Monthly Archives: January 2012

Happiness is a warm blanket

I made a quilt and it only took me twelve months to do so.

Cue the Hallelujah Chorus.

Have a nice day.


Monday Musings

It was a fun weekend at the Carpool’s house.  The festivities kicked off with a yummy brunch Friday morning with my friends from Sunday School at Melissa’s house where apparently I was the last person to have ever tasted Paula Deen’s French toast casserole.


“Delicious” doesn’t even begin to do it justice.


I may or may not have consumed seconds while enlisting the help of the assembled sisterhood in deciding if I should wear black shoes or red shoes with the new dress I bought to wear to a fancy schmancy wedding Saturday night and whether nude or black hose were appropriate because I cannot be trusted with dress-up decisions because a) those functions occur infrequently, and b) my wardrobe generally consists of yoga pants in various states of stretch.

This was the picture I took in the dressing room and texted to Amy to get her opinion.  We always virtual shop together since I am not to make fashion decisions alone.

The collective wisdom was black hose, black shoes which I kinda’ figured but I was dreading that confirmation because my dressy shoes are a half-size too small but they were Stuart Weitzman’s and on a ridiculous sale and I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity so I bought them and only bring them out on occasions where I know I won’t have to stand for more than an hour.

I waited until the very last minute to put them on and was surprised that they fit a little better than I expected which I think is due to the fact that I lost almost fifty pounds and grabbed a flimsy thin wrap because Craig told me, “Oh, I think the wedding is in a tent outside” which would have been good information BEFORE I BOUGHT A SLEEVELESS DRESS and went to the wedding and froze my patootie off the whole night.

The reception was gorgeous.  Kipling (isn’t that a beautiful name?) chose white hydrangeas for her flowers and they were scattered throughout the reception hall.  The table centerpieces were stunning.  I tried to surreptitiously take a picture here and there but the lighting was low and, well, iPhone, but you can get the gist. The tea-lights hanging from the branches were my favorite.

I told Craig that when we hit our 20th wedding anniversary (or most likely 25th since by then the boys will HOPEFULLY be out of college and we’ll have money again), I wanted to do a blowout reception and invite all our friends and dance the night away and he said that was fine as long as he got to eat because it’s only been fifteen years since we were married and he’s still harping about the fact that he was too busy socializing to eat the Swedish meatballs he had specifically requested for the reception.

And a good time was had by all.

Have a nice day.

The cost of discipleship

An item in my Twitter feed has reduced me to tears this morning.  It’s from my friend Janet.

Missionary’s dad is dying. He wrote a final letter to his dad (on generator power) and Brian is taking it to Rex to read to dad.  Please pray.

Somewhere in a distant land, someone who has obeyed the call to “go ye therefore” can’t be with a dying parent. As a missionary kid, I can tell you that it is a scenario that is not uncommon but it doesn’t lessen the pain one bit when it happens and my tears overflow this morning at the cost of discipleship.

And yet my soul sings praise because as someone weeps in a distant land, another obeys the call to “go ye therefore” and heads to a hospital to sit bedside and bring the love of God and the love of a son to a dying man.  And that, my friends, is one of the most beautiful pictures of the body of Christ I have ever seen.

Jesus, be near.

Oh, be very near.


Susan, Plain and Tall

The house has looked a little bare since all the Christmas decorations went to live in the attic.  Well, more bare than usual, that is.  I tend to keep my shelves and tables pretty spare in terms of decoration mainly because my boys are still all arms and elbows and have a tendency to knock things over or move them to other rooms should they suit their needs for a Lego battle or as a projectile target for the latest round of Nerf Wars.

Some might call my design philosophy as “minimalist”.

I prefer “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”.

This past weekend I decided it was time to do a little decorating in the living room since it’s really the main room we hang out in and it’s a little boring what with everything being brown, cream, shades of brown and cream, with a little light brown and cream thrown in for accent.

I was chatting with Amy about bringing some color in on the still empty mantle and telling her I was interested in something with height and color and she said “What about forsythia branches?” and I said that might be a good idea and then I threw out some other thoughts but she was settled on her branches and so I listened to her because we’ve been friends for twenty years and I know when she won’t give up.

So I went to HomeGoods and found a pretty, tall vase that brought out the green in my new pillows and was conveniently 75% off.

