Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Random with a side of birthday

It's Wednesday which means its once again time for the weekly random dozen hosted by Linda. It's also time for someone in my house to turn one year older and Linda conveniently worked that into her questions for me this week. Feel free to join in the fun and link your own answers to the questions by clicking on the donuts...

1. What insect are you most afraid of? Feel free to post a picture.

Well, to be honest, I'm not a fan of any insect but I particularly dislike spiders and most especially the kind that crunch when you squash them. Or when you yell and your hubs comes running and squashes them for you.

2. What is the greenest/most organic thing about you or that you do?

I guess recycling, which really is such a habit now I don't even think about it. I was thinking recently about the fact that my kids have grown up never throwing cans or bottles in a regular trash bin.

I do buy local produce and I also buy seasonal produce but that's easy because its fabulous. I read Barbara Kingsolver's book, Animal Vegetable Mineral, a couple of years ago and it did get me thinking about where my food comes from and it made me want to buy local when possible. We have a lot of farms and orchards in our neck of the woods so that's not especially difficult.

3. Tell me about a recurring dream that haunts you.

Huh? Might be time to cut back on the Starbucks Linda : )

4. Have you ever missed a flight? What were the circumstances?

I have never actually missed a flight because I am one of those people who like to get to the airport with plenty of time to spare. I fly a lot but I avoid connections whenever possible because I dislike all that up and down business.

We were bumped off of our return flight from Dubai to London because BA had oversold our flight by 30 seats. Seriously? Did they really think 30 people wouldn't show? Every single person booked, showed, and we were bumped. They ended up putting us on an Emirates flight where my daughter thought for about 5 minutes she'd like to be a flight attendant so she could wear the super cute hat that is part of their uniform. Then she remembered that she doesn't like all that up and down business either so nah. I recently wrote a long and picture laden post here about our trip to Dubai...I'm sure that intro makes you want to click right over and read doesn't it?

5. What do you consider your best feature?

My eyes.

6. What was the last concert you went to?

Brooks and Dunn -The Last Rodeo..it was on a weekend trip to Chicago and I wrote about it here. They were fab. In June we saw The Eagles, Keith Urban and The Dixie Chicks all together and they were also fab. Coincidentally I wrote about that one too and you can read it here.

7. Describe the most embarrassing church moment you ever experienced.

nada, I got nothin'.

8. Are you a whistler, hummer, or singer?

Much to my family's dismay, I'm a singer. Just typing that seems wrong.
How about this...I'm a person who loves to sing. Much better.

9. George Washington Carver said, "I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we only tune in." What is God saying to you through nature today or this very minute?

I look out my window every morning and see woods that change with the seasons, a beautiful sunrise, the mountains,

and so much wildlife...

It's a visual reminder that God is in control of the universe...that if He can number the stars and paint the sky with a million shades of pink...

He is able.

'...I tell you, do not worry about your life, ....look at the birds of the air;...are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life..." from Matthew 6

10. On September 1, 1752 the Liberty Bell arrived in Philadelphia. What memorable event will take place in your life on September 1, 2010?

I'm so happy to see this question because today, September 1, 2010, is my hubs birthday. I wrote a post about him on his birthday last year which you can read here. (I'm all about linking to my own blog today folks.)

I did post this video on his facebook page this morning because the song says it all...Happy Birthday Hubs!

11. Taco Bell or the Liberty Bell? (You must choose.)

The Liberty Bell of course. There is mucho Mexican food to be had but only one Liberty Bell. Plus I'm loyal to all things Philadelphia. I grew up just across the bridge from the city and have seen the bell many times. Did you know the Liberty Bell is inscribed with part of a verse from the book of Leviticus? "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land and to all the inhabitants thereof."

12. Do you believe men and women can have purely platonic friendships?

Hmmm...this is an interesting question. I like to think so. I have men I consider friends. My hubs has women friends. I think women can definitely have a platonic friendship with a man. I think some men can have platonic friendships with some women but I guess you'd need to ask a man what he's really thinking. I am not sure all men are capable of purely platonic friendships with women but I feel sure that some are.

