Monday, June 30, 2008

rental car rush

If you are like me then you expect to be treated well. I expect strangers to treat me politely and give me the benefit of the doubt. I expect my husband to treat me like the Queen that I am, and I expect those in the service industry to do their jobs with a smile. Right? I mean, I want a happy waiter, whether you have to fake it or not. I expect a polite and comforting doctor. I want a doorman, concierge, receptionist or secretary to act like they are happy I am there and just so excited to answer my question.

But I don't expect more than that.

I don't expect you to upgrade me if I haven't paid for it. I wouldn't ask you to give me something for which I haven't paid. I don't ask for extra discounts. I hardly ever quibble with my bill. I tip well (usually 20% because I can't figure 15%.) But I'm not asking for a freebie or anything extra. If you offer, fine. But I ain't bringin' it up first.

So imagine my surprise when we landed in Florida for my brother's wedding and the rental car lady says:

"Is is just the two of you?"


"Do you have much luggage?" Why? I wonder, does she care?

"No, just little weekend bags."

"I have a convertible, if you like."

OH. MY. STARS. I have never really been in one, and to let you know, we reserved a sub-compact car. Like a Hyundai two seat hatchback thing. Cheap.

She gave us the keys to this:

She warned us that it didn't have my space and so our luggage wouldn't fit, but we had to try? Right? We went out to the lot and spent all of 5 minutes with the pretty, pretty car that had no trunk and no space for my little suitcase.

We took the keys back inside to the nice lady. To the lady who was going to let us drive away in this upgraded rental because... I have no idea why. Cause we looked nice? And we were polite to her. And we called them to tell them our plane would be late? Maybe.

Well, we ended up in a PT Cruiser which was fun and had lots of space for out little luggage. It was pretty too and maybe had hurt feelings that it was our second choice, but it took us to our destination and say goodbye without a tear.

But, those five minutes where we were gonna drive around in that convertible were sweet. I imagined us jetsetting down the interstate with the wind in my hair and loud music on the radio. I imagined my brother's face when we pulled up to the hotel in that car. That pretty, silver, luxury convertible.

With no room for luggage, or shopping must have been designed by a man.

Friday, June 27, 2008

old friends, new friends

Have you ever had an "aha" moment with someone? Where you are talking to a stranger and then something comes up and you realize how you are already connected? Maybe through someone you both know, or that you go to the same gym (this one NEVER happens to me) or that you went to the same high school? Well, it happened to me the other day when I was least expecting it.

Let's back up, so I can tell two stories.

1. My mom has moved up here and is currently living in my house. She sold her house in Florida and is looking for one here. Yesterday we went out with our realtor and looked at houses, townhouses, condos, etc. Funny stories about that later. One house we went to had people in it because their realtor had not told them we were coming. Ok, story number 2.

2. About 9 years ago when I graduated from college, I lived by myself in an apartment and was working for the summer at my college until I found a teaching job. New guy gets hired at the college: Ryan. He is working in technology and we are talking because we are the only young people and whatdoyaknow? He lives across the parking lot from my apt and I can see into his windows from my windows. Very Friends. So we become buds and see movies and keep each other company sometimes until I moved in with another friend in a different complex. He ended up dating another friend of mine, Donna, who also found a job at our college.

Ok, so nice memories, huh?

Not so much.

See, Ryan and Donna were killed in an apartment fire on Valentine's Day. Some crazy chick was mad at her ex-boyfriend and set a couch on fire on a balcony at the building where Donna and her sister lived. Donna, her sister Rachel, their roommate Beth and Ryan all died when the building caught on fire. The girl did get sent to prison, in case you were curious.

Why are we talking about this?

Well, I kept in touch with Ryan's parents for a while, until they moved to Arizona to escape all the memories in a town where they raised their son. I couldn't find them after that.

Until yesterday.

That house we walked into where the people were still home? Ryan's sister's house.

I was walking around and looking at the house when I spotted a picture of Ryan. The lady of the house said we could ask her any questions and I am sure she meant about the house, but I said "Ryan, right? How do you know Ryan?"

