Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Days

Do you blog on the weekends?
How about holidays?
I normally don't read blogs or write on my own blog most weekends or holidays. Of course then I am left with the problem of too much to catch up on plus it's Tuesday and that's the day I always post the Hodgepodge questions sooo...
I think today I'll share just a few of the Memorial Day weekend highlights before tacking the Hodgepodge questions on at the end.
Like an afterthought.
Except they're not.
Those Hodgepodge questions require a lot of thought.

Back to the weekend... let me just say that the weather was fab-u-lous!
Saturday morning was clear and bright so we fired up the MG and took her for a spin.
Fired up is some sort of fancy car talk.
Basically it means hubs started the engine.
Fired up sounds more Top Gear though don't you think?
Does anybody watch Top Gear?
Does anybody think I'm a tad obsessed with all things British?

Sometimes people freak out a little when they glance over and see me rummaging thru my purse or looking behind me or talking with my hands when they think I should be driving.
It usually takes them a minute to realize I'm not the driver.
And that I have no steering wheel.

We bought breakfast to go from Paneras and sat by the lake to eat.

Hello sun.
It's been a long time since we've seen you around here on a weekend.
And do you know, it shone the whole weekend?
God Bless America!

Chipmunks were hunted.

flags were flown...

we even dined al fresco on our brand new patio.

We may have had a little company.

Memorial Day means a parade.
In towns large and small all across America.
In our small town.

Honoring those who gave everything in service to their country.
Our country.

So thankful to be born in a country that is free.
So thankful for those who have fought to make it so.
So grateful for those who continue to do just that.

And now, here are the questions for this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Come back tomorrow (that would be Wednesday even though it will feel like Tuesday) to link answers-

1. Have you ever been to the US capital-Washington DC? If so, what's your favorite site? If not, what would you most like to see on a visit to that city someday in the future? Is it even on your list of places to visit?

2. When did you last attend a wedding? Are there any weddings on your summer calendar? Were you a summer bride? If you're single, is summer the season of your dream wedding?

3. What is your favorite way to eat strawberries?

4. What is one thing you are especially looking forward to this summer?

5. Do you use/like the self checker at the grocery store?

6. Share a favorite piece of common sense advice.

7. Barefoot, flip flops, tennis shoes, sassy sandals-your first choice for summertime?

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Whatcha Reading?

I read a lot and I like to keep a file of book titles on my computer so I don't have to rely on my hormonal brain to recall title and author when I'm ready for something new. I don't know about you but I can never remember those pesky little details when I get to the library or bookstore.

I have a long summer reading list which makes me very happy. Reading is never a waste of time and I'm looking forward to lying in one of our comfy cruiser chairs on the new patio with a good book and a glass of sweet iced tea. Sometimes a good book read on the patio in the summer sun will lead to a nap.

fyi-napping is also never a waste of time.

My hubs makes fun of me for calling the lounge chairs cruisers. I think the correct term is steamer but it's one of those words I've somehow mis-learned in the too crowded brain so cruiser it shall remain.

My reading list is always a very mixed bag. Mysteries are probably my favorite but I also like to read non-fiction, biographies, award winners and will throw in a little fluff too. I usually have at least one classic re-read on my list....you know, those books read in long ago high school English classes that take on new meaning when they're re-read after life has been lived a little?

So, here's a peek at thirteen books on my list right now...there might be more but I'm linking with Thursday Thirteen and I like to follow the rules. I had trouble with the code posting so I've linked the old fashioned way today. Here ya go-

1. The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

3. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

4. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

5. Parrot and Oliver in America by Peter Carey

6. Beginners Greek by James Collins

7. Making a Literary Life by Carolyn See

8. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

9. Son of Hamas by Mosab Hussan Yousaf and Ron Bracken

10. The Hating Game by Tali Roland

12. The Beach House by Jane Green

13. The Fifth Witnesss by Michael Connelly

What are you reading this summer?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Red White and Hodgepodge-Volume 28

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge...add your link to the bottom of my post and then be sure you hop around and visit some of the other bloggers. After all, that's what keeps the neighborhood friendly.

Here are my answers-

1. What is something about living in this country that you value? 'This country' is whatever country you call home.

America is still the land of opportunity. You can dream a dream and make that dream come true. America is an optimist at heart and I pray that never changes.

2. What is a favorite something you own that is red white and/or blue?

To quote the fab four...'Oh little darlin'...its been a long cold lonely winter....' and we are definitely ready for some convertible weather here in the northeast. We don't have it, but we're ready for it.

3. Do you fly a flag at your house on patriotic holidays?

Yes...I love to see flags flying. No matter where I am it makes me feel a little bit proud.

4. What ingredients do you think should be included in a great picnic basket?

Remember when picnics were fried chicken and potato salad? Not that I'm opposed to that sort of picnic but I don't eat fried chicken and potato salad these days.

