Monday, January 28, 2019

19 in 19

Hey remember how I was going to blog more? Ha! Actually I think what I said was I was going to write more, and I have. Just not here. There's only so many hours in the day people!

Anyway, here we are nearing the end of January so before the year gets away from me (hey, we all know it's going to be Christmas in a hot minute) I want to share my list. There's something someone started called 19 in 2019 where you make a list of 19 things you want to do in the year 2019. Coincidentally we were given a writing prompt earlier in the 31 Day Challenge to write a list, so a great fit. And easy, right?

We shall see.

Also, this list is more or less my 'practical list'. Not digging too deeply into my personal list on the blog today although #2 feels pretty personal. For now let's write some things down and then check some things off. Here we go-

1. Host a wedding. Some might say including this on my list is cheating because I'm hosting a wedding whether I write it down here or not. Still we're hosting a wedding and there are at least seven hundred and forty three things that need doing between now and then.  Let's go ahead and write it down.

2. Delight. My word for this year. I imagine I will write more about it at some point, but for now I'm still figuring out what that word means in my everyday life.

3. Read at least 32 books.

4. Deal with the office. My office. Which is relatively new, but was a room we didn't actively decorate and instead used mostly things that fit the space figuring we'd zhuhh it up later.

The office space is fine and completely usable, but uninspiring. I have a plan I'd like to see come to life and that plan includes shiplap, murphy beds, an inspiration board, a new computer, and the physical files purged and sorted.

5. Make a handmade gift for my grandson. I have something specific in mind, but I don't want to put details here because he reads my blog. Well maybe he doesn't read it, but his mama reads it and she might spill the beans.

6. Publish something. This 31 day writing challenge has been good for me and some of what I've been working on away from my blog is aimed at meeting this goal. Which I've had since 5th grade I started this blog all the way back in 2009.

7. Organize one project per month. Tops on the list? My closet, my photos, and my giftwrap.

8. Attend a professional ballet and a baseball game. I enjoy both and have done neither in the last twenty-four months.

9. See the SC State Capital. I have an unwritten accidental goal to see all the state capitals, because it occurred to me one day a while back that I'd seen quite a few. I'd for sure like to see our own.

10. See the 'Top Ten Most Spectacular Falls in South Carolina'. I think we've seen several on the list, but I want to see them all. None are too far from here so we just need to take the time to go and see and make the trek up or down a thousand steps or steep path viewing falls generally requires.

11. Frame stuff. Re-frame stuff. Print pics and frame pics. Investigate mixed tiles for the hallway. Has anyone tried them? I've seen them on a couple of blogs I follow and their walls look great. I do wonder if this will be one of those things that looks good in my head but in real life is just eh? Also they stick? Like 3M sticks and is easily removed or like glue?

12. Make a book about our Oregon trip. I know!! It's way overdue.

13. Go somewhere I've never been before.

14. Learn calligraphy or hand lettering. They're different and I'm not sure which one is the best fit for me, but I have an online course downloaded my girls got for me last year that I haven't even tried. One of my goals in re-decorating my office is to make room for some creative endeavors like this one.

A shop in my tiny town recently offered a class in hand lettering but I didn't find out about it until after registration had closed. I'm on their list for the next one though, so feel like I can make this happen.

15. Take a southern road trip. I have a whole list of ideas and itineraries and hope/plan/will check one off my list this year.

16. Less screen time. Doesn't everybody have this as their goal for 2019?

17. Get some really good sneakers. I know this sounds like a silly thing to put on a list, but my feet y'all. Ugh. I have almost no arch so I need good sneakers and I need to invest a little time in figuring out which ones are the right ones. You would think this would be something I'd just go ahead and do, but in reality it's something I'm always saying I need to do, but then I never actually do it.

Everyone has some little something that nags at them, right? What's your annoying something?

18. Investigate making a change to my pots and pans cabinet. Actually our cabinetmaker was at the house last week to drop something off for our builder and hubs (who does not need a list to get things done) had him measure the space. The cabinetmaker has already sent me designs, options, and pricing, so balls in my court now I guess.

But first! I need to host a wedding.

19. Delight. On here twice so I don't forget somewhere along the way.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

The Bracelet

I want to tell you a story. A true story. And I want to write it down because I want to come back here and read it when the world feels harsh.

I grew up in a neighborhood where kids walked to school. Where red rubber balls were kicked across the blacktop. Where we learned to write in cursive and play the recorder. Where we hit softballs on the diamond out back and learned to finally do a pull up on the playground monkey bars.

