Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hey World! It's the Wednesday Hodgepodge-Vol 95

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge!  Here are my answers to this week's sure to add your link to the bottom of my post before you dash off to the neighbors.

1. The Wednesday Hodgepodge falls on John Chapman's birth date.  He's more famously known as Johnny Appleseed...what's your favorite variety of apple?

McIntosh or Gala. Or Granny Smith for baking. Actually I love 'em all. When I was in Taipei back in March I tasted the most delicious apple...

Our host called them wax apples and they were so light and sweet, a little smaller than we normally see here, but really scrumptious.  

2. When did you last say 'ick'?

Maybe when hubs texted me his turtle soup photo from China a couple of weeks ago....

I posted this on my blog when he sent it but it's worth another look don't you think?  
Variety is the spice of life.  

3.  Do you think there's a generation gap?  Explain.

I guess every generation feels slightly misunderstood by the one before, but in my own family the gap doesn't feel all that  big. We're talkers. Ha- Hubs might say when we three girls are together a gap in all the communicating would be a relief.   

I do my best to listen, and in return my girls give me the courtesy of listening back. They educate me on today's attitudes and trends and I remind them of what is at our core that never changes.  I think we both have things to learn from one another and I try hard to remember what it was like to be young, idealistic, and confident the world was going to come at me exactly as I planned.  I enjoy being around people of all ages and think that's how life was meant to be lived.  Pretty sure my girls would say the same. 

4.  What's on your computer screen saver?  Do you change it often or leave it alone?

Currently its the last family photo we snapped in front of our UK house, March, 2009.  The girls were home from university on their spring break and knew when we got in the car to drop them at Heathrow they were  leaving the house where they'd lived out their teenage years for the last time.  

This was the place they grew into the people they would become.  
Everything about this picture makes me happy...why would I want to change it?

5.  If you had the attention of the entire world for two minutes what would you say?

I'm probably dating myself with this reference, but if you read here regularly you already know how old I am so a moot point.   Does anyone remember the Saturday Night Live skit from the late 90's featuring a character called Nadeen?  She was played by Cherie O'Teri who made this phrase famous-

Simma down na!

In plain English that's 'Simmer down now'. 

I know I should say something deep and profound here, but honestly those are the words that popped into my head when I wrote this question.  For a world gone mad they seem to apply.   

6.  Four fashion trends to try this fall are brocade/jacquard (fancy fabrics), peplum, lace, and printed pants...which of these four would you be most likely to wear?

I like the idea of the printed pant but would definitely need to proceed with caution. Some of the prints I've seen conjure up images of wallpaper and bedspreads and tablecloths ala 1972.  I'd need a good basic neutral on top I think.  I bought a sleeveless black lace top to wear under a sweater or jacket and I love that so maybe lace is the safer answer.  

7.  What can make your bad day better?

Hubs can usually make a bad day better.  He's funny and knows how to make me laugh even when I don't feel like it.  

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I'm meeting 40 girlfriends in Boston for the weekend, women I knew while living in England who are now scattered here there and everywhere.  I don't actually know all 40 (yet!), but I do know most of the group.  The reunion spans a few years so some left before I came or left while I was still there or moved back to England after I arrived here.  I can't wait!  

Hubs will be home working, painting the new dining room window, and keeping the pup company. I'm sure that will be fun too.   

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Questions for the Hodgepodge-Vol 95

Here are the questions for this week's Hodgepodge.  See you back here tomorrow to link answers...everybody's welcome to join the party!

1. The Wednesday Hodgepodge this week falls on John Chapman's birth date.  He's more famously known as Johnny Appleseed...what's your favorite variety of apple?

2.   When did you last say 'ick'?

3.   Do you think there's a generation gap?  Explain.

4.  What's on your computer screen saver?  Do you leave it alone or change it often?

5.  If you had the attention of the entire world for two minutes, what would you say?

6.  Four fashion trends to try this fall are-brocade/jacquard (fancy printed fabrics), peplum, lace, and printed pants...which of these four would you be most likely to wear?

7.  What can make your bad day better?

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Another Pleasant Valley 'Monday'

I was sitting here drinking my coffee wondering how to make sense of all my weekend words when hubs yelled from the kitchen that a bear was having breakfast in our rubbish bin.

Let me tell you, nothing focuses a person quite like a bear in the driveway.  

Actually, hubs would say in my case the opposite is true and I lose all focus when a bear is nearby.   Whatever. Normally he leaves for work at o'dark thirty and I'm the one wheeling the bin all the way down our very long driveway and I'm the one making the long walk all the way back up the driveway.

Thankfully hubs had an out of the office event today so he was still at home when the excitement happened. You might laugh,  but we drove the car to the end of the driveway to repack the bin.  After Smokey mozied on up into the next door neighbor's yard (yes, they often mozy) we lost sight of him.  Having the means to make a quick getaway seemed wise...what if he comes back for that  steak bone he dropped?

So anyway, the was nice.  Autumn officially made her grand entrance on Saturday but it wasn't until Sunday the weather got with the program.  It was gray and humid on Saturday so we lounged in our pjs and then went out to lunch.  Hubs had a gift card to spend at Dick's Sporting Goods so we popped in there too.  Does anyone else feel motivated to work out harder and more often when they see all the cute work out clothes available now?

