Wednesday, February 3, 2016


Our neighborhood school (where Sophie attends school and I am very active with the PTA) worked extremely hard over the past week on this video.  It's adorable and so happy!  If you just happen to be cheering for the Broncos, well, BOO ON YOU!!!   Hope you enjoy it!   GO PANTHERS!!!


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Life Begins Outside Your Comfort Zone

I have a confession to make.  In the past, I used to secretly judge people who immediately adopted a new dog once their old dog passed away.  You don't have to tell me how horrible that is.  I'm a Taurus, a double Taurus actually.  Intense loyalty is just part of my makeup.  Trust me, it gets on my nerves.  In my volunteer work with dog rescue, I'd write a condolence note and then get an email the next day that the family was looking for a new dog.  HOW, I'd wonder.  I just didn't get it.  

On March 31st, we lost our Kenzie.  I was crushed, as you'd imagine.  I wondered how long it would take for me to be ready to open my heart to a new dog.  All I knew is it would be a long time.  Yeah, fast forward to the end of May.  I was at a meeting with the Golden Rescue and someone asked if I'd consider fostering a dog.  Around eight dogs had come in to the club in the previous week and we didn't have enough foster homes for all of them.  I felt my heart clinch but immediately said no.  No way, I'm not ready.  I just lost my Kenzie.  No way.  

This ate away at me for about a week.  We had a good, loving dog home and it was empty of dogs. Why couldn't we help out?  It slowly occurred to me that helping another dog might just be the way to honor Hubbell & Kenzie and bring peace to my heart.  Someone else had opened their heart and home to help my pups before they found their way to us.  I should help a dog find their forever home.  It seemed right.

When I called the Intake Coordinator, she asked if I had any preference as to the type of Golden.  I didn't hesitate....Big, Red, Boy.  Easy.  She called me back the next day and asked if we'd take in a young, small, blond girl.  Her previous owners had neglected her by leaving her in a crate ALL. THE. TIME (the "dad" just happened to be a professional football player).  Of course, I said, of course....when do we pick her up?  

You know the ending.  A week later I called to say, "This pup isn't going anywhere."!  Honestly, I was the last to be convinced.  You can see from these photos that our girls didn't need ANY convincing.  For me, it felt disloyal.  But I can see now how wrong I was. Opening your heart to a new dog doesn't erase the pain you feel in mourning your previous pups.  Not at all.  She doesn't take away from how much I loved Hubbell & Kenzie.  When I feel down because I miss them, I hug her tightly and I always feel better. The truth is that, if I'd waited to be ready, I would have never been ready.  

When I told a friend about our new family member, she said to me, "Good! That dog will heal your heart."  How right she was!  "That dog" is named Millie and she is definitely doing some heart healing.  I stepped outside my comfort zone and a new life/new love began.  I am so thankful.

I think Kenzie & Hubbell would be very proud of us.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


Since I didn't do my own birthday post this year, I'm making a smaller version with some of my favorite "Audrey photos" from 2015.  Photos that seem the most ME.

We made new friends early in the year and they invited us to their farm.  FARM!  I was so stoked.  It quickly became my happy place.  Surrounded by all kinds of animals and far away from "civilization".  I loved visiting their farm and would crave it if we went long without visiting.  Much to my dismay, the couple split by year end and the farm is now up for sale.  The animals have all been sold.  This broke my heart on many levels.  Still, I smile every time I see this picture.  I am happy surrounded by lots of animals.  Period.

I'm also always happy with boots on and snow on the ground.  I take a picture every time we're blessed with snow here in Charlotte.  It doesn't happen often so I have to take advantage when I can.  Anyone notice a theme here with the feet/shoes photos?

What my nightstand normally looks like.  I love being surrounded by lots of books and magazines to read. It's comforting....

Alain bought this tea mug for me early in the year.  It quickly became my favorite.

Yes, I know this photo is blurry.  I LOVE IT.  My Mom took both girls up to Lynchburg for a few days this Summer so Alain & I took advantage and went out one night.  It was in the middle of World Cup and two friends/husbands of my friends joined us.  We watched the game at a local pub then went to my favorite wine bar for Open Mike night.  It was my favorite night of the year (not my favorite morning after though  ~ whew!).  Much to my dismay, the wine bar closed not long after.  Boohoo!!!  But I loved that evening.

