Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Fragmented List of Thirteenish Randoms

It's Thursday, and I'm feeling like a list is in order. You can call it Friday Fragments on a Thursday or Thursday Thirteen, although I haven't thought it all out so it might just be Thursday Ten, but's Thursday and it's time for a list.  An unnumbered list, so really let's just call them fragments.

I hosted a brunch at my house on Monday for a group of about 30 women who volunteer with a club I'm a member of.

Side note-I always thought "never end a sentence with a preposition" was a hard and fast rule of grammar, but I just checked and it's not.  You're welcome.

Now back to my brunch....several women contributed food, and I made punch and provided the coffee along with a sinful sour cream coffee cake and a loaf of banana bread topped with a lime glaze. I'd also gotten up extra-extra early to make mini caprese skewers, about 40 of them.  These-

Which are still in my frig, because I forgot to put them out at the brunch.  Bother.

Actually this is what's left after I doled them out to the hubs with his dinner every night this week. He noticed last night that the toothpick dye is making the mozzarella 'colorful', so I have to toss what's left.  I really hate it when I do stuff like this, which sadly is kinda often.

How 'bout something happy?

We've seen lots of baby deer in recent weeks. It's hard to get a photo, because when they hear me open the front door they stroll on outta here. And also because it's me attempting the picture.

Where's Waldo?

He's there, but you have to look hard to see him amidst the camouflage of my shrubs. Hummingbirds are amazing little creatures, aren't they? We love to sip our coffee on the patio in the early morning hours, and be entertained by the hummingbirds that frequent our feeder. Hubs makes fun of how many pictures I've snapped of these little birds, but they're fascinating.  

There is someone in our house who has no interest in the hummingbirds, even when they are furiously flapping their wings right above her head.  She prefers to stick her nose in here-

My pup is obsessed with catching bees, and bees love my hydrangeas.

I love my hydrangeas too.

In other pretty news...there is a ginormous field of sunflowers blooming nearby, and when Daughter1 was home a couple of weekends ago we stopped for a look-see...

It was a little bit too close to sunset to make the light work, plus I only had my iPhone with me, plus I have yet to master the art of snapping a quick photo with my phone, but get the idea, right?

See that speck in the middle?  That's my extra petite girl trying to snap a picture just like me.  Well, not just like me, because when it comes to picture-taking she's got skilz her mama is lacking.

When our girls are home, they always catch us up on Internet funnies. With football season gearing up, I thought I'd end this list with one of our new favorites here. 

Was that thirteen things?
Somehow it feels more like thirty.

May your Labor Day weekend be light on labor and long on R & R!

If you've got fragments of your own, why not add them to the party by clicking here on Fridays. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Laboring Through the Hodgepodge

Here we are again...add your link at the end of my post and then hop around to some of the other bloggers who've joined the party this week.

1. Labor Day (in the US of A) is approaching...what's something you've labored over this year?

The Hodgepodge? 

Ha...I do love it still. I've had to work my brain a little bit harder to come up with the questions this year, but as long as I continue to enjoy it each week I'll keep calm and Hodgepodge on.

2. What is one word to describe your 'job' or career?


3. What was your worst or least favorite job ever?

I've never had a job I truly hated, but I guess cleaning latrines as a CIT would probably top the list of 'least favorite'.  I loved everything about being a CIT except for that whole latrine thing.  

4. How do you measure contentment?

I'm not sure contentment can be measured...seems like people are either content or they're not. For me, contentment isn't found in things, nor is it found in my circumstances, be they grand or disastrous. In fact I think true contentment is often found in spite of my circumstances. Or maybe that's just when I'm most aware of how content I really am.  

I don't think contentment means you quit trying and growing as a person, or that you settle for where you are at the present moment.  I do think it means giving whatever it is my best effort, and then being satisfied and at peace in knowing whatever the outcome, God's grace is sufficient. Sufficient for the moment, the day, the circumstance, the challenge, the anything and the everything too. He knows the end from the beginning and when things don't go the way I wanted or anticipated, I remind myself I only see in part.  He's got the whole big picture in His hands and that's good enough for me.    

5. Pickles-like or dislike?  What is something you eat that requires a pickle?  Dill, bread and butter, sweet gherkins...what's your favorite kind of pickle?

Love! I like all pickles, but my new pickle addiction is the Clausen spicy dill. I like pickle relish in my tuna salad, and it's a must on a hot dog. Bread and butter pickles make me think of the relish tray at Thanksgiving so they're a favorite too.

