Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I'm still here!

Yes, it is true. I'm still here. Just thought I would pop in and say hello. Life has been crazy as ever and we have been slowly adjusting to our new lives here in Milwaukee. It was quite a rocky start getting the kids adjusted to a new school. I'm in shock to think that almost a year ago to the date, I flew up here to go house hunting. It's strange and scary how fast this transition time has gone by. I feel like I'm finally at the point where it is safe to come out of hibernation and survival mode.

So to give a reduced recap of our lives these past 8 months, we are all surviving. Caiden turned 11 last month and is flourishing here. He loves his new school and has made some good friends. I'm so grateful that the transition was very smooth for him. The big boys I'm now happy to say are doing pretty well. It was a rough heart-breaking start at the beginning of the school year. Mourning their old friends, their old life, and old school was quite a shock to their system. I kept saying they just need time. We all needed time. I'm not going to lie as they would pack up and move back home in a heart beat but having said that, they are making friends and adjusting to their new environment. They smile, laugh, and have typical teenage personalities. Keegan got his license this past summer, and Connor will be getting his drivers permit in the next week.

Me? I'm adjusting well too. As if the change of picking up and moving to a new state wasn't enough, going and getting a full-time job was another huge adjustment for the entire family dynamics. I think we have for the most part gotten used to the new routine and environment. I totally love my job though, and I can't believe I've been at Kalmbach for 8 months now. I've had the pleasure of working on several issues of Bead&Button and two issues of Wirework magazine. Yes, I still pinch myself often! lol.... I have very little opportunity to do a lot of creating with my personal designs as there just isn't the time. But, I have made a few things for the magazines. The spring issue of Wirework (hitting the stands next week) has two projects of mine. You might recognize the bangles set but the ring was designed for this issue. Just as this issue is hitting the stands, we are busy working on the Fall issue which will also include one of my projects.

I've become immersed in the wonderful world of seed beads and all the varieties of two-hole beads now that I'm working for Bead&Button. We have started something new and are offering kits of projects that the editors design. The August issue will feature two kits (earrings and a ring) that I designed, and I'm super excited about. I will share more about it later.

And of course, the Bead&Button show is coming up in early June. Things are ramping up fast for it. YAY!

Wow, I just realized that I could have loads to talk about just in all the fun events and things that are going on behind the scenes. So stayed tuned and come back often as I will slowly start updating this page and start sharing this new version of my life.

It's finally starting to warm up and signs of spring have been late coming. It was a long cold winter, and I will leave ya with a pic of me and the boys. Well, at least what you can see of cute Caiden. Hubby was taking the pic so we will catch him next time!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Life Changes & New Adventures Part 2

Oh my goodness… I'm giddy as a school girl and can't contain my excitement any longer!!!!

I am holding in my hand a confirmation letter of employment. As if picking up and moving to a new state wasn't enough excitement, I had to add to the party and get a new job. But not just any job. My dream job!! I am officially an associate editor for Bead&Button Magazine. Oh my goodness, that felt amazing to write. And, as an added cherry on top, I will also have the pleasure of working with Kalmbach's Wirework magazine.

Tomorrow morning, I report for my first day on the job!!! I will be part-time until the kids start school on September 2 and then I will convert to full-time. I wonder if I will be able to sleep tonight.

The process all started during our chaotic transition of moving and throwing our lives into what felt like a tornado. I couldn't help myself and felt compelled to also keep an eye on Kalmbach Publishing's website for job opportunities. I knew that we were moving to Bead&Button country and the idea of working for them was something I could only imagine. Then one day in June before we made the move, I saw it. Destiny was mine. There bold as could be was the posting for associate editor for Bead&Button. My heart raced and the stars aligned. I told myself after the move I would give myself a few weeks to get unpacked and settled and then, I had to get my resume together and go after that job. It seemed to good to be true.

