Sunday, May 29, 2011

memorial weekend

peace lily (spathiphyllum)

Memorial weekend is time for reflection to honor our heroes who helped us maintain our freedom as one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.  I am proud to be an American.  We may not be perfect, but our states are united, and thanks to our President and the brave Navy Seals, we can all breathe a little easier as the threat of terrorist Osama Bin Laden has subsided.  We will always be on alert for future attacks as we have been trained to be prepared, however, deep in our hearts we know our country will protect us, no matter how long it takes.   To celebrate this, I purchased a peace lily. 
flying our flag to honor our country

I proudly displayed our nation's stars and stripes and will not take it down until after Labor Day this year.  Everytime I glance at it, I smile.  I must share a wonderful tidbit about a 17 year old boy who started a site called which strives to keep alive the memory of our nation's heroes who gave their lives in support of the Global War on Terror.  This amazing young man researched the recently fallen soldiers at Arlington Cemetary and posted their names so we can always keep them in our heart.  His efforts bring pride that the future of our country will not forget.
it's a tigger theme

As the blessed day approaches, I decided to dig in the attic to see what baby items I can pull out for our little papoose.  I have not seen these things for almost 20 years so it was quite emotional to find the adorable baby comforters hand sewn by my Mom for each of my sons.   A wave of memories overwhelmed me as to when I held my own infants and swaddled them in their own blankies.  I dashed to the store to get Dreft soap to clean them ~ the smell after being washed in this soap is indescribable.  While I was there, I decided to get a few items for when baby is at our home and found cutesy Tigger-themed baby stuff.  This way I have some things in case the kids decide to just drop off baby for awhile. 
bassinet for baby

They only sleep in this adorable crib for a few months, but I had to bring my old one down and ordered a new skirt which I plan to enhance with my new friend ~ ribbons.

ribbon embellishment

The kids are all out and about this weekend enjoying time away and relaxing from their hectic school and work schedules.  While we were invited to go to Michigan, we nodded politely and are taking time to indulge in our newly renovated digs in peace and quiet with our pups.  All our projects are complete and everything is back in order.  What an amazing feeling.  It feels so good.  We'll probably watch a few movies and dine at a new restaurant and visit Brookfield Zoo on Monday if Boo comes home early.  Wayne begins his new job in a few weeks so he can enjoy some down time; we'll ride our bikes around the neighborhood and grill some pub burgers and shishkabobs. 

benes family

Next Sunday, June 5, we will attend the second annual Mother's Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) walk being held in Homer Glen.  We will always hold Kevin in our hearts forever, and this is a little way to keep his remembrance alive and share our love for him and his family.
mom's lilac bush

Wayne and I have toiled over this little guy for a few years.  It seemed as if it might have given up blooming, but we kept trimming and clearing the dead brush and I even talked to it; and sure enough, he came back to share his beauty for Big Daddy and Brother Bo.   Keep the faith!

Warm wishes to all for a wonderful weekend.  Take a moment to remember those who have made a difference in your life, even in the smallest manner, and offer gratitude for all the blessings being bestowed each moment.  Make a new memory and pay it forward. 

As Bob Seger so greatly sings it:   Ooooh, I remember, Oh, I remember, I remember....xo

