Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Summer Re-Runs

TV at this time of year isn't the best. However, we are heading into what I like to call "The Golden Triangle" of end-of-season baseball, beginning-of-season football and new shows in the fall lineup. At the moment, it's summer re-runs and I maintain that they are good things.

You can catch up on that show everyone told you about. You can ignore them completely if you prefer, but I've got a few favorites... and each one will show my age.

2) The Love Boat

3) WKRP in Cincinnati

1) Happy Days

Bonus Re-Run

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Out my Window

In my kitchen, I have a window.
It has a nice view.
I spy many good things in my backyard.

Here are my favorites:

2. The playset: T and my dad built the set for the kids about six years ago. The kids still swing, slide, and climb from time to time, but they're growing older, and soon the playset will be nothing but a memory. For now, I like to watch them laugh and play outside while I'm busy in the kitchen.

3. Miss O's Evergreen tree: My parents gave each grandchild a tree for their birthdays during our early years in this home. Miss O's Evergreen tree stands proudly front in center in the back of the yard, each year growing a bit taller just like her.

* A has an Oak tree out front which unfortunately is not the original tree, but a replacement when the first one didn't survive. The dead branches from the first Oak rest on the side of our house because he won't let us get rid of them.

1. My window box: I wanted to look out at a little splash of color, and I wanted to add some detail to what otherwise is a very flat wall on the back of our house, so cue my dad again. He built a flower box for me for under my kitchen window. This summer, it's filled with petunias, geraniums, and thyme. It makes me happy to see the bright colors every day.

Kids playing, an ever green and growing tree, and colorful cheery flowers. Three good things I spy out my window. What good things do you spy out yours?

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Cure for the Summertime Blues

Are you ready folks? It's that time again, Friday's good things list of lists day!

With the kids already headed back to school, and the stores stocking up on Halloween candy and what-not, summer is sadly drawing to a close. Now, I know you purists out there will say summer's not over to the official start of fall on September such and such, but let's face it - It's over!

So today our list of lists features S U M M E R! Let's begin . . .

Good songs with the word "summer" in them:


1. Summer Nights (Grease)
2. Hot Fun in the Summertime (Sly and the Family Stone)
3. The Boys of Summer (Don Henley)


2) Summertime (DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince)
3) Summer of Love (John Mellencamp)
1) Summer Wind (Frank Sinatra)

Good foods to eat in the summer which may not be as tasty at other times of the year:


1. Seedless watermelon
2. Fresh sweet corn
3. Lemon Italian ice


2) Peaches
3) Fudge sicles
1) Bratwurst

Good activities to do in the summer, but not during other seasons especially where we live:


1. Visiting the beach
2. Catching fireflies, then letting them go
3. Roasting marshmallows to make S'Mores


2) Swimming/water parks
3) Softball
1) Street Fairs

Show us some summer lovin' and share your good thoughts about summer. Come on, we know you can do it!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Back 2 School

Today is the first day of school for my kids out here in the far western 'burbs of Chicago - Yippee!

OK, I confess, as a child I was one of those geeky kids who enjoyed going back to school in the fall.

Many, many years later as an elementary school teacher, I also looked forward to the new school year. I liked the shiny clean floor that had been waxed and buffed during the summer. I delighted in putting up creative, eye-catching bulletin boards, and setting up a just-right seating arrangement in my classroom that soon would be filled with fresh, bright-eyed faces.

Now as a parent, I anticipate the start of a new school year with eagerness and enthusiasm, and it's not just because the kids are starting to drive me crazy or I miss my daily peace and quiet.

It's because a new school year means a new start for us all: students, teachers, and parents alike.

With that in mind, here are three good things about going back to school:

1. New supplies such as #2 pencils, blank spiral notebooks, markers, crayons, folders, glue, scissors, and pink erasers. "They look pig pink" exclaimed A as he stuffed his backpack with supplies yesterday.

2. New clothes and shoes including gym shoes for PE, and gym shoes and other styles for fashion and fun. Let's not forget that just-has-to-be perfect first day of school outfit, which is very important to a fifth grade girl, but not so much for her fourth grade brother.

3. Friends When I asked the kids what they liked most about going back to school, their numero uno choice was getting to see friends that they haven't seen all summer. Of course, the new school year offers the opportunity to make new friends, too!

Your homework assignment: Share your back to school good things with us in the comments section, and if you're not sure how to do that, follow Brian's directions in the link to the right. Perhaps he'll give you a Gold Star for your efforts!