My journey as a bead maker and jewelry designer has brought me down so many expanding pathways that continualy has added layer upon layer of experiences and exposure to the editing and publishing world. The timing seems perfect. This has been a year of changes and fresh new starts. Embracing this vision and striving to bloom where I have been planted, has brought me on this new journey and new career path. It's the perfect opportunity to help grow new roots and make new friends and associations which will only strenghten the feeling of being able to call Milwaukee home. The thought of going to an office and being able to be involved with all things bead and jewelry related is …. well lets just say I keep pinching myself!

To answer your next question, I will be knocking my personal artistry down to a hobby level. I am sure I will still want to create and make beads when I have the opportunity. When I do, I will continue to use Etsy as my storefront. My first priority right now is getting acclimated and submerged in my new job and helping the kids continue to adjust and settle in their new environment. I can't express how wonderful it feels to finally be back on a path where I can envision our lives more than just a few weeks in advance. It has been an incredibly rough year and the thought that I can start to see our future in greater detail feels very settling and comforting. No more hibernating and to that all I can say is YAY!! as that sums it all up in the fastest and simplest terms.


Life Changes and New Adventures Part 1

I just read through my last post in April and wow am amazed at how just a few short months has brought so many life changes. I could write an in depth book but will just do the highlighted version.

June was a total blur. The kids got out of school and off to Disney World we went for a trip with my parents, brother and his family, my aunt and uncle from PA, and my cousin and her family. There were 18 of us and it was a wonderful week.

Doing Disney with style...

Then back home to an unhappy reality for 3 days before the  packing and moving company arrived and insert the image of the Clamppetts from the Beverly Hillbillies and we were off on our merry (ok, I will be the first to admit. It wasn't super merry as we were leaving our lives, families, friends and everything behind to travel to the unknown) way. But we have all entered into this new adventure with positive thoughts and attitudes and have been embracing Milwaukee with complete and utter grandeur.

I must say that I owe Milwaukee an apology. The summer weather is just amazing and we are loving being surrounded by water. Hubby moved up here in January to start his new job while the boys and I stayed behind so they could finish school. They had one of the worst winters ever, and I only came up once in February and it was freezing, dreary, and lets face it… just plain miserable. My only previous exposure to the city was my yearly pilgrimage to the Bead and Button show that is held downtown. Which that on its own of course is amazing, but the thought of leaving everything we love and cherish behind was beyond painful. My mind couldn't wrap itself around the city. I would look at homes for sale on-line but had no idea of the area and what to expect. But… May came along and I flew up for the week to go house hunting and found "the" house that hubby had no choice but to buy. lol….  

So when we pulled up to our new home, I knew I would love the house and was excited to show the kids as this was their first time in their new city. Sadly, our oldest stayed behind for a month with my parents so he could finish up the summer swim team season. So we were one kiddo short and that was really tough also. Oh, btw… my middle child says I am not allowed to use the word "kiddo" but I figured he isn't reading this so I'm going to use it without repercussion from him:-)

So since the move, we have devoured and explored the city with a passion. Concentrating on getting the kids acclimated and exposed to all the great things here. We keep them busy and go on lots of adventures to help the transition. Keegan arrived about 3 weeks ago and the family is now finally together. I was really worried about him as this was a tough move on him leaving all of his friends behind but he is doing wonderful. I'm so proud of all the boys. They are doing much better than I ever expected and trying to make the best of the situation they were placed in. We have been so busy getting settled and acclimating the kids that my studio/workshop is still sitting in boxes. I have dug through some of them looking for random items here and there but hubby still needs to wire me up a dedicated circuit for my kiln. That is the last piece of the puzzle for getting settled into the house. 

It feels like we have been on vacation ever since we moved here. It has been a lot of fun and it feels amazing to be back together as a family. If only it were warmer and if only there were palm trees, I could pretend we were in Florida. I even hear and see sea gulls when I'm in the parking lot at Target. I still find that so cool. 

Connor caught the big one!

Then to break up the transition, both big boys had their best buds fly up to stay for the week and that was perfect timing for them. It was the best week and very uplifting. As a mother, watching the kids leave their friends behind is just heart breaking. Seeing them reunited gave me a warm feeling and I was so grateful to their families for letting them come for the week.

