Friday, February 29, 2008

Baseball in February

Life is good.
A couple of weeks ago I received a graduation invitation through Facebook. When I went to RSVP, Facebook offered the option of just replying OR signing up to have a Facebook page. I had heard so much about Facebook and its ability to connect people ("being friended") through its ever-expanding network of millions, I thought, what the heck...
And now, 15 days later, I have THIRTY friends. Well, 30 people have "friended" me since signing up. I am not exactly sure how people "find" each other, but I'm definitely convinced of our world's ever-decreasing size. Not surprisingly, the majority of these friends are Saddleback folks (including long lost friends Justin Adams and Jim Dobbs.) But some of these other "friending" requests have come from way out of the blue and even seem kinda bizarre. Among these "friends" is a guy I worked with at Montage who moved to Hong Kong last year. Another is from one of the women who was part of the three-week Europe trip I went on in 2006. Then there is a lady who claims to be the 'second wife of a man who is friends with one of my dad's Canadian cousins.' (Oh, I'm not making this up.)
But today's friending inquire was the best.
I had an email in my Yahoo account from Julie Hibbard. Upon further inspection, I realized it was a request from another person named Julie Hibbard who would like to "friend" me on Facebook. Julie is a student at Texas State University and thinks it's "cool" that we have the same name. She also wondered if, perhaps, we could be related.
Hmmm...what do you think...should I begin by explaining to Julie that Hibbard is actually my former husband's last name, and then maybe go on to tell her that it was not really his last name anyway because he had been adopted by his mother's second husband when he was six years old...but that even then, the step dad had been adopted by an older relative when his mother died in childbirth? good of a friend do you want to be Julie Hibbard?
I will write Julie back, of course, and become her Facebook friend...probably better if I just avoid the whole long-lost relative explanation though.
But I think I'll ask her if she wants to split the cost of some really nice engraved stationery.
Have a wonderful, fun-derful day!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Smiles, everyone, smiles!

Every day I walk through the back halls at work smiling and saying hello to each person who passes by me. I've been there almost three years now and I've loved getting to know everyone and being able to call them by their name! (No sweeter sound) I say GOOD MORNING or GOOD AFTERNOON to each of them...I SO love if I can bring a smile to their face! The majority of the people I work with are incredibly kind, loving and happy. Most of them know MY name too, and it's a thrill for me to hear, "Good Morning Julie!" 32 times down the back hallway. Seriously, this is probably what I love most about my job.
Then there's Robert. Think "Eeyore." Yeah, there's a little rain cloud over Robert's head every single day. You know, he's busy, he's tired, he's the hardest worker at Montage, his wife is sick, his dog needs an operation, some kid beat him up when he was in 3rd grade--it's ALWAYS something--some 'reason' for Robert to not be happy.
One of my goals EVERY DAY is to say hello to Robert and remind him of what a GREAT day it is! Today, I spotted Robert as I came down the hall toward the cafeteria. I smiled and said, (over dramatically, I confess) "Good Afternoon Roberto!" He stopped what he was doing and just looked at me. So I stopped and looked right back.
He said, "Don't you ever have a bad day? Aren't you EVER mad or sad or pissed off or angry?" The thing is, he was kinda laughing and I could not stop smiling and was holding back giggles as he rattled off his questions to me. He finished up with, "Julie, what are you so happy about?"
The door was open. I have been hoping to put a smile on Robert's face for three years.
I said, "Today? Well, let's see...the Dodgers won and I just talked to my son, (then I realized I had started a little poem and tried to get really funny)... my hair's in a bun, I don't weigh a ton, and I don't own a gun....(ok, at this point, he is laughing--out loud--and I want to keep going) work is real fun--we should go for a run!" And ROBERT says, "Out in the sun??"
We were really laughing now--me and ROBERT! I was literally wiping tears from my face. (Laughing til you cry is the BEST laughter!)
I hugged a smiling Robert and, as I walked away, added the last line to our poem,
"My work here is done."

