Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Questions for the Wednesday Hodgepodge-Vol 64

Here are the questions to this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. You know the drill (if you don't click the HP link on my sidebar)...come back tomorrow and share your answers with fellow internets. Everyone's welcome to join the party!

1. It's that most wonderful time of the year...tax season! Do you complete your own returns or farm that job out to the professionals?

2. This next question comes from Kansas Bob...he posed it in his response to something I asked in an earlier Wednesday post and I asked him if I could add it to the Hodgepodge some day. Today's the day....

Which do you think has changed you more-love or pain?

3. Tangerine Tango has been named color of the year for 2012. Your thoughts? Would I find this color anywhere in your house? How about in your closet? If not, will you be adding this color to your life in some way in 2012? If you're not sure what tangerine tango looks like click here.

4. Are you a collector? What do you collect and does it get admired, used, and/or dusted regularly?

5. February is National Heart Month...besides a green salad what is one tasty heart healthy dish you like to prepare?

6. When was the last time you had car trouble?

7. Have you been more demanding on yourself lately or less? Is that a good trend?

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Happy Trails

As you may have noticed, my hubs has been doing a lot of traveling recently. Big trips. Long trips. In fact he has been away three out of four weeks this month. Missed two full weekends at home. Yes, technically he can make up those 'lost weekends' sometime during the year but let's be honest...he probably won't. Oh maybe a day or two but he has vacation to use plus, when you're away from your office for two weeks you kinda need to get back to the office. Which is where he is this week. yay!

Although hubs has traveled for work all of our married life this month has been way more than the norm. While its exhausting on many levels he enjoys interacting with people in countries around the world and handles all the coming and going better than most. It sounds exotic to some people and often times I guess it is. Here's a dinner he had last week in Mexico City-

Those are grasshoppers on that taco.

All this to say that in spite of his around the world travels, at heart he's still a Tennessee boy who likes nothing better than a walk in the woods with his best girl and his dog. We don't live far from a stretch of the Appalachian Trail and we've been wanting to hike the bit that's nearby.

When we lived in NJ 20 years ago we used to take our little girls to the trail. Are they just too adorable or what?! Course we never got too far because somebody always conked out en route to the top, but we tried.


Back to present day...it was cool yesterday but also bright and sunny so we took advantage of that and hit the trail. As we were pulling out of our driveway we saw these vultures on our neighbors rock.

I know they're part of that whole circle of life thing but I gotta say I'm not a fan. I was hoping their presence wasn't some kind of omen. Who thinks I've watched The Jungle Book a few too many times?

To access the wooded portion of the trail you first have to cross a large open field. As we started across we heard gunfire and decided we should see where it was coming from. Wouldn't want to accidentally be mistaken for a deer now, would we?

Turns out it was a local gun club holding a 'frozen toes' event in the next field over. They were shooting at targets so we relaxed. We chatted with them for a few minutes and I think hubs would have been happy to hang out there all day but we had a mountain to climb. Literally.

One thing you should know about Northern NJ-its rocky.
Very rocky.
The trail thru here is also rocky.

And steep.

And my knees are not what they were at 30, that's for sure, but I persevered...

We made a couple of stops on the way to the top...

Someone needed a break.

And we needed to take a cheesy picture.

Everybody needed to check out the beautiful views...

Totally worth the jello legs.

And spending a day outdoors with this guy?
aka the mountain goat....

...still makes me happy.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Accidental Winter Camping

The questions on my blog yesterday sparked this memory. The Hodgepodge is its own form of therapy because I'm pretty sure this is a memory I'd successfully blocked.

Way back when, I was a girl scout leader for Daughter2's troop. Once upon a time we attended a camp out on a gorgeous warm spring day and although we were booked into a cabin for sleeping, the girls clambered to switch to the platform tents instead. Me, being the great outdoors woman that I am, said okay. It was April and we were in shorts all day long. The sun was shining and some of the girls even got their feet wet in the river.

Flash forward a few hours to dinner. We ate with some of the other troops in a central location and as we were eating the weather began to change. We decided to gather up our belongings and head back to our tents which involved a bit of a hike in the suddenly deep, dark, scary and slightly wet woods. Now that darkness had settled in the girls were terrified unhappy at the thought of being spread out into several tents so we piled everyone together into just two. There weren't enough cots so I, being the great outdoors woman that I am, said I'd sleep on the floor because I can stand anything for one night.

Or so I thought.

The rain that started off as a sprinkle had suddenly turned into a downpour and it was lightning in that spooky, Friday the 13th sort of way. Next came the winds. I can honestly say I have never in my life been outdoors in winds like these.

