Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Balancing The Hodgepodge

Welcome to this week's edition of The Wednesday Hodgepodge. If you've answered today's questions add your link at the end of my post, then leave a comment for the blogger linking before you. We're all about keeping things friendly here on This Side Of The Pond-


1. Where do you go when you need some inspiration?

My back porch. Or outdoors somewhere. There's something about being outside that shakes the cobwebs free and helps me refocus. I also enjoy reading something well written, sometimes music does it too. 

2. What's under your bed?

Absolutely nothing. Well maybe a little dust but besides that absolutely nothing. 

3. Thursday, February 22nd is National Chili Day, National Margarita Day, and National Cook a Sweet Potato Day. Of the three which would you most like to celebrate? Is that likely?

Since I'm answering this question at 8 o'clock in the morning none of the the options sound too appealing. I'd probably enjoy celebrating Margarita Day the most because a margarita feels celebratory. No plans for that this week, and since I made chili over the weekend I guess cooking a sweet potato is the most likely. 

4. What are you 'snowed under' with right now?

I'm not really snowed under but I do have two or three things that need my attention and I guess they might qualify. Taxes spring instantly to mind. 

5. Tell us three to five things that make you feel balanced?

My morning quiet time, prayer, being on the water or really anywhere outdoors where there's some sort of natural beauty, journaling, and having my family all gathered round the table sharing a meal. 

6. Insert your own random thought here.

I feel like this week's Hodgepodge is a bit ho-hum, so in keeping with that theme let's talk about the weather. My daughter in Washington State laughs when I dare mention gray skies because she knows gray skies, but maybe it's because we typically have so many blue sky days that the gray seem more pronounced? 


On the bright side (because there always is one)... it's not snow. And what I really love about this time of year is that peek into spring we're given every now and then. 

Sunday for example-


Sunday was glorious and perfect for porch sitting with my people. 
Come on spring! 



Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 342

Here are the questions to this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog, then hop back here tomorrow to add your link to the party. See you there!


1. Where do you go when you need some inspiration?

2. What's under your bed?

3. Thursday, February 22nd is National Chili Day, National Margarita Day, and National Cook a Sweet Potato Day. Of the three which would you most like to celebrate? Is that likely?

4. What are you 'snowed under' with right now?

5. Tell us three to five things that make you feel balanced?

6. Insert your own random thought here.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Five Minutes of Why

I'm linking up with Five Minute Friday today and here's the drill-Kate posts a one word prompt, you set your timer and write for five minutes flat, no editing or over thinking.


I'll be honest here and say these prompts lend themselves to deep thought and I often struggle to articulate deep thought in just five minutes. I need more like five hundred to make my point, but still I try. I like the way this exercise stretches me and often forces me to examine my faith and put what I see there into words. I especially love seeing all the many directions in which writers run with a single word.

Obviously I haven't started my timer yet-ha!

Today's prompt-why

When my girls were little instead of asking why they used to ask "how becomes?" I don't know exactly when and how this came to be, but instead of asking why it was always "Mommy how becomes I can't go outside and play?" or "How becomes Poppie lives in heaven instead of here with us?" or "How becomes your hair is brown and mine is different?"

I think maybe the phrase came about because when they asked a question I answered, and my answer almost always began with the word because. How becomes was an extension of that.

I remember the innocence of my children, their curiosity, their sense of feeling safe in the world. Bad things happened but they were mostly shielded from them. It's a different world in 2018 with everything on display all day every day. Fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, violence of the human kind...no place sacred, no place safe.

How becomes the world is such a mess?

Well that's a tough one. A question for the ages really because a messy world is nothing new. When my children were small and they'd ask a tough question quite often my answer was simply this-'Because Mommy says so'. Small children are most of the time more than okay with that answer. In fact it was the answer they were looking for. They don't need details, they just need to know someone bigger is in charge.

We're all small children when evil looms large in our newsfeeds and our school buildings, our churches and movie theatres and on and on it goes.

Someone bigger is in charge.

Every time something tragic occurs I'm reminded this earth is not my home. That I'm a traveler in an imperfect world, and that God has something infinitely better planned. That He knows the end from the beginning and we only see in part.

For those who don't acknowledge the existence of God that all sounds trite and convenient, like you're taking the easy way out. Except it's not easy. It's not easy to look at a world gone mad and say something better is coming.

So how becomes I believe it?

Because God has promised that very thing and He has never ever failed to keep His word.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Thursday Things

Let's discuss some random things because that's what Thursday blogging is for, right? Sometimes random isn't that interesting, but nine years of blogging has taught me you can't predict what people will latch on to and say 'hey I feel the same'. That's one of my favorite things about writing and partly why I enjoy it so much.