She told me that she was his sister and I started babbling about how I knew him and the memories I had and how I used to keep in touch with her parents and blah, blah... Our realtor was looking at me like I was crazy, but I later explained.

The sister was so nice. We had a little cry and she gave me her parent's email address and told me to get in touch with them.

I could not believe it. Really. I mean, coincidences happen all the time, but that was amazing.

Isn't funny how little moments can really get you? I think of Ryan and Donna every Valentine's Day and wonder why that happened. What I do know is that God holds us in the palm of his hand and can take us through trials, tough times and fires.

Figuratively and literally.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

the holy grail (or, my trip to pottery barn)

I have been dreaming about it for months now. My trip to the Pottery Barn Outlet. I planned out drive back from Florida right past the Outlet Center in Gaffney, SC. After I learned of the existence of PB outlets, I was so excited. My husband bought me a gift card and I had some cash to spend as well. I was well rested and ready to shop.

Here we are! I was happy to discover that PB had actually taken over TWO stores in the outlet mall. One contained mostly furniture and the other had accessories and other items. The furniture store was smaller, but the other store....
was huge!! And full of things to discover! I wandered around in there for about two hours. Yup, I said two hours. Two hours of blissful touching, imagining, comparing and digging. And they were having a 40% off sale. What did I buy, you ask?


I know, it's sad. I didn't spend a dime.

I almost bought a lamp, but it was the wrong color. I almost bought curtains, but they were out of the color I wanted. I almost bought an end table, but it was really scratched. I considered a mirror, but wasn't sure I could fit it in the car. In the end, I decided that I didn't HAVE to spend my money if I couldn't find something that I loved.

But, here I am happily trying out this chair. I really did have a good time. I may go back in the future just to visit! It was a wonderful two hours, even though Charlie fell asleep in a chair and my mom lost interest and shopped elsewhere. They let me have my fun and got out of the way. Smart folks, they are!

I will save my gift card for another time. Maybe Debbie will let me come and stay with her and she will take me to the one near her house? Please, pretty please?!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

we are family, all my brothers and me

I posted about the wedding a couple of weeks ago when I was talking about how many we have coming up this summer. I think this was the biggest one, though, because we traveled to Florida and made a little vacation out of it. And yes, the wedding actually WAS more important than the Pottery Barn. I do have priorities, people!

Anyway, my big brother Drew has had an amazing ten years. His first wife left and he took it like anyone takes it, I guess. But then, he made something beautiful out of it. He studied and learned and waited and prayed. And then he met Jamie.

Jamie is a really great woman of God. She is a missionary who has traveled the world with an African Children's Choir. And she fell in love with my big, broken-hearted brother.

Here they are on Saturday looking so happy. My brother isn't the easiest man to get to know, but Jamie really understands him. They hosted a very simple and lovely wedding, that was more about worship than a wedding. Their church service started with 30 minutes of Praise and Worship, and then the actual ceremony started.
Oh, yeah. Drew is about a foot taller than Jamie.
Here are the girls. Jamie let them select their own dresses and they looked so cute.
Here are the guys. Charles, the best man, is about a foot shorter than Drew, so they took this one to be funny. Don't you like their ganster hats and canes?
We had a great time and enjoyed the party. Instead of a cake they served hundreds of cupcakes (yum!) I decorated the car for the newlyweds and off they went to who knows where. They wouldn't say.
And here we are in our wedding finery. I forgot to take a pic of the shoes, but I will show you them later. I think we cleaned up nicely. Notice my cute new haircut, if I do say so myself!

I don't know Jamie that well, and to be honest, my brother and I don't know each other as adults. But I am happy for him. I want him to find joy in all that the Lord has brought him. It has been a tough road for Drew, but this happy beginning is an awesome reward.

Congratulations, Drew and Jamie!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

have you missed me?

I know, I's been all week. I haven't forgotten you all, but I have been on vacation. In fact, I am still on vacation. I am currently sitting in a hotel room in Tallahassee, Florida. I am wearing a cocktail dress ( I think) and I am typing on my husband's laptop. I am waiting.

