Monthly Archives: August 2015

Five on Friday: The Inside Out Edition

Did you see Inside Out this summer? I was at a friend’s house yesterday and her teenaged daughter had the movie poster on her wall and it got me to thinking about what a blubbering mess I was when we saw it on opening weekend (Joy and Sadness holding hands just about did me in).  If you missed it or live under a rock and haven’t heard about it, get thee to the nearest Redbox when it comes out on video.  It’s worth the hour and 42 minutes of your time and is the inspiration for today’s Five.

Sadness:  My mom’s health isn’t in the best place right now and I’m sad she’s battling pain every single day.  And as much as I enjoy living in North Carolina, I would move to Oklahoma this afternoon if I could to cook meals, help clean house, drive her to appointments, and keep her company.  My dad is doing a phenomenal job at all of the above (there is rich beauty to behold in a 60+ year marriage) but I’m sad to not be physically present.

Fear: Spiders? Snakes? Reaching the end of your life without actualizing your dreams? Nope.  You wanna’ know pure, unadulterated terror?  Get in the passenger seat of your car and hand the keys to your 16-year-old.

I may not survive this phase.

Anger: I have a love/hate relationship with Twitter.  It satisfies a strong desire for ALL THE INFORMATION ALL THE TIME but that same information is irritating the living fire out of me.  The answer is, of course, deleting the app and lowering my blood pressure but I think it’s going to take an intervention and a 12-Step program before that happens.

Disgust:  Eggs Benedict, liver, ketchup on a hamburger, and watching my husband eat cold, leftover spaghetti for breakfast.

Joy: Seeing J approach his math homework more confidently, watching Tommy’s first football game of the season, listening to Travis talk excitedly about his PE class, and laughing late into the night with my husband.

Today I’m grateful for the range of emotions I’ve been given and for a Creator who uses them to build a deep character and a rich life.

Have a nice day.

The Great Growth Project – Chapter 3

If you enjoy seeing your husband with a deer in the headlights look about him, ask him to describe you in one word.  We were sitting on the couch last night, he was watching a football game and I was reading Chapter 3 of the Maxwell book.  The author was talking about how self-esteem influences or retards growth and, as an exercise in developing positive self-esteem, had the reader list 100 good qualities about themselves.

After writing down three things (“Generally punctual”, “Knows all the words to every ABBA song ever written” and “makes a mean guacamole”), I asked Craig to say one word that summed up my personality.

He froze.

“This is like that ‘Am I fat?’ question, isn’t it?  Is there a right answer?”

After assuring him this wasn’t a quiz, he thought long and hard and said, “Steadfast.”  It wasn’t a completely surprising word – a variant of “loyal” which is what he used to describe me to his best friend when he first told him he was thinking of marrying me – but sweet to hear nonetheless.  (I may have gotten a little misty which made him VERY NERVOUS that he’d picked the wrong word until I clarified I was delighted.  Bless his heart, he married a teary woman – it’s a hot mess around here most days.)

So now I have four things on the list and 96 to go.  It’s a helpful exercise to combat negative self-talk and it’s also forcing me to really think about who I am.

And that is someone who can still scare her husband after 19 years.

How would you describe yourself in one word?

Have a nice day.

Five on Friday

A bright spot in the week:  We have our second licensed driver in the span of 24 hours! Sweet JJ braved the lines at the DMV once more this afternoon and passed his test by the skin of his teeth with flying colors. The license examiners recognized us from yesterday and graciously allowed him to go straight to the testing computer without having to wait for his number to be called.  He was so thrilled to pass that he even smiled for this picture.

JJ Permit

A great article to read: I’ve been wanting to share this article about Stephen Colbert for a few days but have held off because it has a bad words in it and I generally don’t like to link to profanity. HOWEVER, the points he raises have churned in my mind for days now and I’ve decided it’s worth wading through the junk to get to the beautiful, important, and truth-filled soliloquy on the nature and, yes, gift of suffering.  Read, cogitate, discuss amongst yourselves.  It’s powerful, powerful stuff.

