Tuesday, December 11, 2018

OH! Christmas Tree

Your Christmas tree...white lights or colored? One tree or more than one tree? Live, real, or artificial? Argue with your husband about that last bit or everyone on the same page? Ha! I kid! Sort of.

We have not had a 'real' tree in over fifteen years, but hubs got it in his head that this would be the year of the real tree. In hindsight it should have been the year of the live tree because we need several more trees on one side of our property. Sadly that idea didn't occur to me until after the tree was already trimmed but maybe next year.

Also, hubs did not want just any real tree. He wanted a GINORMOUS! real tree. Our family room ceiling is about eighteen feet high so that sort of ginormous. And fat. No chic skinny tree would do. The tree he had in mind must be fat and it must be tall. As fat as the room can tolerate (fatter in fact) and as tall as the ceiling will allow.

Let's just say that initially I wasn't 100% on board with this plan but I came around.

We've done artificial trees the last several years because we're normally not at home for the Christmas holiday. I feel like you need to be home if you have a real tree so you can water it everyday. For the first time in a long time we're celebrating Christmas in our own house, so we went with a real tree.

And it's ginormous.


We drove up into the North Carolina Mountains to the cutest little place called Tom Sawyer's Tree Farm. I think the trip there is what changed my mind, because it all felt very festive and Hallmark Christmas movie-ish.


The people who own the farm are so nice and when hubs described what he wanted they directed us to a particular side of the hill. They said to watch for baby deer scampering about and I mean how can you not love a real tree when there are baby deer scampering about?


We did not see baby deer, but I like knowing they were there somewhere.


The tree farmers gave us a big pole painted in various colors which you could hold up next to your tree to determine it's height and then it's cost. Hubs was not sure this pole would be tall enough for what he had in mind, but it did the trick.


The tree guys came out and chopped the winning tree down, wrapped it up, and tied it to the top of the truck for the trip back down the mountain.

The plan was to set the tree in a bucket of water for a few days before bringing her in the house. I won't mention here that the tree trunk was so heavy it crushed said bucket because alls well that ends well, right?


Hubs realized pretty quickly he was going to need some manpower to get the tree in the house and fortunately our future son-in-law was coming to town for the weekend. This is why you have daughters-so they can grow up and marry boys who help you carry heavy stuff.


And we had to move all kinds of furniture and I kept asking where are all the people going to go???,
but hubs made it work and she's a beauty.

Our Christmas spirit still intact.

Monday, December 3, 2018

About Last Night Month

I had a title in mind, but before I got back here the calendar turned. Bother. So much to catch up on and so little time. Let's talk Thanksgiving because while it feels like eons ago in reality it's only been about ten days.

Which I realize is an eon in the blog world, but still I'm gonna talk Thanksgiving.

The bride-to be...you remember Daughter2 and her groom, right?


Well her future in-laws invited us to spend the Thanksgiving holiday in their home so hubs and I road tripped to the Buckeye State. We left later in the day Tuesday because hubs had a guitar lesson (I know!!!). We had the soon-to-be marrieds dog with us because we had the bigger vehicle and it's important the dog is comfortable.


Yes of course we took a picture.

In America Wednesday is designated 'prep for the meal day' so that's what we did. And while we prepped we talked all things wedding because we love to talk all things wedding. Just ask the hubs. Hi hubs! In our defense the grooms mama wants to hear details and I feel like grooms are not always good about sharing every single little detail.


Thursday was spent in the way Thanksgiving Thursdays are always spent-parade watching, eating, napping, football watching and more eating. Probably a lot like yours which is something I love about Thanksgiving.


Friday we went into the nearby city to see the tree and the view from our hosts downtown office. Also to enjoy a fabulous Italian meal in one of their favorite restaurants because we are all about the eating at the end of November. Hubs and I got on the road fairly early Saturday as we needed to start organizing Christmas at home. It felt a little early but blank calendar days are nearly non-existent round here in the month of December so we had to dive in.

As we were cruising homeward down the Interstate hubs noticed a sign for 'The Ark', and since we were in the neighborhood we decided to take a quick peek. Which is nearly impossible to do but we tried. If you're not familiar with 'The Ark' it's a reconstruction of Noah's ark sitting just off the highway in Williamstown Kentucky.


We were curious, but after reading about it online opted not to go inside. The tickets are pricey and most reviews said you needed several hours to really take it all in and ain't nobody got time for that Thanksgiving weekend. We were passing by just as it was opening for the day so we did drive into the parking lot to gawk. The Ark gets mixed reviews online, and I know a couple of folks who've been who also give it mixed reviews, but I have to say it was kind of cool to see it from afar.