Have you ever slept in a platform tent? For those of you who aren't in the know, the tent is tied to the platform all the way round, but there's still a gap of several inches where a little bit of light gets in and a whole lot of wind. At one point I seriously thought the tent was going to lift off the ground ala Dorothy in Oz.

It felt like we'd been in our sleeping bags for hours when a couple of the girls awoke and were sniffling, aka sobbing. My co-leader and I said reassuring things like, ' Just close your eyes and before you know it, morning will be here.' One of the girls asked me what time it was and I made the gargantuan mistake of looking at my watch. I replied, 'Almost morning-try to go back to sleep'. The other leader said she knew better than to ask for the precise time since she figured if it really was almost morning I'd have said it.

It was 11:55.
Not even midnight.
Oh dear.

One mom had taken her daughter to the car to sleep early on in the evening. We should all have done the same but have you ever been so cold you can't even entertain the idea of moving even when you know you should? Pretty sure that's how people die in the woods.

I slept that night wearing every article of clothing I'd brought with me. I tucked my knees all the way up to my chest and pulled my fleece over them and shivered and prayed. When I woke up I was literally frozen in that position. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to unfold my legs. I told my co-leader that I had never in my life been that cold and we both said the air had that same feeling it gets when it snows. It was the middle of April and had been 85 degrees the day before so no way did it snow.

We peeked outside.

Hello white winter in April while I'm sleeping on the floor of a platform tent in hurricane force winds. We learned later that there were tornadoes spotted in our county. It was kind of like The Perfect Storm except we weren't at sea and of course there was no George Clooney.

I bet right now you're wishing I'd been your daughter's troop leader.

And I don't know how much time you've spent with tween girls but wet, tired, hungry, and frozen does not a happy camper make. Pun intended.

Everyone involved in this little weekend still speaks to me.
Just sayin'.

I'm not sure they've ever camped again but we are still friends. Nothing bonds you to someone quite like a shared near death experience.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Giant of a Wednesday Hodgepodge Vol 63

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge...come join the party! Answer the questions on your own blog or fb page then add your link to the end of my post so friends can visit. Here are my answers to this week's questions-

1. The NFL playoffs were held this past weekend and this year's Superbowl will feature the New York Giants versus The New England Patriots. How do you define 'patriot'?

A person who whole heartedly loves his/her country and demonstrates that support in word and deed.

2. What's something in your life right now that feels like a 'giant'?

Sorting out the details regarding daughter2's living/working/grad school arrangement for next year. In this case, next year begins the first week of May when we will need to move her personal belongings along with some furniture (not yet purchased) to an off campus apartment (not yet located) with a roommate (not yet confirmed) while she begins the job hunt and takes a couple of grad classes beginning in June. Thankfully Daughter2 is on top of things and is the one reminding me about deadlines and payments. fyi-when you have kids in uni, and especially kids wrapping up uni, there are always payments.

3. What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think back to being 18?

Skinny, suntanned, and nervously excited at living away from home in a college dorm. Trying hard to stay true to myself. Only getting that wrong sometimes. Loving the taste of independence. Most of the time.

4. Coconut-mashed potatoes-vanilla ice cream-mayonnaise...which white food would be the hardest to give up?

Coconut is one of my most favorite flavors so I'd have a hard time with that one. Since mashed potatoes aren't on my diet I've essentially quit eating them which is a crying shame because truly they are a near perfect food in my book but whatever. I eat them only at the holidays. Course if I came to your house and you served them I'd use that as an excuse to indulge too.

I'd probably miss vanilla ice cream the least, not because I don't like it but because ice cream isn't something I crave. Mayonnaise is tricky. I love mayonnaise even though I dole it out like its gold since its related to the mashed potato in terms of my diet. Who besides me thinks I've overthought this question? Who besides me is now craving a piping hot serving of mashed potatoes?

5. Describe an incident or a day you remember as being the coldest you've ever experienced.

Two things popped into my head and y'all are not surprised I'm going to share them both are you? Actually, I started typing out the details to one of these incidents and decided its a blog post all its own so I'm sharing that one tomorrow. Suffice it to say it involves camping...there was sun, sleet, wind, rain, hail, snow and a tornado. Did I mention I was camping? And was responsible for a group of girls? You know you're curious....come back tomorrow. Don't you hate it when bloggers do that? In my defense, it's more words than you have time to read here today.

The other 'coldest ever' day for me was standing atop the platform of the Aiguille du Midi in the French Alps. It sits high above the village of Chamonix and we were there the week after Christmas in 2007. We were bundled up in all our ski gear and warm boots but it was positively frigid.

