2015

Work in Progress

You know that Home Depot commercial, or maybe it’s Lowes, with the young couple flirting their way through painting a room in their half furnished house? The woman’s hair is pushed into one of those unattainable messy pony tails, the sprigs of hair perfectly framing her face, while the man’s navy shirt accentuates his nice muscles as he applies paint to a wall with a roller. As he writes a love note on the wall with a nice ocher color, she basks in his cleverness. Joyful music plays and the advertisement laughingly suggests, ‘Oh if you only buy from us, how blissful this process of home improvement can be.’

That was us this weekend! My hair perfectly poised atop my head as we worked as a team to start the process of repainting our multi-colored house. Not.

There were no love notes rolled onto the wall, no drama either, but instead the shocking realization that, dang it, the color Dylan wanted is way more, well….white, than previously anticipated. Two coats of Behr Ultra paint and $30 in and we are probably going to start over.

Fast forward to Sunday afternoon at around 3 pm. I am yelling instructions off of the online manual from inside our kitchen through the space in the sliding door as Dylan crouches under our deck, attempting to drain the hot tub we inherited in the move (long story – I’d be happy to share if you are interested). “Pull the black plug towards you and attach it to the hose,” I yell. “There is no black plug Katie,” he responds. “Find the number to the Aqua Spas place!”

Five hours, lots of gallons of water thrown on our lawn from a bucket, a headlamp, teamwork, and $70 of hot tub chemicals later the silly machine has been drained and the water replaced.  The pH strips tell us we are ready to enjoy our spa without the harrowing effects of well, too much acid to soak in. Good to go for the next six months.

This weekend our projects felt like works in progress. I am a finisher, according to all the personality tests out there, and so these open ended projects drive me nuts! I want deadlines and to wipe my hands on my dirty paint stained pants and to look at the wall and say, “All in a day’s work.” It’s going to take us longer than that. As I sit and write this, I stare lovingly at a lemon yellow wall in our den, windows without coverings, and I can peek into the half finished room of white white white. I have to remind myself that this adventure we just embarked on is a continuous journey in improvement.

Life. Is. A. Work. In. Progress.

It took the blessing of homeownership and the last eight weeks for me to realize I am, in no way, going to figure out this thing called life in a weekend. I can set goals and learn as I go, and call and ask for help but the beauty is in the progress. I am thrilled we chose to steer away from a “fixer-uper”. I would have gone crazy.

I love this Ralph Waldo Emerson quote. It’s going to be my mantra for the rest of the year.

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I can’t function any other way and their is beauty in that. Too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense. Progress, not perfection.

Nails are a mess and biscotti has been non-existent for months. Progress, not perfection.

Healthy It May Not Be

Fall is falling. I looked out my kitchen window this weekend, and the cascading crunchies covered our lawn. Until yesterday, we did not own a rake. We quickly solved that predicament with a trip to the local hardware store, and our Sunday afternoon turned into a lovely time to work on projects, chores, and maintenance of the season. Dylan raked the yard and with the way the winds are blowing, he will likely have to do it again next week. I know, I know, I’ve mentioned my love of this month repeatedly, but there is something magical about the four weeks of the year that make up October. We’ve only got one full week left – are you taking the chance to savor it?

Beauty exists in carving pumpkins- the slime of orange goop dripping down your hands as you balance a knife between your fingertips. Oh! And the delayed gratification that comes from the promise of tasty pumpkin seed snacks roasting in the oven. This weekend we joined family to make treats of caramel apples, and popcorn balls, and little morsels of chocolate. My counter at home is buzzing with sugar asking to be eaten and I find comfort in the beauty of this season’s ritual, routine, and tradition. This year has brought a multitude of unanticipated changes – mostly good for our lives. As I navigate these self-directed detours I take comfort in knowing that I, too, can create some predictability. Carving pumpkins near Halloween? You can count on it. Eating candy corn, making pumpkin bread – these are the activities that ground me as I look around and say the world is changing yet again.

