Thursday, May 29, 2014

May is a Marathon

May is a marathon.

Long with constant movement.


Source


But instead of running we are

filling out forms,
 going to concerts 
and banquets 
and graduation parties 
and meetings 
and filling out more forms 
and wrapping up projects that require 
supplies we don’t currently possess
and presentations 
and buying gifts
and signing up for summer camps 
which means filling out more forms
and writing checks 
and “I need a new dress for the blah-blah.” 
and “Wait. I need new shoes for the blah-blah-blah-blah.” 
and “Hey, we are out of toothpaste!”
and “No, I am not putting one more cent into your lunch account! Make your own lunch!!!”
and “Hey, did you email so and so about that thingy-thing?”
and more meetings
and “My throat is sore.”
and “You CAN NOT miss school when there are only 5 days left and you have a presentation due!”
and “Did you return my library book that is over due?”
and “Did you FIND your library book that is over due?!"
and the wrench light came on in the car
and the last time the wrench light came on in the car
we got a new car because the cost to repair what was causing 
the wrench light to come on 
was higher than the current value of the car
and we don’t want to get a new car right now
and “Will you be home between 9-11?”
and “Will you also be home at 2:00?”
and  "You are not busy, right?"
and there are weeds taller than my flowers
and flowers still in their plastic containers waiting to be planted
and they all need water
(except the weeds)
and the lawn keeps growing
and “I had a great workout today, did you?”
and muttered prayers under my breath for strength and patience if the Nesbitt is mentioned EVER. AGAIN.
and everyone still wants dinner,
including the dog
and I feel like I should be doing something else in these precious last days of JUST ME in the house.
Something profound.
But all I can think of is taking an Aleve
and a nap
and it is only 10:00 a.m.
or buying a convertible (who’s wrench light never comes on)
and driving really far away.

So I haven’t had time to sit much to blog.

Because May is a marathon.

And I have a serious cramp.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Things Too Wonderful For Me to Know



Just this morning in Sarah Young’s, “Jesus Today” I read:

“You must leave room for mystery in your worldview--accepting 
the limitations of your understanding and knowledge.”

She finishes this thought by referring to Job:

“Though Job faltered at times during his excruciating ordeal, at the end of it he confessed, 'Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.' Likewise, I urge you to view matters you cannot understand as divine mysteries:  things too wonderful for you to know.”

This made me stop this morning. 

Something about that word “accept”. 

We are being jammed near full of things we are 
supposed to “accept” as deemed appropriate 
by society. 

Grown men and woman scream about it on TV every. single. day.

There is no leaving room for mystery in their worldview. 

They want to know it all so therefore they proclaim that they do.

Wouldn’t it be so much better for ALL OF US if they just said, 

“I don’t know,” 

every now and then?

It would be a heck of a lot quieter.

Our pastor is great at leading the congregation by example in the act of being in awe of God.

Not shock and awe.

Just awe.

By definition, awe means an overwhelming feeling of reverence and admiration produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful or the like.

To be in awe of God and His creation is a form of worship.

But we have to shut up long enough

and slow down long enough

to see it.

And when we do, we find 
God is all around us.

Just the other day Monte turned to me and said that he had caught sight of a pineapple at the store on his lunch break and he stopped to study it.



The prickly outer coating of it and its strong, pointed leaves.

He wondered how anyone could believe that a pineapple just BIG BANG BOOM appeared?

Only God could and can make a pineapple. 

No matter how much man tries and tries in a lab,

only God can make a pineapple.

Monte was sharing this awe moment with me as we were grocery shopping and I’d picked up a pineapple and put it in our cart.

When we were checking out, the young cashier saw our pineapple and started telling us that in the 1700 and 1800s that the pineapple was a powerful sign of wealth and prosperity. People would actually rent a pineapple to take to parties, making sure it was never cut open so that it could be safely returned for the evening.

Leave it to this fallen world we live in to distort one of God’s creations.

To take the awe of a pineapple and make it about the man 
who brought it rather than the Father who created it.