To get there you ride a cable car up the literal side of a mountain, over a glacier, and up and up into the clouds until you feel like maybe there isn't enough oxygen in that cable car for you and the 69 peeps jammed in there with you. At least that's how I was feeling.

If you look very very closely at the picture you can just make out the speck that is the cable car.

You step out of the cable car and into a tunnel and from there out into the ice cold, and I do mean ice.cold.air.

The views are stunning, some of the most incredible I've ever seen. We lived to tell about it so that's good.

6. You're hosting a brunch....what's your favorite dish to prepare and serve?

If it's more of a breakfast then I love to make a sausage and egg casserole. If I want it to feel more like a lunchy brunch then I'll make a hot chicken salad, also delish. I am a huge fan of brunch.

7. How do you combat negative thinking?

I blast music.

Seriously, just ask my girls. They still talk about the time they got in my car and as I turned the ignition they nearly went thru the sunroof. The music may have been a tad loud. I must have been doing some serious attitude adjusting that day.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

My hubs brought me home a really unique and thoughtful gift from Korea...

It's a hand carved stamp with my name written in English and Korean. It came with a little ink pad and carrying case.

The carving on the outside of the stamp is The Lord's Prayer, written in Korean.

Thanks hubs! Go-mah-woa/고마워

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Questions for the Wednesday Hodgepodge-Vol 63

Here are the questions for this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Don't forget to come back tomorrow so you can link answers with all your friends and neighbors. See you there~

1. The NFL playoffs were held this past weekend and this year's Superbowl lineup will feature The New York Giants versus The New England Patriots. How do you define 'patriot'?

2. What's something in your life right now that feels like a 'giant'?

3. What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think back to being 18?

4. Coconut-mashed potatoes-vanilla ice cream-mayonnaise...which white food would be the hardest to give up?

5. Describe an incident or a day you remember as the coldest you've ever experienced?

6. You're hosting a brunch...what's your favorite dish to prepare and serve?

7. How do you combat negative thinking?

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Be Vewy Vewy Quiet

Jet lag is not a pretty thing. Especially when you've spent two weeks on the other side of the world and as a result your days and nights are upside down. Hubs arrived home Thursday morning and spent the weekend trying to right his internal time clock.

He'd been in Singapore and Korea since early January and was fully on their time. Figuring out the difference requires higher level math and its too early for that this morning. All I know is he left Korea at 10 am on Thursday and arrived here at 9:40 am on Thursday. Huh?

When he travels he sends me pictures like this one...

And these....

I think the term 'live' is a temporary state of being for these imprisoned frogs. Hubs said there was a gentleman behind the cage who 'fixed' them for you. Don't ask.

Is this building incredible or what?

There's actually a pool up there...

I feel a little bit jealous until I see him sound asleep on the couch for most of Saturday and then hear him wide awake at 4:30 am Sunday morning asking in a loud clear voice, 'Wanna have some coffee and go for a walk?' A walk? Seriously? Its pitch black outside, not to mention freezing cold, and let's not forget about all the critters that are out and about at that hour.

We know this for a fact because we see their footprints all across the freshly fallen snow that greeted us when we awoke Saturday morning. Or in hubs case, the middle of the night.

This was our first snowfall since the crazy snowvalanche we witnessed back in October, and thankfully this one was much gentler. We probably got about 6 inches and its the icy kind which is not my favorite but at least hubs was home to clear the walkways.

We did the usual dinner out on Friday night, I caught up on laundry and we hit the supermarket too. We watched the playoffs (Go Giants!) and made chili and took care of some paperwork and looked at our calendar for the next couple of months. Nothing too exciting but its good to have him home.

His travel calendar this year month is ca-razy. I can't predict the future but I'm pretty certain his will include more napping. I'm okay with that...it just so happens naps are one of my love languages.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Capital Fun

I have a few thoughts about my week in DC that I'd like to put somewhere and conveniently I have a blog so here we go-

1. I drove down to DC last Tuesday. It takes me a little over four hours if I don't stop to have lunch with old friends in Annapolis, in which case it might take seven. What can I say...I'm a fan of the long leisurely lunch.

2. If the sun is shining when I approach the Bay Bridge connecting Maryland's Eastern Shore with the Annapolis area I feel a tug in my heart that words cannot describe.

Its a combination of the beauty and the memory. We lived in this area for nine years before moving overseas and we still feel its pull.

