Monthly Archives: August 2013

Five on Friday

I’d say it’s been a super productive week but the three baskets of laundry waiting to be washed would quickly out me as a liar. Last weekend was filled with friends, late nights, poor food choices, and wonderful experiences; this week has been recovery from all of that.

No, we weren’t that wild and crazy.  It’s just that three nights of staying up past my bedtime (totally worth it, by the way) left my defenses a little low and I caught some sort of respiratory bug that’s kept the energy levels low and the couch occupied for a good part of the week.

Today’s Five: Scenes from a weekend.

1.  Our friends, B and K (equally enigmatically known as ImNotNed and Momologuer in the comments section) spent the weekend with us.

And this is a love, that a man driveth on I-95 on a Friday afternoon for a friend.

Once we got the kids to bed, K smilingly handed me a bag of what I thought were magazines (she and I share a love for flipping through them) and when I peeked inside, may or may not have screamed.

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Not only that?  We received it as a Christmas gift on the

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What are the odds????

We laughed heartily that her diary clearly reflected she’d grow up to be a science major and that I’d do something wordy.

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That’s all she wrote in it.

That’s it!

It also could have been that she was outdoorsy, played sports, and was more circumspect than her friend Susan but we’re going to heavily gloss over that.

Yep, skip it like a rock on a pond.

Diary girls, finally out of middle school

Diary girls, finally out of middle school

2.  The weather was spectacular on Saturday so we went downtown and took the kids to the museum, an outdoor lunch at Sonic with Krispy Kremes for dessert, and then to the swimming pool for the afternoon to work off the Sonic and Krispy Kreme.

Or laze in the sun.

Same, same.

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Roaring like an acanthosaurus

Roaring like an acanthosaurus

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3.  Now that my kids are old enough, we have built-in babysitters for date nights when the families are together.  The four adults went out Saturday night dinner date and capped the evening with an International Space Station watch party in the parking lot of North Hills Mall.

And, no, we didn’t at all look silly looking up at the sky.

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And we were soon rewarded for making fools of ourselves our patience.

#filter #filter #filter

4.  Months ago when we were scheduling B and K’s visit, we didn’t know they’d be here for such a special occasion.  A couple of weeks ago, Tommy asked us if he could be baptized at our church’s annual outdoor picnic and baptism ceremony.

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It was an absolutely beautiful evening and the fellowship and community from our church family was, oh, so sweet. It was also a precious moment to share with our friends who stood with us the day we dedicated our children to the Lord when they were babies; to see one of them dedicate his own life to his Savior years later was an indescribable moment.

Tommy baptism

Funny note:  In the video, watch Tommy bend his knees before going in.  Our executive pastor (in blue above) told us afterward that he told Tommy, who had him by several inches and pounds, that he was going to need a little help to get out of this one unscathed.

We joked with him about putting that Tech degree to good use – it was gravity going down and pure physics coming up.


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5.  Thanks, friends.  I don’t know how we got so lucky.

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Until the next time.

Have a nice day.


Five on Friday: The Dear Diary Edition

It’s been a fun trip through yesteryear but the time has come to burn some pages end this series and return to the office project derailed a week ago when I found The Box of Treasures.  Letters, pictures, and scrapbooks are still scattered across the floor and I really need to get them picked up and put away before company comes for the weekend.

We have new memories to make.

Usually Five on Friday is the quickest post of the week to write but not this one.  I couldn’t figure out how to neatly tie the last few entries together (you’re reading at least the 10th 11th 12th revision) and not turn each of them into 1,500 word dissertations.  So I’ve erased everything and they are submitted without comment.  Maybe one day, the words will come.

Today’s theme: What I Learned.

1.  I lived some experiences that most kids don’t.

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School was only 1/2 day on Monday. Tuesday they canceled it because of the political riots and manifestations. Wednesday they suspended it a 1/2 day and today and tomorrow are canceled. Things are pretty much chaos now in the city.


2.  But I also had some very normal ones.

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Our kitty is missing and no one is doing anything about it. That makes me MAD.