Monday, May 23, 2011

sprucing up the place

This is where it all started.  Last year we had our eye on this kitchen set with its many seats so we all can share a meal together, but never got around to doing anything about it. Our focus was primarily on the other house and once that burden was lifted, it was full speed ahead.  Mike decided it was time to get rid of the pink rooms and exterior and let me know he was on a mission to make that happen and to clear the decks so he could begin this project.  He diligently worked his magic throughout the rooms every Saturday using these cool painting and scraping tools to get 'er done perfectly.   We chose the Behr paint color calm air and it is really quite soothing.  After dismantling the area, on March 7, I made the call to get ideas on how to enhance our windows and Rhonda from Eddie Zs got the ball rolling.  She has a keen decorating sense and offered suggestions I would have never thought of.  My goal was to remove the unnecessary clutter and clear our home providing clear feng shui energies.  I focused on one level at a time so it wouldn't become too overwhelming.  I really enjoy projects and this was going to be a delightfully intense one indeed. 
To keep it simple, I had the Piroquet shades installed in the living room and filters on the dining room windows to prevent the sun's glare from damaging the furniture.  Anthony installed our fancy shmancy entrance and patio doors which brings in more sunlight.  Robyn from Burr Ridge Lighting was so much fun to work with and she knew exactly what I wanted with the artistic light fixtures.  Wayne-O had his eye on this beautiful Italian dining set called Gianna and got involved in the remodeling project when we ordered same, making the room feel as if we are dining in Tuscany.  The light fixture has a G clef which is a popular bass note and since he is a bassist, it had to be ours.  Thanks, Jeff, for installing our beautiful light fixtures!
I had all the wood floors refinished thanks to our new Romanian friends at Floor Mania Inc.  Their professionalism and expertise amazed me, and comparatively speaking, their prices are very reasonable.  Worth every penny!  When we built our home in 1984, fashion dictated having lots of carpeting, however, I detest vacuuming and insisted on wooden floors, which was uncommon at the time.  Not a day goes by that I regret our decision and now that they look brand~spanking new, I love them even more so.  Mike and Margarita gave me a cool tool for easy cleaning that works marvelously.   I patched a million tiny holes in Steve's room from all his artwork previously gracing his room and ended up repainting both his and the massage room.  Luckily I had just enough leftover paint to get this accomplished.  He loves his new big boy, or young man look, and his nights should be more comfortable in the new queen bed.  I figured we might as well make everyone happy and gave Dan and Darcy a king mattress and new sheets and comforter covers as well.  Bed Bath and Beyond and Ikea have a great selection. Since the doggies cannot be jumping off the bed without hurting themselves, I got us a low rider box spring called a boogie board.  The powder blue sheets are perfect.  650 thread.  Sigh. 
The hardest thing about remodeling is being inconvenienced with not being able to walk around while the work is in progress.  Luckily, we planned things in increments where there would always be a way to get to an area.  We found ways to block our doggies so as not to damage the wood by putting a mattress in front of the stairs while they cured.  They survived.  LOL While the experts worked on their areas, I kept busy by clearing out the lowest level and organizing bins and cleaning dust bunnies from the basement.  Wouldn't you know it, as Mercury was retrograde, our clothes washing machine punked out, as did our dishwasher and kitchen skylight leaked, so all had to be repaired and/or replaced.  Luckily, we were referred to a great appliance service ~ Central Dupage Appliance and they did the job for us.  Two weeks of laundromat visits ($150 worth of suds) later, all was back in place.  I really, really appreciate my clothes washer and dryer.  We do the clothes every day so you can imagine my visits.  The guys at Rooftech came to install the new skylight and wouldn't you know it, as they removed the old one, it downpoured for 5 minutes, but no damage was done to Mike's kitchen ceiling painting (thank God.)
I did tons of scrubbing and got a little anal at times, causing one of my fingers to bruise.  I went so far as to clean the garage door inside and out after Showy and family left their droppings.  Yuck.  I endeavored to begin painting the exterior trim on all the windows as once Mike mentioned it looks pink outside, every time I drove up I wanted to puke.  I never noticed it before until he mentioned it and he was right on.  I enjoy painting, so on my 100 or so visits to the mighty Home Depot I bought the paint, after careful selection through their cute little sample jars, and began replacing the old chamois color with beach beige.  Ask me where things are in that store and I could probably tell you.  The fun thing is every time I visit,  I come home with another plant or flower for the garden. Notice my pretty blue orchid. As this is a process, I had to wait for clement weather, which was a challenge given all the cold, wet and windy days our spring brought us; and took my time with three coats on every window, trim and lower fir.  As I am not comfortable working on the ladder at higher heights, Wayne-O did the upper level windows and  fir siding.  We were going to have it all aluminized, but I am not so fond of that look, so we kept what we had and enhanced same.  

 The biggest project has been the total renovation of our lower bathroom.  Whew!  I knew going in that it would be filled with glitches as I signed the contract the day Mercury went retrograde and when Brian of Complete Home Maintenance suggested it would take two weeks to complete, I shook my head and said, "so count on four."  I ordered a wood slab from New Mexico that would take three to four weeks to deliver, however, that and the tempered glass piece took a bit longer for delivery, holding up the job.  You must understand, my family only takes showers, and for them to have to cleanse in my tub was inconceivable at first, but as all fine creatures learn, it is easy to adapt to circumstances, and lo and behold, so they did.  Six weeks later, the mission is accomplished.    We made a new friend in Jeff Dillon, who is a seasoned veteran in home improvements and I enjoyed his company everyday beginning at 8:00 am.  His creativity is evident in the tile design and installation.  Great guy, he is.

intuition shower system
light and window

bench to rest weary bones :)
 vessel bowl and wooden slab

The shower is twice the original size as we knocked down walls and built a deeper area.  The room is filled with Italian travertine called Scabos and it feels like a Roman bath house. Thanks to Rich at The Tile Shop for helping me choose wisely on this one.  Mary Ann from Ferguson's knew exactly what to order for all the plumbing essentials.   The commode is much higher and newfangled with two depressors for number one and number two, aiding in a more energy efficient function (and lower water bills!)  I wanted Wayne-O to feel like king of his castle and this room is for him. 

