Friday, April 24, 2015

Friday Fragments with Smiles and Tears

Having a head full of fragments today (doesn't everyone, every day?) I'm joining Mrs. 4444 over at
Half-Past Kissin' Time for Friday Fragments. Please say a prayer for Mrs. 4444's cousin's daughter who suffered a spinal cord injury two weeks ago. Check her blog for details if you'd like to send a donation to Kailyn's care fund.

Frag 1:  The house we wanted to place an offer on went under contract before we could do so.  We (and our son and DIL who plan to rent from us) were disappointed. It was a very nice house in a great location. But we all trust there is a better one, or perhaps that this house will become available again.

Frag 2:  I celebrated my daughter's 26th birthday at her favorite pizza joint where she brought the kids she nannies.

Someone wanted the balloons for herself. Someone else kept his mouth stuffed with pizza.

Little  fingers were determined to pick the cherries off the chocolate cake before we could get take a picture.

A certain 4-year-old has pretty decent camera skills. She took this one of us: 

One more picture of the birthday girl and the one who 
reminds me how fun little girls are--and how
they grow up and move away all too soon.

Frag 3: Who can miss something as important as the fact that her daughter is moving in with her nanny family? They moved yesterday. I thought for sure she said she would be commuting so she would "have a life outside of work."  Imagine my shock and disappointment when she said, "I thought I told you I'd be saving so much in rent and gas if I lived with them till August?"     Well, if you did tell me, I don't remember. Either way, I'm sad. I understand, but I'm sad.  But at least you'll be close to Annapolis and that's a  cool place to visit in the summer.

Frag 4:  I'm going to an all-day women's retreat with my peeps tomorrow (my Bible study sisters) .  I really need it. I need a good soaking in prayer, testimonies, worship, and fellowship. Besides, the food is unbeatable; the lady in charge is a gourmet cook!

Frag 5: Our boy got to sleep on a US Coast Guard Cutter last night in the Inner Harbor. His small class went on a field trip for Living Classrooms. I can't wait to hear what it was like for him to sleep in the very tight quarters with his classmates. He was sure 10 PM was way too early for lights out. I'm sure it's not because he has no idea what 6 AM reveille feels like.

Frag 6: That same class also took in the Walters Art Gallery yesterday ,some sightseeing the in the Inner Harbor, a visit to UMBC this morning, and then they're all in the school play tonight!!! I'm exhausted just thinking about it. They'll be all tuckered out yet pumped with adrenaline for the play. My boy is on crew, so thankfully has no lines, just has to move quickly and quietly during scene changes. Someone's gonna sleep till noon tomorrow, I guarantee!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Suddenly House Hunting

The big news around here is that we're house hunting.

Not for a primary residence, but for our first rental property.  My hubby has been thinking about it on and off for several years, but recently felt a strong urge from the Lord to invest now.

If you knew my risk-adverse guy, you could really appreciate what a step of faith and obedience this venture is.  To actually meet with a realtor, start looking at properties, listen to podcasts --yes, I am doing this and loving it, actually--considering the legalities of  renting, wondering if we have the temperaments to be landlords, checking into  setting up a LLC, thinking about what our weekends will look like for the next year, and on and on.

My life has gone from fairly slow-paced to suddenly fast paced.

Before, I was able to get along with a calendar hanging on the fridge to keep things straight, and a simple filing system for household things and school-related things.

But this new thing? This is a small business we're stepping into.

My hubby definitely has the organizational skills.
A head for numbers.
A passion for making money.
The hardest work ethic this side of the Mississippi.
Lots of contacts.
Handyman skills.
Good health.
Great credit.
Discernment. He's a good judge of character, usually.
A wife who is excited for him, for us.  To know that he has said "yes" to God for something kind of scary is huge for me.
A wife who gets a certain feel about someone or something and speaks her mind so as to present all the intangibles to a very concrete thinking husband.

Those are all gifts, wouldn't you say? Not to brag, but I think I'm a gift to him. LOL.
He sure is a gift to me. But I digress.

Scripture says, "A man's gifts make room for him."  I have no doubt we'll find the perfect "room" for our collective gifts.

Our realtor is outstanding. She came highly recommended by three friends, and we know many many more of  the same people, and all this with only one phone call. The grace of God amazes me; I really didn't want to interview three or four and have to choose the best.

Today I found a cool spreadsheet for househunting. Tomorrow we look at 11 properties. We're going to need some spreadsheets before all of them start blurring together.

