Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Hodgepodge is never a chore-Vol 42

Welcome to another edition of the Wednesday Hodgepodge...add your link at the bottom and join the party. Here are my answers to this week's questions-

1. Do you think the world became a more dangerous place on September 11, 2001 or are we just more aware of the danger? How has your own life changed as a result of that day?

I think I lost my naivete about the world long before 9/11. It left me in December of 1988 when a Pan Am jet with my dearly loved next door neighbors aboard fell from the sky. The world has been full of evil since long before any of us reading here were born. I think it is only in America that we have felt mostly safe from a particular type of evil but 9/11 pretty much put an end to that.

We moved overseas post 9/11 and that definitely gives you a different perspective, not only on America but on how the rest of the world views America, which fyi is not all sunshine and roses. We still travel a lot, most often by air, and every time I'm in an airport I think about our personal safety. Air travel used to be a little bit exciting but those days are gone, replaced by liquids in a bag and full body scans. Its no longer just airports either, that have amped up security. My bag was thoroughly searched and I was patted down before the football game at Giants stadium on Monday night. I didn't bat an eye.

2. Did you think your parents were too strict when you were growing up? How about in hindsight?

My parents had rules but I don't remember thinking they were too unreasonable. I was a kid who liked rules so I'm pretty sure I didn't complain too much. There are times as a kid when you feel pressure to participate in something you don't really want to be part of and its nice to throw the blame on your parents rules as in "I'd love to go to the party but my super strict parents said no." I would say that while my dad had a gruff exterior he didn't worry the way my mom did and was more inclined to say yes to certain things. My mom liked to tick off the dangers and what ifs. I do not fall far from that tree. Ahem. All that being said, my dad definitely had high expectations and if you were in trouble you went to mom first. I think my own kids do the same so maybe that's a girl thing.

3. Share one random but candid fact about yourself.

Have you ever read my 100 things about me post? Why not? I wrote it a couple of years ago and its chock full of random candid facts about me. I'm struggling to think of something that hasn't already been said. How about this-I started subbing in our local school system last spring. I love kids and I've taught school in the past, plus I liked the flexibility subbing offered. It has been a long time since I've been in the public school system and on Day 1 I suddenly remembered that teaching and subbing are nothing alike. Oh my.

4. Would your nearest and dearest describe you as simple or far too complicated?

My hubs says I'm complicated. That's a compliment, right?

5. What is your favorite stadium or carnival food?

I'm not even sure what qualifies as stadium/carnival food anymore since it seems like you can get almost anything at ball parks and fairgrounds nowadays. I had roast turkey with cranberry sauce at the Jets game Monday night. We were in the company box and there is usually a buffet of typical game day foods-hotdogs, dips, chicken wings, etc. available for snacking. I've really been watching my diet and I wondered what I'd find to eat that wasn't too unhealthy. I was pleasantly surprised to find turkey and it was really delicious. If fat and calories were not an issue I'd go for a hot dog with mustard and sauerkraut.

6. Tornado, hurricane, many of these natural disasters have you experienced? Which do you think would be the scariest?

Supposedly the recent East Coast earthquake was felt in our area but I was oblivious. I've never been in a tornado but I have been in two hurricanes. Irene was mostly a non-event at our house although when you live behind a hillside full of huge trees, strong winds and rain are nerve wracking. We lived in Annapolis during Hurricane Floyd and that was scary. My mom was visiting and hubs was out of town and couldn't get home. It was my birthday weekend and we were without power for days. My girls and I played hours of dominoes with my mom all by the light of our camping lantern. I'm thinking this may be what put them off the game for years to come. Hmmm.....

I think they're all pretty scary but if I have to pick the scariest I'd say earthquakes. At least you can take some precautions if you know a hurricane or tornado watch is in place, and certainly with hurricanes we have a lot of warning and the opportunity to get out of harms way. Earthquakes occur without warning and there's not a whole lot you can do when the ground opens up.

7. Labor day weekend is approaching so a work related question seems appropriate. Growing up, did your parents assign you regular chores? Were you paid for doing those chores. If you're a parent do you assign chores to your own children? Why or why not?

That last question was inspired by a post Mindee wrote on Monday. Everyone go say hi to Mindee. She blogs at Our Front Door and she's funny.

I had chores growing up. My mom always had a list on Saturday mornings for my younger sister and I to have done before the end of the day. We usually argued over some of those chores but I believe bickering with a sibling is a key component of the kid -chore package. And of course arguing and complaining never got us out of the actual doing.

During the week we set the table and did the dishes after supper. Saturdays were for cleaning our room and bathroom, dusting downstairs and our least liked job-vacuuming the steps. My mom would look things over when we finished too. We did not get paid for doing chores. We were part of the household and most likely its primary mess makers so why wouldn't we have to participate in the care and keeping of the house? As a ten year old I may not have seen it in quite those terms, but as a mother you better believe I did, which is why my own girls had chores too.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

We saw The Patriot Flag unfurled at the Giants/Jets game on Monday night. The flag is 56 feet wide and 30 feet high and has been touring around the country all year. It's been in all 50 states and will fly at all three 9/11 sites on the 10 year anniversary date in a little over a week. It is an impressive and moving site to see in person.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It's that time again-Vol 42

Here are the questions for this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Be sure to come back tomorrow and link your answers with the world wide web. Everyone is invited to join the party...

1. Do you think the world became a more dangerous place on September 11, 2001 or did we just become more aware of the danger? How has your own life changed as a result of that day?

2. Did you think your parents were too strict when you were growing up? How about in hindsight?

3. Share one random but candid fact about yourself.

4. Would your nearest and dearest describe you as simple or far too complicated?

5. What is your favorite stadium or carnival food?

6. Tornado, hurricane, many of these natural disasters have you experienced? Which event do you think would be the scariest?

7. Labor Day weekend is approaching so a work related question seems appropriate. Growing up, did your parents assign you regular chores? Were you paid for doing those chores? If you're a parent do you assign chores to your own children? Why or why not?

