Beautiful Day

Are you as excited as I am to welcome Summer’s little sister, Spring, to your hometown? The grass is greener, the flowers more colorful, and the days longer and sunnier. Enjoy the Moment, and enjoy the season, with this little gift I created just for you–filled with flowers and feathered friends.

 

What’s a sure sign it’s spring in your part of the world?

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Getting Personal & Key West Dreaming

On the Homefront

Hi my friends,

I admit, I’ve been living a bit of a roller coaster these past two weeks. Not that anything is really wrong or desperate, like illness or death, but emotionally I’ve struggled. In times like this, music and writing nourish my soul and make me whole again. I write romance, and to write romance, a person needs to truly believe in a happily-ever-after. My relationship with my husband is a huge inspiration in this way. Lately, I haven’t always appreciated him or the sacrifices he makes on a daily basis for our family. He works long hours far from home, and yet I still expect him to pull his weight (and more) at home. He always has, but that doesn’t mean he always will. I wonder if someday he’ll say, “Enough.”

I thought a lot about that this week. I considered many ways to show him how much I love him. I thought about sending him love texts (no, not sexts, that’s not my style, and with my luck, I’d accidentally sext the sitter or one of my colleagues). I’ve never done that, so I didn’t want him to be suspicious. I considered writing a love note. I also thought about surprising him with his favorite meal–but I’m not such a great cook.

None of those ideas seemed right.

Then I was on my way to work a few days ago, and I accidently hit CD instead of FM radio. I only have one CD in my car, and it’s David Archuleta. (Yes, I adore the beautiful purity of his voice.) His song, “You Can” played, my love anthem. Not because of him (Sorry, David!), but because the lyrics bring me back to 1984 when my husband was my best friend on the verge of becoming my boyfriend, when I first realized he could be the one to “save me from myself.” I wasn’t a lost soul by any means, but I lacked belief in myself, and I didn’t grasp my true potential until he came into my life.

So this is for my husband, the one who always believed in me and helped me believe in myself:

What song reminds you of a special person in your life?

Key West Dreaming…

For my fellow Key West lovers, here are some recent photos I took just for you:

Ocean Key Resort Sunset Pier Restaurant

Mr. Rooster on Duval

Pier at Westin Casa Marina, Key West

Duval Street — After the Storm

Until next time, I hope you spend your days doing what you love best.

xoxo

Jolyse

PS  Any Key West topics you’d like me to blog about? Let me know. I love to chat Conch Republic.

The Roller Coaster or Merry-Go-Round?

Prior to having kids, my husband and I watched a movie called Parenthood. This 1989 film produced by Ron Howard was billed as a comedy, yet portrayed the reality of family life as well as any drama I’ve ever seen.

Which brings me to today’s Moment.

One of the four parenting stories features a middle-aged father named Gil, played by Steve Martin. Gil has a difficult relationship with his own father, so he strives to be Super Dad to his three kids. However, when his oldest son’s erratic behavior threatens to change his school placement to special ed classes, Gil is frantic. Add to that his wife’s unplanned fourth pregnancy and work pressures, the guy is out of his mind with worry. Here are my favorite clips from the movie, when Grandma shares her words of wisdom and Gil finally gets their meaning:

In case you can’t access the video or want the short version…

[Gil has been complaining about his complicated life; Grandma wanders into the room] Grandma: You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster. Gil: Oh? Grandma: Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride! Gil: What a great story. Grandma: I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.

I like the merry-go-round. It’s pleasant, safe, and predictable. When our daughter was little, we’d take her on the one at Disney’s Magic Kingdom and she would smile and wave each time she passed by. Life was good. Life was simple.

Routine is our merry-go-round. We get up, send the kids off to school, do our work, the kids return home for dinner, we help with homework, watch tv, and go to bed. Then we do it all over again the next day. I enjoy routine; I like doing laundry and keeping to a schedule. Our son, being on the autism spectrum, craves routine–although it often constrains him (and us).

There’s something to be said for breaking out of the ordinary and taking a risk. It keeps us fresh, ready for anything life swings at us. It clears the cobwebs from our brains and exercises our imagination.

Our son’s first roller coaster ride!

Our daughter graduated from the merry-go-round and was a roller coaster pro by the time her brother was born.

Life for my family changed drastically with his autism diagnosis. Five years and hundreds of ABA therapy hours later, we took a family outing to an amusement park. This was a big deal, driving hours away from home and everything familiar. We had prepared our son with photos and talks about what to expect at Sesame Place, and he knew he was going to see Elmo, his favorite character, but it could go either way. New experiences often triggered extreme anxiety for him and tantrums could ensue. Luckily, the morning at the park was a huge success. He enjoyed it all–the water rides, the characters, the shows, the food, and the shops.