3. I snuck around and did things I shouldn’t have.

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I went to a disco with Gloria. If anyone finds out, I’m sunk.

4. But I also did some things I should.

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My GPA is 3.95!

5. Most importantly, I loved (and was loved) well.

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Laurie is my B.F.

Have a nice day.


To my three sons,

It’s been almost thirty years since I last wrote in the book you’ll one day find in the attic.  I’m still amused by what I thought was important, chastened by some of my less-than-mature emotions and behaviors, chagrined at my neediness and clinginess, but also proud to see glimpses of maturity as I tried, failed, and tried again.  When you read it years from now, you’re going to see insecurity written all over the page. You know why?

Because being a teenager is hard.

Really, really hard.

You’re learning how to make your way in a big world and when you first start out, you get it wrong way more than you get it right.  I promise that your mom wasn’t always a hot mess though hot mess makes for good blog fodder.  I had close friends and rich experiences mixed in with that healthy dose of struggle.

But guess what?

It’s part of growing up.

I wasn’t the only fiery, melodramatic girl in the world and if you meet one who says she never was, it’s only because she hasn’t yet found her old diary hidden in the attic.  It’s stating the obvious when I say I didn’t do a stellar job of keeping my emotions in check; you are already doing better than I.

You inherited that from your dad.

And all God’s people said “Amen.”

You’re not “a thing” with anyone special just yet but you have started to casually mention a girl or two specifically by name so I know what’s  just around the corner. After reading what I did, I’m going to do my level best to help you navigate the waters, knowing only you can hold the oars.  I’ll try not to dismiss your tender feelings toward others as you grow; it’s tricky and hormones complicate everything but I do know that young love means something and sometimes it can be true.  Tread carefully, cautiously, honestly and honorably.

There are other stories you will learn (the doozies are dog-eared, have fun), but I hope you can overlook the stupid stuff and see the one character trait of your mother that I hope remains true to the day I die:  she was  fiercely loyal to those she loved.  Those friends she wrote of?  Years later they, along with precious ones gathered in her college years,  are still in her life and she loves them even more, this time in a healthy way, secure in who she is, deeply (so very deeply) appreciative for their shared experience.

Old memories and lifelong friends are priceless, boys.

Love well.


A mis amigos y amigas desde infancia,

Gracias por compartir sus vidas conmigo.

Los quiero mucho.


Dear Diary: One flew over the cuckoo’s nest

This week I’m pulling entries from my diary and telling stories that make me laugh, squirm, and wonder how any of us survive childhood.

Today’s story starts when, after re-reading my diary, I’d jokingly posted a Facebook status update apologizing for anything I’d ever said or done from 1981-1987. My childhood friends, a tight-knit group whose bond is strong, forged in the crucible of the boarding school experience, soon joined in a long string of comments, howling along with me.

About halfway into the conversation, I mentioned the reams of pages dedicated to my old boyfriend, Tim, and Laurie wryly said that she had been waiting to see how long it was before his name showed up.

Bless her heart, she was my best friend and had a first class ticket to that crazy train.

And then Tim chimed in saying if he’d kept a diary there certainly would have been a page or two there about me and we all had a big laugh,  fairly certain every line would have either said, “What have I gotten myself into?” or “Susan is certifiably insane.”

I might have been a wee bit clingy.

And a whole lot immature.

If I hadn’t written some experiences down, they would have been lost forever.  Others, though, I didn’t have to put on paper; they became legend, ingrained in life’s fabric, moving with me in an ethereal way, shading and shaping in unwitting ways. And that’s how it was with Tim.

I have more written in my diary about him, my long-time friend and on-and-off again boyfriend, than anybody else.  The first entry is dated 1983, but it’s not the first time we met.  He and I were pals in the early boarding school days.  We ran with the same pack and not only did I think he was loads of fun but his sister was also one of my best friends which made it all just perfect.  It was only a matter of time before he and I were A THING.

Well, as much of a thing as you can be when you’re 8 years old.