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

(Sixty) Six Degrees of Separation

This morning I was assisting several guests as they were departing the resort. Their group had spent the last four days in Laguna, enjoying the most glorious weather we have seen in months!
One by one they were telling me of their regret, as they were all headed home to snow and freezing temperatures and "at least another month" of not seeing sunshine.
"It's 12 degrees at home in Milwaukee today!" one woman told me. (You know I wanted to ask her if she knew the Alice Cooper line from Wayne's World.)
Another man said, "We have not even been out of our home for's barely been above zero in Minneapolis since before Christmas."

It was 78 in Laguna today...and absolutely spectacular.
The last two days I have come home from work and gone to layout by the pool.

I assured the guests that the warm weather they had experienced was really quite odd.
I told them that it is rarely above 72 degrees ANYTIME of year in Laguna Beach.
Of course, what I didn't tell them is that it is rarely below 72 degrees either...
(Worth every penny of my $2,500 mortgage.)

I can see the light...

The Dodgers play their first Spring Training game tomorrow morning at 10:05. Hooray!
The long lonely nights are almost over...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

For Andrea

It's been quite a while since I have been "tagged" for a blog list...
thanks to Andrea Petty, tonight I'm it.

Where was I ten years ago?
Working in Children's Ministry at Saddleback Church and (still) going to school at Cal State Fullerton. And I was in our White Volvo Wagon taking Allison to El Toro High School and Zac to RSM Intermediate.
What would I do if I suddenly became a billionaire?
I would pay off my mortgage and all of my family's mortgages too. I'd send a huge check to each of my sisters. And take us all to Italy.
I would buy a Porsche 911 for myself. And one for my dad.
I'd buy a RED Kitchen Aid Stand up mixer and a second set of sheets.
I'd buy Allison that giant Louis Vuitton bag she's always wanted (but I still don't think she should take it to Kenya)
I'd give Zac a free pass to anything he wants at Guitar Center.
I'd invest the rest so that I could keep GIVING IT AWAY.
(One thing I wouldn't do is quit my job. I'd be bored in a week.)
Five jobs I have had (actually, these are ALL the jobs I've ever had)
1. Gilbert's Five & Dime (when I was 14. I made $2.47/hour.)
2. Hostess at Elmer's Restaurant
3. Waitress at Coco's
4. Children's Ministry & College Ministry at Saddleback Church
5. Event Concierge at Montage
Three bad habits that I have
Seriously, I can't think of any.
Is denial one?

Five things you might not know about me
1. I drink a full pot of coffee before I go to work each morning.
2. My mother was born in Jonesboro, Arkansas. She was also "Miss Norwalk 1958"
3. My dad and I graduated from the same high school--Mater Dei--23 years apart.
4. I did not fly on a plane until I was 21. When I was young, we traveled extensively--in a motor home.
5. I don't like anything watermelon flavored. Especially watermelon.

I tag...My dad, Gina, Eliane, Ange and Heather Mc TAGgart

Son, can you play me a memory?

I was there! (And yes, he certainly could use an eye lift.)
His first line of the show: "Hello everybody. I'm Billy Joel's Dad."
Throughout the workweek, my friend, Carl and I had talked about trying to get tickets to his concert. Saturday night, we decided to just go to the box office and see what was available...We ended up THIS close to him!
Billy Joel hasn't released a new album in over 20 years, and for the love of God, why would he? I am certainly not the only person who has purchased all of his records several times. On cassettes, 33s, 45s, CDs and on iTunes. (And, hard as it is to admit, I'm pretty sure I had "The Stranger" on 8-track. Yikes)
Billy performed his phenomenal repertoire of classic songs for two and a half FABULOUS hours. I smiled and laughed throughout the show as I kept saying to my friends, "OH, I LOVE this song!"...and sang every single word to every single one.
Truthfully, I really don't even want to hear an old favorite artist's attempt at NEW music.
I just want him to sit up there and sing me the sound track to my memories.
Billy Joel did just that.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Bum and Papa's House

My folks hosted a little "Oscars" gathering at their home Sunday night. My mother made a mouth-watering pot roast with chunks of potatoes and carrots, butter-soaked green beans, fresh bread (with more butter) and lots of GRAVY!
My dad generously poured the Chardonnay and then...
My mother brought out FRESH Strawberry Shortcake for dessert.
It was ALL so delicious!
There is no question as to why my sisters and I have struggled with weight issues all of our lives. But I'm tellin' ya...that night, none of us seemed to care...
it was one of the best damn dinners I have had in YEARS.
Thanks Mom and Dad

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I've seen it TWICE...