I painted the little areas where no tile was installed and fine-tuned the family room with a nice ecosteam carpet shampoo and minor rearranging.  I still don't know what to do in my sanctuary bath upstairs but am leaning toward a softer look with onyx tile and vessel bowl.  I must keep my beloved oversized bathtub and work around it, so my final project will be in the works when my creative juices come up with the perfect plan.  As I constantly mentioned to Wayne-O during this renovation process, "I have a system...and it works."  I am so fortunate he gave me the green light to fund these renovations and whenever I came up with another design, all he did was nod his head up and down.  My man. This domestic goddess is proud of her new nesting digs.  I don't know what I would have done without my handy tools such as flax soap, lemon polishing oil, razor to scrape the window edges, variety of screw drivers, hammer, spackle, windex, feather duster, paint brush and oh, yeah...bayer aspirin.  xo

Friday, May 20, 2011

the end of the world

According to Harold Camping, head of Family Radio Broadcasting Network, tomorrow we will experience judgment day.  The media is loaded with mention of the end of the world with billboards boasting the fearful day.  To me, that is precisely what this propaganda is all about ~ filling vulnerable people with fear and calling it the rapture, however, rapture is defined as ecstatic joy.  Remember, fear is the opposite of love.  I have been hearing a variety of songs, facetiously hitting the airwaves, performed by artists such as REM and Skeeter Davis, to remind us to beware of the doomsday, subtly planting the seeds of doubt and fear of our existence after May 21, 2011, and especially October 21, 2011.   Another predicted date of dread is December 21, 2012.  Notice loads of 2s and 1s. 
I suppose I am finding levity in this latest quest to prepare the world for our end of days and chuckle when I hear how dramatic some have responded by clearing out their bank accounts and refusing to responsibly pay mortgages and such.  Hmmm...  I am not a prophet and will not predict such occurrences but I doubt we will meet our maker tomorrow as a whole.  Some of us will indubitably end their existence on earth tomorrow as it is inevitable the circle of life begins and ends at some point, but all of us at once is not gonna happen, folks. 
I propose we take this opportunity to look at what brings fear in this situation and turn it around in the form of ending the world as we know it in little ways.  Let's find the small stuff that we can improve upon within our hearts and do something positive to end a bad habit, way of thinking or behaving, and fill our lives with a little more love and kindness.  Compassion is cool.  We can all find one little way to improve our old life tomorrow, and then let's find another way on Sunday, and continue until we are filled with bliss and share this with one another, until it extends throughout the universe and then, yes, we will have an end of the world, and a brighter, shinier and joyful world it will be. Take a little more time to pray to our spirits and most importantly, thank our Lord for all His blessings.  Gratitude is great. 
As fear is polar opposite of love, let's love more.  Tell those you love that you do.  Live life as if it were your last day on earth and be aware of how wonderful the world is.  Laugh.  Don't sweat the small stuff (and it's all small stuff.)  Breathe in, breathe out.  Make a point to practice random acts of kindness.  Try a little tenderness. Get involved.  Hold your tongue.  Illuminate.  Kiss a fool.  Hug yourself.  Let go of all fears and fill your heart with love, for when it comes down to it, love is all we need.  Have fun and be happy. Just for today.  xo 

Monday, May 16, 2011


We never know what paths we will follow in our time here on earth, but I do know it will be filled with a plethora of surprises and moments that take our breath away.  Some of these moments will be sorrowful and many will be of pride and awe-inspiring.  That's life, folks!  We have to take one day at a time in order to experience all that we are here for.  These past weeks were an emotional roller coaster as we lost two amazing men who succumbed to cancer ~ my buddy since third grade, Joe Mondlak, and our friend, Ken Jones, cowboys 'til the end.  Both men filled our world with fun and laughter and have left a hole in my heart by their demise.  Joe had the gift of gab and could chat for hours on end and Ken always had the best sense of humor and an eternal smile on his face, which always included that cheshire grin.  He was a true cowboy and loved being in the southwest and rode horses and his beloved Harley.  Now he can hit the heavens hard.  Both guys fought their battles as long as they could and when it was time, they gracefully went on to higher ground. I  was given a strange sign, for when they passed on, I noticed lights in the form of a rainbow on two separate nights and believe all is well up in the heavens.  Farewell, my friends...until we meet again. xo
Melissa ~ John ~ Carrie ~ Robert ~ Jason Mielzynski