After we ate and shopped we went to the movies and saw The Words with Bradley Cooper, Dennis Quaid and Jeremy Irons.  Here' my .02-

the ending-huh?
Bradley Cooper's People magazine title is well deserved.

That's all.

Sunday afternoon we headed to a nearby Oktoberfest celebration.  What a gorgeous skies and the perfect temperature!

I'm not a beer drinker but I do love the music and the atmosphere and pretending we're in Munich instead of North Jersey.

And latkes with applesauce, let's not forget that.

Hubs wore his authentic German hat and brought his authentic German stein and we planted ourselves at a table in the sun and enjoyed the day.  Various people came and went from this table and we made friends with all of them.

The first couple who sat down beside us were world travelers and have already emailed me their write up of a trip across France from north to south and another from south to north. I never turn down a good travel tip. Another couple joined us and I was dying to ask the man if people told him he looked like Steven Tyler, but wasn't sure if he'd take that as a compliment or not. Would you take that as a compliment?  I intended it that way-he had the boyish good looks but I don't think he had the crazy or probably the vocal chords either.

These folks were at the table behind us and I needed a picture of this gentleman's hat. He told us the fur piece on top cost $6000. that true or is that the Spaten talking?  Either way, it was fabulous!   I think this one is badger, but I'm pretty sure if I could catch one of the groundhogs in our yard hubs could have something similar for free.   

Later in the afternoon another couple joined our table along with their adorable little girl.  My hubs and the other hubs hit it off like long lost friends and guess what?  We're going to their daughter's 1st birthday party next weekend.  

It sounds a little crazy, but as it turns out they live not too far from us.   Maybe it was the magical fall feeling in the air, but when you're friendly people are usually friendly back.  
Our Oktoberfest was held on the grounds of a local ski resort so at the end of the day we all took advantage of the free gondola ride and rode to the top of the mountain together. I was going to take pictures but I forgot this gondola was for skiers and had no seats.

Why is it always so windy on these things?

It's been well established on my blog here, hereand here how I feel about this sort of thing, and no way was I taking my hand off the rail. Hubs kept trying to use logic on me, saying things like in France I was thousands of feet higher, but you know what? When you're up in the air, you're up in the air and it doesn't matter if you're 1500 feet or 15,000 feet, you're still not on the ground. Right?

He finally wrestled the camera from around my clenched fist and snapped some photos.

It's not the Alps, but still beautiful in its own way.  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I Am From...

While visiting my daughter2 a week or so ago she shared a poem she'd written with her fifth grade class. It was such a precious peek inside her head and heart and is something I wanted to try too.  I'd seen something similar a while back on Pam's blog, and there is a template you can follow on Mama Kat's blog here, but I believe the idea originated with the author George Ella Lyon. It has since morphed into a world wide writing prompt, a thoughtful one at that, so I'm giving it a try today. It was a lot harder than I thought it would much life and memory to cram into so few sentences. I think y'all know that brevity is not my forte.

So where are you from?

I Am From...

I am from soft pink roses on the bedroom wall, Little Kiddles, and Dippity-Do. I am from the green house with white shutters, Barbie clothes under the tree, and paper dolls spread across the living room rug. I am from Crow Boy, Anne Shirley, and a mountain of books read aloud. I am from a twin bed and a baby sister across the dark space, House of the Rising Sun strummed one thousand times on a brother's guitar, and an older sister with mascara, and records, and a bed made for jumping.

I am from purple iris reaching up to my chin, and a real Christmas tree whose needles land in small piles on the sheet around it's base. I am from wisteria outside the kitchen window and pyracantha scaling the chimney brick by brick, year by year.

I am from chores on Saturday mornings and imaginary creatures named Naugahyde. I am from a box of dress ups in the basement, the black and white fuzz of a TV at midnight, and a phone cord stretching from kitchen to den. I am from new Easter clothes and Give Me That Old Time Religion, from farm stock and painters, The United States Marine Corps and the free public library. I am from  the hum of a sewing machine, the whirl of a mixer, and letters stamped Vietnam.

I am from grace before meals and holiday feasts served on good china. I am from sit up straight and elbows off the table. I am from a pew on the left, hymn sings, pot luck dinners, and bless be the tie that binds. I am from Sunday night youth group, The Cowtail Bar, and Jesus Never Fails.

I am from the great blue expanse of an Albuquerque sky and the crisp clean air of Rocky Mountain high. From Aloha and the loving arms of Ga-Ga, an island called Parris, and a base called Quantico.  From a used-to-be farm called Barclay and walking barefoot in the grass. I am from no hands on the bike, running as the can was kicked, and all-y all-y in come free.

I am from enchiladas and hot sauce. From buttercreams dipped one by one and Christmas cookies baked by the dozen.  From quiet strength and sure love. I am from hard workers and careful spenders, integrity, and faith put into action.

I am from a father unwrapping his gifts with a letter opener so as not to tear the paper and a mother,  who in her worst, worst-case scenario fit of worry late one night, convinced my father to remove the door from a bedroom because her perfectly fine son didn't answer her knock. She was sure a spot on the carpet was blood.