That last question was inspired by a post Mindee wrote on Monday. Everyone go say hi to Mindee-she blogs at Our Front Door and she's funny.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, August 29, 2011

'I can see clearly now the rain is gone...'

So what did you do this weekend? Anything fun?

We had some fun if you count staying mostly tucked snugly into the confines of our own house listening to the wind blow and the rain lash while we watched a forest full of huge trees on the hill behind us sway and dance to the music of Irene.

Saturday was gray and drizzly but we ventured out early in the day to do a little shopping because someone has a birthday coming up and birthdays wait for no man. Or in this case, woman. Why are hurricanes women? One of the stops we made was at Best Buy and we were surprised at the crowds in the store. People were buying televisions and appliances and all sorts of electronics as a hurricane zipped up the coast. Something about that seemed strange but maybe they all had daughters with birthdays in the next few weeks too. And daughter2, in case you are reading this, rest assured you are not getting an appliance for your birthday. Nor are you getting a big TV but I think you already knew that.

We stopped for lunch on the way home because Irene was determined to put a damper on the minimalist cooking mantra I adopt on the weekends. We always eat out at least one meal on the weekends and hubs usually grills the rest. Hurricanes and grilling do not mix although I know some people resorted to boiling water for coffee on their grills Sunday morning. We do what we have to, right?

The worst of the storm hit here after midnight on Sunday morning. Hubs was asleep on the couch and the next day pronounced that it wasn't too bad. You do know its only people who sleep thru hurricanes that say things like that, don't you? I was awake throughout because someone needed to worry about the possibility of falling trees and flooded basements. We never did lose power so I was able to distract myself browsing Pinterest.

Sunday was a nasty day weather wise and although the storm had technically passed by early morning the winds and rain continued most of the day. We came thru it without anything more than some tree branches down and leaves scattered across the yard but there is significant flooding in our area and many are still without power. Hubs is working from home this morning since we know his route to work has 'issues' but the sun is shining in a bright blue sky and the air outside feels like fall.

This morning we have a chimney inspection scheduled in preparation for cooler weather and tonite we're going to a football game. Summer is winding down and we're gearing up for autumn, my favorite season of the year. Minus the hurricanes of course.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Like Magic

Last weekend hubs and I took a road trip that passed thru a portion of The Buckeye State. That's Ohio for anyone who doesn't know state nicknames and once upon a time we lived in this state. It was in Ohio, on a long ago day in June, that I celebrated one of the happiest days of my life. It was in this state that I became a mother.

I have never written down my girl's birth stories although they've heard them told over and over again, but as we made our way across Ohio I started thinking that I'd like to put their stories down in writing. I wish I'd done it back in the day but better late than never, right? Daughter2 has a birthday coming up in the very, very near future so I will tell her story then. She was born in The Empire State. Anyone? All mothers have birth stories to tell and I realize they are not really all that interesting to anyone other than the people in them so consider yourself warned.

Hubs and I had been married four years before we welcomed Daughter1 into our family. We were living in Richmond Virginia when I got pregnant and we had no reason to think she would be born somewhere else, certainly not in a large Midwestern city. I had been working as a speech pathologist in the Richmond City Schools for three years and we had a cute house in a planned community in a little suburb called Midlothian. Somewhere around month six hubs was offered a promotion and we were asked to relocate to Columbus Ohio. And so it was that in April of 1988 we bought a brand new house and took our pup and my pregnant self to a city where we knew not a single solitary soul.

Our house was in a brand new subdivision and it had mud for a yard. They were going to lay sod but needed winter to end first. Being seven months pregnant + a big German shepherd pup + mud for a yard= good times. Do you know what else = good times? Moving to a brand new city where the only person you now know is your realtor and less than two weeks after arriving you are diagnosed with toxemia. You are put in the hospital for four days and told every day you might have the baby but she is far too small. You are then sent home to lay on your left side 24/7 for the remainder of your pregnancy. You are allowed up to go to the bathroom, the doctor, and the first few Lamaze classes but eventually even that is deemed too risky so its back to bed and onto your left side.

Let me back up and tell you that to say my hubs was excited about the impending arrival of his first child would quite possibly be the understatement of the century. He told everyone he knew and he literally walked on air for months. He was way beyond excited and although we did not find out the sex of our baby we were certain 'it' was a she. We immediately agreed on a girl's name and more or less on a boy's name although we weren't too concerned about that because we were certain 'it' was a she.

The first week I was confined to bed hubs was a champion. He could not do enough for me, bringing me meals and snacks and fluffing the pillows and walking right beside me when I had to get up. Yeah. That kind of thing wears off after a while. By week three I was reminding him I needed lunch made before he headed out to work. Our realtor was a lovely woman named Irene. She was nothing like the hurricane though...calm and soft spoken and so kind. She checked on me often and said to call in an emergency and she would come. Keep in mind hubs was trying to learn a new role, needed to travel the state, and our house was not completely unpacked from the move.

It was about a month into the bed rest that my mother came to the rescue. Hubs had to take an out of town trip and I couldn't be left alone so my mom came out for a week. She waited on me hand and foot, cooked wonderful meals, and washed and put away all the newborn clothes so the nursery would be ready. I was in desperate need of some mothering myself and she gave me just what I needed.

The weeks passed and every time I'd see my doctor, which was no less than four times a week, he'd say I should be prepared to deliver early. With every visit my blood pressure would sky rocket and I'd see black spots in front of my eyes and they'd make me lay on my left side in the Dr's office to see if it would come down before they'd let me go back home. I was pasty white and extremely thin for a woman who was nine months pregnant. My doctor ordered me to drink a milkshake every night (Can you imagine?!!) and I did, but still I only gained 17 pounds and they were concerned. I spent a lot of hours laying in bed, talking to my soon to be born daughter and also having regular conversations with God. I'm pretty sure there was some bargaining happening too.

