Concrete Complete!

Hey y'all!
I'm so excited to share our pictures of the finished concrete...
Our yard is not near finished but I'm glad that the biggest part is.

The forms still need to be removed and our A/C units need to be set, but other than that it's done.
Our fire pit has been set, all it needs is the cap and stucco. The barbecue island will moved onto the concrete and stuccoed the same color as the fire pit.
The irrigation and mow curbs are being worked on today,
and grass and plants will be added last.
We've come a long way!

Can't wait to this to be done, it can be pretty stressful making all the decisions!
I'm also thinking about putting some sort of wash on the wood fence.
What do you think?

I'm partying at Positively Splendid Tip Junkie, Under the Table Dreaming,  Thrifty Decor Chick Homestories A to Z, and I Heart Naptime, check them out! Thanks for stopping by!

"You've got Holy Week!"

Time to Cool Down


the cover of America, the Catholic magazine
Olympia Snowe, explaining her decision last month to retire from the Senate, cited political “polarization and ‘my way or the highway’ ideologies” as prominent reasons for her departure. After 33 years in Washington, Snowe, a Republican from Maine, found herself one of the few moderates left in Congress. Her laudable pragmatic streak had been frustrated far too often by the hyper-partisanship that glows white hot these days, from the halls of Congress to church life.
Something inside me envies Senator Snowe. Her retirement affords her an honorable exit strategy to escape an overheated situation. The Catholic community in the United States enjoys no such luxury. The controversy stemming from new regulations that mandate contraception coverage for employees even of religiously affiliated institutions appears bottomless. You need not have scrolled through blogs, trolled Web sites and digested media coverage as much as I have in recent weeks to know the bitter landscape. Tempers have flared and angry words have been exchanged, targeted at those with variant opinions, questioning their good will, their prudence, even their intelligence.
We must trade the culture warrior agenda for one of diplomacy.
I have no novel opinion or particular expertise to share on the divisive topic of whether Catholic institutions should accept the Obama administration’s compromise on conscience clause provisions. I wish simply to relate my fear that we as a religious community are choosing to walk the wrong path. I am addressing not the outcome of the policy debate, but the regrettable style of our recent engagement of this issue.
One option would be to keep ratcheting up the inflammatory rhetoric. Portray those with divergent opinions as insolent enemies who must be defeated in a pitched battle. Take no prisoners; make no concessions. We were on this path already before Rush Limbaugh used his broadcast on Feb. 29 to attack Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown University law student and vocal supporter of broader contraception coverage, in the most scurrilous of ways. By then, the echo chamber of vituperation was in full operation. Bloviating media pundits are the most obvious offenders, but my unscientific sampling of Web posts reveals lamentable excess coming from all points of the political compass and all segments of the Catholic community.
A superior option would be to trade the culture warrior agenda for one of diplomacy. Turn away from invectives, jeremiads, hyperbole and hurtful name-calling. De-escalate the overblown rhetoric that paints opponents with the brush of idiocy, poor judgment or willful deception. Exercise the kind of magnanimity that refuses to demonize anyone. Invite others into civil conversations that emphasize mutual respect and a willingness to listen, even when that proves uncomfortable.
Why is the path of civility and fair-minded patience better? Why is it imperative that we tone down the harsh rhetoric? Because members of our religious community who might seem like fierce opponents today are going to be with us long after the flame of today’s controversy eventually settles down. Whatever policy outcomes unfold this year or next or further down the line, those of us lucky enough to be given a longer span of life by our Creator will find ourselves sharing the Eucharist (and much else) with thousands of those with whom we are not currently seeing eye to eye. Should our future sharing of the bread of salvation be compromised by our current failure to share a modicum of civility? Let us not give such power to present disagreements that it will be impossible to forge a decent modus vivendi afterward.
This advice may strike some as indulging in an overly milquetoast approach to important issues that resist compromise. There are many matters of conscience for which a hard struggle is justified. But to advocate civility in discourse is not to urge capitulation.
Regrettably, election years like this one have usually shed more heat than light on complex church-state issues. The 2012 campaign trail is proving once again to be a crucible of inflammatory rhetoric and repeated appeals to our fears about religion in public life, not of nuanced analysis. When religion becomes a wedge issue, we have all lost. Maybe Senator Snow was wise to look for the nearest exit. I hope that Catholics still have a chance to cool down the rhetoric.
Thomas Massaro, S.J.teaches social ethics at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, Chestnut Hill, Mass.

Father & Son

Don't marry a man unless you would be proud to have a son exactly like him.

Sometimes there will be these moments of bright clarity in the middle of play. I'll see Hank and Henry together, smiles and laughter, the sheer joy they bring to each others' lives so apparent, and it stops me dead in my tracks. Hank is a great man; he is kind, compassionate, loving, and truly sees the joy in every little thing. And because of all that and more, he is a wonderful father. Seeing the man I love as a parent has been one of the most beautiful things about becoming a mother, and it's the little moments like the one captured above, that I live for.

Growing up I dated a lot. I dated all sorts of guys; nice guys, overly nice guys, fun guys, some not-so-fun guys, and a handful of jerks too. When I was much younger, and before I figured out that I was worth being made a priority, I found myself trying to make something out of nothing a few too many times. But I wised up, I figured it out. I started to look at my parents' relationship, happily married for 30+ years, and I thought about who I wanted to end up with, what he would be like.

Before I met Hank I had sworn off serious relationships. I was 21 and enjoyed being "free"- I loved dating and preferred to do as I pleased, without taking into consideration anyone else as a major part of my life outside my family and friends. But my entire world shifted when I met my future husband, and suddenly here was someone that I could almost immediately see in my future, as scary as that seemed in the moment.