The scariest thing I did this year. The girls, my mom & I went tubing in my hometown of Lynchburg.  Wow.  It's a long slide and the tube spins the entire time.  I cannot express how terrified I was on my first run down.  Another mom noticed my look of panic and loss of breath.  She told me to lock tubes with Clara so that we couldn't spin (too wide for the run).  From then on out, it was loads of fun.  But WOW.

When it's nice out (anything below around 75 degrees), this is where you'll find me.  With a good book and my trusty sidekick, Millie (more on that another day).

I watched our butterfly bushes like a hawk this Fall.  There was a hurricane raging all around the South/East and I didn't think the Monarchs would make it.  I cried when they finally showed up. Exactly 52 weeks to the very day as my first Monarch photo last year.  How on Earth do they do that? They are so magnificent they take my breath away. The girls and I would lay in the grass as they fluttered about above us. My count wasn't as high this year but we had a small showing.  I recently read that someone illegally logged 20+ acres at the Monarch site down in Mexico.  Heart breaking.  Truly heart breaking.  I can't even think about it.  So we're moving on....

While at the beach in November, I collected all these tiny shells.  They were amazing.  After taking some photos of them, I noticed my hand looked glittery.  Sea fairies perhaps?  Hmmmm....   I returned them to the ocean to hopefully delight someone else another day.

My love for Snoopy & Charlie Brown continues and got quite a boost this year.  I really do not like all the commercialization surrounding movies but I squealed when I saw these postal stamps.  Only my most special happy mail gets one of these babies and I smile HUGE smiles each time I stick one on an envelope. Charles Schulz was so genius.

One of my passions is setting the dinner table when friends come over.  Sometimes I like the settings so much I have to take a picture!

I couldn't believe it when I cut my strawberry at breakfast one morning and found this perfect little heart.  I'm pretty sure this was my most liked Instagram post last year.  It's just so unexpected and happy!

The hardest part of my year was having to say good-bye to my Kenzie Snooter, my furry soul mate.  This is us circa 2002.  When my Mom brought her ashes down to Charlotte, I clung to them and cried like a baby.  After having to live with my parents for four years, my Kenzie was back home with me where she belonged.  Since that day, I've felt an odd peace.   She lived a good, long life filled with tons of love.  But I still miss her every single day.  I'm sure I always will.

The three people I love most in the whole wide world.  Sitting on my favorite most happy of happy places.  Dolphin watching.  What could be more me than that?


Monday, January 4, 2016

2015 ~ Another Great Year for Reading!

My annual books post is truly one of my favorite things!  My goal for 2015 was simply to read at least as many books as 2014 (34 books to be exact).  Well, I barely made it.  Sometime around early November, I realized I was WAY BEHIND.  So what did I do?  I started reading like a crazy woman. Luckily, I had a ton of good books lined up and it all worked out.  I finished my 34th book on December 30th.  Woot Woot!  Just ask Alain how excited I was!!!   My rundown is below and my favorites all include a cover photo.  Also, I keep Pinterest boards of all my books read each year!

1. To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han  ~ I LOVED this book.  So adorable.  Made me miss high school so much.:

I LOVED high school and this book made me miss it enough to taste it.  I hope to read the follow-up in 2016.

2. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr ~ DAZZLING! Just read it.:

Just jump on the bandwagon and read it.  Dazzling is how I described it on my Pinterest board.

3. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Attachments: A Novel by Rainbow Rowell  ~ WOW, what a fantastic way to start the new year of reading.  I loved, loved, loved this book!  Made it onto my all-time favorites list.  Way to go, Rainbow!:

I really loved this book.  It's the reason I read so many Rainbow Rowell books this year. But this one is my favorite of the Rainbow bunch!

4. Things A Little Bird Told Me by Biz Stone

Things a Little Bird Told Me: Confessions of the Creative Mind by Biz Stone ~ I found this book to be very inspiring!:

I don't tweet or use Twitter but, for some reason, I borrowed this book from the library.  So glad I did because I found it endlessly inspiring!

5. Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist
6. Wideacre by Phillipa Gregory
7. Love The Home You Have by Melissa Michaels
8. All The Money In The World by Laura Vanderkam
9. The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins
10. Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

* This was not one of my favorites.  I keep trying to like Rubin's books because EVERYONE else does but they just don't work for me.  I will probably just skip the next one.

