Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Week's Review in Pictures...

What have the Mavins been up to here at the end of July?

Well it was recently RAGBRAI season. Which this year meant something a little bit different for us. Mainly I did not ride. I bookended the week with the drop off and pick up of riders and bikes (and a little partying). And in the days between I taught A LOT and enjoyed some family activities.

Scott took a day off to take Lexi to an I-Cubs game. Despite a cloudy, damp start to the day, they had a wonderful time.

Brea and Lexi got to take a mini vacation in Newton where they spent a couple days with Grandma Peg and Auntie Pammy. Which meant Scott and I got to enjoy a couple kid free nights. I finally got a chance to hop on the Harley for a was fun once I relaxed. We enjoyed dinners full of adult conversation and on Thursday night headed out to the county fair grounds for the fair's talent show in which our friend Lexi was singing. It was fun remembering what life was like before kids...and remember how much I simply enjoy the company of my hubby.

Friday came much faster than one would expect and I headed to Mt. Pleasant to join the crew to finish out "the best week of the year." Marie had found this lovely campsite in the backyard of a beautiful old stately house in which a very nice gentleman runs a funeral home. Sounds kinda creepy...but it wasn't. It was so good to share a night with my "other" family in our lovely home away from home for the night.

The riders had had a long, windy day so naps were in order before we headed out for the night.

As you can tell from the smiles on our faces, the sisters were glad to be together. I so love these ladies.

Grandma Peg treated the girls to a new pool while she was here. The weather has been cool, but they braved the cold tap water a couple of times this week for some wet fun. I had to laugh when they pulled the hammock over to patiently wait for the pool to fill earlier this week. They are such good friends in addition to being sisters. I'm so lucky that I get to witness many simply happy moments like this throughout the day.

It's hard to believe we will be greeting August on Saturday. A summer cold is making it's way though our house, which just isn't right...colds should not hit in the summer! So unfortunately I spent most of this very BEAUTIFUL day snuggled up with my new best friend, the kleenex box.

Yet, as if to say sorry for the sniffles and that it's all going to be ok...look what showed up in my latte this morning...


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Strength it is Not...

I have a confession...I am far from a perfect Mother.

I know, shocked we all are.

No, but seriously, as Moms we all have our own strengths and weaknesses and I've been feeling very guilty lately about one of my weaknesses...

I'm really bad about allowing the girls to have friends over to play.

I like people and hanging out with my friends. I even really enjoy hosting get togethers at our house, even though I feel bad about our lack of space for recreational gatherings. (Some day that basement is going to come in when we can afford to make it more attractive than bare concrete!) I realize my girls are super social individuals and that they would, if allowed, love to have someone over to play all day, every day. But for some reason setting up play time and hosting other kids at our house ranks right up there with toilet scrubbing...I know it's a necessary task but I'm so glad when it's over.

Having people in my space is for me, at times, exhausting. When I'm home I normally just want to enjoy the quietness that is being at home. So I'm sure that is part of it. Plus there's the dogs and my fear of having someone else's kid(s) unintentionally nipped. And while I like kids...2 is plenty to handle on my own.

Funny, because as much as I am like my mother...this is one of the ways we are COMPLETELY different. Though, like here I do hope that as the girls age our house becomes the hangout of choice so we know where they are, that they are safe, and that they are making good choices. (OH please let that be the case!)

I realize these are pretty lame excuses for not hosting a few more play times at our house...especially in the summer when we can take advantage of our nice big, mostly shady, backyard. (The backyard I happen to be enjoying in the hammock, quietly, right now as I type this.) Besides, then I wouldn't have to deal with the associated guilt I feel when my girls head to someone else's house for a play-date knowing full well it's way beyond my turn to return the favor.

Maybe tomorrow.


Friday, July 17, 2009

No, That was NOT Me...

I have now had the "pleasure" of experiencing identity theft. On the whole scale of things it's been on a relatively small level. But it's still a pain in the butt. Thankfully the charges made to an account of mine have been refunded, the card number used has been deactivated. The only lingering effect seems to be the countless spam messaged in my in-box each day and as of today a false "we're following up on your request" phone call today. I do not need to meet hot Christian or Latin singles in my area. I'm sure meeting big beautiful women is nice, but not really my thing. I SOOOOO don't believe in get rich quick schemes. And while yes I do want to go back to school, it won't be on-line for any of your questionable "certifications." And that offer for a credit, have you seen my credit report? Thanks for asking.