Any and all comments (encouragement, questions to consider, neon warnings) are all welcome.

And now my timer is beeping and telling me that blogging time is up and getting those spreadsheets off the printer and into a binder is here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Miracle in the Hodgepodge

Our hostess has some wonderfully exciting news that she posted yesterday, if you'd like to catch up to speed with her. If you want to start today and read backwards, click this cute button.

1. Speaking of April 15th...what's the most 'taxing' thing you've done recently?

We started exploring the whole world of buying an investment property , AKA a rental. House hunting online can be both fun and taxing. We saw our very first fixer-upper yesterday for consideration. Let's just say there's a reason it's priced $100,000 less than the neighbor's.  Getting past the dog smell was the most taxing thing of the foray. 

2. When did you last take a taxi somewhere and where was that somewhere?

I think it was in 1984 when I was in college in Western PA.  My dorm was way up on a hill, two miles from town where I took a very brief job as a telemarketer for Merrill Lynch.  I took a taxi to my interview. It cost two dollars which doesn't sound like much unless you know that I was making only $3 an hour plus commission.

3. What's something you can do today that you couldn't do a year ago?

Forgive more easily.  I had to let go of some long-held bitterness, choose to forgive the person, and release the pain to God and let Him deal with the offender.  I am walking in a freedom that I hadn't had for the previous two years because I forgave that person.

4. How often is chicken (in some form or fashion) on your menu at home? Which of the following would you most like to see on your table tonight...a chicken salad sandwich, your mom's fried chicken, a Chick-fil-A meal, Cracker Barrel's chicken n' dumplings, a roast chicken dinner with all the trimmings, or 'hold the chicken, I'm a vegetarian'...?

Chicken is on our menu 2-3 times a week.  To see it on my table tonight--meaning dinner hour, I like hot food, so not chicken salad. My mom is a vegetarian, so not her fried chicken. Chick-Fil-A chicken is cooked in a grease that gives me a stomach ache. Cracker Barrel is kinda too salty for me anymore. So let's go with roast chicken dinner with all the trimmings. 

I'd prefer to see it on someone else's table, with them having cooked it and invited me over. But that's extraneous information, huh?

5. What was your favorite television program when you were a kid? What characters do you remember the most?

Emergency!   I had a major crush on paramedic Johnny Gage.  Major.  I thought his sidekick Roy DeSoto looked really old. He was probably only mid-30's. Nurse Dixie at Rampart General Hospital was another I adored, but Johnny Gage... Oh, my.  I was only in 3rd grade, but he was my guy.  

6. What was the last piece of 'art' you made?

Since the word is in quotation marks, I guess it means "so-called art" ? That would be the Indian headband I made a couple days ago for the main character in our upcoming school play. Red Chief needs and the director heard that I was "artsy".

7. What frustrates you most about the Internet?
Losing connection!  Or is it that I can't remember from one computer (laptop, desktop, iPad, phone) how to reconnect when said frustration happens.  "You just do this, Mom....and bam. Connected.  I showed you that like twelve hundred times before."

Wonder what my 13-year-old's frustration is with the internet?

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

You want to hear about a real-live miracle? I have GOT to tell you this. Just before Easter my cousin (the one who'd been in the hospital for 2.5 months) sent out a Facebook plea . "Pray not for me but for my best friend's niece, Hailey, who is in her 20's.  She was working out when she collapsed from a cardiac arrest. It doesn't look good."  

The family flew in from all parts of the country to her bedside to say goodbye to their beloved  Hailey.  I prayed, too, though it sounded like only a shred of hope remained. I thought how sad to bury a child EVER, but at Easter time?

Please watch this clip that is nothing short of God answering prayer and showing His power to a watching, praying world. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Monday Medley

When there's too much going on for one focused post, my medley seems to come out on a Monday morning.   List-style.

1.  I wrote Part 1 of an Easter recap, but I don't think Part 2 will happen. Suffice it to say that we had a beautiful morning of worshiping our risen Savior at church, followed by a lunch of tacos at my oldest son's house. So relaxing just to keep things simple, let each other yawn, watch the brothers play in the backyard. We missed one third of the kids--courtesy of Italy. They weren't missing us, though. Pasta in Venice or tacos in Baltimore? Hmmmm....tough choice.

2.   Last week was spring break for my youngest. Only Monday was rain-free, so it didn't turn out like we'd hoped. However, I spent the entire week planning the remodel of our kitchen.  Planning looks like obsessing sometimes. 

