Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Chocolate Ice Cream June Hodgepodge

1. On Saturday July 4th America celebrates her Independence. (If you're not American,  feel free to answer in terms of a national holiday in your own country) What is your favorite thing about the day? Your favorite food on the 4th? Do you fly a flag at your house? Fireworks-yay or nay? Any special plans this year?

My favorite thing about the 4th of July : the feelings--pride, joy, gratitude
Favorite food: theatre candy we buy just before watching fireworks
Fly a flag? Yes, very often!
Fireworks--see above
Special plans--yes, getting together with extended family

2. What's something you recently got for free?  

Today I got my tire patched for free. The guy thought maybe the tiny hole from a screw was something he missed two weeks ago when I took it in for a leak.

A week ago I got a new pair of glasses  for free (just the frames). I had paid a handsome price for wire rimmed ones just a year ago, and they got badly scratched up in no time (cheap, made in China, no doubt). The owner of the vision center found some frames that my lenses would fit and didn't charge me. That's great customer service!

3.  The Statue of Liberty, The Liberty Bell, The Washington Monument, or Mount Rushmore...how many on the list have you seen? What is your favorite historical American monument, and why? 

I've seen all but Rushmore.  The Statue of Liberty is my favorite for two reasons: 
-The first time I saw it from the air when returning from a trip to Russia, I welled up with tears. It made me think, "I'm home. This is MY home, the best country in the world!"
-When our son was in sixth grade, we accompanied his small class on an overnight field trip to NYC.  Fond memories of the kids' pleasure in being there. 

4. When it comes to the news are you more ostrich (stick my head in the sand) or hog (they have room to take a whole lot in)? How much attention have you given the recent news reports regarding ISIS and the acts of terror they've perpetrated against those who do not share their beliefs or support their cause?

I think I'm somewhere in the middle. (A hostrich?) I don't bury my head, but I can't take an overload of terror-centered news, either. It's almost more than I can bear to think of how quickly our country has changed just in the last five years. 

5. We're talking plain ice cream...vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry? Choose one.

Plain? It depends on my mood. If I'm in a good mood, vanilla. If I'm in a bad mood, chocolate. If I've had mood swings, strawberry.  My guess is you'd rather be around me on a vanilla day. 

6. Share a song you love containing the word 'stars' in the lyrics or title?

I honestly do love The Star-Spangled Banner.  I get a lump in my throat every single time I hear it. 

7. Describe and/or say goodbye to June with an acrostic

Between the weather, remodeling a kitchen, and buying a house (that STILL hasn't gone to settlement after two extensions), June has been STRESSFUL. As in, many times I was in  "chocolate ice cream" mood. 


 8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I'm so thrilled that my friend Renee's cancer is in remission and she is growing her hair back, feeling energetic, and celebrating a lot of things just one year after her diagnosis.  One son graduated from college, another from high school. Here we are at the party she hosted for her homeschooled high school graduate.  I had to tease her about being an overachiever--graduating two kids and beating cancer in the same year. I'm beyond thankful to God for His healing mercy. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Highs, Lows, Progress, Setbacks

Ever have one of those days when, despite your best effort, hope wanes and you fight to stay upbeat?Or in my case as a Christian, firmly planted in one's belief that God is sovereign and nothing is left to chance under His watchful eye?

Today has been one of those days.   Optimistic at 8 a.m. but ready to cry, yell, throw shoes or a pity party by 8 p.m?  And yet, there were bright spots, reasons to smile, a mix of good feelings with the not-so-good.

Let me give you the aerial view of the situation here in my corner .Then the details, because what's a blog post (or conversation or email or even a text) from me without more details than anyone needs?

We are in the process of remodeling our kitchen.
We are planning a vacation.
We are buying our first rental property.

That's the aerial view.  If my marriage survives the remodel,  I'll blog about it.  If our family survives an 11-day road trip in tropical heat without actually being in the tropics, I'll blog about that as well. And if we ever get a settlement date pinned down on the home we're buying, you will read about it right here .