Do you know I went all the way up to my due date before going into labor? The Drs. were really happy about that and so on the morning I was due my water broke and off we went to the hospital. I was considered a high risk patient and was immediately hooked up to IVs and monitors and blah blah blah. People were in and out of my room all the live long day. Pregnancy and childbirth reduces your level of modesty into the negative digits doesn't it?

I was given Pitocin (blech!) and spent the rest of the day in labor. I was eventually given an epidural and late in the evening I was taken into an operating room in case an emergency delivery became necessary. Hubs was annoyingly upbeat and beaming from ear to ear. At one point during labor I squeezed his hand so hard that he dared to mention it. I know! The operating room was huge and I remember hubs saying if I pushed a little harder she could still arrive on her due date. I'm sure you can guess how well that went over.

Daughter1 made her entry into this world a few minutes after midnight the day after she was due. She looked perfectly perfect and was breathing but did not make a sound. She stared right at the doctor and he said, "You know, you're supposed to cry" and so she did. Her temperament was captured in that single moment. I remember her being placed on my chest and the way she looked me right in the eye. We studied one another. I was not expecting this tiny little newborn baby to be so alert but with just one look I knew my heart would never ever be the same.

The nurse called out from the other side of the room asking if we had a name. Hubs gave it to her and the nurse said the name aloud. When she did that my baby turned her head and looked at the nurse. The nurse said, "Wow-it's like she already knows her name." It's funny to think about that now because this child has always been so in touch with people and how they are feeling. She senses when you need a smile or a hug or a kind word. I really do think she came into the world that way.

We stayed in the hospital for three days since I continued to have some issues from the toxemia but eventually we took our baby home. My parents came and stayed for a week and then my in laws came to stay and all the many aunts and uncles also made their way to Ohio throughout the summer to ooh and ahh and love on our little girl. Daughter1 ate well, slept well, and almost never ever cried. She was positively the most content child I have ever in my life known. I know I'm her mother so there is a certain bias but honestly, everyone who came in contact with her said the same.

We loved showing our girl off. We took long walks around the neighborhood and made friends with a family around the corner who had a little boy a few months older. We also spent some time with a couple we met thru our Lamaze class who lived nearby and whose son was born a few days after Daughter1.

We played in a nearby park, ate world famous cream puffs at Schmidts Sausage Haus, and spent hours just watching our daughter. Is it bad that I remember the cream puffs?

It was a year of firsts...smiles, words, steps...a year of seeing the world bathed in the softness of a golden pink light. Of inspecting rocks and grass and a little girls' thumb. A year of Beatrix Potter and a blanket forevermore known as lubbie. It was a song. "Good morning, good morning, good morning little one." It was a year of noticing life's smallest moments...a year filled with peace and gratitude and sheer unadulterated joy. It was the year that love spilled over into every corner of my soul.

Almost exactly one year to the day from the date we moved west, hubs was given another promotion and we were asked to relocate to Northern New Jersey. We bought another house and Daughter1 and I moved in with my parents for a month until we could close on the new place. Hubs office was a couple of hours from my folks so he drove back and forth one night a week and every weekend during that month. We decided then and there that we would never again agree to be separated for that amount of time during a move.

We celebrated Daughter1's first birthday at my parent's home and then my brother's wedding just a few days later. Then she grew up and got a job in a big city and her own apartment and life.

Okay okay... I know a lot of stuff happened in between but sometimes it feels like we went from sleeping in a bassinet to riding the DC metro in the blink of an eye. And if you asked me to describe that very first year of motherhood one word comes to mind...that word is magical.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Perfectly Perfect Hodgepodge- Vol 41

Hello are my answers to this week's questions. Add your link at the bottom and join the party-

1. What is something that bothers you if its not done perfectly?

Ha-I bet my family would all have a ready answer for this one. The first thing that popped into my head was setting the table. I like the napkins folded (neatly!) and the silverware laid properly. I like towels folded a particular way too. Doesn't everyone? And I'm very particular about anything written. But I'm easy going about most stuff. Really.

This question feels familiar-have I asked this question in the Hodgepodge already? If so that's going to bother me.

2. Do you think a 6th sense exists? Explain.

I'm not sure I'd call it a 6th sense but I do think mothers in particular have instincts about things and its usually wise to follow up on those instincts, particularly if they are related to teenage behavior. I don't think there's anything mystical or new agey about it. I believe God gave that gift to mothers...after all, He knew our children before we did.

3. Do you say your goodbyes slowly, quickly, or not at all?

Depends on the situation but in general ripping off the bandaid is better than picking it off one millimeter at a time. I hate goodbyes. I hope my daughter1 plays along today because I'd like to see how she answers this one. Even as a very little girl her tender heart just couldn't take the heartache of goodbye. She could drag one out like nobody else I've ever known.

4. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being hot hot hot, what level of spice do you like in your food? What is your favorite spicy dish?

I love spicy food, not so spicy that you don't taste the food, but definitely spicy. Maybe an 8? My favorite spicy dish would be Thai Green Curry. Hubs would likely say food can never be too spicy. He always asks for diced jalapenos on the side of his already too hot curries and Mexican meals.

5. What is one of your all time favorite commercial jingles?

I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke. I loved that song and remember singing the 'real' version (I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing) in 6th grade all county chorus. My family is laughing right now. Yes I was so in all county chorus in grade 6. They must have needed warm bodies.

Anyway, I'm not linking to the commercial, I'm linking to the original song by The New Seekers because oh my word, the clothes...1973 was quite a year if we're talking style people.

6. Plane, train, boat or auto...your preferred method of travel?

To get from point a to point b I prefer to fly for the sake of expediency. That being said, I'm a nervous flier so speed is the only reason I prefer flying over driving. I kind of enjoy a car trip. Hubs and I racked up some miles this weekend and I enjoy the uninterrupted car conversations, seeing new places, and the whole family listening to music or books on tape. I do like train trips too, particularly if the European countryside is part of the deal but boating is a whole 'nother kettle of fish. I have a lot of rules for boating. The seas must be calm or the boats must be fast. I am not a fan of bobbing aimlessly about on the waves for any reason whatsoever.