My ideal basket would include yummy cheese, great bread, a tapenade or some other spread for crackers, maybe some cold meats like prosciutto or salami, olives, and fresh ripe strawberries. Champagne would be nice too but I'd settle for lemonade.

5. What is one interesting piece of trivia you know? Interesting is of course a relative term.

Hedgehogs can float and in fact are fairly good swimmers. Evidently they cannot swim for too long and will eventually drown should they happen to fall into a homeowner's pond with no means of escape.

Go ahead.
Ask me how I know.

6. Wednesday, May 24th is National Escargot Day...have you ever tried them? Eww or ooh?

I like. It's not a dish I have often but when I do I like them cooked in white wine and garlic. In reality no more 'disgusting' than eating a mussel, clam, or oyster, all of which I happen to love, but for some reason we hear the word escargot and have trouble getting the slug on the sidewalk out of our head.

fyi-picking up a dead floating hedgehog with your bare hand because you mistook it for a leaf is far more disgusting than dining on escargot in a Paris bistro. Just sayin'

7. What is something you know for sure?

He's got the whole world in His hands.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Thinking of all those whose lives have been turned upside down recently, in Missouri, but also the Southland, Japan, and Haiti too. I love this song...it's a bit of an oldie (if you call the year 2000 'old' ) but its full of hope and who among us doesn't need a heaping helping of that these days?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Three Cheers for the red white and hodgepodge

Here are the questions for this week's Hodgepodge....see you back here tomorrow (Wednesday) to link answers.

1. What is something about living in this country that you value? 'This country' is whatever country you call home.

2. What is a favorite something you own that is red, white, and/or blue?

3. Do you fly a flag at your house on patriotic holidays?

4. What ingredients do you think should be included in a great picnic basket?

5. What is one interesting piece of trivia you know? Interesting is of course a relative term.

6. Wednesday, May 24th is National Escargot day...have you ever tried them? Eww or ooh?

7. What is one thing you know for sure?

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The weather, the workers, the weekends-oh deer!

What to talk about on this Monday morning? Hmmm....well, I could tell you that it's raining. It rained every day last week with the exception of a few bright spots on Saturday which were mixed with downpours. I don't think I want to talk about that.

Our patio workers were out in full force on Saturday trying to wrap up the landscaping and other remaining bits and pieces of this project. They almost succeeded.

Almost does not count.

The sprinkler is not working correctly in one spot and there is an entire length of gutter currently laying across the patio that will need to be reattached to the house. Lovely. I don't think I want to talk about that either.

I'm going to the dentist this morning. 'Nuff said.

Daughter2 arrived safely back in South Carolina yesterday afternoon and I for sure don't want to talk about that. How about something deer?

Is this the most precious thing or what?

Daughter2 and I had a girlie day on Friday which consisted of shoe shopping followed by a nice lunch out and then a visit to the salon for mani/pedis. Bliss.

As we turned onto our street I noticed some ears peeking out from under the tall grass (see paragraph 1, ahem) at the entry to our neighborhood. At first I thought it was a rabbit but we decided to turn around for a better look since something about that thought didn't seem quite right.

A newborn fawn. Oh my word. I've never seen one this tiny. We looked around and didn't see the mother at first so we got a little closer. We wondered if she was injured. (Yes, of course she's a she....so sweet and delicate.) She didn't look injured but she did sit almost motionless watching us with her beautiful brown eyes.

Can I have a pet deer Mom?

Tempting, but no.

We finally spotted the mother on the other side of the pond and she was chowing down like there was no tomorrow. Remember giving birth and feeling ravenous afterwards? She was just like that. We were cautious as we didn't want to disrupt the relationship in any way. We were pretty sure this fawn was only a day or two old.

Daughter2 googled baby deer and we learned a few things-

It's common for the mother to leave the newborn for extended periods of time following birth. The baby is safer this way than trying to keep up with an adult who is looking for food. And the newborn will sit almost motionless which is what this one was doing. If they are injured they will bleat continually and ours didn't make a sound. It did say that if they're left for more than 24 hours in the same spot they might have been abandoned and would need rescue. And although small and delicate apparently the hooves of a baby deer can still slice you and cause serious injury so that's a word of warning. Also, if you pet or handle the baby in any way it will bond quickly and attempt to follow you as if you are its mother. Daughter2 was all ready for this little thing to think she was its mother but we resisted petting or handling her in any way.

When we went out later that evening she was still there so hubs got to see her too. We all worried about her, not so much being hit by a car because she really wasn't up and moving, but we know there are fox and bobcats and who knows what else in the area that might feel the need to snatch her for their dinner.

Hubs walked down to the spot on Saturday morning and she wasn't there but he could see where she'd been laying. We didn't see any sign of her (if you know what I mean) so we assume she is now up and about and safely with her mother.

So deer dear isn't she?

I'm sure her mother thinks so too.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Kiss the Cook

Last night daughter2 made dinner. Raise your hand if you love having your college kids home? Daughter2 loves to cook plus did I mention it has been raining hard here for six days straight and it's been dark and gloomy so hunkering down at home just feels right?