Those years went by so quickly- we fell in love, I relocated to his small town, we moved in together, we got engaged. And there is one thing I remember so distinctly from our engagement party, a specific moment that stands out above all of the laughter and stories and food we shared that night.  A good friend of mine pulled me aside and told me that her mother once said to her, "Don't marry a man unless you would be proud to have a son exactly like him." She wanted to share this with me because she knew that any son of ours would be as wonderful as the best guy we all knew, and she was so happy and excited for our future together.

I think back to this day often, and that quote has stayed with me through the years. Every time I see Hank and Henry kicking a soccer ball, playing with blocks in the middle of the living room, or even reading a story together, I'm reminded. I see my little man trying to emulating my big man- trying on his shoes, the "dada dada dada," the way he lights up when Hank comes in the door after work. And sometimes, I'll see that little twinkle in Henry's eye when he's about to do something funny and I am reminded 100% of his sweet father. Henry is so young, but I can already see how kind he is, how warm and affectionate his heart is, and how silly and fun his spirit can be. It's amazing. I'm raising a boy who is going to be just like the man I married, and for this, I couldn't be happier.

Just ugh.

more tea
{old photo from 2009}

I'm not feeling so upbeat today. In fact, I'm feeling pretty crappy. On a good note though? My mouth is starting to feel better. But the combination of too much time inside, not enough substantial food, no exercise, and having weird medicine in my body from the surgery and afterward (I rarely even take Tylenol for a headache), I am feeling kind of down.

I wasn't sure whether or not to even write this post- I like to focus only on the positive here as much as I can, but Henry is napping and I've reached the end of Pinterest (is that even possible?), so here I am, typing it out. Sometimes I hold back from sharing sadness or negativity because it makes me feel like one, I'm complaining. And who comes to a blog to read complaints?! And two, I know my complaints are not a big deal whatsoever in the span of all of the other things going on in this big, wide universe. But here in my little world, they do seem like a pretty big deal, as most negative things can sometimes do. It's not even like anything is going wrong; mainly I'm annoyed at my mouth, my numb lip and chin, my inability to eat normal food, and the fact that I just feel so blah and depressed. I hate feeling like this- like I have no motivation to do anything. And typing it out makes me feel even more ridiculous for feeling so down about all of it.

SO with that said, I thought you could do me a favor.

I was hoping that you could all leave a comment telling me something awesome that is going on with you! Good news, something that made you smile today, whatever it is that you want to share. I'm excited to get some positivity going again!

Tattoo Tuesday V.115

I wanted to take a moment and share a bit about today's Tattoo Tuesday participant and the work he is doing- after Christopher was a victim in a hit-and-run accident, he and his girlfriend Allie both decided to make positive changes and push each other to create something new. They started a company called D.O.G.T (Defenders Of Good Times) in which they help artists around the world promote their artwork and share it with others. Check out the video and links below for more info- it's such a neat, positive project!

Name: Christopher Collins
Age: 27
Occupation: Owner of D.O.G.T (Defenders Of Good Times)
Age of first tattoo: 18
Favorite tattoo: My head!
Featured tattoo/location: My entire head.
Artist/shop/location of featured tattoo: Greg Christian/Tattoo Faction/Head

1) Tell us about your featured tattoo- is there a background story about why you chose it, or maybe a special meaning?

Getting my head was kind of a big had to be something amazing and it was kind of me showing myself my dedication to tattoos and how much I love them. It was tattooed at Tattoo Faction(which is the best shop in the world) by Greg Christian(who is my favorite tattoo artist) and he made it fit and look exactly how I wanted it didn't feel the best but worth every single second of it. Tattoos are memories I will never forget and friendships that will never be broken. I got that tattoo for my family and everyone thats kept me going through the years. I'm pretty accident prone so I got a nurse tattooed on the top for keeping me safe all these years!

2) Do you have any other tattoos? If so, what do you have and where?

I am covered and I could go for days but some key tattoos are the D.O.G.T on my hand because it reminds me everyday that I am defending good times! The tattoos I have for my family are super important....Guadalupe on my forearm for my mom by Chuck Uhler and a swallow with a heart for my sister Carol, tattooed by Cindy Burmeister. I am saving my empty hand for an epic tattoo for my dad because he is my best friend and the person I look up to most in my life! I have a chicken and a piece of fried chicken tattooed on me because I eat chicken and party! I have a matching birdcage tattoo with my amazing girlfriend that Carlos Rojas tattooed and one of her drawings on the other leg that Rob Hamilton tattooed. The "trust no one" coffin on my ribs was tattooed by Mike Hutton inspired from one of his original paintings, Doug Hardy tattooed a peice of Dan Higgs flash on me at Tattoo City in SF. I have an amazing owl with a lucky rabbits foot around his neck that Dave Wulff tattooed. I have a matching tattoo of a gnarly pirate that Dan Wulff tattooed that was his first tattoo using a rotary machine! My knee is a crazy bearded biker skull that Lil Jeff in Miami tattooed on me. Most of my right arm was mostly tattooed by Cindy Burmeister who taught me a lot about life and helped me out a lot. I'm currently working on finishing my back with Dave Wulff and continuing my collection.

3) Do you plan on getting more? 

I'll never stop getting tattooed. Ever.

4) How do your family and friends feel about your tattoo(s)? Have you run into any adversity or negativity because of them? Do you have a significant other? Does he/she have tattoos? 

My family is the most amazing family you could ever have and they are extremely supportive of anything I do. It may not be their cup of tea and I'm the only one with tattoos, but they without a doubt have my back no matter what! You always will run into someone that has something negative to say about tattoos or tattooed people; that's a given, I have no desire to gain acceptance from negative people- "I am a Defender Of Good Times"- I don't have time to bummed out over what someone else thinks of my decisions. My significant other IS tattooed and shares the same interest in tattooing that I do and will be tattooing someday soon.

5) What's the most interesting experience you've ever had in regards to your tattoos? 

