Monday, August 31, 2009

They Say It's Your Birthday

Almost thirty years ago I met and fell in love with my husband. Today he is celebrating a milestone birthday. I use the word celebrate very loosely because he is working and traveling all day and I'm not really sure how much fun you can have in an airport. I will say this though...if there is any fun to be found he will be the one to find it. Because he knows how to enjoy life. To seize a moment. To pull you into a moment right along with him. To laugh. To make me laugh. To embrace opportunity. To love a challenge. To be spontaneous.

He never met a stranger. He is the person you sit next to on a plane and you find yourself telling him your life story. He draws people out. He makes people feel comfortable when they are not. There isn't a microphone on any stage that he wouldn't love to step behind. He believes I can do anything and he encourages me to try. He gets teary eyed when he talks about his daughters. He has passion and drive, integrity and determination and he admires that in others too. He has boundless energy. He is honest. That sounds kind of like a boy scout. Oh wait, he was a boy scout. An eagle scout in fact because he doesn't do anything halfway.

When I imagined the post I'd write in honor of his birthday today I was thinking it would be funny and a little bit him. Instead I find myself feeling rather sentimental. But this is okay too. Because he feels deeply and loves completely.

A couple of months ago I saw this video on Steph's blog and told her I was totally going to steal it. And I have.

Happy Birthday to my husband... he reaches the half century mark today but inside he's still that boy with the mischievous grin and the twinkle in his eye. He's still the boy I married.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Boys will be Boys

My husband has some British colleagues in town for meetings this week so we've had a few houseguests coming and going. It's been fun and I love that people he worked with overseas consider us friends and want to come hang out in our home. Last night we had a bbq and the weather was perfect so we sat on the deck for dinner. I think my husband had really built up the whole wild kingdom aspect of our garden and our British friend (A) was really hoping to see a bear. Or at least some deer. He did see that pesky groundhog which is something I suppose. At least he didn't see it stalked and eaten by a fox which has been known to happen before my very eyes in my own backyard. I think it's likely that would have spoiled dinner so it was all good.

One of the girls who came to dinner was celebrating a birthday and I had a few balloons tied to her chair. What do you suppose husband and A did after everyone else went home? If you guessed discussed world politics and how much longer Gordon Brown will remain England's Prime Minister you would probably be wrong. If you guessed inhale all the helium from the birthday balloons so they could sing Hotel California in high squeaky voices and then laugh hysterically you would probably be right.

Speaking of husband is celebrating a BIG birthday next week. And I've decided I may need to mention that at least 50 times on my blog just because I'm nice like that. I mean what's the point of having a BIG birthday if people can't make a BIG deal out of it. Right?

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Moms in Touch

I originally began blogging after reading the LPM blog for a while. And I know I'm not alone here. On their blog yesterday Amanda created an opportunity for moms to post prayer requests for children headed back to school or for teachers who would like prayer. It was an amazing thing to read...many moms have a real sense of excitement about the coming year but there were also lots and lots of requests filled with anxiety and heartache too.

What really struck me as I was reading the requests was the number of moms with college aged students posting prayer requests. I know I did. I think when my girls were little I imagined parenting would be a piece of cake by the time we hit the college years. But college is a minefield...a time when kids are open and vulnerable yet are making some of life's most important decisions...a time when so many pull away from the faith they have embraced all their young lives when in fact they never needed it more. The sense of urgency I feel to pray for my kids during these years is far greater than anything I felt when they were small.

If you are a mom of a school aged child I encourage you to look for (or start) a Moms in Touch group in your school. If you're not familiar with Moms in Touch check out their website. In short, it's a ministry where moms get together with other moms and pray specifically for their children, for their particular school, for the teachers and staff who work there and for any issues that arise throughout the year. It's not a Bible Study, it's not a coffee morning's simply moms committed to one hour of praying together each week for their specific school and everyone in it. There are already groups in place in literally hundreds of schools all around the world and if there's not a group associated with your school its easy to get started...all you need is one other mom who shares your committment.

Sometimes it's hard to know how to pray for our kids. We feel so much and we want so much for them...Fern Nichols, the founder of Moms in Touch, has a wonderful book, Every Child Needs a Praying Mom that was a real encouragement to me and that I still re-visit from time to time.

