Basketball, sugar cereal, and prom!

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?

No specific plans, but we have a new basketball hoop outside (thanks Mom and Dad!) and it is really fun playing outside with the kids and all of the kids in the neighborhood every evening!  The weather has been really gloomy and overcast lately, but I’m hoping to spend some time walking on the beach soon!
2. What’s a current hot button issue for you?
I don’t know if I would call it a “current” hot button issue – I’m kinda nuts about good customer service.
3. What’s a food or treat that ‘disappears like hotcakes’ in your house?
Lucky Charms!  Seriously – even if I mix them with the Cheerios to try and make them last longer, they are GONE!
4. How hot is too hot?

Oh, how badly do I want to post a picture of a really hot guy.  But my hubby wouldn’t like me posting pictures of him like that!  (heeheehee)

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

To have an artistic outlook on life, I believe one could not take life too seriously, be able to see things from several different angles, and be open to other ways of doing things.”  And yep, I think I’m like that in many ways.
6. What’s one question you’d like to ask your father, or one you wish you could ask your father?
I’d love to ask him “What is your favorite memory of YOUR father when you were a child?” And “If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?”
7. Something you learned from your father?
Sometimes a soft word can say more than a hundred loud ones.
8.  Insert your own random thought here.

So the past two weeks have been crazy – Our anniversary, Prom for our Big C, Finals Week, an early Fathers Day celebration  while my hubby was home, soccer championships (our Little C’s team is city champs!), we are in negotiations in selling our NC house, I took the kids to a Christian rock concert (SO fun!), and this is the last week of school… craziness!   Fun, but crazy!

So yep – My son took his girlfriend to Prom – it was so sweet!  We surprised them with a romantic dinner in our church’s garden (helps to be a church employee sometimes!), then I drove them to and from the prom in our decked-out minivan – twinkle lights, sparkling cider, table in the back with nuts and mints, a special playlist made just for the evening… so fun!  Here the cute couple is in the garden:

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Too sweet.  And they were SO surprised!  It made for a very special evening for them.

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Through the storm.

It is quiet.  Such a rarity in my house.  Not like when I was a stay-at-home mom with little ones… that’s a different type of quiet. That’s either a “Thank God they are all napping at the same time!” quiet or a “Uh oh, what are they into?” quiet.  This… as a full-time working mom with a house of teen and pre-teens, is a rare moment indeed.  Because I go to work directly from taking them to school and I get home after they have already gotten home, I don’t ever have the house to myself.  This morning, my sweet neighbor surprised me by offering to take the girls.  So here i sit… quiet… only the hum of the ceiling fan making a gentle whirring sound as I sit and enjoy the peace… before I have to leave for work in 15 minutes. And I write.

It’s in quiet moments like these that I am struck silent, simply in humbled awe of where our lives have taken us.  Duane and I just celebrated our 21st anniversary.  Back in 1994 we were college students that thought we were going to be school teachers, and the farthest east we would ever live was Colorado.  Instead, we have lived in 6 different states (3 in the west), have served in the military for 14 years, have been through 3 deployments (one of which almost left me a widow), we have seen business setbacks due to corruption and greed, we have been on unemployment, we have had cancer scares, we have had pain brought by those we considered friends.

The experiences we have had, the growing pains as God stretched us and grew us… the pains that continue to hurt even as we feel ourselves being pushed and challenged in ways we never thought we would be… it hurts.

In this last year especially, as we faced unemployment and the bitter throbbing pain of betrayal, I have learned what the term “a sacrifice of praise” really means.  I would be in the middle of a good old fashioned temper tantrum with God, throwing out phrases like “How could this happen?  Why would You allow this?  It’s so evil… we have done no wrong… why are we the ones being victimized here?  WHY?” And in the midst of my bitterness, my anger, my anguish… I would hear God’s still small voice whisper “I know.  I, too, know betrayal.  I know unfairness.  But just as I prayed ‘Not my will, but thine be done’ in the Garden of Gethsemane, so too must you pray that.  Praise me anyway.  Even through the storm.  Praise me.  Because you KNOW I’ve got you in the palm of my hand.  You KNOW that you will get through this. Right now there is so much uncertainty, so much fear, so much pain… give it to me.  Let me walk through this with you.  The journey is not over – you’ve still got work to do… more challenges ahead… but I’ve got you.”

