Friday, April 29, 2016


We've spent the whole day out at the lake lot admiring the progress, and also meeting with our builder and the tech guy who will handle wiring for sound, our security system and the central vacuum. We hadn't been to the lot in over a week and it was really fun to discover things have been moving merrily along. 

Y is for Yay! 

We have shingles on the roof-

Sliders in the great room-

Windows in the walls-

And siding has begun on the backside of the house-

Yahoo! Yes! Yay!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

X Marks The Spot

Three letters remain in this year's A-Z Blog Challenge. You can do this! 

X Marks The Spot

Right here. This is the place. The state, the neighborhood, the house that welcomed me home when I became a mother. Can you tell the neighborhood was under construction when we moved in? Ha! I know it's the Midwest, but y'all that tree situation is so sad.

We did not care. I mean that. I was seven months pregnant when we landed in The Buckeye State and approximately one week later became scary sick with toxemia. I spent the next six weeks on my left side while boxes went unpacked and hubs catered to my every whim.

Until he ran out of steam, and then my mom stepped in to save the day.
Mothers have a superpower unlike any other.

On a bright June day the world's happiest baby was born.

Let's discuss this throwback picture Thursday Thirteen Style-

1.  It was Easter.

2.  My bangs! It was the 80's people.

3.  Little girl tights that wrinkle at the ankle.

4.  Black dresser shoes-hers. My girls for some reason always called their black patents 'dresser' shoes.

5.  Hot pink heels-mine. You can't see them in this picture, but I remember them like it was yesterday, and they were fabulous.

6.  Easter bonnets.

7.  Just nine months old here and oh so ready to walk.

8.  She looked waaaay too tiny to be walking.

9.  She was determined.

10. It runs in the family.

11. This picture makes my heart fill all the way up.

12. It reminds me of all the pure sweetness and light she brought into my home and heart one bright June day.

13. And all the days after.

When you smile at your nine month old in her Easter bonnet and fancy dresser shoes you don't think for one single solitary minute you'll ever never ever go 125 days without seeing her up close and in person, yet here you are...125 days away from the last time you saw her up close and in person.

What's remarkable about that is your heart is still whole. You wouldn't have believed it possible back then, but you get it now. You always knew she'd grow up...

You just didn't realize you would too.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Weather Wisdom In The Wednesday Hodgepodge

Welcome to another edition of the Wednesday Hodgepodge. If you're visiting from the A-Z Blog Challenge you'll find my letter W post by scrolling all the way down to question #8. If you've answered the questions today add your link at the end of my post, then go say hi to your neighbor. Hodgepodge links only please!

Here we go-

1. This is the last Hodgepodge in April. Share something you learned this month. 

I still dislike blogging from my iPad.
There's a lot more to the home build category called 'lighting' than just lights.
God can use the weather to remind me He is God. (see #8)

2.  It's National Poetry Month, and we all know you can't escape an April Hodgepodge without a little poetry. Keeping the first line as is, change the rest of the wording in this familiar rhyme to make it your own - 'Hickory Dickory Dock...

Hickory dickory dock
It's mid-life on the clock
Experts said
This season you'll dread
But I'm telling you really it rocks. 

3. What were one or two rules in the home you grew up in? Growing up, did you feel your parents were strict? Looking back do you still see it that way? 

Elbows off the table would be one. My dad said that most nights during dinner to at least one of his offspring. Another would have been more general-obey your parents.  

I don't think mine were overly strict, but I've always liked rules and never had much of a rebellious nature. We did know if Dad got called in to a situation we were in trouble, but mostly I grew up feeling very well-loved. 

4. Tell us about a kitchen or cooking disaster or mishap you've experienced. Do you have many from which to choose? 

I haven't had many noteworthy cooking disasters, but I do have a kitchen story. I could tell you about the time my sister and I started a small fire in the kitchen while my brother was babysitting aka in the den talking on the phone. We were melting butter for popcorn (on the stove because it was 1970 and we had no idea microwaves were in our future) and forgot about it until we came back downstairs and saw the orange glow. 

My brother put it out immediately, but still much shrieking ensued and it was shocking to see how much soot a teeny tiny little pan fire could produce. We did not tell the parents. It seemed like a wise decision at the time, but days later my mom was vacuuming the living room drapes and couldn't figure out where all the 'black dust' was coming from. She had her suspicions because mothers always do. Slowly over time the whole story was told, including the part about how a neighbor one street over had knocked on the back door because he'd seen the flame from his own kitchen. He even checked all the cabinets to make sure there were no stray sparks. God bless good neighbors. 

5. Plant a kiss, plant doubt, plant a tree, plant yourself somewhere...which on the list have you most recently planted? 

Plant yourself seems appropriate. We've have had a spring filled with travel and we're not done yet. 

6. What's your most worn item of clothing this time of year? Are you tired of it? 

My jean jacket which is perfect for springtime weather. Am I tired of it? Never!

7. I'm wrapping up the A-Z Blog Challenge this month and our Hodgepodge lands on letter W. What's one word beginning with W that describes you in some way? How about a word to describe your home, also beginning with W?

Myself? Thats easy-wordy!
My home? Welcoming, or at least I like to think so. 

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Using this space for today's A-Z Blog Challenge-

W is for Weather 

I'm  going to talk about three of  my favorite things today- motherhood, the weather, and Gods amazing grace. 