3. There is one heck of a lot of traffic in and around the little piece of land perched between Maryland and Virginia known as the US capital.

Holy moly.

My daughter gets around mostly via public transportation but even that can sometimes be exhausting. She has it down to a science but you can't control track works, breakdowns, bad weather, or rude people. I do love city life but it requires an extra measure of patience to live and work there every day.

4. My daughter works in the heart of the city so Capitol Hill Staffers are everywhere. Most are young, often still fresh faced from university, some even still in university working as interns...all of them speaking with great authority on any number of topics, but primarily politics and the Presidential campaign. Oi. Does anybody listen to anybody? Does anybody think for themselves or do they just spew out what they've heard other people saying? Does anybody fact check?

Just wondering.

A crowded train is not your personal platform. Between the metro operator who, given her issue with braking, must have been a learner driver, and the opinions being broadcast as the gospel truth to anyone and everyone within earshot by the 20 year old metro rider, and the oatmeal we'd had for breakfast, daughter1 and I were both feeling a little bit queasy on our commute to town.

5. Speaking of people spewing out opinions, here's mine. Hey, it's a blog not a crowded car on the DC Metro so I'm in the clear. I'm a person who is definitely interested in what's going on in the world but I'm just not sure politics is something to aspire to. I think we're best served by people who've had a full life outside of the political arena. People with ideas about how to make America better while staying true to the ideals outlined in our Constitution. People who have ideas, but who also have a handful of practical solutions to put those ideas into practice. They can do this because they've been out living an extraordinary ordinary life. I think we need more people coming to DC on a temporary basis to do a specific job before returning to life outside the Beltway and less people making politics an actual job.

Politicians working, living, and socializing 24/7 with other politicians is not necessarily a good thing.

Stepping down now...

6. On Friday I drove myself out to the 'burbs to meet up with a friend from our England days. We started out in a cafe with the intention of having a cup of coffee. Five hours later we were still sitting in the exact same spot, but we'd had lunch and used up almost all our words. My England friends are in a category all their own.

7. On Sunday daughter1 and I attended church together in the town where she volunteers as a Young Life leader. I also got to meet the couple who more or less run the YL program in that area. Is it wrong for me to say I love that there are adults looking out for my girl? My girl who is an adult herself but who still benefits from the wisdom and guidance of caring older adults in her life? Somehow that feels very right to me.

8. After church we drove a bit further out into the Maryland countryside to spend the rest of the day with hubs sister, brother in law, and their two boy children. She fixed us a delicious lunch and we gabbed and Daughter1 made fun of us with our multiple email/password combinations and we made fools of ourselves trying out Just Dance on the Wii.

Okay, some of us made fools of ourselves.

Some of us must be practicing the game while her small boy children are at school. Ahem.

And then of course some of us are naturally graceful plus spent thirteen solid years in ballet so can make it look easy. I have some pictures but you won't be seeing them here. I promised.

9. Daughter1 had the day off on Monday and even though it was rather Arctic like in temperature she was a good sport and traipsed across the Mall with me. We took some pictures outside the Washington Monument and you can see the flags blowing in the 'breeze'.

Yeah. Arc-tic.

10. The monument has been closed since the earthquake happened last August. It had just reopened prior to the quake but was damaged again on the day so needed further repair. My daughter showed me video of people in the Monument when the quake happened.

Pieces of the ceiling were falling and that thing was shaking and swaying like you would not believe. NOT where I'd want to be in an earthquake if given an option. Which of course you're not, but YIKES!

11. We walked a bit more before popping into the Museum of Natural History to warm up. Since we were there we scooted on up to the second floor to see the Hope Diamond. Any day's a good day to see beautiful jewelry, right?

12. Aaaaannd we walked some more. Lots of walking in DC which is one thing I love about city life. We decided to check out the National Building Museum since Catherine over at Time and Tide mentioned it in the Hodgepodge last week. Neither of us had been before and its an interesting building dating back to 1887.

The four story atrium surrounded by enormous Corinthian columns is absolutely beautiful and has been host to sixteen Inaugural Balls. We walked thru several exhibits that tell the story of how DC was built, how the neighborhoods have grown and changed, and the origin of some of the city's most recognizable symbols. There is some really lovely architecture in this city and we enjoyed browsing around this historic site. The fact that it was warm inside didn't hurt either....just sayin'.

13. I drove back home on Tuesday. It was pouring down rain and so foggy I could barely make out the Bay as I crossed the bridge. Trust me...it's easier that way.

linking to Thursday Thirteen today

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Here She Is....the Wednesday Hodgepodge Vol 62

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge...so glad you're playing along today. I've been out of town for a week and am not quite back in the blog groove just yet. What that means for you is that I'm not as wordy today as I normally am. You're welcome.