6. In your current house-town-state, what is it you like living close to?

Hmmm...that's a toss up between this-

NYC-view of Columbus Circle/Central Park from The Mandarin
and this-
tinytown lake

I'm definitely part city mouse, part country mouse.  

7. What is one thing on your 'want-to-do' list before summer draws to an official close?

Take in a sunset from a boat deck on the water.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

#7-happening this weekend!  

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hodgepodge Questions-Vol 139

A little later than usual, but here they are...

Everyone is welcome to play along.  Answer the questions on your own blog, then hop back here Wednesday to link with the party.  See you there-

1. Labor Day weekend (in the US of A) is approaching...what's something you've labored over this year?

2. What is one word to describe your 'job' or career?

3. What was your worst or least favorite job ever? Why?

4. How do you measure contentment?

5. Pickles-like or dislike? What is something you eat that requires a pickle? Dill, bread and butter, sweet gherkins...what's your favorite kind of pickle?

6. In your current house-town-state, what is it you like living close to?

7. What is one thing on your 'want-to-do' list before summer draws to an official close?

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Five Minutes of Last

Linking up again this week with Five Minute Friday over at Lisa-Jo Baker's blog.  Each week Lisa-Jo posts a one word writing prompt and the catch is you write for a mere five minutes.  Flat.  No cheating. Also, no editing, back-tracking, no over-thinking.  When you're through you add your link to the party, and leave an encouraging comment for the person just above you on the list.  Easy peasy.  Ha!

Today's prompt-last

It's an unexpected gift bestowed in this season of empty nesting and middle aging. The minutes and hours and days that now belong to you. The place where you can take two steps back from all the doing, and say with a grateful heart, "I did."

The place where you know for certain what will last.

As a young mom the knowledge of it was always there, lurking at the outer edges of a brain filled with too much everything. Too much finding...missing shoes, library books due yesterday, the magic words needed to calm a frustrated toddler or an anxious teen.  

It seeped into the rush of mornings and all that remembering you had to do.  The never ending list in your head of who likes mayonnaise, and which child needs a permission slip signed, who has a test, a dental appointment, a mean girl wearing them down. Who needs a prayer prayed extra hard as a ribbon is tied round a pony tail at the bathroom sink.

The meaning and significance and importance of mothering was whispered in your ear day upon day and year upon year. It fought to be heard above the shout of a schedule filled with so many words...dates-times-appointments-stuff. Over the din of music lessons and the whine of a cranky toddler. Even the pitiful wail of a teenager as she stared down algebra that "I'll never use again mom!' could not drown out that whisper.

It ran in an unending cycle like your never empty washing machine and the 101 ballet recitals, soccer matches, and choir programs you watched with a full heart and cheeks that ached from so much smiling.

It percolated beside your too early morning coffee and your carefully controlled temper. It hovered as life was planned...menus, birthday parties, vacations, the future.

You see it so clearly now, and realize how in the deepest part of your mother heart you always knew what you were doing mattered...that it would last. It's why you kept on with all the doing when what you really longed for was a nap or a bubble bath or somebody else's life.

As young moms we're told to enjoy every second of motherhood because it's fleeting. In a sense I guess that's true, but it's also not so fleeting.

The hundred little kindnesses bestowed across a lifetime, the thousand little gestures, the times you bit your tongue and the times you didn't, the million stories read, the hugs and bandaids and juice boxes delivered, the rules doled out and forgiveness too...they all added up to something big.

Something that is not fleeting.
Something that will last.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thursday Thirteen Old School Style

The beginning of a new school year has always been my favorite time of year.  As a teacher and a mother, it was the clean slate-fresh start of late August that shouted Happy New Year to me, much more so than January 1 ever did. I still feel a twinge of nostalgia when I see the yellow buses begin to roll, and I will never lose my love of blank notebooks and an unopened package of sharpies.

Sure there are things I don't miss...making lunches first thing every.single.morning springs immediately to mind, but mostly I feel a little wistful this time of year. How about 13 Things on a Thursday-old school style?

1. Meet the teacher. My daughter is teaching school in South Carolina and her district holds a one hour meet and greet a couple of days before school begins. Parents and students are invited to stop by the school, find their classroom, lug in their tissues and their Clorox wipes and their hand sanitizer so they have less to lug on Day 1, and best of all, meet their teacher.

When my girls were in elementary school they didn't know who their teacher would be until they heard their names called on that very first day. So much unnecessary anxiety! Parents didn't meet the teacher until Back to School Night, which was a couple of weeks in to the year.

2.  Our front porch-the rules stated that a photo had to be snapped here on the first day of school. Whose rules?  Mine of course.