Back in early April my Daughter1 and her husband took a belated honeymoon to Hawaii. They'd been planning this trip, anticipating the holiday, looking forward to it for months. My son-in-law has very little down time given his profession, and they were so excited for the break. Whenever I'd talk to my daughter about the trip she always always always spoke with tremendous excitement about the weather, how she absolutely could not wait for a solid week of sunshine. And I'm her mom and her happiness matters to me so I started praying about the weather. 

Sometimes Hawaii sees a fair bit of rain, particularly Maui. Hubs had a meeting in HI once where it poured rain all day every day. Plus we lived there when I was a tiny tot and when I'd talk to my own mom we would comment on how much Daughter1 was really really counting on sunshine, and my mom would casually say she remembers it raining there pretty often. 

As the trip got closer I started checking my weather app a little too often and the forecast was not looking stellar. I know the islands can have different weather depending on precisely where you stand, so I used their hotel address and y'all the rain! It was like rain every day, and not a 20% chance, but 80%, 100%. I did not say a word. We all know weather can change so I just kept praying for sunny skies somewhere in their week. This is what mothers do. We hear our children's heart desires and we lift them up in prayer. 

So off they went and every day I would look at my weather app and I'd click on the day and it would say showers. Nothing but showers. The little raindrop icons would fall across the screen and still I would pray for sunshine somewhere sometime. Around Wednesday I started adding a little ps- if its raining every day, may they make the best of it. 

I knew they would, but I also knew how disappointing it would be to travel from the rainy PNW to Hawaii for a full week of rain. And from where I sat, thousands of miles away, with just what my app was telling me, they had rain almost all day every day. My daughter wasn't posting any pictures or texting because she was on holiday, so I could only go by what I could see on the screen. 

The week floated by and after they were safely home she phoned to tell me all about it. After she'd gushed a few minutes about the resort and the food I said, 'Well how was the weather?' And she said-Absolutely gorgeous!! She said she thinks it may have rained one night while they slept, but other than that it was picture perfect. 

 One night? Huh? 

And in that moment I thought of how so many times all we see are those rainy rain drop icons falling across our screen, but behind the scenes God is making something beautiful.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 264

The Hodgepodge is back in action in this last week of April. Answer the questions on your own blog, then hop back here tomorrow to share answers with the Internetters. See you there!

1. This is the last Hodgepodge in April. Share something you learned this month. 

2.  It's National Poetry Month, and we all know you can't escape an April Hodgepodge without a little poetry. Keeping the first line as is, change the rest of the wording in this familiar rhyme to make it your own - 'Hickory Dickory Dock...

3. What were one or two rules in the home you grew up in? Growing up, did you feel your parents were strict? Looking back do you still see it that way? 

4. Tell us about a kitchen or cooking disaster or mishap you've experienced. Do you have many from which to choose? 

5. Plant a kiss, plant doubt, plant a tree, plant yourself somewhere...which on the list have you most recently planted? 

6. What's your most worn item of clothing this time of year? Are you tired of it? 

7. I'm wrapping up the A-Z Blog Challenge this month and our Hodgepodge lands on letter W. What's one word beginning with W that describes you in some way? How about a word to describe your home, also beginning with W?

8. Insert your own random thought here. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Home Stretch

U is for Weekend Update

Honestly I'm hanging on by my fingernails in this A-Z Challenge but we're on the home stretch now and I'm determined to finish.  

That being said I'm not going to strain my brain too much at 10PM on a Monday night, and since Update fits the letter of the day let's do that. It's been a full fun weekend in the Carolinas beginning with Friday night at the opera. 

Some friends from our NJ neighborhood invited us to meet them at the opera in Winston-Salem. Their son is in a post-post grad program and has a phenomenal amount of talent. He had the male lead in Carmen, which is not a happily-ever-after sort of tale, but the music is wonderful and familiar. We drove over from SC on Friday afternoon and met for a pre-show dinner before heading to the UNC School of Performing Arts. Such an enjoyable evening! 

Saturday was all about the furniture shopping which I mentioned in yesterday's post, and once we'd had our fill of that we headed on to Raleigh for the remainder of the weekend. Hubs and I had the most fantastic dinner Saturday night, and yes I am blogging about a meal. It was that good. 

We dined at a place called Death and Taxes which was at one time a mortuary and later a bank, hence the name. There were so many things on the menu I wanted to sample so I'll definitely need to go back. Many of the entrees are made for sharing, which is what we did. Hubs and I started with a charcuterie plate served on some lovely locally made pottery. I think you know I'm all about a pretty dish. 

We shared a fish entree, described on the menu as striped bass, sun choke barigoule vinagraitte, and black olive oil. Oh my I even love the words. We also ordered the asparagus side dish which was the very best I've ever tasted.  I wish there'd been a dessert sampler because I'd have loved to try them all, but we settled on our servers favorite-

Apple crisp with rosemary ice cream and a milk cream poured over all. Milk cream is like a very creamy caramel and it is divine. I would have been happy with a glass of that! The service was just right too. If you're in the Raleigh area, this one is definitely worth a visit. 

Sunday was gorgeous so we ventured out to the Neuse River Greenway and the Falls River Dam. We walked for miles under sunny skies, a picture perfect afternoon.  

