Don’t get too excited, it’s just a test run

My friend Fran texted me over the weekend asking how easy was it to post a blog on WordPress and I told her it was a piece of cake and I’d be glad to walk her through it.  Then I got to thinking about the last time I blogged and logged in to check and it’s been almost two years.


So, going to post a quick update so I can familiarize myself with the new interface (which has probably gone through several iterations in the last 20 months) so I can help Fran tomorrow, and also say hello to those of you who subscribed and are suddenly wondering why a blog post from Sus is showing up in your inbox.

It’s not Friday, but here, in listical form, is what’s going on with me.

1. The kids are graduating from high school in two months.  The transition into this next phase of life is looming a little large but there’s no stopping the freight train so we are rolling with it.  They will be staying home to attend our local community college in the fall which spares me the throes of MY BABIES ARE MOVING OUT for at least another year.

Though, not gonna’ lie, some days we are all ready for everyone to move out.


2.  I gained a bunch of weight because I was depressed and then I lost it and then I got happy that I lost it so I ate celebratory carbs which has threatened to start the process all over again so I’ve joined a CrossFit gym so that I can eat carbs and still fit into my clothes. My class instructor is a 24 year old named Warren who might weigh 145 pounds soaking wet and I alternately want to strangle him for making my lungs explode and also take him home and feed him a biscuit to fatten him up.

The boy needs a casserole.

3.  Craig and I just celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary and went out for dinner at a local steakhouse that was new to us.  This place is known for their clubby atmosphere and low lighting and that dim light put me at a bit of a disadvantage as I walked past the offerings on the salad bar because I’d forgotten my reading glasses and couldn’t see jack but I piled my plate high with what I could recognize and that’s how I ended up eating a boatload of  anchovies that I thought were kalamata olives.

4.  I wish I could report that I’ve had the opportunity to meet my birthmother who lives twenty minutes away in Chapel Hill but it’s been two years of silence from her.  She does not respond to any of my cards or letters.  It’s been difficult emotionally (see #2) but I’ve learned how to listen to myself and how to process emotions so the experience hasn’t been a total disaster.  It’s been valuable and necessary and I’d do it all again because I’ve become stronger and more emotionally resilient than I’ve been before.  The social worker from my adoption agency told me at the beginning of this journey that I would have to grieve my adoption.  I didn’t know what she meant because I’ve never been sorry that I was adopted.  What I did have to do was mourn a loss that was so deeply embedded in the depths of my psyche that when it was finally acknowledged, it choked me.

Processing the grief has been the primary reason I haven’t blogged in two years.  I’m usually an open book but this all was a little too personal to work through online.  Now that I have some perspective, I’ve been talking about it more in person to friends and family and maybe, one day, will share further thoughts online.

But I can talk about….

5. I met my birthmom’s daughter (otherwise known as my half-sister)  last fall and it was one of the happiest days of my life.  We are in the process of getting to know each other (we’ve already found common ground over a love for tacos) and we’re looking forward to building our relationship in the months to come.  (I’m also now comfortable friends with my half-sisters on my bio dad’s side and hoping to meet one of them this summer.)

There’s a lot more to catch up on (Quilts! Stella! My hairdresser quit!) but that’s all I have to say for now. As always, thanks for reading and being a faithful friend.

Have a nice day.

Two months later….

Where’d we leave off last? Oh, yes, beginning the recovery process of surgery.  I think I’m pretty much out the other side but had to head back to the OR a couple of weeks ago for the second planned surgery of the summer, this time to do a little interior remodeling and get rid of the baby room and assorted plumbing.

Don’t get HYSTERICAL if you can’t figure that out.


This recovery has been a little more involved than the first and I’m on strict orders to avoid housework and lifting anything heavier than 5 pounds for the next six weeks. Not going to lie, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed taking a break from the laundry and vacuum cleaner. Craig’s been a fabulous caretaker and the boys really stepped up to wash their own clothes and run to the grocery store for me.

They’ve thoroughly enjoyed shopping on their own as evidenced by the pantry full of chips, cookies, and cake and the empty vegetable drawer. It’s going to be a rude awakening when I’m back on game.

The first week I was in bed more than I was out of it but this past week I’ve been building stamina and strength and getting out of the house here and there. I’ve been reading, walking around the cul de sac, and, now that I can climb stairs, have been spending some time in the sewing room.  Hooray for fabric being under the weight limit! I cleared the backlog of unfinished projects and started a new quilt this morning. Guilty feelings keep trying to intrude because I feel pretty useless in terms of helping out around the house but we’ll get there soon enough. I’m committed to being a good patient.

