Sunday, March 31, 2013

Family That Works Together

Tonight is the last night of install on J's new set design. The kids and I have been helping J all evening. It has been so much fun!

I used to help J with every install and production before we had children. I even used to run camera and put the images up on the screens. I've assembled par cans, stage directed. Whatever was needed.

This was the first time the kids were old enough to make a real difference. Volunteering is such a part of my personal mission and vision. Volunteering is a way of life for J and me. We are honored to see our kiddos following in our footsteps and giving back.

Mini Me outlasted Motor Mouth by 15 minutes. Nothing better than seeing your kids sleeping in church.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Widney Conduit Cross

I made this!!! It's a Widney original design conduit cross. J began creating crosses using conduit 5 years ago. The Conduit Cross has become one of his signature designs. It's been used in churches all across the nation.

Tonight, I, Widney Woman, made a Widney Conduit Cross!!! This is a small one at almost 7 ft tall - Mini Me is 4-ft tall.

Portrait of Mom

My 10-yr old drew this of me. It's the first time he has drawn a portrait of me.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


We are moving by April 30. We've known our condo was not going to cut it for much longer but we love, love, love our neighbors and the skyline view.

Moving is scary because downtown Chicago is not like anywhere else for housing. Well, maybe New York and Miami. And downtown LA. Most places in the city are a couple blocks away from a bad area. Some places it's a block away and others are the bad block. So not only do we have to look for a place to meet our needs for the next 3-5 years that is easily accessible to both of our places of employment and the kids' school but we have to check to make sure we aren't going to be in the middle of a sketchy area.

I went online and found a great place in an amazing area. Fell in love. They picked someone that can move in April 1. I'm crushed. Crushed. That area was PERFECT for our family.

I've been working 50-60/hr weeks, parenting solo lately, and I have had to add home search and packing to that. I fear I will have very loud, very ugly mental breakdowns every day until after we move. Someone else is going to have to pack the sharp knives.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Where I Belong

I'm in church. But I'm a media wife so my place of comfort is with the audio and video guys. I'm most comfortable in the sound booth, the video suite or behind a TV video camera. So tonight, on the night my husband's new set design goes live, I am where I belong. In the video suite with him.

Believe and Dream

This is Ethan Hallmark. He's 12 and he has been my inspiration for about eight months. Ethan has been battling cancer for pretty much most of his life. He is going for his third remission.

I admire Ethan's strength and faith. Last year was one of our toughest yet. Are the time things got really hard, I found Ethan. He reminds me to believe in a good, loving God and to never give up.

Ethan is on Caring Bridge. I look forward to reading the updates. Praying and believing for Ethan makes life not about me and my troubles. It is a reminder that no matter how bleak, we have to fight. We have to carry on.

Ethan really needs your prayers right now. A LOT! Pray that Ethan's bone marrow improves to the point he can receive the last round of chemo and that the scans after that round will show the cancer has shrunk in his arms.

I've never met Ethan but I love this kid. Ethan Hallmark is my hero.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Flat Stanley Keeps Me Company

J is working on a project and working crazy hours. Flat Stanley is keeping company while I wait for Mini Me's drama rehearsal to end.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Christmas on March 25

I received this quote today from one of our board members. She happened to know that our Christmas tree is still up. LoL! Isn't this perfect!

Mix Match Day

Wednesday was Mix Match Day at school, sponsored by the Middle School Council. J did an amazing job of mix matching!!!

Wine Fairies

We returned home yesterday evening, after a particularly trying weekend and found SEVEN bottles of wine on our doorstep. No note. Just a wine fairy!!! How incredibly amazing is that!!!

We later learned it was from one of our neighbors. Don't you wish you had our neighbors?!

On the Cheap

J and I need to write a book on how to do life, especially in Chicago, on the cheap.

We are part of a babysitting co-op so when we go out on dates we do not have to pay $15/hr for a sitter! It's great for me because I go watch someone else's kids and get time to read, work, crochet by myself.

We used to buy all of our kids' clothes at Gap, etc. Now, J scours our local thrift stores - especially on half price day - and gets the most amazing outfits. ALL of their clothes right now are from thrift stores. You'd never know it!

There are often free days offered to Chicago residents by each museum. You might have to battle more people but its free!!! We also scour the city to get the museum passes we need at local libraries.

Cheap Meals
A local pizza place has $11 pizzas one day/week. We used to have Family Friday Night with pizza but changed it to Mondays because of the deal. Lots of restaurants have kids eat free nights. We have found several restaurants that can feed our family for around $20. Unheard of! Drink water kids.