How not to be a blubbering mess and other stuff I learned this weekend

Daughter1 has been home all weekend and I have to take her to the airport today. Daughter2 wasn't able to join us this time round because classes have started and she's knee deep into the books. At least I hope she is. Anyway, it's been so nice having my girl home...there is just something about seeing my grown up child sleeping in her own bedroom and sitting at the dinner table that warms my heart. We do not get enough of that but we try to make the most of it when it happens so we packed a lot into our weekend. I learned a few things too...

1. Grown up boys conversations with their friends are not that different from grown up girls conversations. We went to a local baseball game on Friday night and a group of 20-something boys were seated behind us. They never stopped talking. Seriously. They kept a running conversation going the entire 9 innings. In between trash talking the at bat player they covered girls looks with some particularly disturbing references to weight. And they had some harsh things to say about facebook photos which are not an accurate portrayal of said girls, hence the term facebook fakeout. Essentially this means posting pictures of yourself which were taken when you were 10 or maybe 40 pounds lighter than you are irl or wearing dark sunglasses so nobody can actually see your face. Women just cannot escape their insecurities. Sigh. The boys also discussed their employers, their cash flow and how much their mama does or does not do for them which, surprise surprise, was either too much or too little. I was a little bit tired by the time they left.

2. Will Ferrell movies are made with men in mind. We went to see The Other Guys on Saturday afternoon. Eh.

3. When it comes to hygiene, health care, and longevity the 21st century rocks. We watched the finale of Pillars of the Earth on Saturday night and let me just re-state for the record how happy I am to only read about the Middle Ages or see it re-created for television. I for sure would not have wanted to live back then. Shudder. That being said I do think about the care and craftsmanship and all the sweat and blood and tears that went in to building some of the worlds most beautiful cathedrals and I sort of wish we had a bit of that when we build churches today. I know a church is all about the people but the act of building a cathedral was about far more than just slapping some bricks together. Read Pillars of the Earth.

4. I need to Practice saying the Pledge of Allegiance in my head. I realized on Saturday that I am going to be a blubbering mess when my girls walk down the aisle one day. We attended a wedding on Sunday afternoon which was lovely. It was an absolutely gorgeous day with crystal clear blue skies and lots of sunshine and my girl home. As we stepped out of the car at the church I could already feel tears threatening.

Daughter and the bride's sister became fast friends the day they met...the first day of preschool, age three, circa 1991. And here they are today...

The bride is her older sister and they are the daughters of friends we have known since we lived in NJ the first time. When we met the bride she was 6. We had dinner with her parents a few weeks ago and my hubs grilled the dad J as to how he would handle all the emotion of the day. This is something my hubs worries about. A lot. He's pretty sure he'll need medication to hand his girls over to 'some boy'. Anyway, J laughed and told my hubs he wasn't a bit worried about his emotional state on the day.

As he walked his daughter down the aisle I somehow accidentally locked eyes with J and he told us later that until that moment he was fine. But when he looked at me and saw my daughter and hubs standing beside me the years just rolled back and he saw his daughter as the little girl she was when we all hung out together and that's when the tears came. We had much discussion in the car about how to keep it all together on our own girls wedding days and daughter1 informed us that you're supposed to say the pledge of allegiance under your breath to keep from sobbing. Trust me, I've filed that piece of information away for later.

5. Cotton candy adds whimsy to any event. The reception was completely amazing. Oh. my. word. We thought the cocktail reception buffet with its sushi station, pasta station, antipasti station, raw bar, pizza and bruschetta station, Asian station, and everythingunderthesun station was the main event. After an hour we were escorted into another beautiful room where we were served dinner. What??? Didn't we just have dinner??? Then, at about 10:30, our server leaned into our table and informed us that we had the best seat in the house for the dessert event. Yes, it was an event. They rolled back the wall behind our table to reveal another room that made me think Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and then proceeded to light the center table on fire.

I love a dessert that entertains too. There were dark chocolate and white chocolate fountains with fruit and cakes and even rice krispie treats for dipping, there was homemade Belgian waffles with ice cream and toppings, there was a candy bar and wedding cake and other confections and...much to my daughter's delight...there was a cotton candy station. So fun!