Other highlights of the summer include a family vacation to Destin with my parents and brothers’ families.  There were 20 of us altogether and it was so special to spend an extended amount of time together. Usually when I’m home for a weekend, we’ll get together once or twice but it has been decades since we’ve spent that much concentrated time together and I loved every minute of it. Here’s one of my favorite pictures from the week.



I wish I had more news to share/to show for my summer other than one vacation and two operations but, sadly, that’s pretty much been it.  I hope your summer has been much more exciting than mine.

Have a nice day.

Happy News

Just got a call from the surgeon’s office and the pathology report came back negative for cancer.  I texted the news to a friend who asked, “Do they know what it was?” and I responded that it could have been Asian monkeys for all I cared as long as they were harmless.

Thanks for the prayers.  We are celebrating!

Have a nice day.

Thoughts on Thursday

Greetings from the other side of surgery.  I’m snugly wound and bound in a giant Ace bandage, a wee bit sore and tender and temporarily left-handed but officially relieved of laundry and Stella-walking duty for a few days so, on balance, doing just fine.

The official term for my surgery was wire-assisted excisional biopsy and I did way too much googling about the wire part prior to Tuesday and was, thus, slightly wiggy about everything. I have to say, it was not the most festive thing I’ve ever done.

And that’s putting it mildly.

It took them about an hour to sufficiently smash what needed to be smashed to get a good view so they could insert the wire and by the time they got to that part I was in so much pain that they could have gone ahead with surgery without anesthesia and I wouldn’t have cared but I have to say in the middle of the worst part, one small act of kindness made everything bearable.  The nurse put her arm around my waist and brushed the hair back from my eyes and simply looked at me with comfort and willed me to be courageous and it was just what I needed to grit my teeth and keep going on.

Just remembering that makes me weepy.

Never underestimate the power of a gentle touch to a friend who is hurting.

Anyhoo, it was finally over and they wheeled me back to pre-op to insert the IV and Craig was waiting there for me and I burst into tears and told him I earned jewelry for that.  The nurses got a big kick out of it and decided that shoes and a new handbag weren’t a bridge too far.  (Craig swears I’m making it all up and conveniently says that the good stuff in the IV is making me remember things that didn’t happen but I was there and we all know I never miss a chance to ask for something shiny.)

I started feeling fuzzy on the way to the OR but stayed awake long enough to scoot over onto a very cold table and say hello to my surgeon and then it was lights out until the recovery room.  They gave me the Michael Jackson drug (and where can I buy that by the 55 gallon drum?) and it didn’t make me feel hangovery or anything and I was able to go home fairly soon after waking up.  I spent the rest of the day sleeping and icing and sleeping and icing and woke up yesterday feeling much better.

Pathology report should come back later today or tomorrow, and they said they wouldn’t make me wait until my follow-up appointment next week to hear the results so I’m just waiting for the phone call.  I’m not anxious – I figure they are what they are and we just get to find out – but am hoping this was all just a fun exercise for nothing.  In the meantime, I’ll enjoy bossing the menfolk about and letting them participate in the joys of unloading the dishwasher and cleaning the kitchen after dinner.

Honestly, that’s better than bling.

Have a nice day.

Monday Musings. On Tuesday. Because it’s not Monday.

A few thoughts to share, in no particular order:

Pineapple lemonade is my new favorite thing. I made some for a women’s event I had at my house last week and it was well received.  It’s easy to make – throw a peeled, cored pineapple into the food processor along with the juice of four lemons and then add the mixture to some simple syrup and let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours.  Strain, add ice water to make two quarts, and serve.

Since it was a girls-only party, I got a little Pinterest-y and used mason jars and tied different colors of ribbon around the necks so it would be easier to keep track of the rightful owner.


I did my first Whole30 and lost 11 pounds.  And I’m about to gain them all back binge-eating Hershey Nuggets with Almonds.

My cousin came to town. My mom’s side of the family is a fertile bunch and, as a result, I have 15 first cousins.  One of them, Eddie, who is ten years older than I am, stopped by Sunday afternoon and we had the best time sitting out on the back deck catching up on all the aunts and uncles and telling stories about our grandparents.  It made my heart happy to talk about the people we love.  I’m so blessed to have such a loving extended family.


I bought my first pair of boyfriend jeans. I realize that people have been wearing them for at least two years now but it takes me that long to decide if a trend is for me and I finally got up the nerve to wear them as intended and Craig gave me the side eye because in his mind they come dangerously close to capris but I gave him a little “don’t mess with me” head wag and I think we’ve come to an understanding.