Then we saw the kiddie roller coaster. How I wanted my son to share our love of thrill rides! Should we push our luck? Heck, yeah. How would we know if he liked it if we never tried? We waited with bated breath to learn if our second-born would relish or fear what the rest of us in the family adored.

Whee!

By the second dip of the tiny coaster, his eyes lit up and he wore a grin the size of his face.

Since that magical day, we’ve enjoyed the mega coasters at Great Adventure in New Jersey and those at Disney World and Universal as a family. We even brave the Tower of Terror at MGM Disney in Orlando on occasion.

I’ve witnessed a positive change in our son after each of these adventures. He becomes more emotionally connected and animated afterwards, the results lasting weeks or months. Other parents of children on the ASD spectrum have noted similar responses from their kids, including gains in language and learning after trips to places such as Disney.

Like Gil in Parenthood, I’ve learned life has a way of shaking us silly with its unexpected twists and turns. We can learn to hold on, savor the wind as it whips through our hair, and dare to try as we plunge into the next adventure. We can choose to keep with the status quo and get satisfaction out of the little things. Or maybe, just maybe, we can embrace both, being responsible when necessary, unbridled when possible in order to grow–whether as parents or individuals. What do you think?

Do you prefer the merry-go-round or roller coaster?

A Love Story

Wedding Day

Twenty-four years ago today, I married my true love and best friend. But our love story began long before April 9, 1988.

At fifteen, I was tall, lanky, studious, and shy compared to most girls my age, yet eager to fit in despite lacking social graces. I survived adolescent crushes and ventured into dating. None of those boys, however, made me swoon like the heroes in my favorite novels. Night after night, I’d gaze into the starry darkness from my bedroom window, dreaming of the perfect romance.

The Michael Buble song, I Just Haven’t Met You Yet, reminds me of that yearning optimism I had as a teen.

I met my future husband autumn of ’83. He was a very confident, handsome guy with a great sense of humor, a potent combination as far as I was concerned. We hung in the same circles and kept bumping into each other, although I focused on my studies and dating guys I felt were more in my league. My future husband and I had a playful, friendly relationship, but it didn’t go any further than that.

Until months later, he stole a kiss. I began to suspect he was the one, but I didn’t want to believe it. At that point I had a love interest back home and figured he did too.

Sophomore year of college, he’d walk me home Saturday nights whenever my roommate wasn’t available. I began to share my accomplishments and sorrows with him. He offered emotional support after my breakup with a boy back home. We talked about our childhoods, our aspirations, our religious beliefs, just about everything. We’d become best friends.

Then he ruined everything by asking me out on a date. I had to refuse. What if things didn’t work out? Luckily for our love story, he wasn’t easily dissuaded. He brought me flowers. He asked me to a movie. He courted me.

And we lived happily ever after.

Well, not so fast. Our road to marriage was a bumpy one at times, both of us having grown into strong-minded, focused young adults, intent on making our way in the world while trying to figure out how to fit our lives together.  The 2005 movie A Lot Like Love, starring Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet, reminds me a bit of our real-life romance:

As we’ve wound our ways through the years,

we’ve lived our marriage vows,

loving each other

for better for worse,

in good times and in bad,

through sickness and health.

Twenty seven years after our first date, we’re still best friends, and we’re still crazy in love with each other. Happy anniversary, sweetheart.

That’s our love story. What’s yours? 

Love is in the Air

Courtesy MS Company

In honor of Valentine’s Day, this week’s post is all about romance.  There’s the traditional candlelit dinner, bouquet of roses, chocolates, whispered sweet nothings–all leading up to a wonderfully intimate evening to celebrate your love. Simple, yet elegant. Then, there are the more extravagant declarations of love, like jewelry or an overnight stay at your favorite hotel. It’s all good.

After twenty-odd February fourteenths, my Valentine surprised me a few years ago with what I consider his most thoughtful present ever, a gift basket of my favorite romantic comedy DVDs. To top it off, we watched one that night while snuggling on the couch with our wine and strawberries.

If you’re thinking about a cozy night in with your Valentine this year, here are my recommendations:

When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail, French Kiss, The Holiday, Love Actually, Before Sunset, Before Sunrise, Wedding Date, Thirteen Going on Thirty, Just Like Heaven, Sleepless in Seattle, Hope Floats, While You Were Sleeping, The Wedding Singer, The Ugly Truth, Enchanted, The Proposal, Definitely Maybe, Made of Honor, How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, Sweet Home Alabama, and Leap Year.

If you missed this romantic comedy from 2010, Leap Year stars Amy Adams and Matthew Goode. Amy’s character, Anna, reminds me of the the girl from the Taylor Swift song about a guy who makes a “rebel of a careless man’s careful daughter.”

