Saturday, May 16, 2009

How Fun Was That?

Well, it's confession time again.

Not only did I not make Steve a cake for his actual birthday (of course, I DID know his real party and real cake were coming two days later), but I also made the poor man help cook his birthday dinner! Look at him, slaving away here.

And if you're wondering if it was our intention to get every dish in the house dirty in the cooking process, the answer is a big ol' yes! I think we did rather well in reaching our goal.

Snowy, of course, was on hand for the whole event, watching carefully in case anyone needed assistance in picking up dropped food items. He's good like that.

And where was I?

I was afraid you would ask that.

While Steve was cheerily chopping, slicing and dicing, I was happily snoozing in the big chair. And yes, I did try to find a pose that would show off my double chin to its best advantage.

In my defense, I only snoozed for a brief while (I think it was just a matter of hours minutes) before I was back at work.

And all of our hard work was worth it. The party was wonderful, the food was great, the cake was delicious and all the calories were pre-removed.

One of the most special parts of the evening for me happened after the four of us finished cleaning up the dishes; without any prearranged plan, we all just sort of wandered our collective way into the living room. For an hour or more, we sat and talked and laughed, basking in the birthday's afterglow, the memory of the fun guests we'd had, and the joy of having Nathan home again after having been gone ten days.

I know that birthdays are about candles and cake and the passing of years but they're also about a weary mom staying up till after 11:30 just because she can't seem to tear herself away from the people she loves the most. Birthdays are a good time to remember who we love and why we love them.

Unfortunately, our birthday afterglow just also happened to be the time I was hit the realization that in my last entry here, I misspelled tiramisu about a million times.


I apologize to all of you spelling experts out there. Not only can I not make the stinkin' stuff, I can't even SPELL it!

Oh well. My hubby loves me anyway.

And I'm thankful.

I'm thankful for him, for my family, for Snowy, for our dinner guests and mostly, I'm thankful for a day well spent.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Obeying the Eyeballs

See Steve.

See Steve stare.

See Steve stare at his sumptious birthday cake cookie. (With the smoke ascending from the single candle so recently removed.)

Can you see the celebratory satisfaction on the face that is Steve's?

What's that?

No? You can't?

Hmmmm . . .

You think maybe he was expecting a BIGGER cake? Maybe he was expecting an ACTUAL cake? Maybe he was expecting some EFFORT to be put into the BIGGER, ACTUAL cake? Possibly?

Wait! Don't go! I have an excuse! A really, really good excuse!

And here it is.

Ummm . . . . as soon as I think of one.

Okay, I've got it!

Steve LOVES tiramasu. In fact, he loves it so much that I actually tried to make it. Once.

I will never try it again. I ended up with mysterious little blobs of something or another floating in the pan. The blobs looked like accusatory eyeballs. They were speaking to me in accusatory eyeball language saying, "Do not ever try to make this dessert again. Or we will come and FIND you. We KNOW where you live!"

And so I have obeyed the eyeballs and have never even thought of attempting to make tiramusu again.

Never. I still have nightmares about the eyes.

But anyway, back to my story.

A couple months ago, I happened to see the menu for a restaurant in town that featured tiramasu! I was so excited! My plan was that on Steve's birthday, I was going to sashay on down to this particular eating establishment and purchase for Steve one perfectly made piece of tiramasu. (With NO accusatory floating eyeballs.)

However, when I called the restaurant to see if I could order a piece to go, the nice man on the phone said, "I'm sorry. We no longer carry that dessert."

My heart sank. My spirits plummeted. My face sagged. (Oh wait. My face was ALREADY saggy.)

I called around to a few other places but without much hope because we live in the land of sweet tea, fried chicken and coleslaw. When I asked the first guy if he carried tiramusu he said, "Huh?"
Now how many of you want to take a guess that if a fella has never even HEARD of tiramusu, he probably does NOT carry it?

So when Steve got home from Duke with Sarah on Wednesday, I explained my foiled plot to him. He said in grand husbandly tones, "Oh, that's fine. I'll just have a cookie with a candle on it for tonight."

And so that's what he had.

On his 52nd birthday.

On his ONLY 52nd birthday.

Sniff. Sigh. Cue the sad violins.

Happily, however, the tale doesn't end there!

For the past two days, I have been cooking/baking up a veritable whirlwind, including my famous deep dark choclate cake with pudding/whipped cream icing. After a sumptious feast tonight, Steve will be served his official birthday dessert and the forlorn little cookie will become a faded memory.

Plus, Nathan and a friend are driving home from Florida today so the two of them will be with us for the party, along with a really fun pastoral couple from the area.

So I'd better get back to my cooking, cleaning, baking and chocolate chip cookie-memory erasing.
Because we certainly don't want THIS to be the last memory of his 52nd birthday!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Oops! Almost Forgot

I had meant to post these two pictures earlier in honor of Steve's birthday. I really don't even know how old Steve was in this picture. Somewhere near college age, I think.

Don't you just love the hair and the pink shirt? I'm sure that "back in the day," he was really stylin'!

This second picture was taken a couple weeks ago. I think he just gets better looking the older he gets.

