To My Dotz

Today is a sad day in my family. Today we held a funeral mass for my grandfather who passed away last week. It is with a heavy heart that I write this post and wish more than anything that I could be on the east coast with my family during this difficult time.

When I was a little one, my parents tried to teach me to say Grandad, Grandpa, Grandpop, or some iteration of Grandfather. But I could not be trained. When I looked at my father’s father, I lovingly yelled out, “Dotz!” And it stuck.

Dotz was one of the greatest men I’ve ever known. He served during World War II, went to college, had a very strong faith, married my wonderful Nany, raised four children, had a successful career and retirement, and was always ready to entertain his grandchildren.

My memories of Dotz are full of happiness and much love. I remember visiting him in up-state New York when we were kids; I always looked forward to staying with them. And I remember how excited I was when he and Nany moved to Wyoming. I believe they moved to the great state of WY to be close to us, but he always told me it was because the taxes were cheaper. ;)

Of course, as any grandfather would, my Dotz was there for my graduations, confirmation, birthdays, wedding, and pretty much all life events. He always greeted me with a big kiss and hug and every time I told him I loved him he said, “You better!” He never really acknowledged our pug as an actual dog, but I know he loved Barley in his own way (he called him an overgrown gerbil).

Dotz always made me giggle and always made me feel special. He was excited for my pregnancy and couldn’t wait to meet my little boy. It brings tears to my eyes to know that my baby won’t get to know the man that Dotz was but I am comforted in knowing that Dotz is always watching over him.

I am so very thankful to have known my Dotz. I ache for my Nany, my Dad, and my aunts and uncle who mourn him today but know in my heart he’s with his Lord and watching over all of us.

I love you, Dotz and I’ll miss you so very much.

Thankful Thursday: Leaders

Tomorrow is an event that I look forward to all year. Yes…Wyoming Art for the Cure. As with most fundraisers, Wyoming Art for the Cure couldn’t happen without caring, invested leadership. In all organizations, there is a need for passionate, hard-working, creative guidance and, thankfully, we have exactly that in the form of Jesse and Kelly.

Jesse & Kelly via the Wyoming Art for the Cure Committee Photo Shoot

These two women are incredible leaders. Their drive to ensure the event is successful is motivational, their enthusiasm is contagious, and their work ethic is unmatchable. Aside from running one the most anticipated and well-attended events of the year, these two also raise their children, work, and are effortlessly gorgeous (inside and out…. there I go, being all mushy).

Without leaders like Kelly and Jesse, there would be no passion to make a difference. Leaders who dedicate themselves to a cause give us all hope and confidence that change is possible. Leaders who won’t accept failure, who believe in their work, and inspire the rest of us continuously improve the world we live in.

Thank you, Jesse and Kelly, for your tireless efforts to raise money to eradicate breast cancer, share art with our community, and empower women. On today’s Thankful Thursday, I am thankful for leaders like you!

Here’s to the Spouse!

Today is a very special Monday….it’s my spouse’s birthday!

We celebrated his birthday this weekend with a few close friends at our house for a Winter BBQ. Even though it was his party, the spouse got up early and spent all day smokin’ meats, cooking side dishes, and whippin’ up homemade BBQ sauce. In a word: Delicious. He and the guys ended the night with a poker game…they had a pretty good time. ;)

I typically ramble on and on about my loved ones on their birthdays but the spouse isn’t one for big, embarrassing, public displays of affection (even though only, like, eight people read this blog). I have to say a few words, but we’ll keep this short and sweet.

I am so thankful for my spouse, today and everyday, for all he does for our tiny family. He works incredibly hard (as a structural engineer) and comes home every night to cook a wonderful dinner. As a BBQ competitor, home-brewer, fisherman, and football enthusiast, his hobbies keep us both busy….and full!

As we prepare to be parents, I have been amazed at how calm, cool, and collected he’s been throughout the last nine months. His excitement about being a dad and relaxed energy towards the new projects and tasks that come along with being a parent have eased my ever-growing anxiety about this new adventure.

I couldn’t be more proud of the man I call the spouse and all he’s accomplished. I can’t wait for him to meet his little boy, can’t wait to see what the next stage of life will bring us, and am blessed beyond words to get to take this journey with him.

Happy Birthday, spouse!! I think this will be the best year yet!

There Were Never Such Devoted Sisters

‘All kinds of weather, we stick together
The same in the rain and sun
Two different faces, but in tight places
We think and we act as one
Those who’ve seen us
Know that not a thing could come between us….’

Today is my sister, Kate’s, birthday!!! Happy Birthday, sista!

