Saturday, June 13, 2009

Limbo Land vs. Disney World

I'll start things off with a guest book comment from one of my favorite blog writers, Vickie Buenger. (Vickie recently lost her beautiful and brilliant daughter, Erin, to Neuroblastoma.) I always love stopping by Vickie's page because she loves interesting words as much as I do.

Anyway, concerning my recent post on organizing family photos, Vickie wrote:
So, you do your photos in something other than chronological order. This is very confusing to me. Don't they just go in albums in the order that you took them? Please explain the logic of twelve bags. Is that like twelve dancing princesses or twelve days of Christmas or twelve something else?

Vickie, I have to admit that your entry made me laugh out loud. In addition to the quirky line about the "twelve days of Christmas," the sentence about "putting the photos in albums in the order I took them" was pretty funny too, because I only WISH I could ever be organized enough to do that! (Sigh.)

Actually, there IS no complicated logic to the twelve (or so) bags. They simply have to do with categories, i.e., pictures of Nathan when he was a baby/toddler, pictures from our time on the road, pictures of extended family members, pictures from Steve's and my childhoods, etc.

My goal (once we eventually get jobs again) is to have a thousand of my photos scanned. (I found a company that will do a thousand pictures for just $50.) That way I can store my most treasured pictures on disc and on the web for safekeeping. And that's part of the reason I started organizing my photos, so that I could start laying aside the ones that I'd like to have scanned.

Okay, so now that my pictures are organized and I've worked in the garage for a day, my current project is sorting through all our Cd's and family papers. For those of you who might have somehow gotten the very mistaken impression that I am a neat and highly organized person, these next pictures should quickly dissuade you from that view.

I've been working on this recent project for two days already and probably have another several hours to put in before the Monster Mess is finally tamed, under control, nicely sorted, labeled and put into storage bins.

But what a great feeling! When I'm done, I will be able to put my hands on just about any picture, paper or school record in less than ten minutes. Yippee!

Okay, I'm sure you've all had about enough of my sorting endeavors. (So have I, for THAT matter!)

So on to new horizons! Topics! Subjects! Family members! In fact, how about if I move on to a report of Steve and Sarah's evening out last night?

At the end of each school year, Steve likes to take the kids out separately for an evening to celebrate their accomplishment; yesterday was Sarah's turn. The two of them left in the early afternoon for a pre-celebratory trip to Duke where Sarah had a follow-up hearing aid visit. After the audiologist made a few little tweaks to her hearing aids, they were back out the door to an evening that included a trip to a bookstore (of course!) dinner out (with a "buy one, get one free" coupon), a stop for ice cream, and a $2 movie.

Here they are getting ready to leave for their big outing.

I included the following photo in the hopes that it would inspire any aspiring photographers to continue to work hard so that you will eventually be able to achieve the lofty level of skill that I have acquired. If you look closely at this picture, you will doubtless understand that it has taken me many years of practice and study to be capable of composing a picture where one subject's hand is completely in front of the face of the other subject.

I know. I amaze even myself.

As far as our future plans go, the clock continues to tick rather loudly toward certain deadlines and decisions. I'm sure it's obvious that we cannot remain here in Limbo Land (sort of like Disney World, but not as much fun) forever. Part of the reason is that our family has unfortunately acquired this nasty habit of needing to eat at least a couple meals a day. Also, we sort of enjoy having beds to sleep in and a roof over our heads.

The current church openings have been been basically narrowed down to one. And if that one doesn't work out, well, what then?

Good question! I'm so glad you asked it. I only wish I had a good answer.

Do I feel stressed? Yup.

Does Steve feel stressed? Yup.

Does Snowy feel stressed? Nope.

He's snoozing away placidly beside me, full of trust and faith that we will take care of him and will continue to provide him with Kibbles (not to mention Bits) for the rest of his life.

I guess if he can trust his (very) imperfect caretakers that much, maybe we should be able to trust OUR (very) perfect Caretaker just a little, too?

We're trying. Believe me, we're trying.


Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting a few songs from our CD's that are for sale in the right hand column. This first one is called, "Heaven's Calling" and was recorded right before Sarah was admitted to Duke for her bone marrow transplant.

Although the song was not written specifically for Sarah (it was inspired, instead, by other people we'd known who had passed away), it was still an emotional song for me to sing due to Sarah's bleak chances of survival. I love the song especially because it offers such hope to those who have lost loved ones. ("Heaven's Calling" can be found on the "Like a Blanket" CD.)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Still Here . . . Barely

Update of undetermined length, and containing undetermined pictures (and maybe even music!) coming tomorrow.

Nathan's at work, Steve and Sarah are out for the evening and Snowy and I are holding the fort. He's barking at burping crickets and I'm trying to figure out a few of the computer mysteries that I've been stymied by in the past. An ongoing job, believe me.

Talk to you tomorrow . . .

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Pictorial Progress and Continued Challenges

If you've ever moved before, you know that a big part of the process involves cleaning, organizing, and clearing out stuff. Which means that tomorrow, Steve and I will be tackling the garage.