Thank you Craigslist!!!! We re-decorated our condo using Craigslist. Sold our old furniture, giving us cash to buy new to us furniture. It's where we got a fish tank, moving boxes, and more at great low prices.

Beaches and Piers
We spend a lot of time at Chicago beaches and piers fishing. It's free!!! Well, our kids fish, we don't so it's free.

Get In and Drive!
We drive up north often. We might visit cemeteries or antique stores, hit up a beach or a playground and the kids are happy.

$6 Movies
We get to see first run movies for just $6 at a great theater around the corner from our home. A small popcorn and drink are $7 and refills are free!

Hello! I don't find the deals as amazing as they were two years ago but it's still a savings.

Millennium Park
We grab some sandwiches and a blanket and sit out on the lawn while listening to wonderful musicians and having a free family time. The kids often bring sketch books.

Magnificent Mile
We love walking up and down Michigan Ave. Always something interesting and a different experience each time.

Navy Pier
We go see the fireworks about once a month in the summer. We love walking the pier. It's magical.

Museum Park Campus
Our kids love to run and play along the lake. Sometimes we sit on the steps or take a long walk.

Grab a blanket and take a walk along the lake at night while holding hands and letting the waves lap over your feet. Then camp out on a blanket and watch the boats sailing in the distance.

There are do many gorgeous and creative parks in Chicago! We sit on a bench while the kids entertain us. Sometimes we join them if there aren't too many kids playing.

Chicago is a great, safe place for cyclists.

That's a few of the ways we enjoy our community without breaking the bank. Hope you have fun!!!!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Mom Has No Style

J has been working a lot lately so I have been picking out Mini Me's outfits. Yesterday, she complained when she heard I would be dressing her for a friend's birthday party. I should mention that when she dresses herself you'd think she was a color blind gypsy dressed hurriedly in the dark. Needless to say, I was rather hurt.

Well, this was the result. Silver leggings seemed appropriate for the dance party. Mini Me informed me that she was very pleased with her outfit. As evidenced by this pose she struck.

Flat Stanley Has Money!

I'm sure Flat Stanley is a really sweet guy. That said, his girl looks like she takes a lot a money to maintain...

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Minecraft Birthday Party

Our TEN year old son (green shirt on right) and his classmates LOVE Minecraft!!! I know next to nothing about the game so I Googled Minecraft birthday parties and found easy ideas.

Initially, this was supposed to be a birthday play date with only one friend. But I did something special for our daughter yesterday for her birthday (see my mehndi tattoo post) so adding the two brothers was only fair for Motor Mouth.

This party is the ideal BUDGET Minecraft birthday party. It was cheap and QUICK to execute! I've been working 60 hr weeks and did not have the time to give this party much thought. It was a play date so I did not do goodie bags.

How cheap...? Under $20!!!!! But I already had Sharpies, tape, cups, plates, etc. I would have bought green and black napkins, etc. but initially, this was a play date for two kids. And I would have decorated. Still. You could do this as a color-themed party for 4-8 kids for under $40....? Wow.

None of the boys wanted to leave, my son said it was his best birthday ever, we sent leftovers home with the boys and had enough for Mini Me, me, and J to get some AND we still have more for tomorrow. The boys were full when they left.

I did nothing to plan activities because I suspected that having the Minecraft game on our kids' iPods and computer would be enough to keep 4 ten-year old boys busy for 4.5 hours. And it did.

Bonus: Guests brought their Kindle and played together via network for last 30 minutes.

1 Red Twizzlers family pack
1 Black Twizzlers pack
1 sheet blank white paper
Black Sharpie
5 red Twizzlers, cut in half and bundled with printer paper cut in strips and taped. I wrote "TNT" on the strips first in black Sharpie. 1 black Twizzlers either cut in half or smaller pieces. Stick black licorice in center of bundle but make it stick out a but. I could have printed the "TNT" using a computer but my printer is running low on ink.
(Makes approx. 12 if you don't love Twizzlers and eat as you go...)