In fact, I think she may have filed something away in her brain for later too.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I hear music...sweet, sweet music

Today's Flashback Friday post is all about music so I couldn't pass that one up. Even though I have had overnight guests here who needed breakfast and we have a child to pick up at the Newark airport in Friday traffic I am still going to play along. Daughter1 is coming home for a long weekend so she can attend the wedding of a childhood friend and we can't wait to have her home with us for a few days. She hasn't spent much time in this house and it always makes me smile to see her sleeping snug in her own bed.

Okay, I'm supposed to be talking about music which happens to be one of my favorite things in the world. I love music. Lots of different types of music. However, I myself am not musically inclined. As a young girl I always wanted to play the piano but we didn't have one growing up so that didn't happen. I did enjoy singing in our church youth choir all thru my high school years but let's be honest and say that was more about the friends I made there and not so much about my singing ability. Which, lets also be honest and say is minimal.

My husband is very musical and comes from a family where everyone plays an instrument and sings in tune. Well, not sure about my fil but everyone else, yes. Hubs played the trumpet growing up. And he sings and as I've mentioned here a time or ten, he never met a microphone he didn't want to step behind. He definitely has an ear for music...sometimes he annoys me when we're in the car and he changes the radio station before I even know what song is playing. I mean I haven't even caught the first note and I need several to identify the song anyway and he says 'oh, we don't like that one.' He only needs one note, sometimes only a half a note. I wanted my girls to have music because I think it adds so much to our lives. Both of my girls thankfully got their dad's genes here and both have lovely singing voices and between them play the piano, violin and guitar.

Growing up we listened to music on a transistor radio and we listened to a lot of am stations.WIBG, WFIL Philadelphia anyone? I remember getting my first stereo which also contained an 8-track tape player. Exciting times they were. I remember buying albums and finally seeing what the band actually looked like...no videos back then or video channels and of course no internet either so unless you saw a band in concert or bought their album you had no idea what they looked like. Even then sometimes the covers were something funky and you still had no clue. I know the sound is better on a CD but a CD case does not evoke the same feeling as the one you got perusing a brand new album. We still have our stereo up and running and sometimes play our albums.

My parents were pretty good when it came to what we listened to. I mostly remember going in my room and closing the door and if I wanted to play it loud (which is how I like my music still) I would put on my headphones. And headphones when I was a teenager were not teeny tiny little ear buds. They were huge. We did not know that CD's, walkmen, MP3 players and later, something called an ipod would be a part of our future. We listened to our albums on stereos with speakers the size of small children and we liked it.

I have siblings who are five and seven years older than me so they were teenagers in the late sixties and early seventies and I grew up listening to their music. I loved it...The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, Herman's Hermits, too many to name really. Sometimes my younger sister and I would go into my older sisters room and we'd blast her stereo and dance on her canopy bed. We had little carrying cases of 45's too...remember the little insert that went in the center hole so they would play on a regular stereo? My younger sister and I shared a room and my brother's room was beside ours. He played the guitar and I remember the early days of his playing and listening thru the bedroom wall as he strummed House of the Rising Sun over and over and over. And over and over and over.

My dad loved country music which was not really anything like today's country music but he loved his Johnny Cash and Charlie Pride. My dad could not carry a tune at all but that did not stop him from singing along. My parents played a lot of Christian music too which I guess was contemporary in its day but I don't think they called it that back then. I loved the Gaithers and I can still remember the sound of George Beverly Shea singing "How Great Thou Art" which is one of my favorite hymns of all time.

What I really love about music is the ability it has to make you feel deeply and suddenly. Music carries you back to a place and time and I love the way I can be plodding along thru life and hear a song and suddenly be transported back to 1977. Or 1997. Music and memory go hand in hand for me.

I could never pick a favorite song but every now and then hubs and I will hear a song and say, 'Oh that one's on my all time top 10 list.' Which I kind of keep in my head and have never written down. I like the music of the 70's and early 80's the best probably because it was the soundtrack to my teenage/young adult years. And also because it was the best. I like country music today. I like beach music. I listen to a lot of contemporary Christian music and I like a lot of music from Broadway too. I never get tired of the soundtrack to Phantom of the Opera.