Here is the finished product-

Chicken piccata, honey balsamic green beans and garlic roasted potatoes. Oh my word-so delicious!

She used Giada De Laurentis's recipe for the chicken which you'll find here. A real treat and not just because I didn't have to cook it myself. The honey balsamic green bean recipe is courtesy of Paula Deen. Go here for the recipe because it's definitely a keeper. The garlic roasted potato recipe ala Nigella Lawson can be found here.

Who thinks my daughter loves The Food Network?

She might have also baked lemon cupcakes with a lemon cream cheese frosting for dessert. I did not eat a cupcake (yet!...a finger in the batter doesn't count, does it?) but hubs said they were fab.

Fyi-he did not use the word fab but that's what he meant.
Hubs does not say fab.

Who's happy they taught their daughter to cook starting way back when she was just a cute little munchkin?

Who thinks she is still a cute little munchkin?

linking with Kelly's Korner today-show us your life/main dish recipes

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Riding bicycles

Daughter2 has been home for almost two weeks and will return to collegetown on Sunday. It started raining here Saturday night and it was still raining when we went to bed last night. The sun is peeking out this morning but the forecast is for more rain later today. Daughter2 doesn't really mind although she brought summer clothes with her to NJ and it is most definitely not summer. She is happy to sleep til a ridunkulous hour and watch movies and she's read two books just for fun and oh yeah, she has spent a lot of time with me.

Daughter2 and I share some personality traits, one being we are both quite strong willed people. Why do I see my strong will as something positive and hers as something that occasionally needs taming? Perhaps my mother could answer that. Or maybe my husband.

Anyway, daughter2 is a college student too many states away so we don't have an opportunity for face to face talks as often as I would like. Oh we talk often, practically daily, but you can't have great heart to hearts over the phone...you need face time for that kind of talking. We see each other in spurts throughout the year so when we're together for a weekend or a week I feel the need to tell her all the things on my heart relating to her. I am quite certain this drives her a little bit crazy...I know it would me. I try to remember that but am not always successful.

"The hardest part of raising a child is teaching them to ride bicycles. A shaky child on a bicycle for the first time needs both support and freedom. The realization that this is what the child will always need can hit hard." ~Sloan Wilson

The truth of those words really hits home during the young adult years. When our children are young the line between parent and child is big and bold but when they hit the young adult years and are real live honest to goodness people it suddenly looks gray and blurry. How much to say and how much to hold back? Advise or let the chips fall where they may? Butt in or stay out? Demand or suggest?

I've noticed something about myself when it comes to parenting. I expect my children to be better than me. Better organized, better disciplined, better at containing their impatience, better at tolerating well intentioned advice, better decision makers, better at mostly everything. My expectations for my children are high and most of the time they exceed them. They inspire me to be better yet they don't demand it or feel let down when I'm not. Would they say the same is true of me? As a parent I think I need to be more like my children.

I think about my girls learning to ride bicycles...daughter1 at age 6. We finally lived somewhere flat with sidewalks. She was hesitant for Daddy to let go but determined to do it herself. She looked back to be sure he was there and ahead to reaching her goal. She kept trying until she got it perfect. She still likes to keep working at things until they are perfect.

Daughter2 was 4 and could barely reach the pedals. That did not deter her one little bit. She hopped on with complete and utter confidence and never looked back. It never occurred to her there was anything to fear. It never occurred to her she wouldn't succeed. Fearless is how she goes thru life....confident and completely certain she will succeed at whatever she tries.

There are days in this season of parenting kids in their early 20's when I need to support and encourage and guide. There are also days when freedom is demanded and must be given. I confess I'm better at the supporting and guiding than I am at that whole freedom thing but I'm learning. Like my kids, I'm a work in progress.

edited to link with Kelly's Korner on 7/29-SUYL Parenting Advice

If it's Wednesday it must be the Hodgepodge-Vol 27

Welcome to the Wednesday edition of the Hodgepodge. The only edition of the Hodgepodge actually. So glad you played along today...add your link at the bottom and be sure to read my answers before you run off and visit the neighbors.

1. What reveals more about a woman-her refrigerator or her purse?

Probably her purse...it's filled with what she considers the daily essentials and also tells you where she spends her money. I'm not the only one with a wallet crammed full of lists and receipts am I?

2. When was the last time you visited a zoo? Where? What's your favorite zoo animal?

Last Saturday. We went to the Bronx zoo and I wrote about it here. It's hard to pick a favorite animal but on this most recent trip it was definitely the snow leopard. Pretty sure the Bronx is not its native habitat.

3. What social issue fires you up?

Where do I begin?

fiscal responsibility on the part of our government
the mistreatment of children
healthcare reform

I could go on.