3.  After working with designers at two different places, one choice emerged the winner. The designer at Home Depot reminded me of my dear friend Carol who passed away almost two years ago.  Her smile especially, but also her voice and inflections and calm spirit brought back memories. In a strange way, it was comforting to sit with her for that reason alone. But she also knew her stuff, inside and out.

                                                                   inspiration photo

4.  We chose maple cabinetry in a rather simple door style by Thomasville in a finish called Fox. I'll get a bigger pantry with roll-out drawers, five additional cabinets, a better lazy Susan, and a hidden trash can. (My dog would have vetoed that last choice; guess he'll just have to find alternate ways to annoy us get into trouble  entertain himself while we're gone.)

5.  My hubby will be the general contractor.  I get so excited thinking about it; before we got out of the car at Home Depot on Saturday, I squeezed his leg and said, "Kiss me, you hottie handyman. I love doing projects with you!"  He kissed me, rolled his eyes, got out and came around to open my door, and murmured something about never retiring at this rate. 

6.  We also obsessed over granite with stainless steel sink vs Corian with integrated sink.  Granite won.   More on that later. 

7.  In other news, the school play is two weeks away and I'm making two props for the director. She asked if I'd design a crude bow and arrow and headband for the lead actor, Red Chief.  I can do that, I said. Sounded easy enough.  My back yard has sticks aplenty, and we had spring break to work on the weaponry. But did I mention it rained all week? As in a mud pit. And that we had to make up our minds by Sunday (yesterday) on cabinets/counters to get the great deal? 

Anyway, the hard part is finding a branch that is already bowed, or somehow bowing it myself without breaking it. 

8.  On a scale of 1-10, how boring was this blog post? You don't have to be honest.  

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

I Should Table my Rant in the Hodgepodge

1. Besides left over Easter goodies, what's something currently kept in a basket at your house?

Well, there are no Easter baskets here,  but I can say I keep several things in  a basket around my house.   My pantry is organized with red and yellow baskets that I've labeled,  my linen closet has brown, pink and turquoise labeled baskets, and my sewing room has pink, turquoise, and purple baskets .(There is a cute little Easter-style basket I use for snipped-off threads and  bits of trash next to my machine.)

2. 'The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.' ~Michelangelo Buonarroti 

So which one are you...the one who aims too high, or the one who aims too low? Have you ever seen The Sistine Chapel? Did you know Michelangelo's surname prior to answering this question?

In the past I think I've always aimed high, but must admit that with age has come a lowering of my sights, a dwindling of my dreams, and almost a fear of failing and an acceptance of status quo.  I lament that. I liked my former inner adventurer better. 

As for the Sistine Chapel, no I have not seen it but my son and his wife saw it, I think, just this past week. (My inner adventurer is living vicariously through them and trying not to feel jealous.)  Michelangelo's surname--I had heard it, and presented it to students in art class but I had forgotten.  By the way, the most fun art lesson I ever taught was on Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel.  I taped long strips of white kraft paper to the undersides of 6' tables around the room, divided the 5th-6th graders into teams, and had them lie on their backs or sides under the tables to paint various scenes over their heads.  They absolutely LOVED that--and gained a huge appreciation for Michelangelo in the process. 

3. April 7th is National Beer Day. Hmmm...wonder how that's celebrated? Do you like beer? Have a favorite? If you're not a beer drinker do you have any recipes you enjoy cooking that call for beer?

I do like beer but have to be in the mood for one which might be once or twice a month to accompany spicy food. Csn't say I've found a favorite but I do like Polish beers which would please my father-in-law, God rest his soul. 

4. When did you last travel somewhere new? Tell us where? How'd it go?

This question stumps me--the "new" part of the question, that is.  I last traveled in October to Kansas, which was fun but not new to me. 

Does it count to drive to a distant county in your own state, needing the GPS to guide you to the location? If so, it was about two months ago that I went to Carroll County, Maryland, to pick up a sewing machine table that I was buying from a lady through Craigslist. 

I wasn't murdered and I wasn't ripped off, the drive was beautiful and added a spark of adventure to my otherwise housebound, overwintered soul. 

5. The value of _________________________is greatly overrated.

matching socks

6. What's a pet peeve of yours when it comes to restaurant dining?

Um, I could get on a soapbox akin to my grammar one, but I won't. Restaurant dining peeve, singular? Okay, it's the way some servers or bussers wipe off a table. 