It was the kind of neighborhood where kids spilled out of doors and skated on a frozen pond. Where games were played and arguments occurred but where we always made up because we were a team. A pack. The kids from Barclay.

We lined up every year on the first day of school with our friends, our classmates, kids we'd known since kindergarten. While every year the mix of kids in each class varied a little, whatever the combination it would be recognizable. Familiar. The makeup of our elementary school didn't change a whole lot in all the years we were there.

We rode our bikes 'look no hands!' to the swim club on sunny summer days it seemed would never end. Except they do. Of course they do. We grow up and away and our circles expand. We make new friends and yet always always in my heart is a place I hold dear for the kids from Barclay.

Flash forward to the year 2019, last Friday to be precise. I was reading in our family room when hubs came in with the mail. He put a CD sized envelope in my lap and I noticed the return address immediately. It was from a childhood friend. A girl from elementary school I haven't seen in literally decades.

We're friends on Facebook and occasionally have had a message back and forth about something or other, but no real long talks or heart to hearts. I love her artwork and she likes my travel pics. She encouraged me to try to make our high school reunion this past year, but I wasn't able to go.

So I looked at the envelope and wondered what in the world she might be sending me. I kind of assumed she was mailing something from the reunion, maybe a picture or a CD of pictures perhaps, but y'all in a million years I could not have predicted what was tucked inside that envelope.

It was a bracelet. And a few words with big impact on the backside of the card. The bracelet is a pretty strand of chords held together with a delicate silver bead. In the center of the bracelet is a washer style charm with three tiny hearts and a single word stamped in the metal.

My word. Delight.

I was speechless. I'm still a bit lost for words. A true random act of kindness that made my heart sing.

So obviously she reads my blog and let me just say that's the first thing that 'delights'. When someone reads my blog and I didn't know they were someone who reads my blog. But still, how many people know my word and see my word on a sign or a piece of jewelry or wherever and think of me and then act on it.

Because acting on it is really the thing, isn't it?

I mean many of us have good intentions. We want to do something kind or thoughtful or meaningful for someone but we just never get around to actually doing those things.  I don't know what prompted my friend to act but it doesn't really matter. She saw my word. She made the bracelet. She hunted down my address. She bought the off sized envelope. She packaged it. She wrote the note. She mailed. it.

And I'm still not over it y'all.

I hope I never get over it. I hope I remember my delight at the surprise and the thoughtfulness and the intent and the oh so perfect words she wrote on the back of the card and I hope I pay it forward in a way that makes somebody else feel what I felt when I opened the envelope and saw this.

I've been wearing the bracelet and when I look down and see the charm peeking out of my shirt sleeve I feel my heart shift. My perspective change. Now how do you say thank you for that?

So I'm writing it all down here with the hope this sparks someone reading to act. To do that kind, generous, thoughtful thing you've wanted to do, meant to do, but haven't gotten around to doing.

Thank you V! It's honestly the best thing that has happened to me in forever.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Note To Self

A recent prompt in the 31 Day writing challenge was this-

In a letter to your children (or your younger self) write something you wish someone had told you ten years, five years, or even one year ago.  

I've been mulling this over for a few days and here's where I've landed. The things I might wish someone had told me ten years ago? Well, someone probably did tell me. Or tried to tell me, which is the thing about life have to live and learn your own. 

Now that's not to say I don't freely dole out advice to my daughters (HA!), but I know from my own experiences and challenges so much of what is given in the way of helpful advice is only recognized as such after we've walked through some stuff. After we've lost our cool or our hope or faced a challenge of one kind or another. Then we take a minute to sit back and re-evaluate and that's usually when advice or wisdom shared once upon a time, rings in my ears and I can say, 'Now I get it'. 

Not always, but in general I need something to apply your words of wisdom to in order for them to stick and have meaning. 

So there's my caveat, but I'll still share something here today because that's my challenge.

Dear Daughters, 

In as much as is possible be the boss of time. Your time. Be deliberate in how you spend it and also how you view it. Sometimes we think a nap on the couch means we're lazy. Sometimes it's the best thing we can do for our family. Sometimes coffee with a friend feels frivolous when what it really is is relationship building, filling in the cracks that come from too little sleep and too many toddler messes. Reassurance you're not crazy or a bad mother or any of the other little things we wonder about ourselves when we spend too much time not having coffee with a friend. 