The kitchen is coming along very well, actually.  I survived not having a kitchen sink. You gain a new appreciation for that humble vessel when you have to do dishes in the bathroom.  I can honestly say I'm sick of going out to eat every meal. Thankfully my kitchen is now fully functional.  Complete with Dispos-All.  (Thanks, honey. You're the best.)

The granite countertops were installed yesterday and I love them.  Paul came home from a three-day business trip and I told him I was so happy with the granite that it was like having a new boyfriend. 'I just want to stare at it and touch it all the time. Sorry, honey, you've been replaced by a rock." 

(sneak peek...)

So, back to the high/low/progress/setback timeline...

At 8 a.m. I was hopeful we might go to settlement by late afternoon.
By late morning, there was 10% chance.
By noon, we'd gotten word there was no way.

Paul took the day off because we were SUPPOSED to go to settlement today and move the kids into the new house tomorrow.  But a bunch of incompetent foreclosure attorneys and their peeps have royally screwed up, dragged their feet, shifted blame, and made life very rough the past few days. suffice it to say that, if we had used their title company instead of our own, they might have passed a bad title on to us!  Our very experienced title attorney will be personally visiting a judge on Monday to try to straighten out the mess.  We might (???) settle Tuesday.

At 1:00, my hubby started cutting the underlayment for our new kitchen floor.  The floor we chose is engineered wood in Brazilian Koa from Lumber Liquidators. No two pieces are exactly alike--and that's my style. A unique look.

Paul called me to the kitchen after getting some of that blue underlayment in place. He wanted me to do the design. (Pick each piece; there are long, medium, and short ones in all different tones and grains.)

He regretted. occasionally, having asked me. I didn't just pick up planks willy-nilly and click them in place. I auditioned each piece like I would audition fabric pieces in a quilt. He asked me, "Do you really need to look at three different ones every time?"  Yes, I do. You need contrast. That makes a quilt sing, and that's what will make this floor sing. Variety and contrast.Trust me.

And guess what? When we stopped for the day (seven hours later), he looked at it, smiled, and said he really likes it.  He said I did a good job, and that made all the backache worth it.

Our  rowdy golden dog, on the other hand, isn't so sure. He is skidding and sliding all over it like Kramer entering Jerry Seinfeld's apartment.   God bless him, he lives life full throttle.

So that's my all-over-creation-in-my-thoughts blog post. I actually feel better now that I've gotten it out of my system . Writing has a way of helping me sort things out and calm down. It might take 5 drafts to not sound like a blog-zilla, but I do it.

To recap truth:
a. God is sovereign.
b. The kids won't be homeless. We invited them to stay with us if need be, if that tent doesn't work out so well for them in a lightning storm.
c. Some lawyers are worth every penny you pay them.
d. Others aren't worth a plug nickel.
e. Our kitchen is feeling less like a construction zone and more like a favorite new hangout.
f. I'm really tired from installing a floor today.
g. Secretly glad we're not moving anyone tomorrow in the pouring rain.
h. I really like doing home improvement projects with my husband when I get to design.
h.  I can't resist details.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Taking the Hodgepodge for Granite

People, can you seriously believe this is Volume 225 of the Wednesday Hodgepodge????
 At roughly 47 Hodgepodges per year (our dear hostess Joyce does take off for holidays and hectic days ONCE in a while).
that's a bundle of years' worth!

Thanks for keeping up the fun for us, Joyce!   I don't take it for granted. I appreciate the camaraderie and mental stimulation and chance for some nostalgia once in a while.

1. June 23rd is National Pink Day. What's your favorite something pink?

It's got to be a baby girl with pink cheeks wearing a pink dress. This baby girl 
is my niece about a year ago.

2. What did you enjoy most about gym class when you were in school? How about the least?

I enjoyed the competition the most, especially doing the ropes. Believe it or not, I was really good at rope climbing.  The least? Our gym uniform in Christian school. It made no sense whatsoever. The top was a white, short-sleeved oxford. The shorts were red polyester, to the knee--and skin tight. This look was supposedly "modest".   I beg to differ.

