My family

My family

Friday, February 12, 2016

Letter jackets & greasers

Happy Friday, friends! :)

Fair warning:  I’m humming “Grease is the word” as I’m typing this. 
For some weird reason, all I can see in my mind’s eye is Danny Zuko in a letterman’s sweater!!  Dang…..I love Danny Zuko. 

Who of you watched Grease Live last weekend?!  Oh my goodness……it was 
A-W-E-S-O-M-E!  I sang every single word for two solid hours while watching it. 

Yes, that is food in my teeth!  Back off boys, I’m taken!
Jim was playing video games on one TV while I was watching Grease on the other TV.  I had my headphones on so he couldn’t hear the music.  That didn’t keep me from belting out those songs though!! 

Julianne Hough as Sandy and Vanessa Hudgens as Rizzo ------ > PERFECTION!!

“You’re the one that I want…….whoo hoo hoo, honey!” 
Sing with me ladies!!!! 
OK, I digress.  What was this post about???  Oh yeah….

It’s official:  Both of my babies are overachievers.  J 

They each now have a letter jacket hanging in their closet! 
It’s been awhile since Garrett got his jacket but I’ve been a blog bum lately
(Sorry, G).
So you all know that Garrett moved to Minnesota with us in 2011, then went back to Texas to graduate with his buddies be with Maci.  J  During his Senior year, he lettered in soccer.  The “L” on the front of his jacket shows his school (Legacy High School).   The patches on his sleeves are his jersey number (21) and his graduation year (2013).

Dear Garrett……you are SO much better looking than Danny Zuko!!  Love, Momma
This year, Delanie lettered in band at Maple Grove Senior High.  The maple leaf on the front of her jacket is her school’s mascot (the Crimson leaf).  Yep, a crimson maple leaf.  That’s how they rock it up here in the arctic.  The patches on one sleeve show her graduation year (2017) and the number of times she lettered (5).  The other sleeve shows her instrument (drums) and the star means she’s the captain of her line. 


It’s cool to compare the jackets.  Without knowing it, they both chose the wool body with leather sleeves.  Classic.
I’m so proud of these young’uns!!! J
P.S.  Back to Grease…’s a fun story for you.  The entire Suggs family flew to New Orleans way back when to attend our cousin’s wedding.  Belinda’s shindig was the quintessential Cajun wedding.  There was no shortage of partying, jambalaya and booze.  Tons of booze (or “hooch” as my mom used to call it). 
So much hooch, in fact, that Charlene and I proudly put on a show for a few hundred people belting out "Summer Nights” as Danny and Sandy from Grease as the song played at the reception.  OK, picture this:  Charlene was a rockin’ Danny (why she got the boy part, I’ll never know) and I kicked some bee-hind as Sandy. 
Summer loving…..had me a blast.
Summer loving……happened so fast!
I met a girl crazy for me.
I met a boy cute as can be!
Admit it.  You’re humming that tune right now, aren’t you!!! J

Have a great Valentine's Day weekend!!

Monday, February 8, 2016


I started working for the best State Farm agent in the business – Joe Liedl – in 2012.  This office is like nowhere I ever worked before.  Joe is the agent and two of his children – Ana and Tom – work with me in the office.  It’s a very family-friendly, all-for-one atmosphere.  Joe’s wife – Suzie – brings goodies for each team member on holidays (all of them!) and always remembers special days like birthdays and anniversaries. 

This is one of my favorite pictures of Joe & Suzie (taken at the Christmas party last year).  These two are a riot!!

After I had been working here a few weeks, Joe and his family went to Australia for a week.  I spent an entire week in the office by myself.  Guess what Joe & Suzie did?!  Before they left for the airport (and before I got to work that day) they dropped off gifts for me to open every day that they were gone.  Who does that?!  I was overwhelmed by their thoughtfulness.  One day it was a gift card for yogurt, one day it was a beautiful scarf and the last day was a bottle of wine.  I could go on for hours about how much I love this family! J

Joe and the family dogs....

