North Georgia Snapshots

We had a great time in North Georgia visiting Aunt Livy last weekend. Best to share it in photos!

Our first stop was, no lie, El Cheapo gas station in Alma, Ga. Don’t you love that donkey? Can’t say I’ve ever heard of El Cheapo, but DH says they are all over the back roads of Georgia, which he’s traveled for softball tournaments. We later learned that El Cheapo is run by Friendly Gus’s brother. Gus is all over the back roads of Georgia, too.

Caught a beautiful Rainbow just north of Macon at Cracker Barrel…you know you have to eat at Cracker Barrel when you are traveling, at least in these parts.

We saw Rock City…

…where we were reminded of a very good lesson…

…and saw some of my favorite things…

…and captured a rare picture of me and DH…

…and created photographers in the making.

We visited the Tennessee Aquarium and its top floor butterfly garden…

…and Chickmauga Battlefield and its rolling hills (see those deer) and cannons….

…and my house (thank my dad for this goofy picture).

And most importantly, we spent some good time with one of the most wonderful ladies on the face of the earth, my dear sweet Aunt Livy. We spent a day making crafts and catching up and telling stories and remembering fun times (the boys visited the battlefields). We did another really cool thing Saturday night, which I’ll tell you about later this week. I’m still working through all those pictures!

A Verbal Peek at My Day

Pictures would just be too scary! In my "day job," I'm the Director of Student Life and Leadership Development at a very large state college here in Jacksonville. Fall classes start Monday. We started the day with a large concrete column rolling off a forklift and then up under one of my staff member's car. Small car, not small column. One messed up car. And now at this moment, there are more than 100 students in my Student Lounge lined up to get IDs because my ID machine is currently the only one on campus that works (I'm sure I'm probably breaking a fire code there), AND to make matters even more interesting, the construction crew on campus has broken a main water line, leaving the entire campus without water. What do you lose when you have no water? Yes! All the bathrooms on campus are currently locked, AND our air-conditioning system will soon be running out of water in the reserve tank. Florida...August...currently 95 degrees. And it's only 12:30! Yay! Don't you wish you were here!?!

First Day of 2nd Grade!

We had a great trip up to North Georgia, and I’ll share some photos from the visit later this week. The girls started 2nd grade yesterday! The Granddad stayed over Sunday night since we got back so late, so he got to come with us for first day morning festivities. That crazy clown is the wonderful Mrs. S, teacher’s aide and traffic cop extraordinaire.

As I was putting the girls to bed tonight, Livvie told me she wished we could be stuck together. When I asked her how she'd go to school and I'd go to work if we were stuck together, she suggested we make velcro outfits, so we could become unstuck when needed. Now, there's a thought.

Off to Visit Aunt Livy

We’re off on our annual trek to visit my Great Aunt Olivia for her birthday. She’s 89 this year and still one heck of a poker player. She taught me everything I know! She's the second oldest of four sisters and a brother and the only sibling still living. My Nana was the youngest of the crew. This picture is my Nana (left) and Aunt Livy at my wedding reception 15 years ago! Below are a few posts about Aunt Livy.

Memories of Mom, Nana and Aunt Livy

Last Year’s Preview

The Results of Last Year’s Trip

Pictured with the girls three years ago

Back on Monday!

What Does Authenticity Mean?

Well, the fog I described last week is lifting, but I continue to be a scattered-brained mess! :-) My house looks like a tornado hit, and as I sit here in my little office, I’m surrounded by fake dollar bills (the play kind, just so you Feds know, I’m not creating dollar bills here), an atlas, Ebay and Etsy receipts, three cameras, my new deposit slips, stamp and fancy checkbook for my business checking account, scribbled notes written while trying to find a hotel for our trip up to North Georgia later this week (thus the atlas mentioned earlier…who knew we’d be visiting Aunt Livy the same four days as a huge gospel fest AND softball tournament in the same area?), a few shells, baby lotion, kids shampoo, a large comb, innumerable blankets, quilts and scarves the girls have pulled out of their room to play with, and um, a reindeer that poops jelly beans. And that’s all just in my little 5’ x 5’ office nook! And that doesn’t include the “normal” office stuff that’s supposed to be here! The rest of my house is currently in a similar state. Oh well.