We stopped for lunch in the little town of Berea because we're suckers for those little brown signs on the side of the highway that indicate some sort of historical and/or interesting something. In this case it was Boone Tavern which is a restaurant and hotel affiliated with Berea College, and we had a wonderful lunch (Kentucky Hot Brown anyone?) in their elegant dining room. We thought maybe the tavern had something to do with Daniel Boone, and it is named for the native son, but that's as far as the connection goes.

The Tavern was built in the early 1900's to house guests of the college. Apparently the President's wife decided they needed to build a guest house after she realized she'd welcomed over 300 guests of the university to her home one summer. I can kind of relate-ha!

We made it home in time to catch up with the neighbors whose grown children were in town, and now we're on to the next thing. Thanksgiving drew the short straw, but it's still my favorite holiday of the year.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Thursday Sorts Of Things

That's code for unimportant, only slightly interesting, random thoughts. And since it's Thursday I'll aim for thirteen -

1. I had to buy a new phone yesterday. I've been putting off a trip to the 'phone store' in much the same way I put off a trip to the dentist. Nearly as aggravating.

Here's how it went down-I called the day before and made an appointment. The gentleman confirmed my requested time and asked what I was interested in purchasing. He said I should ask for him by name when I came in (for the sake of this story we'll call him J) and he'd have the phone I wanted out and ready to go. Great! Yay! Perfect!

Also too good to be true.

When we arrived at the phone store nobody knew anything about a scheduled appointment and J wasn't even there. He'd gone home an hour earlier. I feel like this is par for the course when you go to purchase a new phone.

On the bright side, J's stand-in was super helpful and even managed to switch my plan to something less expensive with better service so I guess in the end I'm glad J was a slacker-ha!

2. On the less than bright side I spent an hour today trying to get my screen protector registered. It only required three live chats with the manufacturer and one call to Verizon.

3. Let's randomly change topic now because this is a list of completely unrelated stuff. I recently started an exercise class with some women in my neighborhood.

4. In case there's any confusion, I didn't start the class as in create the class. I started the class as in I attend the class. If you know me you weren't confused. ahem

5. In other activity related news, I've been playing Pickleball. Have you ever played Pickleball? I'm still learning and there are a lot of rules (I think you know how I feel about rules), but I'm enjoying the game a lot.

6. I guess you could say it's a cross between tennis and ping pong. For the record, I stink at tennis but I play a mean game of ping pong. The racket? paddle? is graphite, slightly larger than a ping pong paddle and the ball is similar to a Wiffle ball but its a Pickleball ball. We play on a tennis court with Pickleball markings which are slightly inside the tennis lines so less running. Whoohoo!

7. I still seem to end up running a lot.

8. When I told my Daughter2 I was playing Pickleball and that I really liked it she said, and I quote,

'That's great Mom because you're not, you know...' 

Not what? Coordinated? Ha-she's right! But I am getting a little bit better every week.

9. Course we didn't play this week because it was raining. I mean RAINING!! Again. Still?

10. Boating season is winding down but hubs and I did squeeze in a ride on a sunny 65 degree day a couple of weeks ago.



Yes I'm in jeans and a vest because even when it's sunny there's wind when you're moving. Hubs would want me to tell you he was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. 



11. Nothing nicer than leaf peeping from the water on a blue sky autumn day.



12.  I am a fan of the big blue heron.


13. And autumn in general.



"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all." ~ Stanley Horowitz

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

A Wednesday Medley

Howdy. It's been a while. I say that nearly every time I come here but that doesn't make it any less true.

Once upon a time I hosted a blog link up on Wednesdays. It was a warm and friendly group and we really got to know one another through this little mid-week party. When I retired The Wednesday Hodgepodge, a blog friend who had been participating for years picked up the baton and has carried on posting questions for bloggers to answer every Wednesday.

This is the first time I'm getting round to it, but I need to jump back in somewhere. Since random is my writing love language today feels like that day. If you'd like to play along visit Terri at A Friend From Florida for all the deets.

Here we go-

1. With the holidays coming, what is your most essential appliance to help you prepare for the celebrations?

I won't be cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year as we're celebrating the holiday with Daughter2's future in-laws. The groom's mama is a wonderful cook so I'm excited for turkey and all the fixins'. Do they say fixins' where you live? I like the word and it feels appropriate when we're discussing  Thanksgiving dinner. 

I will be cooking Christmas dinner in my own house this year, and there will also be an abundance of cookie baking happening in the weeks leading up to the big day. I'm going to say my range is my most essential appliance. I love it, particularly for baking. The confection setting allows me to bake six trays of cookies at the same time, and each tray is evenly cooked. No turning trays or shuffling pans around. Definitely a plus if you bake a lot of cookies. Or have a Daughter who bakes a lot of cookies. 

