Showing posts from January, 2013

January 31, 2013: All Good Things Must Come to an End

The last day of January marked my last day of free coffee from Starbucks. My Aunt Kathy gave me this spectacular gift. For every day in January, I needed to only present the cup at any Starbucks and they filled it for free. The gift that never stops (until today).

And I wasn't going to miss a day of coffee. It traveled with me to Arizona. It traveled with me in my car each day. It became an attachment to my January being. It became a competition for me. I HAD to get my free cup of coffee each day. It felt a bit like playing the monopoly game at McDonald's. Except I was collecting my freebie rather than a token toward a prize. I am guessing my Aunt Joan felt this same urge when scurrying around Omaha to collect every beanie baby from the McDonald's promotion of years past.

I like to say I'm really not that competitive, but am now questioning this assertion. By gosh, I did get my 31 cups of free coffee; even if it meant going through the drive-through with my jammies on…

January 30, 2013: A Snow Day

Not only was yesterday a snow day, but it was a surprise. Telling the boys that there was no school was similar to them opening an unexpected Christmas gift. They hadn't a clue of a snow day potential when they went to bed the night before. The unexpected nature of this little gift from nature put a whole new spin on the day.

I checked the weather when I awoke. The wind was howling outside, so I knew something was brewing. "Schools Closed" was an headline. I first woke Ben and shared this development. He shot up and asked "really?" and then a jubilant "yes!!" Although he later said he didn't remember me coming in, I awoke Grant and told him the same news. They both nestled back into their comfy slumber. I nestled in front of my computer; jammies and slippers intact.

At 9:15 my phone rang with an incoming call from Grant. As I wondered why he was calling me from down the hall, I heard his panicked voice waking Ben up. Not remembering my …

January 29, 2013: Stayin' Alive

My theme song is the Bee Gee's "Stayin' Alive". And I have no idea why. I would like to tell you that there is some great story behind it; like that I played the song over and over while on a sinking ship (and survived, of course). But no such story. I just randomly chose it as my theme song one day. I was reminded of my long forgotten theme song tonight when the Bee Gee hit "Jive Talkin" came on my radio. It caused me to pause and ask the question "why on earth did I choose Stayin' Alive as my theme song???"

I believe the idea of a theme song stemmed back to the "Ally McBeal" television series. I loved watching the Ally shows. This was back in the days when I actually watched TV which was the direct correlation to having babies and small children. The show aired from 1997- 2002; my sweet spot of child bearing and rocking children to sleep. The lull of a TV often accompanied this venture.

Ally was known for her theme song "Sear…

January 28, 2013: Fun with Fashion

Today's excerpt is going to be a bit of a fashion blog. The motivation behind this theme stems from compliments thrown my way on the outfit I wore this weekend (picture below). After posting on FaceBook, I got several "likes" on the outfit as much as the picture. My knee jerk reaction was to tell the story behind the clothing.

When I dressed up for dinner last night (picture above...thanks to Garrett, my new fashion photographer) and reviewed my wardrobe choice, I was again reminded that most all of my articles of clothing have a story behind them. Weird, but true. Let me explain this phenomenon.

I really don't like to shop. And I really don't like to shop without a reason. For instance, you would never hear me say "let's go to the mall" or "shall we just walk around Village Pointe?". There is no "Born to Shop" bumper sticker on my car. Like my aversion to chocolate, I wasn't born with this female gene.

But as described in a…

January 27, 2013: Working on the Smile

So smiling for pictures isn't my forte...I get it. I was reminded of this by Garrett and Mom this weekend. As the two of them gave me tips on how to mirror my nature smile (which they say is nice) when posing for a picture (which I know is bad), based on their responding laughs; my attempts were less than stellar. Garrett was a little less specific with his advice of "just smile like you always do" as opposed to mom's "I heard the movie stars put their tongue against the back of their teeth."

When I tried the tongue behind my teeth trick and asked for their thoughts, Mom roared with laughter. And Garrett said, "you look like you're putting your tongue behind your teeth." So much for that strategy.