I recently flunked a test. I went in for my annual cram-o-gram and the radiologist didn’t like what she saw so she asked me to come back for a repeat test and they didn’t like that view either.  Then I had an ultrasound and the doc said she wanted an even closer look so last week I went in for a stereotactic biopsy which basically involves laying on a table that’s jacked up near the ceiling while a certain part of your anatomy hangs through a hole in said table so they can do what needs to be done. (Here is a visual in case my stellar descriptive skills don’t do it justice.)


Because I am basically the opposite of Dolly Parton, and due to a challenging tumor location (near the chest wall), after an hour of being *way* more up close and personal with people than is typical for this introvert, they decided the biopsy route wasn’t going to work so they punted on the procedure and we are now proceeding directly to surgery.  This will happen two weeks from today. I am not concerned about what they will find but am a little apprehensive about the surgery itself because it will basically involved nakedness and a room full of people and that makes me want to crawl under a rock.

But I shall pull up my big girl panties and deal with it because that’s what we do.

Pineapple lemonade and more chocolate will surely help as well.

Have a nice day.

New Year, New Adventures, Same Me

I’m still on Chapter 5 of my growth project book and I think that’s where we’re going to leave it.  It’s a new year and I’m wiping the slate clean on a couple of books that didn’t get finished and a quilt project that suffered from my inability to coordinate any colors outside out neutrals.  I’m also closing up the non-stop sugar buffet that lasted between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

It was fun while it lasted, kids.

And I’ve got 9 everlasting pounds on my thighs to prove it. 

There are many happenings at Casa de Carpool.  We went to Oklahoma to see my family for the holidays and had a wonderful time.  My mom is doing SO MUCH BETTER and it has made all things right in my world to see her moving around, to see her smile, and hear her laugh.

I hadn’t heard her laugh for over a year and when she did, it was the most beautiful sound in the world.

It was sweet to see the relief in my daddy’s spirit that she has improved as well.  He has been a wonderful caretaker to her, so attentive.  He’s long carried an emotional anguish seeing her in physical pain and his face is now aglow.  God is good and we had a very special moment on Christmas Day as the whole family gathered and prayed to thank Him for the gift of her healing.

Our trip back was fairly uneventful.  My back was a little stiff from sitting in the car but I didn’t think too much of it.  When it was still sore a couple of days later, I scheduled a deep tissue massage and BOY WAS THAT THE WRONG THING TO DO.

The next day the muscles started pulling whenever I leaned forward and then they started tweaking when I walked and by Saturday morning, I couldn’t sit, stand, or put on my clothes without Craig helping.  We went to Urgent Care and the PA diagnosed a strained back (hmphhh, could’ve made it sound more serious), gave me some delightful drugs and told me to rest for a few days. Saturday through Tuesday I’ve been pretty much on the heating pad and in the recliner. I made big improvements yesterday and today I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

In other news, I *do* have a story to tell about a project I’m working on right now but that’s easily a thousand word post and I still don’t have my brain wrapped around what I want to share. The story is flat-out crazy and I’m smack in the middle of it but it’s all good and I’m excited to tell you what’s going on when the time is appropriate.

Please pray that I’d be wise.

Oh! And I have to tell you about the dumpster I found myself in yesterday but that story will also have to wait because, first, I have to download pictures.

Yes, I took pictures.  I may not have written a post in two months but all three of you who still read are never far from my thoughts and I knew you’d need visuals for this one.

That’s all for today.  Not sure what my publishing schedule is going to look like this year but if you hang around, something’s bound to show up.  (There’s a subscribe button at the top where you can have new posts delivered to your inbox if you’d like.)

Happy New Year, friends.  You are loved.

Have a nice day.

Five on Friday: Deep and Not So Deep Thoughts and Maybe A Rant

I heard that John Maxwell was participating in Michael Hyatt’s on-line Influence and Impact Summit, so I decided to virtually attend to see what he had to say.  Three days later, he still hasn’t shown up on the daily docket but I’ve had the chance to listen to a few of the other speakers and am a little unsettled about some of the things I’m hearing (or not hearing, as the case may be).

Some speakers have been talking about monetizing blogs, increasing the “size of your platform” (gag), how to build influence, and how to be as awesome and wonderful and successful as they are and it has me wrapped around the axle for various reasons.  First, from the lineup I’ve seen so far, it’s implicitly targeted towards Christians and I have yet to hear the name of Jesus and I’ve heard a lot about making it all about you and your goals. Second, from the fine print I read in the promo materials, it looks like it’s just a way for Michael Hyatt to get a lot of email addresses to target for subscription to his online program and for all of the speakers to plug their forthcoming book.  Third, it reeketh of exclusivity and the cool kids club.