The boys getting ready to Kayaking at the lake which is about 10 min. away from our house.

A jaunt down to downtown Chicago which is about 2 hours away.

We also celebrated Keegan's big 16 birthday while their friends were here. Not a car but he was happy none the less. 

An afternoon at Bradford Beach on Lake Michigan downtown which is about 20 min from the house. Caiden by the way is standing up inside that sand hole. lol

Opening night of the WI state fair. Wow, is all I have to say. They know how to do a carnival in style. 

I kept trying to talk hubby into winning me a Despicable Me unicorn. They were soooo cute and fluffy…. I told him as a high school girl, our priorities were set around having a boyfriend that could win big carnival prizes. His reply was that is why he got a good job so he could just buy me one. Then he promptly pulled out his phone and saw he could buy one on Amazon for $10….

Last weekend I drove all the kids back to St. Louis and we spent almost a week there reconnecting with friends. I think I was just as busy as the kids were seeing everyone. It was a great week and one that brought another huge life change upcoming adventure for me…..

Stayed tuned for Part 2…..

Friday, April 18, 2014

Wondering where I have been?

Yea, I've been wondering the same thing. To make a long story short, as it would read like the perfect script for a reality tv series, we are moving to Milwaukee, WI. Hubby accepted a job with Harley Davidson in December and has been living up there since early January. The boys and I have stayed behind so they could finish the school year.

Needless to say all of this has involved more stresses, fear, and anxiety, with hope all thrown in the mix than I care to relate. I just packed up my workshop in January and shut everything down until after we move. Life has been super crazy and hectic and it just seemed easier to eliminate as many factors that I was capable of in order to cope in the best way possible.

I will be house hunting soon and then it will feel really real. Wish me luck as the market is hot there and the good ones go as soon as they are listed which puts us at a disadvantage. We will be putting our house on the market in a week or so (insert tears:-). It will be listed as soon as the new kitchen granite countertops get installed. Grrrr..... isn't that just typical? I have wanted granite ever since we have lived here. Now that we are moving, we are getting them..... In my mind was thinking we needed to do a total kitchen renovation before getting granite. Sigh, so at least I will get to enjoy it for a month before we move. Oh well, the next house will either have granite or hubby is gonna have to buy it as a prerequisite treat for moving. lol

That is just a brief update of what is going on. I can now say that I've become an expert house painter and house fixer upper. I hope to become a full time bead maker again once we are settled.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Harry Potter and the trip to Warner Brother Studios in London

Yea, I admit it... I'm a huge Harry Potter Fan. I was going through photos of our trip to Europe in July and meant to post London pics but got side tracked with our trip out to the Warner Brother Studios to tour. If you are not a Harry Potter fan this will be a super boring post:-)

My middle child and I ended up having a grand fill of Harry Potter on the trip. We rented an apartment in Piccadilly Circus which was a fab location. It was just a few blocks away from the Theater district. Which just so happened to have Daniel Radcliffe in a theater production of The Cripple of Inishmaan playing while we were there. We had no plans to see any shows but knowing that Harry Potter (yes, he will always be called that by us) was right where we were was just too tempting. So Connor and I bought tickets and saw his performance. The theater was pretty nice and a small size which meant that we were very close to the stage. The play was actually pretty decent too. They had huge irish accents and I was worried we wouldn't be able to understand a word they were saying but after about 15 min it was easier to figure out the dialogue. It was a great mother son bonding moment.

After the show, we wandered outside to the back of the theater and saw a huge crowd standing at the stage doors. It took us about 1 second to realize that we might be able to see the actors leave the theater. So Connor and I of course were all over this opp to maybe get his autograph. Boo hoo no luck getting an autograph or shaking his hand but we did get to stand maybe 4-5 feet away from him. I got him on video barely as he is really short and hard to see over the crowds.