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Mostly that thing entailed running to the dorm after school to grab an extra treat for him from my snack box to share while we sat up in the trees in the afternoon, spying on the kids running around campus.

Food as a love language goes way back.

It was in those treetops where we first kissed, thinking we were hidden from prying eyes. Not until we climbed down did we realize we’d been discovered by a teacher (Aunt Julie, for the Huehue Academy friends reading today) who, unbeknownst to us, happened to be bird-watching and saw us through her binoculars. There she stood, waiting for us on the path back to the dorms.

I froze.

Expulsion was now certain but the fate worse than death would be having to face my father who was not going to be happy about his daughter kissing on a boy,  and a Methodist boy to boot. Oh, this was going to be bad.

She greeted us with a sly smile and without letting on she knew what we’d been doing, she told us about a pair of lovebirds she’d been watching with her binoculars in the trees and although they were darling and clearly having loads of fun, sadly, they flew away and she was quite certain she would never see them again.

Wink, wink.

And we said, “Yes, ma’am.”

“Heard you LOUD AND CLEAR, ma’am.”

“Nope, never will see those birds again, ma’am.”

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4th grade play – Tim as the Scarecrow and I as Dorothy.
I know, dreamy.

My memory is a little fuzzy about where we left things when I went to the US at the end of the school year for our 1979 furlough, but we must have still been an item at least in my head because Mom says I was all about writing him letters while we were stateside and she remembers a  particularly impassioned one mailed with great haste after discovering he’d started going out with someone else while I was gone.


Apparently I chewed him up one side and down another (beware a 10 year old girl’s righteous indignation), laying into him about how could he DARE betray me in such a way and he was a low-lying weasel.  So there!

And then I ended it with a heartfelt P.S. that I was still available if he wanted to get back together.

Sus, failing Relationship Rules 101 from the get-go.

I’d like to think he’d have ditched that old hussy for me but I didn’t have a chance to find out because his family left the country for reasons I can’t recall before we returned to Guatemala and I was devastated, DEVASTATED, I tell you. So devastated that I wrote about sixteen different boys with whom I fell madly in love in middle school over the next 24 months.

You know, heartbroken.

Barely hanging on.

Three years later, though, his family returned and this entry from October, 1983, picks up the story right where we’d left off.  Those old feelings? Instantly rekindled but this time flamed hotter by 13 year-old hormones that had kicked into high gear.

His hormones were burning bright, though, for Cyndi Lopez.

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Oh, jealousy. That green-eyed monster that would trip me up for years to come.

It didn’t seem to bother me too much; after this entry I didn’t mention him for months when I noted he’d broken up with her and we were both dating other people. But it was apparent that our friendship had hit a good stride and was meaningful. I wrote several times that we’d spoken by phone or hung out in groups together.  Yes, my tree-top buddy was back, and life was good.

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As I turned the pages, there were signs that the friendship started to blossom into something more. We’d ditched our respective boyfriend/girlfriend and we were once again A THING,  just in time for me to, you guessed it, leave for another year-long furlough.

Sus, also failing Timing Rules 101 from the get-go.

This time, leaving was harder.

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I was in love.

And being 15 and away from all you hold dear?   There was no easy way around it. My body might have been in America but my heart just wasn’t there.

It was back home with my boyfriend.


Tim, taking advantage of Out of Sight, Out of Mind from the get-go.

And I was wrecked and ripped those pages out of the diary years ago but it wasn’t for long. Soon after returning from furlough we had a brief summer renewal of our relationship (I take perverse pleasure that he broke up with Becky a week after I got back) but, sadly, ran out of time.  Tim had to go, headed back to the States to finish high school, and this time, I was the one left behind.

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And that’s when the reams of tear-stained emotional vomit start hijacking the diary.

I will spare all of us those pages.

It’s beyond maudlin.

I may have actually yelled out loud while reading them, “Girl, you needed to GET A GRIP.”

But while I get that grip, let’s all bask in the glory of “our song” that I played on repeat for a good six months while I cried and pined enough to reforest Brazil.