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This week we have had three full days of cloudy drizzle, and I can say with confidence that I have brought out my cowl, and am wearing cowboy boots, and look forward to my North Face puffy jacket becoming a part of my daily routine. I wear this coat from November to March. It’s a well-loved staple for my transition to fall. Fancy Sunday dinners may become a part of our routine as we head into dark evenings, cozy socks and fire places. Do you have any “fine Sunday night dinner” recipes you can share with me? I made this one last night and it was delicious. Healthy it may not be, but gravy sure is a beautiful thing. Wine and sage and thyme, chicken broth and cream. Yum.

I’m nearing the two year mark for this blog, and I sometimes have trouble coming up with original content because I’m noticing themes in my journey to seek beauty. I love books, coffee, and treats, time with family, self-exploration, and get-away vacations. I seem to gravitate towards these things when I feel low and just as often when I feel energized and beautiful myself. These trends bring great awareness, and great potential, as I have the ability to influence their presence in my life all by myself. As you walk through the crunching leaves ask yourself this question – “What beauty can I manifest for myself that helps me to maintain stability as the world spins madly on?”

Nope – That’s a Phrase

“Osh*t is not a word,” says the dad.

“Nope, it’s a phrase,” says the daughter.

“Sh*t is a word,” says the dad.

“Yup, sure is,” says the daughter.

“Here are the definitions,” says the dad as he proudly reads off his iPhone, using his very own dictionary app.

  1. excrement; feces
  2. an act of defecating; evacuation
  3. the sh*ts – diarrhea
  4. Slang. pretense, lies, exaggeration or nonsense
  5. Slang. something inferior or worthless

Dad skips ahead a few

12. Slang. used to express disgust, disappointment, frustration, contempt or the like

12 give a sh*t  – Slang. to care; be concerned

Daughter and mother laugh and laugh.

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Playing Scrabble with my parents is a beautiful thing.

Note* – I did not win. My mom always kicks our booties.

Be a Beginner

Here is the awareness that I experienced this week. I hate being a beginner. I like, instead, having accomplished a level of mastery that is comfortable, predictable, and extremely safe. However, life continues to give me some grand opportunities to begin again, pushing me down my tunnel of safety into unknown land of what the heck am I doing? I almost cried this week while staring at a budget worksheet for a proposal I’m working on. Is this ever going to get easier? I wanted to throw the paper down and wipe my tears in the hallway bathroom. Instead, I tried again, and after two hours, the numbers finally added up in their columns appropriately.

Other areas of being a beginner?

  1. Owning a home – luckily my husband is very zealous about projects and maintenance. I instead plan meals from the couch and feel a little anxious about water heaters and home warranties.
  2. Being a wife – in the grand scheme of things, I’m still pretty new at this. Hence why I sit on the couch and plan meals. Wives do that right?
  3. I have a new job. I’m more than six months in, but still learning a new skill, navigating a new team of people, and trying to balance my desire for leadership with lack of experience. Hence my tears over a budget worksheet.
  4. Being a child that is an adult – maybe some people get used to this way before I did, but navigating relationships as an adult with both parents and in-laws can be fun and a little unclear. Is it ok to ask for help? To have my father-in-law doing our electrical and still eating dinner with my dad on a Wednesday night? I hope so.
  5. Making new friends – this year I’ve watched numerous people I care about continue their own journeys, moving away, and going in different directions. I feel this has left a void in my own life, and I want to build new relationships. This process is awkward, requires risk, and vulnerability. Do you want make new friends too? Come over, let’s have a dinner party.

There is beauty in beginning. In admitting I don’t know quite what I’m doing, but I am trying to bring new and prosperous things to my life. At times, no all the time, I’m uncomfortable, but am finding ways to say learning is often an uncomfortable process. There is beauty here.

Something I am not new at is enjoying the full radiance of October, my favorite month. I can quote Anne of Green Gables like the rest of us, and I look forward to boots and sweaters and the return to hot coffee over iced. I haven’t brought out my sweaters yet; the weather is still over eighty degrees. I am loving the beauty of the Colorado blue skies splashed with aspens changing, and the rich hues that the trees offer as they transition into their resting space. I need to buy a bag of candy corn and eat it nibble by nibble, one color segment at a time. I look forward to these precious thirty one days each year. Chili and pumpkin bread, and crock pot meals are promising. There is something magical in this season of transition, when the mornings are cool and the sun rises later making me wake in darkness. I anticipate the return of cozy nights with blankets and big glasses of red wine. These are beautiful elements of my world that I can create and choose to participate in.