That was certainly an unexpected treat but then a few days later we took the train to the Warner Brothers Studio to tour the lot where they filmed a lot of the Harry Potter films. I swear I think I was walking around with my mouth open most of the time just soaking it all in. There was so much to look at and see from all the movies. This was a taxi that was in downtown London.

 This is the Great Hall. It was amazing.

Another shot of the Great Hall

Of course any other Harry Potter Fan would remember this house!

One of the actual addressed envelopes used in the movie.

Here is the Knight Bus. I never mentioned it but Caiden hates the Harry Potter movies so this wasn't an overly exciting trip for him but he insisted he have his picture taken on the Knight Bus. He just wanted to learned to talk with a British accent. LOL

This was the inside of the Knight Bus

So this is The Hogwarts Bridge. What was interesting is that there was only this one section and the rest of the bridge you see in the movies is computer animated. It's so cool to think we were standing right where all the actors were standing.

Look in the background on the right hand side and you can see the actual chess pieces that were used in the Sorcerers Stone movie

Inside Hagrid's Hut

Harry's Invisibility Cloak

Snape's Potions Class

Ron Weasley's bed. Notice the RW on his suitcase? Harry's bed is the one behind it. They said as the movies went on, the boys got too big for the beds and had to curl up to fit on them.

Gryffindor Common Room

Another shot of the common room.

Here are some of the props. Dobby the House Elf is back there. The book of Monster's and the enlarged hands from Dudley's aunt Marge when Harry blew her up.

This is the inside of the Book of Monsters.

This room is the final place you go before the tour ends. It is a model of Hogwarts and the grounds. Anytime you see an outside  aerial shot of Hogwarts this is actually what you see. The model is actually 2 floors and when you walk around the room you see different views. It was incredible. 

Another view

Well I hope I didn't bore you too much with all of my pics. I have more but will stop there.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Summer Fun and Our Trip to Paris

I'm not gonna lie. It has been a crazy 3-4 months. A few unexpected life events threw the family into an adventure that had us kind of hankering down and doing a slight withdrawal from the world. The kids start school tomorrow, and I will then be able to spend some more time on beads and jewelry and getting the Etsy shops updated. I know it has been pretty slim pickings over in the shop lately.

But having said all of that. There were lots of fun side adventures that brought pure joy. We took the family to London and Paris this summer and it was truly the trip of a life time. Hubby and I have never been so it was new to all of us. Words cannot describe how incredible this trip was. I don't think any vacation in the future could top this experience. I loved visiting new cultures and seeing the difference between countries. I finally sat down last night and edited some of the Paris photos. I thought if you don't mind, I would share some fun pics. I still need to go through London (which was incredible also) and will do that part soon.

We stayed in a Bed and Breakfast in the heart of France just a stone throw away from Notre Damn. If you are ever headed that way and would like an incredible place to stay, I cannot recommend this lovely home enough. Here is the link to their website http://parishistoricbnb.com I stumbled upon it when spending many hours trying to figure out where a family of 5 could stay without having to get 2 hotel rooms. We could not have had a better home base. 

The home is 400 years old and the hostess Ann was amazing. The photo below is the view from our room. The 2nd photo below is the boys looking out one of our windows in the room. All 3 of those windows were in our room and they opened up. The room was amazing. 

The photos below shows the area in the "lobby" part of their lovely home. Connor is holding one of the resident cats. These are the steps heading up to our room. I think the house has about 5 floors.

This is in the main "lobby" area also where Keegan would sit and play the piano every time we walked out the front doors. There was a swimming pool in the lower level that was beautiful. The water was freezing though.

The atmosphere is exactly how you would imagine Paris to be. There are people singing and playing the accordion everywhere. Even in the subway stations and they hop on and off the subway cars doing it also. And at every corner there are small bistros with tiny round tables facing out into the street and activity. The vibe and feel and hustle and bustle is like music to your ears. The food of course was heavenly. There are bakeries everywhere and tiny grocery stores. You don't see the big grocery store chains there. People buy enough to cook for a day or two at a time and it is all so fresh and eye appealing. The boys discovered Nutella crepes. YUM! And hot dogs are not what we have here. The first two photos below show the hot dogs. What I really admired about both Paris and London was the high quality and healthy choices of fresh fast food at every corner. I really wish we had those same choices here. 