If I were naming favorite tunes I'd have to do it by category and even then I'm not sure I could do it. Music is as much about the mood I'm in and what is going on in my life as it is about the actual notes. There are a few songwriters who I think have a bit of the poet in them and I keep a running list of favorite song lines in my head too. A lot goes on in my head people. Jackson Browne, Billy Joel, Jim Croce...they fall into this category.

If I had to choose I'd say my favorite bands are The Eagles and U2. Fantastic music with lyrics that actually say something. If we are talking country music I love Kenny Chesney, Rascall Flats, and Brooks and Dunn. In the Contemporary Christian genre I listen to a lot of David Crowder Band and Point of Grace and I love old hymns too. My new favorite band which crosses lines when it comes to genre is NeedtoBreathe...they are amazingly talented and I have played their Outsiders cd at least a thousand times.

I feel like I need to link to a song here but how in the world can I pick just one? But I will...this is one of my all time favorites...one among hundreds...how can anyone not love the music of The Temptations?

And just in case you don't know NeedtoBreathe I feel I need to educate you...my daughter1 got me hooked on their music back before they were very well known. Bear attended the same uni as my girls and the band played at some fraternity events where daughter1 heard them and fell instantly in love with their music. Their song Something Beautiful is played a lot on the radio now but here's the title song....

Be sure to stop by Linda's blog today to read more Flashback Friday musical posts.


I thought about coming up with a clever title to this post but then I decided Dubai is pretty interesting all by itself. In a recent post I mentioned we had taken a trip there one February and I said I would write about it one day. Today's the day. Lucky you. Oh, and its long and photo heavy because hey, it's Dubai.

Dubai is not a place I ever imagined I'd visit. Or want to visit. In fact, its entirely possible that when we began making plans with friends to spend a February school break there I might have had to look at a map to see exactly where Dubai is located. I'll save you a trip to wiki and tell you that Dubai is situated on the Persian Gulf coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is bordered by Abu Dhabi and Oman. Course I didn't know where those countries were located either so whatever. I did know that even though Dubai is plopped down in the Arabian Desert it has wonderful beaches and I'm all about a great beach, especially in mid February. Keep in mind we were all coming from England where the weather in February leaves a little something to be desired.

Our trip to Dubai was also our first family vacation with one child absent. Daughter1 was in her first year of university and daughter2 missed her a lot. We took this trip with several other families from our school so there were 6 or 7 other teenagers traveling with us which made it more fun for Daughter2. And maybe caused Daughter1 to turn green with envy and say, "No fair going to Dubai without me!!!"

Most long haul British Airways flights have tv monitors in the seat backs so you can view the map as you fly. At one point hubs nudged me and said, "Hey look, we're flying right over Iran now" but I plugged my ears and sang lalala and prayed the pilot was not asleep at the wheel.

Dubai is unlike anywhere else I've ever been and I'm not sure my description is going to do it justice. Our hotel was absolutely beautiful and was known for its amazing service. Upon stepping outside for the first time we saw lovely gardens and the gorgeous Arabian Gulf sitting right there in front of us...

A beautiful beach complete with a camel or two...

Then we turned around and saw this...

Seriously, it was like Manhattan was being constructed right before our eyes.
The amount of building that was occurring at that time was staggering although I hear things are not quite so rosy there now.
You couldn't help but wonder how in the world they had enough people to fill all those buildings.

We had the most wonderful week.
We planted ourselves on the beach and laughed and talked and had serious discussions too, about the lives of women who must wear a burqa even while riding on a banana boat.

There was more than a little of this...

There was also some beach volleyball...

and some
soccer futbol...

and some forgot their fear of heights for a minute...

and para sailed over this crazy beach/sea/city.

Like any beach trip, there was much digging and sand castle building...
hubs is like the Pied Piper and he had fun with all the kids on this trip.

We shopped in the Gold Souk,
ate wonderful meals,
one family even visited the indoor ski resort because
why not snow ski when you're in the desert?

One member of our group organized a catamaran tour for all of us around the coast which was a lot of fun.

