Five Minute Friday

In what can only be described as a complete and utter lapse of reason, Craig and I gave in to two years of begging and brought home the first puppy of our married life for these boys that we clearly love more than our furniture.


Her name is Stella which wasn’t my first choice but all the menfolk nixed Miss Bennett as “too girly” and “too long” so we went with Stella so they could channel their inner Brando every time they called her.

She barked all.night.long the first week we brought her home and have I mentioned that I got the idea to get her while Craig was in California for the week and I was the only adult to get up three times a night to let her out for 4 days straight? And, of course, the first night he came back she didn’t make a whimper and hasn’t since.

As typical with the Scates children, she adores Craig and goes into our room every morning to greet him even though I’m the one who feeds her, walks her, trains, and treats her. BUT I AM NOT BITTER.


We are in the process of socializing her and she adores little kids, is okay with the one dog she’s met thus far, and liked hanging out on the sidewalk at the corner bakery. She’s met the mailman, the neighbors, and several friends and, so far, so good.


Car rides? Not so much.


Sleeping? She’s a champ.

Welcome home, Stella. Please stay adorable and please don’t eat my couch.

Have a nice day.

Summer Catch-All/Catch-Up

Hello, my name is Susan and occasionally I write a blog post.

Since I’ve forgotten how to properly compose one, today I’m borrowing from Stephanie’s blog and using her prompts.

Outside my window….

I can hear the hammering of the work crew next door. They’ve been at it for a month, getting the house ready to sell. The previous owner recently passed away from cancer and the family is moving on. I will miss my neighbor. He was gruff, no-nonsense, plain-spoken and, interestingly, a former Israeli soldier who fought in the Six Day war. I would have loved to talk to him about the current situation in the Middle East and get his perspective.

Giving thanks….

Almost all of the leadership spots are filled on the planning committee for next year’s conference. Securing the volunteers for those roles has taken up much of my summer and available brain space. I’m looking forward to the kickoff next week and having a group of women help shoulder the load.

I am thinking about….

Seeing my family in a few hours! Craig forked over some of his frequent flyer miles and is sending me home SOLO this afternoon to soak up some time with the Oklahoma crew. It’s my dad’s 80th birthday and I’m happy that I’ll be able to celebrate with him.

I am also thinking about the chocolate pie I hope my mother is making.


In the craft room…..

I finished a baby quilt from fabric a friend gave me.  It was fun finding a pattern that went with the vintage-y vibe. This was my first attempt at making half-square triangles and, for the most part, I was pretty happy with how it came out.

Like most things, though, don’t turn it over and look at the back.

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From the kitchen….

The boys have been learning how to cook this summer.  It has been nice to sit at the bar watching them manhandle knives and simmer sauces while I supervise.  They’ve learned how to make a mean Alfredo and that the idea of Chinese food is better than the reality of spending the afternoon chopping.  Tommy has turned into a baker.  He made a beautiful batch of Snickerdoodles that had to be tossed because Mom didn’t know the Crisco in the pantry was from 2009 until she took the first bite.

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So he learned to make them again.

I am creating….

Trying to do a little writing that isn’t blog-related but that furthers some personal goals.  I finished a short piece for inclusion in a friend’s book that took me longer than it should have for 500 words.  Creativity comes and goes but I’m trying to learn it’s useless to wait for the muse to wave her magic wand and that sometimes she comes while I’m going through the motions and just grinding it out.

I’m working on….

Trusting the Lord to provide.  We just finished an 8-week series in Sunday School that has smacked me in the face about how much I worry.  I don’t do a lot of it out loud but my brain is constantly churning over one thing or another.  It’s exhausting.  Last night we received word that Travis’ new one-on-one assistant had been hired for the school year and immediately I started thinking about all the things that could go wrong, wondering if he was going to be a good fit, worrying that he was so young, blah, blah, blah.  AND I’VE BEEN PRAYING FOR THIS PERSON FOR WEEKS.   I had to remind myself to turn it all into prayers of thanksgiving.