When Ellie was just preschool age, we were having breakfast at the table when this gorgeous sunrise came into view.

I was telling her how in heaven there will be colors that we’ve never seen here on earth. 

As she stared at the beautiful yellow, purple, pink, orange sky, she said,


“I think in heaven that color is Yerple.”

We just can’t wrap our brains around accepting 
that our understanding has limits.

And for all I know, it just might be called Yerple in heaven.


I’m not sure how this came up, 

seriously, following conversations Monte and I have would require a complicated road map and a securely fastened seat belt for all the twists and turns they take and the speed in which they are taken,

but Monte mentioned that someone had told him that they hated the beach.

HATED it.




 Monte grew up in south Florida and has a deep connection with the beach.


He longs to see the ocean if it has been too long just like my Midwestern body has a seasonal calendar.

And right now it is wondering why we 
can’t just get on with summer already?!

Anyway, Monte declared,

“People who don’t love the beach are emotionally constipated. Blocked. And only the ocean can clear it.

I have to admit, I’m not feeling any hate looking at this.

While I could “Amen” that, I’m not sure it really ties in 
with my topic but I threw it in anyway.

Not to spoil any beautiful thoughts of warmth and sun and the beach,

(unless you are one of those beach haters and to that I want to apologize 
for Monte’s emotional constipation accusations)

but back in this intense winter that we had,

a beautiful phenomena happened called Snow Rollers.

A Snow Roller happens when conditions are just right for ice to be blown at high speeds on top of snow. As it blows on top of the snow, it picks up the snow and forms a roll.

Kinda like God making the beginnings 
of snow men all over the place.

Do you know that when people first started noticing the Snow Rollers, 

especially in huge open fields,

they wondered if aliens had created them?

Aliens.

And I thought it was silly to rent a perfectly good pineapple 
and NEVER EAT IT.


Monte snapped this photo from his car.
That goes to show that for some people,

the things that they can’t understand 
never lead them to awe or wonder

but fear.

One morning while walking the girls to school, we spotted a double rainbow.

I actually heard a few parents say,

“This is creepy! What does it mean?!”

Rather than enjoying the sight of something
 that some may never see in their lifetime.

Not a double rainbow, but a pretty bright one. 


One afternoon a few months ago, while sitting in the kitchen talking to the girls after school,

we heard the printer in the den print something.

It’s a loud, clunky thing.

We all looked at each other, knowing that NONE of us had printed anything.

We were sitting in the kitchen having a snack.

We found this in the printer tray:


My printer writes poetry???!!

Of course, I was already writing a children’s book in my head about "My Printer the Poet" when Ellie looked at it and said it was HER poem.


My printer STOLE Ellie’s poem??!!

I quickly revised the children’s book in my head to “My Printer the Poem Thief”.

Ellie explained she had written the poem in school just that afternoon.

She had sent it to the printer at school and somehow it made its way to our printer at home.

And printed hours after the original command.

I am not going to pretend to understand how that all worked but I think it was pretty awesome.

And it just might be in children’s bookstores coming soon.

Just kidding.

Maybe.


One morning as I was doing my bible study homework, I left the room and came back to find Nigel like this:



Yes, I know that Nigel was more than likely resting in the sun rather than resting in the word of my bible

but I can’t help but wonder…


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Write On

Chris over at Mom Cafe tagged me in this series of questions that has been circulating around the blogosphere.




Why do I write what I do?

I write what I would talk to you about if we talked on the phone, lunched together or ran into each at the grocery store. It’s the stuff I find funny or odd or interesting or inspiring or challenging. It’s what I’m learning in bible study or my morning devotions or what I saw while I drove to your house.




How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I tend to find the funny in most every situation (sometimes not until AFTER the situation) and write about that. I like stories. Hearing them and telling them. There are some pretty awesome writers in this genre so if someone is reminded of even part of one of them when they read my work, well, then, AWESOME.

No story here.

How does my writing process work?