And I texted Amy to show her the pictures and said, “Now I need to figure out what to put in my green vase” and she said “I know, what about FORSYTHIA?” so I went to Michael’s and camped out in the floral aisle and started jamming branches of forsythia into the vase that I took in with me because I wanted to make sure I got enough because nothing annoys me more than getting home and realizing I should have bought the extra stem.

And while I was decorating in the aisle trying not to feel guilty about using a vase that I’d purchased at their competitor’s, the store designer who clearly played for the other team came over to me and asked me what I was trying to accomplish and I told him my tale of woe of my boring beige living room and my attempt to inject a little color into my life and he asked me several questions about how my room was decorated and when I told him, he started nodding and said, “I think I know your style. It’s like my favorite Hallmark movie,  Sarah, Plain and Tall.”

And I’m still trying to decide if that’s a compliment or not.

He told me that I needed to pick up some other colors to add warmth to the room and then we got into a fascinating discussion regarding symmetry and balance and looking at the left side of your room instead of the right side to create cohesion and I nodded like I had any idea what he meant and I think he meant I needed to buy more stuff and then I bought tons of forsythia and some branches of filler that he recommended because somewhere I read that you should always take the advice of gay men when it comes to decorating and came home to my brown and beige house.

And made my arrangement just as he and Amy told me.

And spent the rest of the afternoon moving it from one side of the mantle to the other.

And realizing that it’s now the only yellow thing in the room which means I need to go shopping for something else to tie it in with my other things.

And also realizing that yellow is just a more vibrant shade of, yes, cream.


Have a nice, plain day.


Monday Musings

Oh, look.  A blog post.  This must mean that the children started back to school today and I can actually get into the office and sit at my computer for more than six seconds without having someone hover over my shoulder and say “It’s my turn now, Mom.”

And, yes, I did get a dedicated computer three weeks ago and that’s how long it took me to figure out how to offload our vacation and Christmas pictures onto it and I still haven’t figured out how to attach an  iPhoto picture into a blog post because apparently technology hates me.  So in the meantime, I’m back on the germ-infested kids computer because it accepts my commands and we’ll talk about the three pictures I took this week that I can upload without any problem.

1.  Much to my husband’s chagrin, I chopped off my hair.

Also to his and yours, I’m sure great dismay, I wore no makeup and didn’t shower all weekend either.


2.  The reason I was in a general unkempt state was because two-thirds of my offspring were at a snow-tubing event with their youth group and I took advantage of them being out of the house to go into their rooms and toss all their junk re-organize their closets and do some deep cleaning and it took me FIVE HOURS just to get the upstairs presentable after which I collapsed on the couch and declared that no one was ever going to be allowed in their bedrooms again.

I think Travis enjoyed being an only child for the weekend. To assuage our own guilt at his not being able to go on the trip, we gave him a little folding money to spend at Walmart and he took full advantage of our weakened state.

And since Craig was feeling a little spendy, I took the liberty of picking up some new pillows for the living room.

3.  And then I spent way too much time getting caught up on back episodes of Downton Abbey and if you have not been watching this show we cannot be friends.

I may or may not be in love with Matthew Crawley.

And don’t even get me started on Mr. Bates.


Have a nice day.

Monday Musing

I was about to start this post with “we had a low-key, restful weekend” but then I stopped and laughed out loud because had you sat in the upstairs craft room with  me for the last two days, “restful” and “low-key” would not be the words you’d use to describe the environment.

More like “focused” and “intense” and “ranting”.

One of my goals for the new year is to FINISH WHAT I’VE STARTED and I’ve been pecking away at the abandoned pile of projects, most of which were set aside because I lost interest they were too tedious, beyond my skill level, or beyond all hope of repair.  I finished two knitting projects, threw one half-baked sewing project away because I’d already gotten $4.99 worth of aggravation delight out of it,  and then turned to….the quilt.

Yes, THAT quilt.  The one I started last January when I decided that I was going to become a quilter.  I pieced the top together in a weekend and then started quilting it and OH MY WORD AT THE TEDIOUS.  After about three days of fighting it through my machine, I folded it up and walked away for the better part of eleven months.

But it mocked me.

It sat in the corner and whispered “You can’t do this well at all” and I got sucked into its little lie until I had a little epiphany in late December after a run of spectacularly failed holiday crafting that IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT.