I was SO excited tonight for the Best Original Song co-winners Marketa Irglova and Glen Hansard, who wrote, "Falling Slowly" from the movie Once.
is one of the best and probably my most favorite of all the movies I saw last year. I've listened to the sound track over and over...the music is tender and touching and simply terrific.
If you have not seen Once--treat yourself and rent it soon.
You'll love it.
I loved Marketa's acceptance speech:
"The fact that we're standing here tonight, the fact that we're able to hold this, it's just proof that no matter how far out your dreams are, it's possible," Irglova said during take two. "And, you know, fair play to those who dare to dream, and don't give up. This song was written from the perspective of hope, and hope, at the end of the day, connects us all, no matter how different we are."

Hair cut 100

If I ever tell you that I have an appointment to get my hair cut, just know that the actual translation is "I am getting my roots done." I have standing appointments with Sally, my hairdresser of 10 years, every four weeks on the dot. It's an excursion to the depths of Santa Margarita every month and, yes, it costs me a pretty penny...but, I have said it a million times... if it comes between eating and staying blond...the roots have it.
At (nearly) 45 I am finally ready to admit two truths about myself: I have junk in the trunk and I have long, straight, thin hair. (Too bad we're not talking about my legs.)
The junk in the trunk is a constant battle...I refer to it as visual evidence of the 1/4 Italian in me.
But the battle with the hair was over years does nothing. It lays straight. It has a cowlick in the front that has forced me to wear bangs since I was old enough to know better. Even if I blow dry, curl, spray, use dippity-do or any other type of pillow-staining doesn't help matters. Within an hour or so, it is straight again. I gave up trying to do anything different. On the upside, I can be ready to go anywhere in 10 minutes...I don't spend any time on my hair.
When I went in to get my "haircut" yesterday, I told Sally that I was going through a change (not the change)...what could she do for me? Sally has been trying to talk me into losing the "Jan Brady" look for years. She was thrilled to start chopping.
(After the magnificent HAIR WASHING experience...GOSH I love having her wash my feels SO good!)
So....all that to say--yesterday, I got my hair cut. This was that .01% of the time that my hair was actually CUT. Golden locks were falling to the floor in 4 and 5 inch strands. Sally cut, chopped, fixed, styled, blew and spritzed my hair into a new style...
And I like it.
It's still blond, somewhat long and, of course the eternal bangs remain, but I swear, it has given me that little bit of 'lift' I was hoping for...
And, for now anyway, it helps takes the attention off the junk...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Certainly this plate belongs to a member of the DiLallo family

I can see clearly now...

As my friends and I approach our mid forties, the subject of eye sight comes up quite often. Each time we go to dinner, my friend Kelly announces to us that she is old, grabbing glasses from her purse to read the menu. Other friends say, "I can see just fine", then hold the menu at arms length squinting and hoping to make out something that they can just order!
I refuse to say that I am getting old. "Older" yes. But never old. I know this is the youngest I am ever going to be and I hope to get a whole lot older....but never old.
So here's something interesting...I started wearing (very un-attractive) glasses in the fourth grade. (I promise you, every last photo of this has been destroyed) and, though I NEVER wore them in high school, I did find the need to wear them again several years later, when I began depending on my five year old to read street signs to me. About 10 years ago, I started wearing contacts and had the exact same prescription up until the last few annual checkups...when my eye site started to gradually improve.
The last few times I've been to the optometrist, (OK, the Wal Mart Eye Center) she would tell me that I needed an even weaker prescription. And in an attempt to keep up with my ever-decreasing nearsightedness, we kept experimenting. We tried lessening both lenses, lessening just the left one, wearing only one, and the last time, she gave me the lowest strength bi-focal contacts. I even tried a (very hip) pair of "just for driving" glasses. It was crazy tho-nothing was helping me see clearly. I was suddenly NOT able to read menus and couldn't even read the speedometer, much less street signs! I would end up taking them out after a few hours...the contacts were actually impairing my vision.
When I went this past October, the optometrist did several extra tests...then she told me that I could actually get along quite well without any contacts at all.
I have not worn anything since...and it's been great. The only time I have any trouble "seeing" now is when something or someone is, for example, at the end of the hall at the hotel. If someone waves at me from 100 yards or so, I usually just can't quite make out the face. Of course I always smile and wave...
The thing is, I seem to do this "attempted fixing" in a lot of areas of my life. I think, "If I just had a bigger house, or a back yard or if I just had more money or A MAN or a Porsche...then maybe things would look better to me."
Truth is...everything is pretty darn good just the way it is. I need to relax and enjoy and stop trying to "fix" it.
Thinking deeply this morning (as always), and seeing very clearly.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Little cabin in the woods