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As I sit and write today, the light is dancing on my wall through the glass on our front door. The shadows move back and forth, glamorously sharing their own beauty as the leaves wave in the autumn wind. Observing these little things bring peace. I don’t feel particularly purposeful in this moment, but maybe just sitting and watching the leaves dance and bring their own beauty to my living room wall is enough.

What are you beginning? What makes you feel like you are enough?

No baked goods or manicures this week. However, this mac and cheese in the crockpot is delicious.

The Window Seat

B12. That was my boarding assignment. And A51. And B22. And B35.

I flew on four different planes in the last ten days. That is a lot of flying. I’m not sure how people who spend a multitude of time in airports do it; the shuffle, the lines, the noise, the elbowing your way onto a plane, and into a seat.

Luckily, on three out of four of these flights, my husband gave me the window seat. I still have a child-like awe for feeling the surging engines beneath me as we lift into the air, and later the rushing squeaks of breaks and lurching forward in my pleather seat as planes land. The whole process brings me much excitement. It is the taking off and arriving that is the most fun when flying. Last night, we got on our fourth plane of the week and I spent minute upon minute gazing into the sky as the sun crept into the sleepy horizon, only to disappear in a smear of color.

Remember those crayons that had the red, yellow and blue sticks all rolled into one? If you wrote one way with the crayon, you’d get a perfect line of each primary color. If you turned the wax on its side, the colors would meld into one another. That’s what I felt we were doing in that large metal bird. Racing towards the perfect line of colored crayon marked by the setting sun meeting the end of its day, drawn by our creator, as we inched towards home at rates of hundreds of miles an hour.

I spent a lot of time thinking on this flight, about change, about peace, about family and the beautiful tangled webs that we live in for sustenance, comfort and guidance. I thought about what being an adult means, where kindness lies, and how important it is to send myself reminders of self-love. As we descended into Denver, with darkness outside my window and my head pressed against the plexiglass frame, I noticed slowly, how spots of light would appear through the fog. I could look up above the wing of this plane and see stars and look below to see the lights of our cities slowly ignite their way back in to our presence.  I felt like Peter Pan, dancing through the stars, above the little cities, and our tiny cars, screaming on the way to Neverland. Who wants to grow up? Some days I’m not so sure. I’m doing it though, growing up, and you probably are too.

This week, I was thrilled with the pleasure of the window seat. What beauty can be seen through a small little window as the world shrinks and expands with my change of perspective. I had a friend post this quote on Facebook the other day and I thought this wise person’s explanation of change in beauty related to the way in which we change our perceptions of beautiful things.

“You can know someone who, at first, may be very beautiful. Many days or months or years go by and they are still very beautiful. And you decide “this person is very beautiful!” And you hold them close, want to keep them.
Then, one day, they seem not so beautiful. Maybe even kind of ugly. And for many days or months or even years they are still quite ugly. And you decide “Oh, this person is actually quite ugly!” And so you push away, maybe want them to go or to figure out how to get away. We do this with everything – decide if it is ugly or beautiful – if we will stay or go. But if we practice living from our hearts, if we work very hard, we might realize that the appearance of beauty or ugliness lives in us. That things that were once ugly can become beautiful and things that were once beautiful can become ugly and it all depends on the awareness of our own hearts. Perhaps you have experienced this a little? Perhaps you have loved someone you thought would be eternally beautiful and are a little surprised when their beauty suddenly disappears and they are now repulsive, only to find a few weeks later you find them beautiful again? When we realize that beauty and ugliness are merely reflections of our own state of awareness we can start to work very hard to penetrate through this. Not work hard to find everything beautiful, but to no longer need things to be beautiful in order to love them – for love to exist in us regardless of the external.” Sadee Whip

From the road, a car is just a car, turns into traffic, a gas guzzler, annoying. The road marks our Earth, and lights are said to pollute our senses. From a window seat, though, oh how very different.

Biscotti – none – I made pumpkin bread instead

Essie Nail Polish – Gel Manicure – did you know Essie is doing gels now! What a luxury this little self extravagance was for me.