I absolutely love coming to work every day.  I’ve learned such valuable lessons in every single State Farm office I’ve worked in.   I’m so glad those experiences led me to this one at this time in my life.  Because it’s such a tight-knit family, I’m able to pick Delanie up from school and bring her back to work with me some days.  She’s super comfortable here.  In fact, she often falls asleep on the floor behind my desk.  J

Back in September, Joe hosted a State Farm tent at a polo match in Independence, MN.  OK…..when you think of polo, you don’t think of Minnesota right??  Right!!  During the Fall, there is a horse farm about 25 minutes from our house that holds a weekly polo match.  It has a very laid-back vibe and most of the proceeds are donated to charity.  In fact, the horse farm is used during the week to rehabilitate people with special needs. 

On a gorgeous Fall day in September, Jim and I hopped into the truck with Delanie and headed to the match. 
Suzie had completely outdone herself with this setup!  She had coolers filled with cold drinks and a table stocked full of yummy eats. 

If you ever get the chance to watch a polo match, you should totally go!  It was incredible!  We sat on blankets and watched these beautiful horses running across the field.  We even stomped divots during half-time (hmmm….is it called half-time at a polo match???).  During another intermission, one of the team captains tossed out a gazillion silver dollar coins for the kids to find.  It looked like he was sprinkling glitter onto the field.  J

What a glorious adventure!  It was the perfect day to spend outside enjoying good food, great company and experiencing something only rural Minnesota can offer.  

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Mamas Happy

I’ve been putting off this blog post for quite a while.  I have such mixed feelings about it and it kinda hurts to put it out there.  Here goes nothing….. J

Backstory:  This is probably not a surprise to any of you but just in case.  I opened an Etsy store called Southern Girl Up North at the beginning of 2015 to sell hand-painted wooden signs.  The thought behind the store was to donate all of the proceeds to help Bea’s fight against Multiple Sclerosis.  I had been struggling with the fact that, because I was so far away from her, I wasn’t able to help out or just be there like I used to. 


Early in the Fall last year, I found a super cute store in downtown Saint Paul called Mamas Happy.  The store is a retail location for Annie Sloan's chalk paint.  The store sold the most adorable home d├ęcor…..most of which was painted with this chalk paint.  I fell in love instantly!  Everything had a very rustic, worn, farmhouse look to it. 

I started dreaming about becoming a vendor in the shop to sell my Etsy signs.  I visited the other store locations – Independence, Stillwater and St Louis Park – and even took a workshop with my sweet friend Amy to learn chalk paint techniques. 

It was around this time that Mamas Happy hosted their annual Artisan Market.  On the Saturday of our State Farm polo match (more on that to come), I swung by the outdoor market and the rest is history. 

Once I got my nerve up, I bit the bullet and submitted my vendor application.  I explained my mission and what the sale proceeds would be used for and basically laid my heart out.  Immediately afterward, I was nervous as a cat waiting for their reply.  On the vendor application website, the powers that be at the store warned that they turn away very talented artists every single day.

A few weeks later, I got the email from Mamas Happy saying they would love to try my signs at the Saint Paul location.  Oh my gosh!  I was on top of the world!!  I was shocked, inspired and immediately scared to death!!

I could not get into my craft room fast enough to start painting!  It was perfect timing……I would start with Fall/Thanksgiving designs and go from there.

Mindy at Mamas Happy wanted to start with 8-10 of my signs and see how they sold.  I dropped them off on a Sunday and literally cried the entire way to the store and home from the store.  Thank goodness Jim was driving because I was a nervous wreck!  I was so incredibly worried that they wouldn’t like the signs and would change their minds.  All the while, I was scared that I was going to let Bea down. 

Goodness gracious…..I was a mess!  Bless Jim’s heart…..during the middle of my meltdown, he looked me in the eye and said, “Who cares if they like them?!  Your stuff is awesome.  If they don’t like it, f**k them!!”  I was way down deep in my crazy to hear what he was saying;  it was a rough road trip.  J

As the weeks went on, I checked daily to see if my signs sold.  Every time a sale would pop up, I would practically pee my pants!!