Process??? Actually, I take notes of funny things I see or funny things I hear on my iPhone. When I am ready to write, I look through it. It’s no outline. I find an outline kills my conversational style. And a little bit of my soul. Like one of my writing professors in college more or less said, “You are very good at stream of conscious writing about nothing.”

I’ll take it.

I also look through my most recent photos to see if there is anything blogworthy there.

I just looked through my pictures and realized that
we’ve never discussed this.  And I need to discuss this.
I really do.  Stay tuned.

For the most part, it is obvious what I’m going to write about. I rarely sit at the computer at a loss for anything to say.  I don’t blog if that is the case. People give me ideas all the time too. One of McDaniel’s friends let me know that she is okay with me blogging about her:  hint, hint, wink, wink. Just yesterday I texted my girlfriend, Andrea, the bizarre dream I had involving her:

I was at her house in Atlanta and we were ALL in her bed supposedly asleep. Her husband, her, me and her two boys. Because THAT isn’t weird. But it was. I was lying there thinking JUST how weird it was, planning on “slipping out” when Andrea turns to me and says, “Do you want a frozen daiquiri?” To which I respond, “Like at Ruby Tuesday?” 

[I find this VERY interesting since I have absolutely NO CLUE if Ruby Tuesday even serves frozen daiquiris and can you imagine what they would cost?! This said from the woman married to the man who feels restaurants ROB US of money for the price of soda and ice tea with a meal. He reminds us before every meal out that we are to order water--JUST water.]

And she says, “Sure". Then her husband rolls over and says they have NONE of the ingredients for a frozen daiquiri to which Andrea says that isn’t a problem because she will borrow them from a neighbor. Her husband says, “At THIS hour?!” We all look at the digital clock on the nightstand and it is 9:30 pm. 

[Hahahahaha!]

Then we are in her hallway and I notice the walls are lined with hundreds of trophies for the boys. Andrea goes OFF about how they give out trophies for little to nothing anymore and may or may not have said, “Back in our day” once or twice. 

My girlfriend responded to my text of this dream with a suggestion to blog about it.

So I just did. 

BOOM.

See what I just did there?


What am I working on?

Life. I am part of the beginning stages of a party planning business.

This was a tea bag cookie for a surprise tea birthday
party we just did for a girlfriend. You will be
hearing more about that soon.

I am trying to sit down long enough to figure out what’s next with the writing. Many sweet supportive people have asked me when I’m going to write a book. I am trying to come up with a good answer. Or at least get business cards. In the mean time, I will continue doing this while the countdown to summer is ON!

Now I am tagging Mindy at Dandelion Diary to answer the same questions about her writing process. I am very curious. I love how she writes.




Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother’s Day In Pictures

My Mother’s Day started with breakfast in bed and a lovely iPad “Presentation In Pictures” from the girls:

I feel like this is the opening scene to some depressing
documentary about how a town fell apart after
the factory closed.
I do not remember this picture being taken. It is obviously from years ago because this is New Year’s Day and look at me NOT wearing a coat. 


This I remember taking on New Year’s eve. 

Nice pout face, Ellie.

Not my finest moment.
I am burning that vest now.



Julie took this picture. So I blame her.
For the love of Pete.
Why aren’t we locked up?!
Can you tell the girls love the Back to the Future movies?


I LOVE this!!!





Oh my goodness, this is great! 

This is the picture of McDaniel’s climbing wall cleat burn on her belly from the brand spanking new playground that my dad built the girls when Ellie was just born.

And yes, McDaniel used a permanent marker so it is still on her belly.

Remember those Boppy nursing pillows?


I just loved this gift!!!

And I got a note with a drawing of a pair of rain boots that I can order since apparently there are none left in the city. Something about the torrential rains we’ve been having and the fact that it is Spring.


We picked up Monte’s mom and went to church and then our favorite brunch spot for Mother’s Day.


This place has the most amazing food buffet style. 

And we get free pictures taken every year too.

As Monte likes to put it, he likes to “win” at this buffet. 

You know, make them sorry that they only charged what they charged because 
CLEARLY they lost money on the deal when Monte walked up to the carving station.