Figure out what's important and long lasting and give yourself to that. Prioritize what's eternal over what's temporal. Figuring that out can be hard, especially when the world says one thing and your heart says another. Listen to your heart. The world tells us we should be doing all the things all the time, but often there is more good done in the quiet stillness of an early morning. In prayers whispered and dreams shared. Remind yourself of this when life feels overwhelming.  

Establish the habits of daily prayer and reading God's word. So simple to do but so easy to be distracted from. It's tempting to put a million other things before this one thing, but if you put this one thing first then all the other things fall into place. Not always the way we think they should, but always in a way that reminds us God has a plan for our lives, that He's teaching us in every single circumstance we walk through, that He is for us. 

God is for you. 

I was talking with some friends recently and we all said one of our biggest regrets in life is the amount of time we've wasted on unimportant 'stuff' in our adult lives. We're all now in a season where that's easy to see so you'll have to trust me on this. Time wasted is my biggest regret, and I'm sure all the 'time is precious' platitudes were thrown my way when I was your age too. I didn't always take them to heart like I could have should have, but regret is no place to live so never take up residence there. 

Finally my sweet girls, learn to love the sunrise. No matter how off kilter, out of sync, or discouraged you felt when you went to bed yesterday, the sunrise is a reminder there are brand new mercies every single day.  

Because God is for you. 

Write that on an index card and stick it on your bathroom mirror. 
Your 50-something self will thank me. 


Monday, January 14, 2019

Not Boring. Just Uneventful.

This morning hubs said, 'I thought you were doing some kind of 31 days of writing' thing? Um, yes?
In my defense I have been (mostly) keeping up with the 500 words a day goal, but I don't post all the days on my blog. Some of the words are in my journal, and while I'm pretty much an open book on my blog there are still a few thoughts I keep to myself.

My blog has always been a window into everyday ordinary life, and sometimes everyday ordinary life isn't all that interesting. Not boring exactly, just uneventful. January is typically queen of the ordinary-uneventful.

It's been gray, rainy, and cold here all weekend long so I've made it my goal not to leave the house unless I have to. We sit by the fire and watch the football playoffs and read and nap and before you know it Monday has rolled around. We're busy people and I love the recharge January allows.

Books I'm reading this month are The Extraodinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni, A Ladder To The Sky by John Boyne, and Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson. That last one may take more than a month because it's 600 pages of non-fiction and not something I'll breeze through.

Daughter2 is in the house and she's on a whole clean eating-I'm getting married in 102 days-regimen so we're all playing along. I ran into someone the other day who had seen my hubs and said he told her we were all on a diet. Ha! No we're not. Unless not eating junk is called a diet? We've been trying lots of new recipes which I think fall under the heading of whole foods, but honestly there's so much food vocabulary now it's hard to know for sure what anyone is talking about.

I have not completely cut out the sugar-caffeine-dairy-wine-gluten like my daughter has on this 30 day 'detox' (she gets her willpower from her father, her love of baking comes from me), but I have dramatically reduced all of the above. Caffeine is the easiest as I generally only have coffee in the morning. Sugar and dairy are the hardest but I'm aiming for less not none and I can tell already it's been so good for me.

Daughter2 is part of a group in conjunction with the challenge so she gets recipes sent to her at the beginning of every week for the four weeks. We go through them together and pick the ones that sound good and that we can feed the men without them asking 'where's the beef?! We usually do one beef dish each week, but most recipes involve chicken, turkey, or are vegetarian.

Confession- I have never been a fan of ground turkey. I am learning to like it and we've had a couple of recipes that were keepers so I guess you're never too old. Confession-I have tried but I cannot get on the kale bandwagon. That being said, we absolutely loved this Tuscan Bean Soup, which contains no turkey, but does call for kale (we subbed spinach which is so much tastier) and I will definitely make it again. The recipe found here is close to the one we used, but we added a tsp of black pepper, and skipped the Parmesan rind. I'm sure that would have made it even more delicious but was great without too.

This is all riveting stuff isn't it?

The 31 Days of Writing comes with prompts which I've mostly neglected in favor of writing these newsy posts you've been reading, but tomorrow I think I'll tackle one we've been given. Rest assured the prompts have nothing to do with my naps or dinner plans.

Now I'm off to make a big pot of chili for dinner. With ground turkey because there's a wedding happening in 102 days.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

A Throwback Thursday in 514 Words

I saw a little blurb somewhere recently that said we're closer to the year 2030 than we are to the year 1999. For some reason that doesn't sound right to me, but do the math and you'll find it's true. While 1999 might sound like the not so distant past, when I consider where we are now and where we were then I find myself thinking, 'Only two decades?'.