Waiting for what?

Waiting for when we go to take pictures. My brother is getting married today and all I have to do is show up for pictures. And smile. I hardly know any people here, including my new sister-in-law, and it has made for a very quiet vacation thus far. Which is good.

Because I'm sick.

The fertility stuff that I am on this go round is making me sick. Fun times, right? The pharmacist told me I might experience some stomach problems and he was right. I have not been a happy camper, but I have muddled through.

I would have pics to post, but the camera ran out of batteries. I will post some when I return home next week. Until then, I will put on my diamond-y strappy shoes and go say "cheese!"

Monday, June 16, 2008

beauty in the imperfections

The Nester is hosting a picture challenge and the idea is to post a picture of something that isn't perfect, but it is beautiful. I have lots going on in my house right now, but the most recent thing I accomplished was refinishing this island piece.

We bought this island thing at TJMaxx, my favorite place. I could live there, seriously. Anyway, when we remodeled our kitchen, I wanted something unique in the middle of the kitchen. So I shopped around and found this. It looked nice, but wasn't what I wanted. What it was: the right price.
After quite a bit of sanding, stripping, painting and distressing, I now have this really cool island. I love it. I am so proud that my husband and I managed to pull this off and make it look so good. I mean, we could have bought it this way. For a lot more than what we paid for it.

But, I can share a secret, right? We can't shut the drawers anymore because the paint sticks them shut! If we want to be able to get stuff out of them, we can't close them all the way. So I'm not showing you that side of the island, with the drawers sticking out. You won't tell anyone, will you?

Thanks to all that read my last post about Father's Day and left a comment. It was a hard one to write, but I felt that it was an appropriate way to honor him.

And some fun to leave you with..

Sunday, June 15, 2008

and takes away

Father's Day is not my favorite holiday. It never has been, but in the 10 years since my father died, it has been a day that varies in it's emotions. Sometimes I am ripped apart with loss, other times it is more mellow. Sometimes it aches, other times I am blessed with the sweetness of a Lord who loves us in our hurts.

My dad was my sun. He was the sunshine in my day. He brought a smile, a hug, an intelligent thought and a silly saying to my world. Were you one of those kids embarrassed by your dad? I was, from the ages of about 10-13. But when I was 13, my friend Lindy, who's dad had long since disappeared, told me that I should be content with what I had. That changed my world. It was profound. No longer did I duck my head when my dad would help me pick out Maxi-pads (the man wanted to know why wings were so important) or when he would gun our cheap little car in the parking lot picking me up from Flag practice. I started smiling and saying "that's my dad."

My dad loved not only me, but anyone I brought in the house. He would give Lindy special attention. He took in another friend, Will, and talked with him for hours about his writing ambitions. Will's dad had left, and his mom had flaked out and Will was living in his car, but my dad reached out and offered something Will was missing out on. Everyone should have a parent that is proud of them and their accomplishments, and my dad was that man for Will. He was like that for everyone who needed, wanted, and came with open hands.

When my dad told our small town he was sick, the town rallied around us. People came to pray, to offer strength and support. He would smile and offer THEM comfort. He was so at peace with his fate. The Lord gave him a spirit to accept his disease and love what it did for our family and town. His leukemia restored his relationship with my rebellious brother, allowed others to face their own losses and let our family embrace the time we had with each other.

I remember the last time I saw my dad. I came home from college for fall break and my dad had been in hospital for a couple days. He was home and looked so good, so healthy. I was sitting on the couch and my dad was in his favorite recliner. Whatever I was reading made me cry and I crawled into my dad's lap. Keep in mind I am 20 and sitting on his lap. But that was our thing...when I needed him, that's where comfort was found. In his lap. The time I didn't get yearbook editor, or our grandpa died, or when that friend was mean to me. In his lap, rocked safe in his arms. I rocked one last time and held on to him and said goodbye.

Three weeks later he was gone.