He had been in a business meeting that morning and joined us by speed boat partway thru the trip.
It was a total James Bond moment.
No, he is not a spy.

Everywhere you go you can see the Burg Al Arab hotel, supposedly the only 7 star hotel in the world.

No, we did not stay there.
And yes, it does look like a ginormous cross sitting in the middle of the UAE.
In fact we were told they changed the lighting after it was built because at night that is particularly obvious.
And completely accidental.
But its an interesting accident don't you think?

One day we took the
dads kids to Dubai's famous water park known as Wild Wadi.

We felt like the park creators must have made a trip or two to Disney because it had a similar feel...beautiful and clean and cleverly designed.

Hubs, along with another dad and that dad's son, spent a big chunk of their days getting their Scuba certification which is something my hubs has always wanted to do.

He is part fish so he loved this.

One evening most of the group trekked out to the desert for a 'desert adventure'...

This involved a jeep ride across mucho sand...

camels and henna and dinner...

and a pretty amazing sunset sky.

This post is all over the place but that's what happens when you don't have a blog to record memories as they are made.
I'm glad I've put it here now though.
Because it was worth remembering.

Partly because of the location...

but mostly...

because of the people with whom it was shared...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

In the words of CCR...Have You Ever Seen the Random?

I flew home last night after spending two days with my girls which consisted mostly of moving a lot of boxes up and down stairs and in and out of a storage unit in the brutal heat. Thank goodness for boys with trucks and muscles and a willingness to lend a hand or I might still be there. I'm sure my daughter2 could have managed on her own but I like to see her actual living space so when we talk I can picture her there. We had done most of her shopping on an earlier trip to town this summer but I did tag along with her when she bought her textbooks. Anyone else think that's a racket? A friend's daughter spent $350 on one economics book. Seriously, is that right? Unless it contains the secret to unlocking our country's financial woes I cannot imagine how they justify that price. I could rant here but I've got the Random Dozen today so I'll move along...

You're invited to play too...Linda posts the questions on Tuesdays so you have time to come up with your very clever answers. Be sure to link back to her blog on Wednesdays for all the internets to see. And keep in mind I spent Tuesday evening sitting in a too small airport waiting on my flight which was delayed and then delayed some more so I'm winging it here this morning. I know...what else is new?

1. What is your favorite Mexican dish?

um, a Margarita.
okay, seriously how do I choose a favorite? Enchiladas, but I must have guacamole nearby too.

2. When you were a kid, did you get started on your homework right away after school, or did you procrastinate?

I don't really remember but I think in the lower grades I probably did my homework after school. I think in high school I tended to do more hw in the evenings. I do have the procrastination gene but it did not manifest itself here. I was a good student and liked school.

3. What is your favorite store for home furnishings?

We have a mixture of antiques and traditional. I don't have a favorite store because my furniture has come from many different places. We used to love to shop in a little village in England called Hungerford which is full of so many wonderful antique shops. I also like Ethan Allen and I love to look thru the Pottery Barn catalog too. We tend to know what we like when it comes to furniture and will look high and low until we find the particular piece we have in mind.

4. When you were young, did you like school lunches?

In elementary school we walked home for lunch. In Jr. High and High School I mostly brought my lunch, always in a brown sack. I occasionally bought, maybe on pizza day?

This is another fuzzy memory here. I'm blaming the many hours I spent sitting in the airport last night wishing I had not stuck my book in my checked luggage. I was forced to kill time by listening to all the many businessmen around me rant on their cell phones. The business world must have been in turmoil yesterday because there was much ranting. Much loud ranting.

5. Is religion a crutch?

For me? Absolutely not.

6. In your region, what is the "big" (most popular in the community or state) high school sport?

I don't have kids in school here but I think its football. My girls attended high school in the UK and there my answer would also be 'football' except I might say futbol and I would mean soccer in American speak.

7. Do you consider yourself "rich"?

Absolutely. Not talking finances of course but even if we were most of us living in the USA are rich by the world's standards. My life is 'rich'...I have good health, a happy marriage, a home and family and blessings too numerous to name. That makes me rich I think.

