Saturday, February 15, 2014

Queen for a day!

A couple of weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to feel like a queen for a day!  The woman who does my hair (and my friend), Brianna Phlipot, owns the Looking Glass Salon and Spa in Minster.  One day on her Facebook page, she requested volunteers for a makeover at an event they were going to.  Without even thinking, I responded with a "Pick me!".  (After I thought about it, I wondered what I did, but it was too late!)

A week or so later, she contacted me and asked if I really wanted to do it.  I told her that if she had others, I would be fine, and she should ask them.  She told me she thought that I would be fun and wanted me to do it.

I agreed.  I went to her salon for a consultation.  I'm usually pretty agreeable when it comes to ideas of cut and color, because my theory is that it is hair and, while everyone sees it, it will eventually grow back and/or we can recolor it.  However, they were pulling out strands that I wasn't sure were "me".  But, I promised myself that I was "theirs".  They were the professionals and whatever they wanted to do was going to be what I wanted to do!!!  So, they picked colors, I agreed, and we had a plan.

Next up was shopping.  Boy, was that fun!  Again, I decided that I would let them pick what I was going to wear.  I was really going out of the box on this one!  I didn't have to buy the clothes if I didn't like them, so that made it easier to go along with.  Of course, I was shopping with someone much younger than me who could wear cute things like dresses with boots, so I would hurry and put something on just to see what she was trying on!!  We ended up finding a super cute outfit that was comfy, too.

Our original date was postponed because the weather did not cooperate.  So, I had an extra week to get myself mentally ready!!!

Of course, on the original date, we had a clear calendar.  On the rescheduled date, Jim and I had tickets for the afternoon production of "Sister Act" at the Schuster Center.  So, that made for an interesting day!  I packed my bag in the morning before we left, as I knew time would be tight.  We saw the show (which was wonderful, by the way!)  After the show, we hightailed it out.  Thank goodness we had fabulous seats, so we were among the first to the parking garage.  We jumped in the car and departed.  I waved to the University of Dayton campus, sad that we didn't have time to stop and say hi to Sarah!  Once on the interstate, I changed my clothes ;) -- that was fun and adventurous!!  I would tell Jim to slow down or speed up so I didn't scare anyone on the highway!!!

We decided on the way that we didn't really have time to go home and drop Jim off, so I dropped him at his parents (which was on the way) and went on my merry way!

I was a little later than I thought and had the girls worried, but I didn't miss anything when I got there.  We took a few "before" pictures and then went out on stage to show everyone in attendance our "before".  Here's mine:

Man, do I take a great "before" picture!!!  LOL  

So, off we went.  Jenna did my hair (which also made me a bit nervous, because Bri always does my hair.  I was definitely out of my comfort zone for the evening.).  Please note -- there were no mirrors present for the evening.  I did not know what was happening, with the exception of seeing hair on the floor and people around me saying it was looking good!

Here are a few photos from throughout the evening:

Here we go!  Jenna and I.  I look like a little girl with my pig tails!  I got my hair cut first, while the others got their color on first.

I think his name was John?  The only guy -- he got his hair cut off and his beard shaped up.  (I was showing my age because I wanted them to shave the beard!)
 Starting to take shape with the cut.  Look at those roots on that girl!
 Bye bye hair :(
A little color on the hair and brows to make them match.  This is when I knew I was getting a truly different color, when they wanted to dye the brows, too!
The "other" Stacy getting her hair blown dry.  We joked all evening because there were two Stac(e)ys.  I even asked if they would play "Stacy's Mom" when I walked out, because even though I wasn't old enough to be their mother, I felt like it!  LOL
 What a great cut she was getting!  (This is the Locks of Love Stacey).
 Our makeshift rinsing station.  It was comfy (not!).
 Love these girls.  We truly had so much fun that night!  Not my greatest shot, but oh, well.
 The "view" from my rinsing seat at Romer's.  LOL!
 Love these guys!

