I officially get to list “AINS” after my name now that I passed the final exam in the program last month. It came at a weird time…my exam was scheduled two days after Grandma’s funeral and two days before her burial. It was a relief to pass because my mind and heart (understandably, I believe) were not in it. I’m about a third of the way through my final course to complete the API program—my test is scheduled for November 11th, and it will be here sooner than I expect…that’s just how time seems to work. Even—I’d even say especially—preparing for something, it happens…leaving you feeling off center and bewildered with its arrival. Anyway, hopefully more initials to add to my signature line by the end of the year.

After catching a Saturday evening movie at the theatre, we were in the car when a cover of “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling” came on the radio. Nick and I tried to sing along, but it just wasn’t the same without Bill Medley’s deep baritone. Inspired, I found the real song in my iTunes library and played in through the car. We were almost home, but we drove around the neighborhood belting out the lyrics (windows up, of course…it was late, after all)…me finding amusement that I automatically go to the low parts while Nick aims for the falsettos.

I looked over to him and felt tears gather. I was perhaps a little maudlin as this was around the time my grandmother died…but it was a living photograph. One of those perfect moments in time, over too soon, that I hope I remember forever. Laughing and loving and having a devoted friend when life gets hard…12 yeas ago, I was in a very different place, and I never thought I would find myself here, feeling so incredibly blessed with my life.

We attended a lantern festival two weeks ago. In my head, I imagined that it would be transcendent, and I was not disappointed. I don’t know what it was specifically, so I think it was a combination of everything—the black of night broken by floating flame, the cloaking music, the collective awe at seeing the lanterns pepper the sky, and the unity with complete strangers. The political climate has polarized us in so many ways…it was nice to have an evening when everyone just accepted one another, no questions asked. We were all there to experience the show and we were all there the create the experience.

Sick of the touchy-feely stuff? Well, I’ll leave with this little Nickism:

The news one morning reported that a bunch of clowns were going to show up at an IT movie premier to protest the negative impact the film is having on the clown profession. Nick added that the protesters were all going to carpool and arrive in a little car…I giggle whenever I think of it.

Over and out.

Fireworks, Romance and Fireflies

I have known that my cousin Patrick puts on a fireworks show with one of his friends every year. I have been invited in the past, but scheduling never worked out. I wasn't too bothered by this because I assumed it was your average, run-of-the-mill sparklers and firecrackers type of gathering. Yeah, it would have been nice to hang out with my family, but I didn't think I was missing much of anything with the show.

Unfortunately, I have been lucky enough to see some glorious fireworks displays up close, and it ruins you a bit for other shows. All the years I attended Rhythm and Booms were spectacular, and I still get chills thinking how amazing that show was. I remember watching the show from afar as a kid, before Nick introduced me to the thrill of seeing it front and center. It became our annual tradition…but it just grew too big for the city to manage.

After Rhythm and Booms, we still had Disney. Fun fact: Walt Disney World is the second largest purchaser of explosives in the United States (second only to the U.S. military). The thing about a show that runs every single night? The people pulling the strings get realllllly good at it. The nighttime shows in WDW are stunning. It's a little tough to make it out to Florida every year though.

I'm rambling. Point being that when it comes to fireworks (which I thoroughly enjoy), my standards are a little elevated. Plainly put: I'm a fireworks snob. In my defense, I learned from the best of 'em—coughNickcough. Given all this, I need you to appreciate how wowed I was when I was able to attend the show this year. It was dazzling, and I'm kicking myself for not rearranging plans in the past to attend.

It was not, as you may have surmised, sparklers and firecrackers…but rather an aerial show that looked anything but amateurish. The snobs were speechless. I wish we had brought the Nikon, but the iPhones did a standup job on such short notice, hah!

Air explosions set to music! from Laura on Vimeo.

So sad and classless, but I think of Elmer Fudd hunting Bugs whenever I hear "Ride of the Valkyries" — could be that I'm overrun with rabbits in my flower garden this year though: “Kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit!

(Music: “Ride of the Valkyries” by Richard Wagner)


The best part of the night was magic hour when the lightning bugs came out full force. Our view was quintessential Wisconsin in the summer as the warmth of the day eased into night. There was something very romantic about it all.

Fireflies from Laura on Vimeo.

While waiting for the sun to dim for fireworks, bursts of light glittered the dusk.

(Music: "Ma Belle Evangeline" by Jim Cummings feat. Terence Blanchard)


Nick gave me this song a few weeks ago. He heard it on television and found me immediately to share the lyrics (via YouTube).

Every now and then he finds a song that makes him think of me. I have been with Nick nearly seven years now. After all that time, he still works to win my heart. I think that’s pretty special.

Nick and I express ourselves differently. He says the first unrefined thing that comes to his mind. I am more reserved; I speak only after I’ve found the right words. This can cause some conflict.

I sometimes (unfairly and often during moments of frustration) label Nick a poor communicator. I couldn’t be more wrong. At times, he responds too impulsively for my comfort, but he knows how I value words. He gives them to me in his way by sharing messages that articulate his feelings.

I could not have found better words to give him than those he gave me just then:

And I am, over-whelmed, by you
Am, over-come with joy
You’ve, taken me higher, and shown me what love can do
Where would I go, or be, without you?

I am grateful for Nick this Thanksgiving (and every day)…my husband who continually makes me fall in love with him. He keeps our love fresh.

Nick, you communicate just fine.

I’m going to make this place your home

So, I have a marketing degree and I work for American Family Insurance. I am incredibly loyal to the company, and I think that the marketing department is positioning us in a positive way.

We were listening to Phillip Phillips’ “Home” in the car last night—the song is used in our latest marketing campaign.

I started asking questions of my husband (I MAY have consumed a margarita beforehand; sources cannot be corroborated)…sort of doing my own market research, you know. “So Nick, does this song inspire you to go get your dream then find an insurance company to protect it?” He didn’t respond…verbally.

I let it go considering that I have us insured to the hilt and also the [alleged] tequila in my bloodstream.

Fast forward to today, a few minutes ago. One of the commercials that uses the song came on TV. I was not paying attention, so Nick snapped me out of my reverie to let me know [smirking], “Yeah, I do feel like insuring sh*t all of a sudden.”

Way to go AmFam…the message is getting through. We’ve penetrated the miser-market!


So, we played Yahtzee yesterday…

I love this game…I love that it’s based on chance instead of skill. If I deign to game play, I want something that will give my poor, tired brain leave from being teased.

I do not fully understand the reasons why I shy away from games, but something tells me that it has to do with that competitive nature of mine that strains against the leash. I do not like being competitive, but the natural tendency exists. I envision myself in Lennon’s Imagine world, where I can happily coexist with everybody else without thought of rank. Of course, this is a dreamworld: this Utopia does not exist. I try to keep my competitiveness subdued, and I am successful most of the time.

MOST of the time.

Sometimes, something happens that is just so wonderful that I have to let the beast run around with his tongue lolling, rolling to his belly and kicking his legs in the air. Sometimes, gloating just feels too darn good to be an adult about it. You know, something like rolling four (FOUR!) Yahtzee rolls in one game. Nick, disbelieving my luck (read: absolute awesomeness), happened to catch my fourth Yahtzee, and the sad little display of arrogance that followed.

I want to be ashamed at my poor sportsmanship, I do. It’s just that, well…

I rock.

(Also: this series of pictures makes me laugh at myself…and I need to do that more.)