Mark the Wall

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Look closely. I know this photo is hard to see. If you squint and focus on the textured wall, shaky lines of pencil graphite mark the height of three boys from the year 1994 – 2000. I took this shot of charted growth in the closet in our new second bedroom. Tic marks on the wall capture not only little guys’ height, but imagined stories of lives well lived. I’m not sure who Todd, or Bryan, or Kegan are, but they lived where I now live and created their stories before we lived here. This sweet indicator of presence and progress is too much to paint over. We can’t. I won’t erase the truth that other people have grown where I am about to experience significant personal growth.

Dylan and I have been on a whirlwind ride these last few months, and have chosen to buy a house. It was one of those experiences in life where you pray to the universe for guidance, and all the sudden your prayers are answered at a pace much more quickly than imagined. After tears in the rented kitchen, blubbering through snot and confusion saying, “I don’t know what escrow means and how the hell am I supposed to understand this mortgage paperwork” to reassuring calls with my dad who happens to sell insurance and general contractor father in law, we made it. We’ve been guided to this point, and for the most part homeownership feels good. It also feels very adult, surreal, exciting and a bit risky. I suppose it is a complicated, beautiful mess of all of the above. I was shocked, however, how easy it is once you’ve proven your income and your stability, and your birth certificate, that you just sign a stack of papers and then wham, you own a home.  “Millions of people all over the world own homes Kate. You can too.” At least that’s what I’ve been telling myself. I’m happy the boxes are emptied, and our organization has begun, and my husband enjoys fixing things.

IMG_2954There has been immense beauty in this process, as doors I thought would never open have swung gracefully, accepting my presence. Through prayer I’ve experienced a beautiful peace to know that we continue to make changes that are beneficial to confidence building, and generate a comfort in place, and creative potential in projects. So many projects. I think picking colors for our new living room will be a bigger test on our marriage than choosing to co-sign on a mortgage. Side note – I was listed as “co-buyer” on our new purchase. Patriarchy be damned.

When I think back to those lines on the wall left behind in our closet, I wonder where those kids are now. I wonder if they have been experiencing the same growing pains that I have. I’m reminded to be proud of the little me that continues to get bigger. That growth is not something you ever really “achieve” and say “Ok enough of that, I’m done growing now.” I’m reminded too, to be introspective and spend time thinking about how I’ve grown in less obvious ways. On the outside our choices reflect many of the values of success that America strives for. In that, I am proud. This journey holds more truth than those standards. I am also proud of the beautiful process that lies in the self-examination through all of these big changes. The incremental leaps and bounds taken in the same amount of time that it takes a child to grow just a few inches at a time. I hope we can be in this place for awhile, continuing to stretch and assess who we want to be in this world.

If you are good at picking color samples, I need your help. If you want a coat rack, we have one for sale. I also need some sort of book – homeownership for women – that can teach me about pipes and washer/dryer hook ups, and how to make my house look like a picture from Real Simple Magazine. The pressure is beginning. All tips and tricks are welcome.

Biscotti – umm locate where the flour jar is and you got it girl

Essie Nail Polish – Material Girl – manicured hands do make you feel so much better

Buffaloes, Buffaloes, Go CU!

You know what song has been blasting through our home this week?

This one:

No. I wouldn’t exactly say that this is a beautiful thing. It’s actually rather obnoxious, but we have been playing it so much that it makes me laugh, and laughter is beautiful. I showed this clip to my mom and watching her learn these dance moves, that was beautiful.

Jimmy Fallon’s rendition is even more hilarious, and this has been keeping me laughing all weekend.

I would love if Ellen could come play the Lip Sync game with me. That woman is amazing. There are so many parts of life where you just have to find things to laugh about, and if this gets you giggling, I hope it brings some joy this week.

There was a rather large football rivalry this weekend. I just want to send a shout out to my beautiful Colorado Buffaloes! Woot Woot. I was raised in CSU territory, and attended CU, and so most days my loyalty is subpar for my alumni status. I do get really excited about the Buffaloes one weekend a year – the Rocky Mountain Showdown.