And so I praised.  Even through the tears… even when I really really really really REALLY didn’t want to.  but I had no choice.  It was either praise, or be swallowed up by the bitterness that threatened to consume me.

To be continued…

A Memorable Hodgepodge!

1.  Did you do anything ‘memorable’ this past weekend?

Well, THIS GUY came into town a week early, surprising the kiddos and I!  (OK, he actually told me the day before, but STILL!)  Woot Woot!  So we had an awesome weekend of family time, playing on the beach, kayaking, paddle boarding, watching movies, worshipping together in church, grilling out, etc. etc. etc.  Quite memorable…

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Isn’t he cute? 🙂

2. Ronald Reagan is quoted as saying-
 
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”  

Your thoughts? Do you somehow acknowledge and appreciate the freedoms you enjoy? Did your upbringing contribute to that sense of appreciation? If you’re a parent, are there specific things you do to pass on this sense of responsibility and appreciation to your own children in regard to the freedoms they enjoy?

Being a military spouse for 14 years will certainly bring it home as to what your freedoms cost, and what those in the military sacrifice, for our freedoms, which we take for granted.  And, let me just say… there are sacrifices eternal, as in giving your lives, but there are others who are changed forever, mentally, physically, emotionally… those are sacrifices that are given for our freedoms that aren’t always acknowledged.

But that is why we support our military.  Why we support our misisonaries, free trade and human trafficking initiatives, etc.  We as Americans have it so, so good.  We have no idea.


3. Loudest noise you’ve ever heard?

The sound of freedom, baby! 🙂 (and also, the sexiest jet ever… just saying…)

4. What was the last thing you ate that might be considered ‘junk food’? Did you enjoy it?
I honestly don’t ever eat junk food…  but does the Tiramisu from our local Italian restaurant count?  Yes?  Then ok… yes, it was absolutely delicious.  Yummy…..
5. When was the last time you were somewhere the crowd felt ‘packed in like sardines’?
Ugh – thankfully I can’t remember the last time that I was in a place that crowded!  I get SO claustrophobic in situations like that…

6. Are you organized when it comes to packing for a trip? Do you make a list weeks in advance or toss items in last minute? Are you a carry-on only sort of packer or do you need an entire suitcase for your shoes?
I tend to be last minute, but I like carry-on only if possible…  depends on the length of the trip.
7. What was the last sporting event you attended in person? Did your team win? Did you care?
The Angels game last summer.  Our team won.  Yay!  (Hey, I live in Orange County now, I guess I’d better care – though a big part of me is still partial to my LA Dodgers – right Papa?!)

8.  Insert your own random thought here…

Your mid-week funny!  Dogs who fail at being dogs…

Laughing along with the Hodgepodge

1.  Did you make someone laugh yesterday? Was it intentional?

Well, not me exactly, but just tonight – I was playing Scattergories with my kiddos and the letter was “D” and the category was “Tools” and my daughter put “Dentures” as her tool – I made her call her dad to confer with him on whether that was acceptable, and we were all laughing, the conversation was so funny!
2. What’s a simple question with a complicated answer?

What does it mean to love?

3. Rhododendrons or azaleas…you have to choose. Are either currently blooming in your yard?

I love them both – especially when we lived in North Carolina, the rhododendrons were gorgeous!  I don’t have either in my yard, but my camellias have just started blooming, and the bougainvillea is blooming – gorgeous!
4. May 21st is National Waitstaff Day. Have you ever worked as a waiter/waitress? How would you rate the experience? What was the best/worst part of the job?

Nope, I’ve never worked as a waitress.
5. What fashion trend for women should be outlawed? How about one for men?

Spandex.  And that goes for both men and women.  Seriously.