Sometimes I just plain over think things. Garrett can vouch for this as he has explained to me numerous times the proper squat position in skiing and I still don't have it perfected. My trainer at the gym marvels at my dead lifts, but when he ad…

January 26, 2013: The Vole Story

Once upon a time....we had a cat named Rambo. This little calico kitty was an adventurer. My dad, a farm boy at heart, always said he admired Rambo for his hunter skills. Although Rambo only lived with us for a short period of time, he was pure entertainment.

Rambo's morning ritual included slipping out the doggy door and hunting mice. My neighbor told me that Rambo greeted her each morning at her deck door with his unfortunate prey. So proud. He once brought a baby bunny into our basement to show my boys. They were playing video games with friends as Rambo dropped the very alive bunny at their feet. As they screamed trying to catch the scared and hopping creature, Rambo sat calmly as if to say "look what I found!" Always a show off.

Rambo's hunting skills did not directly affect me until one fateful summer night several years ago. Mom and Dad were staying with us and sleeping in the basement. On the particular night of this story, we were all in bed. Ben's bedr…

January 25, 2013: Not Always a Frequent Flyer

One would probably be surprised with my current frequent flyer status that I didn't step foot on a plane until the age of nineteen. With the exception of earning a "First Time Flyer" certificate in the 70's after a scary ride on a crop duster, this is a true statement.

Our family vacations during my childhood were road trips. We took annual trips to Okoboji and Omaha; sprinkled in with ocassional adventures north to Minnesota and south to Kansas City. There were no flights to the coastal states or worrying about checking bags or catching flights. Our worries were on rolling the seat belts to get them out of our way and setting of the imginary lines in between my brothers and I in the back seat of the car.

This all changed when my young and courageous parents decided to move from their comfortable existence in Remsen, Iowa to the sunny elements of Kingman, Arizona. This big life change (for all of us) occured in 1986.

My parents purchased tickets for my brother, Matt…

January 24, 2013: It's 60 Degrees Somewhere...

And I'm flying there tomorrow.

It's overdue. We will call the 60 degree weather and sunny Arizona skies "frosting on the cake" after enduring the frosty chills of Nebraska. The real reason for the trip is to visit my parents...long overdue, visit Garrett's dad...overdue, and visit Garrett...necessary.

I haven't seen my mom and dad since last May. I think it's now been two years since I've been to Kingman. Yes, this trip is long overdue. I got used to them being around as they have stayed with me a lot over the last few years. Eventually they "weaned" me off relying on them. Probably similar to when I was a child, they pushed me out of the nest again (or left the nest). I miss them and although the time will be short, I very much look forward to it.

Grant and I visited Larry, Garrett's dad, last February in Pheonix. We had a blast with Larry and his girlfriend, Judi. He is an awesome "almost" father-in-law to me. With him split…

January 23, 2013: Tales of a Bad Haircut

I just got a call from my ex-husband. "Is Ben at your house?"

"No." <pause>. He went on to tell me that Ben had called him this morning, complaining of illness. According to Ben, he was a prisoner to the bathroom and unable to go to school. The phone call to me related to confusion on whose house Ben was at. Certainly not mine, since I had been working from home all day. And not a peep on my cell from my wonder child #2. bullshit meter went off. Something was not right with this story. The story I  heard and the evidence I observed were completely conflicting (for the record, I have a secret desire to be Sandy: C.S.I. Agent and think I would be quite good at it!)

After hearing Ben's tale as told to me by his father and then tracing back my steps and observations of the morning, my bullshit meter was off the chart. Not a word was spoken by Ben complaining of pain or ailments at 7:15 when we were all rolling out of the house. When I asked what …

January 22, 2013: I am a Salt Addict

I wanted to title this blog "I Don't Like Chocolate". But the typical responses of "you can't be female" or "no way!" detracted from the admission of my counter addiction: anything close to a chip or cracker. The Lays catch phrase "you can't eat just one" definitely applies to me.

So, yes it is true. I don't like chocolate. In particular, I hate the aftertaste. Although I ate some chocolate as a kid, I really thought of it more as requirement of childhood rather than a craving. I did have a bad incident with a cheap chocolate Easter bunny. Whether my throwing up was due to the very chocolate bunny (no hollowness in that mound of magic) or my excessive consumption of hard-boiled Easter eggs will remain one of life's great mysteries. I do like to blame my chocolate aversion on that fateful bunny though.