I’ve written about Kate before as someone who inspires me, but only gave you glimpse at truly marvelous person she is. Today, on her birthday, I wanted to tell you why my sister is one of the Modern Day Superhero’s I look up to.

The last year was a big one for my middle sister. She welcomed her baby boy, Paxton, into the world and started the adventure of motherhood. From my view, she’s stepped into the position of ‘Mom’ with grace, confidence, and fortitude. Her unconditional love and the amazing bond she and her little man share move me to tears.

In addition to welcoming Pax in July, Kate and her boyfriend, Clay, busily prepared for their bundle of joy for the first half of the year. Kate’s style and love for our mom’s photography has created a serene and comfortable dwelling for this new little family to call home. Becoming a home-maker and mother all at once, she welcomed her new life with love and devotion.

But these new roles haven’t changed who my sister is at her core. Making time for loved ones above all else, she balances friendship, working, and motherhood while somehow making it all seem effortless. In most of her non-existent free time, you’ll find Kate planning parties for friends, creating surprises for loved ones, and cooking up special treats for coworkers to brighten their day and ensure they know they’re a top priority in her life.

In addition, Kate works as a Natural & Organics food broker. It’s a very demanding job but it fits nicely with her healthy lifestyle of pesca-vegetarianism. She is strong-willed and rooted in her values; always ready to fight for what she believes in while remaining respectful of other opinions.

And you can’t talk about my sister without mentioning her unique style. Inspired daily by fashion icons, MK and Ashley, her look combined with a gorgeous smile, big blue eyes, and great hair rises envy in even the most fashionable of women.

My sister is the true definition of ‘beautiful inside and out’. Her big heart, loving spirit, and strong beliefs are matched by her sparkling eyes, perfect skin, and radiant presence. I truly admire my sister and all she’s accomplished in the last year and every year before that.

I wish you a wonderful birthday, Kate! Thank you for being such a beautiful person, inspiring mother, and dear friend. I love you! 

Lyrics above via Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.

Here’s to the Swan!

Happy Friday!

Here’s to the swan, huh? No, this post isn’t about the elegant, white-feathered, orange-beaked creature. This is about a beautiful person: my sister, Maggie a.k.a. Veronica a.k.a. Swan (her nickname. Ah, now it makes sense). The youngest of four siblings, Swan is turning 24 tomorrow and I just had to take the opportunity to tell all about her, another Modern Day Superhero.

Maggie is currently a student at the University of Wyoming, majoring in dietetics. After college, she hopes to become a sports nutritionist for a college football team (fun!). In addition to school, she works not only one but two jobs as a waitress and bartender to put herself through school and help support her furry family with her boyfriend, Brennan.

Swan is an incredible waitress and bartender. Quick with a joke and determined to provide the very best service, her shining personality wins over patrons and earns her some pretty big tips. Her effortlessly positive attitude, big smile, and kind heart are present in everything she does from work to school to relaxing with friends.

Relaxing: A word she’s not too familiar with. This busy gal loves to spend her free time taking  her dog, Potato, for runs (or dressing up like dolphin and creepin’ out her pup).She also spends her precious free minutes with friends, camping, reading gossip magazines (what girl doesn’t do this), snowboarding in the winter, traveling, going to concerts, and visiting the Jersey Shore in the summer.

Swan is the kind of person that once you meet, you’ll become lifelong friends with. Not only is she an absolute blast to hang out with thanks to her infectious giggle and quick-witted, sharp humor but she makes everyone she meets feel special. Swan puts her family and friends before everything else and will be the first to come to your aide when times are tough. She and her oldest, closest friend, Natalie, have literally been inseparable since they were two years old and their tight companionship is still going strong today.

I’m one lucky gal to have such amazing siblings and so thankful every day for a sister like Swan. I’m proud of all she’s already accomplished and look forward to all the amazing things she’s sure to do in this lifetime.

Have a wonderful birthday, Maggie! I wish you the best day and an amazing year! Thanks for you being you!

Cheers!

Chip Off the Ol’ Block

Good Morning!

Today I’m pushing back our typical Tasty Tuesday and instead sharing a very fun photo shoot with you! Recently, my dear friend, photographer, and blogger over at freckle photography, Jesse, did a photo shoot with me and my mom! I was so honored and excited when she asked me to participate and explained her idea for her new series ‘Lessons from My Mother’…which you can read all about here.

The basic rundown is my mom and I got to laugh, pose, and smile for the camera on Sunday evening and then I shared five life lessons that I’ve learned from my wise mama. I’ve previously written about my mom being my healthy role model and how incredibly proud of her I am, but this fun shoot gave me the opportunity to share some light-hearted and also super-important advice she’s given me over the years (for example, the correct undergarments can make or break an outfit).