The memorial service was very interesting. We were expecting lots of people, but even we were amazed. My old teachers showed up, kids from my youth group, Hardee's workers where he had coffee every morning, his patients, friends and strangers. You couldn't find a place to sit. We sang "I'll Fly Away," and let him go to glory.

I take with me every memory of his laughter, his generosity, his intelligence, his drive, his gentleness, his curiousity, and his love for us.

I also took this.

In the 10 years since he died I have grown up, graduated college, bought a car, met Charlie and got married. I have felt his absence acutely at times. Father's Day does that, so does his birthday. Sometimes it's like he right with me, helping me change that tire, or rake the yard. Other times it's like I'm lost and I can't find my way home.

But, I have the recliner. When I am sad, I sit in it (I am crying as I type, so you can bet as soon as I publish, I'll be there) and I rock. I plan to rock my babies in it. And my teenagers. And I will talk about their grandpa who they never got a chance to know and tell them stories of his silliness and his love for me. It's what allows me to love their father and what gives me the strength to figure this infertility out.

I know, some of you may think that God should be all those things to me. And He is. But who I am to argue that my Father gave me my father as an example of how He loves? Does that make sense? I know to trust Him implicity because I was given an earthly father who showed me how Jesus does it.

There doesn't seem to be an eloquent way to wrap this up, and I am sorry if I have bummed anyone out. That wasn't my intention. I just wanted to share, that even in my hurts, my sadness, my loss, I can still see who God is. I was able to praise Him in my father's death, and I can praise Him now. In this storm of emotions.

I will praise the One who gives, and takes away.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

the secret

I know, I know, I am the last on the bandwagon! But it wasn't because I didn't want to do it, it was because I didn't know HOW to do it. That's right...I had no clue how to paste the HTML and I think, like Heather, I thought it stood for HotMail. Seemed appropriate. But, now that I have figured it out, I can proudly display my saucy new sidebar.

I know. You've been there for weeks. I know, everyone looooves it. And I do too. I am just a late bloomer. But, I have done something many of you have not.

I have actually talked to Heather on the phone.

That's right, people. I have made contact. Turn those green eyes of jealousy away.

I had to call. I had to throw myself at her mercy and please, please, pretty please, tell me how to paste this HTML stuff into my page. Pretty please, with sugar on top?!

Thanks, Heather! You were very helpful and it was fun to talk to you. In person would be better, but I will settle for the phone. I have to. You live in COLD Colorado where it spring hasn't sprung and I am all the way over here in NC. Where it is HOT.

I did see one other Bloggy friend in person today. Emily came by and we talked paint samples, So You Think You Can Dance, and Dawson's Creek. Ahhh, the memories of Dawson's Creek. Em and I used to get together every week to watch the Creek. She would drive over to my apartment and we would eat dessert and watch our favorite teenage soap. We loved it. So much soapy, teenage drama fun.

And I finally sent poor Lula the book she won. Finally. Sorry, Lula.

It has been a fun day. My second day of vacation. Sleeping in is bliss. Watching Racheal Ray is a treat. Hanging with Emily was a bonus and eating in my clean kitchen was relaxing. Talking to Heather was a treat, and the nice man at the Post Office who only made me wait 3 minutes was an angel sent from heaven.

I love summer.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

the summer of love

This summer we have been invited to no fewer than five weddings. Five. It all kicks off next weekend with my big brother Drew getting married to a lovely girl named Jamie. Then in July we have one wedding, in August there are two and then in September there is one. My mailbox has been stuffed with those big envelopes with double postage and nice stationary that just scream "wedding" invitation.

I have a theory that wedding invitations can tell you a lot about a girl. I had a hard time finding ones I liked and ended up making my own because I didn't want hearts and castles on them. And I wanted something more than just a simple glossy border. So I conned about 10 friends to come and help me assemble my complex beaded invitations. Yes, I said beaded. They were time consuming and beautiful and we needed 275 of them. Yup, you heard that right...we needed 275 invitations. We invited 767 people. (Pick yourselves up off the floor please!)