One could assume I would be thin and modelesque with a diet less this food choice , but unfortunately this is not the case. A…

January 21, 2013: Nieces are a Blessing

I don't have daughters. That is a true statement. But I do have nieces. And lots of them. I love my nieces.

They have filled my world full of tiaras and Magical Mystery Bus Tours. They have loved my children and filled my backyard with laughter. They let me teach them to sew and have humored me in days full of crafts and cooking. They have taught my boys that girls can hold their own. And by bringing their many friends to my home, they've given my boys their first crushes.

So, yes, I am a mother of all boys. But I am very lucky to be called Aunt Sandy by an entourage of beautiful and talented young women. You make me happy and give me many reasons to smile. Peace out and super great :)

Love ~ Aunt Sandy

January 20, 2013: 2111 S 164th Avenue

We played Apples to Apples with friends last night. Lots of fun and laughs. Katie and Jim, old friends who I haven't seen for a while, joined us as well. Katie and I caught up on on all things healthcare and life (Katie's lifelong career has been in healthcare) and then planted ourselves next to each other during our Apples to Apples standoff.

As conversations filled the time between hands, Katie shared with me that her oldest daughter bought her first house. Coincidentally, it was just houses up from my first home. As we went through the specific locale and walked through each house in the neighborhood (some homeowners names still familiar and others, not a clue), my memories of our first home flooded my mind.

We bought our first house in April of 1992 on 2111 S. 164th Avenue. All three boys were born when we lived in that house...many great memories. I often said that we left good karma for future home buyers. It was home to us until 2000 when Grant joined our family. We ou…

January 19, 2013: Hamsters and Hot Tubs

I am going to start this blog story with my ending line. Welcome to my world. Ben, Grant and I appear to have added a hamster to our home (although I am told the residence is temporary). I woke up this morning to chlorine filled towels on the floor, a back light left on by the hot tub, and a hamster in the basement. My apologies to the creators of the movie "The Hangover", as I am mimicking their reverse story line technique in the telling of my tale.

Now that you know the final outcome, let's start at the beginning. I was sitting in a meeting late in the day yesterday with two male colleagues when a text came through from Ben, my 16 year old.

"Can me and Valerie go in the Hottub tonight" (4:49 p.m.)

As I read the text to the guys, conspiracy theories erupted on what Ben and his girlfriend were really up too. According to the grown boys (men) sitting next to me, Ben was up to something. Perhaps trying to time my entrance home? Was no good happening in my house…

January 18, 1013: It's all in the Details

I love clothes. There...I said it. It's a self-professed weakness. Although I love great style and apparel that reflects clean lines and a pop of color; my greater weakness lies in a pair of kick-ass boots, colorful stilettos, or unique jewelry. As a child, you may not have picked up on this with my strong Tomboy traits, but in private, I loved paper dolls and the mini-wardrobes of my many Barbies.

By Junior High, I was scavenging the Spiegel catalogs delivered to my house. I would earmark each page that caught my eye. Outfits of memory were tailored blazers in hounds-tooth, riding boots over tight tan pants in a smooth warm color of caramel. I LOVED to go through the Spiegel catalog page by page and envisioned how I would dress as I walked the streets of a busy city; briefcase in hand.

By High School, my mom's passion of sewing and creating wearable creations had rubbed off on me. I found that my seamstress gene could transform the visions in my mind into the the featured ou…

January 17, 2013: Quote Collector

I recently read a bio of an individual who described themselves as a collector of quotes. While other people read poetry or collected baseball cards, they liked to collect quotes. I have hung on to that and have since thought of myself as a quote collector as well. There is probably a direct connection here to my love for fortune cookies.

Every time someone shares a great quote or I read a "keeper" from a random place, I add it to my computerized list (never know when I will need to refer back to one). Below are some favorites, but in no particular order and certainly not exclusive (I have a good inventory!)...

"Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you". ~ John DePaola
“Laughter is your heart’s way of telling your face to smile.” ~ D. Green
“It’s not the things you get, but the hearts you touch, that will determine your success in life.” ~ Author Unknown
“Love doesn’t make the world go round.  Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.” ~ F…

January 16, 2013: A Mid-Day Run

I ran over the lunch hour today and it was glorious. It was an hour invested in great thought process and analysis of a complicated story problem. Maybe it's my creative side, but I find that rather than staring at a computer, my best problem solving happens on a run or bike ride. A mix of collaborating with a team and then independent analysis (preferably while enjoying the great outdoors) yields the best solutions when I'm involved. Aren't we humans a funny little species with our individual wiring?

In addition to the business perks and problem solving, I have to say that I enjoyed the treat of a forty-seven degree day. The run around Lake Zorinsky was fitting for shorts and a pull over. The scenery included a brilliant blue sky and a lake mixed with floating ice with the appearance of a cracked canvas. Yes, I think I can get used to these random mid-day runs on exceptional Nebraska days.

January 15, 2013: Busy Days Come and Go...

Today would be classified as a busy day. A very busy day. The Irish Invasion continues. This is basically my code phrase for the whirlwind associated with my new business venture. Add to an already busy day...a funeral, out-of-town client visit, Lutz Creighton pre-game party (750+ attendees made up of employees, clients and friends of the firm), and of course, the Creighton game. <sigh>.

My kids stepped up to the plate with limited assistance. They successfully held down the fort until I walked in the welcoming door of my home at 9:30 p.m. <sigh>. After a quick dinner (no time to eat during the evening whirlwind), Grant grabbed the mail for me. In the stack was the beautiful envelope in the picture above.

I had written in a previous blog how my mom sends me a handwritten note each week. Her notes are a welcomed paper gift that always seem to arrive perfectly timed on the busiest of days. Today's card was a special treat. She hand-painted both the envelope and the card…

January 14, 2013: I Love Omaha

I love Omaha. I really do. I never really thought about my adoration for this fair city until three years ago. This was when I started dating my boyfriend from Denver and the never-ending question of "when are you going to move to Denver?" began. Note to clear up that question for any inquiring minds: my kids live in Omaha, thus I will live in Omaha. So basically my adoration for the city is a mute point as it relates to my residence. But I will share anyway.

Don't get me wrong. Denver is great. It's like living in the middle of nature's playground. People have the Midwestern attitude there as well. I love to spend my many weekends with Garrett in Denver as we enjoy skiing, hiking and taking in all the city has to offer. But I sure don't think there is a geographical injustice to my perceived parental obligation in Omaha. I felt this today on my morning drive across town.

With an early morning flight, I was meandering Abbott Drive pre-6:00 a.m. After a hasty…

January 13, 2013: Mac Air Fun

There is a chill in the air in Omaha. With the brisk weather, Garrett and I hibernated and stayed in most of yesterday. We did peel ourselves out of the house for a Pilates Mat class (Garrett humoring me) and then caught the movie, Silver Lining Playbook (highly recommend it). Note that we were the only movie viewers at the 10:30 a.m. show under the age of 60. Makes me wonder how good the discount will be once we hit the golden age of Senior Citizen status.

Post lunchtime, it was all indoors for us with slippers and a warm fireplace. We struggled through a Broncos loss and then enjoyed pizza delivery and beer out of the garage frig with the background noise of playoff football. With this great leisure time on the sofa, I was able to play on my new MacBook Air. And it is sweet.

This lovely piece of technology definitely feeds my right brain. Below is a video I pulled together with relative ease. This little ditty summarizes my travel year in chronological order by my mapped locations …

January 12, 2013: Thank-you, Sr. Margretta

Yesterday a client stopped by my office. I hadn't seen her in a few years. As we met at the front desk, she exclaimed, "Wow, you have long hair. You look ten years younger." I am not too sure exactly how I responded. It was something like, "How long has it been since we've seen each other? Why, your hair is long too." and then a bunch of Sandy Lane "blah, blah, blah". Later I thought about her nice compliment and positive response at our re-acquaintance. I asked myself, why can't I simply say "thank-you"? Sr. Margretta would not be pleased.

Yes, I was schooled by Sister Margretta in the art of taking a compliment. I think of her words to me each time I fail at this task. I can still see the sternness of her face that fall night in 1982. We were standing outside of Mrs. Mooney's house at an after-play celebration. I was cast as the lead character, Miss Barrett, in the fall play, "Up the Down Staircase". We had just fini…

January 11, 2013: Rainy Days and Mondays...