Sunday evening we met up with a college friend who lives in the area. She was in our wedding way back when and we haven't been in the same place at the same time in several years. 

It was fun catching up, and I'd mention the delicious meal we enjoyed in a downtown rooftop restaurant, but then you might mistake me for a food blogger. Ha! 

And that was the weekend in a nutshell. Consider yourself updated. When you blog through the alphabet it feels like more than 26 letters. I'm sure you're thinking the same. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Time Passages

I'm a day late and a dollar short in posting Letter T in the A-Z Blog Challenge, but weekend blogging has never been my thing. 

T is for Time

As in I wish I had more of it to write something profound on the subject, but instead let's talk furniture. It's related I promise. Kind of related. In my head it's related. 

Thirty years ago hubs and I purchased our first home. It was a cute three bedroom saltbox style house set in a friendly Virginia cul-de-sac. We'd been married two years and we both had good jobs. What we did not have was furniture, or at least not any decent furniture. 

Times were different then. We were in our mid-20's and like most young marrieds we knew, made do with hand me down sofas and mismatched linens. We were happy and oblivious and we saved for the day we could buy some pretty furniture. 

The house we purchased had something our townhouse did not, and that was a dining room. I will state for the record here that I'm a big big fan of dining rooms. All the trendy talking decorator heads who say people don't use dining rooms anymore will never diminish my affection for a room where meals are shared, holidays are celebrated, conversations are both lively and intimate, and tablescapes lovely.  

There's not a lot of lovely in the world, so let's all have dining rooms and serve meals on pretty dishes, k? 

When hubs and I were discussing house plans this particular room was naturally up for negotiation. In his mind my mind never. Home building requires some compromise, and on this particular point he said okay, let's have a dining room. See paragraph 4. Also, our decorator said nixing the dining room in house design was a thing for a while, but people missed the space and it's not so much a thing anymore. 

I love that my dining room is always clean, not something that can be said of every room in the house. And I don't care if it's only used now and then, I enjoy walking past the dining room and catching a glimpse of delicate china in the cabinet, candles on the table, and cloth napkins set beside a plate.  

Anyway, thirty years ago hubs and I had our very first dining room, but no furniture to fill it. As it happened hubs younger brother and his bride were living in a little town called Highpoint NC, and if you're not familiar with the town of Highpoint all you need to know is it's the furniture capital of America, or one of them anyway.  

In 1986 hubs and I spent a long weekend in Highpoint, visiting his brother and sister-in-law and buying dining room furniture. That furniture has moved with us from Virginia to Ohio to NJ to Maryland to England to NJ and will eventually be at home in South Carolina.

It still makes me happy. 

Flash forward thirty years to 2016 and guess where hubs and I spent the day yesterday? 

Highpoint, NC. 

We're not in the market for dining room furniture, but we do need some bits and pieces for the new house. The store we purchased our dining room set and also a desk for our home office back in 1986 sadly closed it's doors ten years ago, but there are no shortage of places to buy furniture in this town. How could we not stop here? 

The worlds largest furniture store with over a million square feet of showroom and over 1000 brands represented. We spent several hours with a very helpful sales rep sitting on couches, assessing the comfort level of outdoor seating, and learning how to create a kitchen table to perfectly fit the new space. 

It was not overwhelming at all. 

We've been at the home build thing for several months now, so we're accustomed to feeling overwhelmed. Yesterday was what I call our educational visit, and we'll come back once we've revisited the build plans and made certain what we like will actually fit where we think it will go.

I like old furniture. I like antiques and pieces with meaning and history. We'll have some new furniture in the house because there are spaces to fill that didn't need filling in our previous home, but there will be some old favorites too.

If my dining room table could talk the stories she would tell, and honestly I'd love to hear them. Stories about love and family and food and time.

How the years roll by and are marked by memories of family gathered round a table.  

Friday, April 22, 2016

Sit A Spell

S is for Sweet Southern Comfort

Do you have a porch? I'm a little bit obsessed and I blame it on the south. Porches and the south go together like biscuits and gravy, shrimp and grits, home grown tomatoes and a glass of sweet tea. I've had decks and patios and stoops, but never an honest to goodness porch. 

The new house will have a screened in porch, and at one end will be this-

That's a fireplace, or it will be eventually. And I'll have a kitchen door, another minor obsession, to let the light in and keep the bugs out. 

At the opposite end of the porch will be this-

A view of the lake and the great outdoors. 
Y'all come sit a spell! 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Random Thoughts From Home

I think you all know random is my forte, and I've had a busy day so I'm going with what I know in the A-Z Challenge today.

R is for Random Thoughts From Home

Not necessarily about home, but since I'm at home there's your connection. 

Firstly, let's just talk about the darling Prince George. I'm sure by now everyone has seen the picture of him standing beside the Queen, Prince William, and Prince Charles. He always looks like he's up to something with that twinkle in his eye and his big beaming smile. The photograph will be a postage stamp, and that's almost enough of a reason to visit England. I need to write myself a letter and send it back across the pond. 

There's another photo making the rounds too, showing the Queen with all the great grands and her two youngest grandchildren. The little one (Mia) holding the purse is positively too cute for words. I thought they were wonderful photographs and the Queen looks lovely too. 