I am from racks of slides now in boxes, pictures taken on the steps, 70's clothes and awkward family photos. I am from moving away with home in my heart, and then moving some more, and again and again, and still more agains.  With every again I reach back for myself and the familiar taste and feel of home, certain in the knowledge that no matter where I lay my head,  my present will be stamped with the sweet gentle touch of where I am from.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Post Birthday Hodgepodge

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge-Volume 94.  Yikes! Volume 100 is looming and I'm feeling a little pressure to come up with something great for that one.   Maybe now that I'm a whole year older the questions will just roll right off my brain and onto my blog.

You knew I couldn't let my birthday just end, right?

Speaking of (and you knew I would)...thank you for the birthday wishes left here yesterday. Hodgepodgers are not only random, they're also super thoughtful!

1. What's the best and worst thing about growing older?

I think the worst thing about growing older is forgetting I'm growing older and then being caught by surprise when I pass a mirror or get out of bed and have to consciously straighten my back.  In my head I can still do a cartwheel and my roots are never gray.  In my head I'm still so young and I feel so relevant. That isn't necessarily the message society sends back.  

The best thing about aging? 

2.  Autumn  arrives in the Northern Hemisphere this week...what one thing do you love most about the fall season?

Such a hard question since fall's my favorite season,  but I'm going with the color.  

3. Speaking of fall...pumpkin seems to be flavoring everything these days-are you a fan?  What's your favorite pumpkin flavored food or beverage?

Am I a fan?  eh...I do like pumpkin pie as long as there's some whipped cream to go with, but definitely no pumpkin flavored beverages.  I don't dislike pumpkin, but it's not my favorite flavor.  

4. Since we're on the subject of fall...what's the worst fall you've ever taken?

I'm kind of clumsy so you'd think this would be easy but its not.  I've had my fair share of mishaps but most were not falls.  When I was in elementary school I slipped on an icy sidewalk in front of our house and landed on my chin.  I needed stitches and it was all very dramatic.  Or perhaps I made it feel that way?  

Oh, and there was also the time when hubs and I were first dating, early early days, before he knew me well, and he pulled up beside my dorm to drop me off.  It was raining and someone was going into the dorm just ahead of me and they were holding the door so I hopped out in a hurry.  

Just as I stepped out of the car I caught my foot on the sidewalk and went all out flat.  I mean face first, arms and legs sprawled out for all the world to see.  Hubs had already started to pull away from the curb so I told myself he hadn't seen my belly flop onto the pavement but in my heart I kinda knew he did.  I jumped up so fast and ran inside without ever looking back.   I skinned my knees but that was nothing compared to my pride.  My stomach is doing flip flops just writing about it. On the bright side-he still married me.  

5. If you could own a prop from any film what would you choose?

This question could go in a million directions.  Maybe the gazebo from The Sound of Music because I could make that work somewhere on our property.   We saw it on a trip to Austria but you can't go inside anymore.  At one time you could,  but according to our guide some tourists were injured re-enacting the scene where Liesl and Rolf leapt gracefully between the benches.   These tourists were not 16-going-on-17 either, ahem, and as a result the door is now locked.  

6. What's the most interesting word you've read or heard in the past week?

I read the phrase 'quotidian minutiae' in a book review and think that's an interesting phrase.  It was in reference to the daily pile of mail that comes into the house.  Pretty sure I can work that into a sentence at some point.  

7. When was the last time you locked yourself out of your house, car, or office?  Was it a big deal?

Shortly after we moved in here I locked myself out, so that was about three years ago. We hadn't given a key to a neighbor or stashed one anywhere yet, so I had to wait on a locksmith.  It was early morning, but fortunately I was dressed and hadn't decided to let the dog outside while still in my nightgown.  A mere $110 later all was well.  

Last week I went to visit my daughter2 in South Carolina.  I already mentioned the long delays getting out of NJ so my nerves were slightly rattled.  Upon landing I turned on my phone and listened to a voice mail message from her.   She said that somehow she'd broken off the key to her front door in the lock as she was leaving to get me.  We weren't locked out but we weren't locked in either, which might actually worry me more.  

That child is so her mother's daughter.  

She left the apartment unlocked and came on to the airport.  All was well when we returned back home, and fortunately for her I was there to wait on the repair while she went to work Monday.  
8. Insert your own random thought here.

Speaking of mothers 'being there'...I posted this link on my facebook yesterday, but if you haven't seen it and you're a mom of daughters it is most definitely worth a read.  Absolutely beautiful! 

Click here to read.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Happy Hodgepodge to me...

Hi.  It's my birthday.  Just thought I should get that out there first thing.  For those who are new here...I've been known to make a fuss about my own birthday.  I'm not like a lot of women my age.  I love my birthday.  My mom sent me the sweetest birthday card this year telling me I'm her favorite.  Ha...okay calm down siblings.  That's not exactly what she said but I'm sure that's what she meant.

I guess we need Hodgepodge questions.  The Hodgepodge turns 94 this week which means its way older than me.

Wait, that's weeks, not years.  Whatever.
On your birthday you're allowed to calculate your age any which way you want.

Okay, I'll hush.  Here are this week's questions.  Come back tomorrow (that would be the day after my birthday) and link your answers to the party.  The Hodgepodge party, not my birthday party.  As I mentioned,  today is my birthday, tomorrow is the day after.

Okay, I'll really hush.  Here ya go-

Wait!  One more thing...CapriKel who blogs over at No Whining Allowed,  and who most weeks joins the Hodgepodge,  is also celebrating a birthday today.  If you have some time hop over and wish her a  happy birthday.