And fourth, it clearly brings out my own insecurities.

I long for the days when Jesus was enough. When His call on your life didn’t get polluted with cries that there’s room at the table for you IF you put in hard work, IF you bring a network of people to your book deal, IF you have a new way to say things, IF you turn out consistent content that makes people care.

No, no, no, no.

Our lives are found at the foot of the cross and in Him all striving ceases.  Our eyes are fixed on Him, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, not the worldly authors who tell you if you could just be this way or do it that way or “know your why”, it would go well for you.

I know my why.

Jesus is my why.

Every day.

In however He chooses to direct my path.

And He says I’m enough and you’re enough because HE IS ENOUGH.

Thus endeth the rant.

Is anyone watching Blindspot?  I am OBSESSED with this show (Agent Kurt Weller would be my new imaginary boyfriend if I were imaginarily single) and if we are going to be friends, you have to watch it and talk about it with me.  I may or may not have spent hours a little time on the Internet reading about the show and cast and watched each episode a few times because not only is it a great procedural/mystery, but it has ALL THE FEELS as well.

Thus endeth the not-so-deep thought. 

I may have too much time on my hands.

Because I can’t write more than 200 words without talking about food, I must mention several dinners this week have been less than stellar except for the Chick-fil-A at the football game last night and more than once I’ve caught myself thinking, “As soon as these children move out, I am never cooking again.”  And then I find a new recipe on Pinterest and hope springs eternal.

After Wednesday’s garlic lime chicken fiasco  – how does one forget the garlic in a two-ingredient dish? – I’m pulling out the standby shepherd’s pie (minus the chocolate chips) for dinner tonight so we can go into the weekend happy.  If you’re looking for something homey, easy, and uses the leftover mashed potatoes stashed in the back of the fridge, give that a whirl.

And because it’s still bugging me paragraphs later, here’s another thought on the first thing.  I don’t want it to come across like I’m bashing other people’s life choices or begrudging their success, particularly since many of them profess the same faith I have and I know zero of them personally.  What I do want to caution is that we have a big responsibility, particularly in our Christian community, to not create false idols out of the dogged pursuit of success, significance, accomplishment, impact, and influence for any other purpose other than making Christ known. He told us to love the Lord God with all our hearts, mind, soul and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves.  It just seems pretty simple to me and doesn’t require a platform to do it.

He must become greater; I must become less.

John 3:30 

Five on Friday

Greetings from soggy North Carolina.  We’re on our 10th straight day of rain (and therefore, big hair) without an end in sight for at least two or three more days.  I’m not going to complain, though.  Rain is my favorite weather, regardless of season, so I’m happily out on the back deck with some books, a laptop, a Thermos of hot water, assorted tea bags, and a quilt to keep me warm.  I intend on staying out here until the kids get home from school and enjoy the sound of the rain through the leaves and water gurgling down the gutters.

Happy. Place.


Craig returns tonight from California.  He’s been gone for the week which meant it was the perfect time for things to fall apart back here.  The garage fridge went on the fritz and knocked out the circuit that controls the garage doors, something happened with one of the kids’ laptops and the one hammer in my toolbox – turn it off and turn it back on and see what happens – didn’t work, AND the dog ate a $250 retainer so let’s just say WE ARE READY TO HAVE AN ADULT IN THE HOUSE.

In the “if you give a mouse a muffin” category, I cleaned the freezers out which led to discovering an assorted mess of chicken parts which led to not having a pot big enough to handle them which led to a trip to Walmart and a 22 quart stock pot which didn’t sound like a lot until JJ did the math (he can do that now after a few months with a tutor – yay!) and told me I’d essentially purchased a five and a half gallon pot.


It took the better part of two days to cook, strain, cool, heat, and can it all but it’s now in the pantry and I’m officially done with canning for the year except for maybe something else because it’s so much fun.


Local friends, there’s a little Mexican restaurant I found that has really good pupusas and tacos and flan.  It’s called Las Marias and it’s located across the parking lot from the Walmart on New Hope Road.  I stopped in for lunch on the day I bought the stock pot (and a cute little pitcher from Pioneer Woman’s collection – see below – darling) and liked it so much that I dragged Heather back a few days later.




I think she was a fan.

Tommy and I have been working concessions during the varsity games.  It’s been a blast and sometimes we get free nachos.  The concessions manager loves to have him there not only because he is a natural salesman (just like his daddy), but also because he tends to draw an large crowd at the counter just to observe the giant.


Maybe if we stop feeding him, he’ll stop growing.

Have a nice day.