You don't want to get me started with stories cause Im a rambler but I would have to say my favorite tattoo memory was when Greg Christian tattooed an old Bert Grimm flash design on my forearm. Greg is one of the best people I have met in my 27 years and taught me so much I owe that guy the world! I watched him set up his machines he told me he was gunna use a tight 5 so it looked all "Shitty and shakey" like it would have when Bert tattooed it! It was my first real visible tattoo and it turned out to be one of my favorite things to look at every single day!!! Being tattooed by Greg is one of my top 5 favorite things ever. Theres not enough thanks to express the appreciation I have for what Greg has shared with me.

6) Any advice for those interested in getting tattooed but haven't gotten one yet? 

You're not going to the store to pick out a new iPhone- you are are putting something on your body that is going to say something everytime someone sees it. Go to a real shop and get a real tattoo, get good tattoos and get safe tattoos.

Weekend links, on a Monday

saturday morning hangout
an old photo of Madeline and me taken in 2008- look how tiny she was!

So my wisdom teeth are officially out, thank goodness. I got them out Friday morning and what was supposed to have been a 45 minute surgery turned into a 2.5 hour ordeal due to my "stubborn roots" or something- it's hard to remember since I was still foggy from being put under.  To be honest, it was much worse than I anticipated and the past couple of days have been more uncomfortable than even my c-section recovery, however crazy that may sound. But on the bright side, I keep focusing on the fact that they're out and now, the worst is over! I had an appointment today with my oral surgeon to check on healing, and he assured me my numb chin and lower lip should return to normal soon, and my mouth is looking a-okay. Now I'm just focusing on being extra careful to avoid those dreaded dry sockets. I'm so thankful for my parents who came up Friday to stay with us, taking me to my appointment on Friday while Hank worked and helped to entertain Henry all weekend.  I was sad to miss all the fun since I was stuck in bed, but I know we'll have another soon when I'm feeling 100%.

While recovering the past couple of days I've been watching a few different things for the first time- Gossip Girl and Gilmore Girls (love both of them!), and I also watched two movies- My Week with Marilyn and Young Adult. And after so much "relaxation" all I want is a busy day filled with errands, a trip to Target, a big sandwich, no mouth pain, and my nice, unswollen cheeks back. ;)

Whatever you did this past weekend I hope you had a great time. I figured I would share some links today, even though it's Monday. Enjoy!


I posted the winner to the Kelli Murray Art giveaway, so check here to see if you won!

Anita is doing a Shop My Closet for her fashionable daughter Lola Birdie! This week she put up jeans and shoes, and next week maybe she'll be selling some of Lola's amazing dresses or tops. Bookmark it, or follow Anita on Twitter for updates.

Carrot cake pancakes. These looks delicious!

My favorite blog post from the week.

Wouldn't these be adorable favors for a party? Pie to go!

A wonderful essay about being a Mom...and baking bread in a random lady's house. Weird. But it's a great read.

Ireland is at the top of my one day must-visit places, and so, I am totally loving these photos.

Hello, dream bikini. Why do you have to be $200?

Passionfruit has launched- I'm sure you've seen it all over the internet! If you take ads on your blog, you will want to take a look.

Win a Pioneer Woman Cookbook over on Heather's blog.

The Top 20 Bites of 2011 in Los Angeles...I would have loved to see this list before our trip, but luckily we picked great restaurants for every meal.

Oatmeal Lemon Creme Bars. As soon as my mouth is healed I will definitely be making these!

Whenever I want to look at pretty images, I go here.

I love checking out my readers "Currently" posts, like this one!

The Art of Being Happily Single. I passed this along to a few of my single girlfriends and they loved it. It's a good read.

Like Juniper (one of my sponsors) on Facebook and be entered in their giveaway.

My friend Jess took her daughter Rowan camping! Too cute.

Want something else to do with you Instagram photos? How about putting them on custom tiles?

20 quick and healthy snack ideas.

And finally, here's my new favorite blog. Thanks Liz!

Little bits of memory

Family Photos, November 2011

I can still remember the beginning. That nervous anticipation during those first few long drives to visit Hank, my hands tapping on the steering wheel, my eyes in the rear view mirror checking and rechecking to see if I still looked alright. It was the beginning of our relationship and we lived two and a half hours apart, so I would often find myself making the trek from Phoenix, up the I-17 and into the mountains. That very first drive up is still so fresh in my mind; the Jets to Brazil I had on the stereo, my cracked window, the fresh August air that evening, and me, trying to relax when I was so, so nervous. It almost seemed too good to be true- everything was falling slowly into place, somehow. And then, after talking for hours and hours every night for weeks, writing so many letters back and forth, and finally going on our first date, Hank had invited me up to visit him in his little town. 

It's strange to go back to the beginning of us. It will be eight years this summer and parts of it seem so far away, and yet other moments I can remember in such crisp detail. If I think back I can still see Hank's first date outfit- his jeans, his American Nightmare hoodie, those Vans. I can immediately recall a handful of mornings waking up with him to the Weakerthans he set for our alarm, tangled blankets and tattooed limbs. I can remember the night Hank asked me to marry him, the way the stars shined so, so brightly in that clear February night, the way my breath blew out like smoke and our voices echoed in the empty square. I think back to our first apartment, the smell of new paint and cardboard boxes, and our second, the smell of fresh cut grass through the open windows. I can go back to our wedding day and remember looking down the aisle at Hank through the yellow and the white and all of our family and friends, all the way to the very end, to him waiting there for me. And I can see him when Henry was born, joy filling every corner of his face.