Yes, it took a long time to get my footing.  Tim and I would still keep in touch – there are entries for almost two years referencing letters we’d written, working through hurt feelings (mostly mine; I’d perfected the art of milking a heartbreak, I’m pretty sure he’d moved on long before) and page-long passages where I’d argue with myself and with him and, slowly, the mentions start to dwindle and at long last, when I was easing out of 17, the last entry with his name shows up where I’d finally and dramatically come to a peaceful place about this roller coaster of a healthy/toxic, happy/sad, innocent/powerful relationship which  lasted half my life.

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Again with the missionary kids bringing Jesus into everything and making it holy.


Memories are tricky and snippets and snapshots don’t always convey the totality of truth. I can only imagine Tim’s version of events; he’s graciously given me permission to tell mine.  A lot of turbulent water ran under our bridge but the streams run peacefully now, a byproduct of time and maturity. We’re friends, not the kind that make spouses nervous, but cherished ones who know a part of each other’s story, respect and honor it, and carry it lightly.

Sometimes it takes an awful lot of fluttering for a lovebird to finally leave the nest.

Dear Diary: You win some, you lose some to a blonde

This week I’m pulling entries from my diary and telling stories that make me laugh, squirm, and wonder how any of us survive  childhood.

Even when clasped shut, the diary bulges in spots. It’s because I’m a hoarder and saved notes and tucked them into the pages where they were dutifully referenced and numbered and read and (262)

I still have the note that my first boyfriend, Tim, sent me in the 3rd grade, “Will you go out with me? Circle Yes or No”, the note from my friend Kenny in Jr. High asking what the answer to #7 was, and even notes drafted and never sent, a sign that I’d chickened out rethought my strategy at the last minute.

The first two notes in this diary are from Timmy, my 6th grade boyfriend (not to be confused with nine year-old Tim above, whom you’ll meet another day).

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Within two weeks of being back at boarding school, little Susie had landed her a man.  Timmy Henriques was a doll.  He had a gorgeous head of hair, chocolate-brown eyes, and dimples.  He was also a good foot shorter than I but I was not going to let that stand in the way because TRUE LOVE doesn’t notice those differences.   I remember when he asked me out. We were sitting on the swings at recess and he just sort blurted out that he’d like to “go out” with me and what girl can resist that sort of directness?  I blushed, said “yes”, and swung a little higher.  That was it; we were a couple.

We weren’t really allowed to have dating relationships at school.  The rules precluded any male and female from being within a foot of each other, handholding was strictly forbidden, and you could get expelled for kissing.  Even though we all, for the most part, obeyed the rules about physical contact except for when I didn’t, it didn’t stop us from being secret boyfriend and girlfriend with someone every other week.

Oh, life with Timmy was wonderful.  We played together at recess, endured the teasing of friends (jealous, all jealous), walked together on our forced Saturday hiking excursions (which for a non-outdoorsy person like yours truly were akin to Back to Bataan), and passed notes in nightly study hall.

According to the diary, I sent Timmy a note and can only infer that I grilled him about why he asked me out.  Was it my good looks?  My charm?  The sassy way I wore my wraparound skirt with the clunky Dr. Scholl’s?

Forget about you.  Tell me all about me, me, me!

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Note 1 from Timmy said that he asked me out because he liked me and thought I was cute and nice and he told me to write him more notes.  Well, that’s all the encouragement I needed.  The next entry references the two-page missive I sent him and the very next day, he sent me not one, but two notes, carefully catalogued and expressing strong sentiments that I’m sure I’d already declared.

When you’re young, not truly knowing the person who asked you out yesterday isn’t a hindrance to passionate declarations of love.

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Sorry, Tim, I showed somebody. I think the statute of limitations expires after thirty years.

And just as quickly as we’d found love, it started waning.

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What could have sparked such a lover’s tiff so soon in our relationship?  Well, poor Timmy made the mistake of commenting on a dorm-mom’s underwear drying on the clothesline and I got horribly offended because it WAS JUST NOT RIGHT TO SAY “GIRDLE” IN FRONT OF A LADY.