This little outfit came from Gymboree. Do moms still shop at Gymboree? Does she look too little to be going to school?  I think this was PK, but even for that she seems teeny tiny.

This one is wishing we had a meet the teacher day before school started-

I can almost feel the happy scary nerves.

2. Backpacks-bigger than my children.


3.  Lunchboxes-such a monumental decision. I remember standing in the store for hours (or at least for what felt like hours) before settling on a lunchbox. We started school most often with Disney themed lunchboxes, then graduated to canvas bags and finally in the high school years, a brown paper sack.  We had to remember to buy those when we were in the US, because at the time, there were none to be found in the UK.

4. The bus-my least favorite thing about sending my girls off to school. When Daughter1 started kindergarten we lived atop a mountain in a little town in New Jersey. The idea of that bus making its way down those winding roads, particularly in the wintertime, could keep me awake at night.

When we moved to Maryland, my girls had a short ride to school. Their first driver was, to put it kindly, ancient. I'm serious...he was a nice man and seemed capable so I didn't worry. Much. Then one day we were driving over to the school for something and my daughter casually points to a stop sign and says, 'That's the sign the bus driver hits every single day when we make the turn.'  WHAT???!!!

p.s. They got a new bus driver.

5.  The bus stop photo-Except for that one year in NJ, my girls attended elementary school in Maryland. While I wasn't excited about the bus ride, I did always look forward to the bus stop on that first day of school. We all did.  The parents all walked over too, and there was a sense of anticipation and excitement in the air. We loved our little cul-de-sac and the friends, big and little, made there.

6. First grade-This was the year Daughter2 fell off her desk. This was also the year Daughter2 cut her hair. During math. It was her sweet teacher's first year on the job, so bless her. I've reminded Daughter2 of of these little episodes as she begins her first year on the job.

Sometimes it's the cute ones you can't turn your back on.

7. Third grade-Daughter1 had a teacher who attended our church, and there was another third grade teacher there who also attended our church, and who organized the children's productions there.  Such a blessing to have teachers you know are praying their way through the school year.

My daughter is teaching third grade.
She is praying for her students.
So is her mama.
And her sister.
And her grandmamas too.

8. Fourth grade -the year I thought I might die from something called the Mad Minute. So did Daughter1, and honestly she left there with some battle scars.  Every single day Daughter1's teacher had the class do a mad minute, which essentially required you to solve a certain number of problems in a minute. If you didn't meet the deadline, this particular teacher kept you in at recess and made you take it again and again and again, until you did meet the deadline, which was sometimes never.

These mad minutes were usually simple problems, mostly multiplication and division facts I think, which Daughter1 knew like the back of her hand when quizzed at home, but then absolutely blanked on under the pressure and tone in the classroom. Instead of improving with each drill, she'd make more and more mistakes.

For the record, I do believe kids need to memorize basic math facts, but I still don't really understand why you have to do a certain number in a single minute. Does it matter if it takes you a minute and a half?  Many tears were shed over the Mad Minute and many conferences were held.

This was the year Daughter1 decided she couldn't do math.

9.  Fifth grade was the year the teacher convinced her she could. Never underestimate the power of a great teacher.

10.  My girls both had the same fifth grade teacher, and they adored her.

She had the gift of teaching, and she just might read my blog. Hi Miss S. who is now Mrs. S., but who will always be Miss S. to us.

11. Promotion-our primary school made a big deal out of promoting students to the middle school.  Parent volunteers helped by decorating the cafeteritorium, and planning and supervising an after school party at the local bowling alley.  They also had some special days and treats leading up to the event, including an ice cream sundae/yearbook signing hour.  Fifth graders left feeling important and confident and ready to take on the world.

12. Middle school cuts you back down to size.

13. We all think back on those primary years with great fondness. The school environment was warm and friendly, and for the most part felt like a great big family. We've moved a lot, and my girls have friends scattered all over the world, but once upon a time we did lay down some roots in a small town beside the Bay.

Those were happy years, full to overflowing years, fun years...

...years that made us ready for the ones that came after.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Hanging Out in the Hodgepodge

If it's Wednesday, it must be Hodgepodge...welcome newcomers and old timers alike! Be sure to add your link before you run off and see what the neighbors are saying.

Here are my answers -

1. What's your worst food memory?  How about one of your best?

Two words.  
Corn chowder.  

I haven't had so much as a sip since the great 'Corn Chowder Incident' of  1992. In fact, just typing out the words makes me gag a little. Think adorable four year old daughter, milk based broth, queasy stomach, and a couch that was never ever the same. 

I'm going to need a strong stomach to read through these answers today.