Be sure to add your link to the bottom of my post and see what other hodgepodgers have to say. Here are my answers-

1. A new Miss America was crowned on Saturday night-did you watch? If you were a contestant what would your talent be?

My daughter and I watched and were kind of disappointed in the top 5 this year. My talent? Ha-there's a reason why I was never in a pageant.

2. Do you have houseplants? Real or fake?

I do have houseplants, real ones, which I challenge on a weekly basis. I'm kind of like the 'Jillian Michaels' of the plant world-I make them work to stay healthy! Hubs says when a plant gets moved to our master bath it knows its in trouble. In my defense we do travel a lot. I'm not a big fan of the artificial so even though my plants have a near death experience at least once a month they don't actually die so I keep at it.

3. When you were in school did you speak up or were you more of the hide your face, avoid eye contact, and pray the teacher didn't call on you type of student?

I will be truthful and say I loved school, did my homework, enjoyed taking tests and, while I didn't do any of that crazy arm waving nonsense, I was happy when the teacher called on me.

4. Next Monday marks the Chinese New Year....what do you order when someone suggests Chinese food?

My favorite is crispy duck but it has to be prepared just right...otherwise something spicy, usually chicken in garlic sauce.

5. How would you define a miracle? What would it take for you to consider something a miracle?

An extraordinary occurrence that could only have happened thru God's supernatural power. The stars in the sky, the ocean, and the incredible way the human body works are a few things that never cease to feel miraculous.

6. What's your favorite Disney song? If you're stuck you'll find a list here.

7. I should have __________yesterday.

'worn a hat'

I know that's kind of a lame answer but I was outside most of the day and it was cold and windy. Plus did I mention I've been traveling and my brain still hasn't caught up with the rest of me yet?

8. Insert your own random thought here.

My daughter and I had so much fun watching this video last week. I'd seen it posted over on Boomama's blog a few days before Saturday's Miss America pageant. It's the opening number from Miss America 1988. My daughter could not get over a) the dancers b) the hairspray c) the contestants and their matchy matchy hairstyles and Barbie cake dresses and d) the camera technique when the shorter girls were introduced. I dare you not to smile...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hodgepodge Questions-Vol 62

Here are the questions for this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Everyone is welcome to play along...just answer the questions on your own blog and then come back here tomorrow to link answers with the rest of the world.

1. A new Miss America was crowned on Saturday night-did you watch? If you were a contestant what would your talent be?

2. Do you have houseplants? Real or fake?

3. When you were in school did you speak up or were you more of the hide your face, avoid eye contact, and pray the teacher didn't call on you type of student?

4. Next Monday marks the Chinese New Year...what do you order when someone suggests Chinese food?

5. How would you define a miracle? What would it take for you to consider something a miracle?

6. What's your favorite Disney song? If you're stuck you'll find a list here.

7. I should have _____________ yesterday.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Live from the DMV

That would be the DC-Maryland-Virginia region of the country, not the Dept of Motor Vehicles in case anyone is confused. I've been on a fun little mini holiday this past week, hanging out with my daughter in Washington D.C. Inside shopping malls in Washington D.C. might be more accurate, but it's all been fun. We like to shop and spent most of Saturday doing just that. In fact, I think I may have accidentally treated her to a new winter work wardrobe. I'd only planned to get her a couple pair of nice trousers for work but when you are this adorable every single thing you try on is adorable too. She has a job that requires a certain level of dress and since this is her first winter in the big city she truly did need to update her closet and it was fun to help.

Every good shopper knows you need a break to rest your feet now and then so we sat down on a bench in the mall to have a cup of tea and watch the world go by. As we sat there talking we noticed three men in suits walking closely behind two teenage girls. I don't mean that in a creepy way. The message they were sending was more like 'come too close and you'll regret it'. The 'suits' were wearing lapel pins and ear pieces and we knew right away they were Secret Service. Really, who wouldn't notice three men walking around the mall in suits in the middle of a Saturday afternoon?

Daughter1 said maybe it was one of the Obama girls so really subtle like, ahem, she followed them into Brookstone. She had her trusty phone camera at the ready and I texted her not to get arrested. She's used to my paranoia so she just laughed and was back a minute later saying it definitely was not a member of the first family. We could see the 'suits' placed in and around the store entrance and we knew it was somebody. Naturally we felt an urgent need to look at pillows in Brookstone. Come on now, you know you'd have done the same. Once I got a look at the face of the 'dad' with the girls I knew it was Eric Holder (US Attorney General). I imagine the Secret Service has to spend a lot of time doing stuff like this, traipsing around a mall in a suit on a Saturday afternoon. I imagine too, if you're in that line of work, a boring day is also a very good day.