7. What is something you take for granted?

Good health. Until it's gone I don't think we realize what a priceless precious gift it is.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Hubs and I traveled from NJ to Illinois this past weekend. We passed thru five states and may I just say that the whole Eastern half of the US of A could use a good paving. Traveling Route 80 west is a little bit like off roading in a sea of 18 wheelers.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Here are the questions for this weeks Wednesday Hodgepodge. They were written on the go so I'm hoping they make sense. Come back tomorrow to link your answers with the rest of the neighborhood-

1. What is something that bothers you if it's not done perfectly?

2. Do you think a 6th sense exists? Explain.

3. Do you say your goodbyes slowly, quickly, or not at all?

4. On a scale of 1-10, with ten being hot hot hot, what level of spice do you like in your food? What's your favorite 'spicy' dish?

5. What is one of your all time favorite commercial jingles?

6. Plane, train, boat or auto...your preferred method of travel?

7. What is something you take for granted?

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Year One

Hubs and I were in Knoxville a few weeks ago and happened to be in the vicinity of the very first apartment we shared as husband and wife. We're in the area every now and then but rarely in this particular part of the city so we decided to drive by and see how it looked. We haven't been by this apartment since we moved away in 1985 and surprisingly it looked pretty much the same.

Sadly, we do not.

Or not so sadly, depending on your point of view. I must talk about this picture for a minute because I am struck by a couple of things. Firstly, look at our BIG SMILES!! Can you tell we're newlyweds? We are unpacking the bedroom of our brand new apartment and I guess parents were there helping us move in because somebody took the picture. What goes around comes around doesn't it?

Let's discuss me for a minute. I'm wearing a t-shirt. As I looked at this picture it occurred to me that I no longer wear t-shirts unless I'm hiking or going to/from the gym. Or maybe vacuuming, but never as an everyday article of clothing. There is an age where that is cute and there is an age where it is not and I am now in the 'not' category. Great hair, sun kissed skin, and a tiny waist on the other hand, look good at any age and I would love to have mine back.

Naturally, being the good blogger that I am, I got out of the car and took a quick picture of the apartment as it looks today-

Of course we didn't have the ginormous satelite dish on the tiny balcony because hello, cable tv was still a baby in 1984. Our tv was also not the size of a room and it sat on an ugly wooden crate as opposed to do it yourself Ikea furniture or some great hand me down armoir from family like so many young marrieds seem to start out with now. We bought our first piece of furniture, an oak table and chairs, when we got married.

That table moved with us all over the country and most recently resided in Daughter1's apartment. I believe when she relocated in April the table went to the fraternity house and its probably best if I don't think too much about that. Or the fact that I am wearing yellow cuorduorys. I know it's hard to believe but they were not out of fashion in 1984.

We didn't have a washer and dryer right away but the complex had a laundry room and I hauled the laundry to and fro every week. I remember how exciting it was to come home from work one day to discover hubs had surprised me with a washer and dryer. Do newlyweds get excited about these sorts of things today? I feel like my kids have had nicer furnishings in their college apartments than we had in the apartment you see here and we both had jobs.

I wish I could remember more of the details of our first year of married life. I know I used to put a juice glass in the freezer every morning when I got up so my hubs could have ice cold orange juice in a frosty glass for breakfast. When did I stop doing that? Pretty sure my mother in law is smiling at this. She thought it was fabulous but somehow she knew it wouldn't last. Why didn't it last though? It was a small thing but a nice thing. I am now mentally making a list of nice things I do around here today. I think my list in 1984 may have been longer.

When we were first married I had a job I loved working in a multiply handicapped preschool setting. Hubs had a job too but there was zero travel in that role. We had some friends in town and that first fall we spent weekends in Neyland Stadium cheering on the Vols. We didn't really travel but we did meet up with our college buds often in the various cities where we'd settled. Nobody was too far away yet. We spent our first married Thanksgiving with hubs family and our first Christmas with mine. Nine months after we were married hubs interviewed for a new job and we moved to Virginia.

I didn't have a blog back then (or internet for that matter) but I did keep journals off and on and they're full of life's little moments. And while I don't remember too many of the details of the apartment year I do remember being happy. And feeling like a grown up. And ready for whatever lay ahead.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wednesday Hodgepodge-Volume Fab 40

Welcome to the fabulous fortieth volume of the Wednesday Hodgepodge. You know the drill and if you don't just click the link on my sidebar for instructions. Easy peasy. Now, here are my answers to this week's questions-

1. Using what's in your frig right now, what sort of meal would you be able to make for guests who are standing on your front porch this very minute?

Conveniently I asked this question with a semi stocked freezer. At the moment I have fabulous ahi tuna steaks along with special ordered NY strip steaks just waiting to be thrown on the bbq so that is likely what you'd get. If that were not your cup of tea I suppose I could whip you up some scrambled eggs. It's usually feast or famine here.

2. What is something about yourself that you hope will change but that you know probably never will?

I like to put off til tomorrow what I should do right now. I say I work best under pressure but how would I know that when I've rarely tried the reverse?

3. What is something about yourself you hope never changes?

My optimistic view on life.

4. Do you usually send serious or funny greeting cards? Why?

Depends on the occasion but for birthdays, funny. If the cards are going to my girls they might get a fun card with a sloppy sentimental message handwritten by moi on the bottom but I generally go with funny or sweet, as opposed to the super serious. Anniversaries and Valentines Day also get funny.

5. Bird watching, shell gathering, star gazing-your choice for whiling away the hours?

So hard to choose...I love all three. Ideally I'd like to shell gather early morning, relax and watch the birds with a glass of wine in hand late afternoon and star gaze once the sky goes dark. I guess if I can only pick one I'd go with shell gathering. That would mean I'm near the water which is my favorite place to be.