First! Let's pause and give the weather it's due. 70 degrees in the middle of February feels absolutely fabulous. I almost feel like I could get in the lake today, except the lake temp isn't quite 70. Soon though!

Keep calm and winter on.

And by winter I mean 70 degree Thursdays.

We had a nice Valentine's Day yesterday. When you wake up to skies that look like this it's really hard not to feel the love-


Also, when you're this boy's Nana, but I digress-


I had a doctor's appointment in the morning then worked on our tax organizer a little in the afternoon, but still...a nice day. Hubs and I relaxed before dinner with a yummy cheese tray and a glass of bubbly while we listened to power ballads from the 1980s. Shoutout to the Wednesday Hodgepodge for inspiring our Pandora search.

On Tuesday of this week Daughter2 came out to the house for dinner and I helped her make slime for her kindergarten class. Technically I was making dinner while she was making slime, but it was more of a project than she'd anticipated so I helped.


I'm a bit of a messy cook and she's a bit of a messy cook and there was glitter (shhh...don't tell hubs!) but we finally got 'er done.


Excellent teachers are such a gift. They're always thinking about what they can do to help students learn-grow-feel valued. When they're not at school they're thinking about school and I'm not sure that's always recognized and appreciated the way it should be. Teachers are called upon these days for so very much and if you don't understand that you're not watching the news.

We've had Daughter2's dog with us all week and hubs and I have enjoyed walking the neighborhood trails with her. So pretty in the woods right now.


Did I mention it's 70 degrees today???


Who's watching the Olympics? What are you loving most? I think the US pairs skating duo (Alexa and Chris Knierim) are adorable and I'm a little bit surprised at how much I've enjoyed the snowboarding competitions, male and female both.

I think it's kind of funny the way the commentators talk about the medal categories. Like anything less than gold is just eh. Speaking as someone who can't climb down a step ladder without a trip to the ER I think silver and bronze are pretty great too.

I had to run in the drug store for one thing this week and who else has a hard time peeling themselves away from the drug store? I love the mix of random merchandise...makeup, greeting cards, holiday treats....it's hard for me to run in for 'just one thing'.

Tomorrow is Friday and I'm determined to participate in the Five Minute link up (here), no matter the word prompt. These last few prompts have been doozies and felt too deep for my winter brain so I've
chickened out passed. Tomorrow's the day though. I mean it can't be all random nonsense round here now, can it?

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Hodgepodge Heart To Heart

Happy Valentine's Day! What better way to celebrate than with the Wednesday Hodgepodge? If you've answered this week's questions add your link at the end of my post then leave a comment for the blogger linking before you. Share the love!



1. When's the last time you had a heart to heart talk with someone? A change of heart? Experienced figurative 'heart failure?'

A heart to heart? Daughter2 was home with us last weekend and whenever she's home we love to sit with a cup of tea and have a good heart to heart. Last weekend was no different. 

Nothing springs to mind in terms of a change of heart and I haven't experienced figurative heart failure lately. Although watching some of these Olympic skiers, snowboarders, lugers wipe out might fall into that category. 

2. Champagne, chocolates, flowers...what's your Valentine pleasure? Any special plans for the day?

I rate fresh flowers in the house as one of life's best simple pleasures. I especially love being surprised by a bouquet for no reason. That being said hubs often buys flowers on Valentine's Day and that makes me happy too. 

We prefer to dine at home on Valentine's Day and generally will cook something together. We'll sip champagne and we might even dance in the kitchen just because we can. We shopped for dinner today and there will be dark chocolate on the menu too. 

I still enjoy sending a few cards and sent one to my mom and my mother-in-law and also my girls and of course our little mancub too. All the heart eyes for that little guy today and everyday. 

3. Are you a hopeless romantic or do you fall more in the category of practical and pragmatic? What's a gesture you find romantic?

I'm romantic, but not hopelessly so. I took a little quiz online (here) and we know those are completely accurate, right? I scored 83/100 which is pretty close to hopeless. A gesture I find romantic? My hubs cleans the shower and runs the vacuum without me saying a word. What's more romantic than that??? I find an unexpected thoughtful gesture-gift-outing really romantic. A gesture that shows there's some thought and planning behind it is really romantic.

4. Do you ask a lot of questions in life or are you pretty content with what you already know?

Oh I ask a lot of questions. Nobody's surprised are they? I bet this question made hubs laugh. 

5. Your favorite power ballad?

Now this is a toughie. Pretty sure you have to go back to the 80's to get the best of the best. I'm not good at the 'choose one' questions, but if I must I'll say this one- I Want To Know What Love Is by Foreigner. Lou Gramm's soulful voice never gets old. 