Memories are funny things. They change over time, they shift, they adapt. We keep what we want, small segments of our days, and the rest dissipates into a hazy fog. I hold tight to the things I want to remember- I take a second and try to capture it, all of it. My memories often feel so cloudy, floating in my mind, but then I'll be reminded of something, and one crystal clear moment will bob to the top, up and down, little bits and pieces becoming more clear.  With Hank I have eight years of these memories, good times and bad, trips and vacations and so much togetherness. My life has a distinct marker, a before and an after, and it's amazing to think about everywhere we've been, and to imagine everywhere we're going. And sometimes, when the weather is just right, I can crack my window, turn up the music, and I'm right back there again, 21-years-old at the very beginning.

Advertise on Sometimes Sweet in April!


A lot of my spots for April are already being reserved, so I thought I would make my one-and-only post/mention letting you all know that I am currently accepting advertisers for next month. There are tons of fun things coming up for Sometimes Sweet and there are sure to be many new visitors. As Sometimes Sweet continues to grow, I'd love to help you grow your blog, shop, brand, or website via this blog. Placing an ad on this site absolutely works, and many of my sponsors renew their spots for months at a time.

If you're interested, check out my sponsor page and then send me an email if you'd like to grab a spot before they're all full.  I'd love to have you.

Back Yard Design

I'm so glad I'm finally able to write about our backyard!
My hubby gave me the okay to finally make plans,
which also called for several estimates from contractors.
Uh... hem... I'm not taking the credit for that one...
I don't know the first thing about concrete and bubblers or sprinklers.
I just know what I want and how I want it.
Here's my backyard now... 

Left Side


And Right

yep... weeds... a Costco play gym... weeds... our barbecue island and more weeds...

Here's the plan, diamond cut concrete with a 12 inch band, capped fire pit, mow-curb to separate the grass and flower beds... and lots of grass... not that any of this makes any sense to me.

They say it should be done in a week...
I'm guessing two!
Thanks for stopping by!


{Tuesday's messy bun}

Loving: Prepare yourself...this is slightly (okay very) embarrassing to admit, but while I was sick I got into watching a new television series on Netflix. It's called Make It Or Break It, and it's basically a teen-geared gymnastics drama centered around a group of elite, Olympic bound gymnasts in Boulder, Colorado. It's an ABC Family show and I absolutely LOVE it. It's terribly cheesy and pretty ridiculous at times, but I can't stop watching it and have really gotten into all of the characters. I love Payson, adore Damon, and really think Summer and Sasha should be together! I haven't met one person who has ever even seen it though, so if you have, say hello! I feel so alone out here on my bad-television branch...even though I really don't think this show is bad at all. I'm finishing up Season 2 in preparation for Season 3 to begin next week and any free chance I get I'm trying to fit in yet another episode.

Thinking about: my Dad. He drove me home from the airport on Sunday night because he didn't want Hank and Henry coming down the mountain in the snow. We spent close to two hours together alone, which is unfortunately pretty rare, and it was so wonderful to have all that time to talk. I learned some things about my Dad I had no idea about (like the fact he lived in a beach bungalow for a year in Florida!) and it made me so happy to spend that time with him. I feel like it's one of those instances I'll always look back on and smile. I sure love him.

Anticipating: my wisdom teeth removal...tomorrow! AH! I've been putting this off forever and actually rescheduled this appointment about three times, but finally, the day has come. All four of mine are impacted and all four are coming out. So at 8:50am on Friday think of me as I'm getting teeth ripped out of my head. Yuck.

Listening to: Rilo Kiley's The Execution of All Things. Every single spring I feel like I blog about this but for good reason. The entire album reminds me so much of the warm months ahead and all things summer. It's great from beginning to end and it makes me so happy to listen to it, especially right around this time of the year when I am looking forward to April, May and beyond.

Eating: Ezekial tortilla pizzas. They're so simple to make and really, really good. All you do is take a tortilla, top it with tomato sauce, cheese and veggies of you choice, and bake it in the oven until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is crispy. It's a super healthy meal, especially if you pile on the veggies. Let me know if you try it!

Wishing: that I could fly all of my Hunger Games-loving friends here so we could all watch the premiere together. Due to my wisdom teeth surgery I'll probably have to wait until next week and I don't know if I can make it. I'm so excited about it and I am crossing my fingers the movie does the book justice.

How about you? What are you up to today? Feel free to do your own "currently" post on your blog and link back in the comments! And thanks again to my dear friend Megan for providing the original inspiration for these posts.

CLOSED! Giveaway: Win a custom portrait by Kelli Murray!

This giveaway is now closed!

Congratulations to Ayden for winning the custom portrait! Ayden please email me to claim your prize! And thank you again to all who entered. :)

Today I'm so excited to share a super fun giveaway with all of you. The extremely talented Kelli Murray (seriously check out her Etsy shop- she is AMAZING) is on my blog today, offering up a custom portrait to one lucky winner. Kelli will create the winner's portrait to their likeness and can also include their blog name, name, or favorite quote. The winner will receive a digital version as well as an 8X10 paper print as shown below.

To enter:
  • Follow Kelli Murray Art via Bloglovin', and leave a comment below letting me know you do, along with your name and email address.  If you don't already read Kelli's blog, trust me when I say that I know you will love it. It's a new favorite of mine and I'm really, really excited for more people to discover it. 
  • For up to three additional entries, tweet about this giveaway (see below), follow Kelli on Twitter or "like" her on Facebook, then leave up to three more comments letting me know you did so, along with your name and email address again.
 Tweet this:
    {GIVEAWAY} Win a custom portrait from the super-talented @kellimurrayart via Sometimes Sweet and @danihampton!

      That's up to four ways to win! I'll choose a winner on Monday and post it here, so check back.

      Here's the version with my blog name on it, too. Good luck to all who enter!