2. What is your favorite (clean) word?

Hodgepodge of course. 

3. Are you a good judge of character?

I guess so. I'd like to think so anyway. I also think it's easy to misjudge people so I'm big on granting second chances to make a first impression. 

4. What is the last thing you took a picture of?

The view from the corner of my screened-in porch on a wet autumn day-


We love to eat out here, but that hasn't happened much lately. We've had a wet fall but it's still gorgeous and it's not snow so not complaining. 

5. Tomorrow, November 15th, is Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day. How do you intend to celebrate?

I guess I'll clean out my frig which is something that needs doing on a pretty regular basis. Actually my frig isn't too bad at the moment, so I think it might be more of a Clean Out Your Freezer kind of day here. 

6. Tell us something random about your week.

It's nice to see so many familiar 'faces' in the Wednesday Medley. Thanks Terri for keeping us moving forward! 

Monday, November 5, 2018

Pretty As A Picture

It's a gray and rainy Monday here in the upstate which means it's the perfect day to share a few engagement pictures. Credit for all these gorgeous shots goes to photographer extraordinaire Chris Isham.

Did you take engagement pictures when you got married? I don't think that was a thing in the 80's, or if it was I missed it. We took wedding photos which were lovely, but seriously posed. Today's photographers aim for less stiff, more natural movement which I like so much better.


Engagement pics seem to happen mostly outdoors, either in a well loved city or out in nature somewhere. Daughter2 and her fiance enjoy hiking and the mountains so that seemed the perfect choice. Their reception will be in the small big city so we'll have downtown shots on their wedding day.


The bride told the photographer they'd love a mountain shoot and mentioned how much she loved a location he'd used in another bride's session. He liked that idea a lot, but then said if they were game he had an even better spot.

'Do you mind driving out a little bit'? 

No, she didn't mind.


Okay then. This spot is 2+ hours from town so 'just a little bit out' -ha!

Totally worth it though-


I feel like this next one could be a print advertisement in Town and Country Magazine-


One more...they look like they're on top of the world here-


Because they are.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Thirtysomething

More of the Write 31 Days Challenge....

Today's one word prompt-moment

Actually this was Fridays prompt but since I didn't get there I'm using it today.
I'm allowed.

So where were we?
My thirties. The second half. (You'll find Part 1 here).

We left North Jersey at the end of Daughter1's kindergarten year. Hubs was so ready to let go of the crazy insane commute he was making and the crazy insane interest rate we were paying on our mortgage (remember not everything about the early 90's was fabulous) and he was especially excited for a new work challenge. Plus Annapolis. Who wouldn't want to live there?

I had mixed feelings. That's how I roll when you say 'we're moving'. I do love a clean slate, fresh start but I also love warm and familiar. I was settled with my babies and my friends and my house without air conditioning. Moving means change and I always have to resist before I march headlong.

But I marched headlong because that's what you do, and I fell in love with the town beside the Bay.

With our new house and our little cul-de-sac with kids spilling out everywhere and hubs ten minute commute. With the sweet school nearby and our church down the road. Piano lessons every Tuesday and ballet class in Maryland Hall. Girl scouts, family camping, Disney World. The swingset out back and homework at the kitchen table. Blue crabs picked by tiny hands on a warm summer day.

New people, new places, new experiences.

No social media.
Real life in real time.

I went back to work part time in my thirties. My girls were in all day school then and the preschool Daughter2 had attended was looking for a teacher two days a week. The Director knew I had a background in education so she approached me about a job. I remember thinking, 'Work? Wait...what?? How in the world can I work? Am I capable of managing a room full of four year olds?'

I think this is sometimes a side effect of being a stay-at-home mom. You forget a few things about yourself. Never mind that once upon a time I had a caseload approaching 90...when it came to working outside the home I was rusty.

But I was also ready.

This little school and the people in it were so dear and the work hours meshed so well with my own girls school I said yes. My second year there I taught three days a week and the year after that half day kindergarten. The staff was wonderful and I enjoyed interacting with the parents too. Five is my absolute favorite age, the perfect mixture of curiosity, sweetness, and mischief, and getting back in the classroom reminded me I was good at this sort of work.

I think if I could pick any age to be forever it would be 35. That's the age where I really and truly got completely comfortable in my own skin. Where I fully acknowledged my strengths and abilities and put them to use. In motherhood. In the world of work. In the volunteer community that makes the world go round. If I had to choose one word to describe these years my word would be 'satisfying'.


So what are some take aways from this decade?

Change adds things to your life you didn't know were missing.

Treasure your parents.