Five on Friday

Whenever life starts to feel a little unsettled or my brain is working overtime to solve all the world’s problems, I gravitate to the familiar until I can get my bearings.  My thoughts have been in high gear this week and that’s why I found myself at not one but two taco stands in the last four days, eating the food of my people and finding a little bit of footing.

Last week’s Food section of the News & Observer recommended a taqueria that’s co-located with a gas station off Capital Boulevard so while I was out picking up 25 pounds of pork butts and chicken wings for our neighborhood block party this weekend, I stopped in for a bite.

Click for Options

It was a tiny space – no more than 7 or 8 tables – and no frills.  You had to buy your drink separately from the gas station attendant before ambling to the back to place your food order.  The cashier and other customers looked a little uncertain as I approached (I was the only pale face in the store and the only female).  He greeted me in English and I replied in Spanish.  He laughed and said, “I’m so sorry, I thought you were American.”  Everyone around laughed as well and the curiosity seemed to dissipate and they joked around while my order was being fixed.  I took the meal to a small table and started to eat but was interrupted by one of the other patrons who came over to share the communal bottle of homemade salsa.  “I noticed you didn’t have any on your tacos.  You’re going to want to try this.”  His hospitality and friendliness, the smile on his face and his genuine acceptance lent a sense of peace to the place and I ate in serene silence and was once again grateful for the rich childhood experience of growing up in Guatemala and for the kindness and beauty of Hispanic people.

Update on the Great Growth Project – I’d been doing really well with keeping on task in the three areas I’d identified for improvement until last week when I got sidelined by all the apples.  And then one skipped day went to two, and then three, and before you know it, the train was off the tracks.  This week I sat down to start Chapter 5 and almost snort-laughed when the first paragraph talked about people failing to grow because of lack of consistency.

Well, I seem to be EXHIBIT A.

Time to get back on track.

I kept up with the laundry this week and that sort of deserves its own blurb.


Ladies, just say no to athletic socks with loafers.

No, no, no, no.

And no.

My doctor called this week with the results of some testing she’d done last week and it looks like my thyroid problems are the result of an autoimmune hiccup.  Apparently I have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis which doesn’t change how it’s treated but explains why it happened.  I had visions of implementing all sorts of nutritional changes to avoid other autoimmune problems but a cursory review of recommendations suggested than in addition to eliminating grains (which I sort of do when it’s convenient or unless it’s tacos) I should also get rid of cheese, nuts, seeds, nightshades AND COFFEE and that is my entire diet so it just ain’t going to happen.

It has been nice knowing you.

Have a nice day.

The woman and the coin

About three weeks back, I lost my favorite Bible.  I have several (what preacher’s kid doesn’t?) but this one was special because Craig gave it to me almost 20 years ago on Valentine’s Day, just weeks before our wedding.  Those of you who also suffered pre-wedding jitters will totally understand that sigh of relief at yet another confirmation that HE REALLY DOES LOVE ME AND IS GOING TO MARRY ME when I saw he’d inscribed my new last name on the cover.

It was the book I’d read from when we dedicated our children, charging them to trust in the Lord with all their heart and lean not on their own understanding.  The pages bore witness to my insatiable need to underline everything. Sermon notes and prayer requests were scrawled out in the margins, promises circled and asterisked.  The leather peeled away from the edges of the front cover and the binding was starting to give way but I didn’t want to stop using it and had on my to-do list to research businesses that could fix it.  I wanted to be able to leave it as a spiritual diary of sorts for my boys at the end of my life- a witness to the faith of their mother and the hope she had in the Lord. I wanted them to see the goodness of God and His steadfast faithfulness to me and to our family as they read notations of answered prayer.

I don’t know when or where I lost it.  I don’t always read in the same place in the house so at first I assumed it was in another room or by another couch.  I used my grandmother’s study Bible while I looked for the other one (though I felt guilty underlining in it even though she died nearly 20 years ago) but after days of tearing the house upside down and even driving to church to fruitlessly search my Sunday School room and Lost & Found, I had to admit defeat.

Craig tried to console me (and I’m sure in the back of his head he thought, “Jackpot! I know what to get her for Christmas this year.”) but I was so bummed that I literally had to pray for the Lord to help me GET A GRIP.  “And while you’re at it, Lord, can you please find it for me?”


Just a few days after praying for divine intervention, I came home to a beaming husband who had found it and a jillion other things the dumb dog had stuffed way under a couch in a room where I never read (or thought to look) because the lighting is horrible.

And I may have cried and hugged his neck.

And then wrote “God answered my prayer” next to this verse:

 Suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one.  Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?  And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’

Luke 15:8-9

Click for Options

Have a nice day.