My friend Sarah and I have four days reserved early next month at a beautiful (and hopefully) snow-covered cabin in Big Bear.
What are we going to do up there?
Well, besides read books and watch movies and make pancakes, and play in the snow and maybe have a few glasses of wine...
we are going to do absolutely nothing.
Really looking forward to it.

In a Police Car in Kentucky...

Yeah...that's where my daughter ended up last night. I'm so proud.
Read the rest of the adventure HERE.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Back to school!

I just got home from my first night of "Financial Independence Class" at the local community college. Gotta tell ya first off, I am a school lover! I love just BEING on a campus and having someone TEACH me something I had never thought of before. I actually spent 15 of my 17 years of college on THAT very campus! (I know, I should have multiple PhDs.)
Unfortunately for me, money is something I haven't been able to quite get a handle on these last few years. I always think I'm long as I can check my online bank statement about 8 times a day.
I'll admit that for most of my life I ran an amazing household--great mom, cleanest house on the block and made dinner nearly every night for 23 years...but I was married to a man with an MBA. He took care of the money. (And, obviously, he did a great job.) But I never learned how to manage money, invest money or even how to spend wisely.
All that's changing starting tonight!
The class was SO interesting, so challenging and immediately applicable! Bottom line, it's absolutely necessary in my life right now.
I still LOVE the fact that there isn't anyone asking me why I went to Target three times this week or telling me that I don't need another sweater--take it back.
But it's time for a little more self control in the money department.
Plus--big bonus--I have HOMEWORK:
I have to figure out how much I'm worth.

Shout to the Lord

I went walking early this past Sunday morning. I was trying to walk and fumbling with the iPod at the same time. I thought I had selected the "Workout" playlist, but for some reason, the "Worship" playlist started playing instead...and I decided to let it play. Have to admit, tho occasionally one comes on randomly, it had been a long while since I'd intentionally played any of these songs.
It was a long walk. It's been a long month. Actually it's been a long last three years--on top of a very long 23 years. The songs kept playing and I just kept walking. It was so darn cold, and kinda drizzling, but I was experiencing amazing thoughts and memories with these songs. Something like Silas came on and I sang out loud, "Jesus! My heart can not break enough for your love!" We sang that at Crave so often...along with Taffy and the gang's rendition of Yaweh. I remember a PACKED Tent 3--400 and 500 College Students--eyes closed and hands in the air singing "Yaaaaa----weh!" (I could even see Josh Peters next to Expo!)
Probably my most favorite worship song of all is "I Could Sing of Your Love Forever." There's a great version of it on an album that I played throughout 2004 (another very long year), by Sonic Flood. It was the only CD I took to the mountains with me that August...the last time I went to the cabin alone...hoping to try to figure out where my life was headed. Today, I put that album on in my car and was completely taken back to that week of praying and (seriously) fasting and journaling. I was at a complete point of despair at that time and I knew my life was about to change...above all, I knew there was a really rough road ahead. I listened to that CD over and over that week.
And today, as I SANG those same songs, I felt like God was saying, "See Julie Hibbard? You did it. You survived it. I knew you would!" (Those words just made me think of Jeremiah 29:11)
There is one other especially meaningful song on this playlist--"Come thou fount"--sung by Allison Hibbard. Every single time I hear this song, I am back at a staff meeting where Mike Howerton got up to speak about his recent trip to Kenya. Allison was on that trip with him. Mike told of watching Allison sing "Come thou fount"--a capella--at a men's prison just outside of Kitale. Mike began to cry as he described the hundreds of prison inmates who were SILENCED --captivated by Allison's sweet song of love for her Lord. (I am tearing up writing this) I always imagine Allison in that place when I sing along. It's an incredible song of hope.
I've played the Worship playlist all week in the's been a challenge to keep my eyes open and my hands on the steering wheel.
How Great is our God. Indescribable.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Classic 45s