Perfection is overrated so stop chasing it.

Say yes to things that feed your soul.

Save for retirement.

The value of a good night's sleep cannot be overstated.

Get the babysitter. Tag along on that work trip with your husband. Leave the grandparents in charge and get away with the one you married. One day in the not so distant future you'll be 'just us' again.

Make room in your day and life for seeing the small things.

You don't have to have it all figured out.

Pray. Seek wisdom. You are loved by the God who sees and you're not doing this thing--parenting, relationships, work, life, everything--alone.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Capture

Still at that 31 Day Writing Challenge....

Today's prompt-capture

I went ahead and skipped yesterday's prompt because the word was 'brief'. Y'all I wouldn't even know where to begin-ha! Today's one word prompt is capture and since I've been meaning to come back here and 'capture' my thirties in a blog post this works.

Back when I hosted the weekly Wednesday Hodgepodge I asked people to describe their 20's in one sentence, and then later to do the same for their 30's. Since one sentence is never enough for me I wrote a whole post about my 20's (here). I wanted to do the same for my 30's and today is going to be that day.

So, it's been a while. What do I remember about my thirties? How does that decade look from a vantage point some twenty years down the road?


I turned thirty just a few days after giving birth to my second daughter. If you'd asked me then I'd have said I felt every bit my age and then some. Baby girl was an absolute beauty and she loved her mama so much she did not ever ever ever want me too far from reach. She sleeps like it's her job now, but those early months were sort of a par-tay whoop whoop all night long.

And I was tired for the first half of my thirties.

You know there's a very short window in motherhood where you actually get to sleep the way you want to sleep and not the way your children dictate you sleep. That window opens up about the time your children are between the ages of 5 and 15. For the rest of your parental life sleep will be interrupted either by babies needing to be fed, changed and soothed, toddlers needing water or the potty or to climb in bed with mom for no reason at all, or by teenagers who drive cars and college students living just out of reach. Then all of a sudden they're all grown up and sure you could sleep if only your own body would let you.

Actually I think I might make this two posts because life is chock-a-block full of experiences, feelings, and lessons learned in your thirties. We'll do the first five years today, and somehow I'll make the second five fit tomorrow's prompt. Or Monday's prompt. Or sometime.

When my thirties began we were living in a tiny little town in the far northern tip of NJ. Hubs had a brutal commute to work and on top of that was traveling a ridiculous amount of the time so sometimes it felt like I was living there and he was living at the office or Newark Airport. Almost weekly a car service would show up at our door at 3 am so he could make a 6 am flight or some such nonsense and hey, no wonder we were tired.

We were involved in a church in a nearby town and it was here I attended my first Women's Bible Study group. The women in that group were a Godsend to me in those early exhausting days of parenting. My faith grew here by leaps and bounds, and the love and support I felt from these women helped me navigate one of the hardest seasons of my life, the loss of my dad.

I don't think we have any idea how the loss of a parent will shape and change us in the years to come, but it does. My dad enjoyed his grandchildren so much and all these years later I still feel sad that he didn't get to watch them grow up or know them as the enchanting young adults they are today. He left a legacy of faith and courage though and these are gifts you treasure with an ever deepening sense of gratitude as the years roll by.

Daughter1 turned three years old and after a scary episode of mono ended she was finally able to start preschool. Every Tuesday and Thursday we moms would linger in the hallway as we dropped our littles off for class. Then we'd all kind of shuffle off alone to our own homes and repeat the ritual at pickup. I became friendly with one of the moms because our daughters had latched on to one another from the word GO, and she and I decided together we'd organize an informal coffee morning.

So we invited all the moms to come to my house the next week for coffee and cake while our preschoolers were in school. Most of us had a toddler or a babe in arms too, so everyone came and brought their babies and it was the beginning of a wonderful weekly play group/mom support system that carried on through Daughter 1's kindergarten year which is when we moved.

We moved in my thirties. Nobody's surprised are they? More about that in the second half of the decade writeup, because today I'm remembering what it felt like to be 32.

To have babies who fit in the crook of my arm and who snuggled up close on the couch.

There was that time a bear got in the garage, the wonky steel swingset perched somewhat precariously on the side of our back hill, the maple tree that turned the prettiest shade of red I've ever seen.

There were birthday parties on the brick patio, bicycles with training wheels, and home made ice cream.

Fourteen country miles to the nearest McDonalds, three trips to the ER for stitches (hello Daughter2!), weekend walks through apple orchards, the A.T. trail, Central Park and Waywayanda.

A pacifier smile, the silky edge of a well loved blankie, the color pink.

Blonde curls and books and freshly bathed girls.


A full day. A full life. A full heart.