8. Which of these would you have the best chance for success in administering:

B) Heimlich Maneuver
C) changing a flat tire

Well, I know how to do all three but since I've never had to actually use my CPR training (thankfully!) I don't know how successful I'd be. And I do know how to change a tire but I'd definitely try to get someone else to do it for me if it were at all possible (just being honest here) so I'm going with B.

9. Which dance would you prefer to learn and why?

A) Salsa
B) Hip Hop
C) Waltz
D) Swing

I don't think my kids want to see me salsa dancing. Or hip hopping. I'm going with swing because it looks like fun.

10. What's the worse news you've ever delivered to someone?

telling someone a friend had died suddenly

11. Name something you learned in college that had nothing to do with academics or classes?

Some people will do anything for attention
Not everyone had a happy childhood
There's a time to play and a time to work
I can't hide from God
Nor do I want to

12. New variation on an old question: If there's a song in your head that just won't get out what is your favorite (or most repeated line) in that song?

I've had a Credence Clearwater Revival Song stuck in my head since last week...someone sent me a link to a video of misheard lyrics and I've been singing it ever since.

"I want to know...have you e-ver seen the rain...comin' down on a sunny day?"

I have the actual song stuck in my head but this was funny...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Daydream Believer

Before I had my own children I used to imagine what motherhood would be like.

It would be rosy.
Always very rosy.
Hearts and flowers and rainbows.

Oh I might have imagined pacing the floor with an adorable not sleepy infant on my shoulder but in my picture I would be sighing and smiling at the loveliness of that. Not anxious and crabby and bone weary tired after 56 consecutive nights of interrupted sleep.

I pictured myself chasing laughing toddlers thru the green grass, baking cookies in a sunny kitchen, reading stories cuddled up on the couch.

I did not picture myself standing anxiously over an impulsive three year old as a doctor stitched up her head for the third time in as many years, nor did I imagine sending a cheeky little girl to the naughty step. In my daydreams my children were always obedient and never talked back. They thought I hung the moon every single day of their little lives. They listened to my words of wisdom and nodded in agreement all the while thinking 'my mom is the best mom in the whole wide world.'

I pictured myself lovingly preparing meals as my teenager sat nearby diligently completing homework. I pictured riding in the car while my happy smiling teen rode beside me sharing tales of wonderfulness about her day mingled with I love you mommy. I did not imagine ordering food at a drive in window then driving off without it. Or flying right on by a turn I needed to take because I was trying not to freak out over something my teenager just shared on the fifteen minute ride to ballet.

I never imagined so many of life's hard questions would require an instant on the spot response or that I would ever sit on the bed of my teenager as she cried about the hurt a friend had caused. Nor could I have imagined negotiating the parameters regarding parental supervision, alcohol, and the 's' word for every single weekend's social events.

I did not imagine saying no.
A lot.

And I could never have known that once my heart was opened to the heights and depths of parental love it was open to a deep well of other emotion too...that I would never again hear of a hurt or hungry or neglected child anywhere and not feel sadness in the deepest part of my soul.

I never imagined a child sick with a high fever calling from hundreds of miles away or the worry that would percolate under my skin all week until that child's sweet voice returned to normal. I positively never imagined living an ocean apart from my child. I did not picture one day hearing about car accidents and broken hearts from hundreds and even thousands of miles away and not physically being there to make it all better.

In my daydreams I was always there.
Because in the daydreams of my pre-parenthood days I never ever imagined grown up children.

I did not know that as they grew I would hope their hopes and feel their hurts and want to give them the whole world. That somewhere along the timeline known as child rearing I would realize that just isn't possible. Or even good. I would one day understand that disappointment and success, sadness and joy, are all necessary parts of childhood if we want grown up children who are full of compassion and kindness and generosity.

No one could have told me then that when those babies of my daydreams grew up they would be wrapped around my heart so tightly and so completely that I would sometimes be overwhelmed with love for them. That even though they are not in a crib in the next room but instead are hundreds of miles away they still have the ability to wake me up in the middle of the night.