      LA Girls' Trip

      I spent this past weekend in California with two of my favorite girls and had a wonderful, fun, and relaxing time. We stayed at the Thompson Beverly Hills, and after a weird "your reservation was somehow canceled by someone" situation, it turned out to be a great hotel (although they handled the situation very strangely...but that's a story for another day). Anyway, Anita, Andy and I flew into LAX and met at our rental car place before heading over to The Thompson, and it was so fun to have a reunion, since the last time the three of us were together was Las Vegas back in October when we took a girls' trip with a few more of our friends. I talk to Andy and Anita every single day- they have both become two of my closest friends and it was fantastic to be able to spend the weekend catching up in person.

      After we got to the hotel and got settled we headed out to Real Food Daily for dinner. I've heard so much about this place and I was really excited to try it. I ordered the BLT wrap (all of their food is organic and vegan) and it was SO good. Really, really delicious and we all loved our meal. I highly recommend it, and I was so sad Hank and Henry weren't there to enjoy it too! After dinner we drove around LA and Hollywood for awhile; we did the Walk of Stars, checked out all of the touristy stuff, and oohed and ahhed over the beautiful homes up in the hills. We ended our night at Sweet Lady Jane's, a Hollywood bakery, and ordered a ton of desserts to split. The best of the group was the Key Lime was to-die-for.

      The next morning we woke up and went to Toast for breakfast. It was also really, really good. We spent the rest of the day shopping in the rainiest weather and although we were soaked to the bone it was a fun time. After lunch I had a little meeting regarding some blog business, then later in the afternoon I started to feel really tired so I napped for a couple hours while the girls stayed out. They came back later to wake me up before dinner, and we headed out the door to El Cholo, our Mexican restaurant pick for the night.

      (Are you noticing a theme here? Shop, eat, shop, eat! It was my kind of trip!)

      Dinner was traditional Mexican food and my favorite part was probably the guacamole they made right at our table. We all loved it, but Andy started to feel a little sick afterward so Anita and I dropped her off at the hotel and headed over to Magnolia to pick up some cupcakes to go. We'd both experienced Magnolia in NYC before and weren't the hugest fans, and these treats unfortunately proved no different. I really love cake, but Magnolia has disappointed me a couple of times. We did get some cookies though that were great. We spent the rest of the night girl-talking and hanging out, enjoying our last night of vacation together.

      The next morning we went to Swingers and ate great diner food, then did Fred Segal and a few other shops, and ended our afternoon with In-N-Out since Andy doesn't have one up in Seattle.  My flight home ended up being canceled due to the crazy snow we got, so I got on Anita's flight and we flew home to Phoenix.

      I can't say enough how much fun this past weekend was. I feel lucky to have such wonderful girls in my daily life, and I also feel lucky to be able to have weekends away like this. And as much as I love going on fun trips with my girlfriends, nothing beats coming home to my boys.

      Here are some random Instagram photos from the weeekend.

      Picnik collage1
      Picnik collage4
      Picnik collage9
      Picnik collage11
      Picnik collage3
      Picnik collage
      Picnik collage7
      Picnik collage10
      Picnik collage8

      Tattoo Tuesday V.114

      Name and blog name: Mal Warning
      Age: 25
      Occupation: Special Education Substitute/ part time nanny & jewelry maker.
      Age of first tattoo:16
      Favorite tattoo: Cherry blossom tree on my back
      Featured tattoo/location: Owl & Teapot on my right thigh
      Artist/shop/location of feature tattoo: A great lady friend of mine by the name of Donna Klein did this piece at Evermore Gallery back home in Edwardsville, IL. This tattoo was taken from a favorite print of mine done by Kim Anh Nguyen.

      1) Tell us about your featured tattoo.

      This tattoo was a gift from my in-laws as a graduation present! I knew I wanted to get something that signified them in some sort of way or something that included them or that will always make me think of them. After some thought I decided Kim Anh Nguyen print was perfect! For our wedding my in laws bought me a tea kettle that I had been lusting at for sometime & so in the tattoo we made the tea pot the same color as my wedding tea kettle. Also I really love tea, this tattoo is something that shows people a little about myself.

      2) Do you have any other tattoos?

      I do! Does anyone ever just get one? All of my tattoos were done at Evermore Gallery done by either Donna Klein or Carrie Davini who is also another lovely lady friend. On my left thigh I have stacked tea cups to go along with my tea pot on my right thigh. I have a cherry blossom tree on my back, which is still my favorite because it makes me think of my mom who passed away when I was 2. In Japanese culture cherry blossoms are associated with "mono no aware" for their extreme beauty and quick death. I have an outline of a small dove on the right shoulder, a peacock feather on my right foot (which is actually a cover up from that time I was 16 & thought I'd truly love blue stars forever). I have the word "love" on my left wrist, a few hearts on the inside of my lip as well as "Mrs." on my wedding ring finger.

      3) Do you plan on getting more?

      Absolutely! Since recently moving to Portland I am hoping to get in with Silje at Scapegoat Tattoo to start my right sleeve this spring. A good pal of mine who married my husband and I works at the shop (Evermore) & has been apprenticing for almost a year now & as soon as I plan a trip back home he will be doing a clementine for my dog, her name is Clementine :)

      4) How do your family and friends feel about your tattoo(s)?

      My family has been very supportive so far, I think they know its something that I enjoy & want to continue. My aunt who raised me as asked me not to do my arms, but I think she will come around once its done, she loves all of my other tattoos & has recently been talking about wanting to get one of her own! My nana has also made plans to have one of my branches from my cherry blossom tree tattooed on her shoulder. Also this past year I took my father-in-law to get his first tattoo & I didn't have to hold his hand like he thought after all! My husband has tattoos as well, I am pretty sure he plans on more as well.

      I have been pretty lucky, not a whole lot of negativity. But because I work within schools mine are covered a majority of the time & when co-workers do find out they are pretty surprised. I think in general people are just curious about my tattoos. I feel like if someone doesn't have tattoos or doesn't plan on ever getting any its a hard thing to grasp why we do get them or enjoy them. I've been stopped in the grocery store and asked "Why would you do such a thing, your such a pretty girl" by an elderly woman and the occasional stares. But other than that Its been pretty positive. I wear my tattoos with pride, especially in summer (when schools out).