Here are a couple of my favorite shots, but be sure to check out the whole shoot over at freckle photography!

A big thanks to Jesse for her inspiring idea and snapping such great images!

And, of course, a big thanks to my mom! Have a great Tuesday, everyone!

Word to Yo’ Motha

Happy Friday!

This Friday is a little different than other Friday’s cause I don’t just have a quote in store fo you. Since Mother’s Day is only a couple of days away, I’d like to tell you all about my mom….one of my Modern Day Superhero’s.

My mom is a strong, independent, and gorgeous women. She’s enrolled in school full-time, working on her nutrition degree, and is cultivating her natural talent for photography along the way. She is truly one of the most naturally gifted people I know, she has no formal training in photography and took ALL of the pics in this post!

She’s a mom, a friend, a sister, a daughter, an aunt, a godmother, a cousin, and is about to be a GRANDMOTHER! BAH! No, no, no, it’s not me that’s elevating her to this new status. Just in case you’ve somehow missed all my other talk about my expecting sister, I’d just like clarify that it’s my sis that will be having a son and you better believe my mamacita will be the best grandma you’ve ever met!

I’ve told my mom countless times that she’s one of the strongest people I know and that’s because it’s 100% true. She’s kept her held high and charged her way through very difficult times determined to create a life surrounded by love, happiness, and nature. She’s truly an inspiration to me and I only hope that when I’m her age that I’ll be able to say that I’ve accomplished half as much as she’s done (and still look like her too…the woman doesn’t age!). She has a huge, caring, loving heart and will drop anything to help one of her kids, family members, or friends in need. Her selfless attitude and dedication to enjoying all of the little things in life motivates me daily to be more like her.

Aside from her strength and her motivation, my mom is just plain fun. I have countless memories of my youth with my mom teaching me to bake (thanks for teaching me to cook, pssh), taking my siblings and I on camping trips, spending summers with our east coast family, and spending many a night in my 20’s pouring red wine and listening to classic rock. Thanks to a mom and daughter cross-country excursion in college, every time I hear the song Tiny Dancer by Elton John, I think of my mom and the memories created on that trip.

My mom – an inspiring soul, an artful eye, a beautiful face, and tender heart. I love her very much and am so thankful to  have all the gifts she’s passed on to me, all the advice I have sometimes listened to, and all the memories you can only create with someone you truly love. Thanks, Mom. Happy Mother’s Day.

 

“Blue jean baby, L.A. lady, seamstress for the band. Pretty eyed, pirate smile, you’ll marry a music man. Ballerina, you must have seen her dancing in the sand. And now she’s in me, always with me, tiny dancer in my hand.” ~ Elton John 

Oh, Brother! (It’s Your Birthday)

Today is a very special day…my bigger-than-me, little brother turns 28! When asked about what he’ll do to celebrate his 28th year, he said, “I think I might give myself a mohawk.”

Without waiting for my prompt, he continued, “Because when someone says, ‘What did you do on your 28th birthday?’ I’ll look back on this day and I don’t want to say, ‘I don’t remember,’ because I did the usual night out. I’d rather say, ‘You know, that was the year I gave myself a mohawk.” Wordiness and random run in the family….

This ode to my brother is the first of many features I plan to do about truly fascinating people that we are surrounded by in our everyday lives. I don’t know what to call it yet, but I’m working on that; something along the lines of ‘personal heroes.’ For today, I’ll just shout, “Happy Birthday!” and present to you the awesome that is Log.

Logan was the guy voted “most likely to be a fraternity president” in high school. Not to disappoint, Log finished up his Marketing degree at UW as President of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. Today, Logan is an Advertising Sales Representative for a broadcasting company in WY. He is also “Brawny,” one of their infamous DJ’s (and not the record-spinning, wickity-wickity-wickity kind, but the joke-telling, smooth-talking, Bob and Tom/Howard Stern kind) on the Brawny & Ish afternoon show. It’s an interesting show…not for delicate ears or faint of heart.

Its a little blurry…but it’s an action shot!

Aside from his double life of salesman and radio-land jockey, Log is also Volunteer Firefighter. He’s working on his certification now, dedicating his few free evening hours to learning all there is to know about fire safety and exstinguishing. In addition, he has volunteered to be the emcee for the upcoming Wyoming Art for the Cure (and not just cause his big sis said so).

Hold the smartphone!…Did you read that right? You read that he is in Sales,  he’s a DJ , he’s a volunteer firefighter AND he volunteers to help fight breast cancer? Yup. That’s what I’m sayin’, ladies. He balances the workload above and also cares about your….uhm….health.