Everyone needs goals in life.

When Monte took his mom home,

she showed him a momma duck and her new little ducklings that had managed to nest in the courtyard of her nursing home. 



Isn’t this just the sweetest picture for Mother’s Day?

Since dinner was most certainly not going to be an option after that wonderful brunch, 

we went to the theater to see “Moms Night Out”.




It started off slow for me but boy did it pay off. I laughed, teared up and fell slightly in love with Trace Adkins’ character, Bones (complete with neck tattoos).

Patricia Heaton is stellar in this.

I highly recommend.

Overall it was a great day!

Just wish I could’ve spent it with my mom.

Me and Mom circa 1987 at a high school football game. I love this
picture because it shows we have the same profile.

Hope everyone had a great Mother’s Day!!

Thursday, May 08, 2014

You Made WHAT for Dinner?!



I have been in a bit of a dinner slump.

Uninspired.

There’s just so many ways you can make chicken.

So last week, after a highly critiqued, uninspired meal,

I came up with the brilliant plan that the girls would have a night 
where they were in charge of making dinner.

They have cooked with me before and know how to read a recipe 
but they’ve never done this on any regular basis. 

And what better way to equip them to be wives and mothers 
than making them come up with a dinner plan after they have
been in school all day, are tired, uninterested in feeding 
anyone, anything at anytime?

Can I get an AMEN?

McDaniel and Ellie immediately took to the idea and then began to squabble about what to make and who would be in charge of what.

So just like magic, one night became two so they each could be totally in charge of cooking dinner.

I’m quite the magician.

Ellie’s night came first and involved chicken breasts sauteed in butter in the skillet with all kinds of seasonings like onion powder, garlic powder, salt and “some other things” she couldn’t remember.

She put the breasts on a pretty plate in the center of the table with a jar of pickles,

which ended up being the only side dish.

I wish I’d taken a picture.

The chicken was amazing!

Juicy and tender and very flavorful.

And the pickles complimented it better than you’d think.

We all gave her a thumbs up.

While we were still at the table for Ellie’s meal, McDaniel started brainstorming her night’s dinner plans.

She envisioned a creation involving a variety of meats 
called a “meat bucket” filled with mashed potatoes.

Yes, this from the girl who got her
OWN arm stuck in her hair.

We all gave her a thumbs down.

The next day at the grocery store, she modified the “meat bucket” into the “meat pocket” involving pita bread, pepperoni, roast beef, chicken, red pepper, mozzarella cheese and, of course, mashed potatoes.

Not delicious homemade mashed potatoes that she has helped me make, 
but the kind that comes in a plastic container and can be microwaved.

A jar of banana peppers and fresh raspberries served as our side dishes.




It was interesting.

As interesting as cold chicken shoved inside pita pieces that she cut into triangles thus losing their pocket-like quality could be.

McDaniel’s plate. She was quite proud of it.

Ellie made some sort of castle tower with her food.

The girls liked it.

Monte and I rolled with it.

It was no meat bucket

but for that we are very, VERY glad.

Do you have a night your kids make dinner?


Tuesday, May 06, 2014

10 Tourist Attractions I Have Seen



In honor of National Tourist Appreciation Day,

(and who doesn’t appreciate a tourist?)

I am writing about the attractions I have seen.

I certainly am a lover of “off the beaten path” types of places and am just thrilled by the sight of things like the world’s largest purple spoon.

We saw this outside of Glacier National Park in Montana.
Think there is a world’s largest blue spoon?



 Or the town in Alabama voted 83rd (out of 100) best places to live in the U.S of A. 

To my delight, they hung a flag in honor of this distinction.

The Do Not Enter sign underneath the flag is an unfortunate placement mistake, I’m sure.
As is the “We apologize in advance for changing your travel plans” billboard. 


But I am also drawn to the things that draw in all tourists, which is why things are called attractions after all.

So here they are: 

10 Tourist Attractions I Have Seen:

1) The Eiffel Tower in Paris.