After our little escapade we went to see a movie-Beauty and the Beast. Don't judge-we weren't the only people over the age of 8 in the theatre. That movie was a favorite in our house back in the day and it's every bit as good 20 years later. We picked up on a few of the little details we didn't notice way back when and decided even a cartoon set in a small French village makes us long for the provincial life. I love the message in this tale as old as time. Belle loves books and she knows that what's on the inside of a person matters most. We might have sung the songs all the way home....

'I want adventure in the great wide somewhere...I want it more than I can say...'.

Daughter1 and I agreed we have a whole lot in common with Belle.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

That Girl

I'm spending a few days with Daughter1 who happens to live in our nation's capital. You didn't think I just pulled the Hodgepodge questions out of thin air did you? When daughter1 was a little girl her Christmas list was full of pinks and purples and baby dolls and 'spinning' dresses. This year she asked for a new mattress and an external hard drive. Who is this child?

Because she has a full time job and I don't we decided I'd come down and be available for the mattress delivery and then we'd have some fun girl time too. Earlier in the day I'd taken the Metro into downtown so we could meet for lunch. I got to see Daughter1's work space and meet her boss and a couple of her co-workers. I looked at her desk, so organized and professional...I watched her swipe her ID badge to open doors and I listened as she gave me directions for walking around this huge city. I looked at my daughter and registered the white blouse tucked into dressy trousers and the four inch heels on her teeny tiny toes. For a minute I flashed back to her clomping around the house in my old highheels and her favorite dress up item which was a slip that belonged to my mom. Sometimes practice does make perfect.

I had my camera with me and after lunch I was hoping to play tourist but the weather did not cooperate. Instead I wandered into the most fabulous little bookstore in Dupont Circle that daughter1 had recommended. It's called Kramers and I could easily have pulled a mattress in there and spent the night. I love little bookshops. I bought a travel book or three and, as a little gift for my daughter, a collection of short stories written in French. Because when you live and work in a city you need to make sure you still have beauty in your life.

We rode the train home together and went out for a lovely grown up dinner where we solved most of the world's problems. We came home and put on our pjs and laid on her brand new plush mattress and watched all the Miss America contestant videos. We laughed ourselves silly.

She's in there still, my little girl with the golden blonde curls and the gentle spirit. The girl who makes the breeze feel warmer and the sun shine brighter even on a gray wet January day.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Amazing Wednesday Hodgepodge Vol 61

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge...so glad you joined the fun today. Be sure to add your link to the bottom of my post and then go visiting. Here are my answers-

1. Lake Superior University has once again banished a list of words/phrases they think should be banished from the Queen's English in 2012-

amazing, baby bump, shared sacrifice, occupy, blowback, man cave, the new normal, pet parent, win the future, ginormous, trickeration and thank you in advance.

Which of these words/phrases would you most like to see banished from everyday speech and why. Go here to read more about how the words were chosen.

Well, I love to use the word ginormous so not that one. I'm going with occupy because I'm beyond sick of it.

2. Are you easily embarrassed?

I think I used to be but I've learned to laugh at myself more easily as I've gotten older.

3. what is your go-to snack?

This time of year it's a clementine. I think its one of natures most perfect foods. If I don't have fruit in the house (which is extremely rare) then I'll opt for pretzels. Not very exciting I know but a handful of pretzels takes the edge off of hunger pangs and is just enough to keep me from going for the M&M's.

4. Have you ever been to Washington DC? if not do you have any desire to go? What site/attraction would you most like to see in that city? If you have been what's your favorite site?

I've been to DC more times than I can count. Growing up I had an aunt and uncle who lived in the Virginia suburbs and I know I was there a time or two as a kid. When hubs and I were newlyweds we spent our one year anniversary in the city. We were living in Richmond at the time so an easy trip. Before moving to England we lived in Annapolis for 9 years and popped in to DC often. Currently my Daughter 1 is gainfully employed in DC so yes I've been to our nations Capital.

My favorite site is The Vietnam Memorial but I also love the monuments at night.

5. sit ups-planks-lunges-squats-which one do you hate the least?

I'll pick lunges but I think it's safe to say I hate them all.

