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. 

Five on Friday: The Buck Up Little Camper Edition

Moving the ball forward today.  There’s a new rally phrase I’ve been chanting to myself for a couple of weeks and it’s “Bias for action” and even if it’s just an inch in the right direction, that’s a start.

“Bias for action?”

I’ve got the lock on nerd, people.

1.  The kids are excited about high school, so I need to be as well.  This anxiety is mine, not theirs, and they don’t need to catch a case of the heebie-jeebies from me.  They can, however, absorb confidence.

Fake it ’til we make it.

2.  The church serves God’s purposes and not mine.  If my heart’s desire is to see Him glorified, He will take care of all I need and all I lack.

3. Water, vegetables, and occasionally walking around the block will make me feel better.


Sorry, it had to be said.

4.  Instead of looking at what hasn’t been accomplished by this stage in life, focus on the growth that has occurred.  I’m getting better at managing conflict, at speaking up when something needs to be said,  and sewing straight lines.


New quilting project on the brain.  If all these seams match up, it’ll be a miracle.



5. Freedom to be myself means freedom to adhere to what, when, and how I want to write.  My feelings were hurt several months ago when someone said the blog used to be funnier and I’ve sat on those words for a while, figuring out why they cut to the quick.  At first I was sad because I’m a pleaser and I want everyone around me to be happy.  I want you, the reader, to love coming here and if you don’t know me in real life, to feel like we could be friends. Yes, I can be funny (laughter is my love language) and most every day you will see a genuine smile on my face and joy in my heart.  But when I started this blog project on a whim five years ago, my kids were 10 and in the big middle of providing daily doses of blog fodder doing silly things little boys do.  Now they’re 15 and while there’s still plenty of fodder, I can’t write it all  down because it can be hurtful, painful, NORMAL,  and not at all for public consumption.

So I choose authentic.

Some days that will look funny.  Other days it won’t.  And if I don’t write for a while, chances are the often serious, thinky, drawn-to-order, must-have-life-in-neat-organized-categories side of me needs to sort things out quietly and internally.  And if there’s occasionally something angsty in this space, it’s probably because this visual learner is just trying to make the swirling thoughts static for a second to make sense of it all.

There’s value in being quiet and equal value in speaking out loud.

I am what I am.

6.  And to end on a high note (AND LET’S NOT TWITCH THAT THE LIST DOESN’T STOP AT FIVE), proving that opposites attract, here’s a picture from last night of Tommy and his best friend after they played their final middle school band concert.


Onward and, hopefully, not too much more upward, at least for the kid on the right.

Have a nice day.


My laptop has been sitting on the kitchen bar for a couple of weeks now and every time I look at it I think, “I should write” and then I don’t. I’ve been doing other things – it’s May with all the crazy that comes with the month- but I’ve mainly been marinating in a toxic stew of low grade anxiety with occasional bouts of hyperventilation over Big Life Questions such as 1) am I royally screwing up my kids, 2) do I have what it takes to lead this conference, 3) I’m six months from 45 and am I where I wanted to be at this point in my life, and 4) is it time to close the chapter on blogging?

1) I hope not.

2) I hope so.

3) Talk to me in 20 more pounds.

4) Jury’s still out.

We’ve got a lot of changes coming down the pike – the kids leaving middle school for high school, saying goodbye to the familiarity of the year-round calendar to go traditional, and having a passel of boys turn 15 next month which means learner’s permits and driving lessons.

I still get nervous when they ride their bikes to the pool so HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO CALMLY HAND OVER THE KEYS TO THE VAN?  

I don’t like change. I just don’t.  This is the woman who took years to learn to say Costco when they changed their name from Price Club, who still can’t confidently navigate Windows 8  even though she upgraded months ago, and whose favorite waitress at Pho Super 9 automatically yells “B7″ to the cook as she walks in the front door. The point is, I like routine. I like predictable.  I like known. And everything coming down the pike is anything but those three.


Someone hand me a paper bag to breathe in.