Friday, June 28, 2013

What I Have Learned in June

A blog I follow

chattingatthesky.com
has asked for bloggers who are interested


Anything.

Trivial.

Technology.

Spiritual.

Whatever.

In light of my last few days,

I decided to give this a try.

7 THINGS I HAVE LEARNED IN JUNE:

1. I have learned that God's plans are better than our plans--
even when we don't understand them. 

After a year of planning a trip to Alaska with my parents that we were to leave for TOMORROW, my dad had to cancel it 2 days ago due to poor health. 



Out of the blue poor health. 

Nothing serious but pain enough that a long flight 
and lots of driving and hiking 
would've made even worse. 

My dad graciously asked us to go without him. 
But this was HIS Bucket List trip and going without him felt wrong. 

Actually, it was my grandfather's Bucket List trip that my parents had booked with my grandparents 
as a celebration of his remission from cancer. 

But the cancer came back before they could make it to Alaska. 

My dad promised to take the trip one day for my grandfather.

12 years went by. 

We were going to leave TOMORROW. 

When I texted my brothers the news, Kyle replied:

"What is it with Alaska? 
It seems like maybe our family is not meant to visit…"

So it does. 

But I am learning that God may or may not reveal the WHY of this trip cancellation 

(this side of heaven anyway) 

but we are all experiencing His peace. 

Every. Single. One of us.

My Dad.

My Mom.

My 14-year-old 

AND the "almost 11-year-old" 

who were so stinkin' excited about the plane ride that they couldn't stand it. 

Let alone the whale watching and dog sledding that was also planned.

My husband 

who SO NEEDS THE BREAK FROM WORK RIGHT NOW.

And me. 

Really. 
Not just in words or actions but deep down in my soul PEACE. 

Thank you, Jesus, we know this is your provision.

2.  I learned that I love spontaneity. And so does my family.

Since the phone call that Alaska was cancelled and before I could really even wrap my brain around the question of, 

"Now what?"

my mom was asking for dates of when we could "throw together" a late summer Fripp Island vacation that would include more of the extended family.

Dad booked the beach house today.

Then Monte declared that he had next week off and he was

for the love of Pete

not going to go into the office

so he booked us a little getaway at a state park lodge on a lake a few hours away.

We couldn't be more thrilled with the 
spontaneous last minuteness of it all.

And now the suitcases that were out

the new toiletries that were purchased

don't have to be put away unused.

3. I learned that my anticipation of stress is always far worse than the actual stress.

I made it through two graduations in one day back-to-back with somewhat of an overlap thanks to the help of dear friends. 




And I was fine.

4. I learned that I am WAY TOO CHEAP to have a personal shopper.

I am not sure what I expected but when I read that Emily of Chattingatthesky.com signed up for Stitch Fix and they sent 5 items of clothing to her door that she could either keep or send back

this hate-to-shop gal said,

"Where do I sign up?"

But alas, the cheapest of the items was a $48 tank top.

Cute as it was,



IT WAS A $48 TANK TOP.

The skirt was darling but $88.

I must've forgotten to click on the "usually shops at thrift stores" button on the questionnaire.

I sent all 5 items back.

Lesson learned.

5. I learned that my husband and I, once committed, can treat watching a television series on Apple TV or NetFlix like it is our job.

Not that I am completely proud of that or anything.

We watched all 3 seasons of Downton Abbey last winter in 2 1/2 weeks.



LOVED IT!

Now we are on season 3 of Mad Men.



Don't love it the same way.

I do like the way they show the creative side of the advertising world

since I used to think being a copywriter was my dream job.

But am I crazy to think that AT LEAST ONE OF THESE HORRIBLY FLAWED CHARACTERS WILL GROW SOME MORALS??!!

But I am naively hopeful for this era of time that I always thought was 

happier, 

more simple 

somehow easier.

But I think I am learning what the networks think will get the best ratings.

[SIGH]

6. I learned that you should not take a probiotic without doing a bit of research and/or talking to your doctor first.

Without going into too much detail,

this was disruptive to the normal "ways" of Monte and I.

That is all I will say.

Took about 3-4 days to get straightened back out once we stopped taking it 

(which we took daily for 2 weeks).

Don't fix what isn't broken.

Just saying…

7. I learned that I shouldn't do a plank naked before I hop into the shower.

Actually I learned this before June but it warrants repeating.

Just don't.

Enough said.

A Royal Daughter

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Not So Much the Techno Dinosaur

I'm just saying…

having a blog with widgets and gadgets and CODE 

for the love of Pete

is dragging me out of the techno Jurassic Park


even if I am kicking and screaming
(if that is what in fact this dinosaur is doing. He looks a little nauseous.)