From the freezer: Have I mentioned school starts Monday?  It’s time to get the A-game going with meal prep around here. Suppers in the fall are tricky to pull off during the week because I have to leave the house every afternoon to pick up Tommy from football practice right at the time I’d normally be prepping supper.  I spent a little time last week getting some meals in the freezer to help make that process smoother.  Most of them were new recipes so I’m not going to recommend them just yet without having tried them but this one for balsamic grilled pork kabobs was very good.  (I froze the cubed pork in the marinade, then thawed, threaded on skewers, and grilled.)  The kids were big fans and I’ll make it again.


Personal growth moment:  Remember the book I talked about last week?  John Maxwell’s 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth?  I finished Chapter 2 this week and it talked about accountability in the areas in which you want to grow.  Because I’m really trying to put into practice the ideas he gives, I’ll be accountable here and say I made a decision two weeks ago to grow in three areas in the next six months:  spiritually by spending more time reading the Bible and praying specifically; physically by committing to a five-day-a-week exercise regimen; and personally by spending time writing either for the blog or the book project that lives in my head.  I’ve managed to generally stick to the plan and have started to see some positive gains already so I’m excited to continue growing and see what new adventures await when I get to Chapter 3 next week. Stay tuned.

Something for which to be thankful: Exercise goals notwithstanding, DID YOU HEAR THAT BLUE BELL’S COMING BACK???? And all God’s people said, “Amen.”

Have a nice day.

Mama needs a nerve pill

Today was one of those rites of passage sort of days in the life of a parent.  I took my babies down to the DMV so they could test for their learner’s permits.  They would be mortified to know I still call them “my babies” but that’s how old they looked while they were sitting in the chairs waiting for the state government to declare them eligible to drive large machinery on the road alongside thousands of other cars that recklessly exceed the speed limit and might possibly cause them harm.

BABIES, I tell you.

As joyful as the occasion was, there were, admittedly, moments of genuine sadness.  It happens on the big days when only two of the boys get to do fun things and I so desperately wish it were three. I’ve learned that it’s not healthy to stuff the feelings (I’ll just have to deal with them later) so I allowed myself a few minutes to privately grieve and fully acknowledge the disappointment but, mercifully, Travis wasn’t upset about what was happening and didn’t ask when it would be his turn so the fact that I didn’t have to make any explanation made it easier than it could have been.

And that is truly grace, friends.

JJ was studying like a fiend (he’s been reading the NC Driver’s handbook daily since his grandmother gave it to him for his birthday) and bemoaning a blemish on his face for his driver’s license picture (he is his mother’s son). Tommy borrowed J’s book for about 10 minutes before they called his number and, wouldn’t you know it, Tommy passed and JJ missed by one single question.


I might have been secretly relieved to have only one kid pass because I’d spent the hour and a half waiting time trying to figure out how I’d decide who got to drive us home.  Had I known the outcome, I would’ve spent the time gathering my nerves.  Once we got outside, I tried to delay the inevitable by volunteering to back the car out of the parking space and then let Tommy take over but he said he could back out just fine so I took a deep breath and handed over the keys and silently said both a prayer for protection and one of thanksgiving that we parked in the handicapped spot and there was plenty of room on either side of us.

My goal was to get home without involving anyone’s insurance company so with two possible ways to go, I took the one less traveled by hoping it would make all the difference, Robert Frost, but failed to notice that we had spent so long in the DMV that it was now the beginning of rush hour and the road I chose because it was a single lane, quieter route was now full of commuters anxious to get home and all trailing behind one VERY NERVOUS 16 YEAR OLD who was strictly observing the posted speed limit.

I only gripped the “oh !$#^@” handle and stomped on the imaginary brake twice on the fifteen minute drive (felt like three hours) and slightly corrected the steering wheel once so for a first outing, not bad.

And my legs only shook for 10 minutes after we got home.

The nerves? Well, they’re still a little jangly and are going to take a little longer to simmer down.  Maybe they’ll be better tomorrow when we go back and get to do this all over again.


Have a nice day. 

Monday (A)Musing

I woke up at 5:30 this morning and needed to get dressed just enough to not embarrass Tommy when I dropped him off at football practice so I grabbed and threw on the crumpled shorts that I’d worn Friday to his scrimmage, ran upstairs to wake him up, and we headed out through the garage.