6. Insert your own random thought here.

We put a bunch of bulbs in the ground last fall and I was so excited to see some of them popping up this week. It's not too early is it? 


I don't think it's too early here, plus they're barely popping. I'd forgotten all about them so this was a happy surprise. 

Hope your day is full of happy surprises too! 



Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 341

Here are the questions for our Valentines Day edition of the Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog, then hop back here tomorrow to share answers with people who LOVE to read along. See you there-


1. When's the last time you had a heart to heart talk with someone? A change of heart? Experienced figurative 'heart failure?'

2. Champagne, chocolates, flowers...what's your Valentine pleasure? Any special plans for the day?

3. Are you a hopeless romantic or do you fall more in the category of practical and pragmatic? What's a gesture you find romantic?

4. Do you ask a lot of questions in life or are you pretty content with what you already know?

5. Your favorite power ballad?

6. Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, February 12, 2018

What Time Forgot

Our girls gave us a Legacy Box for Christmas which, if you're not familiar, is a company that transfers your old media to DVD or memory stick or both. We've been toting around a box of VHS tapes lovingly referred to in our house as 'the baby' tapes since the 90's, and then we also have 'the Europe years' in the form of 8mm.

We packaged up eight VHS tapes and two of the 8mm about a month ago, and they arrived newly formatted on our doorstep late last week. I was excited to watch the 'baby' tapes because we purchased our first video camera when Daughter1 was six months old and now her son is six months old. I was so eager to see the shared DNA live and I'm sure I'll write more about that another day.

We've watched these early newborn days periodically through the years so I knew some of what was there. The sweetness of my baby girls on the screen always makes my heart flip but I know to be ready for that when the tape rolls.

What I wasn't ready for was the sight of my teenagers. Young teenagers. My then fifteen year old daughter practicing a speech for school on the subject of ballet. In FRENCH! And it's wonderful.

I don't remember that day.

It was just another ordinary day, school-homework-dinner prep happening...not unlike hundreds of other ordinary days lived yet this one is captured and marked. There's my youngest looking back at me, age thirteen, blue eyes dancing behind brand new wire framed lenses. She's got a Gameboy in hand and that look of perpetual expectancy on her face, the one she always wore that said Life! Bring it! 

I'm there too...with my teenagers on the beach at Normandy our hair blowing wild in the wind...smiling for the camera from a narrow side street in a fairy tale village an ocean away...in a family room in England recording the happy teenage chatter of my girls and their friends as they sit in a comfortable heap atop my too big American furniture.

Ordinary days. Where time was passing and you let it because you had no way to say slow down. Didn't really consider if you even wanted to. Life with children is about forward motion -tomorrow, next week, next year, college, infinity and beyond.

Fifteen years doesn't sound like such a long time ago, but there it is pirouetting across a kitchen where I cracked ice cubes from a tray, finally learned the metric system, and converted oven temps from Fahrenheit to centigrade without batting an eye.

The days of mothering babies I remember pretty well. In those early years one day is not that different from the next. Lots of days felt long and you were often overly tired, but your love for this tiny human was big and bursting, simple and obvious.

Teenagers are complex. They test you. In many ways they ARE you which makes you smile and sigh but also makes you acknowledge things about yourself you'd just as soon leave unexamined. I watch these snippets of ordinary life today, years and miles from when and where they happened and I think wow, we grew. All of us. Not just my teenagers, but me... as a mother and a person.

There are big moments in the life of a teenager, occasions celebrated and remembered...ballet recitals, musical performances, birthdays, graduations. We tell ourselves this is the stuff of life, and in some ways it is. But as I watch my teens on videotape turned memory stick playing on a smart TV that didn't exist fifteen years ago I know it was the 'just another ordinary days' that mattered most.

The everyday interactions between a mother and daughter. A speech practiced at the kitchen counter while supper is fixed. Hanging out in the back yard on a blue sky day. Talking about nothing and everything as we drove to piano lessons every single week. Quiet fears whispered in the bedroom she loved with the chintz curtains she hated. Holding hands while we cross a busy London street because she knew it meant something even if she couldn't articulate at the age of 16 what that something was. Only that it was something to hold your mother's hand when the world says you're too big.

Mothers of teenagers-hold your kids hands every now and then. They look all big and grown up on the outside but inside they sometimes feel so small. Holding your hand puts life into perspective. Yours too.

Know that you have the immense privilege of being part gate keeper, part bridge builder, part cheerleader as your teenager navigates the sometimes dark and scary, but mostly beautiful chasm between childhood and full fledged adult living.