11. The Fringe Hours by Jessica N. Turner

12. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande:

Definitely the most important book I read this year.  If you haven't already read this book, get thee to a library or bookstore PRONTO.  You can thank me later.

13. A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
14. Dodging Extinction by Anthony Barnosky

15. How To Raise A Wild Child by Scott Sampson

How to Raise a Wild Child: The Art and Science of Falling in Love with Nature: Scott D. Sampson. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this book.  Want my own copy.:

I have the most nature-loving kids I know.  By far.  It's everyone else who should be reading this book.  Still, I was so inspired and definitely want to get my own copy for home.

16. The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan
17. Gift From The Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
18. Love Walked In by Marisa De Los Santos

19. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns): Mindy Kaling.  SO HYSTERICAL....I'm so glad I read this!:

Is there anyone who DOESN'T like Mindy Kaling?  I can't imagine.  I'm so glad I read this book.  It was truly hysterical and had me crying with laughter.

20. 10% Happier by Dan Harris

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works--A True Story: Dan Harris.  My favorite book so far this year!:

I still can't figure out why I loved this book so much.  It's definitely at the top of my favorites list for the year though.

21. Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling
22. A Curious Mind by Brain Grazer

23. All Four Stars by Tara Dairman

All Four Stars: Tara Dairman --> Such a wonderful, light-hearted book.  I adored it!:

Oh my goodness, this book is so precious.  If you know of a young girl who likes to read, PLEASE buy her this book.  I read the follow-up just a few months after finishing this book.  You go, Tara!

24. Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart

Girl Waits with Gun: Amy Stewart:

I don't think I'd include this on my favorites list but it did win my vote for "BEST COVER"!

25. Walkable City by Jeff Speck
26. One Year Off by David Elliot Cohen
27. Landline by Rainbow Rowell

28. The Stars of Summer by Tara Dairman

The Stars of Summer: An All Four Stars Book by Tara Dairman ~ I ADORE this series!:

29. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl: A Novel by Rainbow Rowell ~ I can't get enough of Rainbow!!!:

Rainbow, I loved this one too!  You rock!  I want to BE YOU.  :-)

30. Watch Me: A Memoir by Anjelica Houston
31. My Life On The Road by Gloria Steinem

My Life on the Road: Gloria Steinem.  I LOVE her and I loved reading this book.  One of my favorites from this year!:

Gloria.  Steinem.  Enough said.

32. Sick In The Head by Judd Apatow

Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy: Judd Apatow.  Judd is my crush and I adored reading his book!:

So Judd Apatow is one of my celebrity crushes.  This does not mean I like his movies.  They really don't appeal to me much.  But Judd, the person.  Crushin' hard.  I loved reading this book just to learn more about him.

33. The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian: Andy Weir ~ amazing story!:

I can't say this is the best writing I've encountered but, with a story like this one, it's hard not to keep someone totally on the edge of their seat.  At the end of the book, my adrenaline was off the charts. Still undecided if I'll see the movie.  Tell me what you thought!

34. Green Metropolis by David Owen

All in all, I enjoyed the books I read this year.  I'd love to hear what you were reading in 2015.  I love to start off the new year with a list of books recommended by friends & family.  What was your favorite book you read this year?  Did you read any of these?


Saturday, January 2, 2016

Sophie's 9 Year Old Birthday Interview

Wow, I feel like 2015 was a big year for Sophie.  She started 3rd grade in September and I learned immediately that 3rd grade is NO JOKE.  We just happen to go to a very competitive school that pushes students hard.  While I'm grateful to live in an area with such an awesome public school, I can see all the problems with this style of education.  And, of course, this just means more work for me.  Sophie & I work on homework for at least an hour every night AND THIS IS 3rd GRADE!  

Last Spring she also tried out for and gained a spot on a competitive soccer team.  This means 4 days of soccer every week.  Now you know why I haven't been blogging!   It's been a whirlwind since school started.  I spend a lot of time thinking about how kids grow up these days and, the majority of the time, I'm thinking I don't like it at all.  When I was nine, I was playing in the creek and building forts in the woods.  Sophie goes from one activity to the next and every single activity requires hard work from her.  I am constantly wondering which activities to continue and which to drop.  This might possibly be her first and last year on the competitive soccer team.  We shall see.  