And thongs… also for both genders.
6. Name a writer who inspires you….now tell us why.

So many to choose from… besides the obvious, GOD, check out His best seller – it’s awesome!  I also greatly admire Jan Karon (The Mitford Series) – stories of faith, real life, small town living… love it.
7. What well known quote or saying sums up your plans for today or this week?

“Let go and let God”

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Meh – I’ve got a cold.  I don’t have any random thoughts.  No thoughts at all.  I’m exhausted, stuffy headed, achey… and just tired.  Under attack from all sides.  Prayers for rest and healing appreciated!  Thanks friends – I’ll be back with more typical witty banter next week!

A much better Hodgepodge…

Thankfully a much better week than last week – boy, that was a doozy!  God is good, friends.  Bring peace where there is chaos… words where there are none… and silence where it is needed.  So now, with a deep sigh of contentment, lets Hodgepodge!

1. When is your next big deadline? What’s it for?

As you know, I am not only our church receptionist and Family Ministries Administrator, but I am also a Deacon.  In a couple of weeks we have a New Members Class, and I need to create a new brochure for it – letting people know how to use our online directory.  It’s a bit daunting – but it’s due in 10 days, so I’d better hop to it and GET IT DONE ALREADY!
2. May is National Barbecue Month. Do you prefer cooking indoors or out? What’s the best thing about a barbecue? What’s the last thing you cooked on an outdoor grill?
I love cooking outdoors!  I think everything tastes so much fresher cooked outside!  In the summer especially, when our schedules are more relaxed and it’s hot and I don’t want to turn on the oven or cook over a hot stove… I love cooking on the grill outside and then eating on our patio.  We cooked hamburgers a few weeks ago.  YUmm…
3. What is one thing on your “never again” list?
Never again will I look at a chance to serve as an inconvenience.  Humbled today.
4. What’s something that annoys you about people your own age? Something you love about your generation?
Something that annoys:  the constant obsession with their i-devices.  And yes, I’m as guilty as the rest of them.
Something I love:  the fact that it was our generation that ushered in the internet and made it accessible to everyone in every home.  Pretty darn amazing.
5. Lilac, iris, hyacinth, pansy…your favorite purple flower?
I love pansies – mainly because when we lived in colder climates they were the hardy ones that could be planted as soon as spring whispered in the air, but were hardy enough to withstand the snows that inevitably came the minute I planted them in the ground!
6. Whats a song that always calms you down?
This one:  .
One of my favorite songs to play on the piano as well.
David Nevue – The Gift
7. What’s the last thing you donated?
Our church is serving at a camp in Mexico that serves as a church to gypsy Mexitecan workers.  It is truly humbling, in every sense of the word.  Transient.  Illiterate.  Don’t speak Spanish, but their own version of the language and they can’t read or write.  And yet this camp has a service every Saturday that is a VBS style service, almost a school – and they serve 150+ children every Saturday.  And they have nothing.  So… I have gone through my children’s closets and dressers and have gathered shoes, clothing, toys.  We have so much.  They have so little.  And while they definitely teach me that you don’t need “things” to be happy… maybe I can help them be a little more comfortable.  It’s something… right?
8. Insert your own random thought here.
I won’t go into details on how last week ended up… but a huge thank you for all of the prayers.  They mean everything to me.
Here’s a pic of my kiddos and I on Mothers Day – aren’t they sweet?!
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Now – on a different topic – we have at least two bunny rabbits that have decided our yard is a good place to live.  In truth, they are very cute.  BUT – it appears they are killing our grass.  Anyone have any good (humane) ideas on how to encourage them to live elsewhere?  We live in the hills, so there are lots of little critters around…
Bunny friend

A reluctant Hodgepodge…

Two things.  First – I really wasn’t going to do today’s Hodgepodge.  I had a crummy day yesterday, and just. wasn’t. feeling. it.  For many reasons.  Secondly – you know I’ve been doing the Hodgepodge for a couple of years now.  And in that time, have come to know several of the fellow weekly Hodgepodgers like family.  A handful in particular, will email me if I haven’t posted to see if I’m ok, our emails to each other go beyond the weekly Hodgepodge and into praying for each other and sharing our lives – even though we have not physically met.  It’s a God-thing, this little community and the blessings that come with it.  So – this Hodgepodge is for you, Zo… you encouraged me in your email this morning to do the questions, even if I didn’t feel like it.  You are probably right.  And I”m nothing if not stubborn – issue me a challenge, and I”ll rise to meet it!  Here’s to you, Zo.  Love ya.