       5)What's the most interesting experience you've ever had in regards to your tattoos? 

      I'm not sure I have had any really interesting experiences, I like to read while I am getting tattooed, I guess that is a little interesting. I have also been sitting in a session getting my back done while a huge, I mean football player huge man was getting a four leaf clover tattooed on his lower back and was crying & when he was done I was still being tattooed and said something along the lines I don't know how you can be so chatty during this! People are weird in general, I often get strangers wanting to tell me about THEIR tattoos and tattoo stories when I never asked.

      6) Any advice for those interested in getting tattooed but haven't gotten one yet? 

      I think its important to do your research on an artist and shop you want to go too. If I hadn't moved across the country I would be going to Carrie and Donna until there was no room left on my body! I also think there is a reason why the legal age for getting a tattoo is 18, you don't know what you like. Trust me, 25 year old you wont like your 16 year old you tattoo choice. Lastly this is permanent, don't randomly pick something off a flash. Take some time to think about it and make sure its something you really want. I have been sitting on my idea for my sleeve for almost two years & I still want it so its going to be something I'll love forever.

      Rejoice! For God so loved me!

      HOMILY FOR THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT, Laetare Sunday, March 18, 2012:
      John Smith was the only Protestant to move into a Catholic neighborhood. On the first Friday of Lent, John was outside grilling a big juicy steak on his grill. Meanwhile, all of his neighbors were eating cold tuna fish for supper. This went on each Friday of Lent until his neighbors just couldn’t take the temptation any more. So, they decided to try and convert John to Catholicism. They went over and talked to him and were so happy that he decided to join all of his neighbors and become a Catholic. They took him to Church, and the Priest sprinkled some water over him, and said, "You were born a Baptist, you were raised a Baptist, and now you are a Catholic." The men were so relieved--now their biggest Lenten temptation was resolved. Lent rolled around again the next year and on the First Friday, as supper rolled around and everyone was setting down to their tuna fish, the smell of steak cooking on a grill wafted through the neighborhood. Everyone ran to John’s house to see if he had forgotten it was the first Friday of Lent? The group arrived just in time to see John standing over his grill with a small pitcher of water. He was sprinkling some water over his steak on the grill, saying, "You were born a cow, you were raised a cow, and now you are a fish."

      Today in our Lenten journey we celebrate what is called Laetare Sunday. Laetare is the Latin word for rejoice and it comes from the entrance antiphon prescribed for Mass today from Isaiah which says, “Rejoice, Jerusalem! Be glad for her, you who love her; rejoice with her, you who mourned for her". In the midst of our penitential season, the Church invites us to rejoice; to be joyful. Our vestments reflect this sense of joy today. Precisely in the middle of our very serious Lenten attempts to turn away from sin; to make a change for the good, towards the holy in our life; our liturgy says, “Take a deep breath and rejoice a little bit.” Why?

      Well, there is a story that took place in Germany in 1456 when Gutenberg was printing the first Bible that I think helps to give us some of the answer. The printer had a little daughter, Alice, who came into the printing press and picked up a discarded sheet of paper that had only one incomplete line printed on it. The line read: “For God so loved the world that He gave,” and it ended there. Now, these were times when popular religion was a matter of living in fear and trembling before the awesome wrath of God. So little Alice put the paper in her pocket and kept on thinking of the fact of God being so loving, and her face radiated with joy. Her mother noticed her changed behavior and asked Alice what was making her so happy and Alice showed her mother the sheet of paper with the one printed line. Her mother looked at it for some time and asked, “So, what did God give?” Alice said, “I don’t know, but if God loved us so much to give us something, then we don’t need to be afraid of Him.”

      “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” God so loved the world. What a powerful sentence. For God so loved you and me and everyone that ever has or ever will be. What is this “love” that God has for us? Love can be a challenging word for us in the English language. It is horribly imprecise. Just think we use the same word to say things like: “I love the Red Sox!” “Oh, how I would love a Shamrock Shake today!” (Happy St. Patty’s!) And the same word for love to express the way we love a spouse, a friend, a child, and yes, the way we feel about God. Surely the way I feel about God is different than the way I feel about the Red Sox or a Shamrock Shake!

      Luckily, much of the Bible was written in Greek and the Greek language doesn’t suffer from our lack of linguistic precision. In Greek, there are three words that talk about love. There is eros which means romantic or sexual love; like the love between a man and a woman that leads to marriage. In English we get words like “erotic” from eros. Then there is philia which means a brotherly love or a type of fellowship. Think of the city of Philadelphia two Greek words that mean literally city of brotherly love. This type of love would be where the Red Sox come in. And, then there is agape which is unlike the rest. Agape is unconditional, all-encompassing, self-sacrificing love; like the love that makes a mother risk her own life for her child.

      “For God so loved the world.” Now, you can probably take a guess at which Greek word is behind our translation of “love” in the Gospel today. God loves us with the love of agape. God’s love for us is all-encompassing, it is powerful, unconditional and it is obviously self-sacrificing. “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…so that we might have eternal life” Our God not only loves; but He loves us so much that He gives; He gives His only Son; and He forgives so that we might not die, but might live forever with Him. This is the kind of love God has for each and every one of us. And, this is the kind of love we should have for one another. This is the kind of love that is lived in Heaven. And it is the kind of love that will get us to Heaven. And, this, my brothers and sisters, is why we rejoice.