Best food memory? If you read here you may have noticed we love great food, which makes it hard to pick a single meal. One of the best was, without a doubt, a four hour lunch eaten in an off-the-beaten-path little place overlooking Lago Maggiore in Stresa Italy. 

I know it doesn't look like much, but I cannot even begin to describe how amazing this meal was, and yes I know the word amazing is overused, but in this case it fits.  

The view was none too shabby either-

2. Do you appreciate people telling it like it is, or would you rather a person temper his/her words, and maybe beat around the bush a little?  How about when you're the one communicating...which type are you?

I hate people telling it like it is. Ha-how's that for telling it like it is! Sometimes people say they're being honest, when what they really are is mean.  I dislike mean.  

I come from a family of eggshell walkers, so I'm pretty sure its in my DNA.  I will add though, that after almost 30 years of marriage I've learned to see the benefit in sometimes just putting it out there (gently though, always gently).  There's a way to 'tell it like it is' without destroying the other person.  

3. What's your favorite place to hang out?

My patio if the weather's just right.
My sun room no matter the weather. 

4. When do you most feel like you're a slave to time?

When my girls are home for a quick weekend, and we have that airport or train station run hanging over our heads.  

5. What was the last concert you attended?  Who'd you go with?  Was it any good?

Hubs and I went to see Poco a couple of weeks ago. Does anyone remember Poco?  Oh my word, I loved their music and we wore out the Legend album back in the day.  I actually gave birth to daughter1 while listening to 'Little Darlin' so we call it my labor song.  

Am I oversharing here today, because I feel like I might be oversharing with some of these answers.  

Anyway, a lot of the late 70's/early 80's bands, they're now performing in small venues, which I actually prefer. We went with friends and it was good...not great, just good. They wanted to play a lot of their new stuff, but of course the audience wanted to hear the old stuff.  I get it, but was a little disappointed. Still a fan of the Legend album though. 

6. Reality TV...harmful or harmless?  What's your guilty pleasure when it comes to reality TV?

I used to think it was harmless, but now I'm not so sure. I think a lot more about the message these shows are putting out there than I used to. My  favorite 'reality' shows are in the cooking genre, which I do think is harmless-Chopped would be my #1.  

7. What's something you think is overrated?

No haters please, but I'm going with Starbucks.  Dunkin' Donuts coffee for me please!

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Thinking of my Daughter2 today as she enjoys her first full day with her brand new classroom full of students. She's been working so hard to make her room warm and inviting and it's turned out so cute.  Oh how I'd love to be a fly on the wall there today!  
"Be an opener of doors for such as come after thee."  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Hodgepodge Questions-Vol 138

Here are the questions to this week's Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog, then hop back here tomorrow and add your link to the party. Here ya go-

1. What's your worst food memory?  How about one of your best?

2. Do you appreciate people telling it like it is, or would you rather a speaker temper his/her words and maybe beat around the bush a little?  How about when you're the one communicating...which type are you?

3. What's your favorite place to hang out?

4. When do you most feel like you're a slave to time?

5. What was the last concert you attended?  Who'd you go with? Was it any good?

6. Reality TV...harmful or harmless?  What's your guilty pleasure when it comes to reality TV?

7. What's something you think is overrated?

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Skinny Arm aka What I Learned at a Weekend Wedding

When you attend a Sunday evening wedding you have so much fun you might forget it's not actually a Saturday evening wedding. Trust me though, when the hotel  receptionist rings your room at the ridunculous hour of 5:15 AM, and a little too loudly and way too cheerfully says, "Good Morning this is your wake up call." you remember.

A sweet as pie girl we've known since she was three years old got married yesterday, and Daughter1 trekked home to attend the ceremony.

Married for real, I mean.

There is an awful lot going on in that first picture don't you think? The bride is the one in 'white' and I cannot explain to you why they all have makeup? chalk? paint? on their faces, nor can I explain to you why Daughter2 has her hands tied together. Bless her heart, when you're the youngest stuff happens.

The lovely bride's 21st century wedding was held in a town about 45 minutes from us, so we decided to stay in a hotel near the reception venue and simplify logistics.  I don't suppose I need to add here that there are always logistics on this side of the pond, do I?

I thought not.

Sunday weddings have become more popular in recent years, because you can often book a fabulous venue at a much lower cost than would be available on a Saturday. Daughter1 didn't want to take a vacation day today because she only returned to work last Tuesday after being on holiday for a week. She absolutely did not want to miss this wedding, which meant booking an early Monday morning train back to DC so she could still get to her office almost on time.