6. Do you double or triple check things? If so, what?

I should double and triple check things but instead of double and triple checking I make the hubs crazy. We are usually a few miles down the road when I will think to ask, "Did you shut the garage?" "Are you sure?" "Unplug the iron?" "Lock the back door?" "Turn off the coffeepot?" I know in my head all these things have been done but there is something in my DNA that causes me to ask anyway. Then we have a 'discussion' as to why I like to wait until we are five miles down the road to ask and I say, "Well, if I'd remembered before we left the house I wouldn't be asking five miles down the road." Sometimes I add, "Just be glad we were only five and not five hundred." Married life can be a challenge sometimes.

7. What's your favorite place for people watching?

One of my very favorite pastimes...airports and restaurants are the best!

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Thank you so much for your kind thoughts and especially your ongoing prayers for my niece. If you missed my post on Sunday you can catch up here.

Have you ever considered becoming a bone marrow donor? You'll find all the necessary information on the National Registry website here. A genetic match is required and approximately seventy percent of patients will not have a donor within their own family. These patients rely on the registry to save their lives. When you join the registry you'll get a kit to swab cheek cells which you'll send back for tissue typing. The results go into the database and are used to match patients as appropriate.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Little bit of Chicken Fried...

If you're looking for questions to this week's Weds. Hodgepodge you'll find them here.

Saturday afternoon we heard us some country music. Yes I do realize that statement is grammatically incorrect but somehow it just feels right. We had tickets to see Kenny Chesney along with the Zac Brown Band and Billy Currington and Uncle Kracker. I'm not a huge Uncle Kracker fan so we spent his time slot tailgating with friends in the Giants stadium parking lot. We munched on appetizers and discussed, among other things, the idea that we might possibly be sitting atop Jimmy Hoffa. The rumor mill says he was buried under the old stadium which is now the parking lot. How's that for a little slice of trivia on this rainy Tuesday morning?

Hubs and I have a few things in common with Kenny, namely the fact that the three of us attended the same university. He's a little bit younger than we are but still, we claim him as a hometown boy. Kenny got his start playing for tips on Tues and Thurs nights at an out of the way Mexican restaurant on the river near collegetown. Its fun to be sitting in Giants Stadium (yeah yeah I know-its technically The New Meadowlands Stadium) and to hear a shout out to your little ole Alma Mater. More than a shout out actually. He references East Tennessee often in his speech and music. Its a place that gets deep into your heart and soul.

The country, the river, the mountains, the people. Trips to the Carolina shore and football games in small high school bleachers or the third largest college stadium in the country. He sings about standing on the Lambda Chi porch and we've stood on that Lambda Chi porch. He sings about the river and we know that river. He inserts the familiar into his music and listening takes us back to hubs hometown, to the place we met, to the roads we used to travel and to the mountains and countryside we will always love. His music is painted with the brush of East Tennessee and when we listen we are there.

Now, onto some observations about the evening-

The skies were threatening but you are not permitted to bring umbrellas into the stadium. I am not sure if its because you'll block your neighbors view or there is the concern that you might poke annoying and unruly fans with said umbrella. Or there could be the fear that you'll be one of the annoying unruly fans and they don't want you 'armed'. It didn't start raining until later in the evening and we were in the company box so not a problem for us. I believe I've stated here before that this is my preferred method of viewing all concerts and sporting events.

Speaking of weapons, security also confiscates water bottles upon entry. Apparently they can be used as weapons too but secretly I think they just want you to buy their water. I had a conversation with a girl in the rest room about the fact that they did not confiscate her hair spray. She and I agreed we could do a lot more damage with hairspray than a water bottle.

Where did all these cowboy boots come from? I spent most of my growing up years in this state, lived here for another five years early in our marriage, and have been back for two years this time round. I never see people in the Garden State walking around in Western Wear but the concert was full of cowboy hats and boots.

I love a fiddle.

Zac Brown has one of the most beautiful clear voices out there today. He and his band sang America the Beautiful and knocked it out of the park. Some Navy folks in uniform were in the audience and the camera zoomed in on them and the crowd went crazy.

My favorite Zac Brown song is Free because it makes me feel happy and sad all at the same time. Lots of country music songs make me feel this way.

How fun would this be?

Kenny Chesney came into the stadium on some sort of suspended seat with a harness and sang his way across the crowd and onto the stage.

My husband's whistle is completely obnoxious. Oh my aching ears.

We were in the company box along with about 15 other people. See the gentleman on the left-

He is the out of town guest of someone else in the box. Guess where he's from? He lives in the very same teeny tiny village we lived in across the pond. He knew our neighborhood and the street we lived on and we talked about our favorite Indian restaurant and the changes in the village since we left and oh my goodness, it was all just too much.

At the end of the show KC hugged everyone in the band and the Jets coach and a Yankee player who were part of the crowd.

I explained to one of the girls with us that this is how we know KC is a Tennessee boy. He's a hugger.

This post would not be complete without a little music. Here's one of our favorites...the words are poetry. Tennessee poetry.

Forty is fabulous if we're talking Hodgepodge

Here are the questions for this week's edition of the Wednesday Hodgepodge which just so happens to be Volume 40.

Volume 40?
Wow! 40 is a lot!
Unless we're talking years and then its a little. ahem.

Answer the questions on your own blog or fb page and then come back tomorrow to link answers with all your friends and neighbors.

1. Using what's in your frig right now what sort of meal would you be able to make for guests who are knocking at the front door this very minute?

2. What is something about yourself that you hope will change but that probably never will?

3. What's something about yourself that you hope will never change?

4. Do you usually send serious or funny greeting cards? Why?

5. Bird watching, shell gathering, or star gazing- your choice for whiling away the hours?

6. Do you double or triple check things? If so, what?

7. What's your favorite place for people watching?

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Swinging at the Curve Ball

I know a girl.

She makes us laugh.

She has always made us laugh.

I hope this next picture makes her laugh-

One of the comedians is her dad, the other happen to be two of her favorite uncles.

Cousins are special people.
Our girl cousin has spunk. Determination. A heart of gold.

She loves my girls.

They are just a little bit older than she is and they love her back.