Remember I am taking these photos without looking at them.  It was so funny to see the first time I actually looked through them!  Blowing my hair dry -- Jenna liking the color!
 Melody should really move into my house and do my makeup each day (then I would actually wear some).  She is amazing!
 Look at that great cut on her!!!  I love it!
 Even the girls were excited to see what was going on.
I got dressed and never looked in the mirror.  I kept messing with my jacket because it is uncomfortable to not know what your clothes look like on!!!

And now, it was time for the big reveal!!  I didn't get a picture of me seeing myself for the first time, but I will tell you it shocked me!!!  Even though I had seen the small pieces of hair color, I am not a visual person and couldn't figure out what I was going to look like.  I have to say I was pleasantly surprised!!  I have gotten many very positive comments on the color, so maybe it will be the "new normal".  I guess we will see at my next appointment!!!

Thank you so much to the girls at the Looking Glass for a fun evening and for making this girl feel like a queen, if only for a few hours.  And to any of you reading this, if you ever get the chance, step out of your comfort zone and do it.  It was so fun!  (I would even come along if you asked.)

So, here's me afterwards and with my friends that came along:

 Jenna and I
 Lora, Tina, and myself -- my support team for the evening!
Close up with make up and all.  I really liked this look!

Before and after comparison:

Friday, February 7, 2014

Snow Storm!

Well, at the risk of losing a few friends....I am going to write this!  For us here in Ohio, we are in the middle of a winter storm.  Last week, we had very cold temperatures (I saw -9 one morning on my way to work -- and that was on my car thermostat, not including wind chill!).  While it's warmed up a bit, we now have snow and blowing!!  Honestly, it's exactly like the winters I remember as a kid.  With the exception of overnight guests!

Let me explain that a bit -  I grew up in a house that was on a state route.  We had lots of traffic come past our house on any given day.  When the weather would get cold and snowy, inevitably we would have at least one person show up at our door needing to use our phone to call a family member, tow truck, or something.  Or my dad and brothers would get their tractor and chains and go pull them out of the ditch. Often, if the weather was bad, their family members could not make it out to get them or help them, they would spend the night at our house until help could arrive.  (Can you say that was another world?  :) )

During the Blizzard of '78, we had two such guests.  I often think back to the two of them and chuckle.  They could not have been more different.  One guy was quiet and didn't say much.  And the other one couldn't keep quiet -- about anything!!!  I remember we could hardly say the second guy's name after he left, as he made my mother quite irritated!!!

I have been talking to people, and listening to people, and reading from people all about the weather.  I haven't really read too many people who are fond of the wintery mix we are in the middle of.  However, I must confess, I do not mind it!!  Sure, it's cold and I don't get to go everywhere I want to every day, but I honestly have enjoyed a little slower pace.

It's been fun to have the kids home a few extra days (even though our grocery bill skyrockets those days!).  It's been fun to play a few extra games, or have a few extra chats that we wouldn't have had otherwise.

I've been watching on Facebook -- and it's fun to see how many families are taking this extra time to play games together, or read books, or cook.  Things that we normally don't make time for because we are too busy running to sporting events, and meetings, and hundreds of other things that make our lives busy.  I would bet, although many people are expressing frustration, that deep down they are enjoying themselves and this slower pace -- if only for a while.

Thank goodness we haven't had any extra unplanned guests in the past few weeks -- but we have had a few extra unplanned laughs.  And I would consider that a good trade-off!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year!

A brand-new year... to live; to believe; to give; to receive; to fall in love; to share a smile; to walk an inch; to run a mile; to dive into sunsets; to forgive; to forget; to love where you’re going; to embrace where you’ve been; to take a deep breath, close your eyes... and begin. May the new year be filled with love, adventure, and dreams come true.