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Life's a Beach!

If I had a gazillion dollars, I would live in a nice comfy place on the beach. It doesn't even have to be a huge, fancy beach house like you see in the movies. A small cottage in a pleasant pastel color will do as long as it is steps away from the sand, sun, and sky.

Wanting to squeeze a little bit more summer out of summer before the kids head back to school later this week, we loaded up the Subaru and headed out to what Brian calls the other west coast last Friday - the western shores of Michigan, in our case Warren Dunes State Park in Sawyer. The sun was shining and the temps were just right with a gentle breeze blowing in the air. And despite my frustration with not being able to do much on the beach 'cept plop my bum down and relax, I love the beach. Here's three good reasons why:

1. Beach reads: Magazines, newspapers, and books. I brought a book and the Chicago Trib along for my afternoon entertainment, second only to eating salty snacks and people-watching. Taking a gander at my neighboring beach-goers, reading is a popular beach activity especially among the 20 and over set.

2. Beach toys: Like most families, we had to drag a bunch of stuff along to keep the kids busy at the beach such as buckets, shovels, sand-castle building molds, Frisbees, kickboards, small off-road trucks, and one of T's favorites -the sand digging claws. Funny, I didn't spot a beach ball on the beach, but I did note a group of volleyball players, and one couple playing a paddleball game of sorts.

3. Beach features: The aforementioned sand, sun, sky, and of course water. Sand is not always good when it gets all into everything, but it's fun for kids (and kids at heart). I like burying my toes into the sand, and rumor has it that the sand will soften the skin on your feet, and make them all pretty-like. The sun shining brightly on the beach is good for warmth and for tan-seekers, too, but I prefer the shade of a big beach umbrella.

You couldn't very well have a beach without water. The kids and T enjoyed a few dips and frolics in Lake Michigan, which was pretty calm on Friday. I enjoy listening to the sound of the waves roll in and out at the beach as I'm not much of a swimmer these days.

Oh, and the bright blue gorgeous sky! Bonus: We were lucky to be around late enough to enjoy a beautiful sunset. A perfect pink and orange ball of fire fading from the sky into the lake. A good sight from God indeed!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Not what I expected

Sometimes things happen that we don't expect. Usually, we've got some idea about how things should go or the way we want them to, and they don't go that way. Isn't this the human condition? For me... ok, I'm getting personal here... I've been married and divorced. Not once, not twice, but three times - the last was final only about 2 weeks ago. No, I'm not going to list those as my three good things. In fact, they downright bite, blow and suck (in no particular order). None of that went the way I wanted, and not the way they wanted either. I'm not going to start listing reasons or anything, but let's agree that it's rotten all the way around. So, what's the good stuff?

2) I understand people in pain and have far more compassion for them than I ever would otherwise.

3) I've spent considerably more time reading the Bible than I likely would have. This kinda goes with how God works, by bringing us into a desert where we have to rely on him utterly and completely.

1) I found out who my friends are. Man, that's kinda harsh, but it's true. Over the last few months, a handfull of people (all who are brothers and sisters in Christ) have shunned and ignored me, bad-mouthed me, and purposefully tried to make things worse for me. On the other hand, so many others have stepped up to do the right thing, give me comfort, accountability and compassion. It's quite wonderful to know that someone cares for you, even when you're at your worst.

The trick about not getting what you expect is to be thankful for what you get, no matter what it is.
That's really tough, but good.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Weekend Brunch

It's another Friday and that means Sue and I make our lists of good things. We'd love to read about yours in the comments!

Today, I'm thinking about brunch. You know, the meal that's a little bit like breakfast and a little bit like lunch - and you get a slice of melon at the end? Yeah, I knew you would. So let's bring it with the food!

Breakfast: Three good things about breakfast


1. Coffee
2. Baked goods like muffins, donuts, and scones
3. Hot oatmeal on a cold day


2) Bacon
3) Bacon & Eggs
1) Bacon & Eggs & Bacon

Lunch: Three good places to eat lunch


1. Portillo’s or Buona Beef - It's a tie! Hot dogs at Portillo's, Italian beef at Buona.
2. Emerson Creek Pottery and Tea Room, Oswego, IL. - Great place out in country for ladies-who-lunch.
3. Hoosier Mama Pie Company, Chicago - They have both sweet and savory pies so in my book that counts as lunch!