When I look at my girls on the other side of the video screen I remember with exquisite clarity how much I loved them in the teen years. Like when they were babies only more so, something you cannot imagine is possible when they actually are babies.

A hundred tiny moments run through my brain and I think back to how these now grown women not so long ago slept in a bedroom upstairs, came to breakfast in their pjs, played guitar in the stairwell nook, walked with me to town where we ate iced buns at a sidewalk cafe. How they talked of life and love and hopes and dreams in a far off future they could only imagine.

How they amazed, entertained, frustrated, humored, and challenged me as we grew up side by each. How my life was blessed by a season of parenting people tell us to fear, and how God equips us as parents for whatever season we're living.


How in teaching my teenaged girls to be strong and brave I became a little bit stronger and braver too.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Cheering For The Hodgepodge

So here we are, another week gone by, and no blogging except Hodgepodge blogging. Some weeks are like that and I'm trying not to let it bother me.

I'm only slightly successful.

Let's carry on anyway. If you've answered this week's questions add your blog link at the end of my post then leave a comment for the blogger before you.



1. February can be a little bit tricky given the weather and the winter and the whatnot. I read a list (here) of things you can do to make your February brighter which included-start planning your next trip, take more baths, make your own chocolate covered strawberries, and exercise in preparation for swimsuit season. Anything on the list you might try? Which suggestion on the list appeals to you most? Tell us something not on the list that helps make your February brighter.

Well I am all about soaking in a hot bath and planning my next trip so those two things are on my February list for sure. I love strawberries and I love chocolate, but I'm not really a fan of making my own chocolate covered strawberries. They're not my favorite treat and they're so messy, both the making and the eating. Exercising should be on my list, but will it make the month brighter? Hmmm....

Something not on the list? I'm going to say buy a fun springtime top, bag, or shoes, even a new lipstick...something to look forward to wearing once winter makes her exit. 

2. Tell us about something you've seen or done recently that you'd say was 'super'?

How 'bout those Philadelphia Eagles winning the Super Bowl?! Yay for the hometown team! Plus I really enjoyed all the back stories of this particular group of players. 

3. Best thing you ate in a 'bowl' last week?

I made a pasta dish last week I had kind of forgotten about and consequently hadn't made in ages. I know I used to make this recipe pretty often, but guess we tired of it so I took it out of rotation. It's light as far as pasta goes-chicken, red pepper, squash, zucchini and black olives in a lemon-garlic sauce. My daughter2 had come for dinner that evening and we all loved it.  

4. Something you're 'cheering' for right now?

I'm going to say teachers. My daughter has shared a couple of things with me recently that just make me want to stand up and cheer for all the teachers out there who are full of compassion and care so deeply for the students in their classrooms outside of their classrooms. 

5. The Winter Olympics begin Friday, February 9th in Pyeong Chang, South Korea. On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being all in and 1 being no interest whatsoever) how interested are you in the games? Which event do you most want to see (you'll find a list here).

I do like watching the Olympics, summer and winter both. I'm not glued to the TV 24/7, but I'll watch some coverage most evenings, so will give myself an 8. My favorites are probably downhill skiing and the ski jump. It amazes me there are people who literally fly on a pair of skis. 

6.  Insert your own random thought here.


In honor of the Olympics throwing it back to a trip we made to Austria in 2006. We won't even talk about these cutie patooties who were in high school still. HIGH SCHOOL!! 


We took an elevator to the top of the ski jump in Innsbruck, looked over,  felt a little dizzy...


...well I felt dizzy, hubs contemplated giving it a try (you can't-there's glass in front), and then said a prayer for all the mamas of ski jumpers everywhere. 


I don't know anything about skiing in South Korea, but imagine it will be beautiful too. 

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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 340

Here are the questions to this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog then hop back here tomorrow to add your link to the party. See you there!


1. February can be a little bit tricky given the weather and the winter and the whatnot. I read a list (here) of things you can do to make your February brighter which included-start planning your next trip, take more baths, make your own chocolate covered strawberries, and exercise in preparation for swimsuit season. Anything on the list you might try? Which suggestion on the list appeals to you most? Tell us something not on the list that helps make your February brighter.

2. Tell us about something you've seen or done recently that you'd say was 'super'?

3. Best thing you ate in a 'bowl' last week?

4. Something you're 'cheering' for right now?

5. The Winter Olympics begin Friday, February 9th in Pyeong Chang, South Korea. On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being all in and 1 being no interest whatsoever) how interested are you in the games? Which event do you most want to see (you'll find a list here).

6. Insert your own random thought here.
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