A few years ago, I started a new tradition.  I've mentioned it here before, but feel like I should mention it again.
I've heard a few people in the past few days mention their New Year's resolution (although, I have to admit, it seems like I've heard less this year than in year's past!).  Did you make one this year?  If so, how long will you make it last?
I saw a funny cartoon the other day about a gym called "Resolutions". I thought I would share it with you and see what you think: 
Seems about right, doesn't it?
A couple of years ago, I gave up making resolutions.  I, too, always had mine fall by the wayside. 
What I've started doing in place of resolutions is focusing on a word each year.  I think about a part of my life I would like to improve and find one word that describes that and focus on that.  I find that if I put that word on a piece of paper and put it in various places I will see it throughout the day and year, it helps me tremendously.  I have it in my desk at work, my desk at home, my wallet, my nightstand, in my kitchen......
The word doesn't have to be anything extraordinary.  But it should be meaningful -- to you.  Health?  Wellness?  Weight?  Faith?  Mom?  Wife? are a few ideas -- but certainly not exhaustive.  In fact, the first paragraph may give you some inspiration to what word you could use this year.
I challenge you to do the same.  Find your "word" -- what will it be? that will improve your life, and maybe even the lives of those around you. 
Happy New Year!
Here it is!  It's yours to do with as you wish!!!  Don't wait for someone else, they won't live your life.  Make your dreams come true!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The long walk....

I was reading through my blog from the other day about my trip to Kentucky, and it struck me that I forgot to write about two of my favorite parts of our trip. 

The first would have to be the celebration of mass.  We didn't realize they had mass on Wednesday evenings, so it was a pleasant surprise to us when Marge mentioned that to us when we arrived.  Remember the other week when I spoke of how awesome it was to say the Our Father with 23,000 people?  Well, it was.  But I have to say that it was also pretty awesome on Wednesday to say the Our Father, and hold hands with all 12 of us in attendance at mass!  How wonderful that was!

The other part that I loved happened during the day, while we were helping people.  While we were shopping, our conversations would consist of "what would they like", "what size are they", etc.  When we got outside to take their things to the car, we would have time to chat.  Not everyone wanted to chat, of course, but many did.  Some just wanted to tell me how thankful they were.  Some wanted to tell me about their families -- who we just shopped for.  Some felt badly that they were there, and wanted to tell me their story. 

The one that struck me the most was the woman who didn't seem like she "belonged".  We laughed all the way through, because I would say -- "I've been thinking someone would love this" and she would reply with, "I was just looking at that!"  We had such similar tastes it was almost scary!

As we were walking to her car, she was explaining to me that she never thought she would be in that position.  She was a teacher, with a Master's Degree!  She said she had been looking for work, but was unable to find any.  I have found that the people in this area are very loyal to their family (kin) and won't leave them, in case you are wondering why she didn't move somewhere else to find a teaching job!  They stick together.  Through everything. 

I've added her and her family to my prayers -- that she find a job and find some peace.  How difficult that must be -- especially at this time of the year. 

I hope that you and your family find much peace this Christmas.  Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Celebrating Christmas -- the Best Way I Know How

Starting when I was very young, my cousins and I would travel down to my aunt's house in Kentucky to visit her.  She was a missionary nun, working with people who live relatively close to me (5 hours away) but who live a very different lifestyle than I was raised in. 

I was not, by any means, raised in a household with a lot of money.  However, I was far from being poor, and really never had to do without anything (unless it was something my parents thought I didn't need!).  But, I was like most normal kids who dreamt of living in a world with endless money flowing, allowing for my every "need" to be met. 

Perhaps that was part of our (my cousins and I) parent's plan -- to help us understand our "poorness".  We never ever thought of it that way -- we thought of it as a vacation, and sometimes wondered if it was a "recruiting" trip (our aunt is a nun!), but never really considered the part about teaching us a life lesson.

During those times, Sister Marge would introduce us to a variety of people that lived in her little town of Booneville, Kentucky.  People our age (at the time early tweens), people older, and people much much older.  We would spend a week with her and work in her store (in the early years) sorting shoes, or hanging up clothes, or whatever else she needed done.  In the later years, I don't really remember ever having special jobs other than having fun with her!