I made this necklace a couple weeks ago while my friend Dana was over for a play date. It's now in my Etsy store here. That big piece of jade up front used to be in a different piece that I’ve had laying around for a while, so I reworked it for summer. Dana just finished Florence, and we were celebrating. Who is Florence, you ask? Florence is a mannequin Dana collaged from head to toe with all sorts of fabulous stuff. Took her two years! Serious dedication there! My only suggestion was that she change out Florence’s boring brown wig for a hot pink one. That was my contribution, and we both feel it was the finishing touch. Sorry, no pictures of Florence to share with you because Dana is thinking about starting a blog, and when I suggested that maybe it could be Florence’s blog, Dana’s face lit up. So I’m hoping she’ll follow through with that, and THEN Dana will share pictures of Florence with you.

When talking about Florence and her potential blog, Dana and I got on the subject of authenticity, which seems to be the biggest buzz word in blogging. We talked about what we think that means. What the heck does that mean anyway? Dana is a psychology instructor, and though we are very dear friends, we have very different approaches on life. Dana, God bless her, is a mega-analyzer. And I’m really, um, not. I’ll analyze temporarily, but then I’m over it; the old “it is what it is” motto I live by. Experience it, learn from it, move on. And while I certainly touch on my personal life here, I try my darndest not to dwell on issues I may be struggling with. Hashing out my problems, insecurities, fears, what have you, in a public forum is just not how I process things. Other people do, and if that works for them, I think that’s great! But just because someone chooses not to hash out those things on a blog, does that mean they are not being authentic? I certainly do not think so, and it’s that line of thinking that really bugs me about authenticity talk.

Lori mentioned something similar on her blog a while back, and she has the exact same outlook on life that I do (one of the many reasons I love you Lori!). No one’s life is perfect. Bad things happen to everyone, regardless of whether you are a stay at home mom or working mom, regardless of your income or lack thereof, regardless of your marital status, regardless of where you live and whether you have a river in your backyard or not, regardless of what you choose to share and choose not to share. Bad stuff just happens. That’s just life. The one thing that we all have in common is that we all have the choice regarding how we react to that bad stuff. We all have the choice of whether or not to choose happiness or dwell on the negative. 99 times out of 100, I choose to be happy. Am I Pollyanna-ish enough to think that I’m, therefore, going to be happy every single second of every single day? Heck no! I have my moments. But when I’m not in a happy place, I typically choose not to share that with the world. That’s what works for me. That is the “authentic” me, take 'er or leave 'er. And I eat lots of chocolate and lick batter directly out of the brownie batter bowl.

Coming Out of the Fog

I created this postcard a while back for Beth’s Great Stitched Postcard Swap. The rules were that it had to be stitched in some way and include something wrapped around the theme of “time.” I mailed it off months ago, to Australia no less, but unfortunately I’ve never received one in return. Oh well, guess that’s how swaps go some times. I have been participating in a couple other postcard swaps and those have been a bit more successful, so I’ll share some of those soon. And I’m way overdue on catching up on some mail art for a couple friends, so I hope to get to that this weekend!

I thought the topic of time was perfect for me today as I’ve been in a bit of a fog as to where mine has gone lately. Obviously, my little blog has been a bit neglected here lately, and I feel like I haven’t been able to get anything accomplished. I’ve been more scattered-brained than usual and tired all the time, and I've been having a heck of a time getting out of bed in the morning for about a month. But I think I finally pinned it down last night! I blogged about my balance dysfunction a while back here (and that vestibular rehab therapy did absolutely nothing for me, by the way). Earlier this summer, I had a really bad few weeks….the entire month of June really. It started with a very bad spin that lasted….four….days. It was awful. It actually happened while I was in Tallahassee for a conference. First spin came on that Wednesday night, then another Thursday morning and then the spinning just would not stop. If something like that had to happen out of town, I was very blessed that it happened in Tallahassee where I have a good support group of friends. My dear friend Jim (otherwise known as my other husband) picked me up at the hotel Thursday morning and took me to his office. The owner of their company lives in Tampa but is in Tallahassee pretty regularly, so they actually have a sleeping suite there in the office. That way, I could try to sleep it off in a place where someone could keep an eye on me instead of being alone in a hotel room.

The spinning still had not stopped by the end of Jim’s workday, so he took me over to my good friend KT’s house so she could keep an eye on me for the night. I took two Tylenol PM’s and tried to continue to sleep it off (I had already thrown up all my dizzy meds that I had brought with me). Friday morning, I still had not stopped spinning, so we decided we had to get me home. I called DH, and Jim drove me half way, meeting DH in the middle. I had to leave my van sitting in the DoubleTree parking garage. Thankfully a couple of my former students, both now at FSU, were able to drive it home for me that next day.