I, myself, am a lone Buffalo in a family of Rams, and so I send smack talk texts to my cousins, my mom, my uncle, anyone who will listen on one day a year. I get a little cocky and make bets that never come to fruition. Unfortunately, both teams aren’t exactly top ten in the nation.

I was so excited that the Buffs won this year. Our tv isn’t quite set up  since we moved last week, and so my parents and my in-laws gathered around our radio and listened to the game. Just like in the 1940’s. Quaint. They probably ate buffalo chicken dip in the 1940’s right? Frank’s Hot Sauce was totally a thing. Enough calories for the week. Opportunities to talk smack about the Rams and mostly make fun of my family as we cheered on our favorite four legged mascots. I loved screaming the CU Fight Song from my newly organized kitchen with Dylan. My father-in-law was shocked I remembered the words. I’ll tell you a little secret – when you are a freshman at CU they give you a t-shirt with the fight song printed on the back. That way, every game you go to, you find a freshman, stand behind them, and memorize the song. When you graduate, you take that shirt, and still wear it on game days.

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You sing the song. You cheer loudly. You have something to be proud of. Even when your football team has “room to grow.” Room to grow is a beautiful thing. Watching Ralphie run the field, that’s powerful. Much more than Cam the Ram.

In our culture that is seeped in competition, in proving ourselves or protecting ourselves, I was able to see through some of the rivalry, the false promises, the ridiculous shows that we put on, and laugh. That is beautiful. And oh my goodness, buffalo chicken dip is beautiful. So. Delicious.

No biscotti or nail polish this week. Stay tuned I guess.

When Goals Become Accomplishments

I just looked at the calendar. It is September 20th. You are likely reading this and thinking, well yes, just look at a calendar. You have one on your phone, and on the wall.  I’ve been thinking it’s September 17th for the last four days in a row. Time is going quickly and the year is almost in the fourth quarter.

I’ve been reflecting on goals, and resolutions, and have asked myself the question, “Have you accomplished what you set out to accomplish this year?” I was drawn to my post about new year’s resolutions and realized, yes, I have done some of these things on my list. Currently, my cupboard is bare of biscotti and my nails are naked, so I’m not doing as great as I thought I would on those weekly goals.

Baked goods aside, one of my goals for the year that was not included on that list was get more involved in sharing my writing. I wanted to write an article, and get it published. And I did!

I had the privilege of connecting with a fabulous group of women who are in tune with themselves and the world around them and I had the opportunity to share a small part of my story. Thank you to Invoke Magazine for letting me join in the journey.

To read my article, click here: My Mother’s Voice Inside My Head – A Journey to Individuation.

Love ‘Em or Leave ‘Em – Guest Post by Teresa R. Funke

We moved this week. It’s been crazy – I will have updates for you soon.

In the meantime, I am thrilled to share this guest post by one of my mentors, Author and Writer’s Coach Teresa R. Funke.  Originally posted on her blog, Bursts of Brilliance for a Creative Life, this post reminds us to find things to love in the world, when there is so much going against us.

Author: Teresa Funke

Twitter:@teresafunke Blog: Bursts of Brilliance for a Creative Life

Website: www.Teresafunke.com  

It’s not hard to find beauty in this world, if you go looking for it. It’s also not difficult to find things to complain about, if you so choose. I have friends who put a positive spin on everything, and I mean everything. At times, that feels disingenuous. Sometimes life really is hard. But I also know people whose thoughts go immediately to the dark side.  They are quick to judge, and quick to condemn.

One day, as I was thinking about what to post to my blog, Bursts of Brilliance for a Creative Life, I started thinking about how we, as a society, can be quick to judge too. We impose strict rules of social etiquette on people and criticize anyone who steps outside of those lines. And I started to think how ridiculous those dictates could be, going so far as to condemn people for dancing, singing, even laughing out of turn. How crazy is that?

So I decided to take apart some of those social rules and expose them for what they really are, joy killers. If we really want to see the beauty in our world, we must first see it in each other.

Here’s the post I wrote. See if you agree:

I love people who laugh at their own jokes. The harder they laugh, the better. Why shouldn’t we take enjoyment from our own creativity? Why create anything if it doesn’t bring us pleasure?