2) 5 Guys - pretty much my favorite burger.
3) Loui's Lunch - the birthplace of the hamburger.
1) Pal's Diner - best wait-staff ever.

Brunch: Three good things you might eat for brunch, but not at another meal


*I will eat almost all brunch foods at other times of the day, but there are some brunch foods I will NOT eat ever!

1. Smoked salmon, or any type of salmon for that matter
2. Oysters or mussels
3. Bloody Marys, or any kind of tomato or veggie juice


*I will also eat almost all brunch foods at other times of the day, but I wrote the questions, so I'm sticking to them.

2) Fruit compote (really a fancy name for fruit salad, but the name is all brunch)
3) Poached eggs. I have no idea why.
1) Yogurt parfait (again, fancy name for yogurt, fruit, and granola - that I eat all the time - but don't call it that)

Ok - there's our good stuff - tell us about yours!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Good Words of Wisdom

With age comes wisdom.

My teenage-aged self would not have believed that saying. Heck, even my 20-something self would disagree.

Skipping ahead to the 40s, my older, and much wiser self, sits back and says, "aha!"

Four decades of living has changed my perspective about age, wisdom, and the important things in life.

So today I share with you, three good wisdom-filled nuggets that I've collected along the curvy, bumpy road otherwise known as my journey through life.

1. In each and every situation in life you can choose how to react. An old college friend put it simply: you can react positively, negatively, or not at all. It's a hard lesson to learn, especially if you are facing a challenge be it a job loss, an unexpected death or diagnosis, or a relationship problem - which leads me to my next words of wisdom:

2. Many people will not change how they react to you even if you are facing certain struggles. In other words, if a person always acts like a jerk, they will most likely still act like a jerk despite a change in your situation. In my case, I was expecting some people in my life to be more helpful, kind, and compassionate to us because of my chronic illness. Not so. I am learning to surround myself with people who are helpful, kind, and compassionate, and to let the others go. Members of my pulmonary support group, and also Brian, have shared this life lesson with me.

3. "It is easy to be heavy; hard to be light." a quote by British writer G.K. Chesterton as noted in the book, "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin. On her blog, Rubin explains it like this: "One mystery of happiness is why some people choose to be unhappy. One answer: It is easy to be heavy; hard to be light. And you don't get credit for being light. It looks easy and effortless. No one thinks much about you or tries to accommodate you. You get taken for granted." Having just recently finished Rubin's book, I've taken these words of wisdom to heart, and I'm trying to work on this life lesson as well.

And because it's sometimes hard to limit myself to just three good things, I offer a bonus good thing for today. It's a poem shared by my very good friend and old college roommate M, who also told me long ago not to wear my socks inside out! Enjoy!

The Dash by Linda Ellis

Monday, August 15, 2011


Rain, rain go away, come again some other day!

Heaven forbid! I like rain. Now, I'm not talking about forty days and forty nights of the stuff, that gets old, biblical, and downright soggy. I mean a good rain. The kind of rain that gives everything a good soaker. I think we can all agree that we like those kinds of storms.

So for today, as I look out my windows, I've got torrential rain falling and I thought it would be good to remind us of the good things about rain.

2) During the rain - the sound on the roof, streams running down the windows and in the streets. Thunder and lightning, a great storm rolling in and drenching everything. The loud sudden clap when thunder scares you! Standing on the porch and smelling the rain and the storm.

3) After the rain - the refreshed smell in the air, the renewed green of the grass and trees as they drink it in, and the slow falling drizzle under the trees as the rain continues to run off the leaves.

1) And if you're very very lucky, you get a rainbow. Now, a rainbow is of course light refracting through water particles in the atmosphere... but it's also a reminder of God's promises, and he always keeps his promises.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Flashback Fun

When Brian and I recently got together, we reminisced a bit about our high school days, even taking a look at our yearbooks from the early 80s. With that in mind, this week's list of lists feature good things from way back when.

Fashions we thought were a good idea at the time


1. Wool sweaters with button-down oxfords underneath.
2. Polo shirts with the collars turned up especially those with the crocodile (alligator?) logo.
3. Blazers with shoulder pads.


2) Hawaiian Shirts (well... they NEVER go out of style)
3) Parachute Pants
1) Scrubs

Fabulous Cafeteria Food


1. Tator tots - can’t go wrong with crispy, fried potato nuggets!
2. Pizza slices - provided you blotted the grease off the top with a napkin before eating.
3. Chocolate chip cookies - freshly half-baked from the oven, all warm and gooey.