Well, I need to mention that if you follow this blog on Google Reader and are one of the happy faces that sit on my left hand sidebar

<------------------

than you are about to go away.

For whatever Google reasons

Google Reader to going away on July 1.

So you have a few options to continue getting my blogs on precious less than my rants of the flesh and observations of well, everything.

•You can subscribe via email 
to get my post updates right in your inbox.
(And you have the option to hit delete when they come.)

That option is to your left on my sidebar.

•Or you can choose the kicky new button 
that is over there as well 
to follow this blog on bloglovin'.

I had to read up on how to get that button which is why I am still in my pajamas at 10:00 am

but I DID IT!

Hear my dying dinosaur roar!



I started following a few blogs on bloglovin' and I really like it.

It is a sort of manager and I and get one email that alerts me to several new posts rather than several emails.

There also doesn't appear to be that pesky delay of getting a Thankful Fridays post on Saturday like I used to in other programs.

So…there you have it!

Now, if I can just figure out how to get a Pinterest button added

without melting my brain…!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Fairness

The idea of "fairness" keeps coming up in our lives.

My oldest daughter got her ears pierced when she was in the 5th grade.

So Ellie just got her ears pierced in the 5th grade.



McDaniel got a cell phone in the 6th grade after she made the honor roll.

So she just assumed that Ellie would do the same.

Well, we are starting to give Ellie a little bit more independence this summer and Monte and I are starting to feel like she might need a cell phone a little earlier than McDaniel did.

To give us peace of mind that we can stay in touch.

McDaniel is having a hissy fit over that.

"It. Just. Isn't. Fair".

Mind you, we have done nothing more than discuss the matter.
And she has absolutely no say in our final decision.

Before the end of the school year, Ellie's class studied the concept of Fair Trade.

Except, as it turns out, it still isn't completely fair.

The bigger kid always manages to figure out a way to play "keep away" from the little guy.

Even when the little guy didn't sign up to play.

Things in business and in life simply aren't fair.

I grew up in a family that did a pretty good job of keeping things "fairly" fair.
(Pun intended)

In fact, my youngest brother thinks my parents did too good of a job with the fairness thing.

So much so that he felt completely ill-equipped 
to handle the utter unfairness of the world.

I haven't forgotten that.

As a parent we need to teach kindness 
and compassion and some idea of fairness.

At the same time we need to let them know that life just. isn't. fair.

And they can't be devastated by it.

Or jaded by it.

The world wants us to begin seeing everyone just the same

in an attempt at making life fair.

The ultimate Fair Trade Act, if you will.

But God made each of us so unique


and each of us in His image.

Just imagine what seeing Him will be like.

Will we instantly recognize loved ones in His face?

You know, who were made in His image?

Will we see ourselves somewhere in His majestic eyes?

I have never thought of any of us looking alike in heaven.

Like mass-produced beings with the same features and mannerisms and talents.

So why should we here?

Sarah Young writes in Jesus Calling (based on Psalm 5:11; Ephesians 3:20-21; Jude 24-25; Joshua 1:5),

"I am the firm foundation on which you can dance and sing and celebrate My Presence. This is My high and holy calling for you; receive it as a precious gift. Glorifying and enjoying Me is a higher priority than maintaining a tidy, structured life. Give up your striving to keep everything under control--an impossible task and a waste of precious energy.

My guidance for each of My children is unique. That's why listening to Me is so vital for your well-being. Let me prepare you for the day that awaits you and point you in the right direction. I am with you continually, so don't be intimidated by fear. Though it stalks you, it cannot harm you, as long as you cling to My hand. Keep your eyes on Me, enjoying Peace in My Presence."

See??

God guides each of His children in unique ways!

There can't be a complete fair "One for you and one for you and one for you" kind of deal.

And we wouldn't want that.

Because their would never have been any of the great stories in the bible.

It wasn't fair that Joseph was the favored child of his father

and only he got that snazzy jacket

or that his brothers sold him off as a slave

or that he spent time in jail for a crime he didn't do.

Yet God saw fit to make him the king's right hand man.

God asks us to dance and sing and celebrate Him.

And you KNOW that HE KNOWS that we are each going to do that completely differently.

All this to say,

we can't raise our children the same.

Rules apply differently.

Their circumstances are unique.

God's treatment of us is a great model of that. 







TheBetterMom.com
Ladies Only Blog Share

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

And That Was Our Saturday

We had a Saturday a week ago that had precious little lined up in the way of activities for the day.

Oh, how I love a day like that!

They are too rare!

Monte decided to get the weed eater out to feast upon the yard.

Shortly thereafter he informed me,

"I blew the string."