      A certain saint asked God to show her the difference between Heaven and Hell. So God sent an angel to take her, first to Hell. There she saw men and women seated around a large table with all kinds of delicious food. But none of them was eating. They were all sad and hungry. The saint asked, "Why aren’t you eating?" And he showed her his hand. A long fork was strapped to their hands so that each time they tried to eat they could not get the food to their mouths and it ended up on the floor. "What a pity," said the saint. Then the angel took her to Heaven. There the saint was surprised to find an almost identical setting as in Hell: men and women sitting round a large table with all sorts of delicious food, and with long forks strapped to their arms. But unlike in Hell, the people here were happy and laughing. Shocked, the saint to one of them, “Why are you so happy in this condition?" "You see," said the man in Heaven, "Here we feed each another." Agape, the love of God, the love we’ll find in Heaven is a love which gives without limit.

      Today the Church invites us to reflect on God's love for the world and to be joyful because of it. God loves each and every one of us, so much so that He gave us His only son. Today we are invited to say yes to God's love. We may sometimes feel as though it is hard to believe that God loves even me, but we believe it because we know that God loves unconditionally. We can count on it. For God so loves us that we can say, like little Alice, “If God loved us so much to give us something, then we don’t need to be afraid of Him.”

      Let us truly rejoice today and as we continue onward to Easter that, unworthy though we may be, God loves us with a love so powerful that it can bring us all the way to Heaven.

      May God give you peace.

      Brian Corcoran singing "Danny Boy"

      St. Patrick's Day 2012: Facts, Myths, and Traditions

      A performer in the Saint Patrick's Day Parade in London, United Kingdom.
      An entertainer dressed as St. Patrick performs in a St. Patrick's Day parade on March 12, 2005, in London.
      Photograph by Peter Macdiarmid, Getty Images
      John Roach
      Updated March 16, 2012
      On St. Patrick's Day—Saturday, March 17—millions of people will don green and celebrate the Irish with parades, good cheer, and perhaps a pint of beer.
      But few St. Patrick's Day revelers have a clue about St. Patrick, the historical figure, according to the author of St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography.
      "The modern celebration of St. Patrick's Day really has almost nothing to do with the real man," said classics professor Philip Freeman of Luther College in Iowa. (Take an Ireland quiz.)
      Who Was the Man Behind St. Patrick's Day?
      For starters, the real St. Patrick wasn't even Irish. He was born in Britain around A.D. 390 to an aristocratic Christian family with a townhouse, a country villa, and plenty of slaves.
      What's more, Patrick professed no interest in Christianity as a young boy, Freeman noted.
      At 16, Patrick's world turned: He was kidnapped and sent overseas to tend sheep as a slave in the chilly, mountainous countryside of Ireland for seven years. (See Ireland pictures.)
      "It was just horrible for him," Freeman said. "But he got a religious conversion while he was there and became a very deeply believing Christian."
      St. Patrick's Disembodied Voices
      According to folklore, a voice came to Patrick in his dreams, telling him to escape. He found passage on a pirate ship back to Britain, where he was reunited with his family.
      The voice then told him to go back to Ireland.
      "He gets ordained as a priest from a bishop, and goes back and spends the rest of his life trying to convert the Irish to Christianity," Freeman said.
      Patrick's work in Ireland was tough—he was constantly beaten by thugs, harassed by the Irish royalty, and admonished by his British superiors. After he died on March 17, 461, Patrick was largely forgotten.
      But slowly, mythology grew around Patrick, and centuries later he was honored as the patron saint of Ireland, Freeman noted.
      Is Your Shamrock Real or Bogus?
      According to St. Patrick's Day lore, Patrick used the three leaves of a shamrock to explain the Christian holy trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
      Today, St. Patrick's Day revelers wear a shamrock. Trifolium dubium, the wild-growing, three-leaf clover that some botanists consider the official shamrock, is an annual plant that germinates in the spring.
      Other three-leaf clovers, such as the perennials Trifolium repens and Medicago lupulina, are "bogus shamrocks," according to the Irish Times.
      John Parnell, a botanist at Trinity College Dublin, said that Trifolium dubium is the most commonly used shamrock today, which lends credence to the claims of authenticity.
      However, he added, the custom of wearing a shamrock dates back to the 17th and 18th centuries, and "I know of no evidence to say what people then used. I think the argument on authenticity is purely academic—basically I'd guess they used anything cloverlike then."
      What's more, botanists say there's nothing uniquely Irish about shamrocks. Most clover species can be found throughout Europe.
      No Snakes in Ireland
      Another St. Patrick myth is the claim that he banished snakes from Ireland. It's true no snakes exist on the island today, Luther College's Freeman said—but they never did.
      Ireland, after all, is surrounded by icy waters—much too cold to allow snakes to migrate from Britain or anywhere else.
      Since snakes often represent evil in literature, "when Patrick drives the snakes out of Ireland, it is symbolically saying he drove the old, evil, pagan ways out of Ireland [and] brought in a new age," Freeman said.
      The snake myth, the shamrock story, and other tales were likely spread by well-meaning monks centuries after St. Patrick's death, Freeman said.
      St. Patrick's Day: Made in America?
      Until the 1970s, St. Patrick's Day in Ireland was a minor religious holiday. A priest would acknowledge the feast day, and families would celebrate with a big meal, but that was about it.
      "St. Patrick's Day was basically invented in America by Irish-Americans," Freeman said.
      Irish-American history expert Timothy Meagher said Irish charitable organizations originally celebrated St. Patrick's Day with banquets in places such as Boston, Massachusetts; Savannah, Georgia; and Charleston, South Carolina.
      Eighteenth-century Irish soldiers fighting with the British in the U.S. Revolutionary War held the first St. Patrick's Day parades. Some soldiers, for example, marched through New York City in 1762 to reconnect with their Irish roots.
      Other parades followed in the years and decades after, including well-known celebrations in Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago, primarily in flourishing Irish immigrant communities.
      "It becomes a way to honor the saint but also to confirm ethnic identity and to create bonds of solidarity," said Meagher, of Catholic University in Washington, D.C..
      Dyeing the River Green for St. Patrick's Day
      Sometime in the 19th century, as St. Patrick's Day parades were flourishing, wearing the color green became a show of commitment to Ireland, Meagher said.
      In 1962 the show of solidarity took a spectacular turn in Chicago when the city decided to dye a portion of the Chicago River green.
      The tradition started when parade organizer Steve Bailey, head of a plumbers' union, noticed how a dye used to trace possible sources of river pollution had stained a colleague's overalls a brilliant green, according to
      Why not use the dye to turn the whole river green on St. Patrick's Day, Bailey thought. So began the tradition.
      The environmental impact of the dye is minimal compared with pollution such as bacteria from sewage-treatment plants, said Margaret Frisbie, the executive director of the advocacy group Friends of the Chicago River.
      Rather than advising against the dye, her group focuses on turning the Chicago River into a welcoming habitat full of fish, herons, turtles, and beavers. If the river becomes a wildlife haven, the thinking goes, Chicagoans won't want to dye their river green.
      "Our hope is that, as the river continues to improve, ultimately people can get excited about celebrating St. Patrick's Day different ways," she said.
      Pint of Guinness on St. Patrick's Day
      On any given day 5.5 million pints of Guinness, the famous Irish stout brand, are consumed around the world.
      But on St. Patrick's Day, that number more than doubles to 13 million pints, said Beth Davies Ryan, global corporate-relations director of Guinness.
      "Historically speaking, a lot of Irish immigrants came to the United States and brought with them lots of customs and traditions, one of them being Guinness," she said.
      Today, the U.S. tradition of St. Patrick's Day parades, packed pubs, and green silliness has invaded Ireland with full force, said Freeman, the classics professor.
      The country, he noted, figured out that the popularity of St. Patrick's Day was a good way to boost spring tourism. (Get National Geographic Travelermagazine's list of the best hotels in Ireland.)
      "Like anybody else," he said, "they can take advantage of a good opportunity."