4. Are you a coupon clipper? Are you extreme?

Not anymore. I used to clip a lot of coupons when I was regularly feeding a family of four but once we moved to the UK coupons were not as prevalent and I lost the habit. Most stores now offer discount cards and I do take advantage of those types of savings. I was never an extreme couponer...time is money too ya know!

5. What is one of your favorite souvenirs brought back from your travels?

As you would imagine we have more than a few souvenirs from our travels but we tend not to go for the chachki stuff....my favorites (no I cannot pick just one) would be my Italian pottery, some of which is pictured here, the beautiful hand painted backgammon board we bought in Dubai-

and my Colonial Soldier who hails from London.

All of these things are out in my house and all of them make me smile.

6. Lemon meringue or key lime?

I love them both but if you make me choose I'll go with key lime.

7. What is the most beautiful word you know in any language?


8. Insert your own random thought here.

Daughter2 and I went to see African Cats yesterday. Wowza! I cannot remember feeling that tense during a movie in a very long time. We both watched portions of it with our hands covering our eyes. It's rated G but I think it would be disturbing to young children. The African Savanna is harsh, even is you are King of the lions. And of course that whole circle of life thing is on display...keep in mind it's Disney and we all know how Disney deals with mothers. Just sayin'

The movie also confirmed for me why a trip to the Masai Mara in Kenya is still on my to-do list...so staggeringly beautiful that I think I must see it in person.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Road signs

If you're looking for this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge questions you'll find them here. This post is part of today's One Word Blog Carnival hosted by PeterPollack.com. Visit Peter's blog to read more entries using today's word-road.

Daughter1 graduated from university one year ago this month. As college wound down and graduation approached she dove into the job search with great diligence. She knew she didn't want to move too far away from collegetown because the boyfriend still had a year of school to finish before his graduation. She wrote letters, sent resumes, had a few interviews, contacted people she knew...all the usual stuff you do when you're trying to become gainfully employed.

About a month after graduation she landed a job. It was a nice job, not her dream job, but a paying job nonetheless. We had many a phone conversation prior to her accepting the position about whether or not this was the right road to take. She was feeling a lot of stress and pressure to find something so these phone calls home were fraught with emotion. While we as her parents, aka the bank, were anxious for her to become self supporting, hubs also cautioned her against taking a job just to take a job. He reminded her of everything that is wonderful about her sweet self which included, but was not limited to, the college diploma. In the end we all agreed that she should take the job and get some practical experience. She could remain in her then apartment and avoid the expense of a move as well as the upset of leaving the boyfriend and everything familiar to go live somewhere new and most likely alone.

I think we tend to remember the road leading to our own foray into adulthood thru the lens of rose colored spectacles, or at least I do. To be honest I see most of life this way but that's a post for another day. When I graduated from uni I went straight to grad school because there were no jobs available in collegetown and I couldn't possibly move away from the boyfriend who still had a semester of school to finish. Sound familiar?

As luck would have it, a job did become available for me just before the public school year started so I took it and did the work/school combo thing for a year. I am sure there was much hemming and hawing and angst and drama but I don't remember that. I only remember everything working out in the end and life being rosy and me feeling like I could take on the world.

Back to Daughter1...she and the boyfriend talked and knew they wanted to be in the same town or at least not too many states apart once he graduated so she started looking for a job in the big city shortly after Christmas. Boyfriend hails from the big city and we lived in a suburb of that same town once upon a time. She put out resumes, wrote letters, and even had some interviews, yet nothing materialized. She was frustrated and unsure of what was next but continued working hard at her less than dream job and we talked often about all the what ifs....What if you get a job offer in the big city?

Where will you live?
How will you get moved?
How will you afford to live on your own in a much more expensive place?
Is it safe?
How will you interview in State B when you're in State A?
Is this the road you should travel?

So many things to worry about and this is when I began to really pray in earnest for the right living circumstances to go with the right job at the right time in the right place. Who else hates the gray zone?

At the end of March she sent a resume to a company she knew had an opening. They were located in the big city and they immediately contacted her for an interview. After months of dead ends suddenly there was a one way sign pointing straight ahead. I think it might have been flashing.

I've been going to a women's bible study on Tuesday mornings this year. These women don't know my daughter yet they included her in their prayers each week. Daughter1 had three interviews with her future employer. Each one of these interviews fell on a Tuesday morning. Coincident? Hmmm...I think not.

Her very first interview occurred in a week when her current employer's office was closed for some maintenance work so she did not have to ask for any time off to travel to another state. During her second interview she met with the HR Director and quickly discovered that like my daughter, he too had spent his high school years living abroad. Expats feel an instant connection with one another as no back story is needed. They get where you've been and the pros and cons associated with that experience so the conversation is usually easy.

When Daughter1 knew she'd be going to the city for an interview she got in touch with a very good friend from uni who'd been living there since they graduated. This very good friend was living with two roommates and one of the girls just happened to be moving out in May. They were very excited to have Daughter1 move in and fill the vacant spot. This same sweet friend was so kind and helpful during the interview trips too. She even took a day off from her own job to help Daughter1 make a practice run using public transportation so she'd not waste time looking for the office on interview day. And she has continued to give her lots of practical and moral support throughout the transition.