That one day I would lie in the quiet darkness of an empty house and pray for their physical safety, for their relationships, for the paths they would walk, and the choices they would have to make. That in spite of birthdays marking the passing years, in spite of time and growing up, they would be a part of me always, and although every now and then I would long for the sweetness of a newborn or the cheeky little toddler girl, or the teenager who was changing before my very eyes, I would finally understand...

Its the birthdays marking the passing years, the years we marked in minutes and hours as we grew up side by side...that those are the very things that have woven our lives together to give us what we have today.

And like the strongest strand of chord it can be stretched but remains unbroken.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Movin' on up

I'm in South Carolina for a couple of days, helping daughter2 move into her apartment for the new school year.

Remember when 'new school year' meant Disney lunchboxes and fun backpacks and cute dresses?

Blonde headed cutie pies wearing pony tails and little socks and excited smiles?

Or in some cases, nervous smiles?

Me too.

These days 'new school year' means unloading a storage unit that you were oh so happy to just get the door closed on last spring.
It might have required four people to lean and push but by golly it closed.

It means moving a hundred and one boxes and assorted bags up and down stairs and in and out of too small cars that are filled to 'infinity and beyond'.

And let's not forget the rolling shelving units with drawers that come flying out every.single.time. you pick them up because you forget the drawers roll out.

How many times am I going to do that??

Gone are the days of standing in front of the brightly colored back to school displays where we
would spend hours agonizing over just the right lunchbox.

These days we stand in front of this...

and I help my 'blonde headed cutie pie', still with the pony tail, as she balances precariously on a chair while attempting to nab a just out of reach bin inside a storage unit...

...a storage unit where the temperature must be no less than 125 degrees.

Oh believe me, we still agonize.

We might not take a traditional silly bus stop picture anymore...

But smiling roommates make for a pretty cute photo too.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The road to a friend's house is never long

I've had my friend 'A' here visiting from Germany for a couple of days.
Sadly she had to be on her way this morning.
We had such a great time shopping and talking and catching up over a glass of wine or two.

We met when we were both living in England and over the years we've spent many an hour volunteering side by side in The American Women's Club, the PTA and with the Girl Scouts.
We have also shared many cups of coffee in the Red Room, lunches in the village pub, dinners at The Royal Standard, a deep love of Italian pottery, antiques, all things French, and the English countryside.

And then there is the travel.
We have seen some cities y'all.

We have laughed and talked and shopped our way together through the Christmas markets in Dresden ...

We shared an amazing winter holiday together with several other families in Dubai...

That deserves its own write up on the blog one day.

We have celebrated our close together birthdays together in the beautiful city of Verona...

They've moved.
We've moved.
Another Christmas market together, this time in Strasbourg France....

Who thinks its time for me to get a new ski jacket?
In my defense, when you only shop in your ski jacket it doesn't exactly wear out.

There is something about travel, especially foreign travel, that bonds you.
We feel that way as a family and we feel that way about our friends.

I remember the first time we flew together and A had the misfortune to be seated beside me.
I was in the middle seat and another friend was on the other side of me.
I have a routine when I travel which includes Dramamine and ginger ale and a little fidgeting and lots of prayer and much checking and re-checking of of the seat belt.
I know.
It makes you want to take a trip with me doesn't it?
Anyway, we had quite the bumpy ride and a rather rapid descent which makes your ears go all wacky and I performed my normal shtick...
tighten seat belt-check
retighten seat belt-check
remind daughter2 across the aisle to tighten her seat belt-check
is she sure?-check
count the number of seat backs to the emergency exit-check
do a quick analysis as to the capability of the person seated in the emergency aisle-check
sip ginger ale and whisper a prayer-check

Beside me A calmly read her magazine until she couldn't take it anymore finally glanced over at me and said,
"Are you a nervous flier?"
Whatever gave you that idea?

Some friends are in our lives for only a season.
Others we know we'll hold close in our hearts always.
I feel that way about the special friends from my England days.
We shared a common intense experience and rode a roller coaster of emotion, anxiety, and adventure in places unfamiliar and far from home.
We rooted for one other, supported one another, encouraged one another, prayed for one another and in some sense of the word acted as family for one another when family was an ocean away.