She's grown up around us...

and among us

even far far away from us, but then...

in a funny turn of events...

near us.
Closer than ever in fact, in a country not our own.

Now, a dilemma. My blog is a mostly light hearted happy place. A gentle and positive look at mid life, and for the most part, that's me. I'm a person content in spirit and hopeful in all things.

So what to do when a curve ball is thrown? Do you continue blogging as if nothing is wrong? Do you carry on talking about the trivial and the ordinary when life is suddenly anything but? At first that would seem an impossible task. How do you write about life's everyday nonsense when things take a turn towards the heavy? As I've thought about this some I've realized that as much as it feels like everything should come to a screeching halt when the wild pitch is thrown, it does not. Life carries on. It finds a way. There is still beauty around us, even when ugliness rears its unwelcome head. Peace may seem more elusive but its never completely out of reach. Laughter and love and family are the things that bubble to the surface and demand tending and cherishing and holding tight. We question God but rest in the knowledge that He loves us immeasurably more than we can understand or imagine. He who tells the ocean how far to crawl, who has numbered the stars in the heavens, still gently holds each one of us in the palm of His hand.

We heard some unexpected news this week about the girl we love who is so precious to us. AML Leukemia are words that feel a little bit like an iron fisted stomach punch. I know many of you who read here are people who pray. I am a believer in the power of prayer, particularly the power of a praying many. Today I am asking you to pray for a sweet sixteen year old girl with a joyous spirit and a generous and tender heart who has a road to walk that will be hard. We have no doubt she'll walk it with grace and will inspire us along the way with her strength and humor, but this road is not one any of us would choose. Prayer has the power to lessen a burden, to ease pain, to change lives and circumstances and hearts and bodies. Prayer is not the least we can do for someone in times of great challenge. In reality its the biggest and the best.

"Let us therefore come boldly before the throne of grace, that we may find mercy and grace in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

She sells seashells in the Wednesday Hodgepodge-Vol 39

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge...a happy way to celebrate mid-week. Add a link to back here in your own post and then add your blog link at the bottom of the page. Be sure to hop around too...that's part of the fun! Here are my answers to this week's questions~

1. If you could work for any one government agency which would you choose and why?

The Library of Congress or The United States Botanic Garden. In all my many trips to D.C. I have never seen or heard of The US Botanic Garden. Hmmm...something to add to my list of must sees. I love libraries and I love beautiful gardens and in making my selection I have to think these choices would be two of the less annoying government agencies in which to work.

2. How difficult is it for you to forgive someone who refuses to apologize?

When a hurt is fresh its a little bit hard not to want and expect an apology. I think its natural when we've been wronged to want an apology. As I've gotten older I've learned to recognize though, that 'no apology' is the offenders issue, not mine, and I am more easily able to let it go.

3. What is your favorite meatless supper?

Eggplant parm-yum!

4. Wednesday, August 10th is National Lazy Day...will you be celebrating? If so tell us how so we can be lazy too.

Do we really need a day to recognize this? Celebrating bad habits? Sigh. I admire hard work carried out as part of living a balanced life. I don't think a person who works hard most days but who occasionally takes a day to read a book or hang out in their kitchen baking cookies, or sit curled up in a chair knitting, or plopped in a lounge chair in front of the ocean is lazy. In my mind laziness means having the ability to complete a task as well as the need to complete the task but not being particularly inclined to actually then do the task. Everyone needs a lazy day now and then. Nobody needs to make a habit of being lazy.

5. As a child did you have any special back to school traditions and if so, what were they? If you're a parent have you continued those traditions with your own children?

I was reminded of something as my daughter2 and I walked thru Target over the weekend. We passed the little girl dresses and my daughter said, 'Oh this would make such a cute first day of school dress for a little girl.' When I was little my mom always bought something new for me to wear on the first day of school, typically a dress and usually new shoes to go with. I continued that tradition with my own daughters too. And we always took a picture on the first day of school, sometimes on our porch and sometimes at the bus stop.

This picture was taken on the first day of grades 6 and 4. I know this because Daughter1 is no longer clutching a cute lunchbox. We've graduated to the brown paper bag for middle school.

6. Write a summer tongue twister.

Summers state of incalescence sizzles still, slipping slowly towards a soft September sky.

7. Would you be interested in observing a surgery or do you turn away when the nurse pulls out the needle?

I was able to observe a myringotomy back in grad school-a child having tubes put into their ears. Ick. More blood than I would have imagined. I am not especially squeamish but I guess I tend to turn my head when the nurse actually sticks the needle in my arm. Hubs is in a medical related business and always asks for a report as to brand and type when I get home so I do try to take note of these things before the actual stick.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Words I want to remember today- "Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time." Oswald Chambers

This song goes hand in hand with that thought.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Your weekly dose of HP-Volume 39

Here are the questions for this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge...come back tomorrow to link answers and see what the neighbors are saying~

1. If you could work for any one government agency which would you choose and why? (if you're in the US here's a helpful list)

2. How difficult is it for you to forgive someone who refuses to apologize?

3. What is your favorite meatless supper?

4. Wednesday August 10th is National Lazy Day...will you be celebrating? If so, tell us how so we can be lazy too.

5. As a child did you have any special back to school traditions and if so, what were they? If you're a parent did you carry on those traditions with your own children?

6. Write a summer tongue twister.

7. Would you be interested in observing a surgery or do you turn away when the nurse brings out the needle?

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, August 8, 2011

If I Only had a Brain...

I wouldn't have left hubs at home for the big move this weekend. At some point on Friday Daughter2 and I had a conversation that concluded with this thought-'If I were rich I'd never move anything again. I'd just leave it all in the old place and buy new'. This may have been said as I was wringing out my shirt after we attempted to jointly lug bin number 50 down the stairs. Or possibly it was muttered after we'd been forced to rearrange the furniture for the third time. I blame the heat for the fact that we neglected to note the location of the cable and computer outlet before we wrestled the ginormous dresser containing the TV onto the wall on the opposite side of the room from said outlets. The idea of chucking everything you own and buying new may sound ridiculous but when you are carrying bins, heavy bins I might add, bins full of books and shoes and boots and 227 hair products, and its approximately 1000 degrees and there are steps (of course) and the heat index is 1010 and the humidity is 1000% well, you'd think the same. What was I thinking leaving hubs at home?