We asked some kid to take this picture. The lit up sign on the tower was a countdown
to the millennium. This was 1998. Remember Y2K being such a big deal?
I see that I am stepping on Monte’s toes.

Monte and I went to Paris before we started a family. It was wonderful and we certainly saw many tourist attractions. Since I am afraid of heights, I did not go up into the tower. There was a restaurant somewhere up there and Monte really tried to persuade me to go. I had no interest. I have no regrets about that.



2) Notre Dame in Paris.

Can you tell I am just taking pictures of these pictures
right out of my scrapbook?

It was dark and so dreary inside Notre Dame. Not much color at all. I couldn’t even imagine singing, “He Lives” with any sort of effectiveness in there but with God all things are possible. 

There was a winding and very tight passageway to the bell tower we could’ve climbed up but we opted out. Not because of the height, but because of the words winding and tight.

3) The Louvre in Paris.

Of all the touristy things we did in Paris, this was the most underwhelming. We enjoyed other smaller museums much more that were way less crowded. The room where the very small picture of Mona Lisa hung was jam packed and smelled like B.O. 

She was enclosed in glass so taking a
picture was very difficult. 

4) Versailles outside of Paris.

Monte just hanging out in front of Versailles.

This was just the most impressive place we went. It is HUGE. Secret passageways. The Hall of Mirrors. Rooms and rooms and rooms for days. The gardens blew me away. The opulence of it all was just so amazing knowing that, at least in part, this was here when people were starving in the city.

5)  World Trade Center, New York City.

Monte and I met another couple in the city before driving a few hours away to a wedding. They decided to go up in the World Trade Center. I did not want to go. At all. But I am so glad I did. 
I could feel the building swaying when we were at the top. They all went outside on the observation deck but I enjoyed the view from inside, thank you very much. Of all the places we tell the girls we have been, this one resonates with them the most.

6) The Statue of Liberty.

Monte and I took the ferry to see the Statue of Liberty. As we sat outside on the deck of the boat, a little boy’s hat blew off into the water. Monte sprung into action, grabbed this ENORMOUS long pole with a hook on the end off the wall of the boat (like he worked there) and retrieved the hat. People clapped. I remember more about that then the statue. Sorry, Lady Liberty.

7)  Mt. Rushmore.


I’ve been to Mt. Rushmore twice. It really is something when you drive into Rapid City, South Dakota and catch your first glimpse of it. It’s neat to see all lit up at night too. And how they carved it is just short of miraculous.

8)  Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park.


It was freezing when we saw it. In June. It snowed while we were there and there was still plenty of snow on the ground in the upper elevations of the park. We bought marked down winter coats in the gift shop. Old Faithful did not disappoint. It is awesome and you can feel the intensity of the water shooting out. 

9)  Jackson Hole, Wyoming.


This was our favorite stop on our trip out west.

We loved the rustic town with antler arches,


the western show in the street,


 the little rodeo we attended and the Tetons!

It looks like a backdrop behind me and the girls.

 I could’ve stared at those beautiful snow capped mountains all day. I loved how flat it was at the base of the mountains so you could better appreciate the view. We could see buffalo running miles away.

And prairie dogs.


The cutest things ever.

I want to go back!

10) Mt. St. Helens.

I flew out to Portland, Oregon with my friend Shirley to see my brother Kyle when he lived there. He drove us to Washington to see Mt. St. Helens. We got off the exit all excited to see the volcano but it was a 50 mile drive off the exit--with the volcano in sight most of the time. All along the way, were these tiny, almost train car looking structures, selling fancy coffee. The closer we got to the volcano, the more we could make out the path of the eruption from the 80s. The coolest thing we learned was the very next year after the eruption, flowers grew right out of the hardened lava and rock. When we stood at the observation deck and watched Mt. St. Helens steam, my friend Shirley (no quiet talker) turned around and loudly exclaimed with a sweeping arm, 

“How can anyone deny the existence of God after seeing this? How?! Tell me!”

No one did.

But a few people smiled and nodded.

What is your favorite tourist attraction you have visited?