Monthly Archives: September 2013

Five on Friday: Pictures o’ Random

1.  Ten minutes to post this morning because it’s an early release day and I have to run some errands before the kids get home at noon and by running errands I mean browsing TJ Maxx and Marshalls and snagging the last grande, extra hot, skinny, vanilla latte before the first quarter break begins.

Have to fortify the spirit before seeing the report cards, you know.

2.  The creative winds blew steadily this week.  My in-laws brought twenty pounds of apples to us from the orchards near their home so I spent most of Tuesday becoming best friends with the vegetable peeler and the canning pot.  I put up six quarts of applesauce and several half-pints of jam called Apple Pie in a Jar and then turned the second project which I saw on Pinterest and involved gathering a mess of things that looked like fall and sticking them in bucket.

Uncredited picture shamelessly stolen from Pinterest

Uncredited picture shamelessly stolen from Pinterest

I tried to find a bucket at the thrift shop but they were asking $45 for it so I bought a brand new one at half the price at Ace and figured that a month outside in the elements would do the trick.  It didn’t turn out exactly the same (cannot find Indian corn anywhere in town) but I’m happy with the results and the deck looks cheery.

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3.  And while we’re on subject of craftiness, this screenshot from the Twitter account of the Queen of Crafts has made me giggle more than once.  Be sure not to miss the first response to her tweet.  It’s my vote for Tweet of the Week.

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4.  When flipping through my camera roll last night, I found this screenshot which reminded me that I meant to have a conversation with Tommy about spelling and vocabulary.

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5.  In closing, this picture scrolled through my Facebook feed last week (photographer unknown) and it made me so happy, I wanted to share it with you to close out today’s post. My family spent many wonderful vacations wandering the streets of Panajachel on the shores of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala and it is one of my very favorite places on the planet.

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I hope you enjoyed this little moment of zen.

Have a nice day.

Monday Musings

1.  Last week was the fun kind of busy getting ready for company.  Craig’s parents were coming to celebrate his dad’s birthday with us so I had a lot of motivation to get the house presentable.

There’s clean and then there’s mother-in-law clean.

I try to keep fresh sheets on the upstairs guest bed so that it’s ready for unexpected guests but JJ has started sleeping in there on occasion (so he can play with Nerf guns and I can’t see that the light’s still on) so they needed changing.  As I was unfolding the clean ones to swap out, I had a little misty moment because it was clear that my mother was the one who last folded them when they were visiting in late spring.

How could I tell?

The fitted sheet was indistinguishable from the flat one.

I.

Am.

So.

Adopted.

2.  My in-laws are easy company.  They enjoy knocking around and running errands while they’re in The Big City so while my father-in-law spent some time at the dealership getting something on his car looked at, my mother-in-law and I went shopping.  After almost eighteen years of shopping together, we understand each other’s shopping strategy perfectly.  There’s generally a plan of attack, no excessive dawdling, copious amounts of enabling, and always, and I do mean always, time for a sit-down lunch.  We went to Michael’s for some fall decorating items (working on a Pinterest back deck project), to Pier One for some accent pillows for the couch, J. Jill for some layering shirts to wear with jeans/under cardigans, and then to Chico’s to pick up a birthday present for a friend (no link to that one because she might read today).  We lunched at Zest because Craig still refuses to eat at the girly place with me and then wrapped up our spree at SRI Shoe Warehouse before hightailing it home to beat the school bus.

A very  good time was had by all.

Birthday brownies + pistachio ice cream = one happy man

Birthday brownies + pistachio ice cream = one happy man

3.  Speaking of fall decorating, I’m almost done with mine.  I used last year’s wreath on the front door again, switched out pillows in the living room and den, and picked up a few decorator items at Homegoods for the fireplace mantle.  While wandering the aisles looking for a unifying theme, I had the opportunity to be on the receiving end of someone’s unsolicited opinion that my choice of glittery wheat stalks was “not very organic”.  Two aisles later, she was opining on the grouping of acorns I had in my hand.  I didn’t quite know what to make of it and left before she could talk me out of the rest of the stuff in my basket.

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I hope she’s happy with the results.

4.  Completely unrelated to anything here, I’m listening to the Sandi Patty Radio channel on Pandora while I’m typing.  It’s my new favorite; I’ve had to stop more than once just to have a worshipful moment before continuing to write.  Listening to Travis Cottrell sing In Christ Alone was a foretaste of glory divine and though I’ve told Craig more than once, it bears repeating that it must be played at my funeral and it’s okay if all those Baptists get a little Pentecostal when they hear it because I cannot listen to it without raising hands to heaven.  I might even come back from the dead to sing along.