6. What's a small act of kindness someone did for you that you've never forgotten?

I remember a lovely woman in my bible study group back when my kids were small who was always so encouraging to me in my parenting. I had car trouble one week and she went way out of her way to come and get me. Small kindnesses mean a lot.

7. Have you ever been a blood donor?

No. I haven't really had an opportunity in recent years and when I was younger I never weighed enough to be a donor. Now that we've lived in England we're ineligible I think.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I am loving this beautiful rendition of the song Hallelujah...the singers are Norwegian and I don't think I'm misusing the word when I tell you they're 'amazing'.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

P.S. and Questions for the Wednesday Hodgepodge-Vol 61

Before I dive into the questions for this week's Hodgepodge I want to add a little p.s. to the post I wrote on Sunday. I so appreciated all the comments and emails that were sent. Women are complicated and interesting and want to make a difference in the world or at least in their own little corner of planet Earth.

Motherhood is a never ending but ever evolving role. When our kids are little we can pretty much predict when they'll need us because they always need us and we recognize its a 24/7 proposition. Adult children need us too, but their need isn't 24/7, nor is it something we can plan around or schedule...therein lies the challenge. You suddenly find yourself with lots of time on your hands. Except when you don't. You could throw 100% of your energy and focus into a new pursuit or an old dream, but that little voice in the back of your head and deep in your heart says you better keep a chunk in reserve. How do you use your time and talent and energy outside the arena of wife and mother and still remain, as one of my friends said, 'interruptible'. Mothers everywhere are nodding their heads in understanding at the weight of that word.

My husband is my biggest cheerleader and would say I should pursue whatever in this world I want to pursue. He means it too and encourages me to do exactly that on a regular basis. I'm here to tell you that's easier said than done. The words 'mom' and 'available' are tangled up with one another long before that baby takes her first breath and will remain so until the end of time.

I could go on and on and oops, I have, but I think some of you are just here for the questions to this week's Hodgepodge so I'll move along. Be sure to come back tomorrow and link answers with all the other internets out there. Here ya go-

1. Lake Superior University has once again published a list of words/phrases they think should be banished from the Queen's English in 2012-

amazing, baby bump, shared sacrifice, occupy, blowback, man cave, the new normal, pet parent, win the future, trickeration, ginormous, and thank you in advance.

Which of these words/phrases would you most like to see banished from everyday speech and why? Go here to read more about how the words are chosen.

2. Are you easily embarrassed?

3. What is your go-to snack?

4. Have you ever been to Washington D.C.? If not do you have any desire to go? What site/attraction would you most want to see in that city? If you have been, what's your favorite site/attraction?

5. sit ups-planks-lunges-squats...which do you hate the least?

6. What's a small act of kindness you were shown that you've never forgotten?

7. Have you ever been a blood donor?

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


I dropped Daughter2 at the airport today. Okay, I didn't drop her, but rather I escorted her to the check in counter where we discovered they'd changed the terminal for her flight. I then insisted on accompanying her on the tram all the way around the airport to the correct terminal where I stood and watched and waved and smiled as she inched her way thru security all the way up until she was out of sight. Oh I am too much for my girls sometimes.

Sometimes I'm even too much for me.

My kids grew up navigating airports without a parent in sight in countries where they didn't speak a word of the language. Obviously my 21 year old is quite capable of handling all this on her own and even though she
would prefer it wouldn't mind if I dropped her off at the curb she humors me and allows me to walk her
as far as the law allows to security.

Tonite my two children are in their own apartments in two different states, my husband's in a country halfway around the world (all the way? around the world) and I'm here at home. Welcome to mid-life. I don't know what I imagined life would be like when I got to be the age that I am, but I do know this isn't it. I guess I never thought much past 30 but here I am, way past 30 and still with a lot of stuff to figure out.

My husband says I think too much. He's partly right but some of who I am has been there since birth and isn't going to change now. I'm a thinker and I always have been. Hubs can set a goal, figure out steps 1-10 needed to reach that goal and BAM, done. I quite often can't get past setting the goal. I want that end product but something gets lost in the all important middle. I start thinking and then I think some more and then I set ridiculous parameters and say things to myself like -after x is over I'll do y... tomorrow...next week...this summer...soon. Before I know it its 2012 and what in the world did I actually do in the past year towards making my heart's desires a reality?

Am I lazy? A procrastinator? Afraid? Incapable? Not sure what the right answer is but I do know I want to follow the advice I give my own children and not let life sail by without having some say so in how the boat is sailed.