Now, here ya go-

1. What's the best and worst thing thing about growing older?

2.   Autumn arrives this week in the Northern Hemisphere...what one thing do you love most about the fall season?

3.  Speaking of fall...pumpkin seems to be flavoring everything these days-are you a fan?   What's your favorite pumpkin flavored food or beverage?

4.  Since we're on the subject of fall...what's the worst fall you've ever taken?

5.  If you could own a prop from any film what would you choose?

6. What's the most interesting word you've read or learned in the past week?

7. When was the last time you locked yourself out of your house, car, or office?  Was it a big deal?

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Planes, Trains, and Birthdays

The weekend passed in a whirlwind as weekends around here are wont to do.  There's a word you don't hear anymore-wont.  It means accustomed, apt...I don't know why I'm explaining other than its Monday and maybe you haven't had enough coffee either.

I wrapped up my week in South Carolina on Friday doing motherly type tasks in daughter2s apartment while she was busy teaching 5th grade.  I did three loads of laundry including her sheets and towels, made chicken and rice and packaged it into small containers for her freezer, and stuck post-it notes all around her apartment so she wouldn't miss me too much when I left.  We zoomed to the airport as soon as she was through with school so I wouldn't miss my 4:50 PM flight.  I knew better.  Honestly, a four hour delay going to SC and a two hour delay leaving.  Ugh. United emailed me when I got home and asked me to rate my experience.  Alrighty.

I'm used to flight delays and mostly take them in stride, but on Friday I had things carefully timed so I'd arrive in Newark about an hour before daughter1 would arrive in Newark.  She was coming by train and this would allow me plenty of time to get my bag, find my car, negotiate the confusing airport exit and traffic and make the 15 minute drive to the train station.  Didn't happen.  She and I finally rolled into tinytown about 10:15 PM and hubs met us for a late supper at the diner.  He did not want to hear about my very stressful day because he'd spent the past day and a half trekking home from China.

Okay.  He wins, but still a very long day for me too.  

When we finally walked into the house at 11:30 PM I was surprised to see hubs had laid out all sorts of birthday goodies he'd brought me from his travels.  When I visited China back in March you might remember I had two coats made, a raincoat and a winter coat. While I was there I also really admired a beautiful cape the seamstress had made, so on his most recent trip hubs went back to her little stall and bought it for me.

I like it because you can button up the sides and make them more like big sleeves.  Now I just need a cool day in the city so I have an excuse to wear it.

Even though it had been a long, emotional, and somewhat frustrating day, I could still smile when my head hit the pillow because there was a grown up daughter in the house.  I slept until 10:30 on Saturday.  I have not slept that late since ever.  Even when I was a teenager I wasn't a late sleeper.  Life seems to have finally caught up with me.  Hubs was up at some ridiculous hour because of that whole China thing but I felt like I'd been run over by a mack truck, even at 10:30.

Saturday afternoon we went to an engagement party for a friend of daughter1.  Her parents are good friends of ours too and we just love the whole family. I've mentioned her a time or two before on my blog, but in a nutshell, she and daughter1 met at age three and became fast friends and now that little toddler girl is planning her wedding. How's that for succinctly summarizing 21 years?

The flower girl wanted in on the photo op here too, and speaking of flowers, isn't daughter1's necklace the cutest thing?

We left the party a little early and went out for an early birthday dinner pour moi.  So fun to have a daughter home to make it feel extra special.

The weather was spectacular on Sunday and once again I slept in.   Not quite at late as Saturday, but still, much later than normal.  Obviously my sleep tank has hit E and needs re-filling.  Or maybe I need to hurry up and get that flu shot.    Did you come here to read up on my sleep patterns?  Anyway, we had a late breakfast and then decided to get outdoors and take advantage of the beautiful day.  Daughter1 did not have the appropriate footwear for a walk in the woods so she put her tiny toes into some thick socks and an old pair of my tennis shoes.  Then I loaned her a t-shirt which fit like a dress but she was game.  And then she let me take pictures of all the fun stuff we did, like applying bug spray.

Or I took pictures and she was exasperated but laughed anyway.

The pup was in her glory too.

I just know that's what she's singing in her head.

When we got home daughter1 and I played some backgammon while hubs watched football.  Hubs and I played a bajillion games of backgammon back in our college days, so I wonder why its so hard to remember how to set up the board?  I made daughter1 a little crazy because I kept asking her things like, "Which one is my home again?" and "What color am I again?" and "Remind me again which direction I'm supposed to be going?"  She was a good sport.  Our backgammon board is beautiful.  We bought it in Dubai, but it was hand made in Iran.  When I look at the Middle East today that trip feels like a lifetime ago.

Hubs grilled hamburgers for a late lunch/early dinner and I opened some super cute birthday gifts from my girls and then just like that, we're back in the car heading to the train so daughter1 can get back to DC and her own home and life.  Sniff.

So nice to have had time with my girls this past week.   It's easier to turn a year older with daughters around.  Course all this birthday hullabaloo and my birthday isn't even here yet.  All I can say about that is I'm staying true to form and making it last more than a day.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

13 on 13

It's the 13th day of September and since I have approximately 13 random thoughts today, this post makes perfect sense.  In fact it kind of wrote itself.