Given the amount of "things" I do online, I'm sure it was just a matter of time. I mean if you are online at all, I'm sure there's close to a 100% chance that at sometime someone is going to pretend to be you for one reason or another. I'm usually very careful about what sites I visit. But while I was out searching for LEGITIMATE grant and scholarship opportunities to help me enroll in massage school, I was directed to a number of NON-LEGIT sites through Google searches. Most the time you don't know it's not legit until you visit the site, which is apparently enough for them to grab your info and run.

As inconvenient as my experience has been, it's just been that, an inconvenience. I know there are people's live who are completely turned upside down by identity theft. And for what reason? Simply because one exists.

What really pisses me off is that while I'm trying to make an honest living here in my little corner of the world (as so many others who simply exists do), someone some where is getting a paycheck for developing malicious software to steal people's personal info. Others are getting paid to use that info to randomly sign people up for as much crap as they can until the breech is discovered. What the hell?

And then we wonder why so many have lost hope for the future of humanity. Hmmm...


Monday, July 13, 2009

Bright Fabric Flowers = LOVE...

I'll admit, I have had some creative ideas that in the end haven't so much turned out as I had envisioned. THIS is NOT one of those times!

Yesterday my friend Laura celebrated her birthday. In these "recession times" figuring out how to help someone celebrate sometimes takes a little creative thinking. So Sunday I set off on an online hunt for tutorials on making fabric flowers. (Because if there is anything I have in abundance, it's fabric! And who doesn't love getting flowers on their birthday?) After finding some really cool things (including an amazing fabric flower bride's bouquet on etsy) I started a prototype to figure out exactly how I wanted to proceed. (Thanks to Pink Paper Peppermints for the inspirational and simple flower design tutorials!)

I had originally wanted to sew everything, but in the end decided the hot glue gun was a better tool in attaching the wired stems and leaves, fabric wrapped of course.

It was fun thinking about how one change to the basic design creates a whole different look...double layers, smaller accent flowers, the possibilities are endless! This pink beauty was my first (well, technically second...first after the prototype) and still remains my favorite. It's just so cheery!

The prep work for these is the most labor intensive step...lots of cutting and ironing. (I am not a fan of ironing but putting these together would not work without pressing and steaming all those precious little petals.) But the end result is so worth the prep. I can't wait to whip up some more. I can think of several individuals who might enjoy a bright little bouquet to cheer up their day. And since I already have all the supplies needed in "the craft zone"...the only expense in giving is my time. And it's hardly an expense when I'm having so much fun in the process!

Happy Birthday Laura. I hope it was a great day!


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Quilt in a Day...

When my Mom was visiting at the end of June, we of course had to make a few quilt store stops. I mean what is a trip/visit without shop hopping? Even though I haven't been doing much quilting as of late, I still love to shop hop. On our last stop at Fern Hill in South Amana (a VERY cool shop if you are ever in the area it's soooooo worth a stop...for non-quilters too!) I completely fell in love with Mocha Meringue, a Marcus fabric line by Michele D'Amore. (L.O.V.E.) The whole line is a luscious mix of creamy lights to dark chocolate browns. LUSCIOUS. So my Mom gifted me a few yards...which led to me ordering a few more yards online (at discount!) as I planned out the 2, possibly 3 quilts I want to make just with this line of fabric. THAT'S HOW MUCH I LOVE IT!

Thursday was rainy, cool, and I had the entire day off. So I decided to get cutting and sewing on project #1...a light "vanilla" quilt out of the Summer issue of Quilts and More. I really like this magazine. It's only published quarterly and aims to offer fun, simple projects...quits and more...just as the title says. Their quilts are often "big block" quilts which go together quick and are perfect for beginners or those of us with little time to sew. (And too many UFQs...unfinished quilts...that are much more involved/complicated.) At approximately mid-night I ironed the last border seam to complete my first "quilt in a day". With breaks for Mommy duties, dinner, etc, I'm guessing it took me 6-7 hours to cut, sew and iron from a start to finish.

(Thanks to the wind for cooperating today JUST long enough to fluff my vanilla top while hanging on the line so I could snap a picture for ya all to see.)

Finished size will be approximately 64x80 (inches) which is about twin bed size...perfect for snuggling on the couch in the cooler months of the year OR as a massage therapy cover...someday when I finally get school worked into my life. (That project is once again on hold. Sigh.) As far as quilting goes, I'm somewhat leaning towards something like this. I think the vertical stripes would complement the general design of the quilt PLUS straight line quilting is something I can do on my basic machine with my limited experience.