Daughter1 was offered the job and her new employers were anxious for her to start right away. Her old employers back in collegetown were kind enough to allow her to leave on good terms with less than thirty days notice and she was able to spend Easter at home with us before heading to the big city. The new role is a logical step in her career aspirations and speaks to her creative instincts as well as making use of her wonderful communication skills. Conveniently we were able to move her belongings from State A to State B on a weekend we'd already planned to be in State A. We live in State Z. If you read my blog you know logistics are usually very complicated for us.

When Daughter1 first started the big city job hunt I will admit to some anxiety. Hubs and I both love collegetown partly because it's lovely but mostly because it's safe and familiar. As the pieces to this job fell so perfectly into place we both recognized this move was the right thing. "The right living circumstances to go with the right job in the right place at the right time" It doesn't get much clearer than that.

Not all of life's decisions are laid out before us like the wide open highway. Most of the time we hit a speed bump or two, some dead ends, sudden merges, crazy circles and more often than not a fork in the road. But the road to this opportunity was like a freshly paved superhighway and my daughter was the only car on the road. I cannot remember when something big unfolded in such a way that it brought peace and clarity and confirmation regarding the right way forward.

The young adult years are perilous. So many of life's biggest decisions are made during these years and there are a lot of people living with regret over missed opportunity, poor choices, moments of weakness and a multitude of other things they did or didn't do in their early twenties. All their lives my children have heard me say that God loves them. I remind them often that He has a plan for their lives and that He is in the details of our everydays. Most of the time we have to look back at our life to see that He was indeed going before us and making the way clear. It's not often we can see that in the moment but when we do, its nothing short of amazing.

I hope one day my daughter looks back at her own road to adulthood and sees it not just thru rose colored glasses but in black and white too. I hope she has tucked this experience away and can call it up when she encounters life's inevitable speed bumps. That the expression, "God cares about you" is not just a platitude but a promise she carries with her throughout her life, thanks to a road she traveled way back in 2011.

I hope she remembers feeling like she could take on the world.
And I hope she remembers why.

The all important Hodgepodge questions

Here are the questions for this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Everyone is welcome to join the party...answer the questions on your own blog or facebook page and then come back here tomorrow (Wednesday of course) to link answers.

1. What reveals more about a woman-her refrigerator or her purse?

2. When was the last time you went to the zoo? Where? What's your favorite zoo animal?

3. What social issue fires you up?

4. Are you a coupon clipper? If so, are you extreme?

5. What is one of your favorite souvenirs brought back from your travels?

6. Lemon meringue or key lime?

7. What is the most beautiful word you know in any language?

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Going to the zoo zoo zoo...

One of the challenges we had with our most recent move was that our girls were in university when we relocated. We moved to a town they'd never lived in and to which they have no ties other than us, the parents.

Not that we're not enough.

Perhaps you still have little ones at home who say they want to marry their Daddy or who promise they will live with you forever. We had those conversations in our house too, once upon a memory. Sadly, little girls cannot be expected to keep those sorts of promises.

Daughter2 has been home visiting which makes me happy. I think it makes her a little happy too but she's used to having her sister here when she's home and I know she misses her. Up until recently they've had similar breaks but all that has changed now that Daughter1 is working in the big city. When just one child is home for a visit without having sister there too she's pretty much at our mercy. teehee.

So what to do on a cool gray Saturday in May?

Daughter2 has always loved animals. For a short time she thought she'd like to be a vet but then of course there was all that pesky science. Besides, she was born to be a teacher and is definitely going to be everybody's favorite when she eventually finishes her degree and starts working. She is irresistible.

On Saturday we trekked over to The Bronx Zoo. Driving in the Bronx is nuts. You have to know where you're going before you get there or you will miss your exit and possibly end up in Connecticut. Fortunately hubs was driving so we ended up at the zoo.

Its funny because one minute you are smack in the middle of road signs and construction and overpasses and honking horns and changing lanes and pure craziness and then suddenly you're in a lovely wooded lush green space called The Bronx Zoo.

It's a really nice zoo and I think it worked in our favor that the sun wasn't shining because all the animals were out enjoying the cool Spring air. Sometimes if its too sunny they hide.

Parents can be fun.
Just sayin'

Thursday, May 12, 2011


Well that was annoying.
Blogger was out of commission for a couple of days which made me realize-

a) I spend a lot of time on Blogger and
b) I'm thankful I've had my blog periodically bound into books.
I would have been so sad had it disappeared altogether.

Blogging is a habit and like most habits when you take a break, planned or otherwise, it takes some time to get back into the old rhythm. Since I spent the month of April in the A-Z challenge and the month of May in a whirling dervish I feel like it has been forever since I sat down and wrote about the everyday nothingness for which this blog is famous.