1.  I've loved these past few days spent with my daughter2.  I'm staying in her apartment and she's made it so cozy.  She's teaching 5th grade this semester so she gets up at the crack of dawn and packs her lunch and then I drive her to school so I can use her car during the day.  There is something very satisfying about watching your grown up child be grown up.

2.  Speaking of grown up tasks...daughter1 phoned this morning to say she'd just come from the dentist.  Now this may seem like a little thing to you, but I have been
NAGGING!!! gently encouraging her to find a new dentist ever since she moved to DC.

A year ago last April.
I know.
She was pretty pleased with herself.

I was pretty pleased with herself too.

3.  My daughter2 and I spent some time talking about our own memories of 9-11 on Tuesday.  She shared with me that they'd discussed the events in her 5th grade class that morning and we were both taken aback by the fact that only one or two of the kids in her class were even born then.  That 9-11 is now in a 5th grade history textbook. That the world changed that day and these children will never know the before, only the after.

They had so many questions.
There are still no easy answers.

4.  Daughter2 has an extremely busy and exhausting schedule just now so I had plans one afternoon to make a couple of meals for her freezer.  Daughter2 has a very well stocked kitchen...a big crock pot, an electric kettle, an immersion blender, but I turned the place upside down and could not find a can opener.  I texted her to ask where it might be and she told me she meant to buy one because recently she opened a can using a knife and scissors.  Oi.  Hubs-don't read that last bit.  I insisted she go that very day to get a can opener.  I'll sleep better at night knowing she isn't attempting knife stunts in the kitchen.  Hubs will say she is her mother's daughter.

5.  When I visit my girls I can count on doing three things...filling a frig, filling a gas tank, and running a car thru the car wash.

6.  Not complaining, just keepin' it real.  I can also count on shopping, eating out, and lots of talking so it's all good.

7.  I have to applaud and smile a little too, at my daughter's efforts at energy efficiency.  She was walking behind me turning off lights.  Ha.  That's what happens when you pay your own utility bills.

8.  Now for a mini blog rant-word verification.  AARGH!  Is it really necessary??? I don't allow anonymous comments on my blog which helps reduce spam, and I do have comment moderation running which also helps, but the word verification feature is off. It very nearly sends me over the edge on Wednesdays when I visit the Hodgepodge posts.  Sometimes it takes as many as four tries to get the word/number combo correct.  After two tries I am more than ready to move along. It's like some kind of test or something.   Word verification...just say no!

9.  Hubs is in China and texted me a picture of a dinner option on the menu -turtle.

Earlier in the week it was a pigeon.  On a menu where you have poultry, beef, lamb, and seafood exactly where does turtle fit?  My dad used to like turtle soup which gave us kids the heebie jeebies. As the saying goes, different strokes for different folks.

10.  Have you seen this?  A couple who are new parents of twins were flying with them for the first time and they made little goody bags with candy and earplugs for all the passengers.  Kindness makes the world a nicer place.

11. What's the deal with 'chevron'?  Suddenly it's everywhere.  Again.  Except when I was 12 we called that zigzag.  I do love this dress though.

12.  Do you watch Toddlers and Tiaras?  Me neither.  But I did catch a news clip recently of a 4-year old contestant in the costume portion of the pageant whose mom dressed her as Sandy from Grease.  Bad Sandy.  The one in black leather with the cigarette hanging out of her mouth.  The 4-year old's ciggy was fake but as she took to the stage her mom instructed, 'Don't forget to smoke!'  Now I'm a big believer in pretend play but this is in.sane.   Is it any wonder kids have so many issues in this crazy mixed up world?

13.  I hate to leave here tomorrow.  Knowing when I land I'll go directly to the train station and collect daughter1 for a weekend at home helps.  I'm beginning to come round to the notion of a family compound.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Welcome to the 93rd edition of the Wednesday glad you joined the party today!  Add your link at the end of my post and be sure to visit some of the neighbors.  Here are my answers~

1.  ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL? The NFL is back in action along with all the college teams.  Are you a fan?  Who do you root for?  If you're not a fan what do you do while the rest of America watches Saturday, Sunday, Monday night, and now Thursday night games?

I'm definitely ready for some football.  It's one of the many things I love about fall. College football is my favorite and in our house we root for the Tennessee Volunteers. My NFL loyalties are slightly complicated, the result of moving too many times.  My first loyalty lies with my original hometown team-the Philadelphia Eagles. After that it's the Jets and whoever Peyton Manning is playing for (those Vol roots run deep!)

Also, my apologies to those of you who live outside the US on this one.  I normally edit questions that are "American" in nature so you have an alternative, but I missed doing that here.  

2.  What's something I'll always find in your closet?

blue jeans and heels

3.  Share one of your earliest memories.

This one popped into my head right away...I guess I was about 5 years old and we had company.  They had kids too and we were all up in the bedroom my sister and I shared playing records.  Yes records.    I picked up the Peter Pan album and it snapped right in two which startled me.  I had a lifesaver in my mouth which I accidentally inhaled and it became lodged in my throat.  Instead of running for my mother I went and hid in the closet.   I don't know why, but I guess I thought I'd be in trouble for breaking the record.  My parents weren't mean so I don't know why my brain spazzed,  but it did. Eventually the lifesaver went down which is why you're lucky I'm here to tell you this super interesting story.  