God has it all and holds it all.

I am reading…

Finished Crossing Oceans and cannot recommend it because SPOILER ALERT, the heroine dies at the end.  So annoyed and wishing I had those hours of my life back.  Happy endings, people, happy endings.

I am hearing….

Silence in the house.  The kids are soaking up the last two weeks of vacation.  Travis is making a movie, Tommy is on the couch with an ice pack on a tender shoulder (today was the first day of full pads and hitting in football practice), and JJ is looking at pictures of puppies on the Internet.  We are in full dog-search mode.  The kids want a Labrador Retriever, Great Dane, Dalmation (no), or  German Shepherd, I want a Giant Schnoodle, and Craig doesn’t want any of the above but is humoring us.

A few pictures from last month….

We knocked off six more states in our quest to visit all fifty.  This time we made the loop up through New England and visited Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut .  It’s a complete post in and of itself so for now, here’s a peek at what we did.

And I still haven’t figured out my camera, so hopefully these aren’t too blurry.

I have better ones on my iPhone.


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Forty down, 10 to go.

One of my favorite things…..

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Mushy, I know.

Have a nice day.

Five on the 4th

1. Happy 4th of July! We are grilling and chilling at the house. Craig has a brisket on the smoker, the macaroni salad is cooling in the fridge, the watermelon is cut and ready to go, and after we’ve had our fill, we’re going to watch the nearby fireworks display to cap off a fun, relaxing day.

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2. The kids have enjoyed a restful first week of vacation. We’ve been to the swimming pool, the barber shop for muuuuch needed haircuts, Toy R Us to spend birthday money, and to the bank to deposit allowance money the old-fashioned way. Yes, I know they’ll probably exclusively bank on-line for the rest of their lives but I’m old school and, much like my grandfather, enjoy knowing the tellers and bank managers personally.

Besides, I wasn’t quite convinced the boys knew how to fill out a form and needed to witness it firsthand.

3.  One of my summer priorities is to put more work into building the kids’ spiritual foundation.  We are faithful to take them to church and youth functions and pray with and over them here at home but disciplined daily Bible study time hasn’t been something that any of us has been doing with regularity.  I was challenged by a Sunday School lesson about a month ago to redevelop the habit and have managed to stay on track since then and now that the kids are with me a little more during the day, I’m trying to help them do the same.  I went to LifeWay and bought each of us a workbook and we’re going through the Henry Blackaby “Experiencing God” study together.  Each day after lunch, we do the lesson together and say the Bible verse to each other.  It takes about 10-15 minutes and some are more cheerful than others about doing it, but I’m praying the truths seep in and take deep hold.

4.  She will be mad that I blogged about this because she is not one to toot her own horn but I have to mention that my beautiful mother was recognized last week at an awards ceremony for her volunteer work with at-risk children. She continues to be an example to me of how age and season in life are no excuse to not be involved in the lives of others.  She is the most humble, dedicated, tenacious, committed, giving person I know.  Mom, I’m so proud of you.

Mom (left) receiving her award from the Director of Gabriel House.  Photo credit: Duncan Banner

Mom (left) receiving her award from the Director of Gabriel House. Photo credit: Duncan Banner

5.  In other news, I got a new camera last week that has a little more firepower than the iPhone.  I have a vision that it will improve the quality of pictures on the blog but don’t get your hopes up because in reality it’s a lot easier to upload phone camera images than the ones out of the real camera and we all know how I feel about convenience.  I’ve taken a few snapshots here and there (who’s interested in my lunch avocado?) to get a feel for how to use it and I’m still on autofocus because I haven’t learned enough to be comfortable in manual mode but I think I’m going to enjoy using it.

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Happy 4th of July.

Five Minute Friday

Wednesday was the boys’ 15th birthday, Thursday was their middle school graduation/awards ceremony, today I’m on deck to help with the end of year picnic, and tomorrow we’re hosting a little party here at home with friends to celebrate all of the above.