1 vanilla pudding mix (3 cups milk)
1 pack of regular Oreos
Green food coloring
Black Twizzlers licorice
Rolling pin
Clear glass or plastic cups
I crushed 2 rows of Oreos. Make pudding. Add a LOT of green food coloring to pudding. (Usually I make pudding from scratch but instant just takes 3 minutes to make.) Pour the crushed Oreos in the cups. Add green pudding on top. CHILL!!! Cut black licorice (you need tiny and longer pieces). When ready to serve, place Creeper shape over the pudding. Otherwise the licorice is hard to eat.
(Serves 8)

1 Brownie Mix (2 eggs, oil, water)
1 Tub of Icing
Green food coloring
Black licorice
Bake brownies. Allow to cool. Pour (yes, pour) green food coloring into icing tub. Stir well. Slather. Chill. Cut licorice for Creeper (need little and bigger pieces). Cut brownies in pieces. Plate. Make Creeper on top.
(Makes approx. 16 huge slices)

Sliced Bread
Innards of your choosing
Condiments to compliment innards
Make the sandwiches, cut off the crusts, slice in squares (cubes really). Arrange on plate. The boys inhaled these. Literally.

Note: I used sliced turkey with the choice of mustard and/or mayo because I forgot about this and that's what I had in my fridge. But if I didn't throw it together and if adults were coming I'd do a mix of dark rye bread with fillings like spinach and artichoke dip or cucumber or a variety of deli meats.

2 liter of Orange Pop (Crush/Fanta)
Clear cups
About 45 minutes before the first guests were to arrive, Motor Mouth told me I should have gotten orange pop for the lava in the game. So I ran and got it 5 minutes before the first guests were scheduled to arrive.

I swear I saw someone online had lemonade at their Minecraft party! But my son was confused as to why I was serving lemonade. So just skip it. Or drink it yourself because, like me, you love lemonade.

Empty box
Exacto Knife
Wrapping paper or construction paper
Green paper
Microwave Popcorn
Google Creeper images. Save an image. Use Word, Pages, etc. to place image in center of page. Print as many pages as you have party guests. Sealed box opening. Cut 1.5"x1.5" squares in bottom of box in a straight line. Space squares about 5-6" apart. Wrap with wrapping paper or Minecraft colored squares. Curve green paper with Creeper logo into a cone with one closed end. Tape seam. Place sealed end in box with 1" holes. Pop popcorn. Fill cones with popcorn.

You can look up my "Sonic Birthday Party" and "70's Peace Sign Birthday" to see what this looks like implemented.

All in all, a good day was had. I feel relaxed and chill. WoW!!!

Mehndi Birthday

Mini Me got a Mehndi tattoo! Her eye therapy doctor is getting married (look at that ring) and came in after one of her engagement parties with a henna tattoo. Mini Me loved it!!

So, as Mini Me has graduated from the therapy program and it was her birthday this week and Mini Me didn't complain at homework time, she got a henna tattoo!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Liking the Ladies

Flat Stanley likes the ladies and the ladies like Flat Stanley!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


We are so very blessed to have the neighbors we do. We know all the neighbors on our floor by name and many of the neighbors on the other floors. Most of our neighbors could easily be called aunt or uncle. They love our kids and treat them so well.

And so it is with Law Lady and Photog. They are more than neighbors. They are familia!

Tonight, they brought over birthday presents for both kids. It's Mini Me's bday today. They gave her a Barbie doll that has purple hair, one has a red strip in her hair and another is wearing a shirt with Mini Me's name on it. So not only so they our kid, but they get her, too!!!

We LOVE. LOVE. LOVE our home community.

My Baby Turns 7 Today!

Mini me turned 7 today. She makes it clear that she turned 7 at 2:01 pm like the day she was born.

Today we celebrated with Mini Me's best friend. They are dressed crazy because it was Mix-Match day at school.

Happy Birthday to my precious baby girl!!!

Raggedy Ann Crochet Hat

I made this!!!

This was so easy. I started at about midnight and I put finishing touches on before 2:00 am. 

On January 6, I said I should make this for someone's baby. And I did!!! I can't believe it. It was SO easy!

And inexpensive! Two balls of bulky red and cream (#5) yarn (on sale $2.49x2), 3 sheets of felt ($0.34x3), blue ribbon ($0.50), my N needle, my embroidery needle, and my trusty glue gun. So $7 plus two hours of my time. And the pattern was $1. So $8 plus time. 

I can make 1-2 more hats with my cream yarn. Need more ribbon. A spool is only about $2.99 though. All other supplies are in abundance. 

Here is the link to the pattern. You can make various sizes. Good luck!!! 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Flat Stanley

This is Flat Stanley. He is a fun guy that likes to have his photo taken in all kinds of places. This is my BFF's favorite chair in my home.

Be sure check back to see Flat Stanley's adventures!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Happy St. Patty's Day

Shamrock Pancakes for dinner. Would have been for breakfast but I was exhausted.