In 1999 my girls were 9 and 11. Wait, what?

And now it's 2019 and I'm a long, long way from the every day parenting of tweens (although nobody was calling them that back then). The telling them to brush their teeth and don't forget your backpack and I'm picking you up after school because you have a piano lesson kind of everyday ordinary that's both exhausting and precious.

I glanced back through some pictures from that year and saw a family camping trip, Halloween costumes, and The Bay Bridge Walk.

I saw neighbors dressed in 70's wear for hubs big birthday.

I saw pink bathing suits in the summer sun and girl scouts at Antietam.

I saw blue eyes and innocence.
Blond hair and soft smiles.

The words to Baby Hit Me One More Time might have scrolled across my brain.
I might be singing it right now.

N'Sync or Backstreet Boys? How do you choose? We couldn't Google them back in the day, or maybe we could have at some point during that year, but mostly we didn't know what Google was. It was born in 1999.

I do know many a Friday night was spent at Blockbuster agonizing, debating, and compromising over which movie we would rent. "Are we old enough to watch Titanic?" NO! Raise your hand if you miss Friday nights at Blockbuster.

Raise your hand if ruled television viewing with an iron fist in 1999.
It was easier back then.

In 1999 the Euro was established as the common currency of the European Union. Pshh. Who needs to pay attention to that? As it turns out we did, but the European Union was nowhere on our radar in 1999. Do you know what was on our radar in 1999? Y2K.

Everyone had their knickers in a knot over the looming technological disaster that would hit at the stroke of midnight all because the new decade would end in 000. We stashed cash. We bought bottled water. We filled our gas tanks. We had cans of cans of canned food and powdered milk. We went to bed singing along with Prince on New Year's Eve and woke up in the year 2000, everything still humming merrily along.

1999. One year in the life of a family. One year of mothering daughters who laughed easily and loved big. Daughters who made me want to be more like them.  

We went to Disney World in November of 1999. Hubs had a work trip and we joined him after.
Time marches on y'all and thankfully so does fashion.

And little girls grow into women, and moms of once upon tweens become grandmothers who smile at the way they still laugh easy and love big. Still make me want to be more like them.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Starting The Year Off Write

On a whim I've signed up for a 31 Day writing challenge because that's how I seem to fly here. By the seat of my pants. I also tend to overthink absolutely everything, but new year new me. Maybe? Actually what happened was I was busy yesterday and didn't have a lot of time for overthinking so I just quickly said yes to the email invitation and also to joining the accompanying writers support group.

I'm supposed to write 500 words a day for the next 31 days. Blogging counts but I rarely do a word count there. Pretty sure there's never a deficit-ha! When I put yesterday's post into a counter I was at 757 words so on track. If I complete the challenge I'll have written over 15, 000 words this month which is a lot even for me.

In staying on point here I don't have any real idea what I'm going to write about. Well maybe a small idea for something that's been pinging around my brain for a while, but really I'm pretty much in free fall.

How many words is this?


See, this is why I can't overthink.

One other requirement of the challenge is to tell people you're participating and to share your writing somewhere somehow. Consider yourselves told. And since I already overshare on my blog I think I can check that second item off the list too.

Now will I share what I'm writing outside of my blog?  I hope so. I'm a bit chicken and also a bit lazy but new year new me, right?

How many words is it now?


Whew, today is hard.
I think maybe I shouldn't count words and I should just write.

I used to get up really early and write. Hubs would leave for work and I'd settle in at the computer and that worked for me. Once he retired I let that early morning commitment slide, and while it frustrated me I did nothing to make myself get back to it. You know what? Teachers also leave for work at the crack of dawn and my teacher daughter is in the process of moving home until her wedding. Having her here up early every single work day has allowed me to get reaquainted with my early morning self and I'm really liking that.

I know I don't have to get up with her, I mean she's in her late 20's and has worked and lived on her own for several years now, but I recognize this season as fleeting and I want to get up with her. I like to make her lunch or a hot drink for the longer commute she has now and I give her a hug and tell her to have a great day. She's not a morning person but she likes me being up with her in the pre-dawn hour, and I'm remembering how much I love the early darkness.

The gentle quiet, the space to think and write and plan.

How everything feels possible and the world is full of hope.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Tuesday Ramblings

Every year I say this is the year I'm going to write more and then January rolls around and here we are. Same old lang syne.

Have you made resolutions or set goals or come up with a 19 in 19 list for the year? I always like to set a few goals but feel like before I can do that I need to clear some space on my desk, in my calendar and especially in my head. Going with a brain dump here today. It's Tuesday so why not?