During the week, she would take us with her on her "home visits".  When she moved to Booneville, there was no Catholic church in the county -- but they knew there were Catholics.  Her job was to find them and get them back into a church.  This in and of itself was a challenge, because many people in town didn't have a mode of transportation!  What that entailed was that Saturday afternoon, we would load up in her van and start the "bus route" to pick people up -- the real way to see where she lived.  We would drive up and down mountains, around curves, into hollers, all in an effort to get people to church.  We would be on paved roads, dirt roads, gravel roads -- whatever it took to get people to church.  I learned a lot in those days.  I learned about persistence, but also what it meant to do the Lord's work -- to be His hands and feet.  (I also learned that mass in Booneville didn't start until everyone was there!)

I also learned that the people of Owsley county are some of the nicest and friendliest people on earth.  Even though they are very different from me in where we live, the living conditions we have -- they are wonderful people and very thankful for the life that has been given to them. 

During my college years, (and maybe high school -- I don't remember for sure!) -- my mom and I would spend time at Christmas going down to visit Marge.  She would have a daylong event where people could come in, "shop" for presents for their children and families, and return home.  I think at one point we even wrapped the gifts for people!  There was no exchange of money.  The items that were available were donated (and were new things), and the people would arrive and be given a point value that they were able to spend on each child in the family.  It was super fun to help each parent find the perfect present for their child, especially knowing that many of these families would have no Christmas without this opportunity.

Somewhere along the line -- with marriage and having children -- I ran out of time at Christmas to take the time to go and help her.  I never forgot about it, though -- and would think of everyone each year when I knew the shopping opportunity was going to happen. 

A couple of years ago, I started thinking it was getting to be time for me to start going back.  Earlier this year, I made the decision that this was the year to go back.  Oddly enough, earlier this week I had to fight back feelings and thoughts that I didn't have time to do this to force myself to go! 

My brother, Joe, had mentioned to me that he went last year and fully intended to go back this year.  I said that we could ride together if he had room, and mentioned that I wanted to bring one or two of my kids with me.  We looked at everyone's schedules and quickly realized that Sarah would be the only one of our kids that would be able to travel with me. 

We left Wednesday at noon and began our journey down.  Pretty uneventful trip down (thank goodness!), and we were greeted by the smiling faces of Sister Marge, and her sister friend, co-worker, whatever you want to call her -- Sister Angie.  Both beautiful women, inside and out.

When we walked into Marge's house, I was immediately taken back several years.  There sat a woman, Mary, who had been there every time I had been there for Christmas years before.  When I asked, she said she's been helping Marge for 35 years, and hasn't missed a one!  I was amazed!  Her youngest son is 37 and cooks for a retirement home.  He is quite the chef!  He made us sweet rolls for breakfast and the most amazing garlic bread for lunch.  I was in heaven!

In the evening when we arrived, Sister Marge had a little project for us.  It involved delivering some presents to some local people which required the assistance of the man in the red suit.  Marge thought we would have fun helping out.  Joe brought along his son, Ben, who hasn't quite figured out all of the "mysteries of the season", so I volunteered to stay back with him while they took on the task of assisting Santa to deliver these presents. 

It was quickly discovered that my daughter, Sarah, was going to have to play the role of Santa, since the suit fit!  :)  I'm pretty sure this is nothing that she originally signed up for when she agreed to come down with me, and I appreciate her doing so with a smile more than she will ever know!  When they returned, I asked them how it went -- expecting to hear the story of the family and the fun of delivering the gifts.  I was shocked into hysterical laughter when shown this photo: 

That would be Sarah, with her cousin, Maria, sitting on her lap!  Oh, my gosh, it still sends me giggling when I see it.  I found myself still cracking up as I was trying to go to sleep.  Apparently, one of the little girls that they were visiting yelled out -- "That isn't Santa, that's a girl!  She's wearing girl socks!"  Oh, my......
In the morning, we were greeted by a few wonderful sights:

The view outside of the church

Oh, my gosh, the cinnamon sweet rolls!