On top of making the world safer, one fire or breast at a time, Log is a devoted friend and an amazing little brother. Log is definitely the only reason I actually attempted List Item 10 (skydiving) and he’s there to lend a helping hand on everything – working for free at a BBQ Competition in the blazing heat of summer, babysitting your misbehaved pug, attending a Broadway musical he has no interest in seeing. He never misses a visit to the grandparents, enjoys a Bud Light with his buddies now and then, is a movie buff, a gym buff, and an all-around good guy.

So, not only because it’s his birthday but because of all the amazing things he does every single day, I’ve chosen my brother as my first personal hero in the “To Eventually Be Named” feature on wonderfully amazing individuals.

Yes, my shirt does have Log’s face on it.
It says, “I’m Logan Connolly’s Sister!”

Love you, broseph! Hope you have the best birthday! A big thanks to Mags & Kate for letting me use the images above!

To stream the Brawny & Ish show on 93.7 KAZY from 4-6pm MST, click here.

Who Inspires You?

(Photo via That Kind of Woman via Bearnaked)

Today’s 30 Day Blog Challenge asks us to post a picture of the person who inspires you. I considered many people who have mentored, guided, protected, and helped me along the way, but it came down to two ladies that I am in constant awe of: Jesse & Kate.

Jesse

(Photos via freckle photography)

My dear friend is the epitome of the WAHM (Work-At-Home-Mom). Raising two children with her spouse, she is a full-time mom who not only is a Marketing Manager for two firms but is a very successful family Photographer as well. She chairs an incredible event, Wyoming Art for the Cure, and manages to balance all of this with a smile. Her seemingly limitless levels of creativity, zest for trying new things, and impossible accomplishment of literally every task she sets out to do inspires me daily to try harder to be a well-rounded person, be kind, and enjoy life.

Kate

My wonderful sista. Expecting her first son this summer, Kate is also a marvel of a modern woman. As a Natural & Organics Foods Broker by day and Financial Advisory student by night, she somehow never seems to tire. Committed to healthy living, she embraces running and yoga along with a natural, eco-friendly diet and lifestyle. Grounded in her beliefs, she is a strong and independent woman who always puts family first. And her charm, flair for fashion, and ability to make any situation fun naturally attracts people to her. She inspires me to always put my best face forward, make fun a priority, and of course, eat my veggies. Follow @kate_lindsey on Twitter.

Challenge 2: Best Friends

Today’s post for the 30-Day Blog Challenge is to post a picture of you and the person you’ve been closest to the longest. I knew instantly that this post would be about my best friend of the last 15 years, Amanda (a.k.a. Manda, Schmanda, and Hermando).

Thumbing through my high school and college photo albums last night, I couldn’t find just one picture that I felt really captured our friendship, so I grabbed all the pics below and had a fun walk down memory lane. Memories….from the corner of mind….

Manda and I first met when we were both cheerleaders in junior high. By our sophomore year of high school, we were best friends and have been close ever since.

May 1999

We were dorm-mates freshman year at UW and roommates the remaining four years of college. We went camping in Vedawoo (the first time we went camping, we forgot our stove and ended up cooking our dinner on a shovel), skiing in Breckenridge, and spent plenty of time at the Library (te he he).  Our good friend Lisa encouraged us both to try rugby and for the next 3.5 years, we rucked, scrummed and shot the boot side-by-side…along with a handful of wildly amazing gals.

October 1999

September 2002

We drove coast-to-coast; first from Jersey to Wyoming then from Wyoming to Seattle & British Columbia. We ventured to Vegas, NYC, Napa Valley and Mexico. And, being the adventurous daredevils we are, we went bungee jumping together.

August 2000

May-June? 2001

Over coffee this morning, I couldn’t help but burst out giggling when I thought about the day that Manda told me she was engaged. I was sitting on the couch with my spouse (boyfriend at the time) and I was so excited when she said, “I’m engaged,” that I actually spit guacamole on him. As her Maid of Honor, I shared many of the adventures above in detail during my speech and as my Maid of Honor, she did too. A couple of years later, when Manda called me to say she was pregnant, she started with, “You’re not eating guacamole, are you?”

June 2006

July 2006

Since college, marriage, getting jobs and starting families, Manda and I have remained extremely close. We completed our first 5k, 10k, half-marathon and triathlon together and we serve on the same volunteer committees. And, when I really needed her, she dropped everything to fly to NJ to be with and support my family.

April 2007

April 2007

October 2007

Today, I’m thinking about what to get her for her 30th birthday (a week from Sunday) and anxiously anticipating the soon-to-happen arrival of her second baby. I’m so very blessed to still have my BFF after all these years and so thankful to her, her spouse, and her son for continuing to be in my life. Thank you, friend!

May 2010