It is Tuesday, right?
That 'what day is it' mode that settles in with the holidays hasn't quite left me yet.

Okay, first things 'bout them Tigers?? Whoohoo!

That would be the Clemson Tigers in case you missed the Natty.

That would be the National College Football Playoff Championship which happened last night between the Clemson Tigers and the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Tide got trounced and it was so much fun to watch. Sorry Bama peeps, but we love our hometown team and they earned this one.

Yes we're still Volunteer fans, but they were not in the game. ahem. And we always root for the SEC teams to win except when the last biggest game of the year comes down to not the Volunteers vs. our hometown team, then we're hometown team all the way.

In other news, I really need to get my calendar organized for this next year which is already chock a block full of 'stuff' including five weddings, one of which is my Daughter's. I do use my phone calendar but still love a paper daytimer type calendar and haven't made the switch yet from 2018. This morning I discovered I've booked a dental appointment the same morning I've booked a hair appointment.

I think we all know which one I'll be cancelling.
Priorities people!

Speaking of my daughter's wedding (aren't I always?), she had her hair and makeup trial last night and oh my stars! This girl is going to be the most beautiful bride! The hair and makeup artist was adorable and she couldn't get over the brides a) eyebrows (absolutely perfect!), b) bright blue eyes (the bluest!) and her skin (like velvet!). We brought her veil with us and something about putting a veil on your daughter just brings out all the big feels. I'm so excited for their special day.

Speaking of her special day, my exercise class started back up yesterday. 'Nuff said.

Quick topic change-WORD. Do you have a word for this new year? It's a thing now ya know. If you're not familiar with the concept it's choosing a word for the year as a way to focus on an attitude, outlook, area of improvement, growth, etc and you ponder it, meditate on it, pray about it, feel inspired by it, work to live it out, as you go about your days.

I haven't participated in a few years because if I don't feel it I'm not going to pick something for the sake of picking something. This year I have a word, sort of by accident except I don't believe in 'accidents', not this kind anyway.

I hadn't given it so much as a thought until a few weeks before Christmas when I saw a blurb on the DaySpring website that offered a quiz to help you figure it out. What can I say? I'm a sucker for an online quiz. So I took it and sent it to my girls too because I thought it would be fun if we all  compared words. Kind of a lark if you will.

The thing is, the word I got stuck in my head and kept coming to the top of my brain as I went about my ordinary everyday life and I've decided to keep it. My word is delight.

Not sure exactly how it will play out, but this much I do know from years past...the word always plays out in some unexpected ways as the days roll by. I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about this particular word, but it's part of one of my most favorite verses in the Bible so I'm going to start there-

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him,  and He will act." Psalm 37:4-5

If you picked a word for this year and want to share it I'd love to know. Hope your Tuesday is delight-ful! 

Monday, January 7, 2019

Auld Lang Syne

In our house we're saying the new year starts today. I know technically 2019 is a whole week old, but that first week of January was an extension of our holiday. And since Daughter2 doesn't go back to work until the 7th we're giving ourselves permission to start the new year then.

Happy New Year!

We squeezed in a cross country trip over the break so we could ring in 2019 with the cutest boy in the world and we didn't get back until Saturday so we're all dragging a bit.

The weather in Washington State this time of year is not quite fabulous, but the first day of January did happen to be gorgeous.

Sunny enough for a walk with the whole crew and not warm enough for just a t-shirt unless you're my son-in-law who did start out with a sweatshirt but ditched it pretty fast.

The mancub loves him some football. It's his favorite word to say and he shouts it with the same sort of intonation a game announcer would use.

We had a little outing every day including a trip to the nearby zoo and aquarium. There was a break in the drizzle that day so we managed to see some of the zoo animals outside before moving indoors to the aquarium.

Such a great location with gorgeous mountain views and sounds of The Sound as a backdrop.

Mostly we hung out at home, stacked blocks, read books....

....worked puzzles, and chased the Roomba, definitely a favorite pastime!

We sang songs, had dance parties, laughed and fed and bathed and loved every minute with this cutie patootie and his mama.

He doesn't suck his thumb a whole lot, but he also doesn't stop moving a whole lot, so when he's tired is when we snap pictures. 

These sisters are just the sweetest and they had such a nice time together. Not as much time as they'd like, but thankfully one of them gets married in 109!! days and there's also a shower in the mix before then, so not too long til they're together again.

It's a happy new year!