By the time I got home Friday afternoon, I wasn’t able to get in to see my dizzy doc, so I just went to Solantic. I told that doc that I have a severe balance disorder that I was being treated for, but the spins had never lasted as long as these were lasting. He checked me out and did determine that I had a slight ear infection that might have been contributing to the problem. He gave me a heavy dose of antibiotics to try to clear that up quickly, and the spinning actually started to settle down Saturday afternoon.

Then the next week, I had another bad spin. And then another the week after that, and another the week after that. My dizzy doc ran more tests on me to see if anything had changed and, though my ear drum is continuing to pull away on my left side (trying to compensate for the extreme lack of balance function in that ear), everything else appeared status quo. He chalked it up to a bout with positional vertigo compounded by my regular spins and decided I needed to up my regular dizzy med dosage to a full pill instead of a half.

And that brings me back to my time fog. I realized last night that this fog I’ve been in has pretty much correlated to the time I’ve been taking the full pill (I’m on klonopin, which if you Google you can find out all sorts of good stuff…but really I’m not psychotic, since you’ll see that one of its primary uses is as an anti-psychotic! Rarely do any of the sites mention that it’s also often used in treating severe vertigo!). The major side effect for me has always been increased drowsiness and lack of concentration. So last night, I went back to half a pill….and this morning I was actually able to get out of bed a little easier and I have a little more energy today! Keep your fingers crossed for me that I can go back to half a pill permanently without spinning!

*We will now return to your regularly scheduled Artful Happiness programming…. :-)

Time for August Free Bling!

Congratulations to Angie from South Florida for winning July's free bling pendant! Visit Angie's Etsy shop here. Cute stuff! And remember that second giveaway I had last month? Free entry into Dirty Footprints Studio's Art Journal LOVE Letters class? Congrats to Chelsey, from Melbourne, Florida! Take a peek at Chelsey's blog here. Both of these lovely ladies are members of FEST, the Florida Etsy Street Team!

For August, here’s one of my glass tile pendants featuring my "Eye of the Beholder" photograph. This is actually a macro shot of grass seed pods. I managed to spot them, run upstairs and grab my camera, and capture them about two seconds before my husband ran over them with the lawn mower. I was really pleased with the shot when it popped up on my screen. The tile is handmade glass from Annie Howes, who makes all my glass for me, and the pendant is finished with a silver-toned aanraku bail. It comes complete with a silver-tone ball chain cut to the length of your choice.

To be eligible to win, simply visit either of my Etsy shops (here for jewelry and here for photography) and leave a comment in the comment box below with the link to your favorite piece along with a way to reach you and where you’re from by midnight Thursday, September 2, 2010. Want more entries? Tweet, blog or Facebook this giveaway and leave another comment with the link. The next winner will be drawn via Friday, September 3, 2010. Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Click here to sign up for free weekly email updates or subscribe in the reader of your choice in the right column over there. Be sure to join my Facebook Fan page for Fan specials! Thanks for stopping in!

The Big Redneck Birthday Bash

Last year after the girls’ slumber party birthday party, I distinctly remember telling DH that maybe we didn’t need to do a slumber party next year, yet I apparently forgot about that until I was dead dog tired after all the girls went home late Sunday morning. A gaggle of giggling seven-year-olds will wear your butt out! But a grand time was had by all. This top picture is the majority of the girls eating dinner after playing on our redneck waterslide for a couple hours.

And here you see Molly’s hot pink ‘do. The girls were drawing chalk mermaids and mermaid villages on our side porch, and Molly was rolling around on them trying to be the center of attention. I rather like the hot pink, don’t you?

And so here you have it…our redneck waterslide. For the two previous years, I spent $250 renting one of those large inflatable water slides, and sure, they all had a blast, but $250 was just a bit much for the amount of time they spent on it. So this year, DH devised this lovely redneck waterslide…combine your traditional slip and slide with a small ramp extended from the slide on the play set, and voila! My video-taking skills are a bit weak but I think you’ll get the drift. Enjoy! Now it’s time to get back to the studio this weekend!

Tuesday Treasury Shout Out--Grandma's Jewelry

8-3-10 kellywarrenphotoart
Been a while since I've remembered to do this, so I need to get back in the habit of my Tuesday Treasury Shout Outs! A big shout out to Grandma's Jewelry for including my sweet Isabelle in this very fun furry friend treasury. See Izzy down there bottom left? Pop in and see Anna at Grandma's Jewelry. Birthday party update coming tomorrow! I'm still recovering from having eight seven-year-olds at my house for 18 hours! :-)