4.  What circus act best describes your week so far?

I'm spending a few days with my daughter and getting here was a bit of a circus.  My flight was delayed twice and had three gate changes.  Fi-na-lly we boarded, but just as the pilot got the plane backed out of its parking space he announced that a 757 had dropped it's tailbar? and then managed to run over it, blocking the only alley to/from the runway.  

On top of that, the pilot informed us that on Saturdays and Sundays, Newark is working on  runway improvement so they shut a runway down and inbound and outbound flights use the same runway.  He may have said more but I plugged my ears and sang lalala.  His words were confirmed though, when we hit the brakes hard,  just as another (much larger) plane landed mere feet in front of us.   Well, it felt like feet.  

 Is a circus this exciting?

I was supposed to get to SC a little before 5 PM and had plans to meet my sister for dinner.  Instead I got in about 9pm and daughter2 and I grabbed chicken fingers from the drive-thru at Zaxbys.  

My circus act?  How about aerial?  The bar kept swinging towards me but I just couldn't grab hold.

5.  What's a food you disliked as a child that you love now?

Brussel sprouts.  I despised them as a child but they're one of my favorite vegetables now.  Daughter2 and I shared these on her birthday-

Crispy brussel sprouts with serrano ham, manchego cheese, and a sherry glace.  De-licious!

6.  Describe your summer in three words.

family, faith, and sorrow...sometimes life is hard, even on the brightest blue sky summer days 

7.  Where were you on September 11, 2001?  Will you do anything special to mark the day?

I was working as the Director of a preschool on 9-11.  The bookkeeper and I were in the office waiting on the Xerox guy to come in and repair our machine.  We'd seen him pull into the parking lot and couldn't figure out why he was just sitting in his car.  When he finally came in he gave us the news.  I walked to each classroom and whispered the news to the teachers. We cancelled afternoon classes and parents began trickling in to collect their children.  We had parents who worked in the Pentagon and lots of Secret Service families in our school.  

I was at my daughters yesterday so she got an extra hug.  I called my daughter1 and my mother too.  I prayed for the families of the innocent victims and gave thanks for the brave police officers and firefighters who fought human instinct by running into a place people were fleeing.  Our military too, those who went to war as a result.   I thought about how freedom is precious and most definitely not free.  It must be protected and there is a cost.  

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

This week's questions took a turn downbeat but there's always something for which to be grateful.  So nice to have a grown up dinner and conversation with my daughter2 on her birthday Monday evening. 

She really is 2-2 precious!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Questions for the Wednesday Hodgepodge Vol 93

Here are the questions to this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge.  Answer on your own blog and then hop back here tomorrow to share the love.

1.  ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?  The NFL is back in action along with all the college teams.  Are you a fan?  Who do you root for?  If you're not a fan what do you do while the rest of America watches Saturday, Sunday, Monday night, and now Thursday night games?

2. What's something I'll always find in your closet?

3. Share one of your earliest memories.

4. What circus act best describes your week so far?

5. What's a food you disliked as a child but you love now?

6.  Describe your summer in three words.

7.  Where were you on September 11, 2001? Will you do anything special to mark the day this year?

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, September 10, 2012

My heart is 2-2 full

Today my darling daughter2 celebrates her 22nd birthday.  She reminded me recently that the last time she and I were physically together on her actual day was birthday #17.

Can that be right?

Her birthday falls just after the start of school, so for the past few years when her special day rolled around we were just returning home following university move-in. Turning around and trekking right back didn't make sense, but that streak ends today. Daughter2 and I are together on the same terra firma and we have big plans for a fun week.  Hubs is busy working or some such nonsense so it's just me and my mini-me.

On daughter1's 22nd birthday I put together some pictures from her birthday celebrations thru the years so of course I've done the same for daughter2.  I had a few thoughts as I scanned and edited...

1.  There's just no denying it...we've taken a lot of of bad pictures in our day.   Blurry, busy backgrounds, half a person in the's like we were just snapping our way thru life la-di-dah-di-dah.

2.  We lived in NJ when daughter2 was a newborn and tiny tot and in looking at those early pictures I remembered how much my girls loved to stand on the fireplace hearth and put their sticky hand prints all over the brass surround.  Apparently I gave up wiping it down.  In my defense keeping up with daughter2 did not leave a lot of time for everyday chores.

3.  In the yard of that same house we had the world's most dangerous swing set.  The previous owners left it behind so we made the best of it.  First of all it was metal, set up on a hill so it kinda tilted, and there was a big block of concrete at the bottom of the slide that you had to dodge as you came down.  It was situated right where the woods met the grass so momma me had to be ever alert for momma bear and her cubs.  We've always liked to live on the edge.

4.  Judging by the size of our first video camera you might be under the impression we worked for a major news network.  We didn't,  but the camera was ridunkulously ginormous.

5.  Why didn't I carefully date when they were developed?   You'd think it would be easy enough to figure out which birthday was which by the cakes and the clothes,  but my girls always had more than one cake on their birthdays.  There was the kid party and the family party and if those two dates didn't fall on their actual birthday I might have made another little treat to mark the day.  What can I say?  I liked to bake and I liked cake.  Like cake.  I still like cake.