This photo below is not the best as the sun was shining at the camera early in the morning but it is an open air bakery that we went to often.  Just look at the incredible food in the background. That is hubby and the kids and then our friends that traveled the same week as we did there.

And of course, what better than enjoying a crepe at the base of the Eiffel tower in the evening. 

So of course we did the Eiffel Tower tour and took the train up to the top. We went up in the evening and came down when it was dark. That was Keegan's goal to see the sunset from the top of the Eiffel Tower. It was amazing. The strange thing is that it does not get dark until almost 11 p.m. 

The view from the top. The city is just huge.

Love this photo of Keegan sitting at the base of the tower.

The top view from another angle.

We became expert Tube and subway riders. There is hubby and the boys reading the map. This was our primary means of transportation and we used to get to and from the airport with our luggage and the Eurostar train to get from London to Paris. Thank goodness for suitcases with wheels. It worked out perfect as we just did carry on luggage and each of us had a small roller bag and a backpack. It made it much easier to get around.

So the photo below is of my friend Sanna and her 3 kids and me with my 3 kids. Their ages almost overlap perfectly. Sanna was in my wedding and we were both Neuroscience reps and partners for half of our territory with Abbott Labs. They moved to Sweden and Switzerland about 7 years ago and just moved back to St. Louis a week ago. So she packed up the kids from Switzerland and overlapped her stay with ours and we spent a few days touring around Paris with them. It made the trip even more fun for the kids and of course I enjoyed reconnecting with her after being apart for so long. What's funny is that they even stayed one street over from us. The photo below was taken outside the door of our bed and breakfast. If you could look all the way to the end of the street (which isn't far) you would see the Seine River and Notre Dame.

Look closely below at the railing on the bridge. 

A closer look.... Can you figure out what is covering the rails?

It was the most amazing sight. Hubby and I had gone out for a stroll by ourselves and came upon this bridge. I couldn't wait to show the kids. 

 It is called The Lock Bridge and those are padlocks on the railings. Thousands of them. The surmise is that you and your loved one put a lock on the railing and then throw the key into the river below. The second time we were there, someone had even made these large keys that were tied onto the railing. Isn't the view just stunning. This is all at the end of the street where we stayed.

The kids were mesmerized looking at all of the locks and reading the words on the locks.
Hours of entertainment. Even Sanna got in on the fun when Keegan was pretending to stab Katie with the key.

The kids just stared and stared. It was dark by the time we were able to pull them all away.

On the last night there, we gave each of the boys a lock and they got to choose where they wanted to put it on and then chug the keys. Each lock had two keys so hubby and I took the kids extra keys for us to keep. 

This is the same bridge but in the evening. We saw several brides getting their photos taken on this bridge. What a romantic bridal scene. 

Okay...gotta admit that we had some total Chevy Chase European Vacation themes going on here. 

Hubby is into cycling and he bought a Tour De France flag and a few shirts at a store on Champs Ilyse right where the competition ends. 

We ventured out to Montmare for the day with Sanna and her kids and had a wonderful time. It was such a quaint area. This is a tavern.

They had this big square that had tons of artists that were selling their paintings and also artist selling portraits. I thought this photo was so cute below of this little girl. So Keegan decided that he wanted his  picture drawn too. 

This is the rest of the kids waiting for Keegan's drawing to get completed:-)

 Napoleons Tomb. So cool!

Inside the Notre Dame Cathedral

Our trip to The Louve

Of course I have hundreds more photos to share, but I will stop here as to not to overwhelm you. I knew it would be a fun trip but had no idea what an amazing and life changing & eye opening experience it would be. I highly recommend it to anyone who is seeking a great adventure.