Although this song has filled my mind as I drove between morning meetings, technically it's a rainy day and a Friday. A much better prospect given it's the middle of January with rain rather than snow and Friday is always better than Monday. And there is actually a pep in my step; even with the overriding global gloom in the sky. I can't lie that having Sheryl Crow's "Soak up the Sun" in my mind's eye rather than Karen Carpenter belting out her rainy day blueness is my preferred mindset, but I am feeling good about my rainy Friday.

First off, and my reason for my writing so early in the day, tonight is date night. Yep, my man from Denver, who is currently in Dallas, flies into Omaha at 7:10 p.m. (say that in one breath). So I will be enjoying a night out in the Old Market. Date night. Love it and have been looking forward to it all week. In reference to my prior blog on "Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder", this is so true. Sure makes me feel …

January 10, 2013: Unsubscribe

I have a confession to make. When I get nasty e-mails or those with a negative or condescending tone, my knee jerk reaction is to fantasize on replying with the simple subject line "unsubscribe". No body in the e-mail. No words other than the word "unsubscribe" on the subject line. Yep, it crosses my mind and tempts me each time I receive a nastigram or e-annoyance.

An example of a nastigram (based on my own personal rule book) includes passive aggressive cyber behavior. This would include a person who can't communicate their frustrations in person, but instead writes a dissertation on the matter at hand. I learned a lesson early on in the world of e-mail and that is the lesson of permanent record. An e-mail is a permanent record. You can't take it back. Consider it published.

An example of an e-annoyance (based on own my list of personal pet peeves) would be unnecessary "reply to all" e-mails. When a coach sends out a reminder to twenty-five you…

January 9, 2013: The Network Investment Club

I was recently asked to join a women's investment club. The official name is the "Network Investment Club". Although the name initially makes me think of either a Disney channel show or the African woman detective series,  I have quickly learned that this club comprised of twenty Omaha women is much more than the name reveals. This "by invitation only" group of twenty meets monthly to analyze their combined portfolio. In the over 30+ years in existence, the result has been a sizable pot of change. I was surprisingly impressed with the accomplishments of this group from my first meeting as an invited guest.

Tonight as a member referred to herself as "newer" member (she had been in the club for 16 years), I sat back as the "very new" member of two months trying to comprehend the number of years ahead before I would be christened a seasoned member. I guess low turn over is a good thing, right?

As I took in this very eclectic group, I couldn…

January 8, 2013: Star Light, Star Bright...

...first star I see tonight. I wish I may. I wish I might. Have the wish I wish tonight.
I couldn't resist the lure of the hot tub tonight. It was calling my name as the boys and I drove home from the Jays game and my car thermometer read 39 degrees. Perfect hot tub weather. After a so-so day, just what the doctor ordered.

The added surprise was leftover Irish ale from a Christmas party. Finding this treasure in the dark recesses of my garage frig was nothing short of a calling. After a quick chemical shocking of the hot tub (I do have teenage boys), the 103 degrees of aqua therapy was bliss.

Relaxing with beer in hand and gazing up at the bright star-filled night, I was quickly reminded of my nightly ritual four years ago. In those days I was coping with my new life of alone-nights. The hot tub and a glass of wine were my therapy for thinking about life and calming my nerves a bit. It was a chance to reflect on the past and use those lessons for the future. Each night I would lo…

January 7, 2013: Happy Birthday, Dad!

My dad turned 69 today. Yep, a good day for all of us. My brothers and I have a great dad and we are grateful for him. It is interesting how one needs to age and reach similar life milestones to fully appreciate their parents. Dad really doesn't like the spotlight nor will he particularly like my blogging about him, so I will keep it brief.

Being raised in the 70's was a very different time in parenting then the techniques of today. My dad worked. He worked hard; putting in long hours while my mom stayed home with us (note that I do recognize her hard work as well). With his new role as grandparent, my dad has noted differences in the role of a dad of today vs. his parenting heyday in the 70's.

Sometimes I pick up on a hint of regret for his working long hours instead of attending all of our childhood events. Maybe he should have been more engaged in teaching us to tie our shoes or coach our baseball team?. No worries, Dad, you taught us much more than you know.