Sophie also came home a few weeks into school and told us she wanted to run for Student Council.  As someone who always took part in Student Council and loved it, I was excited.  She wrote her own speech, made her own poster and spoke in front of ALL the 3rd, 4th & 5th graders.  And she made it!  Alain & I were both so proud of her!  It was also obvious that she was very proud of herself.  Her teacher confided to me that Sophie won "by a landslide".  I wasn't surprised.  Sophie is a social butterfly if there ever was one!

 As you'll see, when I interviewed Sophie, she said she hated school.   This broke my heart.  I always loved school.  Still do....even when I'm not the student.  And I know it's because she is being pushed constantly.  Learn more, be more, do more.  One of my goals for 2016 is to slow this ship down some.....if it's even possible.  

Anyway, I could talk about my Sophie all day, so without further ado, here is the birthday interview for our lovely, colorful, lively, passionate Sophie:

What's your favorite color? 
Seafoam Green & Turquoise

What's your favorite food?
Mac & Cheese, Burritos, Spaghetti, Rice & Beans

Who are your favorite friends?
Kaylie & Summer

{I failed to mention that we also do Girl Scouts.  I say "we"because I'm the troop leader.  Our troop went to a local hockey game in January.  Sophie is here in the center with two of her friends.}

What's your favorite thing to play?
With Millie, with friends.

What's your favorite animal?
A puppy/dog, dolphin, elephant, black-footed cat.

{I adore this picture and it was just one example of many, many where she was being a wonderful big sister to Clara.}

If you could hop on a plane and go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
New York City & Hilton Head

What's your favorite letter?
S, C, H, N

What's your favorite number?
9, 2, 5, 12 & 22

{One of our favorite events of the year is the St. Patrick's Day parade where we march with The Golden Retriever Rescue Club of Charlotte.}

Do you like school? 
Hate, hate, hate

What's your favorite subject in school?
All the "specials" (Art, Music, PE, etc.)

{At a friend's roller skating birthday party.}

What's your favorite book?
Magic Treehouse, Puppy Place

What's your favorite word?

What's your favorite song?
Anything by Taylor Swift, Adele or Katy Perry.

{Watching the women's final in the World Cup.  We were beyond elated at the outcome!}

What's your favorite thing to do?
Swimming, Soccer, Tennis

What makes you happy?
Grandma, Crystal, ,my puppy and you Mom.

{In at least half the photos I took of Sophie this year she was wearing her soccer clothes.  I had to include one here.}

What would you like to be when you grow up?
A puppy trainer/sitter.

When you close your eyes, what do you see?
Darkness & Hubbell.

{First day of 3rd grade}

What is your favorite pet?
Dog, kitten, bunny.

What's your favorite treat?
Reeses, Ice Cream Sundae, Banana Split

{We took a group of Sophie's friends rock climbing for her birthday.  Wow, Sophie is an awesome climber}

What five words would you use to describe yourself?
Playful, restless, girl, flexible, joyful.

{Without question, my favorite photo of Sophie from 2015.  I took this while we were sitting on these rocks watching the dolphins feeding at Sunset.  It was an intensely beautiful moment.}

I can't wait to see what my beautiful girl accomplishes in 2016.  She recently expressed a strong interest in tennis.  That's MY sport and I feel so at home and very much myself on the tennis court.  My intention is to play a lot more tennis with Sophie in 2016!  I look forward to it.  The tennis and everything else!!!


Monday, December 7, 2015

Clara's 4 Year Old Birthday Interview!

WOW, March 4th, huh?  That's a LONG time.  I've missed this here blog.  At times, it seemed too intimidating to post again after so long.  So much has happened ~ where do I start?  I also still have issues with importing pictures since my laptop died last year.  Yet, I have certain traditions on my blog that I love and the first on that list is the birthday interviews of my children.  Clara's birthday was in July but, hey, better late than never!  So, without further ado....

What's your favorite color? 

What's your favorite food?
Rice & Beans

{On a trip to our favorite Mexican restaurant, we turned around to find Clara wearing our chip bowl as a hat.  She has an awesome sense of humor!}

Who are your favorite friends?  
Liam, Sarah, Luci & Sophia

{There is no question who owns Clara's heart.  Liam.  They both light up at the sight of each other.  When we drive them to school, they discuss their wedding, going to college together, their future house, etc.  It's ADORABLE!}

What's your favorite thing to play?