5.  There was a song in my heart last night when we got back from church.  Someone, and I don’t know who, left a care package of homemade brownies and coffee for me just outside the garage door.  The accompanying unsigned note was full of encouragement; she said she was thinking of me as I navigated the school year and praying  God’s warm blessings into my heart each morning.

Dear anonymous friend, it’s driving me crazy that I don’t know who you are. If I did, I’d invite you over this morning to hang out in the den where we’d drink that coffee together.

Thank you so very much.  I raise my mug to you, and may God return the blessing tenfold.

Have a nice day.

Monday Musings

Did anyone watch the Miss America pageant last night?  Craig and I like to watch (oh, he’ll kill me for outing him) and we compete with each other to see who has the most accurate pass-through rate from one element to another.  We sit on opposite sides of the couch so no one can see each other’s notepad (yes, we write everything down so there’s no going back and changing your answers after the fact), offer constructive criticism with a passion others might reserve for a  sporting event, and talk about those girls needing a biscuit while we stuff our mouths with Sweet Chili Doritos with Whopper chasers.

Fun times, my friends, fun times.

We both picked Miss New York to be crowned as the winner (the Bollywood dance clinched it) though he has bragging rights for the year because his accuracy was better overall – he picked 75% of the girls who made it past the second round, 90% of those who made it past the third, and had the final five in the right order. I don’t know how he does it and he doesn’t either, regretting that the skill doesn’t carry over to selecting the winning teams for his football pick ’em league.

Oh, Tampa Bay, you’re a perennial heartbreaker.

In other news, the weekend was interesting.  Craig and I went to a fundraiser dinner Saturday night as guests of a new friend in the neighborhood.  It was fun to dress up (thank you, Fran, via a Twitter version of What Not To Wear), hear an interesting speaker and watch people spend more money than I had during the live auction.  The first item up for bid was a gorgeous quilt and I nudged Craig under the table so he’d know it might be something I’d like to have but quickly discovered we weren’t in Kansas anymore when the bidding was over $2,000 within seconds.

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We spent the rest of the evening trying not to even blink lest the auctioneer be mistaken and we be bankrupt.

Sunday morning was church and we continued our process of finding a new class.  As we took our seats and I tried to not break out in hives, my phone buzzed with an incoming text and there was a beautiful note from Deena, letting me know she was praying for us all the way from Texas as we looked for a new community.

Tears.

Friend, you love well.

The class members were welcoming, we saw a few familiar faces, and left after service with our spirits a little more accepting of the process.  It’s just going to take time and patience.

And attitude, Susan.

And attitude.  

No big plans for this week.  It’s filled with glamorous errands; taking the cat to the vet for his last shot, buying groceries for my people and washing their clothes.  We have company arriving Thursday so I should probably start procrastinating about tidying as well.

If only there was a crown for that.

Have a nice day.

One on Friday: In which Sus is sad because they moved her cheese

Out of sorts is probably the best way to describe the state of discontent, uneasiness, and unsettledness in which I currently reside.

Community is a valuable word to me.  By nature an introvert, I prefer a smaller, close circle of friends with whom I can enter into meaningful relationships .  The stability of those friendships grounds me because one can handle the erratic nature of the day-to-day knowing the constancy and dependability of community is there to walk with you. I have several communities dear to me – childhood and college friends, work colleagues from the DC days, this blog (can you believe it will be five years old this fall?) – but many who fall in these groups are scattered.  They live all across the country, even the world, and for that reason, my local church community figures as one of the most important to me in terms of daily life.

I’ve attended my church for over 10 years and have been fortunate for the last four to be a part of a wonderful Sunday School class that has been instrumental in helping me put one foot in front of the other, week after week after week.  We’ve laughed, mourned, served, celebrated, prayed, played, and lived life together.  New baby?  Take a meal.  Moving? I’ll bring the truck.  Kid failing in school?  We’re going to pray him to the next grade and support you while you help him. It’s with this group that I could be honest, flip, glib, and serious.

These are my people.

But this past week, because of a need to make room at our later worship service, class assignments for the kids changed and Craig and I have been forced to attend a different hour in order to accommodate the kids’ new schedule.

I’ve lost my people.

And I am bereft.

Maybe a little over the top but I love the word.