An old Danish proverb says, "The road to a friend's house is never long."
Even when that road is airspace across the Atlantic.
Okay, that last bit might be my own .02

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Friendly Random

I'm really excited this morning because I have a good friend coming to stay with me for a couple of days (when we don't travel our friends do). 'A' is a friend from England who is really from Chicago but is not the friend I saw while in Chicago because A now lives in Germany. How's that for random? There's more...she is coming to me, not from England, Chicago or Germany but from Washington D.C. When we realized she'd be 'in the neighborhood' we decided to get together. I live five hours from D.C. but when you normally have an ocean between you five hours is 'in the neighborhood'.

Okay, enough of my own random...here's this week's Random Dozen hosted over at 2nd cup of Coffee...everyone is invited to play along by answering the questions on your own blog and linking up at Linda's.

1. What is your favorite fair/carnival food?

How timely. I just wrote on Monday about our day at the State Fair. This is a tough question...if we're talking savory I'm going to say sausage with peppers and onions which is something they do very well in this part of the country. It must be served on a proper roll.

For a sweet treat...maybe kettle corn. Or candy floss. Which is what they call cotton candy in the UK... we like holding on to our England-speak.

2. Are you holding on to something you need to let go of?

what a segue...
yes. next question.

3. What is your favorite gift to receive?

A great handbag.
A trip.
An ipad.
Did I mention I have a BIG birthday coming up next month?

That being said I do have a love and appreciation for small, meaningful gifts too, especially when they are given 'just because'. Every once in a while over the course of our 26+ years as man and wife my hubs has surprised me with a Payday candy bar. He knows I love them and that I never buy one for myself and so every now and then he brings me one. That sounds silly but it's the little things in a marriage y'all.

4. When was the last time you tried something new?

Well, I started a yoga class not long ago and its something I've never done before. I was always a bit leery of all the new age vibes that go along with it but I do love the exercise itself and there hasn't been anything uncomfortable in this class. It's strictly exercise. The instructor is wonderful and quiet...she makes us do the plank too but she's not mean like Jillian. And while I'm mid-exercise I'm not thinking about anything too deep because I'm busy trying to remember to breathe, relax my jaw, breathe, lower my shoulders, bring my left foot over my right knee and most especially, not to do a face plant when we're standing in a precarious pose designed to improve balance.

5. What is your favorite and least favorite book genre? Memoir, mystery, political intrigue, romance, humor, historical fiction, historical non-fiction, chick lit, self help, other..

If I have to pick I guess I'll say mystery is my favorite and self-help my least favorite. I do read all sorts of books and have liked and disliked books from every genre. What I really like is a well written book with a good story...if a book has that I am not so particular about the genre.

6. Silver or Gold?

Depends on the day, my wardrobe, and the state of my tan. I like both. I wear both and that probably breaks some kind of fashion law but in my defense I am blue eyed but not fair skinned.

7. What makes you sigh.

In a sad way?
The track America seems to be taking and our current political climate... the 'correctness' in our country.

In a good way? The sweetness of my girls.

8. If you didn't know how old you are how old would you claim you are?

35...I'm not a kid but I feel young at heart. And 35 is young people.

9. Would you break a law to save a loved one? To protect a loved one?

I need way more information before I can answer this question. As a rule I'm not a law breaker. Or even bender. But I think I need to know the specifics before I give an answer here.

10. If you had to teach something what would it be?

Well, I have taught something....I've worked in my professional life as a speech pathologist so I could say communication. And I've also been a kindergarten teacher and we all know that everything you need to know in life you learn in kindergarten.

11. You're having lunch with three people whom you respect and admire. They begin to criticize a close friend of yours not knowing she is your friend. What would you do?

I would try to throw it out there pretty early on that she's a friend of mine. Hopefully they'd hush. If not I might try to explain where I think the friend is coming from. Or I might just sip my iced tea and remind myself not to have lunch with these two again.

12. Which of the five love languages is your prominent means of experiencing love?
Quality time?
Physical touch?
Acts of service?
Words of affirmation?

Words of affirmation.
If you read here surely you are not surprised to learn that words are my love language.

If you want to figure out your own love language you can take this little quiz...