 Sister Marge making breakfast

Years ago (we think 25) my mom made sweatshirts for us to wear as we had our shopping day.  I spotted my sweatshirt as I was packing and stuck it with my things, hoping Sarah would wear it (it doesn't seem to fit me like it used to :).  She said yes!  I thought we would surprise Marge, but she surprised us by wearing hers, too!  What a fun thing!  It was also a super special way to feel my mom's presence with us, as she would have been there if she could have!

I tried to take a few photos that would show the vast amount of things that people from all over donated.  You will see loaded tables, but also look under the tables at the huge amount of things "hidden away".  They sort things (all done before we got there) so that new things are put out all day, so each family gets a great variety from which to choose.
The stuffed animal table -- its a little blurry, but certainly shows the choices!

 After they leave this area, they are taken to an area to get some food items -- enough to make a yummy Christmas feast -- and then some!  I forgot to take a picture of this part -- sorry!

My nephew, Ben, and his new friend, Nick.  They are the same age, and could have been brothers.  They worked and played together.

Remember early on when I said that Sister Marge always introduced us to new people?  Well, this is Ginger, a woman I met many, many years ago, and we were reunited this week.  She has such a great spirit.  Below, she is modeling a skirt, in case someone wanted it.  Such a fun person. It was fun to reconnect with her!

Ben and his friend, Nick, building a fort from boxes when the workload lightened up.

Sarah made a new friend.  They were busy playing when I caught this picture.
We were so blessed to be able to help 72 families shop for Christmas!  We offered up toys and clothes, stuffed animals and toiletries.  In return, we received smiles and hugs, Christmas wishes and much thankfulness.  We also received the best gift of all -- a lesson in what Christmas is all about.  It's not about what's under the tree -- it's about what's in the manger.  It's all about sharing His love.
I'm so thankful that my aunt has devoted her life to Christ, and in turn helped me see His love.  It will be a long time before I skip celebrating Christmas with her again!

Magnet I found on a car today -- "Keep Christ in Christmas"


Friday, December 6, 2013

Food for thought.....

I asked for strength and
God gave me difficulties to make me strong.

I asked for wisdom and
God gave me problems to solve.

I asked for prosperity and
God gave me brawn and brains to work.

I asked for courage and
God gave me dangers to overcome.

I asked for patience and
God placed me in situations where I was forced to wait.

I asked for love and
God gave me troubled people to help.

I asked for favors and
God gave me opportunities.

I received nothing I wanted
I received everything I needed.
My prayers have all been answered.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Turkey Day!

As we celebrate Thanksgiving today, I pause to be thankful for all that God has given me.  I have a wonderful husband, great kids (well, most of them!  :)  Just kidding.), some of the best brothers and sister around, terrific in-laws (how lucky is that?).  We live in a great house, in a great community, in a country that allows us to be free and make our own decisions.

There's so much to be thankful for. 

I always miss my mom's laugh when all of us are together, or my dad's chortle at the kids, but knowing that they are together today brings me such happiness that outweighs my sadness.

Today -- this year -- I am so very thankful for the gift that God gave me last weekend.  The great cheese hat trade-off was one of the outstanding moments of 2013, and maybe of my life.  I thank God so much for that moment, and the many moments that have come from that, as it has richly blessed my life.

I realize there are many who have no one to celebrate with today -- our house is always open and welcomes anyone. 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Quote for the day from Pope Francis:
"If we are to share our lives with others and generously give of ourselves, we also have to realize that every person is worthy of our giving. Not for their physical appearance, their abilities, their language, their way of thinking, or for any satisfaction that we might receive, but rather because they are God’s handiwork, his creation. God created that person in his image, and he or she reflects something of God’s glory. Every human being is the object of God’s infinite tenderness, and he himself is present in their lives. Jesus offered his precious blood on the cross for that person. Appearances notwithstanding, every person is immensely holy and deserves our love. Consequently, if I can help at least one person to have a better life, that already justifies the offering of my life. It is a wonderful thing to be God’s faithful people. We achieve fulfillment when we break down walls and our heart is filled with faces and names!"