I know some people get up every single day at 5:15 or even earlier, but when you've had your dancing shoes on until close to midnight you feel like your head just hit the pillow come 5:15.  On the bright side, 5:30 AM is not a bad time to be on the Garden State Parkway, and mercifully there was Starbucks coffee available in the little Amtrak station.

Such a fun weekend, other than the early morning bit I mean...

Here's a shot of me and the hubs...I've always called this sort of picture a sorority shot, because when you see groups of sorority girls photographed together they almost always have one arm on the hip. Daughter1 informed me it's actually called 'the skinny arm' pose, because when you stand like this it makes your arm look smaller.

How come I'm just now finding this out?

Guess what's my new favorite way to stand?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Five Minutes of Small

Good Friday morning to you!  I'm linking up with Five Minute Friday over at Lisa-Jo Baker's blog today, and you're invited too.  Here's how it works...

Lisa Jo presents a one word prompt, and then everyone takes off running with it in whatever direction they choose. The catch is that you only have five minutes. Period. No editing, no over thinking, no backtracking. I set a timer because I like words and lots of them.

After you've sweated out the five minutes link back to Lisa-Jo's blog, and don't forget to add your own link to the party too. Finally, go visit the person who linked before you and leave them an encouraging comment. Trust me, that's the easy part!  Here we go-

Today's prompt-small

An old dog's tail wagging furiously as hubs key turns in the door. A daughter's name in caller I.D.  A cloudless blue sky. A cool breeze in the middle of August. A BLT with its ruby red tomato plucked right off the vine.  

Lunch with a friend from our across the pond life. Weekend weddings and little girls who not so long ago were playing dress ups in our den. Sweet memories. New experiences. Reunions. Friends who knew you when. Graduations. Family who cheer and love and celebrate. Hope.

Hot water and plumbers who make it so. Husbands weary from work who keep on keeping on. The shared language of a long marriage. Laughter at the kitchen counter. The good sigh of a weekend. A comfy couch on the patio beckoning you there.

Coffee and quiet time in the sunroom. Lindt chocolates in the pantry. Facetime phone calls from Target. Peeking inside a new teacher's classroom via photo texts. Pom Poms successfully hung from the ceiling. Excitement in a voice.

A bright yellow sun inching it's way up over the mountain. Sliding open the kitchen door to the promise of morning. Anticipation. Bumble bees stealing a drink from the hummingbird. Sparrows in the hedge and chipmunks hard at work in the rock wall they call home. Grace for the day.

Full days. A thousand interactions or maybe just one. Old friends and new faces. The dance of the ordinary, the symphony of the extraordinary.  A pinky gold watercolored summer sunset sky. Rest for the body and peace for the soul.

Small things.
Big life.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Zig Zagging Through the Hodgepodge

Welcome to this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge...add your link and join the party!

1. My daughter earned her Master's Degree this past weekend....what's something you've 'mastered' in recent weeks or months?

Not sure I've actually mastered anything...the art of napping? 

2. What song most reminds you of your childhood?

Wow-how do I choose just one? I'm going with the first few things that came to mind, random as they may be... Lady Willpower by Gary Pucket and the Union Gap, Jimmy Mack by Martha and the Vandellas, and I'm into Something Good by the Herman's Hermits. My big sister would play these on her stereo, and let me and my little sister jump and dance on her canopy bed. Shhh...don't tell my mom. 

Hymns also make me think of my childhood and Sunday night sing alongs in our pew on the left. Give Me That Old Time Religion because we loved singing this one in family devotions, and then kind of the antithesis of that-House of the Rising Sun because my brother played it on his guitar. 

Really I could write paragraphs in answer to this one.

3. What do you think of single gender groups and/or events? Should every group/event be open to both genders?  If not, what sort of exceptions do you think are appropriate?

I am a fan of single gender groups and events, particularly in the tween and teen years.  I don't really understand this pc idiocy that says everything needs to be open to everybody. If we're talking about an employment situation that's one thing, but I think it's healthy for male and female alike to spend time with 'their own kind'.  

4. What's your favorite spice? Your favorite dish containing your favorite spice?

This is a really tough one for me, since I love spice of every kind. The first thing that popped into my head was basil, and my favorite dish made with basil is a caprese salad. Wait-no it's not, it's Thai Green Curry.  They're not made with the same variety of basil, but I like it all.   

5. I saw this question on Marla's facebook page, and asked if I could
stealborrow it for the Hodgepodge...thanks Marla!

Chevron patterns are everywhere!  Do you like it or think it's a little too much?  Do you own anything 'chevron'?