It doesn’t have to look like my friend’s quilts.

It doesn’t have to look like my grandmother’s.

It doesn’t have to hang in an Amish museum, and frankly, they wouldn’t take it.

But it reflects me.



And not a straight line to be found anywhere.

So I picked it up this weekend and spent hours Saturday finishing the quilting and then started making my binding and spent a while on that only to find that I made it waaay too narrow because I didn’t measure well.

Or really at all.

See “haphazard”.

So I despaired.  I despaired mightily.  I texted Amy and unloaded all my wrath and agony and she told me to go to bed and sleep on it.  So I did and woke up the next morning and phoned my quilt whisperer who lives in Northern Virginia (hi, Kris!!!) and found out all the things I did wrong but she talked me off the ledge and told me that it was all going to be okay and that those Amish women were certifiable anyway and so I made friends with my seam ripper and re-started the binding process.

And so, after two days of work, I am still not done.

But I am ALMOST done.

And I WILL be done.

And then I will rest from my labors under a heavy, warm quilt that will hopefully not split apart the minute I wrap it around my body.

Because then the Amish lady won’t be the only one that’s certifiable.

Have a nice day.

Sus, where are you?

I thought I could post from the road but I’ve been too dang exhausted.

And sore.



I went to a funeral today.

The last one I attended was several years ago when my grandmother died unexpectedly.  The circumstances surrounding her death were surprising though intellectually I was somewhat prepared for her eventual death.  She was, after all, approaching her late 90s.  (Though she would want me to tell you that she was totally all there mentally and still dressed cute.  That was my grandmother – making sure you knew she may have looked old on the outside but she was twenty where it counted.)

Today’s funeral was also unexpected but unlike my grandmother’s passing, there was no comfort in mourning a long life well lived.  My friend Beth’s thirteen year old boy had enjoyed  Christmas with his parents but was feeling a little under the weather in the days afterward.  He was having a few typical asthma symptoms – he’d had it his whole life – but when he started running a fever New Year’s Eve, as a precaution she took him to the emergency room since her doctor’s offices were closed. Six hours and multiple heart attacks later, he died on the operating room table during emergency surgery.

A virus attacked his heart.

He was her only child.

I’ve known Beth for years.  We were often grouped together at  Bible Study because our boys were similar ages and she would often submit prayer requests for him, her family, and for herself as she parented him.  I watched her son grow up.  Since we attend the same church, I saw him most every week at the church library where he’d be checking out books and waiting for his mom to meet him there.  I’d speak to him most times I saw him and exchanged pleasantries with Beth.  I just saw him a couple of weeks ago as he sat in the corner, swinging his leg over the arm of the chair as she talked with someone.

I hope I said “hello” that day.

I hope I meant it.

The funeral home visitation was last night.  The boys didn’t want to go – he was a year ahead of them and they didn’t know him well and since Craig had a meeting and wouldn’t be able to go with me and help explain what to expect, I went alone.  I managed to hold it together while I stood in line but, honestly, had a hard time maintaining composure when I saw his little body clad in blue jeans and a favorite t-shirt, lifeless hands holding his Bible and a Nerf gun.  I think I wrote jokingly of Nerf guns just yesterday.  Somehow, it doesn’t seem so funny any more.  Now it’s just heartbreaking.

I could barely whisper the words “I’m so, so sorry” over and over as I hugged her and we shared tears. I offered my prayers.  Which, honestly, sounded hollow and trite in light of her grief.  She thanked me and said they were helping her get out of bed in the mornings.

There were people in line behind me and so I moved on but I wasn’t quite ready to leave so I sat for a few minutes in a chair near the front and listened to her as she spoke with others who had come to share comfort.  And then I heard them, the words that have haunted my thoughts for what I hope is the rest of my life.  She was speaking to a friend and relating how overwhelmed they were at all the people who had come to the funeral home.

“My son” she said, “knew that his dad and I loved him.  I don’t think he knew that others did, too.”

Those words have sat on my heart in quiet condemnation all day.