6.  Daughter1 always asked for angel food cake topped with strawberries and whipped cream for her birthday.  Not Daughter2!  Daughter2 started asking for chocolate pretty much as soon as she could talk, which was early.  Before she was born I had her older sister convinced that a plain graham cracker was a treat.  Daughter2 wasn't buyin' it...I think one of her first words was Oreo.

7.   Sometimes when I look at my daughter I catch a glimpse of the mischievous toddler girl of days gone by.  And sometimes I think my heart might literally burst.

8.  Happy Birthday sweet Daughter2!   You have brought so much love and laughter into our home and hearts.  Enjoy this snapshot of your celebrations through the years~

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

What a gyp

What is a gyp anyway? We love that expression in our house and it feels good to say it when things don't go the way you want them to go. I believe that expression is the equivalent of the outdated 'what a ripoff'. It's also possible the word gyp is even more outdated than the word ripoff, but I'm bringing it back.

When hubs birthday rolls around the phrase, 'What a gyp!' springs to mind. He turned another year older this past weekend and I'm a big believer in celebrating that fact, it's just the timing of his birthday always throws me. Why is that? I know its coming but every year I struggle to pull something fun and memorable together. There are reasons.

Or excuses, but I prefer to call them reasons.

His birthday always lands on or near the Labor Day weekend.

Kids aren't home.

People back away from the carefree every-day-can-be-a-party tone of summer and adopt a more sensible back to school attitude.

Daughter2's birthday is the very next week and since she's on her own living in another state I really put a lot of thought and effort into making her day special.

Hubs almost always buys his own gift.

On that last one, in my's not that I don't want to buy him something special, it's just that when he decides he wants something he buys it. I suggest he wait and let me get whatever it is for his birthday, but his motto is carpe diem. He'd rather just go ahead and get it when it's convenient, hence the brand new punching bag in our basement that was put to good use a full week before his big day.

I was mentally scrolling back thru our married life and I think we managed three extra special celebrations on his birthday. Three in the 30+ years I've known him. What a gyp!

When hubs turned 25 we were newlyweds living in Knoxville Tennessee. Brand new newlyweds, as in married less than 3 months. We had tickets to see the Vols play in Neyland Stadium on hubs birthday and watching the Vols live and in person with 90,000 of your closest friends is always fun and never boring. We had plans to go to dinner with several other couples before the game in a place called The Butcher Shop. I don't know if its still there but it was one of those restaurants where you choose your steak and then grill it yourself too. Or have hubs grill it for you, kinda like if you were eating on your back patio only you're in a restaurant and paying for the privilege. Nevertheless it was lots of fun because your friends were grilling right along beside you.

I wanted there to be some little surprise for his birthday so I arranged with the restaurant ahead of time to drop off a birthday cake. Our waiter would bring it to the table and have everyone sing. The restaurant was huge and the kitchen was on the complete opposite side of the building from our table. That waiter did not think things thru carefully and he went ahead and lit all 25 candles on his side of the restaurant and then carried that flaming cake aaaaaaall the way across a very large and crowded room to hubs. It was hilarious. I wish I had a picture of the fire on the platter as he approached. 25 candles is a lot of flame and thankfully the place didn't burn to the ground.

Fifteen years later (I know!) hubs was turning the big 4-0. Does it only take 15 years to get from a youthful 25 to the big 4-0? I guess so. Anyway, you should know that hubs loves nothing better than a party so we decided to throw a bash in honor of his big day and declared our theme 'the seventies'. We settled on this theme mostly because we had just purchased the most awesome CD set of 70's tunes and needed an excuse to play them for our friends. We had a crowd, friends and family both, and everyone came dressed in 70's garb.

I have a bunch of pictures but I'm still friends with the friends and am not sure they want the whole world to see them dressed from head to toe in clashing polyester so I'll refrain. Not that the whole world reads my blog. ahem.

Oh okay, one picture...

And the cake... I will show you the cake-

I had hubs high school picture, circa 1978, put into the icing. The mustache...the lapels...the my grandma would say-'Oh my stars!'

So eight more years fly by (yes, really) and we're now living in England. Daughter 2 had just started her senior year of high school and daughter1 was packing up in preparation for her flight across the pond where she'd begin her sophomore year of university. Hubs and I cooked up a scheme to surprise the girls with a trip to Disneyland Paris for his birthday. If you're a parent that sentence makes perfect sense. I secretly packed their bags and hubs secretly loaded them into the car.

We told the girls Daddy wanted to see a castle on his birthday and pointed the car in the direction of Paris via the Chunnel. The road to the Chunnel just so happens to pass beside Leeds Castle so they assumed that was our destination. While our girls were always up for visiting a castle or twenty, they were mostly putting on their pretend happy faces so Dad could enjoy his day. As we zipped by Leeds Castle they naturally started telling us we'd missed the turn, and as hubs would say-PSYCH!

We had the most fun weekend (I wrote about it on my blog here) and essentially that was his last super-d-duper birthday celebration. What a gyp!

While there was no big party this past weekend, there was sea air so hubs was happy. My sister and brother in law invited us to spend the long weekend on their boat and there is nothing hubs likes better than being on the riv-uh.

Unless maybe it's stopping at my mom's on the way to the boat for some of her homemade enchiladas. They're a lot of work to put together so she doesn't make them too often anymore. Only for hubs and only on his birthday. What a gyp!