I saw something today where the creator of Downton Abbey is producing a new program called Jamestown, about the early British settlers in America. I'm looking forward to it because I'm sure it will be well done, and because when hubs and I lived in Virginia we visited the Jamestown settlement. We both remember it well because my parents were with us, and as we were leaving my dad drove down the road going the wrong way. As in heading for oncoming traffic, which thankfully there wasn't much of, and hubs mentioned it to him in a casual offhand way, and my dad moved to the correct lane and all was well. 

The word Jamestown cannot be mentioned here without my girls telling the tale of our own version of the settlement. It started off as Daughter1's fifth grade social studies project. She and a friend were to create a model of the settlement and they were busy working away in the garage with toothpicks and clay and their own ideas, struggling a little to make it come together, but giving it all they had. The dads popped in to see how it was going and I think you know how this ends. Hubs likes to say he got an A. 

Yesterday Daughter2 stopped by after school and we had tea on the balcony. It was a beautiful sunny day, and our balcony sits back a bit so it was the perfect temperature. We had a long leisurely chat and Daughter1 facetimed us which is the next best thing to being there. 

Few things say home to me more than an afternoon cup of tea with my girls. 

I drink a cup of tea almost every afternoon. When we moved to England I remember thinking it was odd that people asked for hot tea on warm summer afternoons. I'm sure they found the idea of  tea poured over ice every bit as strange, and I fully adopted their way of thinking. I drink hot tea no matter what the thermometer says. 

Hubs and I are meeting some NJ neighbors tomorrow evening. They're headed south to see their very talented son perform in the opera Carmen, and since we're practically in the neighborhood we're going too. 

Neighborhood is a term we use very loosely on this side of the pond. 

I've only seen one opera in my life and that was Romeo and Juliet, sung expertly in Italian in the Verona coliseum under a starry night sky. It was completely magical...

And also my birthday. 

We're looking forward to seeing friends from tinytown NJ and catching up in person. Next week I'm having dinner with one of my bridesmaids, a college friend I haven't seen in a number of years, and I'm excited to catch up with her too. I'm also having lunch with a blog friend next week, our first time to meet in person but of course I feel like I know her.  

I guess that's enough random for one day. There's a lot of that other R word happening round here lately (real life) and I need to get back to it.  Happy weekend everyone! 

Thursday is the weekend, right? 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


Just a reminder for those of you here looking for the Wednesday Hodgepodge, we're on Spring Break today, but will be back next week-April 27th.  In the meantime,  I'm back on track with the A-Z Blog Challenge...

Q is for Quietude

Hubs and I went out to the lot late yesterday afternoon to meet with the builder and discuss (again) some electrical stuff and of course stuff always leads to more stuff and before you know it, the clock is heading towards 7 PM and I just cannot deal.

I think I've mentioned here a time or ten how I feel about 'stuff', and does anyone else remember when figuring out how to have music in your house was a simple matter of plugging in a radio?

Excuse me while I satisfy my need for quietude. 

When we're at the house and I feel overwhelmed by all the decisions,  I sometimes step out here and regroup-

The covered deck, which isn't actually a deck yet but is well on it's way.  The ceiling is peaked and stretches 18 feet high, the view is wide, and the trees are tall. As I stood there yesterday it occurred to me that in every home we've ever owned I've sought out the quiet spaces. 

We've lived around large cities most of our married life, but never actually in the large city. Hubs and I both love big cities and enjoy taking advantage of all they have to offer, but we're country mice at heart. 

I like living in the middle of blooming things. Growing things. Nature. Birds and bees and rocks and trees. Small towns where people drive annoyingly slow and deer graze in the yard and clouds float by unhurried on a sunny summer day. 

Where poppies turn their faces to the sun and red maples burst into flame.

Where birthday parties and babies bloom. 

Where come October the trees turn gold and a red-tailed hawk watches from on high. 

Where sunlight dances on the water and blue heron wade beside the shore. 

Where a walk in the woods is possible every single day.

Where nearby mountaintops can be reached with your own two feet. 

Where hummingbirds hum and koi swim smoothly beneath the purple iris.

Where you learn flowers and people both grow in gardens.

Where sunsets are a purple shade of pink and marshmallows roast under a starry night sky.

If you need me I'll be on the deck...

...embracing the quietude of home. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

How's Your PMA?

Well I could make myself crazy by skipping two letters in the A-Z Blog Challenge or I could make myself crazy trying to go back now and write three posts. I choose option one.

We had a busy day on Saturday filled with company and going and doing, and then I wasn't feeling well Sunday-Monday, so I'm going to settle for N + O =NO post for those two letters, and jump back into the alphabet with today's letter-P. Believe me it's better this way. You get 1000 words instead of 3000. Something like that.

Also, a reminder there will not be a Wednesday Hodgepodge link up this week, because obviously I need a break. The Hodgepodge will return next week-April 27th.

Okay, jumping back on the A-Z Blog Challenge train now...

P is for Positive Mental Attitude

I have camp friends who read my blog, and no matter where those friends may be when they read my post title, they're all responding with the appropriate Boy Are We Enthusiastic! 

Way back when I worked as a camp counselor, and even before that when I was a camper, if there was some activity we might be less than excited to take part in, the staff member in charge would shout into the megaphone-'How's Your PMA?' and we would reply with, 'Boy are we enthusiastic.' 

Generally said the first time without a lot of enthusiasm.  