You know, back in the 70's we had chevron too...we called it zig zag-ha!  I do have one summer dress with a chevron print, and that's enough for me. It's really cute, but I don't think I'd want a whole house or wardrobe filled with the pattern.  A little bit goes a long way.  

6. What's something you disliked as a child, but can fully appreciate now?

Hmmm...brussel sprouts, day trips to Longwood Gardens, my super skinny self, and looking younger than my age.  

7. What can irritate you very quickly?

Slow drivers in the left hand lane...aka the passing lane.  It's called the passing lane because it's meant for passing, not for lallygagging.  In the UK they ticketed drivers for that!

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I love surprises except when I don't. Monday night hubs came home from work and went down to the basement to work out.  Surprise!  The water heater was leaking-ugh. The plumber kindly came out that evening to see what he'd need to order, and by noon on Tuesday the new one was in.  

Happy Birthday Hubs! 

Ha-his birthday is still a couple weeks away, but I like to shop early. 
A shiny, brand-spankin'-new water heater is an okay present, isn't it?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 137

It's that time are this week's questions for the Wednesday Hodgepodge.  Hop back here tomorrow to add your link and join the party.

1. My daughter earned her Master's Degree this past weekend...what's something you've 'mastered' in recent weeks or months?

2. What song most reminds you of your childhood?

3. What do you think about single gender groups and/or events? Should every group/event be open to both genders?  If not, what sort of exceptions do you think are appropriate?

4. What's your favorite spice? Your favorite dish containing your favorite spice?

5.  I saw this question on Marla's facebook page and asked if I could steal borrow it for the Hodgepodge...thanks Marla!  

Chevron patterns are everywhere!  Do you like it or think its just a little too much? Do you own anything 'chevron'?

6.  What's something you disliked as a child, but can fully appreciate now?

7. What can irritate you very quickly?

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Mastered It!

It's Monday, right?  How about a recap of our very full weekend?
Is there any other kind on this side of the pond?

Let's start with trying to get out of town. What a nightmare! Okay, maybe more of a first world problem than a nightmare, but still it was aggravating. We were supposed to fly out at 3 PM on Thursday afternoon, and when I checked the flight status en route to the airport everything was a go.  As hubs was checking the bags we happened to see the word Cleveland on the screen.

Cleveland? As in Ohio? We're not going to Cleveland.

In fact we were going the polar opposite of Cleveland.  Not precisely, but roughly because Cleveland is north and we were traveling south.  Trying to travel south.

I could go on and on (and on and on) about all the rigmarole we encountered, but suffice it to say we did not get out on Thursday night.  Boo. We did get on an early morning flight for Friday, and when they told us that was our only option hubs and I looked at each other and said, "Let's not drive the hour back home only to get up in the middle of the night to come right back."

We checked into a hotel near the airport and headed over to the Ironbound area for dinner. Newark NJ is not a city I'd put on my 'must-see' fact I'd probably tell you to take a wide berth around it, but there is a section of the city known for great eating, called the Ironbound. It's chock a block full of Spanish and Portuguese dining and we thoroughly enjoyed our meal at Fornos of Spain.  If there's one thing we know how to do around here it's how to make lemonade out of lemons.

Sangria and Spanish omelet anyone?

Daughter2 picked us up on Friday morning, and after breakfast drove us out to the school where she'll be teaching. We got to meet the principal who is fabulous, and daughter2 showed us around the school and inside her classroom. Seeing my baby girl sitting in her official teacher's desk made my heart happy. There's nothing quite so special as seeing your child's dreams come true.

Friday night we met up with family downtown for a pre-graduation celebratory dinner, and then met up with more family who had come to town on Saturday for a pre-graduation celebratory lunch.

Our family likes to do everything in a pack...there's a lot of us.
Just ask the boyfriend.

Downtown Greenville South Carolina is one of my favorite places to be. Hubs and I went for a run both mornings we were there, and enjoyed strolling through their fabulous Farmer's Market on Saturday morning.

Falls Park is so pretty....almost makes me like running.


Of course we took pictures on this gorgeous campus which never looks lovelier than with all it's many fountains flowing.

Look at that smile!  

Is it because she's finally finished with grad school? Has a brand new job? Or is it because her favorite boy came to town to celebrate all of the above?  I'm going with C.

Since this was a summertime ceremony, it was much smaller aka shorter,  than the springtime graduations we've attended.  

Not complaining. 
At all.  

This ceremony was held indoors in comfortable seats and air conditioning. There is definitely something to be said for an indoor summertime graduation in the south.

Daughter2 was beaming as she received her Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education. She has always enjoyed school, but she is so ready to get on with the business of teaching.