The second trip to the Saint Paul (to check on my inventory) was much more pleasant than the first.  My signs were scattered through the shop and I honestly could not believe it. 

Then it was time for Christmas and a whole new collection of signs.

This all sounds great, right?!  It was awesome!  I was finally in retail!!  I had sold 15-20 signs since I started.  I was sending my profits to Bea and felt like I was really making a difference again. 

That’s when I got the email – just after Christmas – that “the store was going in a different direction for 2016 and would no longer carry my signs”.  My darkest insecurities came true…..I felt completely rejected.  I called Jim right away so he could talk me off the ledge.  He said the same thing as before:  “F**k them!  Your stuff is good!  You don’t need that stupid store anyway!!”  Good Lord, how I love this man!!

For the next several weeks, I couldn’t even look at my craft room.  My feelings were so hurt! L
Then I started reading this book:  Jesus Calling

It had been recommended by one of the blog writers.  She used it each morning during her quiet time with Jesus.  In total transparency, I had not spent quiet time with Jesus in quite some time.  I prayed when I thought about it…..mostly in the car during errands or if I felt something/someone on my heart.  I had not made devotional time with Jesus a priority.  Simple as that.

The idea behind Jesus Calling is to spend time each day with God.  There is a short encouraging reading prompt each day with Bible verses. 

So it began.  Each morning, I would read the prompt then journal about what that Bible verse meant to me.  The more I read/reflected on these words, the calmer I started to feel.  That Bible verse or part of the short reading prompt really stuck with me during the day.  I found myself more focused on finding out what God wanted for me instead of what I wanted for me. 

Let’s be honest….there is no such thing as the perfect Christian (for proof, just look back at my post from Friday)!  I’m the first one to admit that I would fall short of the bar every single time.  There have been times when I’ve seriously questioned my faith.  I’ve wondered if what I was taught was real or made up to make us humans feel better during our life on Earth.  I haven’t visited a church since my kids were in kindergarten at First Baptist Church in Grand Prairie. 

As I spent this daily time with Jesus, I found myself feeling lighter and happier and more focused on what matters.  Now, I don’t get up extra early each morning to do my devotional.  In fact, I usually read/write during the first few quiet moments at work.  But you know what??  It’s working for me.

I’m still a far cry from where I want to be in my walk with Jesus but I’m so grateful for the last few weeks.  I’m so grateful that God didn’t turn his back on me even though I didn’t make him a priority. 

You might wonder where I’m going with this.  I’m getting there.  J

Since I got that email from Mamas Happy, I’ve prayed and prayed and prayed for God to show me his plan.  I knew my heart was in the right place with this Etsy store but I was never quite sure which avenue to take to make it successful.  Heck, I still don’t!  I can tell you this, though.  I know God has a plan for me and that everything happens for a reason.  When I start to doubt myself or get frustrated with what I perceive to be “limbo”, I make a conscious effort to stop and look up.  When I start feeling anxious, I start praying.  I pray for patience, for peace, for guidance and most of all I pray with a thankful heart. 

So……this post was a mixed bag of emotions.  I’m still kinda bummed about Mamas Happy but I’m not feeling as rejected as I did before.  I know God has a plan and he dreams so much bigger than we can.

Today’s verse was Matthew 28:20…….“I am with you always.  The last words Jesus spoke on his way to heaven. 

I’m smiling as I finish this post.  What a friend we have in Jesus, right??  I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.  J

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Happy marriage

It’s no secret that I’ve been married before.  Honestly, I don’t regret that decision for a single second because it gave me the two most awesome kids on the planet.

Jim and I will celebrate our seven year anniversary this weekend.  SEVEN YEARS!!!  This man is truly the love of my life.  Over the past seven years, I have learned so much about marriage, love and life in general. 
I came across this article about a year ago and it really stuck with me.  Take a second to read it….
I can’t say that Jim and my relationship is the perfect picture of domestic bliss every single day.  We have arguments just like everyone else.  Sometimes it gets pretty loud in our house.  (Thankfully that doesn’t happen very often!) 
On the other hand, I can honestly say that I’ve never laughed more.   I’ve never been more committed to another person.  And I’ve never felt this type of all-consuming love. 