Famous may not be the appropriate adjective but you know what I mean.

Also, did I tell you we had quite the hectic weekend and I'm just now coming up for air?
Well I am.

And do you want to know what is really making me tired at the moment? Home improvement.

They're still here working on the patio and the firepit and the last minute add on project of putting stone around the foundation after we realized there was no siding behind the deck they ripped off when this whole thing started. One project leads to another and another and I'm beginning to think we might never be finished.

I'm so tired of people in and around the house.
I'm tired of the sand and gravel and rock in the driveway and I'm tired of looking out my kitchen window at the underground sprinkler housing laying on top of the dirt. Dirt that is waiting to be seeded and landscaped when all the construction is completed.
If its completed.

I have decided I am not one of those people who would ever want to buy an old fixer upper. I'm not cut out for all the mess and the schedules and the workers who say they will be here but aren't or who are here until 9 PM. Contractors who need to be called during the day but when you do you always get their voice mail so they have to call you back but when they do it is naturally during the five minutes you ran the dog outside so they get your voice mail. I'm tired of having to remember to pull my car out of the drive first thing in the morning so I'm not blocked in by trucks and I'm tired of the third degree from my hubs three or ten times a day asking questions I don't know the answer to (and don't particularly want to know the answer to) and I really just want it all to be done already. We've had workers here for over two months. It's time for life to get back to normal around here.

I don't know what normal is at this point in our lives but I do know this is most definitely not it.

Does all this sound like whining?
Are blogging and whining the same thing?

Oh, I know the finished product is going to be so lovely. It's just that I am more than ready to be sitting in a comfy chair with a glass of wine by the brand new firepit. Speaking of the firepit...guess what hubs big big worry is there?

He is concerned the firepit is not large enough.

Large enough for what I ask him?
You know...to burn stuff.
I reassure him it is plenty large enough for friends and family to sit around and enjoy. Then his eyes wander to the woods behind the house and he sees a few trees felled by recent storms and the wheels start turning.

He is not thinking kindling.
He is thinking whole trees.

In addition to all the construction commotion daughter2 came home with us for a couple of weeks before she begins her summer job in SC and she requires my undivided attention.

Or possibly I require her undivided attention.

Something like that.

So far she has slept a lot. Whoohoo! And of course we've also shopped a lot. Her definition of shopping anyway, which is this- she tries on three trillion items that are size miniature and every single solitary thing looks adorable. I help her whittle it all down to the best of the best and then I pay.

Me paying is the best part.

Yesterday she had her hair highlighted which is a treat and works much like the shopping. The me paying part anyway.
I don't mind.

Having daughters is a little bit like I imagined it would be when I was a little girl. I love talking to them and dressing them up and playing with their hair.

Today hubs had rearranged his schedule so he could work from home and be available to discuss landscaping with the landscaper. Guess who did not make it out to our house today?


Daughter2 and I decided to make ourselves scarce so went out to lunch and then to an afternoon movie. We did not want to be around for the 'follow up' phone call.

I don't want a fire until all the junk is out of the yard because the aesthetic is not perfect. I think when we christen the firepit everything needs to be just right. We haven't put our furniture out yet either. And there are no plants in pretty pots but hubs is bound and determined to sit on that patio so tonite he is grilling steaks.We will sit on our camp chairs because they're easy to pull out and put away and we'll listen to music and sip a glass of wine and I'll close my eyes and imagine it as it will be in another week.

Or two.
Hey, I'm nothing if not an optimist.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Moving into the Wednesday Hodgepodge-Vol 26

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge...add your link to the bottom of my post and enjoy visiting around today. Here are my answers-

1. How many times in your life have you moved house?

I was less than a year old when I moved the first time. To date I have moved fourteen times. I am not counting moves between dorms while in college although now that I'm a parent and have done that numerous times with my own girls I feel like maybe those moves should count. Moving furniture is moving furniture whether you're going across the street or across the country.

2. What subject would you study if you had a year to devote to it?

Italian...in Italy.
Or French...in France.

3. What in this world breaks your heart?

Hungry motherless children. We can do something about the hunger-

4. What is one item that symbolizes the times in which we live? Why?

I thought about saying the computer but I'm going with the mobile phone. As we were out and about this past weekend and I looked around it just seemed like everywhere I turned absolutely everyone was on a phone. And don't get me started on all the people gabbing while driving in the pouring rain on the interstate. It is a sign of the times in which we live that we feel like we have to be connected 24/7.

5. Share a favorite bumper sticker or t-shirt slogan.

As long as I'm on a rant....
I'm not a big fan of bumper stickers and we don't put them on our cars.

6. How do you like your spaghetti?

I make my own version of Nigella Lawson's sauce with meatballs. Essentially you pulverize onion and garlic and then saute them in olive oil and butter. Add chopped tomatoes, seasoning, some white wine and a bit of milk, a teensy bit of sugar and some chopped parsley. I let it bubble away for a couple of hours and then thicken slightly with tomato paste if necessary. I don't like a lot of sauce on my pasta and I don't like the sauce to be too thick or chunky.