They use a rag that has been used too many times already, they use no cleaner, they  just sort of brush crumbs willy-nilly onto the bench or floor, and then wipe the bench off, leaving it damp, they fail to give a good scrub along the edge of the table, and they never wipe down the condiments or even shuffle them to wipe under. 

Geez, I think I just found my new calling in life--to be a table wiper trainer. Talk about aiming high.

7. It's Poetry Month...share a favorite poem, either the title, a few lines you find meaningful, or the whole kit and caboodle.

"Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds..."   (from Shakespeare's Sonnet 16)

8. Insert your own random thought here.

My cousin Lisa, who is in her late 30s, has been in an ICU in Atlanta for two and a half MONTHS.   This two-month stay has been in addition to the 60 days (on and off)  that she had starting in October. 

She has been having one complication after another with pulmonary hypertension, and doctors have been wracking their brains to find a medical treatment to stabilize her enough to discharge her. Her  lungs and heart are very frail. She is a strong believer with loads of sunshiny optimism that spills over in expressions of gratitude most of the time, but she occasionally has her moments, as you can imagine. She expected to come home for Easter, but her potassium levels were dangerously low. 

I am asking on Lisa's behalf that any Christian reading this will pray with me for her.  She was granted what she calls "an Easter basket from the Lord," though; when it was time to move her to a regular room, they had none, so they gave her the only thing available--a two-room, two-bath suite with kitchenette. I didn't know such things existed in hospitals!
Did I mention that she is a nurse practitioner, so she understands all the medical lingo, which is mostly good but her care team certainly can't speak in code around her! Please pray for her healing and for her spirits. 

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Freedom was the Word of Easter Weekend: Part 1

As I went through the weekend, and as I now reflect upon it, one word kept resounding.


Easter, for Christians,  is about the resurrection of Jesus Christ who died to free us from the slavery of sin and guilt.

While on the surface that might sound like cliche', I thought of how many times I feel guilty for things that aren't sins when it comes to holidays. Like the fact that I don't do Easter baskets for my kids.

Or when I've actually been guilty by trying to force the family to live up to my expectations for the "ideal" celebration.  Whining, pouting, controlling--the stuff that women excel in. Guilting others. We think we mask our manipulation (calling it "keeping traditions" or "bringing the family together" or even that grand word "celebrating") but it's thinly-veiled coercion if no one else is inclined.

Raise your hand if you've ever felt like celebrating under coercion.

Not I.  In keeping with my own freedom in Christ, I would let go of my expectations of people, myself included. No whiny tone, no second asking, no pouting.

Starting with a Good Friday service.    My daughter originally said her church wasn't having a service, so could she come to ours? Sure.  That'd be great!

But then her church ended up having one, so she went there.  While I wanted to be with her, I didn't want to be on the Baltimore beltway on  a Friday evening during rush hour holiday traffic in the rain. I wanted to go to our church with my hubby and son.  Well, wouldn't you know... my husband ended up helping our oldest fix a  water line leak on Friday (after getting off work at 2) and came home too tired to attend a service. He didn't force our son to go with me, which was okay.

So I went alone, not to our church after all,  but to our friend and pastor Arie's church. As I entered the building, they were cleaning off the tables after feeding the homeless (which they do every Friday night) and then invited them to stay for the Good Friday service.

While initially I felt out of place in my best sweater, nice slacks and heels among people wearing smelly jeans, tennis shoes, and unbrushed hair,  nothing could've been a truer picture of the motley bunch of folks at the Last Supper whom Jesus called friends.

I wasn't together with my biological family but I was with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Together we sang praises to Jesus our King.
Together we thanked Him for His sacrifice.

Together we read scripture and listened to the message.
Together we prayed that others would come to know our sweet Jesus, to put their faith in Him.

It was a rich time of focusing on the words of the centurion at the crucifixion: "Surely this man was the Son of God!" When the sky over Jerusalem  turned dark for three hours and there was an earthquake and people came out of grave,  and the seamless curtain in the temple (60x30 feet by about 4" thick)  tore in half from top to bottom--WOW!  Did that ever happen at any other crucixion? NO! Was the power of God on full display? You betcha.

Did I experience a freedom greater than I have on any previous Good Friday?

Indeed I did.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Fallen Angel in Italy

 My son's and daughter-in-law's photos from Italy are both beautiful and funny.

His latest one has a caption and hashtag that crack me up.