In other words, no time to sit and think about all the thoughts.

I’ve had a lot of them this week but the over-arching one is how proud I am of these boys for slogging it through the three most difficult years of my their life.


Middle school, we are out of here.

Have a nice day.

PS – Deluge of pictures to come next week.

Monday Musings

I’m still trying to soothe a bitter heart over the last second goal scored by Portugal in yesterday’s World Cup match.  I realize that 99% of the people reading this morning probably don’t care about soccer or the Cup but it is such a huge part of my childhood that I am compelled to come here this morning and mope aloud at how we were thiiiiiiiiiis close to winning the game and blew it.  And while a tie isn’t blowing it per se and there’s still a good chance that the US will advance (with a win or draw against Germany  – you are going to watch, aren’t you?) but we could have put it away had we held on for mere seconds longer.


Like, 15.

I need a few more cathartic screams.

The kids have been slightly amused at seeing their mother yell like a maniac, pace the floor, and jump up and down but they’ve gotten into the games even though they can’t understand a word the announcers are saying.  I’ve insisted we watch the matches in Spanish because a) that’s how I was raised, b) it sounds more exciting, and c) everyone knows it’s not a real point until the announcers scream and stretch the word “GOOOOOOOOOOL!!!!!”  for five hundred forty-seven minutes.

The boys may also officially love soccer because I let them eat off paper plates in the living room in front of the TV while the evening game is played.

Because priorities.

In non-soccer related news, I suffered a workplace injury last week and I’m telling you all about it so you, too, can escape the danger presented by handling the incredible, edible egg.


Yep, was sporting a little Fat Albert look for a couple of days after burning my lower lip biting into a boiled egg that I’d reheated in the microwave on 50% power for a mere 40 seconds.  It was so barely lukewarm to the touch that I briefly considered putting it back in for another minute but decided to eat it anyway because I didn’t really care how cold it was and when I bit the end off, it released a burst of superheated vapor trapped between the yolk and the white and my lip was instantly like Melanie Griffith’s after one-too-many visits to her dermatologist for plumpers.

So, that was, um, attractive and NOT AT ALL PAINFUL and I hid at home for a couple of days and drank milkshakes through a straw and rolled my eyes at the utter ludicrosity (is that a word? I don’t think so but I’m leaving it in) of the situation that I’d been felled by food.

On the bright side, I lost two pounds.


Have a nice day.

Five on Friday (with no pictures because I can’t find my cord)

If anyone has seen the charging cord for my phone, feel free to let me know where it is.  And I’ve already looked in the car, my purse, the other purse, the kids’ rooms, and the scary basket that holds all the junk with no home.

It might be important at this point to tell the moms to either text or email if you need me today because I’m having to use the iPad until I have time to drive the car somewhere for half an hour to charge my phone because Toyota doesn’t think I’d want to charge it with the engine off.  People, please stop making decisions for me.

1.  I had to go to the dentist this week for a non-routine visit.  It started with a bad toothache two weeks ago and I managed to tough it out for a good long while hoping that the “wish it away” strategy would work and, sadly, it failed me.  So I called Gina on Tuesday to see if I could get an appointment and she said, “Oh, I can fit you right in today” and would you believe I told her no because it didn’t give me enough time to emotionally prepare for going in?

Yep, two-week toothache and I still needed a couple of days to gear up psychologically.

Somewhere there’s a therapist in need of a patient.

Or a village in search of its idiot.

So the appointed day came and I arrived and he took a x-ray and asked some questions and poked around and the good news is it wasn’t a bad tooth but was instead a perfect storm caused by bad sinuses, swollen ligaments, and jaw clenching (which  apparently I’m doing and didn’t realize it until he had me hold my tongue between my teeth and my jaw muscles started firing like crazy).

News flash. They aren’t supposed to do that.