7. What is one piece of advice you would give a recent or soon to be recent graduate?

Some of the biggest and most important decisions of your life will be made in the college and young adult years. God has a plan for your life...keep Him close.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

We spent Sunday night with friends in the Annapolis area before heading back to NJ on Monday. We lived there for almost nine years before we moved overseas so we made a little trek thru our old neighborhood. Here are hubs and daughter2 standing on the pier at the end of our road. There is something about sunlight on the water that makes my heart ache just a little.

Especially sunlight on this water.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The heart of the matter

So, how did you celebrate Mother's Day? I know I'm late to the party but I spent my weekend being a mother. Hubs and I left our house at 6 am last Wednesday morning to drive to South Carolina in order to help daughter1 pack up her apartment and belongings and car and get them to her new home in the DC area. Let me just say right off the bat that daughter1 has a lot of belongings. Ahem.

Anyway, we left NJ in the cold dark rain at 6 am Wednesday morning and arrived in sunny South Carolina a little before 7 PM. Coincidentally this was mere minutes after the brake pad warning light appeared on the dash. Putting new brakes on my car wasn't exactly part of our already complicated plans but what can you do? Gotta have brakes, right? Plus we should know that a trip to see our girls is never complete without some sort of expensive car repair but it's usually theirs. Sigh.

Daughter2 had her last exam on Wednesday so she met us downtown for dinner at a bbq place we all love and we worked out a Plan B for Thursday. Hubs had to spend several hours at the car dealer getting brand new brakes so Daughter2 and I might have gone shopping. Once he had the new brakes hubs came back to the hotel to collect me so we could go back out to practically where he had just been and pick up the rental truck we needed for moving daughter1's furniture. We drove the truck to her apt and left it for the night and since Daughter1 wasn't arriving from DC until that evening and daughter2 had a babysitting job we called it a day. Hubs and I went out to my sister's new house for a cookout which was a welcome break. My mom was in town visiting too and it was nice to see her on this Mother's Day weekend. It was Mother's Day, remember? Are you following this?

Friday morning we met the girls for breakfast at 9am (the crack of dawn according to daughter2) and headed to the apartment to see what we were facing. If you have kids this age you know what I mean. Daughter1 had done her best to pack up most of the non-furniture items before she went to DC to start her new job but there was still plenty to do. Hubs has had a little back issue this past month so thankfully daughter1's boyfriend and another friend arrived to save the day. They carried all the heavy furniture down the stairs (of course there are stairs...there are always stairs) and got it onto the truck which was a huge blessing.


Friday night we were so happy to finally meet the boyfriends mom for the first time. We really enjoyed relaxing and chatting and we had a nice family dinner a little later.

Saturday we went back to Daughter1's apartment to finish the job. Well, the SC part of the job anyway. Is this boring? Yes, I think it is, but motherhood is not all glamour and good times now is it? Stay with me though...I haven't even gotten to the most fun part. We spent Saturday cleaning and stuffing (literally) the last bits and bobs into the truck. We still had a big tv and three guitars in our car plus the girls luggage. Daughter1's car was also loaded with who knows what but I can assure you it was all essential.

Now the plan on Sunday (Mother's Day in case you've somehow forgotten) was to meet the girls at Daughter2's apt at 6:30 am to begin the drive north. Daughter1's boyfriend had his graduation ceremony on Saturday night and they went to dinner afterwards with his dad. Graduation ran a bit long ( don't they know we need short speeches and lots of time for pictures?) so dinner didn't begin until 10:30 PM. Needless to say she did not get to bed early and she was going to be the middle car in our caravan Sunday. Extra stops en route it will be.

Does everyone else move kids in and out of housing as much as we do? If you have preschoolers or young children you might not get this post at all. If you have kids in college or beyond you are probably nodding your head and reaching for the Advil or your wallet as you flash back to moving your own children in and out of dorms and apartments and storage units.

Sunday (Mother's Day, remember?) we pulled up bright and early to collect the girls and I was greeted with a basket of goodies including gift certificates to my favorite salon and lunch spot. I am definitely going to need a manicure after this weekend. We set off at 6:30 am with hubs driving in the number 1 spot. He had the rental truck full of furniture and was followed (sometimes too closely) by daughter1 with her fully loaded vehicle. Daughter2 and I were in my car and we acted as caboose for the next 11 hours. I know. Technically it's only about 8 1/2 hours from SC to DC but when you are trying to keep three cars together and have all drivers at peak performance it takes a wee bit longer. Have you ever had to follow two vehicles for that amount of time? Through five states? On too little sleep? With the last two hours being a trek around the DC Beltway? On Mother's Day?

We went directly to the storage unit to unload. Daughter1 is already staying in her apartment but the roommate who is vacating is not leaving for a couple more weeks so the furniture has to go somewhere in the meantime. Plus, why move it all once when you can do it twice?