I'm just wondering if ours is the only garage in the world that mysteriously transforms its contents from neat and orderly SMALL piles into horrifically large and disorganized piles? Overnight?

A few months ago we had a yard sale. We got rid of tons and tons and TONS of things. The garage looked great. In fact, it looked so great that I was tempted to have a party just so that people could stand around and admire it.

Does the garage look great now? HA!

So early tomorrow morning before the southern heat wallops us upside the head, Steve and I are going to venture out there and do some serious cleaning and organizing. I made him set off a bug bomb last night so that I would not be lurched upon by any mammoth, furry spiders in the process. I don't know. There's something about encountering large and leering spiders that just tends to wring the joy right out of my happiness. (I realize that didn't make any sense but it was kinda fun to write.)

So tomorrow, it will be The Garage.

Today it was The Pictures.

Every picture I've taken since the dawn of time has been stored under our king sized bed in disorganized boxes, heaps, bags, and photo albums. I dragged out everything so that I could get an overview of what needed to be accomplished. It was NOT a pretty sight. It ALMOST caused me to run screaming from the room.

I gathered up my gumption and got out Ziplock bags of various sizes and labeled them with twelve different category names. I then spent approximately a bazillion hours looking at every single photograph and putting it in its appropriate bag.

Sarah came in to help but it's really no good when two women start looking through pictures together. We were so busy exclaiming, "Oh, how cute!" and "Look how little Nathan was!" and "Can you believe dad used to wear his wear that way?" that we hardly got anything done.

But finally! At last! Eventually! The last picture was placed in its appropriate bag and the Bag Filler took her weary self out of the bedroom to update this blog. I've actually got several thousand more photos in digital form but I can't garner one little ol' shard of strength to even think about organizing those at the moment.

Here I am, in the throes of trying to make Pictorial Progress amidst the Pictorial Piles.

I can't truthfully say that a great time was had by all but I CAN say that I am now able to find any particular picture in under ten minutes!

I'd pat myself on the back but I'm just way too tired.


In other news, the church in South Carolina where Steve was on the list of "top three pastoral candidates" voted in a pastor last Sunday. Sigh.

While we are still on the short list for the church near Charlotte there are certainly no guarantees. To say that we're a bit antsy and "on edge" would be an understatement. We now have the added pressure of trying to get moved before Sarah has to start a new school year in about nine weeks.

And her school situation is a whole nother ball game which I will discuss in more detail on her blog in the next couple of days.

Steve's been jumping through hoops over the past few days trying to work out Nathan's college financing while we both continue to wait for calls (that don't come) from the realtor for house showings.

I have to say that things are coming down to the wire in several areas and we may have to make some tough decisions if a few things don't come together. Your prayers and "virtual hugs" continue to be hugely appreciated as we navigate these challenging waters.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Wordle, Words, and Wordiness

First the Wordle:

(double click on image to enlarge)

If you've never heard of a Wordle, you can go here and make your own. It's really fun because you can choose your own fonts and colors and designs and put in any words you want. For this particular Wordle, I had the program just "grab" words from three of my recent blog entries. It's a cool activity for kids, too. So go Wordle, already!

And now for the "Words" part of the title

First of all, I must say that you all have some very interesting sleeping habits; I think the guest book included just about every sleep/wake schedule known to mankind! Some of you go to bed early (like me) and others of you are awake til all hours. Some are up at the crack of dawn (unlike me) and others are later-in-the-morning risers. (Like Nathan, whenever he can get away with it.) I really enjoyed all of your entries; it was fun reading! And I'm especially glad I'm not the only one who needs to be in bed early. That makes me feel better.

And on the subject of the guest book, "Mary from Iowa" asked what movie Nathan and I saw the other night. We went to "Knowing" which I pretty much enjoyed although it was a little scarier than I had anticipated. Since it was an Apocalyptic story, I found it interesting from a Biblical perspective, to see how they would handle an end-of-the-world scenario compared to the Bible's account. I must say it was a bit of a depressing movie because the world really did get destroyed at the end. In a lot of movies like that, someone is usually able to "save the day" (and the earth) before total destruction happens.

I wouldn't see it again but I thought it was worth seeing once. It definitely gave Nathan and me plenty to argue about all the way home as we discussed the movie's viewpoint vs. the Biblical viewpoint.

(Note To Self: Try to never attend a movie with a 19-year old who attends a Christian university. He will be WAY more knowledgeable than you about philosophical meanderings, theological subtleties and movie making in general.)

Speaking of Nathan, Steve and I appreciate those of who you have taken the time to e-mail or sign the guest book with suggestions on financing Nathan's upcoming college year while being (currently) unemployed; your comments were extremely helpful. We should know some final things in the next day or two, but I think we might have some solutions percolating, some inspired by your advice.

I was so proud of Nathan when we sat down with him in his room recently and had "The Talk." (No, not THAT talk, the College Talk!)

I don't know about you, but if I were nineteen years old and my parents had just sat down with me to tell me that there was a fairly good chance I couldn't return to college for my junior year, I would be more than a bit bummed.