Stepping towards the car, I enjoyed the coolish temperature but gradually became aware that I was feeling a little more breeze that usual in a particular place.  I put my hand on my behind to figure out why the wind was blowing through my britches and discovered a gaping tear from the waistband down along the entire length of the left back pocket.  The horror grew as I realized not only was I currently exposing my backside to my teenager, but also I had done the same to the entire home side of the field at Friday night’s football game.

And I was wondering why the bleachers felt so cold when I was sitting upon them.

And why the neighbor with whom I talked at the game was so quick to excuse himself.

Serenity now.

Here’s hoping your day started a little less exposed than mine.

Have a nice day.

Five on Friday

 On the nightstand: I usually read fluffy novels during the summer but a friend recommended John Maxwell’s The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth and so I started it this past week and thought my pen would run out of ink before getting to page three.  Usually I blaze through books unless they’re super thinky but he recommends taking one chapter per week and thinking through some of the applications he has so that’s the plan for the next few months.  My favorite quote for the week is “..if you focus on goals, you may hit goals but that doesn’t guarantee growth.  If you focus on growth, you will grow and always hit goals.”


In my makeup basket: One of the fun things we did in New York was get makeovers at the Yves St. Laurent counter at Bloomingdales.  My friend Cheryl swears by their products and scheduled appointments for all six of us so we could get gussied up and look fabulous for our night on the town.  I ended up buying a few items.  He put me in navy eyeliner and mascara (“as you get older, brown washes you out”) and a berry lip color ( “Ma’am, please step away from the nude lipstick”) but my favorite purchase was this paintbrush highlighter pen (size of a mascara tube)  called Touche Eclat.  It’s super easy to apply and blends in like a dream and doesn’t leave you looking racoony under your eyes.  I’m a big fan and will definitely be replacing it when it runs out.  Good news is I don’t have to go back to NYC for the refill – our local Sephora carries it.

YSL On the sewing machine:  *sigh*  I started a quilt about a month and a half ago and it is so blasted tedious that I can only work on it for half an hour at a time before having to pop a Xanax.

In the kitchen:  Craig and I gave up wheat and other grains about six months ago after I read The Wheat Belly Diet (and when I say “gave up wheat”, I really mean “when it’s convenient” and definitely not when someone made pound cake or asks “How about some chips and guacamole?”).  At first it was hard not having toast in the morning or biscuits and gravy on the weekends but we’ve adjusted and feel a ton better so it’s no longer a hardship.  The hardest part is no cereal which has always been a go-to breakfast but I’ve fiddled with a few recipes and have come up with a good nut-based granola that we enjoy and satisfies the craving for crunch.


1 cup (each) raw almonds, cashews, pecans

1/2 cup (each) pumpkin seeds, walnuts, unsweetened coconut flakes

1/4 cup (each) whole chia seeds and sunflower seeds

Rough chop the almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds (alternatively, process for 6 pulses in Cuisinart) and stir in the coconut flakes, chia, and sunflower seeds. Set aside.

In a small microwaveable bowl, combine the following and heat for 45 seconds:

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup coconut oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Add warmed honey mixture to nuts and stir well to combine.

Pour onto rimmed baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes in 325 degree oven.  Stir, return to oven for 8 more minutes until toasted and fragrant.

Remove from oven, gathering the nuts and compacting with a spatula and let cool, then break apart and store in an airtight container.

We love this as a topping for Greek yogurt, baked fruit, or simply as a cereal with milk.  I double the recipe and wind up with three quart jars which will last us for a while.

From the camera roll

My nephew was married this summer in an outdoor wedding on my brothers’ shared property west of town.  It was a beautiful event made even more meaningful to see all of the family pitch in to pull it off.  This is my favorite picture of the night, shot by my sister-in-law while formal family portraits were going on (hence the father of the groom  – the one in a tie – leaning in for the quick snap).

Say it with me, I love my brothers.

Have a nice day.

How low can you go

I’ve never hidden the fact I despise going to see any medical professional for any reason whatsoever.  Blame the introvert, it’s just not my preference to have people all up in my business.