We were a little concerned about the unloading since there were no boys hanging around to help and then add to that the fact that hubs back was aching and the combined weight of my two girls is equal to that of a hummingbird so yeah, we worried...but lo and behold everyone put on their happy faces and their big kid pants and got the job done uber efficiently. Only one minor injury occurred...I'll give you three guesses which kid?

Daughter2 picked up a shelf that folded and it pinched her finger good. I have very few photos from the weekend because hello, did you just read this recap??? When we got to the storage unit I suddenly remembered I had a blog and decided I needed a couple of pictures so here you go-

When your kids go to college far from home you become well acquainted with the inside of a storage unit, how to rent, load and pack trucks, how to operate a dolly, and how to dress for the sweat and dust you are bound to encounter.

Did you think I was through? Almost...we spotted a pizza restaurant across the street from the storage place and told hubs we were not going any further without food. It was Mother's Day. We laughed a lot during dinner. We really did. And the manager gave me a gift card for a future visit because I'm a mom. And it was Mother's Day.

We headed to Daughter1's apartment and dropped her off and then drove a bit further to spend the night with friends in Annapolis. We arrived at 9:30 PM. It was a long day.

Reading this back just now it sounds like a busy crazy exhausting weekend with not a lot of R and R. I guess that's true but in a funny way it felt like a true celebration of motherhood. Perhaps truer and more real than any Mother's Day I've spent dining in a fancy restaurant or being pampered in a quiet spa. In my little corner of the world this Mother's Day there was sunshine and there was dirt. There were tears and giggles and sweat. There were knowing glances, stern looks, inside jokes, and bone weary exhaustion. Worry and pride. Minutes of frustration and moments of pure happiness. Isn't that the very essence of motherhood?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Years ago a friend shared this essay with me. I can't find the original post but the author is Anna Quindlen and I love her thoughts on motherhood. Wishing all the moms out there a Happy Mother's Day!
Anna Quindlen on Motherhood
All my babies are gone now. I say this not in sorrow but in disbelief. I take great satisfaction in what I have today: three almost adults, two taller than I am, one closing in fast. Three people who read the same books I do and have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me in their opinion of them, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make me laugh until I choke and cry, who need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want to keep their doors closed more than I like. Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets and move food from plate to mouth all by themselves.
Like the trick soap I bought for the bathroom with a rubber ducky at its center, the baby is buried deep within each, barely discernible except through the unreliable haze of the past.
Everything in all the books I once pored over is finished for me now. Penelope Leach., T. Berry Brazelton., Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling rivalry and sleeping through the night and early-childhood education, all grown obsolete. Along with “Goodnight Moon” and “Where the Wild Things Are,” they are battered, spotted, well used. But I suspect that if you flipped the pages dust would rise like memories. What those books taught me, finally, and what the women on the playground taught me, and the well-meaning relations –what they taught me was that they couldn’t really teach me very much at all.
Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test, then becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay. No one knows anything. One child responds well to positive reinforcement, another can be managed only with a stern voice and a timeout. One boy is toilet trained at 3, his brother at 2. When my first child was born, parents were told to put baby to bed on his belly so that he would not choke on his own spit-up. By the time my last arrived, babies were put down on their backs because of research on sudden infant death syndrome. To a new parent this ever-shifting certainty is terrifying, and then soothing. Eventually you must learn to trust yourself. Eventually the research will follow.
I remember 15 years ago poring over one of Dr. Brazelton’s wonderful books on child development, in which he describes three different sorts of infants: average, quiet, and active. I was looking for a sub-quiet codicil for an 18-month-old who did not walk. Was there something wrong with his fat little legs? Was there something wrong with his tiny little mind? Was he developmentally delayed, physically challenged? Was I insane? Last year he went to China. Next year he goes to college. He can talk just fine. He can walk, too.
Every part of raising children is humbling, too. Believe me, mistakes were made. They have all been enshrined in the Remember-When-Mom-Did Hall of Fame. The outbursts, the temper tantrums, the bad language – mine, not theirs. The times the baby fell off the bed. The times I arrived late for preschool pickup. The nightmare sleepover. The horrible summer camp. The day when the youngest came barreling out of the classroom with a 98 on her
geography test, and I responded, What did you get wrong? (She insisted I include that.) The time I ordered food at the McDonald’s drive-through speaker and then drove away without picking it up from the window. (They all insisted I include that.) I did not allow them to watch the Simpsons for the first two seasons. What was I thinking?
But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.
Even today I’m not sure what worked and what didn’t, what was me and what was simply life. When they were very small, I suppose I thought someday they would become who they were because of what I’d done. Now I suspect they simply grew into their true selves because they demanded in a thousand ways that I back off and let them be. The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact and I was sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity.
That’s what the books never told me. I was bound and determined to learn from the experts. It just took me a while to figure out who the experts were.
–Anna Quindlen is a Pulizer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author.