Although I do sort of miss the pink shirt. And the big collars. And the hair. . .

Fifty Two is Young!

Happy birthday to Steve who is fifty two years old today.

Which is really very, very young. In fact, the closer I get to fifty two, the younger it becomes.

You're invited to drop over to Sarah Smith's Spot to view some stories and pictures (from the archives) about Steve and Sarah in honor of his birthday.

Also, there's a very new picture of Sarah wearing a very new (and darling) t-shirt!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Books and Prayers

When Sarah and Steve got back from his parents' house Sunday night, they were carrying with them a treasure. Well, actually two treasures! And here's Sarah (our own personal treasure) showing off the two treasures she brought home.

These books are by Hans Christian Andersen which is probably not all that exciting in itself. However, what is exciting is that when Steve was a young boy, he and his parents were in Denmark and purchased these books in Andersen's home, which had been turned into a historical site.

Steve's parents gave the books to Sarah and she is so delighted to have them. Not that Sarah likes books, or anything.

In fact she HATES books.

She never, EVER reads them.

Yeah, right. She just did an inventory and she has over 120 books in her room alone! Hans Christian Andersen will have plenty of company.

Steve and Sarah also came home from Charlotte with a Steve Story I had never heard before. It seems that when Steve was a toddler, he would hide a butter knife when he was put to bed and then try to take his crib apart when no one was looking.

As much as that man loves to tinker with mechanical things, that doesn't surprise me one teeny little bit.

And on a more serious note, Colleen signed the guest book recently saying that her husband has been laid off work for six months. She asked if our family would pray for them.

That reminded me of another blog I read last week where readers were encouraged to put their prayer requests in the guest book and pray for each other. That is exactly what I would like to do here!

If you have something on your mind--job issues, family circumstances, health crises, financial concerns--I invite you to write down your request. I promise that I will pray for them all and I'd also like to encourage each of you to pray for the two requests above yours.

These are tough times for a whole bunch of people and the Bible encourages us to "bear each other's burdens." Isn't it exciting to have the privilege of doing that? So many of us have gotten to know each other through guest book entries left on Sarah's site through the years. Sharing prayer requests is an even better way to link hearts.

And it doesn't have to be in response to just this post; any time down the road, feel free to write down your concerns.

Is that a deal? Good!

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sarah's Spot

Just a quick note that since Sarah's 7-year anniversary as a cancer survivor is this Sunday, I'll be updating Sarah's Spot every day this week with stories and pictures of her cancer journey.

Be sure to drop by over there and say howdy. And even sign the guest book if you want.

We don't mind.


Lackadaisically Lazy

Have you ever wanted to be completely and lackadaisically lazy for a couple days? If so, here's how you do it.

Remove your watch so you're not aware of the time. Take naps whenever you feel like it. Eat whenever you want. Eat whatever you want.

Read. Play on the computer. Watch movies. Lie on the couch and ponder the sounds of silence. Refrain from cooking and cleaning. Have no responsibilities. At all. Whatsoever.

Stay up as late as you want. Get up as late as you want. Stay in your pajamas. Eat chocolate. A lot.

If you're wondering how I know the drill so well it's because THAT is how I spent Mother's Day weekend!

It all started a couple weeks ago when I started pondering. And you all know how much I love to ponder. As I pondered, I came up with a plan! A plot! A purposeful proposal produced only by properly posited pondering!

I mentioned to Steve that one of the best Mother's Day gifts I could think of was a couple days of "me time." I reminded him that his mom had not had all three of her sons home on Mother's Day for a long time. Then I suggested that since Nathan was already in Florida, if he and Sarah drove to his parent's house for the weekend, I would have an empty house to myself. In one fell swoop, he would have the chance to make his mom AND his wife extremely happy.

Well, what man could turn down a plan to make the two most important women in his life happy? Not Steve! And so solitude was my Mother's Day gift. From 2:30 pm Friday to 7 pm Sunday, I was a lazily happy woman. Not to mention a happily lazy woman.

Of course, before my weekend started, I had to go to the grocery story and make my selection of vacation foods. I ended up with a special kind of popcorn I like and six bottles of soft drink. To me, drinking a soft drink from a bottle (instead of a can) is one of the ultimate luxuries of life which I don't indulge in very often.

Then I went over to the chocolate aisle and perused the stuff there for a while. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I'd already spent enough money on "extras." I reluctantly turned away from the featured delicacies, figuring I could just root around and find some old Easter chocolate at home.

But that was not to be. I was spared from the dreaded stale Easter chocolate by miraculous provision! How? Well, here's the story within a story.

A few weeks ago I mentioned in a post that I had found a Golden Graham bar at a convenience store and fell in love with it; I am a huge fan of anything graham cracker-related. However, I have looked at half a dozen stores since that time and haven't ever seen the bar again. (And the original store I found the bar at was two hours away.) Even as recently as this past Wednesday, when Sarah and I stopped for gas coming home from Duke, I ran inside the store to see if they carried the bar. And they didn't.