3. What memory is brought to mind by the smell of roses?

Realizing that the guy who I was crazy about and wanted to marry was also sweet on me, but he was too shy to give me red roses. He opted for yellow roses (symbol of friendship) but I got the hint! Yellow roses are still my favorite because of him, Mr. Conservative, my hubby of 28 and 1/2 years.

4. Do you prefer to read or write?

Read.  It takes less effort. But I do love to write.

5. Sam Keen is quoted as saying, 'Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.' Would you agree? Is laziness ever respectable? How will you be lazy this summer?

Depends how uptight you want to get in defining laziness. I think relaxing after some hard work is acceptable. Sitting around  a long time before doing work is not respectable.  Summer is a good mix of both. I will be lazy, maybe, after we get the kitchen done and the kids moved into the new house, and we're on vacation.

6. The Florida Keys, Disney World, or a resort somewhere on the Gulf Coast...which Florida destination would you choose (and why) if the trip were today?

Somewhere in St. Petersburg. My precious girl will be moving there in August for a few months to take a nanny job with people she knows.  We went to Tampa when I was preggers with child #3--it was a second honeymoon that my husband won as a prize for running a 10K.  But no resort is better than being with people you love and miss, unless you can have both!

7. What question do you hate to answer?

Have you seen my (keys, phone, ipod, grey shirt, Philips screwdriver, tape measure, cup, flip-flops, school tie, ....)?  The thing being asked for is usually right in front of them, but even when I'm pointing and saying, "Look up...to the right...no...the other right..." it's as if I'm the only one with eyes or radar.  I think this lost-thing-finder is estrogen fed and estrogen saturated.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

My granite countertops are being delivered today.  I'm just a wee bit excited!!!! 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Two Years of Wedded Bliss

Two years ago today our second son married his beautiful bride, giving us a new daughter to love.

Their marriage is sweet, tender, fun, adventuresome, and many say "enviable." To see them together makes others want a love like that.

Last year Steve wrote this post, which I think is priceless reading (not that I'm biased, but I'd love to read it even if I didn't know the author or his wife).

I'm a blessed mother-in-law; that much I know. The girls love me, respect me, tolerate me, invite me to their homes, and remind me that I raised the man of their dreams. Not all mothers-in-law feel this way, so I don't take it for granted.

Happy second anniversary, Steve  and Ambrey! May God bless your entire marriage abundantly! And may you always smile this way when you look into each other's eyes!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Fatherly Wisdom in the Hodgepodge

1. June is National Great Outdoors Month. Have you spent any time appreciating the great outdoors this month? If so where, and if not do you have any plans to enjoy the great outdoors before the calendar turns?

We ate a picnic lunch at a local park when my older sister was visiting from Texas last week. The teenage cousins threw a frisbee around,

while the youngest kept us taking turns 
swinging her on the swing. "Din! Din!" she'd exclaim. 
(Again! Again!)

2. What's a current hot button issue for you?   

The state of law enforcement.    When a cop fears for his life every time he pulls someone over for a traffic stop, something is wrong. When officers feel stripped of their power in the company of young thugs, something is really wrong. 

3. What's a food or treat that 'disappears like hotcakes' in your house?

Chocolate chip cookies.

4. How hot is too hot?

90 degrees with any humidity. But after the winter we had, I try not to even THINK about complaining of heat. 

5. Do you have an artistic outlook on life? What does that mean to you?

I do have an artistic outlook on life, yes. To me it means seeing art and appreciating design and thinking of the designer behind all things. Of course I believe that God created all things, including the brilliant minds that get the credit for "creating" things.  To have an artistic outlook includes seeing pattern and color and texture and sound and light, and to love words and language and music and dance. It means to be fascinated by the power, function, and beauty of the human mind and body, from the brain to the toes.

6. What's one question you'd like to ask your father, or one you wish you could ask your father?

I feel blessed to have a whole journal of questions that my father answered one year as a gift to me. (I used those answers to blog my 2014 A to Z Challenge which started here.)  What would I like to ask him now?  Hmm. How about "Can you please just never die?"