I think a good teacher is full of passion, full of heart, full of ideas, and full of resolve.  So proud of her accomplishments, and so excited for my girl and the year ahead...

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.  Live the life you have imagined."  
Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Simply The Hodgepodge

You know what they say-time flies when you're having fun, and summer around here is proving that to be true!  Here are my answers to this week's sure to add your link at the end of my post before you hurry off to see what the neighbors had to say-

1. The first week of August is National Simplify Your Life Week...what's one thing you could do this week to qualify as a participant?

I could tackle my office files.  

I won't, but I could....they need reviewing and purging and shredding, but you need to stay home to do that so here's my real answer-

This week I will not spend any time worrying about the files that need reviewing, purging or shredding.   

Ha-turns out there's more than one way to simplify a life!

2. It's also National Peach Month...peach pie, peach cobbler, or please pour me a Bellini? What's your peach pleasure?

Bellinis make me think of Venice, so if I can have mine served at Harry's Bar then count me in. Their Bellinis are famous and the price reflects that, but they are super delizioso.  Plus, you're in Venice so what's not to love? 

3. Eleanor Roosevelt once wrote, "Do one thing every day that scares you."Agree or disagree...explain.

Yeah, I kind of do agree. Doing something that scares you doesn't mean doing something stupid...after all, healthy fear is oftentimes what keeps us alive. I think Mrs. Roosevelt's words remind us to let go of the fears we carry out into the world every day that are not healthy. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, and fear of criticism to name just a few.  

When I try something new, do something outside my imagined comfort zone, put my toe in the water and swim, that's when I grow. Not just in confidence or in knowledge, but also in faith. I don't believe we have to face our fears alone.   

"When I am afraid, I will trust in You." Psalm 56:3...also a good 'quote' to remember.

4. What's your favorite household chore?  Yes, you have to choose one.

I'm stumped.

Does loading the dishwasher count because I'm a master at that?  Not so much a fan of the unloading, but I kind of enjoy the loading. I don't like dishes sitting in the sink so it always feels good to get them in the dishwasher. Hubs has taken to just setting the dishes in there any old way because he knows I'm gonna reorganize it to fit in twice as much as he thinks possible. 

5. Fodor's recently listed (what they've dubbed) the ten most beautiful sunset spots in America. Click here to read more or see pretty pictures, but this is their list...

Butterfly Beach in Santa Barbara CA, Mount Haleakala in Maui HI, Old Fort Marcy in Santa Park Fe NM, Laguna Beach California, Hopi Point in Grand Canyon AZ, Four Seasons in Miami FL, Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica CA, Gay Head in Martha's Vineyard MA, Ensign Peak in Salt Lake City UT, and Mallory Square in Key West Florida.

Have you seen the sun set from any of these spots? If you could choose to watch the sun set from one of the spots on Fodor's list, which would you choose.  Where was the prettiest sunset you've ever seen?

I've seen the sun set from Mallory Square in Key West...pretty sure it's the law of the land down there.   Okay, maybe not the law, but it's a big party come sunset time in Key West.   

I prefer a quieter sunset, more awe and less drunken tourist, so of the ones listed I think I'd choose Santa Fe.  My grandparents lived in New Mexico and my grandfather was a painter who captured the beauty of that state on canvas.  I remember how big the sky felt when we'd visit out was the first place I ever saw a purple sky.  

My most favorite, and definitely some of the world's most beautiful sunsets, are in Marco Island Florida. We've spent a lot of time there and truth be told, the sunsets are part of the draw. When our girls were little we'd tell them to watch closely, because the sun was going to fall into the ocean.  

And it did.  

6. What's your favorite or most used app?  If you don't use apps, how about your favorite or most visited website?

Instagram.  No politics, no bickering, in fact there's not a lot of talk period, just lots of really nice pictures. I'm Daleyshots if you're a fan too.  

7. We've recently passed the halfway mark for 2013...write a seven word sentence that sums up your year thus far.

If you only knew how many times I wrote and re-wrote my sentence to get it down to seven words! Here it is-

Not a lotta blanks in the calendar!

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Sunday was a gorgeous day so hubs and I spent a few hours at the NJ State Fair.  I've been wondering about something we saw there, well lots of things actually, but for starters this-

Has anyone every tried it (the koolaid, not the funnel cake). Isn't koolaid powder? How do they fry powder?  Part of me wishes I'd tried it, and part of me knows there cannot be a single redeeming quality in something called fried koolaid.  Can there?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 136

Here are the questions for this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge.  Answer on your own blog, then hop back here tomorrow to add your link to the party. The more the merrier...