Here is what they looked like. I saw them in a wedding magazine and thought they were so neat and unique. My husband, computer wiz that he is, figured out how to print them and then we assembled them and wired the beads. I had two "bead parties" in which I fed my friends dinner and we sat around and made them. They stood up pretty good to mailing, and we only heard of one person that received on with smashed beads. I was happy with how they turned out! ( I am only showing you the part that doesn't have any last names, so don't whine about how you can't see the whole thing!)

Anyway, invitations really tell me about someone and what kind of style they have. Simple invites, fancy invites, flowery invites, ones with golf foil or raised letters, invites with many little cards tucked inside. And yes, those tacky ones with the bridges and castles. I apologize if you chose those and if you loved them, no, I'm sorry, I can't apologize too much. I just don't like them.

Now, some of these invitations we received were from friends of Charlie's. Some are family and some are friends. Some are people that we don't really know all that well and others are people we would say are family.

I don't know why I am telling you all this, but I thought you would find it entertaining that we will be headed to the alter several times this summer. I may wear the same dress each time, or I might buy something new. You never can tell with me and my closet.

Anyone want to make an invitation confession? What were your wedding invites like? I certainly must know if you were a castle invite girl!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

pink salsa, a brown out, and plaid flip flops

Yesterday my husband was going to be gone most of the day and I wondered what I would do with a whole day to myself. Hmmmm. Farmer's Market!

I called up my friend Kristen to see if she would go and she gladly agreed. Seems she wanted to try making homemade salsa and she could get nice, fresh ingredients at the FM. I thought, my husband likes salsa, maybe I will make him some. So off we went.

I did not take my camera. I should have.

We bought tomatoes, jalepenos, onions, cilantro, garlic and chips. We were going to make it at my house, since I have that big kitchen, but as were were driving back, my neighbor called. The power was out in our neighborhood. The HEAT we are having here was causing some problems and so the power was out, and was going to be out for about three more hours. So we went to Kristen's apartment and geared up to make our fabulous homemade we could go into business salsa. We shoulda known better.

Let me say this: Kristen is a good cook. I am a good cook. There should be no reason why the salsa wouldn't turn out.

We agreed the we wanted a smoother salsa. Neither Kristen or I actually like tomatoes, so we didn't want it chunky. (I know you are thinking "if you don't like tomatoes, why are you making salsa?" Hush up.) So we chopped all the ingredients, put them in the blender and pressed chop.

It was pink.


Pink lemonade pink.

See why I wish I'd had my camera?

We looked at it in horror. Well, it must at least taste good, right? Nope. Tasted like raw tomatoes with a kick of heat and garlic. We had bought enough ingredients to make two batches, so we thought some research was in order before we made the next batch.

Google is no longer my friend.

We must have looked at 20 different websites and saw thousands of recipes. Some said to cook the tomatoes or used canned tomatoes. Others said to do what we did. Confusumundo.

We decided to put our salsa in a pan and cook it. That did seem to make it more red, but it still didn't taste good. It needed salt, so I added some, then all you could taste was salt. On to batch number two.

This time we blanched the tomatoes first and then chop pedthem. We put the onions, garlic, jalepeno in the blender and chopped it, then added the tomatoes without blending them. That one seemed a little better, but it still tasted HORRIBLE. It was not good.

For fun, we took them to a barbeque some friends were having last night to let them laugh at how bad it was. And it didn't even make all that much either. After spending at least $8 on ingredients, we had maybe 3 cups of really bad, really salty, pink salsa. I did salvage the day by making some wonderful guacamole, though. My chips won't be lonely.

Oh, and I bought these pink plaid flip-flops. Summer is here! I could have taken a pic with my feet in them, but then you would have seen how badly I need a pedicure.

Aren't they cute? Target for $9.99. Fabric flip-flops. Plastic ones hurt my feet cause they have those plugs under your instep. These ones are perfect. I loved them so much I went back and bought the other pair with blue and green stripes.

And Kristen, I know you are reading this. I had so much fun with you, even if we aren't going to be the next salsa gourmets!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

an apple for the teacher

Friday is our last day of school and things are winding down. I have taken down my bulletin boards, inventoried my books and chased down kids who have lost books. This week has been both busy and boring.