The time change has kicked my butt!!! Add to that a 13-hour day helping with our annual fundraiser and I let the kids fend for themselves this morning. I did watch Brave with the kids and Motor Mouth laid on me and slept for two hours. I didn't dare move. My boy will be 10 in a week. Not sure how often he will be sleeping on his momma in the future.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Book Reading

I had the honor of attending my dear friend, Mary Anne Mohanraj's book reading on Friday evening.

First, I have to say what a treat it was to even be able to attend. Many of MAM's readings are in Oak Park or on the other side of town. This one at Powell's Books in UIC was walking distance from our home. I REALLY wanted to go but didn't even mention it to J because he has been working so much and had to go back in to work Friday evening. I didn't want to stress him out by asking him to parent while I went and had fun.

On Friday morning J texted to ask if I was planning on going to MAM's book reading. I told him no and why. He is so wonderful to me!!! J said he wanted me to go and he made it possible for me to do so.

I met MAM and Dipika for dinner first. Finding a great Indian restaurant (located in Powell's) in the process.

MAM is in the process of writing a memoir on love and love for country. Beautiful stuff. Listening to her read Chapter Two, set in her birthplace of Sri Lanka, made me think of my birthplace of Trinidad.

I wonder how will it be to return to Trinidad with J? What would J's impressions of this island nation be? Would he be judgmental of the people or embracing? It's been over 25 years since I was there as a teenager. MUCH has changed. I am a foreigner to my birth country that I left at age two. I really want to visit Trinidad now!

Divorce Money

I was thinking today about my friend, DDA. DDA and I worked together in Tulsa. One day she shared her story with me. DDA told me about her husband and his womanizing ways. That he had had several affairs and finally SHE left HIM.

DDA was LIVID. She set out to destroy her husband. She called his boss. She told friends, family, strangers, his co-workers horrible things about him. They were kinda sorta true but not really true. Basically, DDA would tell anyone she could about how mean her husband was to her. How HE abandoned her. About his affairs. How he used to beat her. What a terrible father he was. It's a wonder she was so angry - you'd think she would have been ecstatic to be rid of him.

DDA knew that she could hit him where it counted. In his wallet.

One day, DDA showed up at his job. She caused a SCENE. Her husband, GA, took her aside and told DDA this basically:

"I know you are hurt and angry. But I also know that you have not worked for most of our marriage and that you are going to need alimony. If I lose my job, there is not going to be any alimony for you. So I suggest you stop trying to make me out to be a bad guy and trying to hurt me financially."

DDA realized he was right. She stopped her smear campaign. She stopped trying to hurt him financially.

GA lived up to his side. He took care of her financially. They ended up going to counseling. They ended up staying married. That was about 20 years ago. They are still married. Heck, they went on to be one of the BEST marriage counselors at our old church.


Looking at the week(s) ahead, I am overwhelmed. I just want a Saturday when I can sleep in and do nothing all day. 

This month we have had a swim meet followed by a bowling party or babysitting or a big fundraising event. Next Saturday we have Motor Mouth's birthday and a friend's bday party. 

On their own, these days are manageable but when I factor in my evening work meetings and J's work schedule we won't see each other!

I'm going to purpose to make April a work and evening/weekend free kinda month. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I Am Good.

Each evening as we sit together for our family dinner, we take turns sharing our "Top 3" for the day. Monday evening my last item was that I felt good. Just really felt good.

Nothing hurt. I wasn't exhausted. I wasn't sad. I wasn't jumping from the rooftops happy either. I just. Felt. Good.

You ever just feel good? As in, you stop and take account of how you are actually feeling and how you are doing in your head and in your heart.

There are the times when you get a paper cut on your pinky finger which reminds you that you actually have a pinky finger. Or you have a really painful zit at the base of your right nostril and for a day, you remember that you have a right nostril.

Most times, unless we are in pain or discomfort, most of the time we don't realize we have 2001 body parts. Shout out to the good folks at Lever body soap counted.

Anyway, I felt good. I took the time to take stock of my body and my life and realize that I'm doing good. I'm good.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Great Weekend

I had a really wonderful weekend. It started on

I helped a friend for a little bit. She twisted her ankle and her husband was out of town for the weekend. Not sure how much I really helped but I was able to do her dishes and my kids played with her kids while she and I got caught up on each other's lives.

We went out to the suburbs and enjoyed a great lunch at Baisi Thai in Oakbrook. J had a Groupon so we pretty much just got an amazing meal for the price of a tip!

We made a quick detour to our friend's home. She recently redecorated her son's bedroom. I LOVE what she did in there!!! It is 100% her son. Everything he loves is in his room and makes up his room. We only had 15 minutes to visit. Short and sweet. Too short!!!!