My girls begin classes oldest is a college senior and lately I find myself asking how this did she go from kindergartener to nearly a college graduate in the blink of an eye? While there are some long days in the world of mothering, the reality is that the years we have to truly teach and influence our children are very short. One thing will always remain true...a 'child' is never too old to benefit from a mother's heartfelt prayers.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The BBC and our know, British stuff

I know you are on pins and needles waiting to hear how the car show went and I promise I will get to that in a minute. And you can rest assured there are trophies involved. Before I get to that bit though I wanted to let you know that back in the autumn of 2008 I was part of a program recorded and broadcast in the UK on BBC Radio4. The women's club I've mentioned here before was featured in a 30 minute BBC Radio programme called Lives in a Landscape. The show highlights all sorts of things going on in the villages around the UK and back in the fall of 2008 our club was the story. I was interviewed as the outgoing club president along with the incoming president who was leading her first general meeting, two ladies newly arrived in England, our hiking activity group leader and a club member who has lived in multiple countries and is something of an ex pat pro. The interviewer also attended that first general club meeting of the year, a newcomers coffee and he even went on a hike with our hiking group.

Anyway, all this to say that the program is going to be rebroadcast on Monday evening, 11:30 PM UK time which is 6:30 PM East Coast time in the US. If you are at all interested in listening in I think this link will allow you to connect (Lives in the Landscape). If not it will most likely be on their website for a few days following the broadcast so click here if you'd like to listen online sometime after Monday.

Now, you may have zero interest in this and if so just skip on down to the next bit of today's post. I do think the program is an interesting little glimpse into what it's like settling into life in another country. And of course I must also add that I am speaking in a couple of places and will be easy to identify because (1) I'm the first segment and I was interviewed while driving. Uh-oh. If you read my blog you already know about my expertise at operating a motor vehicle in the UK and (2) I was interviewed in a later segment while hiking and a hilly part at that so when you hear the person speaking who makes you think, "Why is that woman so out of breath?" you'll know that's me. I'm in a bit at the end as well but I don't think that requires any forewarning. Click here if you'd like to listen online sometime after Monday.

Now for the car show...I have a few thoughts (you're not surprised) starting with was hot. Really really hot. And, because I wanted to be all into the spirit of the event I wore my London Polo shirt which is short sleeved but heavy and did I tell you it was HOT?

And is there such a thing as a car show tan because if there is I'm gonna be sporting one for the next couple of days?

Next thought...convertible hair. Not good. At all. Thankfully I grabbed a hat at the last minute because convertible hair definitely needs a hat and that's all I'm gonna say about that.

The car show was held on the grounds of a local community college and all the proceeds from today's event will be donated to the 9/11 memorial charities. There is a lovely memorial on the college grounds that stands 9 feet 11 inches tall and its centerpiece is a steel beam from one of the towers.

When we arrived at the car show we collected our entry number and our goody bag. Oh, I do love a goody bag and I'm really not too particular about what's in it. This one held mostly 'car stuff' but I did get a little bit excited about the miniature tape dispenser. The couple next to us informed me that Mars Candy sponsors a car show and their goody bags have Mars candy in them. I think I can manage to attend another show if chocolate is involved.

Anyway, besides our goody bag we were given a ballot so we could walk around and vote on cars in the various categories. And get cannot vote for your own car. Huh? What is that all about? We were also given a ticket for a door prize and whoohoo! we won something. In keeping with the car theme it was a little plaque to hang somewhere in the house about God holding the 'key'. And technically it doesn't match my decor so it might need to hang in the garage right beside our trophies. That's right I said trophies. As in two. And it's fun to win stuff y'all. One trophy was for our category (sport something or other) but the second trophy was the fireman's choice. The local fire dept was at the show cooking hotdogs and hamburgers and they also got to award trophies for their favorite cars so we got one of those too. And while I love the actual winning of the trophy I don't get as excited about the displaying of them in the house so I think they will be beautifying the garage...that's good, right?

Today was kind of fun. I think I'd have enjoyed it more if it weren't 175 degrees but all in all it was an experience. We got a kick out of the number of people who looked at our car and didn't register the fact that the steering wheel is on the right hand side. And we did meet some nice people and there were lots of great cars at the show...

And boy do car collectors take the competition bit seriously. I mean they're just cars people.

Oh, and did I tell you we got TWO trophies?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Big Girls Don't Cry. Or Complain.

So who was that lady who wrote that whiny post yesterday? What a baby. Well that's how it sounded to me when I read it today. I generally don't have a lot of patience for complainers. Count your blessings already! is what I'm usually thinking. And I suppose I shouldn't post when I'm having a day although one of the reasons I started blogging in the first place was to write about these days and months (and years?) of transition. So while I'd like to say I won't look back... I might. The good news is I excel at compartmentalizing so it won't happen too often.