Matthew Goode

Anna is a proper, control freak on the verge of moving uptown with her safe, predictable cardiologist. Still ringless after four years, she decides to take matters into her own hands and travel to Dublin where her boyfriend is at a medical conference. She believes there to be an Irish tradition where a women can ask a man to marry her on February 29th. Of course, her journey meets with many obstacles. Matthew Goode plays Declan, who is adorable and maddenly interesting but financially unstable. Yet, Anna can’t help falling in love with him along their rocky road to Dublin. Click on Matthew’s photo to see Anna and Declan’s first kiss.

Not only is Leap Year’s story cute and fast-paced, but the scenery is incredible. You may be tempted to visit the Irish Isles after seeing this flick.

I’m not the only one with romance on my mind this week. Check out this cool movie blog post featuring romantic movie moments from a variety of genres. Which movie moment would get your vote?

Well, I have to run…time to write love notes for my Valentine. (Find this and other romantic ideas at Marcia Richards’ Sexy. Smart. From the heart. blog.) I’ll leave you with this video compilation of most romantic movie kisses:

Happy Valentine’s Day, however you choose to spend it.

XOXO,

Jolyse

Livin’ on Key West Time

Do you find that you’re always racing to get things done? Whether you commute to work, chauffeur the kids, have work deadlines or errands to run, the clock is your task master. You may be known to say things like, “If only there were more than twenty-four hours in a day,” “I have to put out the biggest fire first,” “You want to do WHAT when?” and your all-time favorite (with only a hint of sarcasm, of course), “Sure I can get that done in my FREE time.”

If this sounds like your life, then this Magarita Moment is for you. C’mon, kick back and relax. All those chores will still be waiting four-and-a-half minutes from now, right?

If you didn’t have to run off just yet, please share your ideas for saving time or using it effectively. That would be really helpful, you know, because I just spent an entire weekend playing with Windows Movie Maker and I have a lot of work to catch up on now.  🙂

Once Upon a Time

Winter has arrived, a perfect opportunity for indoor escapes. One of my favorite ways to relax and recharge is to cuddle up on the couch in my cozy pj’s, a hot beverage in one hand and the TV remote in the other.

My old stand-bys include HGTV’s House Hunters International, Food Network shows, and NCIS. A new series, however, debuted on ABC in October which piqued my interest. It promised a new spin on the classic fairy tales. I had every intention of watching it, but then life got a little hectic and I had to hold off on this guilty pleasure.

Until now. With the holidays behind us, it’s “me time.” Husband has his football; I have ONCE UPON A TIME. If you haven’t heard of it, here’s an excerpt of ABC Studio’s synopsis for the series:

From the inventive minds of Lost executive producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis comes a bold new imagining…Emma Swan knows how to take care of herself. She’s a 28-year-old bail bonds collector who’s been on her own ever since she was abandoned as a baby. But when the son she gave up years ago finds her, everything starts to change. Henry is now 10 years old and in desperate need of Emma’s help. He believes that Emma actually comes from an alternate world and is Snow White and Prince Charming’s missing daughter. According to his book of fairytales, they sent her away to protect her from the Evil Queen’s curse…Of course Emma doesn’t believe a word, but she soon suspects that Storybrooke is more than it seems. The epic battle for the future of all worlds is beginning, but for good to win, Emma will have to accept her destiny and fight like hell.

Or, if you’d prefer, here’s the trailer:

Josh Dallas

A Fresh Take on a Classic

As my husband watched the Giants-Cowboys game, I watched the pilot and two subsequent episodes yesterday, and I’m unashamed to say I’m now hooked. It’s gritty at times, but not gory. For some, the show may bring to mind fractured fairy tales such as The True Story of The Three Little Pigs.

A majority of the show’s cast and setting is beautiful, just as in a classic fairy tale, and is interspersed with evil deeds and evil doers. There are trolls, leprechauns, the Three Fates, wolves, and unicorns. Overall, the scenes are quick-paced, and seamlessly weave present-day Storybrooke, Maine, with the fairy tale realm. Sometimes there’s a little too-much plot information in the dialogue, but is forgivable. If you like the Harry Potter series, with its magical creatures, good vs. evil, and fantasy merging with reality, you may very well like ONCE UPON A TIME for your own mini-escape in 2012. Like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, this series reveals more sinister forces as it progresses. I haven’t seen the seventh episode yet, but apparently a major character will be killed off.

This modern fable has aired seven shows to date. Internet is wonderful, because you no longer have to wait for re-runs to see missed episodes and you can watch them back-to-back. Click here to get started, if you’re interested. Don’t forget to return here to give me your take on it, good or bad. All comments are welcome.

As people have different tastes, I’m interested in hearing about yours. Please share. What are your favorite tv shows? What is it about them that keeps you coming back for more?

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