Not sure this is the official term for running out of string or just fouling it up in some way.

So off he went to the hardware store.

He was gone awhile.

Long enough for him to miss the girls as they walked outside looking like this:



They announced that they wanted to play croquet.

Oh my, I love croquet! 
I come from a long line of competitive croquet players.
I guess my grandfather would lie on the ground to better line up his shots.
My mother? Well, let's just say it got ugly on the croquet court at Fripp Island one year. 
She may have made a small boy cry who asked if he could join our game.

The girls apparently thought they had grown up in turn of the century New England 
and felt the need to dress up for the game.

Fine by me, I was happy to watch from the hammock where I had stationed myself with a book.


Except they kept


I don't think so, McDaniel!

wanting


their

pictures

taken!!

I finally put my foot down

for the love of Pete

and told them to get the game of croquet started.

So I could get back to my book.


They took my phone

and took a few pictures
This is downright arty.
of their own.


I must have failed them somewhere because they didn't use the croquet wickets that came with the set but some leftover garden border fencing.

For the love of Pete!


The dog insisted on being apart of the game.


He looks like he might be lying down on the ground eyeing McDaniel's shot much like my grandfather.


Or it was just a ploy to get the ball.




The girls' version of croquet involved a "timeout" chair.

No, I could not be bothered to get up to take this photo.

I'd had it.

Time out over.



They decided to take a break and make some homemade Arnold Palmer's (half-lemonade, half-ice tea) yet they decided to throw in raspberries and a fair amount of sugar.



This is the moment Ellie realized their concoction 
should not be ingested.


Then Monte comes home 

• with a new wireless weed eater

• a wireless hedge clipper 

• and something called a Jaw Saw.


Happy Father's Day to him!

What you are missing about the Jaw Saw in this picture is that when you pull the trigger

a chain saw shoots out of the middle of the jaw part.

I wondered if maybe Monte had made this out of odds and ends in our basement when I was trying to read/photograph the girls ruining the game of croquet and the original recipe of an Arnold Palmer.

He said he did not.
And that it was the safest chain saw on the market.
And it wouldn't be like "before".

The "before" meaning when I was 9 months pregnant and it was 118 degrees in July and Monte borrowed our neighbor's chainsaw to "trim"our two evergreen trees on either side of our house and then called me outside to show me that he had massacred anything and everything that had ever grown green in our yard.

Massacred it dead 
and left it in a pile so large that I couldn't see the street.

It wasn't a happy time at our house.

Later he went and bought his own chain saw and then proceeded to "blow a tooth" on it within the first 30 seconds of using/owning it.

My mom refers to the incident as "God's provision".


Monte wasted no time. He needed to try out the Jaw Saw on our front yard Bradford Pear immediately.

I actually had to get up out of the hammock 
to point to which branches needed to be trimmed 
and to make sure the Jaw Saw was the safest chain saw on the market. 



It did not take long to get results.


Yet we had this to deal with.

Not to worry, Monte assured me, Jaw Saw in hand.

He trimmed all those branches into small pieces that we could either burn in the fire pit or put in a land refuse bag for the city to take on garbage day.

And that was our Saturday.

And we are buying a Jaw Saw for my dad.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Sweet Cheeks Fishing Party

My girlfriend, Carisa, is married to Juan.

Juan is

JUST NOW

turning 40.

I know!

She's a cougar.

She asked my friend Sumita and I to plan a surprise party for him as a sort of reunion of all the buddies who went on a fly fishing trip back in November.

When he got the name "Sweet Cheeks."

I am pretty sure it was Monte who started it.

Sweet Cheeks

Not sure if you can tell in the above picture, 
but Juan's waders fit like a wet suit rather than, well, waders.

Juan was quite proud of his skinny jean shark skin waders and strutted out of the lodge in Arkansas like a peacock.

And Sweet Cheeks was born.

Monte however, got the Bozo the Clown waders that were so big and floppy he feared they would fill up with water and drag him down the river never to be seen again.


Two guesses on which one is Sweet Cheeks and which one is Monte with the Bozo waders.

Take a moment to soak it all in.

And by soak it all in
I mean laugh.

The guys all decided at one point to fly fish from boats.

The boat that Sweet Cheeks was in started to pull away from the dock before everyone was in so, 

being the gentleman that he is, 

Juan grabbed hold of the dock to pull it closer.

The weight from the next passenger sent the boat wobbling and further away from the dock.

Yet Sweet Cheeks hung on

his hands firmly on the dock yet only his feet remained in the boat.

He was perfectly parallel to the water.

The boat roared with laughter.

Yet there Sweet Cheeks remained.