7. Something you learned from your father?

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.  Put others before yourself. Be faithful to your spouse till the day you die.  Respect your fellow man, no matter how much you disagree with him.  Don't settle for pat answers. Keep learning. Classic cars are cool. Be grateful, be honest, be helpful. Work the ground and enjoy the food from it. Laugh a lot. Give generously of your time, talent, and money. Be kind to animals. Sing.  A 20-minute power nap is better for you than a cup of coffee.

Those are just a handful of nuggets from the treasure trove of Daddy's wisdom.  But the most important thing I think I've learned from my father is that he loves me, no matter what. Although I disappointed him many times, I'm sure, I have always felt his love. He demonstrated it, he said  "I love you" countless times,  he encouraged me in every algebra homework cry fest when I felt like the stupid daughter. "I have no stupid daughters," he'd say, "only smart ones.  So let's look at this math problem from a different angle..."

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

If all goes according to (our) plan, we will be closing on our rental property a week from Friday.  If it doesn't, our first tenants (AKA , our second son and his wife) will be homeless. We had lunch with Steve on Sunday to look at appliances together (the daughters were away for a sister weekend at Ocean City, NJ). When I mentioned settlement happening vs. being postponed,   I said,  "If worse came to worst, you could always come stay with us for a little while."  

Oh, if I had a picture of the look he gave me! Those big blue eyes that show "the wheels always turning"--and shy smile that was about to give way to laughter--oh, dear.  He nearly choked on his taco.  But he swallowed, chuckled, and replied, "That's okay. We have a tent."


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Remembering Mother's Day

Sometimes as a blogger who records the happenings of real family life, I get way behind in posting the events that linger in my mind and on my camera.

Now is one of those times.   So.. even though we are barreling headlong toward Father's Day, how about I back up the train to...

Mother's Day?

We celebrated the week after by gathering at a restaurant. My dear daughter-in-law Dee offered to host, but she and Ben have graciously hosted so many events that I wanted to give them a break.  My mom chose the restaurant, and she and I sat beside each other. The kids showered us with cards, gifts, flowers, and hugs.

The best part was everyone's company ,though, which always and forever will be.  You never know when this gathering might be the last one when you're all together.

At one point I just sat there in my seat, and realized I was basking with joy just looking at my children. And when I say "children," I include both daughters-in-law. I really do feel like I have three daughters and three sons now, and I love them all. So there I was, practically oblivious for a moment to the noisy restaurant, the glossy menu, the ginormous TVs about to televise the Preakness--an event which was so important to Mama that she chose such a restaurant.

My eyes were fixed on my large brood as they talked and laughed amongst themselves. I leaned close to Mama and said, "I just love my family! I can't help it, I could just look at them all day!"   She smiled broadly and nodded her head. "Me, too. It's just wonderful." And then she asked softly in my ear, "but aren't you glad you're not responsible to feed them every day now? "

Yes, indeedy!

I read my cards from the kids,  and she read hers. Is this the face of a blessed grandmother or what?

Despite the sincere smiles, there had been some serious talk between my parents and me about Mama's recent bad health report.  The doctor told her that two-thirds of her liver is dead, and the surgeon said that her abdominal hernia is inoperable at this time. My dad put it bluntly, "We need a miracle. Please pray with us for a miracle."  He said it with the voice I recognize as desperation under control, the voice of an 80-year-old man who has loved this woman for almost 54 years and can't bear to think of  a day without her.  My father has always said she is his everyday Valentine, that he is still on his honeymoon. She says that he is "the incarnation of Jesus to me.'

After some hard news, we watched good news literally race before our eyes:  American Pharaoh won the Preakness! He would go on also to win the Belmont Stakes to become our first Triple Crown Winner in three decades.