Last year was hard. It was too busy and we were on the go non-stop, and of course we were all dealing with my niece's very serious health crisis, but even on top of all that it was hard. For the first time in my life I felt unproductive. There's no doubt that plenty happened around here in 2011, but I couldn't shake the feeling I was swimming beside the boat just trying to get a hand on the stern so I could climb aboard. In 2011 life pushed me along in a very swift current as opposed to me setting the pace.

Maybe we don't get to choose the pace.

And maybe there are too many metaphors in this post but I think you know what I mean. At least some of you do. Some of you reading here are at a stage in life where your days are ordered by the needs and demands of the under ten set and your only option is full steam ahead. But some of you are like me, in the middle of your life but not sure what to do now that you're here.

I'm going to write more.
Maybe not more on my blog but definitely more the old fashioned way.

On paper.
With a pen.
The way I used to write.
Back when the words spilled out of me and I couldn't catch them fast enough.

I'm still going to blog because I love it but I'd like to try my hand at other kinds of writing too. I told my husband I'd like to try writing 1000 words a day and he said get busy. See what I mean? He hears a goal and he's already on step one. His first thought is DO. I'm still thinking about it. He also said if I'd started writing 1000 words a day back when I first said I wanted to write more I'd have ten books written by now. That is a sad but possibly true statement.

I've never had an anthem before but I'm embracing this one in 2012-

How about you? Are your arms wide open this new year?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Empire State of Mind

I know I said something about writing posts with more substance and less 'here's where I was yesterday' sort of content but here's where I was yesterday-

In my defense Daughter2 doesn't go back to uni until this weekend so we're still ringing in the New Year.

We trekked into the city late yesterday afternoon to meet up with a co-worker of my hubs. We got there a little bit early because I was determined to see the tree before it comes down on Saturday. We parked near the restaurant then took a cab over to Rockefeller Plaza. In warmer weather we would have walked it but whoa!

Can you tell it was just a little bit chilly? And breezy? Still fun though...we hung out in the Plaza for a bit and then ducked into a restaurant for a glass of wine and a warm up. It was 20 degrees in the city yesterday so we kinda needed it.

Before heading over to meet our friends we made a quick stop in Bryant Park. A beautiful tree and an outdoor skating rink were set up there too and this is such a pretty little spot very close to the NYC Public Library.

We were only eight blocks from the restaurant but we jumped back into a cab because did I mention it was 20 degrees?

One of the things I love best about my hubs is his ability to make friends wherever he goes. It makes for a very rich life. This particular friend/co worker lives in Brazil but he and his wife have been on holiday in The Big Apple so we were excited to meet them for dinner. Another one of hubs work peeps and her hubs and daughter also joined the party and since they know lots of great spots to dine in the city we asked them to choose the restaurant. They did not disappoint.

Korean BBQ. The restaurant was situted in 'Koreatown' which is a whole street (maybe more?) filled with Korean restaurants and shops. You always hear about the Chinatown and Little Italy sections of NY, but there are streets tucked all around the city that are dedicated to different cultures and ethnicities...it's a big part of what makes NY such a fun and interesting (and let's not forget tasty!) place to explore.

Back to the BBQ...it was a dining 'experience'. There are BBQ restaurants all up and down this particular street but we ate in one called Wonjo. Our reservation was for 7 PM on a Wednesday evening and you could barely get in the door. It was absolutely packed and they're open 24 hours a day! You know a place is good when it's full of the local folks eating there too.

The room was a little warm since essentially you have a BBQ happening at each table...our friends informed us its best to eat here in the winter. There's a hole in the center of your table topped with what looks like a grill grate.

Once you've made your entree selection your server removes the grate and then someone suddenly appears out of nowhere with two enormous baskets of smoking hot coals. I did take note of the emergency exits upon being seated because I'm a mom and that's how I roll.

Your server grills your meat in front of you and while you're waiting for it to cook you taste all the wonderful little side dishes they've placed before you. I wouldn't want to be a dishwasher here. We were a table of eight and there must have been about twenty little bowls to sample.

So interesting and delicious, there wasn't anything I didn't like. Big surprise there, right? My favorites were the eggplant and the pickled daikon which is a type of radish that tasted a lot like cucumber. There was also a little dish of salted oil to dip your cooked entree in and I could have put a straw in that it was so good.

A couple of people at the table opted to try something besides the BBQ and they chose Bibimbap. This is a signature Korean dish and its kind of like a rice bowl topped with meat, vegetables and a fried egg. Also delicious!

I love this city. There is something about being in the middle of all the hustle and bustle that is so energizing. It's hard to put in to words but I do kind of see why New Yorkers sometimes feel like they can rule the world. Even in 20 degree temps!