      birthday weekend

      Sometimes I feel like I might be stranger than most people because I think about morbid things like death or loss a little too much. I don't know if you're like this too, but sometimes in a super happy moment or time I'll think about how it won't always be like this and how things always won't be so good. Weird, right? It's only for a second though, but in a way I think it almost helps me really enjoy those good times because I'm hyper-aware of them happening. Sometimes I'll start thinking about this with my parents and it brings me to tears. I recently lost my Grandma and it's bizarre to think about one day losing my own parents. It feels weird to even vocalize this kind of thing here, but it was on my mind as I've spent the past few days with my sweet mama and enjoyed every second of it. I love her SO much, so so much. I can't imagine my world without her, and I can't even begin to think about losing my Mom, like my Dad did a few months ago. So I keep focusing on the now, on the little moments I have with my parents. I take it all in. The way my Mom always seems to have a piece of dark chocolate in her hand anytime after 8pm, how my Dad will always wash my car on a sunny Sunday afternoon. I relish in the hugs and kisses my Mom gives me, even when I pretend to hate it, like my 16-year old self. I love my Dad's tough shell but sweet, sweet heart and my Mom's constant sunshine. I pay attention to the small details, the "make sure you call us when you get home," the "be safe" my Dad always has to say as his last words as we pull out of their driveway, and the way Henry runs to my Mom, arms outstretched, "up up up!"  I take in every single little bit I can, because I know one day it won't be like this. And maybe I'm really weird for having these thoughts, but in a way I'm grateful for them because they remind me to be in the now, and to really pay attention. I never want to take a moment of it for granted.

      Weekend links!

      Hollywood Sign

      Hello, hello! I wanted to take a minute and thank all of you who left such nice comments on Wednesday's post. My scan and x-rays went fine - I don't know why I get so nervous for medical things, but here I am at almost-30, shaking in my boots to get a needle in my arm.  It is scary though when you go to the doctor and they say you need to get these serious things done's so easy for my mind to run wild. Anyway, besides the strange injection they gave me for the CT that made me feel like I had peed my pants, the appointment was relatively simple. My results came back later that day, and although there was nothing in my throat (yay!) my thyroid is enlarged so I go in Monday for more testing. The doctor gave me the go-ahead for my LA trip though, and I am so thankful. Hoping some sea-air and relaxation will do me well.

      So, that's what's going on in my neck of the woods. Get it? Neck of the woods? HA. ;) Anywaaay, I am flying out today at noon and will be back on Sunday or Monday to share all about my little adventure. In the meantime, here are some links to check out. Enjoy!

      A Girl Scout-inspired bridal shower. So, so awesome.

      Have you watched the amazing method video yet? And if so, have you gotten that song out of your head yet?

      Strawberry lemonade, anyone?

      Passionfruit is up and running! I'm excited to check it out for myself.

      The Polkadots sent Henry the sweetest package full of tee shirts, buttons and music! Seriously, if you have a little one, head on over. So much fun.

      I really enjoy Carly's blog- especially posts like this.

      Neat art over on Kelly Ann's blog.

      I know I said this last week, but it's a good question- have you read the new issue of Gadchick yet?

      Real men wear pink.

      Need some fitness/healthy eating inspiration? Look no one of my favorite blogs!

      Anti-aging foods? Sign me up!

      I'm so happy to have Ancient Shades as a sponsor this month, so pop over and have a look! I think their maps would be such an awesome gift for a friend who has moved, to remind them of home.

      Oh my...this post is giving me an intense case of baby fever. And little girl fever! Could Harper be any cuter?!

      I love reading about all of Abi's adventures!

      Enjoyed this article about living in the now. It's a great read!

      I love Valerie Vargas.

      And finally, head over and check out these fine ladies and their blogs- one, two, and three.