I bet it hurt...when he fell from heaven.    (#ancientpickuplinesorigin)

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

The Joke's on Me in the Hodgepodge

 I just returned from having an ingrown toenail removed at the podiatrist's office. If you

think that's TMI, read on. 

I'm only  joking. That's the worst of it today  in this weekly meme in which

we get to know each other better.   Joyce, have you ever asked a question about ingrown

toenails in the Hodgepodge? 

Of course not! As Jimmy Fallon would say, "Ew! Just ew!"

1. In honor of the date...when were you last sent on a 'fool's errand'?

Two days ago, not that I was sent exactly, and not that it was an errand exactly, but  the last time I loaded our dishwasher, this happened: 

 I put the soap in, turned it on, heard it running, and promptly forgot about it. Everything seemed fine. 

Yesterday I went to unload it, and the dishes were still in there, dirty. What? Did I forget to start the dishwasher? Maybe I stopped it to answer the phone because it is SO noisy, and failed to turned it back on.  So I reran it. 

This morning, after finding STILL dirty dishes, I made several attempts to run it --and study the process rather than walk away. It was obvious the darn thing has given up the ghost. It goes swishy, swishy, and then stops. Handy hubby checked it out and has deemed that it's the motor that's kaput after 15 years. 

It took me an hour and a half yesterday to do all those dishes by hand! Oy! 

2. Peter Rabbit, Bugs Bunny, The Energizer Bunny, The Easter Bunny, Rabbit (Pooh's 

friend), White Rabbit (of Wonderland fame), or the Trix Rabbit...which of these 'famous' 

rabbits can you best relate to right now?

I had to look this up, since I'm not familiar with the characteristics of any of these except the Energizer Bunny, which I am NOT right now, and the Easter Bunny, which I've rarely been. (We don't do baskets, and I didn't grow up getting them.)

Wikipedia described Rabbit (Pooh's friend) like this, and I can certainly see myself in the description: Rabbit likes to take charge and come up with elaborate plans, such as the one to scare Kanga by hiding Roo, and the one to "unbounce" Tigger. He is also an organizer, as in the case of the Search for Small. As detailed as his plans are, they often miss certain key points and go wrong.

3. When did you last find yourself scrambling to get something done? Explain.

I think it was preparing for my son's birthday party. I'll skip the explanation since I already blogged about it. 

4. Last time you were up at the literal crack of dawn? Why? Last time you stayed up all night? Why?

I don't remember the last time I was up at the literal crack of dawn. The last time I stayed up all night? Not sure. I had a very, very restless night on Sunday because I needed to be close to the bathroom.  I'll leave it at that. 

5. Crack a book, crack a bottle, crack a joke, crack an egg...which have you done most recently?

I cracked a joke on Facebook about my dishwasher getting mad at me for gossiping about her being noisy and not doing a very good job. So instead of waiting till June when we remodel, she turned in her notice. "Fine! If you don't like the way I do things, you can do them yourself! You want a quiet dishwasher, I can be one!"  She gave me the silent treatment.  (I don't think she likes my jokes, either. I haven't heard her laugh.)

6. What's your favorite part of a typical weekend? Tell us why that's so.

My Sunday routine: I love hearing our pastor preach. He is passionate about Jesus and has a gift for preaching. I then love to come home and take a nap, after which I wake up and usually start quilting. 

7. What's something I'd find on a bookshelf in your home? Other than a book I mean!


8. Insert your own random thought here.

My son Steve and his wife are vacationing in Italy at the moment.  (I'm trying to deal with my jealousy in a mature way.) The phone rang at 9:30 and it was him. I was worried. He was out of breath. 

"Mom, it's Steve."  (In case I couldn't recognize my own child's voice.)
"I know. Is everything okay??? Something wrong?"
"No, why?"
"You're out of breath."
"Oh, no, everything's fine. We're just hiking in the hills of Tuscany. Our backpacks are pretty heavy."

(They ONLY packed backpacks for their two-week trip, no other luggage. I can't fathom it, but hey, they're 23 and have no kids.)

"Sounds like fun."
"Yeah, it is. Hey, so I was calling just to find out exactly what color leather wallet you want and what style? We'll be going back to Florence to shop." 

I told him a deep, rich brown in a long style, with lots of pockets for cards. "Unless you can't fit in a big wallet, then a small one will do.   Or a piece of fabric from somewhere. Just no knick-knacks or trinkets."   

"Okay, I'll see what we can find. Love you."
"Love you, too!" 

It's so nice to be remembered by your kids when they're on the other side of the pond!