built on my grandparents’ former clover field that they grew for their honey bees). I wasn’t too proud to throw rocks for my garden into the back of my Subaru.

I also smiled at the sight of mayapples in the understory that are just starting to pop up. When my daughters were small we walked in the woods that I walked as a kid, and we told stories about the fairies who lived under the mayapples and played in and around the tree roots in the dry creek bed. I’m still dealing with unresolved feelings about having to let my mom’s house, which was formerly my grandparents’ house, go back to the bank after mom  died. Some days, not being able to take my son and grand-daughter for walks in those woods really burrows deep in my bones and makes me angry. There’s no one to be angry at, of course, so I have to let it go. But a walk in the woods brings those feelings up out of my bones a little.

Doe, a deer.

Maybe we’ll find our own property covered with mayapples and trillium… peppered with perfect flat rocks just begging to go into my garden. My son can learn the difference between the hoot of a barred owl and a barn owl and understand that “No Service” is a blessing, not a curse. We’ll just keep taking drives on Sundays and hiking the back roads until we do.

Tools to keep us sane (relatively).

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I’ve shared before that my husband and I have been making some changes in our diets and activity levels due to my husband’s brush with high blood pressure and diabetes last year. I’m happy to report that the Hubs has been super-committed and has lost over 40 pounds just by exercising more and cutting back on his portion sizes and intake of starches. He’s been using an Atkins-inspired diet plan and I’m so proud of his progress so far. His A1c level has gone from 10+ last year to just over 5 in January.

I doubt I’m the only wife who feels like they have to be prepared at any moment to step in and rescue our husbands when they have neglected a Very Important Thing. Sometimes (most of the time, probably) the Very Important Thing isn’t potentially life-threatening… picking up milk on the way home, or scheduling an oil change. But sometimes the Very Important Thing is, in reality, VERY IMPORTANT.

Now, any given day at my house, we’re looking at this pile of laundry… (yes, that’s a pool table underneath… we’re busy around here!)

Laundry makes me crazy

… and this selection of medication on my husband’s side of the bathroom vanity (yes, that’s the 9th Dr. overlooking the scene – we’re busy geeks around here!).

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So, you can imagine that when I find an app that I can load on my phone and that will make a Very Important Thing in my life a lot easier, I’m all about it.

One particular panic moment occurred soon after my husband’s diagnosis with diabetes. He was already headed out of town on a business trip and realized that he hadn’t ordered a prescription he couldn’t afford to miss. He was kind of freaking out, but I remembered that I had the Walgreens mobile app loaded on my phone. I told him to just get on his flight and let me take care of it.

The Walgreens app allows users to load prescriptions for other people – perfect for parents, spouses, or caregivers who are taking care of someone else’s prescriptions. I pulled up my husband’s prescriptions, found a Walgreen’s near his hotel, and sent the Very Important prescription he needed there. He picked it up after dinner that night and never missed a dose. I think he was fairly impressed.

I’ve added my husband’s prescriptions to my account on the app (easy to do – just follow directions on the app) and I can pull his list up on my phone with a simple drop down menu:

Walgreen's Prescription App Family Member RefillOnce the prescription has been filled and is waiting for me, I get a text message on my phone to let me know – these alerts are easy to set up in the app as well:

Walgreen's Prescription Alert on iPhone

You can also schedule reminders to nudge you to get your kids vaccinated on time, and even set a timer to remind you to take your meds every day. What do you bet someone’s wife came up with this app?? LOL! #Happy#Healthy

Before I headed to pick up my prescription I also used the shopping list available on the app to remind myself that it’s time to touch up my roots and I needed to pick up some sugar-free candy for my office (low carb, remember?).

Walgreen's App Shopping List Feature

But I’m not saying this wasn’t tempting… Damn you, Easter Bunny!!

Easter Candy at Walgreen'sI found these warmers at a ridiculous price and had to pick one up. I’m sorry, but less than $6.00??? Um, YES.

Harmony Home Warmer Sale Walgreen'sI checked my Walgreens Rewards Points and kept an eye out to see if anything I had on my list had points available. Most of the items that offer points do so by 1000-2000 at a time, and you only have to reach 5000 points to get $5.00 off your next purchase.

Walgreen's Rewards Points AppMy youth-in-a-bottle didn’t have any points attached today, but it’s a couple of dollars cheaper than I see it elsewhere, so I’m still happy. 🙂 Mission accomplished, and I’m able to check a few things off my to-do list. But of course, the laundry is still on the pool table… 🙂

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community.  This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias® and Walgreens. Even so, the opinions are my own and I use the Walgreens Mobile App for realz. #cbias #SocialFabric

Now all I need is motivation.

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As I shared last month, I have signed up for Ali Edwards’ One Little Word project. I chose the word “listen”, but after thinking on it for a while, decided it wasn’t really the word I needed to focus on. I’m changing my word to Create.

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I started putting together my list of intentions for the year – one for each month – and am really excited about the ideas they are putting in my head. I’ve noticed one difficulty; I want to do them all THIS MONTH. But that would kind of screw up the whole idea of focusing on one at a time and managing them thoughtfully and with intent. So, I will try to follow a schedule like this:

January  Create: A Plan – ‘nuf said

February Create: Intimacy – Spend more time on my marriage with date night plans, weekends away and “honeymoon” conversation about dreams and plans for the future

March Create: Order – Clean my craft room, closets, drawers, laundry room, and bathroom pantries and update my blog calendar (and stick to it!)

April Create: Health – Start planning menus to embrace our new diet needs and put together a regular exercise routine for myself

May Create: Community – Connect with other artists and crafters in Northwest Arkansas to help facilitate a support network 

June Create: Peace – Schedule time for yoga or tai chi every week, or make time for quiet reading and brainstorming ideas for writing

July Create: Time – Organize household chores by day of the week and stick to the schedule; make efficiency (clothing put away, lunches made night before, waking up earlier)

August Create: Opportunity – Tell EVERYONE I’m a writer and maker, and find connections in the community who can offer me opportunities to move toward a free-lance career

September Create: Words – Write, write and write some more; write poetry; work on my story

October Create: Art – Work on handmade gifts; try new mediums (oil paint, jewelry, screenprinting)

November Create: Memories – Cookbooks for siblings using family recipes; sort mom’s photos and scan to discs; spend time with my kids and grandbaby

December Create: Future – Holiday tradition-making; look back on 2013 and look forward to 2014

See what I mean? There are several things listed later in the year that I want to work on now. I suppose that I can keep all of these in mind every month, but put a gold star on the list beside an individual one each month.

What goals are you working on this year? Are you doing anything similar to One Little Word? Link to your blog here so we can follow you!