2) Sliders (imported from White Castle)
3) Chocolate pudding
1) Huge glazed donuts (seriously, they were as big as my head)

Marvelous marching band (because that’s where we met after all)


1. Week-long overnight band camp amidst the cornfields of Sycamore, IL. Boys on one side of the gym, girls on the other.
2. Passes out of study hall to go practice hang out in the band room.
3. Road trips to places near and far for competitions, parades, and performances. Places like downstate Illinois, Mexico (by plane), and Walt Disney World.


2) Saw my first rated R movie at band camp - The Blues Brothers
3) We made a record! Pretty cool, eh? (at right)
1) Bus sing-alongs!

Fashion, Food, Fun. What are your good memories from high school?

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Home is...

where the heart is.
where you hang your hat.
sweet home.
on the range.
is not where you live, but where they understand you.
is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.

I was very blessed, in that I had the ability to take a road-trip vacation over the last week. I happily got to spend some time with Sue and her family! I spent time in my hometown. I was able to visit with friends in several places where I've lived over the years. There were so many more people I wanted to see and spend more time with, but at some point you gotta go home. Home is good.

Here are three good quotes about home.

2) Charles Dickens
Home is a name, a word, it is a strong
one; stronger than magician
ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to,
in the strongest conjuration.

3) Maya Angelou
You can never go home again, but the truth is
you can never leave home, so it's all right.

1) Frederick W. Robertson
Home is the one place in all this world where hearts
are sure of each other. It is the place
of confidence. It is the place where we
tear off that mask of guarded and suspicious
coldness which the world forces us to wear
in self-defense, and where we pour out the
unreserved communications of full and confiding
hearts. It is the spot where expressions of tenderness
gush out without any sensation of awkwardness
and without any dread of ridicule.

Of course, that's all the things home can be, might be, should be. For some, those things are not present in any place, nor in their own hearts. Today, pray for home; for yourself, for someone you know, for someone you don't. When you've got it, you don't know how people can live without it, but still they do.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sounds good to me!

The weather has cooled down a bit around here so we were finally able to turn off the AC, and open the windows. This allowed both a breeze and the sounds of the great outdoors to drift into the house such as the garbage collectors picking up the neighborhood trash, cars and trucks zipping down a nearby busy road, dogs barking, birds chirping, and bugs buzzing.

I'm not really into all that noise disrupting my morning quiet including the birds and the bugs, but there are some things that sound good to me.

1. Babies: Babies are a delight. They coo. They babble. They giggle. I especially like when they make little sounds over and over like they are carrying on a very important conversation with you.

2. Gravel: I know this sounds kind of weird, but I enjoy the sound of tires rolling over gravel all crunchy-like. T hates gravel roads or parking lots because he doesn't like the car to get dirty from all the dust blowing up from the gravel. I like crunchy sounds like footsteps on fresh fallen snow, wrapping paper, and popcorn munching at a movie theater (unless of course the snacker is eating much too loud!)

3. Rain: Rain falling gently can be very soothing and relaxing especially at bedtime or during a mid-afternoon nap. Which brings me to another Tim-ism from a few nights ago. T: Shhhhhh, listen to that. Me: It's raining. T: No, it's applause . . . for me! The rain falls down a bit stronger. Me: Now they're applauding louder!

Three things that sound good to me. What sounds good to you?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Good Weekend Happenings

Company is coming!

It was a busy, but fun, summer weekend at the Borowiak household this past week in preparation for a visit from an out of town guest. Not just any guest, but resident good guy and funny man, Brian Atkinson. Yes, THE Brian Atkinson who took some time out of his "Eating My Way Across the USA" road trip to stop in our neck of the woods to meet the fam!

*This pic of us cracks me up. Oh, Brian, you're so . . . goofy!

Mr. A not only brought a big smile and lots of laughs, he brought ingredients for his famous guacamole recipe! Yippee! Guac is one of my most all-time favorite things to eat so when I heard he had a famous recipe, I made him make it! And just like a Food Network star he whipped up a batch in my humble kitchen just for me! For the record, I did share.

Besides tasty guacamole and chips, the weekend was filled with many other good eats, drinks, and entertainment.

1. More good eats: Because Brian likes to eat, and so do we, after snacks and sangria at the homestead, we all piled into the Subaru to treat Brian to some delicious homemade enchiladas at a nearby church festival followed by fab frozen custard for dessert. We also gave him an "exciting" tour of where we live as in there's some corn on your left, soybeans on your right.