If we did not show enough enthusiasm in our response the person with the megaphone would ask again, a little bit louder, 'HOW'S YOUR PMA???' and then again a little bit louder, 'HOW'S YOUR PMA???' and we'd get louder in our response, and before you knew it you were laughing and feeling a little bit excited about something you didn't want to do five minutes before. 

This mantra has come in handy in home building and in life, even if I only say it in my head. A positive mental attitude helps when you're moving or you think you're moving or you're wishing you weren't moving or you're building a house and it's taking a sweet forever. When it rains buckets and you need dry land or your builder calls and says your bathtub selection is too wide or your accountant calls in the middle of it all and says you need to send another bajillion to the IRS. 

How's your PMA? 
Boy are we enthusiastic! 

Building from scratch isn't all fun and games. There are parts of the process that could be described as fun, parts of the process where you feel a tremendous amount of excitement. And then there are a good many parts of the process where you feel something less than enthusiasm for all you've taken on. Where you question why you didn't just buy something already built and move in. 

Where you spend a full day debating whether you need more dirt less rock or more rock less dirt and should the driveway come another 1/16 of an inch to the left or the right and at the end of it all you kind of want to snap at the person you love best. It's precisely that moment, when you're frustrated or tired or overwhelmed by all the decisions all the time that it helps to ask, 'How's my PMA?'. 

In my head I shout. 

And I smile because summer camp is good for lots of things, but one thing for sure it teaches you is doing things that are not your favorite with a PMA makes those tasks more pleasant. True when scrubbing a toilet, and just as true when you find yourself spending four tedious hours with an electrician making 1001 small decisions. 

Whistle while you work. 
The sun'll come out tomorrow.
Put on a happy face. 
A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down. 


Friday, April 15, 2016

All Roads Lead Home

More A-Z Blog Challenge here today...

In our almost 32 years of married life hubs and I have lived in two apartments, one townhome, one rented home, five purchased homes, and we're currently building a house. Ten cities, seven states, two countries and a partridge in a pear tree.

M is for Moving

The words moving and home go together, or at least they do when you're us. We've moved a lot and when people hear we've moved a lot they react. I thought today would be a good day to talk about some of the common pronouncements people make when it comes to moving.  

'Oh I could never move like that.'

Yes you COULD. You might not want to move, but you can move. There are of course a few exceptions, poor health being one, but on the whole people who say this to me don't want to move because they like their life the way it is thank you very much.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

I get it, I really, really do. Perhaps no one understands the emotional attachment we form with our homes and our towns and our people more so than a person who has moved several times.

Ask me how many times I've wanted to move.
On the front end? None.
In hindsight? Every time.  

Our moves for the most part have been job transfers or promotions so we had a lot of practical help in terms of relocation assistance. In the end though, it's still you picking up your entire life and setting it down someplace else. Your life won't look the same and you won't be the same which is neither good nor bad. It's what you make it. You may have no say in where you move next and you may have no say in when you move next, but you have all the say in how you see it.

There is no escaping knowing yourself a little bit better with every move you make. 

You can write that in pen. 

'I could never leave my (family, friends, church, job, place where I grew up) fill in the blank.'  

Wrenching. The first word that springs to mind when I think of moving from a place I love or a neighborhood/church/town where I've set down roots. I've cried in every driveway I've pulled away from.  We're moving to Ohio? Whaaaaa! We're leaving Ohio? Whaaaaa!  There are friends and churches and jobs waiting for you everywhere you roam. You don't want to admit it when you're being crow-barred out of a place, but that doesn't make it any less true.

Family is a different kettle of fish. My family is my family and whether I'm one mile away or a thousand they're constant and solid because they're my family. Figuratively they never move. Hubs and I both say one of the best gifts our parents gave us was the gift of wings. Go, do, be, grow, explore, see, learn..but don't forget who grew you up. 

The idea of missing someone or something is interesting to me. Missing somehow makes a person or place more dear to me. Sometimes leaving something or someone behind forces you to look it in the eye and acknowledge how very important it is to you. I take less for granted and treasure what's left behind more deeply than if I'd never said goodbye.

'Why would you want to leave here?'

Well a lot of times you don't want to leave here. But you're a grown up and your husband's job says we want you there, which means you have to leave here. 

'We'd like to move, but need to wait until our kids are out of high school.'

I'm just going to tell you this one is not true. I know people think it is and I hear it a lot, but kids are absolutely full of surprises. Be willing to consider the alternative. Moving your teenagers in the middle of high school might be one of the best things you ever do for them. It is completely possible.

The thing about moving is you don't know what's on the other side until you're on the other side. From the front end it's all one big blurry question mark. Will my child make friends? make the wrong friends? make the football team? is there a football team? will they become withdrawn? rebellious? angry? sad?

Will they hate me? Will they forgive me?

First of all parents everywhere ask themselves these questions, move or no move, so don't lose perspective. Some behaviors might be attributed to a move, and some you need to chalk up to the highs and lows of ordinary teenage life.

Parents, and moms in particular I think, have so much power here. You might hate this new house with a passion, you might not be able to find your way around this new town, you might be feeling a little bit insecure in the new friends department yourself, but put on a happy face for the sake of your children.

I know some people will say that's phony or not being real somehow, but in my experience if you look for the bright spots, if you view this new situation as an adventure rather than a punishment, you will one day wake up and actually feel the happy face you've pretended to feel. It won't do anyone any good if mom lays on the couch all afternoon eating ice cream from the tub.