As we were driving down to my mom's hubs said, 'So did you put a post on your blog for my birthday today? Like you do for the girls?" I had this one in the works, but actual life kept getting in the way of me finishing it up. What a gyp! Thank goodness for sisters with boats and mothers who make enchiladas, right?

Shortly after we arrived at the marina we saw this-


Not surprisingly hubs suddenly thought of something he wanted for his birthday. Ha! There was no jet pack handy (what a gyp!), but there was a tube and a boat which would have to suffice.

Who needs a jet pack?

Hubs makes his own air.

In addition to the tubing there was also fabulous chocolate cake shared with family, lovely views, and some uncle-nephew bonding on his actual day-

Oh, and I completely blocked forgot to mention the scary boat ride back across the bay in a lightning storm Saturday night. Hubs likes his adrenaline flowing so I'm sure he puts that little adventure in the pro column. Some of us may see it differently.

To sum it up (finally!)...Happy Birthday hubs! It wasn't a gyp after all. And I'm not really late with this know I think a birthday should last a full week.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Happiness is the Wednesday Hodgepodge

Welcome to the 92nd edition of the Wednesday Hodgepodge. I feel like I'm running beside the car this week with the long weekend away, a Monday holiday, and then hubs tacking Tuesday and Wednesday on to that as vacation. And by vacation I mean he's painting the laundry room. I guess I won't go off on a tangent here about the joys of home improvement projects and how I made three trips to the paint store in a two hour time span since he was wedged behind the washing machine trying to get the baseboards taped. I'll just get on with answering this week's questions-

1. In your opinion, what's the most important job in the world? Oh, and parenting is a given so besides parenting, what's the most important job in the world?

It's impossible to choose just one because one, without the support of others, won't allow for a free, productive, and safe society. How about my top five? Farmers, our military, water/sewer/electrical engineers, doctors, and firefighters/police officers. That covers food, clean water, power, health and safety.

2. Share a favorite or not so favorite memory of a childhood birthday.

The first one that came to mind was a slumber party I had in the 6th grade. We didn't have big parties every year so this one stands out. My mom let me have quite a few girls over and we had our sleeping bags lined from one end of the living room to the other. When I was in school sixth grade was the last year at the elementary level, and we were full of ourselves I'm sure. We played truth or dare, stayed up til all hours, and ate way too much junk food. The party culminated with the girl sleeping beside me throwing up in her sleeping bag sometime in the wee hours of the morning. Good times.

3. Peanut butter-crunchy or smooth?

Smooth. I'm not a fan of the crunchy.

4. William Butler Yeats is credited as saying, " Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that, but simply growth, We are happy when we're growing." Your thoughts?

Not sure I agree entirely. I guess it depends on what type of growing we're talking about. Growing as in learning a new skill or becoming more proficient at an old one, becoming more independent, building something for the future...then yes I'd say growth and happiness go hand in hand.

There are other circumstances in life where growth, while necessary, is also quite painful. A devastating illness? A broken relationship? You certainly grow from those hard experiences, and often that sort of growth opens the door to future happiness, but I don't know that we'd say we're happy as the growth is occuring.

Peace is what I crave, and that is possible in any circumstance.

5. What's something that makes you cringe?

Again with the list? I didn't think these questions thru very well, although I suppose there is someone out there capable of answering with 'just one thing'.

I am not that someone.

What makes me cringe? The sound of the dental drill, insects that crunch when you squash them, hanky panky movie scenes with my mother sitting beside me, listening to anyone floss their teeth, poor grammar from a public figure or educator, the old intro to ABC's Wide World of Sports where the ski jumper went careening off the side of a name a few.

6. Name a song that always puts you in a good mood?

A song? Seriously? Just one?

Here are the first few that popped into my head...Dancing Queen by Abba, Born to Run by Springsteen, Firework by Katy Perry, Wagon Wheel by Old Crow Medicine Show, and Undignified by David Crowder Band.

7. The answer is yes. What's the question?

Is it sometimes hard to come up with these questions every week?

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I made the Texas Sheetcake cupcakes that are all over Pinterest lately for hubs birthday last weekend. As my grandma would say, "Oh my stars!" I could literally go swimming in the icing-so delicious! You'll find the recipe I used here.

I have more to say about the weekend and hubs birthday, but he deserves his own post so I'll save the rest for tomorrow. Better late than never, right?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Hodgepodge Questions-Vol 92

Whew! We've had a jam packed weekend away which I will most surely describe in far more detail than is necessary once I regroup around here. Until then I leave you with this week's Hodgepodge questions. If you've been here before then you know the drill. If you're new to the HP then, welcome! Answer the questions on your own blog then hop back here tomorrow to link answers with the rest of the world. More or less.

Everyone knows by tomorrow I mean Wednesday, right?
Just checking. Do long weekends throw anyone else's mental calendar into a tailspin or is that just me?

Okay, here ya go....

1. In your opinion what's the most important job in the world? Oh, and parenting is a given so besides parenting, what's the most important job in the world?

2. Share a favorite or not so favorite memory from a childhood birthday.

3. Peanut butter-crunchy or smooth?

4. William Butler Yeats is credited as saying, "Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that but simply growth, We are happy when we are growing." Your thoughts?

5. What's something that makes you cringe?

6. Name a song that always puts you in a good mood?

7. The answer is yes. What's the question?

8. Insert your own random thought here.