So now I have antibiotics, decongestants, a round-the-clock Advil regimen, and jaw exercises to see if I can’t stop grinding my molars.

PS – He also said the occasional glass of wine and a deep breath wouldn’t hurt as well.  

I might actually love my dentist.

2.  I put a sign on the bulletin board that hangs above my workspace.  In big bold letters it says, “CALM THE HECK DOWN.” (see #1)

3.  Our Sunday School class is doing a summer video series about priorities. One of the recommendations the speaker gave was “make first things first” and start your day with a quiet time.  Mornings never have been my strong suit and when I’ve had a semi-consistent quiet time, it’s been easier to do it at night before I go to sleep.  The problem with the strategy, though, is that I forget by morning-time what I was going to change or do different.  So this week, I’ve switched up my quiet time to first thing in the morning while I’m drinking coffee and before I peruse the usual news sites, social media feeds, and Pinterest and it’s been a better play and I’ve been able to think about/put into practice what I’ve read right away (and James has a lot for a person to think about and put into practice).

4.  I bought a specialized cutting tool for a quilt and have the inkling that it’s the first step down a deep, dark rabbit-hole.

Though that step might have come earlier when I was pulling out my stash pile for a scrappy quilt and set aside a particular quarter-yard of fabric because “it’s too special for scrappy.”

5.  On a personal note, wishing the happiest of Father’s Days to my precious dad.  Many of my friends have lost their fathers and I feel very fortunate that he is in good health, is active, engaged, busy, and enjoying a wonderful life.  I am grateful to still have him to lean on, to talk to, seek advice, and learn from. He loves the Lord, his wife, and his children and is well-respected in his community.  He is a good, good man and I’m proud to be his.

I love you, Daddy.

Have a nice day.




Five on Friday: The week in pictures

1. A friend of mine who’s a food writer for the local paper tweeted a recommendation for a canning cookbook which reminded me that I had it on the shelf. The book is called “Food in Jars” and it’s perfect for those days when you have just an hour to spend messing around in the kitchen. The recipes are simple, make only small batches, and don’t require specialty equipment.

Craig and I went to the farmer’s market last weekend so I took a little bit of time and pickled a few jars of purple cauliflower and, on a whim, some red, sweet cherries.  They’re supposed to cure for about a week so I’m looking forward to breaking them open for a taste in a few days.



2. In the “just try and see how you like it” category, Tommy is joining the junior varsity football team at his new high school. His only prior experience with the game is pictured below (thanks, NotNed, for sending it to me) in an ill-fated flag football experience during elementary school affectionately known as The Season of the Bad News Bears.

It may or may not have scarred him and his dad/coach for life.

He survived the first two days of weight room orientation this week and will begin working out in earnest (4 days a week) in July. I’m learning how to be a hands-off mom (he lost cool points when I walked in with him to the weight room on the first day – he quickly and summarily dismissed me) and he’s learning that it’s not as bad as he thought it would be.

 3.  The boys attended the end of year 8th grade “gala” which meant they were required to dress nicely.  (I tried to die on the “dress nicely for school dances” hill at the beginning of middle school but once I realized they were only going for the $1 pizza, track pants were really quite acceptable.)

JJ didn’t want to mess with trying on clothes so I bought an assortment of ties and dress shirts from which he could choose and I got a little misty at how grown-up he looked as he headed out the door.




4.  I finished my quilt top early this week and the seams almost matched.  There’s one that makes me twitchy but considering all the places it could have gone wrong, I’m going to learn to live with imperfection and move on.  I’ve also learned that I will never love the quilting part and so it’s going to be quilted by check.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.



5.  I cut four inches off my hair yesterday.  It was time.


And I didn’t have time to put on makeup or shower or in any way get presentable before taking the picture this morning but this is as good as it’s ever going to look because I haven’t washed it yet.

And a big “thank you” to the filters on Camera + for sort of hiding the worst of the bags under my eyes. 


Have a nice day.