Perfectly parallel to the water.

One of the men decided to grab ahold of him to pull him back into the boat.

But where to grab?

The well-fitted skinny jean shark skin like waders left little to the imagination

and a lot of slickness to the touch.

After some consideration, and a quick waist grab,

Sweet Cheeks was saved

and a legend was born.

These are the kind of people for whom 
a party pretty much begs to be thrown.

Of course, there would be a fishing theme.


We covered Sumita's large kitchen island with white table cloth and used my vintage metal picnic basket as a centerpiece for a container of Goldfish crackers and a Dollar Tree fish bowl of gummy worms.

We also used one of Ellie's little tea set baskets (propped open with a wooden skewer) for peanut M&Ms and more Goldfish crackers. We made sure to use Swedish fish in a fish bowl as well.

We painted the bottom of white lanterns red to look like bobbers.


We used string to attach the bobbers at different heights
to a light fixture.

It is dark, but the banner says "Aged To Perfection" and
"Happy Birthday".

Look at the determination on Carisa's face.
 The SAME NIGHT that Sumita and Carisa abused their key privileges in my house, they came back over with all their cake and icing supplies to decorate the fish cake they were creating.

Why my house?

1.  I have a garage fridge that could hold the cake. Sumita's basement fridge had just died and flooded part of their basement.

2.  The guys decided to come back early from their fishing trip to Michigan since no one was catching any fish.

They made two sheet cakes but one in a thicker pan to make up the fish's body.

They cut the regular cake into two horizontally to make the thin cutting board underneath the fish.

Carisa and Sumita mixed colors until they got the shade of brown they wanted.

I watched.

Then they cut the thicker cake into an oval for the fish body and used the extra pieces to fashion a tail.

I watched.

There was various mixing of greens for shading and whatnot.

I became lost.

Just a blob of white icing became the fish eye with a squirt of black for the pupil.

Carisa used a paintbrush to give the impression of scales on the fish.



Nice touch, Sumita, with the Spanish icing writing!

So the above is what creative Carisa and Sumita can do.

I can do this:
Isn't he cute? In a "Yes, I am smiling with cut up pieces of my own
guts in my mouth for you to eat for enjoyment" kind of way.


Add caption
Sumita found the Pepperidge Farm fish shaped cinnamon bread that we impaled with a skewer and stuck in the "Redneck Goblets" that our friend gave us.

He said when his hardware store started carrying them, he immediately thought of Monte and I.

Which should tell you volumes of our standing in the neighborhood. 


  I love a good photo area. 
I think every party should have one to force pictures to be taken. 
Yes, I said force. 

We used two nets from Dollar Tree found in their Luau party supplies. We just hammered the heck out of Sumita's walls with little nails to swag the netting on. We had her husband, Mark, attach some of his fishing lures to the netting.


 Monte and McDaniel bought this 4 foot fish pillow at Cabela's back in April during Shadowing Day for this specific purpose.

I bought some goofy glasses at Dollar Tree and then Mark threw in hats and a fishing net to make up the "Prop Basket".



I love this! Look at Juan's face. I choose to believe that is joy and not dread behind
that smile. I love Sumita's posture to the left--I can just hear her laugh (which
is the most amazing, contagious laugh EVER.)

It worked!  That is Juan a.k.a. "Sweet Cheeks" walking in to all his fishing buddies yelling "Surprise!"

 Carisa said he took one look at the Happy Birthday banner when they walked in and said, "No!"


Pastor Mike sneaking around the corner just
as I snapped the picture.
The men battered and fried fish outside and watched 7 cats come out of nowhere to check out what was going on

just like in an old cartoon

and to rub on Monte.

It is like they KNOW how allergic he is to them

and they just don't care.

Birthday boy blowing out the candles.
It was so nice.

We gathered on the deck after dinner and listened to fish tales and other stories and

we laughed

and laughed 

and laughed.
Then I forced everyone to pose for pictures.

Monte and I kicked off the photo shoot.
I totally think I am pulling off those glasses.
In an Inspector Clouseau kinda way.


Sumita and Mark. This makes me laugh.
Marcy and Mike. He is the pastor of our church.
They are such great sports.

Jeff and Laurie.
Jeff is the one who "rescued"Sweet cheeks.
It was a very delicate, heroic situation.

Sumita and Mark's daughters:  Alyssa and Sara.
Sara's friend, Kory.
I love that they are hams.


Sweet Cheeks Family:
Diego, Carisa, Logan and Juan.
Sweet Cheeks and Carisa.
Oh my word! That girl. If anyone could ever ride
a fish--it would be her.
Such a cute couple.
Aww. 

Birthday love. 
katherines corner