Come up with a plan. Join something. Get out of the house. Exercise. Explore your new city together. As the parent you might need to extend yourself somewhere in order to meet other parents with similar aged kids so you can invite them all over for a 'play date'.

Moms in new cities need play dates every bit as much as their teens.

I'm not by any means saying don't acknowledge your kids unhappiness, but don't dwell on it either. And no matter how they choose to remember their previous home/school/relationships those were likely not all roses all the time either. Sometimes it helps to gently remind them of that.

Sometimes you need to remind yourself  too.

'There's no where in the world I'd rather live.' This place is perfect.'

Ha. I love my friends who think where they live is perfect. I have lived in several perfect places now. Just sayin'. 

'You're crazy/restless/brave.'

Only when I have to be. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Bless My Heart

Still workin' the A-Z Blog Challenge...

L is for Light-en Up

Y'all. I spent four hours this afternoon selecting lights for the new house. Four hours. That was on top of the four hours spent last week doing a walk through with the electrician.

Bless my heart.

I knew this would likely be the most stressful of the stresses, I mean selections. Let's just say we wrapped it up with a margarita which is how all new home lighting selections need to conclude.

Bless my heart.

Last Friday we met our electrician, Bob the Builder, and Mrs. Bob the Builder at the lot for a walk through. As we were en route hubs casually mentions the builder told him they'd spent six hours with another client the week before doing their electrical walk through. I looked at him with a great deal of naivete, and said, 'Six hours!' That's crazy! How can it possibly take six hours???'

Bless my heart.

For some reason I imagined the electrical walk through was all about where we want/need lighting. 'Tis that, and so much more. It's also about precisely where you want the switches for said lighting. And do you want those switches on the left side of the wall or the right side of the wall? The wall that isn't even a wall yet, so imagine the wall is there and decide if you'll want to hit a switch left or right. And what exactly will each and every switch control?

When you enter your house from the garage do you want to have to walk across the room to turn on a light? No. Okay, so which lights should come on then when you enter from the garage? Do you want all the lights in the room to come on or just the chandelier? Dimmer or no dimmer? Recessed lighting plus an actual light or just recessed lighting? How many cans? Where will you plug in your computer in the office that's not yet an office?  What wall will the TV sit on? How will you arrange the furniture and will you you need an outlet in the floor of your great room?

Bless my heart.

Today was Phase II. Hubs and I met our decorator at the lighting showroom and not gonna lie...we gave each other a pep talk as we made our way there. Deep breaths. It will be overwhelming. Let's stick to our budget. Seriously, let's stick to our budget. Deep breaths. We can do this. Then you walk in and see this-

And that's just the teeniest bit of the showroom, a miniscule amount of what's on display. Let's not even discuss all the catalog options.

Bless my heart.

We started off without too much trouble, selecting lighting to hang beside our front door. We knew what we were looking for, the very helpful sales rep found two or three choices, and we chose. Whoohoo! Go us! A couple of lights in and we're feeling pretty pleased with ourselves. Ha!

We moved into the showroom and the decorator and I landed on the most fabulous chandelier we knew would be perfect in my dining room. Hubs took a little convincing so we set it aside and moved on to the chandelier for the great room. I took a little convincing so we moved on to lighting for the kitchen island. Back to the dining room. Back to the great room. No forget that first option, let's now do this light in the kitchen. Does it come in oiled bronze? Smaller? Bigger? Yes we love the dining room. That chandelier will be fabulous in the great room. If that's going in the great room let's put this in the foyer. Wait, what about the kitchen? Back to our first love, and BAM! Settled.

All that was left after that were all the bathrooms, closets, laundry room, office, lower level great room, garage, porches, and oh yes, ceiling fans.

Bless my heart.

At one point between the second pass at the dining room chandelier and the third go round with the kitchen lighting hubs got on his phone and began furiously texting the builder to come rescue him. No dice, but I did promise a margarita if when we finally wrapped it up, and he re-joined the game. Also, I'm in love with my dining room chandelier in the same way I love beautiful pottery. Looking at it makes me smile.

Remember when lighting was for light? Well lighting is art now, and while the recessed lighting shines enough to let you know you've grabbed an onion not an apple, the rest is for looking pretty.

And that's okay because I like pretty.
Bless my heart.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Indulging in The Hodgepodge

Welcome to another edition of the Wednesday Hodgepodge. If you're visiting from the A-Z Blog Challenge you'll find my post on Letter K by scrolling down to question #8.

For all you Hodgepodgers here today, please note we'll be on Spring Break next week. I need a breather about this time every April, so thanks for understanding. There will not be any Wednesday Hodgepodge next week, April 20th. The Hodgepodge will be back in action the following week, April 27th. 

The A-Z will be here all month long though, which I guess is why they call it a Challenge.

Okay, back to the here and now...this week's questions and my answers. If you've played along today add your link at the end of my post, then go say hi to your neighbor.

1. What's the last thing you did that could be described as 'taxing'? 

Hmmm...I'm going to say coming up with Hodgepodge questions and a post for the letter J on Tuesday, followed by answering the Hodgepodge questions and coming up with something for the letter K today. 

2.  If you cold plant a garden of anything, what would be in it? 

I'd love to have a whole big bed of purple iris. 