She said as she wrote yet another entry into her blog that’s be nothing but her business for the last six years.

But I digress.

As a “gift” to myself for turning 45, I decided to start acting a little more grown up about icky things and proactively scheduled appointments to get major systems checked out.  This is how the phone call went with my primary care doctor’s scheduler:

Me:  I’d like to schedule a physical, please.

Perky Scheduler (PS): Could you tell me your last name?

Me: Sure, it’s Queen, Carpool.  I’m a patient of Dr. Probably Has Large Needles

PS: Ms. Queen, I’m very sorry to inform you that we do not have you listed as an active patient.

Me:  Hmmm, I know I’ve been there before and saw Dr. Needles.

PS:  Well, when you go FOUR YEARS BETWEEN APPOINTMENTS, we tend to think you’ve switched practices.


We got everything straightened out and an appointment made and they drew blood to make sure that everything was okay and then I pretty much flunked the entire blood test.

That was festive.

It also explained why I was always saying, “I’m tired” and couldn’t get through the day without a nap.  Apparently, I had NO IRON IN MY BODY (as in, you’re supposed to have boatloads and I was in the low single digits) and that sent me to the head of line and bought me a ticket to iron infusions in June and July. Happily, they worked and I’m able to now stay awake past 8:45 and no longer need to take a nap after lunch though I’ll never turn down the opportunity if it’s presented.

I went back again yesterday to repeat the blood work to make sure the levels were still holding (they were) but my thyroid results (which I’d also flunked) were even more wacky than three months ago so she had to begrudgingly diagnose hypothyroidism and immediately started me on meds.

Am highly irritated.  

And slightly bummed.

Ain’t nobody got time for this.

Remembering to take pills daily has never been my spiritual gift (it’s amazing we don’t have more children than we do – ahem) but maybe if they help me lose weight (it’s a listed side effect!), it’ll be easier to do.

And if any reader is blessed with the same affliction and has any advice, I’m all ears.

Just, apparently, no thyroid.

Have a nice day.

Random Randomness: End of Summer edition

When it’s been a couple of months since writing anything, it’s always a challenge to know where to start. Maybe a little summer catch-up is in order.

1. The boys took (and passed) Driver’s Ed.  There’s nothing that’ll make your life flash before your eyes quicker than putting your baby who just got out of diapers yesterday behind the wheel and letting them go 10 mph in the school parking lot.  You see things you’ve never noticed before, namely THAT GIANT LIGHT POLE that is rapidly approaching the front of your bumper.  J wasn’t having any of our instructions, preferring to let “trained professionals” teach him the proper way to handle the car and Tommy proclaimed he felt so alive at the thought of freedom being close at hand. (He also said freedom would feel a little better if the car they’d given him to drive would’ve had a little more leg and head room.)


2. The canning bug bit hard this year.  I’ve put up green beans, peaches, tomatoes, marinara sauce, potatoes, sweet-hot jalapenos, dill pickles, bread and butters, corn relish, sweet and dill relish, raspberry jam, blueberry-lime jam, peach jelly,  and several quarts of soup and beans for the winter.  It’s an obsession, I tell ya’.  So, so, so much fun.



3. In travel news, I took a girl’s trip to NYC for a long weekend.  It was my second trip there – the first time was 15 years ago when we lived in DC and Craig and I popped up for a 24 hour trip while my mother in law and Craig’s sister kept the boys for us. (We spent most of that time sleeping without three babies waking us up every thirty minutes so I don’t remember much about the trip.)  This time, though, we saw a couple of Broadway shows (American in Paris as well as Wicked), did a lot of sightseeing and people watching, shopped for clothes and makeup at Bloomingdales, and, my favorite event, eating.  We ate at a sketch hole in the wall Thai place that was fabulous, several Italian restaurants (pistachio cake, hello), and I broke my no-wheat pledge to snarf down a bagel (or two…okay, it was three) from Ess A Bagel because it’s a crime not to do so otherwise.

IMG_1415IMG_1393IMG_1371IMG_13984. I have spent the remainder of the summer losing weight from that trip. Ahem.

Have a nice day.