Earlier this evening, I met my wonderful high school friends, Elisa, Kelly and Sharel at the brand new Javier's in Crystal Cove--(the restaurant is absolutely spectacular!) This upcoming year will be a rather significant one for the four of us as we will all be celebrating (yes--CELEBRATING!) our 45th birthday! Of course we are OH so grateful that Sharel is gracious enough to lead the way...she knows we are not far behind her.
Looking forward to LOTS of celebrations this year (and the next and the next and the next!)
My own 45th birthday is still about three months away, but I have already begun preparing my blog post for that day (maybe the week):
"45 GREAT things about being 45!"
You know what? There are a whole lot more than 45.
Life is good.

Mental Floss

When I walked into my dentist's office yesterday, I was THRILLED to see the incredible selection of magazines displayed on her waiting room coffee table. I quickly went to check in and thought, I hope they make me sit here for an hour...I want to read all of these!
Wouldn't you know...they called my name like two minutes later! I was about five lines into a Time Magazine article on birth order significance. Argh.
My next appointment is August 19th...
I'm gonna get there really early!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

THESE are the good ol' days...

Allison and Zachary Easter Sunday 1988
Fast forward TWENTY YEARS (yikes)
OK, I just talked to BOTH of my kids...
Since feeling God's urging for quite a while now, Allison is meeting with Steve Rutenbar tomorrow morning to solidify her plans to move to Kenya in July. Steve has just returned from several weeks in Kenya, has deemed it safe for travel and is strongly encouraging Allison to begin preparing for her journey. It will be her FIFTH time in Kenya, and her first stay of more than two weeks. Tonight, on the phone, Allison wanted to be sure that I was still planning to go with her...which I am. I will accompany the group (she has a few friends who will be part of her stay) on the trip over and stay two weeks in the home where she will be living for the following six months or so. She's planning to take me to Sister Frieda's hospital, the Kitale Club and can't wait to take me on Safari. Guess it's time for ME to start preparing for the adventure as well.
A few hours later, Zac and I spent a little time together on the Loyola Marymount website ordering his Graduation Announcements. Yeah!
Yes indeed, they have been purchased which, I do believe, makes it official:
The President, Faculty
and Graduating Class
Loyola Marymount University
are pleased to announce
Zachary Emerson Hibbard
will be conferred the degree of
Bachelor of Arts
with a major in
Writing concentration
at the
Ninety-sixth Commencement Exercises
Saturday, May tenth
Two thousand and eight
at nine-thirty in the morning
Sunken Gardens
Loyola Marymount University

I love them so much...and not just cause they're my kids.
They are good, smart, truly wonderful people.
And the best part...
each of them said, "I love you Mom" at the end of the call.
Yep, it was a good night.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Happy 5th Anniversary Montage!

Let me just say how very PROUD I am to be part of the Montage Staff! I have never worked with a more incredible group of hard-working and GREAT people who are ALWAYS fun to be with! Tonight was our 5th anniversary (I will have been there THREE years next month!) and BOY did we celebrate! I know I have written about this OH so many times...but I love these people and I LOVE LOVE LOVE my job.
I truly have to say, that it probably saved my life. My baseball-loving friends Michael and Richard
Ok, gotta admit that Laura looks like she could be my 'life partner' in this shot...
Love my dear friend Lisa...
This is Andrew. Last year, we took a picture together and, along with many others, he sent it to his mom. She told him he had a lovely girl friend.
(Guess mom didn't realize that she and I are the same age!)
This one's for YOU, Andrew's mom!
My banquet buddies (Curious) Jeorge and Angel (of the morning.)
Chris is one of my BEST BEST BEST friends at the resort!
We are SO much alike!
My lovely friend, Jaime and her friend, Todd. Todd actually worked at Saddleback Church for a while and HIS MOM, Liz, was on Children's Staff at Saddleback with me.
It is, indeed, a small world!
Oh, but the world gets even smaller yet!
YES! That's Brett Eastman! His wife, Dee, works at the Spa at Montage!
Yeah...we had quite a bit of catching up to do.
So blessed to be able to say that this is my BOSS, Sarah! She is a joy to work with and one of my closest friends. Shadi and I make up the Event Concierge team and have SO much fun together every single day!
The whole evening was spectacular...I could not wait to share it!
Yes, I have to be at work at 5:45am tomorrow!
And I truly can't wait.