This is a picture from a lesson I did on adjectives. We touched, tasted, and looked at apples.

I haven't been seeing classes for the last week or so because of library inventory. I have to scan all 9,000 books and account for them. This process is exceedingly dull and I hear the beep of the scanner upteen times. I started hearing it in my sleep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Oh. MY. Enough!

Then there are the kids that SWEAR they turned in that book. And then they find it in their desk. That happens a lot. I have stopped believing them. I tell them, if they have turned it in, it would be on the shelf. Go find it. Once in a long while, the book is on the shelf. Most of the time, it is under a bed somewhere or in grandma's car or was eaten by the dog.

This post is rambling, and I know it. But I felt that even though I am tired and ready for this year to be over, you would miss me if I was gone for more than 2 days. So I am posting. And not making much sense.

Today I was a pirate. Yup. The fourth grade has read Treasure Island and had a pirate day. They all dressed up and the teachers had clues for a treasure hunt, and one clue was in the library. So I dressed like a pirate. It was funny. Don't ask to see pictures. I didn't take any.

Ok, my dogs are crying to be fed, and I gotta feed myself too. Hopefully I can stay awake until So You Think You Can Dance and be entertained by people with a much lower body mass index.

Ta ta.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

queen of the indoors

This is my new title. I am Queen of the Indoors. You may feel free to spread the news of my fame to every land you visit. I proudly wear this crown after a very interesting Saturday here in North Carolina. It was a day to remember. Why?

First, I weeded. Yes, I took pity on my poor husband and went outside to help him clear out the weeds and leaves under our Magnolia tree. Did you know that their leaves fall in the summer? I do now. Well, he was out there blowing the leaves out from under the tree and he got almost all the way around the tree. Then he ran out of gas for the blower, when he was about 3/4 way through. So, being the faithful wife I am, I went out and got the rake and pulled most of the rest of the leaves up, taking care not to pull the pine needles from underneath.

"That's as good as it's gonna get." I said when most were up.

"You're not gonna get them all?" He asks.

"I'd have to crawl around and pick them up by hand!" He is CRAZY to think I am going to do this, but he looks at me like this is EXACTLY what he expects.

"'d better take a picture, cause this is the first and last time I will be doing this."

He got the camera. Smart man.

We worked for about an hour. I sweated. I hate to sweat. I pricked my fingers and got hot. But it looked nice. I even sprayed Roundup...points for me right?

Then in the afternoon, here comes the rain.
Not just rain, HAIL. In North Carolina. Where it was 85 degrees when I was pulling those darn weeds.
Here is it pooled up in my umbrella. Sorry the pics not so great, but hey, I am Queen of the INDOORS. Pay Attention.
The hail shooting of the roof.
And collecting on the back patio.Five minutes later.

I took a close up for you. This time I actually did open the door and use the ZOOM.
I must mention that it is thundering and lightning and I am cooking during this and taking pictures. All because I think this will make a great post.
This from the front yard. When I walk to the back...
"Honey?" I say.
"Yeah?" I hear.
"The patio umbrella's gone!" I shout.
Um, yeah. It flew over the house and ended up in the neighbor's front yard. From our BACK yard to their FRONT yard. Past our two cars and driveway and hits their tree.The rain stopped and everyone came outside. This is my neighbor Janet's front walk.
Our neighbors Mike and April have an L shaped house and the hail piled up in front of their steps.
See how deep? I stuck my foot in, and then I had hail in my shoe. Cold! If you notice, I am wearing my apron. I told you I was cooking.
Hail in my hand. See how big!?
Then the sun came out.
Everything started steaming up. The street was covered with shredded leaves and our bags of leaves that we collected in the morning had washed down to the corner.
Our umbrella on the curb for trash pick-up. Bye bye, Pier One Umbrella. You were good for two summers.
Our peaceful front yard after the storm. All quiet and pretty. So I finished cooking my dinner and we watched a movie. All hail, the Queen of the Indoors. Inside is best.