How many kids need to hear that they are loved?  I have a dozen boys other than my own running through my house on a regular basis.  They know I can be counted on to give them Oreos and Sprite and show them where I keep the dart refill packs but can I be counted on to love them?  It’s easy to sling hash and deal with stains and a sticky floor and decibel levels that would rival a Who concert but that’s service without skin in the game.  It’s messy to get involved with these young ones.  Sometimes, dare I say it, it’s honestly really hard.  They talk back, they challenge authority, they can be annoying and immature.  AND THEY SMELL.  But I was painfully reminded this week that I may not have them forever.

God forbid that they walk out of my house one more time without knowing I care because I don’t want to sit at another funeral in regret over what I didn’t say.

Rest in the arms of Jesus, Kevan, and bask in the perfect love of your Saviour.


So we’ve been on a cleaning frenzy around the house.  The only rooms left untouched are the front office which doesn’t have a purpose or theme unless you count housing the boxes of Craig’s office paraphernalia that he hasn’t unpacked since we moved in July and my upstairs junk craft room stacked with boxes and boxes of photographs that I meant to scrapbook when I was in my Creative Memories phase that lasted about six months.

Which was enough time for me to buy all the stuff that was going to make me a world-class scrapper and then decide that maybe it wasn’t for me.

Kinda’ the story of my life with every.single.hobby I’ve ever had.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, cleaning.  ANYWAY, the boys were tasked with picking up the guest room which doubles as a play room when no one’s visiting and I thought it might motivate them to finish the job quicker if I offered an incentive and so I suggested that we’d go get haircuts when they finished and then spent the next four hours wondering why they didn’t move any faster.

We finally made it out of the house and to the mall by 1:30 (we are so on vacation schedule) where we were in and out of SportsClips with minimal crying and Mom the boys decided we had enough time to browse Target for a little while so we enjoyed forty-five minutes in the toy aisle and forty-five seconds in any aisle that I wanted to see.

I didn’t buy anything fun except for a box of discounted generic winter cards for the Christmas New Year’s President’s Day letters I haven’t sent yet and a cup of coffee at the Starbucks because my nerves were a little jangly after having said “No, you can’t buy that. You already spent your allowance three days into the month.” a thousand times.  Then we came home and tidied up in preparation for the boys’ Bible study group that meets at our house every other week and why I pick up is beyond me because six seconds after they descend upon us, it’s flying Nerf bullets and swinging swords (you only think I’m kidding) and general mayhem and destruction while they get their wiggles out before sitting down to talk about Jesus and being kind one to another in between the poking, the punching, and generally beating the crap out of each other.

And a good time was had by all.

Have a nice day.


Hello, I’m a Mac

Over the weekend Craig my technical support team decided it was getting a little complicated to manage multiple operating systems and he changed my home computer to a Mac.

And I am now all thumbs.

Where’s my Control Alt Del function?  And my backspace?  And how to I jump from word to word, or open a new window? And why does the screen suddenly disappear when I do something that was perfectly acceptable when I was a PC?


Susan.  Open to change since 1969.

We had a delightful Christmas week and I got some beautiful gifts that I would show you IF I KNEW HOW TO GET THEM OFF MY PHONE AND ONTO MY NEW COMPUTER but my favorite part of the holiday was getting to spend ten whole days with Craig.

Lemme’ tell you, that boy was ready to go to work today and have more than six inches of space from his wife. It may or may not have had something to do with the eight thousand things on the to-do list.  7,999 of which was the number of loads of laundry that needed to be done.

Putting the Christmas decorations away started us on a two-day cleaning and purging frenzy.  I somehow managed to convince the kids that cleaning closets was part of the New Year tradition and if they wanted to participate in all the grandeur of the holidays, they needed to start with the sock drawer.

That kept them busy for the better part of eight hours.

ADD is a beautiful thing.

We did a few home projects like raise the chandelier in the den so people wouldn’t whack their heads on it (and all those people said, “AMEN”) and hit a few of the after-Christmas sales for winter coats (Lands End squall coats were ridiculously marked down – go now!) but otherwise stayed close to home and close to each other.

The kids are still out on break for three more weeks but I’m channeling my inner homeschooler and making them do some studying and review for subjects in which they’re struggling in school.  Report cards were a little, um, what’s the word, horrid so beatings will continue until morale improves they’re going through Mom Boot Camp for the next nine weeks to see if we can’t bring them up a tad.

And Boot Camp will begin just as soon as I can figure out how to add a printer.

Have a nice day.