1. What’s a phrase your mother often said to you? If you’re a parent, is this something you now say to your own children?

“Clean your room!”  or “You can’t go out and play until your chores are done” and yes, these are both things I say now, obviously!

Funny story – so my deal with my hubby is that now that I”m working full time and he is working 2000 miles away, I get a housecleaner twice a month.  Bliss.  Last week our cleaners were coming, so I told the kids to straighten up their rooms – at which point my smart-mouthed teen boy said “But isn’t that the cleaner’s job?”  I just stared at him, and very slowly, very quietly said “It is NOT their job to pick up your moldy socks and underwear that shouldn’t be on the floor in the first place.  There is no way I pay them enough for that.  Their job is to dust and vacuum and change the sheets and make your room look like a teenage behemoth does NOT live here!”  To which he responded “Oh.  Ok.”  Message received.  (I have also told my kids that if they aren’t willing to do their part – putting clothes away, etc. then I will put a post-it note on their door telling the cleaners not to clean in there.  I haven’t had to do it yet!)
2. What is a scent you associate with your mother or your childhood home?

Gardenias, because we had a gardenia bush right outside our front door.
3. What’s an activity you remember always doing with your mother (or someone who was a mother figure in your life)?

4. Flared jeans, maxi dresses, and jumpsuits are 70’s fashion trends back this spring. Are you on board? Which trend would you be most inclined to try? For the men…flared corduroys, wide-collared shirts, and floral prints…what say you? 
I don’t mind the flared jeans – they look cute with boots!  I’d love the ease of the maxi dress. but I’m too short to pull it off well.  Jumpsuits – ugh, no thank you.  You have to undress completely every time you have to use the bathroom, and I would feel like I was in one of those one-piece outfits that are adorable on toddlers, but not so much on 40-somethings.
5. May 6th is Teacher Appreciation Day and also Nurse Appreciation Day. Is there a nurse or teacher  you have especially appreciated along the way? Tell us why?
I LOVED my labor and delivery nurse when I had my Little C.  She was British and motherly and wonderful.
6. If I came by your house, what would I find on your frig door?
A message center – with our family calendar and some graduation announcements.  Not much else though – I try to keep it clean looking.
7. Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana made her royal entrance on Saturday, May 2nd. On a scale of 1-10, how much attention did you give to all the news coverage? 1=Who’s Charlotte? 10=sat glued to the telly, cuppa in hand.
I’ll give it a 5 – I was curious, of course, even if my hubby thinks all of the hoopla is ridiculous.  (And I LOVE her name.  Good choice!)
8.  Insert your own random thought here.
So… yuckiness.  to say the least.
A high school friend lost her husband in a car accident on Sunday, leaving behind my sweet friend and their three young children.  One of my prayer partners in Idaho has an adult son who tried to take his life this weekend and is in the critical care unit.  My husband and I have had to take a difficult stand for the protection of ourselves and our children, but in doing so have upset other family members who do not support our decision.
My heart is hurting.  Please lift my friends and my family in prayer.  Being an adult sucks sometimes.

Uniformly Hodgepodge…

Hey there friends!  Thanks for joining me back at our weekly Hodgepodge!  I’m so grateful that Joyce provides these questions every week – not only is it a fun creative outlet, but I’ve made some wonderful friends in this community.  I dream of someday actually meeting some of these friends in person – what fun a Hodgepodge Retreat would be!  Hey Joyce – maybe we should put one together after your hubby retires and your dream home is built and a bajillion other things fall into place!