So this morning, after rereading that article for the 100th time, I thought it would be fun to do a post about what works for us.  This is by no means a manual for the perfect marriage.  Does that really exist?!  It is a fun look behind our closed doors into what we do to make it work. 
Rule #1:                Laugh
Laugh every single day.  I mean it.  Every.  Single.  Day.  Sounds simple, right?  It really is!  Jim has a wicked sense of humor and it compliments mine perfectly because my sense of humor is a bit twisted too.  We laugh at the stupidest things and we couldn’t care less if other people think we’ve lost our marbles.  There is always some sort of private joke we’re sharing. 
For example, Jim does the most hilarious “voice over” for inanimate objects.  Bailey will be lying on the floor and suddenly look up at Jim or I.  Jim starts talking as if he’s Bailey and says the most ridiculous things.  Seriously……this makes me laugh so hard that I literally wet my pants. 
Rule #2:                Make your marriage your first priority
Ask Jim about his parents’ relationship and he will describe something that you would see on Leave It To Beaver.  I am completely sincere – and completely awed - when I say that.  That relationship set the bar for Jim’s future relationships.  Jim’s parents absolutely dedicated themselves to each other.  In fact, Jim’s sisters will agree that it was George + Ruth first, the kids second.  I cannot tell you how precious that is to me. 
I was raised thinking that your kids should take the #1 spot for any parent worth their salt.  Honestly, this gives me a bit of Mom-guilt, but I’ve realized that prioritizing your marriage is the best lesson you can teach your kids.  It teaches them never to settle.   
I’ve come to realize that your spouse should be your best friend.  Through good times, bad times, ugly times and stressful times…..this person has your back no matter what.  They will always take up for you even if you don’t take up for yourself.

Rule #3:                Don’t lose yourself
This rule is so damn hard for me.  It’s completely natural to “become” your husband’s perfect mate….or at least what YOU consider to be your husband’s perfect mate.  It totally makes sense.  You love this man and you want him to love you.  Here’s the thing:  He already loves you.  You’re the one he chose to spend the rest of his life with.  That wasn’t a fluke!  You’re a catch baby!! J
Rule #4:                Compromise
You’re probably thinking “duh!”  I get it.  It’s sounds easy until you try to do it.  Honestly……how many of you have arguments with your spouse because they just won’t bend?!  My hand is the first one to go up.  Jim and I are both incredibly stubborn.  (Sorry honey!) 
Jim thinks his way is the best and I think mine is the best.  When we get into that push/pull situation, it takes effort to step back, take a breath and talk the solution through. 
Jim has an analytical mind.  He can look at any situation and go from A to Z to find a solution in exactly .0579 seconds.  It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before.  Me, on the other hand, I take a bit while longer to get to Z.  I have to think it through, talk through it out loud (yep, I talk to myself out loud all the time) and figure out exactly how I feel about it.  Most of the time we come to the same conclusion but what happens when we don’t?  Well…..that’s tricky! There is no easy solution.   Sometimes I give in, sometimes Jim does.  Sometimes I think I give in more often.  Sometimes Jim thinks he gives in more often too.   
In the end, there are times when you have to bite your tongue and move on. 

Rule #5:                Bring the sunshine
Is there anything that feels better than getting a text from your spouse that just says “hi” or “I’m thinking of you”?  That means more to me than a dozen roses. 
If Jim has a rough day at work, I’m going to be the one he comes home to that makes him feel better.  I might have had a completely shitty day too but that doesn’t matter.  We can talk about my stuff tomorrow.  That’s how it works.  If I’m crabby, he makes me laugh.  If he’s got road rage (again, sorry honey!), I’m the first one to make a joke.  I don’t think of this as a chore.  I’m the one who gets to make him laugh.  That’s huge!
Here’s what I’ve learned from doing that:  It’s completely contagious!  When you make the effort to be the sunshine, it warms you up too! J
Happy 7th anniversary, Jim!  I’m a lucky woman.