I realized while making this quilt...I am WAY to anal about fabric/print balance to let things be totally random (at least at this point in my quilt design life), hence the order to the fabric placement with resulted in an unintended, but I think pleasing, pattern.

I'm nervous but excited to get working on project #2 because it will be using my favorite fabrics in the line...a lovely, LOVELY dark chocolate brown floral print so yummy I just want to wrap myself up in the fabric alone! I'm trying REALLY hard not to order more of it...I don't know that I'm going to successful in that attempt. I'll keep you posted...


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Thanks Lance...

Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will. --Mahatma Gandhi

Lance Armstrong twittered
this quote today.

And once again, I feel like the universe has spoken. Reminding me to keep moving forward. Stay the course. It may be hard, but it will be ok.

Thanks universe!


Monday, July 6, 2009


Growing up, no matter where I went, it was pretty safe to say at least one person there knew my grandpa. I can't tell you the number of times I've heard "You must be one of Ed Reitz's granddaughters," upon introduction. I very much took those connections for granted and when it came time to head off to college, I left town with barely a glance back. I had no doubt in my mind that with good hard work and the right attitude I could be successful where ever I decided to land in life.

Until 5 years ago not once had I applied for a job that I was not offered. Not once did I apply for a job with even a question in my mind that I was indeed the best candidate in the pool of applicants. Never did I think my connections, or usually lack there of, could make a difference in the outcome of an application.

Fast forward 5 years, past disappointments and eye opening job seeking experiences, and I have a whole different opinion of the job searching process. Especially in a small town. Connections are everything when you live in a place where everybody knows somebody.

I bring this up because last week Scott "celebrated" the one year mark at his current job. One year ago we had hope that this job was indeed the "beginning of the end" of the struggle and uncertainty we had been living through for the previous 9 months. What we didn't really grasp at the time was just how much this new job, and what we thought was pretty good potential, would be affected by the continued decline of our economy and the US job market. And so as he went off to his new career we kept everything else in our live moving forward as normal, certain soon things would pick up and his commissions would start to bridge the gap.

One year later the gap is still ever so present. Maybe even more so. The house/the cars/the kids still need maintained/gased/clothed & fed. And when the bank account has read ZERO, the credit card has on occasion had to come to rescue. One year later and the story is the same. The hope slowly fading.

So...I started scanning job ads this weekend. I checked the websites of the major local employers. I searched for job postings on some of the big job searching websites. And what I discovered is I'm SCARED TO DEATH at the thought of really starting the job finding process.

That confidence that once would have lead me to apply for any job that sounded challenging or interesting is gone. The thought of having to go put myself out there for a job, not simply out of interest, but because of necessity, makes my head swirl and GINORMOUS butterflies mash dance in my gut.

When I left my full time job to follow my current career path, I never thought I would NEED to think about doing anything else. I always took for granted that it would be by choice when/if I started down a different road.

How do I market myself in a job market when qualified seekers far outnumber the available jobs? How do I convince a potential employee that I am indeed the right candidate for the position when my passions/dreams lie someplace else? How do I even begin to choose WHICH jobs to apply for given my varied work experience, skills, and interests? How do I make sure I find a job that can use those skills and talents and ensure I don't simply end up a Wal-mart cashier? (Not that I'm saying that's a bad job...but not one in which I'm necessarily interested. That and call center operator. Been there. Done that. Never again.) your head is swirling too, huh?

What I wouldn't give right now for a few of those good old fashioned connections. Not the ones you THINK you have, but those honest to goodness "we know you because we know your family...and they are good people" connections. Familial good karma. I'm thinking I could use a little of that right about now.


Sunday, July 5, 2009


I'm somehow finding myself indirectly involved in somewhat of an awkward situation this summer. My life isn't necessarily directly affected by the conflict or the eventual outcome, but emotionally I can feel a pull through even my remote involvement. Mostly because it involves people I have come to care about greatly. Who each hold a special place in my heart and who have become part of our extended family. And a project I've grown to love and whose mission (at least as it was originally conceived) I support whole heatedly.

It's heart breaking for me really. How I would love to offer up advice and words that could maybe help resolve the issues at hand. However, it's not my place to do so in this particular situation. As a nurturer through and through, I want nothing more than to be able to make sure everyone comes through to the other side safe, with relationships and hearts intact. I want to bake a big batch of chocolate chip cookies, set everyone down around the kitchen table with a glass of milk and get everyone to make peace so they can go back out and get on with playin'.

Unfortunately life isn't quite that simple. And so I will try my best to sit here on the side lines and offer up what support I can.

It's not an easy place for me to be...