In the meantime, lets Hodgepodge! 🙂

1. Have you ever had to wear a uniform? If yes, tell us more. Did you love it or hate it?
My first uniform (other than Brownies/Girl Scouts) was when I was a volunteer at our local hospital.  I was a candy striper – a term that really had nothing to do with my duties, which were mainly to deliver cafeteria-smelling meals to people.  Here was my uniform:
UnknownThat’s not me, by the way… thanks Google images… you’d have to put braces and awkward glasses on the poor girl to make her look like me.  I didn’t particularly love the uniform.  But I liked helping people!
My son now volunteers at our hospital in town, and he has really cool looking tropical print scrubs.  Much cooler than my pinstriped uniform, which is now hanging in the Archive Hall of my hometown hospital.  Don’t know how I feel about that.
My second uniform was at my first job, at the Blue Chip Cookie Company.  I had to wear a tie.  A TIE!  Did I know how to tie a tie?  no, I did not.  Did I ever learn how to tie a tie properly?  No, I did not.  God only knows how I looked the entire time I worked there.  I’m just saying… if you require your 16-year-old employees to wear a tie, you should at least provide a handout or video or something that shows them how to tie a tie.  After all, this was before Pinterest and YouTube, people!
2. April 22nd is Earth Day. What is one thing you do personally to be a good steward of planet Earth?

I recycle all of our glass and plastic, even bringing items home from work so they can be recycled.  I’m planting low-water plants in my yard.  I unplug devices that aren’t used all the time instead of leaving them plugged in.
3. Brown rice, quinoa, or couscous…your healthy grain of choice? How often are one of the three on your menu at home?  Given a choice between white rice, brown rice, wild rice, and fried rice which would you go for? 
My grain of choice – quinoa.  We usually have one of these at least once a week.  As to what I prefer, it really depends on what it is going with.  You’ve got to have fried rice with Chinese food, brown rice with Mexican food, wild rice if you need a carb with your meal but don’t want it all beige on your place, and white rice if you are having meat with good sauce that can soak in and make it tasty.
I don’t think I have ever spent this much time thinking about rice.
4. In your opinion, who has the best job ever?

Anyone who genuinely loves their job, feels like they are making a difference in the world around them, and is content, has the best job ever.
5. What’s a situation in your life currently requiring patience? 
It’s looking like my hubs’ job is going to be extended a few months longer than what I was anticipating.  I’m disappointed, I mean, he hasn’t even seen this house all put together!  I know in the scheme of things, it’s a good thing – getting paid is a good thing, after all – but I can’t help but be a little disgruntled.  Patience indeed.
6.  Do you live your life around days of the week? Explain.

A little bit – with kids in school, and a work schedule, it’s hard not to know the various days and what they bring!  Never enough time to get the “little stuff” done… no matter what the day.
7. In a nod to the A to Z challenge happening around town this month, what ‘R word’ best describes your April? 
Ridiculous!  Spring break – one child in Mexico, one in palm springs, one with me in Missouri, now going to see my in-laws this weekend in Utah, then next week going to Mexico on a mission trip… on top of a massive work project I’m in charge of… it’s nuts!
8. Insert your own random thought here
So last week Joyce asked us what the last “crafty” thing we had done was, and i was really sad when I couldn’t come up with anything!  In between working and moving, I haven’t even found my craft supplies, much less done anything with them!  But THEN… I got the summer Pottery Barn catalog in the mail.  And i LOVED the lanterns on the cover page… but, like so many things Pottery Barn, I did NOT love the price.
But check them out!
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Cute, right?  Oooh, ahhh… Pottery Barn…
But then I thought – HEY!  I have the lanterns (thank you Lowes, only $7!) and I have the flameless battery candle (thank you Michaels!)  All I need to do is get some seashells and nautical rope (thank you, I live at the beach, and also have a Michaels down the street)  – so, here is my version that I made tonight!
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Not bad, if I do say so myself!  And, all for the bargain price of $15… as opposed to the $70 at Pottery Barn.  yay!
Hope you have a good week friends!!