For someone who values flexibility and spontaneity, I have not taken to this change well. Sunday mornings were the highlight of my week; gabbing on the back row with the fellow rabble-rousers, catching up with the other moms I couldn’t see during the week, looking forward to the lesson (seriously!), and recharging my batteries for the week ahead with a group of people who knew how to support and encourage each other. It was my community, my haven, people I’d walked with for years, my very happy, loud, noisy, joyful place.  And now it’s gone.

We walked into the new class this week.  Yes, there were familiar faces but it was different.  It was quiet, smaller, sad.  We’re all mourning and I’m feeling unmoored in a place that has always been my anchor.  I’m fighting resentment, trying to be an adult about the reality of the situation but it’s hard.  Loyalty, stability, friendship – these aren’t abstract concepts – these are core values for me and they’ve been upended. My community is leveled and without sounding too melodramatic BECAUSE WE KNOW THAT NEVER HAPPENS AROUND HERE I feel like all I have left is splinters with which to rebuild.

Craig says I’ll find my footing in the new place. Maybe by gathering the splinters together, adding some new attitude, and mixing it all with a little time, I can make a stepping stone towards a new home.

I really liked my old one, though.

Have a nice day.

5oF: You’re the meaning in my life, you’re the inspiration

Hello, Friday.  The sun is shining, the leaves on the tree at the corner are turning color, and Craig is in-flight, returning from California.

It is a happy day.

This morning I started thinking over the events of the week in search of a theme for today’s Five and the word “inspiration” kept coming back to me.

1.  I was inspired to get a little more organized.  Craig and I are a great morning team getting the kids out the door to school and when he’s gone, I have to either get up earlier to make the magic happen or plan ahead and I think we all know how popular that getting up earlier option is. I spent an hour last Sunday afternoon getting breakfasts made so we were never more than two minutes in the microwave from getting something hot and filling into the kids.

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I scrambled a dozen eggs, cooked a package of frozen hash browns and a pound of sausage, and rolled a spoonful of each into burrito-sized tortillas and froze them. I also tried a similar recipe for breakfast empanadas  that used bread as the transport medium.  (They’re really good sprinkled with Crystal’s hot sauce.)

2.  Several friends of mine are in difficult places right now.  I thought of them when I saw this picture of a camel in the desert.  Many people think of the desert as a hot, desolate place and it certainly can be.  But for the camel,  the sand and the heat are with him every day and he thrives.  What does he see?  It’s certainly something different from what we observe.

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In the midst of desert spaces, there’s always a fresh perspective to be had.

3.  I was refreshed this week by celebrating my parents’ 59th wedding anniversary.  Their marriage is a true partnership of strong individuals.  My mom is a formidable woman, determined, disciplined, strong as steel.  My father is brilliant, incisive, opinionated.  This could be a recipe for disaster but they are an incredible team, giving each other room to fly and exercise their gifts without interference and with great encouragement.  Learning from them has been an incredible blessing.  They taught me well as a child, but their influence on me as an adult has been greater still.

I love you, Mom and Dad.

4.  The leadership on display over this Syria situation does not inspire me.

Enough said.

5.  The Most Fascinating Person of the Week award goes to Diana Nyad.  Did you catch the story?  On Labor Day she  became the first person to swim from Cuba to Key West without a shark cage.

After 4 previous attempts spanning thirty years failed.

Oh, and she’s SIXTY-FOUR.

At forty-three, I can’t swim the length of the pool without stopping.

Twice.

Okay, three times.

The sheer physical accomplishment is tremendous, unthinkable, unimaginable.  Fifty hours of non-stop swimming, dodging stinging jellyfish, battling breathing difficulties, the wear and tear on the body from being in saltwater and sun for so long….it’s mind-boggling.  The  mental discipline, though, is to me the greater story.  How does someone who failed multiple times find a way to jump back in the water and keep going?  How did she keep negative thoughts from derailing her?  Had I been the one doing that (and let’s face it, I won’t because of a long-standing personal policy of not swimming in places where I a) can’t feel the bottom and b) am not on the highest rung on the food chain), the constant loop in my head would be “Why am I trying again?  This isn’t going work. When will something go wrong? Something always goes wrong.”

Negative self-talk. 

A Sus super-power.

Well done, Ms. Nyad.  I’ll be inspired by your example to never, ever give up for years to come.

I hope your week was equally inspiring.  Thanks for stopping by today.

Have a nice day.