Afterwards, the kids and I babysat my other friend's kids. We had a nice time! J got a chance to get work done.

We went over to MAM's. As usual, it was great. We got a chance to talk to people we had not seen in months - all people we know through MAM. Some of whom are real friends of ours now.

It was brief, but our friend LRD was there - she got a book deal!!! I got to spend time with my former boss and his girlfriend. Love, love, love them. Hey! MAM got a book deal too!

All of this and I got a TON of work done AND I'm organized and ready to tackle the week ahead.

(Pic of me and MAM)

Sunday, March 10, 2013


I have self-diagnosed ADD. My mind races at a million miles a minute and I hop from one thing to the next. It's frustrating as Hell to get things done. I manage but I use a LOT of organizing tricks. Needless to say, I'm always on the look out for something new or a reminder of something I can repurpose.

This week, I came across one of Michael Hyatt's organization blog posts. (There's a link to his blog in my Blog Roll.) Basically, Michael said he sorts his to do list into 3 priority categories, 1 being most urgent, 2 being important and 3 not important at all. He tackles his 1's, moves to his 2's, and maybe gets to some of his 3's in a day.

I tried his system today. It was HARD!!! I FORCED myself to sort my work into 3 piles. The hard part was not starting in on stuff before I was done sorting. I went a step further and made a list of my to do's and stuck the list on each pile - I have big, ruled sticky notes so I can easily make lists.

It was a weight off!!! I feel focused and able to tackle the important items without losing sight of the lesser items. I knocked out half my 1 list today (Saturday).

Tomorrow I plan to set a timer for each of the writing projects I have. I need to finish up a quarterly newsletter and write a script for phase one of a video project. Then it's on to 50 note cards. Lots of writing!

My goal is to spend 1-2 hours daily at a coffee shop in our building so I can have focused work time without interruptions.

Anyway, I'm excited to see how this works on Monday when I'm in the office and facing a bunch of interruptions!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

What a Month!

February has flown by! I realize it is short a few days and that in most months today would be the last day. But still.

J started a new job. Recruiting season is in FULL force. Motor Mouth had 3 big projects. Mini Me was a challenge in school. Winter Break. Swim season wrapped up today with the A City Championships. I've been struggling with a morphing bug. And it actually snowed in Chicago for the first time all season.

J's Job
I am a single married person again. J has been working in the evenings after a full day so I am left to my own devices and alone with the kids. The kids are still alive. Part of me hates being here alone. In the fall, it wasn't so bad b/c King was over here so much. Now it is just me and the fishes. Literally. Part of me loves it b/c I have been working guilt-free after the kids go to bed. And reading.

Recruiting Season
I can't give specifics but lets just say that it's shaping up to be another great year!!!

3 Projects
Motor Mouth had a Geometric City project that I think is uber amazing for the teacher to have come up with. They had to create a map of a city using geometric shapes and had numerous criteria including the number of parallel and perpendicular streets. The kids ALL did a great job letting their personalities shine through. The coloring set that Usher gave him for Christmas is really getting use!

Motor Mouth also has a States Project. It's multi-part. They were each assigned a state to research. Massachusetts is what my boy got. He had to draw a map of his state with detailed land masses, rivers, etc. and a legend/key. On the 28th he turned in a travel brochure he created and next week, he has to have his persuasive essay completed.

Mini Me Challenge
This is a blog post on its own. Check back.

Winter Break
The kids were off school for a week. They needed the break! So did I. I worked from home and got a lot of work knocked out. It was great. I invited kids over for play dates so my kids were engaged and happy while I worked.

Swim Season
So swim season is kinda over. Motor Mouth finished at the top in his league in the City Championships. VERY proud of his hard work!!! Swimming is not Mini Me's thing. However, she did a GREAT job today to help her relay team win a gold medal.

Morphing Bug
So I thought what I had was allergies. It went all over the place for weeks! Pretty much the whole month. Then last weekend, I lost my voice. For realz!!! On Monday, I didn't talk at work. I only talked to my boss in our weekly mtg and that was it. I HAD to save my voice for tours on Tuesday and Wednesday.

I seriously suspect that Tulsa got more snow than we did this whole winter. When it snowed a few times this month, it was like people had no clue how to drive. We have had two really mild winters in a row. Maybe people have forgotten the Blizzard of 2010!

So that has been our month. My month. We still have our Christmas Tree up!

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

I never really cared for Dr. Seuss books as a child. Hated them, really. But as an adult I have come to appreciate them. And I've been known to rather enjoy some of the movies from his books.

So, kisses Cat in the Hat!!! And Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!!!