Now that I've posted my disclaimer for any future whiny posts can you stand to read some happy thoughts? For starters, the weekend is here and my husband and I are exited about the fact that we have absolutely nowhere to go that involves either packing a suitcase or loading a car/truck. Did you know that we closed on our house on June 15th and that this weekend will be only the second weekend we've actually been home? In our own house? We have been on the go every single weekend and although the trips have been filled with fun things (if you don't count the 17 hour trip in the big rig which I've already totally blocked -told you I excel at compartmentalizing) they've still involved packing, driving, and not being home to get the house looking perfectly perfect.

So this weekend we are going to hit the container store...and a side note here...I love just writing those words-Container Store. You have no idea how difficult it was for me to get storage containers in England. I looked everywhere for bins when we first arrived in the UK and they were nowhere to be found. I finally went into my small but very well stocked local hardware shop and asked where I could find bins and the owner's reply was this (and I kid you not)...'Bins, why yes, I think we have a bin.' A bin? A? I need about 10 bins because I have no closets. And that bin cost the equivalent of over 15 US Dollars. Oh see, there are a few things I don't miss! Anyway, besides loading up on containers this weekend we plan to finally hang pictures, throw something delicious on the grill and.... we're going to enter a local car show.

Now, I have to interject here and say that I'm not 100% sure I'm a car show kind of girl so that may or may not stay in the 'things to love about the weekend column' but....I do love our little car and I do love my husband. And he has been working so hard in his new job in addition to driving all over the East Coast every weekend in addition to moving furniture in addition to taking a business trip halfway around the world all in the last few weeks so I think the least I can do is get a little bit excited about a car show.

And just in case you don't think this post is random pup has a small injury to her paw. We have no idea how it happened but the vet said I've possibly over exercised her. Hello!! Didn't I tell you that walking in this neighborhood is a workout? I bet if the vet looked at my paws she'd say the same thing. In fact I moved up to Level 2 on the Shred and can I just say that I hate the plank and my knees are not cut out for 3400 squats in a 20 minute time period?

Here's hoping your weekend is smashing! Cheers...Joyce

I can't help it. I like their words. Very very much. They are brilliant.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mama said there'd be days like this

Well, my mama didn't actually say it but plenty of my friends did.

We watched about 5 minutes of America's Got Talent the other night. I turned it off after I heard Piers Morgan tell Sharon Osbourne she was 'barking', as in barking mad. As in crazy. The expression was just too much and made me tear up. My husband and I made eye contact and I had to change the channel. Ridiculous I know.

For the most part we've been so busy we haven't had alot of time to think about missing life in England. But every now and then something sneaks into daily life and I'm caught off guard by a wave of emotion. Like yesterday. My mom is here visiting for a few days and we went to see Julie and Julia which we both liked a lot. It made me want to rush home and whip up some boeuf bourguignon. And it made me a little bit homesick too. For another kind of life. For my old life in another place. For a country that is not my own yet is my own.

And I know these feelings come in waves and some days I am happier than I can say to be back in this place-in this little town, in this house that is now home. Happy to drive on great big wide roads and park in great big wide parking spaces where I can swing my car door all the way open. Where I can shop any time- day or night and eat twizzlers and ranch dressing (not together of course), and have family within driving distance and my children on the same land mass... I love all of this.

But there are moments y'all...moments when I miss the teeny tiny scary roads, the shops that close at 5 pm, a plate of sausage and mash, the landscape, the language, the humor. Especially the humor.

I'm just sayin'...there are moments.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Down by the Bay

This was the view that greeted me outside my bedroom window when I opened my eyes on Saturday morning-

So nice. Sigh. We spent the weekend on my sister and brother in law's boat which they had docked in Cambridge Maryland for a few days. And yes we did spend yet another weekend trekking up and down I-95 but a weekend anywhere near the Chesapeake is so worth it. Being on the river is pretty much our favorite thing and the weather couldn't have been nicer.

We were docked in a marina run by the Hyatt which had beautiful grounds and three swimming pools to enjoy during the day.

My mom and my South Carolina sister and brother in law also came along and it was especially fun to have a weekend with my sisters.

My younger sister and her husband have a three year old little boy and we loved watching him splash in the pool

study the sea life

and just 'be three'.

The sun, the sea and this cutie patootie made for one great weekend.

And I'll let you decide which one I mean when I say cutie patootie.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Bella us your favorite vacation spot

I am joining in the fun at Kelly's Korner today...any excuse to write about Italy. Kelly is hosting 'Show us your Favorite Vacation Spot' and I guess no one is surprised to see that I'm writing about Italy. I love to travel and there are lots of fabulous places I could write about... and I was torn for maybe a second or two but in the end Italy is my favorite so here we go.