In these …

January 6, 2013: I'm Going to the Zoo, Zoo, Zoo...

How about you, you, can come too, too, too. I'm going to the zoo...

If you didn't sing this song in elementary school, my apologies. It sure has a ring to it. This song fills my mind on each zoo trip. Obviously the trips are less frequent these days given the ages of my children. In fact, this was the first year I didn't buy a zoo membership. Although I typically pass my kids' childhood milestones with ease, this one got to me.

I LOVE the zoo and have never taken this Omaha treasure for granted. In fact, I have been a bit of a snob when visiting other zoos over the year. None compare to our crown jewel. And the great thing about having it at our finger tips with family pass in hand was countless trips with varying adventures. If I felt like hauling the kids just to have a picnic lunch and stay for an hour, that was our adventure.

I even learned a trick back in the day. I would show up with the kids right before 5:00 close. We would come on a week day; an alr…

January 5, 2013: Memories and Hope

I love fortune cookies and the fortunes that come with them. The one above I received before Christmas was a fitting for a season filled with memories, spending time with loved ones, and ringing in a new year. I savor the memories and hold on tightly to hope. Even at 45, I can still enjoy young hopes too, right?

I did get a taste of both prongs of this fortune today as we made a pit stop at my favorite candy store, Hollywood Candy, in the Old Market. It's a flea market and candy store combined; full to the brim of vintage treasures. My twelve-year-old partners-in-crime were as equally enthralled as me. I never tire of looking through the boxes full of vinyls or walls full of collectible Pez containers. And the boys were right by my side, checking out the inventory every step of the way.

As we ate our candy of choice on the car ride back to West Omaha, we discussed our plans for the night and adventure for tomorrow (zoo!). Old and new filled the car as we (me) went from…

January 4, 2013: Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

As my days of quiet bliss continue, I remember the words of my brother, Mark. Shortly after my divorce and facing the reality of only having my kids every other weekend, I was crying on his shoulder. His words to me still feel fresh..."Spending time away from the boys will make you appreciate them more and them appreciate you more". Although this didn't seem very comforting at the time, the statement has held true in my new world.

The advise had a secondary impact when the unexpected happened; I started a long-distance relationship. Garrett lives in Denver. I live in Omaha. The difference house to house...552 miles. So my calendar is now comprised of kids every other weekend and boyfriend on the opposite weekends. Yes, Mark, through the last three years I have certainly learned to appreciate all four of these men in my life much more than if we were together each day.

Absence (although incredibly difficult at times) does make the heart grow stronger. I don't take fo…

January 3, 2013: Quiet Bliss

If you read my blog on Paper, you will recognize Abby's companion in the picture above. After a week of planes, autos, snowy drives in the mountains, lots of kid time and Christmas adventures; the solitude of my cozy home was a much needed reprieve. My boys are with their dad this week and the Colorado crew in Colorado. So Abby and I are the only inhabitants of my quiet home. And I'm good with this temporary quiet bliss.

My days have been filled with working, reading, cooking (for one), and my ever favorite...poking around the house. I have cleaned out drawers, organized shelves, and read through cards written years ago. A favorite spot of mine to catch up on the goings on in the cyber world are on my chocolate colored leather couch in the family room. As my fur blanket lays on my lap, providing padding for my lap top while the fireplace provides the only sound in the house; Abby has been sitting perched next to her new best friend.

After writin…

January 2, 2013: New Year, New Career...

Time to come out of the closet and confirm that the rumor is true...I am leaving Lutz for a new venture (or better said, adventure?). I decided to make this big move last year after being approached to be part of a healthcare start-up business. More to come on my new endeavor, but I will summarize the business model by saying it is a perfect match of my skill set and my core values. I am excited to play a part in changing healthcare for the better and in turn, help people have better lives. That simple.

Although my title for this new entity is CFO, I have been wearing many hats during the start-up journey. Even with my twenty-two years of consulting in healthcare, there is still much to learn about the intricacies of a very complicated industry. The entrepreneurial spirit of this venture and the people I have met along the way have more than exceeded expectations (each a bloggable story by itself). I can honestly say that I am LOVING every minute without a hint of regret.

Let me regr…