As the yin and yang of balance play out, our emotions took on another form in the surprise celebration of my younger brother, John and his darling wife (and my buddy) Carrie, as they were given a party by their kids, Jason, Melissa, Robert, as well as Vanessa, Joe and Kathy, to honor their longevity as a couple.   25 years!  They were mere babes when they got together 30 years ago and are still going strong. A true testament that love conquers all in this thing called life.
Amie Grzesik (Illinois State University) and sister Melanie

We celebrated many collegiate graduations this weekend.  This is the final path the young ones take on their scholastic journey.  Sometimes it seems forever when you endure the endless tests and writing papers galore, but when they receive that diploma, the sense of accomplishment holds no bounds.  As the speakers mentioned, it is a family effort for the parents and recipients; and the sense of pride in the eyes of the parents is undeniable.  As my friend Greg Gale shared a quote by Rudyard Kipling, "for the strength of the Pack is the Wolf and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack."
Jim ~ Nicole (Columbia College Chicago (with honors) ~ Karen Payne

Bill and Brittney Lutz (Joliet Junior College)

Donovan ~ Colin Shively (Columbia College Chicago) ~ Steve

Cody and Karen (ultimate Bulls fans)

And while all this was happening, our beloved Bulls came closer to winning the championship by defeating the Miami Heat last night.  Their perseverence and team efforts led by the amazing MVP Derrick Rose, left the fans breathless. 

I offer a shout out to Amanda and Greg for their accomplishments as well. 

Life is a highway ~ keep riding it with gusto; and when you arrive at your destination, count your blessings, and forge ahead with your head held high.  Happy trails ~ God bless you all. xo

Sunday, May 8, 2011

happy mothers day

When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts.  A mother always has to think twice ~ once for herself and once for her child.  Sophia Loren

There is no way to be a perfect mother ~ and a million ways to be a good one.  Jill Churchill

There is only one pretty child in the world and every mother has it.  Chinese proverb

A mother understands what a child does not say.  Jewish proverb

God could not be everywhere, and therefore he created mothers.

May your day be filled with lots of hugs and laughter. 
Happy Mothers Day! xo

Monday, May 2, 2011


Sometimes life can be unkind and we experience more than our share of difficult challenges, heartache and uncontrollable situations.  Mother Earth has been devastating families with her unnatural natural disasters and some days we feel helpless and fearful.  In the Bible, after the great flood, God promised he would always give us a symbol to comfort us in dire straits.  He offered us the rainbow as a guiding light of hope.  May officially arrived and brought with it many rainbows.  Warmer weather and sunshine are with us, our Polish Pope John Paul II has been blessed and beatified, the icon of evil, Osama Bin Laden has met his demise thanks to the command of our country's leader and the bravery of our Navy Seals, and on a more personal scale, the first day of May brought  many of our loved ones together to shower our family with joy.  The love that Mike and Margarita share for each other will bring forth our little rainbow, Dillan, in  a matter of weeks.  The hope of brighter days fills our hearts. 
Our special day was held at the historic Mason Sabika in Naperville, with their famous brunch including tapas.  Margarita prepared the invitations, flower arrangements and helped to fold all the ribbons on the napkins, which made for happy bonding between us. 
We played a few games and mingled with friends and family.  The weather cooperated so people could enjoy the blooming gardens.  My sister, Kiki, won the prize of homemade scented teddy bears made by my niece, Melissa, when she had the most items in her purse ~ 110.  We always kid her about how heavy it is and her response is "it must be my ipod."  LOL   Now we know she has more items in her bag than Mary Poppins! 
The generosity of everyone who attended was overwhelming and the happy couple kept talking about how blessed they are ~   Mike kept going back and forth to Aunt Diane's table to offer his thanks to everyone sitting at that table for the presents they showered upon them.
It was heartwarming to rehash the celebration in our home later that evening with Mike, Margarita and Anthony; and just hearing the joy in their voices made me realized God is truly bringing us hope and happier days.  Darcy, Colin and Kristina pitched in during the day to help things go smoothly, Robin's daughter, Jackie, saved my voice by coordinating a few games, and Steve did a superb job of being the photographer, collecting close to 400 pictures.  Of course I already shared a fourth of them with my beloved facebook buddies.  :)
Keep the faith and fill your days with sunshine, lollipops and rainbows! xo