What's your favorite animal?
A dog, a cat, a bunny, birds, dolphins & a fishie.

{Clara & Millie not long after we brought Millie home in late May.}

If you could hop on a plane and go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I would go to the beach.

{During a Spring trip to Hilton Head, Clara went on her first pony ride. Alain captured this picture right before her ride.}

What's your favorite letter?
C, L, A, R, A

(very clever!)

{Clara went on her first tube ride this summer ALL BY HERSELF!}

What's your favorite number?

Do you like school? 
Um, yeah.

What's your favorite book?
Pete the Cat; Berenstein Bears

What's your favorite word?
I love you.

{One of Clara's most favorite things is running in the rain and jumping in muddy puddles.  Much like Peppa Pig.}

What's your favorite song?
Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star; Row Row Row Your Boat; Shake It Off

What's your favorite thing to do?
Play with my friends.

What makes you happy?
When we all go eat dinner together with our family.

What would you like to be when you grow up?
A policeman, a teacher, a fireman, and and and and and a cross guard.

{My Aunt Brenda bought this little outfit for Clara for her birthday.  It quickly became her favorite and she wore it constantly.  And, I have to say, it was SO HER!  I have my fingers crossed it still fits when the weather gets warm next Spring.}

When you close your eyes, what do you see?
I see nothing.

What is your favorite pet?
It's kind of like a mouse and it's white and lives in the mountains.  A very cold mountain. And you go through a cave to get there.

What's your favorite treat?
Ice cream and a lollipop.

{On a particularly beautiful day, Clara & I hung out at our favorite fountain.  I gave her coins but told her she had to make a wish each time she threw one in.  She ran back and told me she wished for flowers and balloons.}

What five words would you use to describe yourself?
I like my family.

Oh Clara, you are a darling soul.  Your teachers always tell us that you have a BIG, BIG personality and it pleases us to know that you choose to share it with the wider world.  You are wicked smart and very charming.  One should not be deceived by your small size for you, my dear girl, are a force.  I hope you stay that way and use your many passions for good!

And next up...Sophie.  Let's just hope it doesn't take me another 9 months!


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

What I Will Miss....

I wrote a few of these posts back when Sophie was three/four years old.  I came across them recently and they made me feel all soft and squishy on the inside.  Clara is always making me giggle with the adorable things she does and says and I realized I should write a little about it before it slips my mind.

Last week Sophie went to the movies with some neighbors so Alain & I took Clara out to eat Indian.  She packed up some bags and a small suitcase before we left home. We had no idea what was inside and couldn't wait to find out once we got to the table and she started unloading. As we walked across the parking lot, she looked so cute that we couldn't help but stop and take a picture.

Another day.  Mexican restaurant.  We all turned around at some point to find that Clara was wearing our chip bowl like a hat.  Her expression make all three of us laugh!

On a recent toy store visit, Clara tried on the new beach hats and sunglasses.  She also collected a few toys.  I had to take a picture!

It was so cute, I had to take a second.

The girl loves FROYO.

She sleeps in the car quite often.  You have no idea how many pictures I have just like this one.  I chose this one because of the "fancy" glasses.  She loves to get "fancy" by trying on all of our dress-up clothes and accessories.

She recently filled up a rewards chart because of her good choices and good behavior.  Her reward was that I took her to the toy store and let her pick out a new toy.  Out of literally thousands of toys, she chose this hairdresser costume.  I've had at least 100 haircuts in the past week.  The hair dryer makes a drying sound when you press the button and it makes me giggle every time!

And some cute things she's said recently:

One day, Clara came home from school and said she knew all the planets.  I asked her to name them.  She started...."Mars, Earth, Saturn, Uranus, Stupider."

Clara is just as obsessed with Trader Joe's Coconut Body Butter as I am.  Each night we sit on my bed and massage some into our feet.  She said to me, "This lotion smells so good" as she buried her face in the container.  "What does it smell like?", I asked.  She replied, "Pinecones."

Yesterday I overheard her say to Sophie, "Your face is truly beautiful."

Just writing this post melts my heart.  Clara is a sweet, affectionate, bright, very well spoken three year old!  She can be quite challenging but is also incredibly charming and silly.  I love hanging out with her and I know I will miss all these things when she gets bigger!
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