I love surprises!

...especially when they come in the form of GREAT PEOPLE stopping by to see me at work. Today I was so happy to see David, Heather and Kelly McTaggart! They happened to be in Laguna and took a few minutes to come by Montage and say hello!
Though Heather and I worked briefly together at Saddleback, our friendship is primarily "virtual." We recently re-connected and have become really good friends through the wonderful world of blogging!

A little salsa and a little Salsa...

Last night was the annual "Pre-Montage Anniversary Party" fiesta! Tonight is the actual Montage party, but our banquets team has to work that party. The hotel is kind enough to recognize that fact and provides an amazing pre-celebration exclusively for our team.
Above and below with me is "Frankie G"--Francisco, one of our banquet set up team. He offered to teach me to Salsa so that I could be in the dance contest. I don't think I've ever had such a workout!
(That's his beer by the way, I'm still doing Dayquil and stuck to Diet Coke last night.)
I didn't think I was quite ready to enter the contest, but we had a BLAST dancing to that GREAT Salsa music...I was laughing the whole time...there's lots of twirling involved!Trisa, Whitney and Laura (I spent much of the evening adjusting Laura's shirt)We celebrated Jose's birthday and he organized the Pool Tournament.
I'm actually a very good pool player too...well, I do like to play.
We danced the night away! Sorry Allison, I know I promised not to post any dance photos of myself, but this was SO DANG much fun and I realized I don't look any dorkier than everyone else! I REALLY love to dance!
With the addition of Rojillio and Danyel, I think this is a new record for my "long arm technique"-FIVE people in the shot! (OK, we had to take it four times...)
This is my buddy, Almaguer...he and I work most mornings together and last night he came to the party dressed as a Prep School boy...or something like that.
The food was outrageous...home-made guacamole and chips and salsa and delicious chicken and little stuffed pastries and too much more.
But I am SURE I worked it all off dancing!
Tonight is the REAL party--celebrating Montage's 5th Anniversary's the one I bought the dress for...
Really looking forward to it!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

So I did a little shopping...

After church today I headed over to the Mission Viejo mall to buy a couple of gifts, and thought I might as well spend a little time "looking" at the clothes at Nordstrom.
To my great surprise, I left Nordstrom with three giant shopping bags! Ordinarily I will not purchase any clothing without Allison's 'yeah or nay'...but today I was feeling brave and adventurous and actually started TRYING ON clothes! Even more amazing was the fact that I liked what I saw and started saying, "I'll take it!" (Trust me,'s really good stuff.) Of course I am going to have to refinance my house to pay for the jeans I bought...but MAN, they fit so perfectly (and are SO hip!) I couldn't resist them. To go along with the new jeans, I acquired several new blouses, a funky new pair of RED leather shoes and I treated myself to a whole new drawer full of...well, "other things."
On the way out, a fabulous lavender candle caught my nose...and I threw that in too.
Allison, Heather, you may have been right all along about this shopping thing.
It was a very productive, and quite enjoyable afternoon at Nordstrom...
Of course I forgot to buy the two birthday gifts I had originally gone for, so I had to stop at Target on the way home. I can't begin to describe the damage I did there.

A loaf of bread, a jug of wine...

oh no no no...much better than that...

A bagel (with peanut butter and boysenberry jam), a strong pot of coffee and a baseball-filled sports page within the thick Sunday paper.

Seriously, life is SO good.