We've been up and down the country and it's all lovely. I know though, that my family will agree with me when I say the week we spent in the tiny town of Stresa in July, 2007 was special. It was the perfect combination of natural beauty, sightseeing, wonderful weather, fantastic food, relaxation and family togetherness.

Stresa is situated on one of Italy's most beautiful lakes-Lago Maggiore. The tip of the lake extends into Switzerland but we didn't venture there this time around. We stayed in a lovely hotel called the Regina Palace and enjoyed breakfast every morning on the patio facing the lake.

Sitting in the midst of Lago Maggiore are some small islands called the Borromean Islands...Isola Bella, Isola Madre and Isola Pescatori. After breakfast each morning we would hop on a boat and head to one of the islands to walk, shop, sightsee, and have some amazing lunches. I'm sure I mention food alot when I'm talking about Italy but honestly how could I talk about this country without mentioning the food a few hundred times? Can you say gelato?

These little islands are filled with magnificent gardens, an old palazzo, lovely peacocks and some that are even all white, fishing boats, quaint streets, tiny shops, and friendly Italians.

After lunch we hopped back on the boat and spent our afternoons generally relaxing and reading beside the pool. Between the four of us we read fourteen books that week. That's my kind of holiday!

One morning we took the cable car to the top of the mountain. Have I mentioned that riding in very high, precariously hung cable cars is not really my thing? Daughter2 isn't a huge fan either but I scoped out the journey from the ground and convinced her that this one just hugged the mountain and there wouldn't be any huge valleys to cross. Oops. Turns out there was a great big valley to cross, you just couldn't see that bit of the 'ride' from the ground. The views were magnificent though so it was totally worth it.

Another highlight of the week was the four hour lunch we had at the teensiest little restaurant up on a hillside overlooking the lake. And yes I did say four hour lunch. Coincidentally the pilot for my husband's company jet just happens to be from the little village beside Stresa and he and his wife just happened to be spending the week at their apartment there. We met them for lunch at a local spot that we would never in a million years have found on our own. On the ride up the mountain our taxi driver kept asking, 'They know you are coming, yes? It is very small.' Yes indeed. I think very small would describe it-there were only about four tables. The owners were so charming and had just been to the market that morning. They prepared course after course of some of the best food I've ever eaten...ravioli, fresh fish, zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella cheese...sigh...

Do you see why Italy is my happy place?

I mean really...what's not to love?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

"A daughter may outgrow your lap, but she will never outgrow your heart." author unknown

for more Wordless Wednesday posts visit 5 Minutes for Mom

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

And the painted ponies they go up and down

I'm pretty sure we set some sort of record on Friday when we managed to make a 12 1/2 hour drive in only 17 hours. And stopping at the DMV wasn't even our biggest delay. Getting to the DMV was a bit of a side trek off the planned route but once we found the building it only took about an hour to finally get all the paperwork completed and to leave with temporary tags and a temporary registration for the MG. That's progress people. Plus there was a Dunkin Donuts conveniently placed in the lobby of the building so I had a nice cup of coffee while I waited on hubby. No donut though. I'm pretty sure Jillian would frown at a donut.

The real delay didn't occur until we were nearing Charlotte, NC. We sat in our 'big rig' as we liked to call it for over an hour and a half on I-85 while a multi-vehicle accident was cleared. And we had to turn off the a/c while we were sitting because we wanted her to start back up when it was time to move. And it's hot down south y'all. And humid.

In spite of all the aggravation in getting to South Carolina my husband and I agreed that moving our girls this time around was a piece of cake compared to previous years. Having a truck meant we were able to get all of daughter2's belongings to her dorm in one trip. Moving everything by car generally takes about 157 trips because did I mention that girls have alot of stuff? Oh, and they need it too. All of it. Every last item. Let's just say if my husband doesn't set foot in another Target or Bed Bath and Beyond or Lowes or Wal Mart or Macys or Pottery Barn or Pier 1 or World Market for at least 52 weeks it won't be too soon.

We said goodbye to the big rig in South Carolina and flew home last night. And we also said goodbye for now to our girls because we probably won't make another trip to SC until their school's Family Weekend in October. And the whole way home I was thinking about how I wish I lived closer to them. And I know NJ is way closer than England but it's still not close. And my girls are basically young adults now so shouldn't this whole missing them when they're away from me start to ease up a little bit?

I've realized something recently and that is this-I am never going to stop missing them when they are away from me. Not even when they are the age I am now. I know my mom still misses me. She's going to spend a few days with me next week and that makes her so happy. Why? I mean I've lived away from her for 32 years. But that doesn't matter because no matter how old I am in her heart I'm still her little girl.