At one point I texted him to say I thought I might actually be melting. Remember what happened to the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy threw water on her? Like that. Hubs texted me back to say he'd just had a nap. Grrrr. In his defense he had been in Brazil all week but still, we could have used his muscles and his head for geometry. Had he been there I'm pretty sure we would have gotten the furniture right on the first try. Plus, he would have been the one doing the schlepping.

Daughter2 is settled into her new apartment and her bedroom is organized, tidy, and cozy. fyi-pretty much all university housing is 'cozy'. She wraps up her summer job tomorrow and on Wednesday will be introduced to her assigned teacher at the school where she'll student teach this year. She can't wait to get started. And hey, we're done with the moving so whoohoo! Well til May anyway, but right now May is waiting happily somewhere over the rainbow.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Three times seven

My shredder and I survived Phase 1 of the great office clean out and the stage is now set for Phase 2. Hubs and I are ships passing in the night today as he is flying home from a business trip and I am heading south to spend the weekend with daughter2 so I can help her move apartments. I told him that I hoped he could see how much I'd done but honestly so much of it was getting rid of paper that I'm not sure how different the office looks. The closet on the other hand is much improved. You can actually put your whole self in there now, maybe even the whole family.

Besides being overrun by income tax returns do you know what else we're overrun by around here? Photos. Holy moly. I have been scanning and filing photos for the past year but it seems every time I open another drawer, bag or box I find more photos. Some I dated when I had the film developed (remember when you had to have film developed?) but I got lazy about 1999 so I had to wrack my brain to figure out the year on a few of them.

I also found some of the things I'd saved from my girls growing up days. School work, letters home from camp, notes to mom and dad...oh my. I tried to stay focused on the task at hand but I couldn't help but read some of the cards and notes. One thing I kept was something daughter2 wrote during the very first week of third grade-she was seven getting ready to turn 8 in a few days. The teacher had them complete a packet about themselves and it was sitting on their desk when parents arrived for Back to School night. Here is what hers said-

When I'm in sixth grade, I hope-I get a good teacher.
When I'm in high school, I would like to-get four teeth pulled.
When I'm 25 I would like to be-a waitress.
When I grow up I would really like to be-a teacher.
If I could have three wishes for my future, I would wish for-a puppy, a good husband, a little girl.

Dear sweet seven year old daughter2-

You with the bluest eyes and the hair so blonde and the smile so did get a good teacher in grade 6. Two in fact. And they both had babies that year which delighted you. We still lived in Maryland and you moved into the Middle School. You sang in the show choir, took piano lessons from Dr. Haberman, played lacrosse, danced with a new studio and loved finally being old enough to join the youth group at church.

About those teeth...I think if you knew all the orthodontics waiting for you in your future you might not have wished so hard for this one. I'm pretty sure the wish was inspired by the fact that your teacher's daughter had just had her wisdom teeth pulled and this fascinated you. Or maybe it was just all that talk of ice cream but nevertheless, your wish came true and guess what? You had those four teeth pulled by a British surgeon in the UK. He came in to see you beforehand and explained in great gruesome detail precisely how he was going to remove those teeth. They served me tea and biscuits while you were in surgery and once you were out they fed you and took your blood pressure and checked on you at least 87 times before we were permitted to go home. As always, you were a trooper. Did I mention we moved to England four years after you finished the third grade? Your seven year old self had no idea what was waiting round the bend. My 37 year old self didn't either.

Your wish to be a waitress came true too, just much sooner than age 25. It was difficult for teenagers to find part time jobs in the UK but you were bound and determined and lo and behold you landed a job at the nicest little cafe in our village. The owner Deb was from South Africa and she absolutely loved your sunny disposition, your huge smile, and your sense of humor. Daddy and I loved to come for breakfast and have you wait on us. Daddy would order the equivalent of $40 worth of beverages-his freshly squeezed juice, one of their famous lattes, and a strawberry milkshake. You were an excellent waitress and only once or twice dropped something and the fact that you were an American girl was a big hit with the customers too.

Now, about that growing up bit..well, that happened too. And at this very moment you are working hard at uni to make that dream of becoming a teacher a reality. You will student teach some lucky second graders this year and you're beyond excited. I love that you and I share this slice of life and we talk often about education, classroom management, disadvantaged children, and what makes a good teacher. I have no doubt you will be one of the best.

In just a few weeks you will turn three times seven. I imagine you sitting at your desk in Mrs. O'Neill's room as you were beginning the third grade. I picture you thinking hard about the things you loved-puppies, babies, family-and wanting your own some day in the distant future. I pray everyday those gifts are waiting for you to grab hold of as you step into the world of full grown adult. Suddenly that long ago distant future is here. You have always been the girl who grabbed hold of life. You are still that girl.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A melodious Wednesday Hodgepodge Vol 38

Thanks for playing along in the Wednesday are my answers to this week's questions-

1. Share a favorite song lyric.

I shared a dozen in yesterday's post which you must have seen since you had to go there to get today's questions. You didn't just skip to the questions did you? I thought not. Anyway, I have a million so here's one more-

"We are His portion and He is our prize, drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes, If His grace is an ocean we're all sinking. And heaven meets earth like an unforseen kiss and my heart it turns violently inside of my chest. I don't have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way...He loves us..." from How He Loves by David Crowder Band

2. When was the last time someone yelled at you?

Hmmm...this might be easier to answer if the words were turned the other way around. I don't think anyone has yelled at me this week. So far.

3. Money, fame, happiness...are they mutually exclusive?

It might seem that way if you watch tv but no, I don't think they're mutually exclusive. I do think fame is the trickiest piece of the puzzle. People with money can be incredibly happy, and many people with money do amazing things for others which also brings happiness into their own lives. It's when fame is added to the mix that happiness becomes complicated.