I love people who sing loudly and badly in church. Why? Because they are more concerned with giving praise than they are with what you think of them.

I love those people who take to the dance floor alone. They don’t wait for someone to hand them an opportunity, they go out and seize it.

I love people who stop a total stranger to tell her they adore her shoes. Our clothes are one of the ways we express ourselves. How nice when someone notices!

I love it when poets stand on a street corner and recite their verse. They have learned that we don’t need adoring crowds, we just need one person to listen.

I love it when someone says, “I don’t mean to brag,” and then they do. We work hard. Why shouldn’t we be proud of our accomplishments!

I love it when little kids ask, “Are you rich?” or “Are you famous?” or “How old are you?”  They keep us humble.

I love those students who always have their hands up in class. They have learned that everything in life is more interesting if we get involved.

I love those people who say, “That’s nice, but I could do it better.”  Go ahead then, show me. You either will, and I’ll be glad for it, or you won’t, and I’ll have lost nothing

Some days I even love people who drive the speed limit. They remind us that there’s plenty of time to get where we are going.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my ideas with you on 52 Beautiful Things!  May you have a beautiful day!

Teresa_Funke Red ColorTeresa Funke embodies the modern artist/entrepreneur. She is the owner of Teresa Funke & Company and Victory House Press and the award-winning author of six novels for adults and children based on true stories from WWII. She is also a nationwide speaker offering keynotes and presentations and a popular writer’s coach. You can find more on her website, on Twitter, and Facebook.

Self Care for the See Ya Laters

Happy Labor Day! I for one am enjoying the opportunity to stay in my pajamas until eleven am. I have plans for coffee, and reading a book, and having dinner with friends. That is what days off should be about. I am procrastinating some fairly large tasks for the week ahead, and saying “Today, I choose self care.” The anxiety of what I should be accomplishing to manage my life can begin tomorrow.

This weekend I bought a Real Simple Magazine. One of the articles was talking about how hard it can be to make friends as an adult. I was shocked by a stat that said that on average, people change groups of friends every seven years. While I love my friends dearly, I thought to myself, hmm, its almost time for a new batch of friends. I simply mean that life choices and changes, especially in the second half of your twenties, draw you away from your tribe created in college and perhaps the terrifying years of when you are all moving home and floating a little bit. When you pass over twenty five, we all start to seem a little bit more ‘legit’ – whatever that means – and these legitimate choices of career, and partners, and lifestyle preferences push friendships into the great unknown. As a loyal person, this makes me sad. As a realist, this makes me understand, ‘heck, these changes have nothing to do with me as a person, it just happens.’

This past month I said “see ya later” (not good-bye – that is too final) to three friends going off to grad school – Boston, California, Scotland. I had friends start new teaching jobs, new outdoor adventure jobs, and I chose to leave behind a tribe when I started a new job – even if the location is literally across the street.  Through all of these swinging doors I’m learning how to take care of myself. I’m trying to ignore comparison, sending light and love across the country, and gaining new pen pals. Also choking back a sob, a healthy sob, that we are entering into the next new chapter of life with threads still connecting us.

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It is easy for me, in times of change, to beat myself up. I feel I should have a better handle on the unknown outcomes of my choices. My therapist gently reminded me that it is ok to be anxious about some of these changes – I’ve never done them before. My need to be perfectly predicting is preposterous. So this week, I’ve adopted this beautiful mantra above and allow myself to cultivate new thoughts as I change and grow at rates un-measureable. I didn’t create the image above, just took it from Pinterest, so to whomever did – I love it.

Also this week was my first wedding anniversary! Hard to believe 365 days have already gone by as a wife. It is so fun to celebrate and reminisce about one of the best days of my life. I know there are many more good days to come. We spent the day at the farmers market, bopping around town with a latte in hand, and looking in shops, admiring beautiful things. We went to our favor restaurant for dinner and exchanged small gifts. My favorite part, though, was coming home and watching a movie, sharing a whole bottle of prosecco and nibbling on Cheez-Its. Word to the wise – don’t get the reduced fat.

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There is a lot of pressure to make a first anniversary astounding. I’d say we had a great day, but it was the little snack of crackers and bubbles with my man that made my beautiful heart oh, so happy.