3.  April 10-16 is National Library Week...will you celebrate with a visit to your nearest library? When did you last make a trip to the library? What are you reading right now? What's one title on your want-to-read list? 

I still love the library. I love browsing the shelves and checking out real books, so yes I'll make a trip there this week. I was actually there yesterday returning a book. I'm currently reading The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr, but I just finished a book I absolutely loved-My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman. You can read a short synopsis by clicking on the title link. So good!!

I have a very long to-read list that I add to almost daily. One near the top right now is The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. 

4. Share a saying or an old wives tale you heard while growing up, you believed to be true or that you paid attention to 'just in case'. 

Chicken soup cures the common cold. It might not cure it, but it definitely helps! 

5. Are you a fan of onions? Garlic? Ginger? What's a dish you love that contains one, two or all three items listed? 

Yes please. I like all three and I love Thai food which typically features any or all on the list.

6. Where does nurturing end and indulging begin? What are some skills or qualities you think a person needs to posses in order to be viewed as mature?

I wanted my children to grow up with the expectation they would work for what they wanted in life. I also wanted them to understand there's a difference between needing something and wanting something, a message I think is contrary to what society tells them. When we begin protecting our children from the consequences of their own actions, their laziness, poor planning or lack of planning, we've become indulgent. 

A mature person is someone who sees a job through to completion, even the parts of the job they don't particularly love. They can admit when they're wrong, handle constructive criticism, and they don't hold a grudge over small slights. Maturity means you pay bills before buying that new iPad, and in general take responsibility for your own actions.  

7. What leading figure in any field would you like to hear speak, and why?

This is a hard question...Bill Gates, Rick Steves, Thomas Sowell, Condoleeza Rice, Peyton Manning. I'm sure there's loads I can't think of right now. 

8.  Insert your own random thought here. 

Using this space again today for my A-Z Blog Challenge post...

K is for The Keeping Room

Do you love your kitchen? Is the kitchen the heart of your home? I've always spent a lot of time in my kitchen because I like reading cookbooks, preparing meals, and in general enjoy the conversations that seem to happen so naturally in that particular room of the house. 

When my girls are home we spend a lot of time in the kitchen. We chop, we stir, we cook. We drink hot tea brewed in pretty cups and solve all the problems of the world. Washington could use a cozy kitchen, don't you think? 

Hubs and I spent a whole day at the cabinet makers and made two trips to the appliance shop to get the kitchen just right. Then hubs made a third trip to add another piece to the puzzle and then later still I made a phone call to change my oven from gas to electric. 

Initially I'd opted for a gas cooktop/gas oven, but after talking to real cooks I decided to go with what I know and choose a gas cooktop with an electric oven. Like everything else in a home build, there are a bajillion decisions to be made when it comes to selecting appliances, plus it feels a little like a shell game...if you buy range x you get dishwasher y for free, but if you buy refrigerator A you get range hood B for free. Huh? And our microwave is a drawer not a cabinet, which is one trend that makes sense. 

My new home will also have what's called a keeping room. The name originated back in Colonial Times, but essentially it's just an extension of the kitchen offering some extra space for cozy conversation. In Colonial times it was a necessity since heat from the kitchen helped make the space warm, but that's not so much an issue in 2016, especially in South Carolina. 

Still we'll have a fireplace and a couple of comfortable chairs, and I like to imagine hubs and I will sip our coffee there on cool winter mornings. I don't have a photograph of the space, and it's still unfinished so not sure a picture would help much anyway, but here's what I call my 'washing dishes view'. Minus the cross bar of course, and with actual glass in the frames. 

I know I post too many pictures of the view y'all, but until the house is built it's all I've got. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Summer of '69

J is for Jacks. 
And Joy. 

For some reason when I thought about today's letter in the A-Z Blog Challenge, the first thing that popped into my head was the game of Jacks. Did you play Jacks when you were a kid? Do kids still play Jacks?

My sister and I played Jacks. We'd sit on the concrete sidewalk in front of our house and toss that tiny rubber ball into the air as we frantically tried to scoop up jacks before the ball returned to earth. Onsies, twosies, threesies...

We jumped rope too, which was always better with three people because then two could turn the rope while another tried to jump in without stumbling. We knew a lot of jump rope rhymes and would sing-say them as we jumped. 'Cinderella dressed in yella, went to the ball to meet her fella, how many kisses did she get-1-2-3...

We drew hopscotch patterns on the driveway in chalk, then found a small stone to toss on a square as we took turns hopping. In 1969 hopping on the driveway was enough to keep a nine year old from feeling bored.

I won't say we were never bored, because I can remember whining, "I'm bo-red". My mom would usually suggest something, and sometimes we'd take her idea and run with it. Sometimes we'd whine a bit more until she'd say, 'Go outside and play' and then we'd head outside to figure it out.

We did not lack for imagination.

When hubs and I were dating my older sister and I had dinner with his family one evening, and somehow she got started telling about how my younger sister and I loved to play a game called Naugahyde. Everybody in hubs family looked at her with a blank stare, because they couldn't figure out what sort of childhood game involved a faux leather finish. She went on to explain that Naugahyde was a monster, the meanest scariest monster that ever lived. He chased little girls who would run from that mean scary monster, shrieking at the tops of their lungs.

We loved to run and shriek and scare ourselves silly.