Well, would you believe that when Sarah and I got home that afternoon, there was a delivery on our front porch? Inside the box were TWENTY-FOUR Golden Graham bars! My friend Sue G. (you'll recognize her name from her many wonderful guest book entries here) had read my earlier post about loving the bars but not being able to find them. She went to the trouble of tracking them down on the web and shipping a whole CASE to me!

Talk about perfect timing. My "me weekend" was now complete. DVD's and books from the library, soft drinks in bottles, special popcorn and twenty-four Golden Graham bars! In the email I sent to Sue to thank her for the bars I said, "Sue, I just wanted you to know that the Golden Graham bars are mysteriously disappearing one by one by one. Hmmmm. I don't know where they have gone but I'm thinking that if I look at my hips in a week or two, I'll find them!"

And I probably will.

But this weekend was not the time to worry about future hip dimensions. I had the absolute loveliest vacation and when it was time to welcome Steve, Sarah and Snowy back home, I felt refreshed and rejuvenated and more than ready to see my dear, wonderful family again.

My Mother's Day to remember was made even better by cards from Nathan, Steve and Sarah and a phone call from Nathan on Sunday morning. It occured to me as I talked to him that that was his first ever Mother's Day away from me. I realized that in the years to come, he could very well spend more Mother's Days away from me than with me, depending on where in the country (or the world) he ends up. And so, of course, I got a little teary eyed about receiving my first ever Mother's Day call from a Smith kid. (We moms can get teary eyed over just about anything, can't we?)

When he called I kiddingly said, "Okay Nathan, who reminded you to call?" He sputtered indignantly and said, "I reminded myself!" :-)

And speaking of kid quotes, in Sarah's hand made Mother's Day card she said, "You're probably one of the greatest gifts in my life. You're a friend, you're a counselor, you're a human spell check."

Believe me, I laughed and laughed when I saw the "human spell check" line. And yes, I DID feel complimented!

So on this day after Mother's Day, I am warmed by the memories of my son remembering to call, my daughter giving me such a quirky, loving compliment, and my husband giving me a card, a kiss and best of all, a lackadaisically lazy weekend.

I'll close with some pictures of my two most favorite children. (Double click on photos to enlarge.)

Photos taken by Pam from Pamela Photography (Pam is an associate of Amy who took our other family pictures.)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Couple Things . . .

I had a great (and unusual) Mother's Day which I'll tell you about tomorrow. For today, though, I just want to quickly cover a couple things.

THING NUMBER ONE (Sounds like a Dr. Seuss book, doesn't it?)

Steve and I would like to thank each of you have signed the guest book following my entry yesterday; your encouragement and prayers mean more than you'll ever know.


Kathleen posted a question in the guest book; here's an excerpt:

"Do you ever wonder if you missed God's direction on leaving your old church? I ask because sometimes I struggle with making a decision and even after I have prayed I will doubt myself in that I heard God."

Great question, Kathleen. I don't think there's one person on the face of the planet who has never second guessed a decision because after all, decisions are so incredibly important and their consequences are so far reaching.

There have been a few decisions that Steve and I have second guessed in our twenty-seven years of marriage but in this case, we are quite certain that what we did was the best thing for the church and the best thing for us.

Does that make the transition any easier? Nope! It's still a tough chapter to be in.

Lynie also posted an excellent question:

"Since you are not in the local church any longer, can you not see any of the members of the congregation? You mentioned not having the old Sarah still at the school there?"

In most pastoral transitions, a pastor resigns and moves on pretty immediately to his (or her) new assignment. Those situations tend to simplify the "friend" issue because the pastor is no longer in the same town as his former parishioners.

However, in our case, the fact that we are still in Smithfield six months following Steve's resignation makes things a bit more complicated. We made many wonderful friends during our 4 1/2 years at First Assembly; we loved the congregation dearly and the people in the congregation loved us.

But if we continue to hang on and to "hang out" in their lives, it will be a lot more difficult emotionally for them to move on to the future. And so, as hard as it is for us and as hard as it is for them, we are doing our best to keep a low profile.

Now of course, if we run into a former parishioner in the soup aisle at Wal -Mart, we obviously don't go sprinting toward the exit. (smile) We love seeing people who have been so dear to us over the years and it's fun to stand and chat for a few minutes. But we don't invite any church folks to our birthdays dinners or over for cook outs, etc., because, as I said, we're doing our best to make the transition easier for them.

Yes, Sarah still does go to the school that is based at First Assembly and she occasionally has friends from school over to play. Steve and I have a couple pastor friends in the area that we see from time to time. But as a rule, we're kind of our own little island for the moment! Thankfully, the four of us are ALL best friends with each other (and Snowy) so I can honestly say that we do have built in friends.

As you can probably imagine, though, we are all looking forward to our new church (wherever that turns out to be) so that we can begin, once again, to become a special part of special people's lives.

I probably answered those two simple questions with an overly complicated collection of words but you know me. When I get to writing, it's hard to put on the brakes.

Before I close, let me mention that Nathan has gone to Florida for a week to see his classmates before they leave for the summer. I was very happy when the phone rang this morning and I heard his baritone voice wishing me Happy Mother's Day. He even left a hand made Mother's Day card under my pillow before he left. What a fella!