1. The first week of August is National Simplify Your Life Week...what's one thing you could do this week to qualify as a participant?

2. It's also National Peach Month...peach pie, peach cobbler, or please pour me a Bellini?  What's your peach pleasure?

3. Eleanor Roosevelt once wrote, "Do one thing every day that scares you." Agree or disagree...explain.

4. What's your favorite household chore?  Yes-you have to name one.

5. Fodors recently listed (what they've dubbed) the ten most beautiful sunset spots in America. Click here to read more and see the pretty pictures, but this is their list:

Butterfly Beach in Santa Barbara CA, Mount Haleakala in Maui HI, Old Fort Marcy Park in Santa Fe NM, Laguna Beach CA, Hopi Point in Grand Canyon AZ, Four Seasons in Miami FL, Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica CA, Gay Head in Martha's Vineyard MA, Ensign Peak in Salt Lake City UT, and Mallory Square in Key West Florida.

Have you seen the sun set from any of these spots?  If you could choose to watch the sun set this weekend from one spot on the Fodors List, which would you choose?  Where was the prettiest sunset you've ever seen?

6. What's your favorite or most used app?  If you don't use apps how about your favorite or most visited website?

7. We've recently passed the halfway mark for 2013...write a seven word sentence that sums up your year thus far.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Teacher? Why Would You Want To Be A Teacher?

It's a big week in our house, a week where a milestone will be marked and celebrated. A week where family will gather and cheer for a girl so precious to each one of us as she crosses the university stage once more.  She'll don a hood of blue to match her eyes, but also because its the color required for her discipline and graduate degree.

Next week she begins grown up life. Oh, she's been a grown up for a while now, but somehow finishing her Masters Degree and accepting a full time teaching position makes it all feel more official.

When people ask me what my daughter is studying, and I say teaching, I'm generally met with one of several reactions.

Teaching??? I don't know why anyone would want to be a teacher these days!!  

Teaching? How means she'll have summers off.

Teaching? But your daughter is so smart and has so much personality. Shouldn't she be running a company or something?


I know there is much to complain about when it comes to our educational system. I know there are some truly awful teachers out there and some truly lazy teachers too. I also know that for every bad teacher who makes the news, there are fifteen good ones who do not. And isn't that that all the more reason to encourage the best and brightest to become teachers? To fuel their passion instead of trying to squash it? To pursue and recruit those students into the field of teaching instead of pushing them in some other direction?

My daughter2 has always always always wanted to be a teacher. When she was ten years old teaching pretend school in our basement I was teaching real kindergarten. She probably had more lesson plans written out than I did.  She loves and relates well to children of all ages, and she likes them too.  That may sound silly but let's face it, we all know teachers who don't seem to like kids.

My girl is responsible and organized. A wonderful role model for any child. Dependable and a self-starter to the nth degree, plus she's smart. Also strong, compassionate, and brimming with self-confidence.  She loves to plan, and loves it when a plan comes together. More importantly she excels at going to Plan B when a plan does not come together.

Aren't these the qualities we want all teachers to possess?

After learning she 'got the job' my daughter told me her head started spinning. I knew exactly what she meant. People love to comment on 'teacher hours', but what they don't always recognize is the way your students and your vocation are never far from thought.

That inside the head of every good teacher the wheels are always turning. How when you lay down at night you are thinking about the boy in the first row, third seat back who needs some new approach when it comes to reading. Or the mean girl in the second seat, second row, who needs to see in you an example of kindness and compassion.  Or the parent who hovers anxiously outside your door, wanting a tablespoon full of reassurance or maybe a whole bucket load.

My daughter is a new teacher. She won't be perfect, but her effort will be. She knows a lot, but she doesn't know everything. That's the thing about great teachers. They are always learning, always adjusting what they do to meet the needs of their students. They tweak and fuss and read and research. They talk to other teachers. They scour the Internet. They pray.

My daughter pinned something on one of her Pinterest boards recently and I'm sharing it here. I don't know who wrote it, but I know I love it. (You can find a cute printable of the prayer here).
Next time someone tells you they're studying to be a teacher how about you say-Fantastic! The world needs more people like you doing the job.

Once upon a time I was the mom of a third grader. A blonde haired beauty straining to exert her independence, but still needing plenty of snuggle time with her momma. Big blue eyes and a curious mind.

Adventurous. Hilarious. A heart of gold.

first day of third grade circa 1998

She is still that girl.

Dear Parents of soon-to-be third graders-

You are so lucky.  

Love, the teacher's mom