After our dinner, my parents went home, but the rest of us wandered into Vaccaro's, an Italian dessert shoppe, for some tasty cannoli. I lived in the moment and didn't snap a single photo there. But it was
a "very sweet" ending to a very sweet Mother's Day.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Spinning in the Hodgepodge

As Joyce, our meme hostess, packs boxes and seals them up tight for a big move, she has managed to pack a few more questions into this weekly box called the Hodgepodge. Let's "unpack" them,  shall we?

Okay, that was a very corny intro. Moving right along...
Get it...moving ...?

1. What's something you're looking forward to in the month of June? 

My sister and her family are coming from Texas and will land at my parents' on                                    Saturday night. I wish our place wasn't in remodeling disarray but, as the French say, "c'est la vie" ("that's life"). Also closing on our first rental property, moving our son and DIL into said rental, getting granite countertops for our own kitchen, plus being on the other side of big decisions like which flooring to choose.

2. In what way have you come full circle?

Oh, that sounds like a philosophical question. Do I have the brain cells on a rainy morning to philosophize? Hmmmm....no.  I'll have to take a RAINcheck on that question, Joyce.

3. Lonely Planet lists 10 spots in America you should see in 2015 and the reasons why. How many on the list have you seen? Which one on the list would you most like to see? 

Queens NY, Western South Dakota, New Orleans, Colorado River Region, North Conway NH, Indianapolis IN, Greenville SC, Oakland CA, Duluth MN, and the Mount Shasta Region CA

I've seen Queens and Indianapolis.  I'd love to see the Colorado River Region the most on that list, and also Greenville when Joyce's house on the lake is built. To meet another  bloggy friend in person for the first time is on my must-do list.

4. A song that describes your mood right now?

For title alone, "Spinning Wheel."

5. Strawberry ice cream, strawberry short cake, strawberry pie, or strawberries right off the vine...your favorite?

Talk about hard choices!    It's like being asked to pick my favorite child (of whom I also have four!).
I guess if you put a dessert cart in front of me with these four to choose from, I'd reach for the strawberry short cake (but the ice cream would be melting away while I decided).

6. Aesop's birthday is celebrated on June 4th, although there is some disagreement as to whether or not that's accurate, or if he was even a real person. Regardless, the name Aesop is associated to this day with many well known fables. Which of the following best applies to something in your life right now? The Tortoise and the Hare(Slow and Steady wins the race), The Ant and the Grasshopper (Be prepared), The Fox and the Goat (Look before you leap) or The Crow and the Pitcher (Necessity is the mother of invention)?

Tortoise and the Hare applies in a most apropos way to our kitchen remodel. My hubby is doing the work himself and he also has a full-time job, so evenings and weekends are when the work gets done.

7. The answer is yes...what's the question?

Are we thanking God over and over and over for sparing the life of my friend's little 2-year-old boy named Marshall?

At a huge--as in very crowded graduation/birthday celebration at their backyard pool on Sunday,  while his mom's back was turned, Marshall nearly drowned.  They're not sure how long he was under water, but a young teenage friend named Daniel rescued him and is credited with saving his life. Tests at Hopkins ER came back perfectly normal!

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Please pray for another young  boy,  3 years old, who is related to a friend's friend.  The little boy darted in front of the tractor that his grandfather was driving.  The grandfather accidentally ran over him, it happened so fast. 
The boy was not killed, his organs spared, but suffered mutilation of some limbs.  The boy is in physical agony with wounds and shredded skin. The mother is in agony watching him suffer. And the grandfather has said that if the boy dies, he will kill himself.  Please pray for them all! 

Monday, June 01, 2015

Tweaking the Blog Look

I'm ready for a change in my blog look but I don't have oodles of time to mess with it all at once.

Therefore, I plan to make incremental changes when I get the chance to sit down and play.  So don't be confused if you come back here often and see things "all shook up, " as Elvis would say.  I'm not tech savvy and don't want to pay someone to design my blog template; I'm kind of a DIY gal, even if it takes me many moons to do what someone else could do in an afternoon.

I'll keep the photos in my sidebar consistent so as not to totally throw my three loyal readers off.