I have no idea where we came up with the name Naugahyde. I'd say maybe we watched too much television, except in 1969 there wasn't too much television to be watched. We also ran from a witch named Madam Snickasnee, an undersea creature from The Black Lagoon, and the Nazis. Please don't judge too harshly, because while we didn't watch much television we did read books and then re-enacted the stories in our own backyard.

We played H-O-R-S-E with our across the street neighbor friends because they had a basketball goal and we did not.

We sat on swing sets and pumped our legs as hard as they would go, thinking maybe just maybe if we pumped hard enough we could send that swing all the way round.

We tightened metal skates over inexpensive tennis shoes with a key worn on a string around the neck.

We rode bicycles.

We put on plays.

We sold koolaid using a small table and a homemade sign set at the end of our drive. I remember the thrill of an older neighbor girl giving us a quarter and saying keep the change. In 1969 keeping the change was pretty exciting stuff.

We sorted marbles, made trades, sorted some more.

We dashed through sprinklers on hot summer days, then later spread our towels on the pavement to warm ourselves on the steamy cement. We ate popsicles on the curb so the juice could drip into the street and leave us with cherry mustaches and contented smiles.

We set up elaborate games of Barbies under the big tree out back, and there was always someone who wanted to quit as soon as you got everyone dressed.

We made clover chain necklaces and perfected our cartwheels on the front lawn.

We hunted dragons in the clouds and talked about whatever eight and nine year old little girls talked about in 1969. When I look back that's so often where I see us...lying on the green green grass of home in the sacred land of in between. Where everything felt possible because we didn't know it wasn't.

Where your heart felt full of something you couldn't name, but you know now is Home.

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 263

If you're visiting from the A-Z Blog Challenge, my post for letter J will be up later today.  

Here are the questions to this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog, then hop back here tomorrow to share answers with the universe.

1. What's the last thing you did that could be described as 'taxing'?

2. If you could plant a garden of anything, what would be in it?

3. April 10-16 is National Library Week...will you celebrate with a visit to your nearest library? When did you last make a trip to the library? What are you reading right now? What's one title on your want-to-read list?

4. Share a saying or an old wives tale you heard while growing up, you believed to be true or that you paid attention to 'just in case'?

5. Are you a fan of onions? Garlic? Ginger? What's a dish you love that contains one, two or all three items listed?

6.  Where does nurturing end and indulging begin? What are some skills or qualities you think a person needs to posess in order to be viewed as mature?

7. What leading figure in any field would you like to hear speak, and why?

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Hurry Up and Wait

When it comes to the A-Z Blog Challenge, better late than never works for me...

I is for Impatience

Here's a tip-if you're in a hurry, building a home from the ground up may not be for you. Buying a 'used' home comes with it's own set of stresses and pressures, but typically with an already constructed home, you have a timeline and everyone involved in the process works toward the anticipated settlement date. And normally you're handed the keys somewhere in the ballpark of the date originally set.

Sure there can sometimes be delays because no real estate transaction is without a hiccup or two, but  those delays are usually measured in days, not weeks. A from scratch build is a bit different. When we discussed our timeline with the builders we interviewed each one felt construction would take between 8-10 months. Then we talked to several people who've been through the process and they all laughed and said, 'Add another month or two and you might be somewhere close.' 

So a year. You need to figure one whole complete entire year. 

There are so many things you can't control in a home build, and if you're control freaks (hello, have you met us??) then construction can become a test of sorts. Impatience bubbles up now and then (11 straight days of rain in October coinciding with the foundation dig springs to mind), but mostly we're both rolling with this new way of living. 

Rule number one in a home build-you cannot control the weather. 

Rule number two-don't let rule number one make you crazy. 

Then there's the crew, the various construction people essential to making that giant hole in the ground your new house. Here's how that sometimes unfolds...the foundation pour is scheduled and the rough plumbing is scheduled and the framers are scheduled, followed by more plumbing, electricians, HVAC guys, roofers, dancing monkeys, etc. Everybody's on the calendar and everybody's happy. 

Everybody's also counting on the crew before them accomplishing their part of the project as scheduled. Insert foul weather. The foundation guy can't dig and the concrete guy can't pour because it's monsooning which means the rough plumbing needs to be pushed back which means the framers will have to wait and on and on they fall. Like dominoes. 

Rule number three-When your contractors fall like dominoes stack 'em back up and carry on. 

I haven't even mentioned the paper pushers. Stuff has to be inspected before more stuff can happen (y'all know I don't care about 'stuff' unless it's good stuff like cabinets and paint chips right?) Before the lot is cleared someone official has to come say yes those trees can fall. The septic system requires an inspection before the foundation is poured. Rough plumbing needs to be signed off and more. Everyone has calendars that need adjusting and re-scheduling when timing doesn't go as planned. 

Rule number four-Use a pencil when filling out your calendar.  

Finally there's the unexpected. If I knew what to tell you here it wouldn't be unexpected, but just know every build has something. In our case we needed to add a small but unplanned retaining wall on one side of the driveway which meant the stone guy had to come take a look, give us a price, and do the actual work. 

Rule number five- Enjoy the process, but take a break from it now and then.

It's easy to be all house all the time, but remember it's a year and lots of life is lived in a year. Enjoy that too. 

"Patience is also a form of action."-Auguste Rodin