So I dutifully and emphatically noted he was wrong and on a morally dubious path to perdition.

And engaged in a little self-congratulations for finishing my assignments.

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But then, the sadness.  As it turns out, I didn’t have a chance to break up with Timmy because he broke up with me first.  And it had nothing to do with the fact he had a psycho girlfriend on his hands, but everything to do with Kathy Owen, the reason for my life-long inherent suspicion of blondes.  Beautiful Kathy Owen with her Farrah Fawcett hair and ridiculous curves who, by the mere fact of being a little older and more stunningly gorgeous than the rest of us, could boss us around and announce who she would deign to date, snap her fingers and the boys would come running.

But I wasn’t bitter about it.

Oh, no. 




And it didn’t help that she sent me this note where she rubbed it in my face and had the nerve to throw God in the midst of her condescension.

Missionary kids know how to infuse everything with THE WORD OF THE LORD and turn it into a holy moment.

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So there it was, the promising beginning and the flaming end of Timmy Henriques and I, all in the span of two and a half pages.

And plenty of fiery references to stuck up blonde girls for days to come.

To be continued….

Have a nice day.

Dear Diary: In which I played for the other team


This week I’m giving the back story to my middle school diary entries. Join me as I laugh, squirm with embarrassment, and wonder how anyone ever escapes childhood unscathed.

Growing up in a country where political upheaval was a way of life, it doesn’t surprise me to find a diary entry talking about the government.  What did catch me off guard was that it was a negative comment on the changing US leadership and President Ronald W. Reagan.

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This coming from someone who is currently right of Attila the Hun?

Maybe it’s because of our shared Baptist affiliation, but I was clearly not happy that Mr. Jimmy had lost the election.  I remember expressing my displeasure to another teacher who made the remark that OF COURSE we would have preferred Carter because we were from the South and all Southerners were Democrats.

I didn’t really know what to do with that information but remember it bugged me because it was said with an obvious intensity of feeling.  This nagging thought would later push me to explore and, ultimately, love politics. 

And then the next day, the news of the freed American hostages had reached Guatemala.  What had not reached me, though, was the right word to appropriately describe their condition.

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Really, Susan?


Maybe it’s because I was sick and going to bed early.

Or because I was a Democrat.

Have a nice day.


In which I hit the jackpot

Craig and I spent a couple of hours Saturday afternoon running around town looking for a few things to help make better use of the space in the upstairs craft room.  I was specifically looking for a card table (which, newsflash, people under 30 have no idea what that is) and while this adventure could be in and of itself an entire week’s worth of posts, the point is we found it, returned home, and in the process of going through boxes to make space for the table, stumbled across my middle school diary which bears a striking resemblance to early 80s advertisements for feminine hygiene products.

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Entries 1 and 2

Besides the startling realization that my parents let an 11 year-old stay up way later than I let my 14 year-olds, three things stand out: 1) I had a deep and abiding love for the word “stuff”; 2) it was clearly important to document what I ate; and 3) NOTHING HAS CHANGED THIRTY-TWO YEARS LATER.

Upon finding this book, all productivity for the day ceased.  I sat cross-legged on the floor and turned page after page, howling with laughter, dying of embarrassment, and wondering how my parents managed to shepherd me through those years without turning to drugs and alcohol.

The drama, people, THE DRAMA.

I was surprised at how many events got pushed to the deep recesses of my mind, inconsequential now, but seemingly of THE UTMOST IMPORTANCE EVER at the time they occurred and was also amused/mildly chagrined at how completely and utterly boy crazy I was.

Which is the polite way to say that had it been today, I’d be arrested for stalking.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun this week to take an entry or two and tell some stories. Most of them will take place at boarding school, to where my diary and I flew in a little Cessna a week after I got it.

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And where we went to bed early.

To be continued….

Have a nice day.


This will be funny 20 years from now

“Hi, honey. How was your day?”

“Great! We had our yearbook pictures made.”


Have a nice laugh day.