2. Can you canoe? T's been thinking about buying a canoe, so for a trial run, we headed out to Starved Rock State Park so he and the kids could take a paddle down the Illinois River. While they rolled down the river, I relaxed on the shore listening to tunes on my iPod. After their canoe trip, we went up to lodge to have a cool drink on the patio. I had a Blue Moon - a refreshing drink for a summer's afternoon

3. Tim-isms.
T always keeps me and the kids laughing. Here are a few silly quotes from him from Sunday's trip to Starved Rock.

While he's acting goofy on the lodge patio:
Me: I wish I had a video of this. T: You just need to keep a camera on me at all times. Me: I don't have enough batteries for that!

After making a pit stop on the way home. A neon sign at the BP station/Jimmy Johns advertises "Free Smells." T goes in to use the facilities. Me: Did you get a free smell? T: Holy Crap! I thought an outhouse smelled bad!

One of his many thoughts on canoeing with the kids: "You don't realize how small their butts are until you see them sitting on that big canoe seat!" As he is speaking, he's making hand gestures to illustrate his point. Too funny!

Ah, summer weekends . . . good friends, food, and fun!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Comics, Movies, and Hot Dogs

Taking a cue from Sue's post last week, I submit a list of lists of good... no GREAT things - share yours if you've got 'em.

2) Three great newspaper comics:


1) The Far Side
2) Bloom County
3) Suicidal Bunnies


1. Cathy
2. Peanuts
3. Calvin and Hobbes

3) Three great action movies


1) Star Wars
2) Raiders of the Lost Ark
3) Rocky

Really? Action movies, ahem . . . Romantic Comedies - that's more my speed. Typical guy!


1. When Harry Met Sally
2. Moonstruck
3. The Way We Were

1) Three great hot dog toppings

(We are in Chicago - Ketchup is not allowed!)


1) Spicy brown mustard
2) Tomatoes
3) Celery Salt


1. Neon relish
2. Diced onions
3. Dill pickle

And a bonus! In honor of Barack Obama's 50th - three people you can't believe are all 50 this year vs three people you would have guessed.

1) Michael J. Fox vs George Clooney
2) Ralph Macchio vs Boy George
3) Wayne Gretzky vs Melissa Etheridge

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Good Old Friends

During the month of July, we were lucky to meet up with some old friends for some good times, but much too brief visits.

My ol' carpool buddy Rog and his family flew in from Vegas, baby! to visit with family and friends, and we were lucky enough to squeeze in a yummy brunch with them while they were in town.

Miss R, who practically lives around the corner, and the other Miss R - live from Texas, came over for lunch with me and the kids one day. They brought lively conversation, soup, chips, and tasty treats such as ice cream and PIE!

Our very good friends B and B and their three kids were in town from North Carolina. We met up with them near my old high school stomping grounds, Downers Grove, for some ice cream and catching up.

And in just a few days Brian will be in town, and he's coming out to visit us in our very far western suburb of Chicago. He's an old friend to me, but he will be brand-spanking new to T and the kids.

Visiting with old friends is good in many, many ways, but I can only choose three.

Here they are:

1. Laughter: Good friends make you laugh with new stories, old memories, and just plain ol' BS-ing.

2. Comfort: There's comfort in an old friend. They've seen you at your best, and most likely at your worst. They know and accept you for you. Enough said.

3. Connection: While modern technology helps us keep in touch with family and friends old, new, near and far, there is nothing like a face-to-face visit. You can share a hug, a handshake, a pat on the back, or a smile!

All very good things indeed!

One of my favorite songs about friends:

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Road Trip

This week I'm taking a road trip.

I'm taking my vacation to visit friends in Chicago and West Michigan. As if road trips weren't good on their own, I have a few "good things about road trips" to share.

2) Road trip music. I used to make mix-tapes, then CDs, now I make iTunes playlists. It's really fun to listen to music that I thought would go with the scenery. Along with those - audio books. I'm gonna get smarter while I'm driving!

3) Road trip food. I love to eat, but I try to stay away from fast food and junk most of the time. The exception to that rule is road trips. Those require foolish food choices. I don't mean "foolish" as in, you spend the remainder of the road trip in a filthy gas station commode, I mean things that aren't necessarily good for you.

1) Road trip friends. First, I'm going to visit friends (like Sue and her family) - but it's also a great time to catch up with friends on the phone (headset of course!).

All good things!