I think I've been imagining that at some point along this road of raising children that the missing would subside. I thought I'd someday reach the end of the 'letting go'. That being away from them would get easier. But it doesn't. And in my head I know my girls are 21 and nearly 19. But my heart says something different.
I don't think a mom ever completely lets go.
And I don't think we want them to.

'And the seasons they go round and round,
And the painted ponies go up and down
We're captive on the carousel of time

We can't return we can only look
behind from where we came
and go round and round and round
in the circle game' Joni Mitchell

Thursday, August 6, 2009

'so they loaded up the truck and they moved to Beverly...Hills that is...'

Sorry...ever since we began loading the rental truck yesterday I've had the Beverly Hillbillies theme song stuck in my head. Now you will too. You're welcome.

So my weekend is going to be filled with all kinds of fun beginning with a 12+ hour drive in this-

Oh, and if that doesn't make you feel just the teensiest bit envious let me add that this 12+ hour ride will include a stop at the NJ DMV headquarters in the state capitol because we need to jump thru hoop number 372 in the US titling process for the MG. My husband has already been to our local DMV three times and made a trip to Customs in Newark to get paperwork stamped, or maybe I should say re-stamped re-stamped because it was stamped in the UK and it was stamped when the car originally entered the US. Never mind. I was going to say something about government run health care here but I'll hold back.

Anyway, back to my weekend...the 12 hour drive is just the start of all the fun because once we arrive in SC we get to move furniture. Yay! And hang curtains...more yay! If I were listing my husband's least favorite jobs I'm pretty sure hanging curtains would be near the top. We're taking some of our furniture to daughter1's apartment and then moving daughter2 back into her college dorm. The bright side is I will get to have a whole weekend with my girlies which always makes me happy.

And at least my cabana boy is with me on this trip. In fact he'll do all the driving because he hasn't quite recovered from the 'incident of 1995' when I accidentally drove into his office parking lot with our kids bicycles on top of the car. As I was apparently the last to discover the parking lot had one of those height bar thingys across the entry to which I paid no attention because I'm sure I was distracted by kids talkingtalkingtalking and the prospect of the vacation we were about to begin and whether or not I'd turned the iron off before leaving the house. You thoughts. Anyway, what's really sad is that I didn't even realize I'd dinged the bikes...not even when my then 7 yo daughter said, 'Look mom, there's my bell in the parking lot'. That's nice honey....And it wasn't until I got into my husband's office and casually mentioned how odd it was that daughter1's bell had 'fallen off' her bike as we pulled into the parking lot that my husband shook his head and asked me if maybe I'd driven into the height bar thingy. Oops. Needless to say husband will be driving the truck with the 10 ft. clearance. And my job will be not to distract him with my talkingtalkingtalking...can't have him accidentally stopping at the ATM or making a run thru a McDonalds drive thru now can we?

And by the way, you're all invited back next week to this locality to have a heapin' helpin' of my hospitality...y'all come back now, ya hear?!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Shred? I don't need no stinkin' shred

Because I live in a neighborhood where walking every morning is like a daily climb up Mt. Everest.

Okay, maybe that's a slight exaggeration but y'all, it's steep here. Way steeper than you can tell from my pictures. Trust me. And I've been walking with my pup every morning and can I tell you that even the tops of my feet hurt? Why is that? I mean other than the obvious reason being that I'm slightly out of shape?

This is what my pup does every single morning as soon as we get back to the house-

She flings herself flat out on the garage floor. Can't even make it up the four measly steps into the house. Most days I'd like to join her. I don't, but believe me when I say that I most definitely could lay down right there beside her on the garage floor.

And when she finally does come back into the house she generally goes back to bed-

A dog's life is rough isn't it?

Now me, I'd like to go back to bed but I'm into that whole new house, new town, fresh start way of thinking so when I come in from our walk I go straight to the DVD player for a workout with Jillian.

And, I'm pretty sure I'm the last person in America jumping on the whole 30 day shred thing but better late than never. If you've missed out on all the 'fun' check out Jillian Michael's workout. Even my hair hurts. And I'm only on day 3. I actually bought the DVD just before we left England and it's been following me around, taunting me, reminding me of what's coming, shaming me into working out all the way from the UK to the month+ in the hotel and finally to our new house...still wrapped of course. In my defense we just got our DVD player connected on Saturday.

My husband said last night that he thought exercising was supposed to mellow me out. He's just lucky I couldn't lift my arms.