4. What is your favorite dish to prepare for family/friends that doesn't involve turning on the stove, oven, or an outdoor grill?

A caprese salad-simple, delicious, and beautiful.

5. The first week of August is National Simplify Your Life Week. What is one thing you could do this week to simplify your life? Will you do it?

Clean out and better organize our office. Will I do it?

I have spent the past two days in the trenches and I'm realizing it is one of those jobs where one thing leads to another. Here's what I mean-I intended to clean out the desk drawers, to go thru every file and shred what needed shredding and organize what needed organizing. Sounds simple, right? The thing is, when you start going thru paperwork you run across some things that are not current but that cannot be thrown away. They don't need to be in the desk drawer file system so I was going to move them to a file cabinet we keep in the office closet which of course led to another clean out. And then once I was in the closet I looked around and thought, ugh, might as well tackle some of the other miscellany in here. Hubs is high fiving anyone within reach as he reads this because the office closet is a pet peeve of his. ahem.

To be honest its a pet peeve of mine too but its one of those jobs that falls into the 'things that make me whine' category. Quite a few odds and ends were stashed in that closet when we moved in (two years ago, gulp). The idea was that I'd get to them later and well, uh, yeah. I guess its later. Having this closet customized is on our to-do list but I'm not sure how far down on the to-do list it is so I decided to bring a little cheap organization into the picture for now. We also had three boxes of books in that closet that have been sitting there since we moved in. I opened those and then decided I'd bring a bookcase up from the basement and use it in the closet. Of course the bookcase was full of games which had to be moved somewhere else and on and on and on it goes. This closet is a job I've been dreading but now that I've tackled it I'm feeling better. Still a ways to go but life in the office already feels simpler. You may find that hard to believe since it took me two paragraphs to explain but trust me, it's better.

6. On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being 100% and 1 being not at all) how tuned in are you to your country's national political scene?

About a 9. There are just some things I'll never understand. And hubs can't live with me if I accelerate up to a 10. Now, shall we rate our level of disgust with politicians in general? That is off the charts for me.

7. What are your final parting words to the month of July?


8. Insert your own random thought here.

I'm having a girls weekend with daughter2 this weekend. And by girls weekend I mean she and I are going to get her moved into her new apartment. Essentially her new apartment is across the parking lot from her current apartment but nevertheless, boxes and bins and clothing must be moved. And yes, she could manage this one on her own but since she's been working in SC all summer we haven't had a lot of time together so we thought it would be fun. We told hubs to sit this one out since he's been in Brazil all week and would have to turn right around and get on yet another airplane.

This picture was taken the very first week of her very first year of uni. And then we blinked and next week she starts her senior year. The roommate in the picture was a stranger back then. The girls were matched in the university's random roommate shuffle and didn't meet in person until they moved into their dorm. They are still roommates. Sometimes random is good.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Any songwriters in the Hodgepodge?

Hubs and I love listening to music and quite often we spend our Friday evenings sipping a glass of wine while listening to our favorites, both old and new. Hubs has an ear for music and he can name most songs on the first note. I do not have an ear for music but I do have an ear for words and a well turned phrase. Our tastes are wide ranging but music from the 1970's will always top our list of most loved.

Just as some people collect spoons and some people collect tea cups I collect words. I'll often hear a line in a song that is clever or thought provoking or just plain well said and think, 'I wish I'd written that." Hubs and I were talking about this very thing last Friday night and I thought it would be fun to share a few and then use that as our launch question for this week's HP. I'm not making any sort of statement with the artists I've chosen and I realize we could debate the merit and character of each one but I'd rather not. This is really just about the words.

Sometimes I love the whole song but a lot of the time its just a line or a particular phrase that strikes a chord with me. I have linked to the actual song for copyright purposes and on that note, here's a random dozen in no particular order-

1. "She's living in LA with my best old ex friend Ray" best old ex-friend? I absolutely love that wording...from Operator by Jim Croce.

2. "These are not the best of times but they're the only times I've ever known..."from Summer Highland Falls by Billy Joel

3. "Did the captain of the Titanic cry?..."
from Someday We'll Know by The New Radicals

4. "She's got a smile that it seems to me, reminds me of childhood memories, where everything was as fresh as the bright blue sky..."
from Sweet Child O' Mine by Guns N' Roses

5. "I'm not crazy I'm just a little unwell..."
Unwell by Matchbox 20

6. "What are these voices outside love's open door, makes us throw off our contentment and beg for something more?..." from The Heart of the Matter by Don Henley

7. "My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue, An everlasting vision of the ever changing view..." from Tapestry by Carole King

8. "I'm so happy, that I can't stop crying..."
From I'm so Happy by Sting

9. "... wearing a face that she keeps in a jar by the door..."
from Eleanor Rigby by The Beatles

10. "She needs wide open spaces, room to make her big mistakes..."
from Wide Open Spaces by The Dixie Chicks

11. "Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road, time grabs you by the wrist directs you where to go..." Good Riddance by Green Day

12. "But the ending always comes at last, endings always come too fast. They come too fast but they pass too slow..." from All I know by Art Garfunkel

I'd love to know if you have a lyric or ten that make you say, "Wish I wrote that." Oh's time for the Hodgepodge. How convenient. Here are the questions for this week...come back tomorrow (Wednesday) so we can link our answers with the whole wide world.

1. Share a favorite song lyric.

I better not see 'I can't think of one' on anybody's paper. That's an automatic F in the Wednesday Hodgepodge you know.

2. When was the last time someone yelled at you?

3. Money, fame, happiness...are they mutually exclusive?

4. What is your favorite dish to prepare for family and friends that doesn't require turning on the stove, oven or an outdoor grill?

5. The first week of August is National Simplify Your Life Week. What is one thing you could do this week to simplify your life? Will you do it?

6. On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being 100% and 1 being not at all) how tuned in are you to your country's national political scene?

7. What are your final parting words to the month of July?

8. Insert your own random thought here.