Nathan listened pretty calmly, asked a few pertinent questions and got kind of a sober, sad look on his face. Steve and I left his room after the conversation to give him some private time to digest what we had told him. I didn't know if he would end up staying in his room all night and just wallow in despair--that's probably what I would have done at his age.

But no, in about fifteen minutes the door to his room opened and he emerged looking calm and at peace. He ate dinner, teased his sister and spent two hours playing Apples to Apples with us. I was very proud of his mature attitude in accepting the fact that life doesn't always turn out the way we want. (And the sooner we all learn THAT fact, the better!)

Well, this was supposed to be a short post, but I guess I got carried away with wordiness. I'm good like that.


Some questions:

What is your favorite movie?

What is a movie you've already seen this year that you would recommend to the rest of us? (I'm ALWAYS on the look out for great movies.)

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Great Night For A Showdown

Nathan has been kidding me about the fact that I like to be in bed by 9 pm whenever I possibly can. He's been telling me that being "older" has rendered me completely incapable of staying up late and partying with the likes of him. He's been happily hassling me by telling me that I don't have enough perkiness to stay up til after midnight, the way he does.

In short, Nathan has been spoiling for a showdown. And Friday night, he got it.

As I mentioned earlier, Friday night our whole family went to see Monsters vs. Aliens. Steve, Nathan and I were actually thinking about going to another movie that Sarah didn't want to see; however, we figured that since she had just graduated from seventh grade that day, we should do something of a celebratory nature that included her. (Because we're nice like that.)

In the process of making our movie night plans, it occured to me that after months and months of being unmercifully teased by my son, the time had come to throw down the gauntlet.

I said, "Nathan, how about if you and I drive to the theater separately. After the first movie, Dad and Sarah can go back home and you can I can stay for the 9:15 showing of the movie we had wanted to see in the first place."

Nathan stared at me as if I had just lost what was left of my mind. He looked a little quizzical and a lot worried, obviously wondering if his aged, decrepit mother had taken a sudden leave of her aged and decrepit senses.

He asked, "Mom, do you think you can really stay up that late?"

I said, "Just watch me!"

And so, according to our plan, Steve and Sarah went home at 8:30 which left Nathan and me with a little time to kill before the second movie started. We decided to walk about a block down the street from the theater to a little book store/coffee shop that features live music on Friday nights. Here's a picture of the shop. (Taken in the daytime, obviously. And yes, that IS Snowy's head, lurking in the foreground.)

There was a delightful group of five fellas in there last Friday evening, playing country bluegrass music. The youngest guy might have been in his late fifties, and the rest were at least in their 60's and 70's. It was so refreshing to watch people making music with that kind of simplicity and joy. They weren't worrying about their light show, or CD sales, or publicity tours. Shoot, they weren't even worried about playing all the notes right.

They were just five guys, having fun, grinning from ear to ear and obviously enjoying the simple pleasure of playing music--in a small town, in a small coffee shop, in front of a small audience.

Nate and I sat and listened to several songs and then walked back up the block. I teasingly asked him while we were walking if I needed to stay five paces behind him so that no one would know he was out on a Friday night with his mom. He said he thought he would be fine. (smile)

Just to give you another glimpse of small town life, here is the theater we were going to. Our family sees most of our movies at the Howell since tickets are just two dollars. It's a quaint, old timey place that always makes me feel like I've stepped a few decades back in time.

As Nathan and I were standing in the ticket line out on the sidewalk I looked across the street and had to smile just a little bit as an old memory hit. (Old ladies tend to ponder old memories, you know.) I had told Nathan this story a time or two in the past, but standing right there with him, I just couldn't keep from repeating it. (Old ladies tend to repeat their old memories a lot, too!)

Here's how the memory goes:

Almost twenty years ago, Steve and I were youth and music pastors at the same church he just resigned from last November. After being on staff at the church a couple years, we made the decision to go on the road with my brother and sister-in-law as full time musicians. (Where we stayed for FIFTEEN years!)

Since we figured we would need some promo materials, we made arrangements to have a publicity photo taken. And the place we chose was this photography shop that just happened to be right across the street from the theater.

What made that photo shoot especially memorable was that I was three months pregnant with Nathan at the time and therefore dealing with lots of pregnancy nausea. The guy would take a few shots and then I would run down the hall to be be sick in the bathroom. Then he'd take a few more and off I'd go again.

It was a really weird feeling to be standing across the street from that same shop almost twenty years later with the big, tall, wonderful guy who was a result of that pregnancy. Talk about precious memories!

At any rate, we finished reminiscing, bought the tickets, watched the movie, and exited the theater at about 11 pm. I was pleased to note that Nathan was yawning and I was still feeling perky! Ha! I was showing HIM a thing or two about partying late at night!

As we drove home together discussing the movie, he suddenly announced that he was hungry. No surprise there. We went through the drive through at McDonald's where he treated me to anything I wanted--as long as it was from the dollar menu! (A man after my own heart.) We took our dollar treasures back to the house, and sat at the kitchen table to eat and talk. And talk. And talk. We ended up talking so long, it was 1 am before I finally made it to bed.

But people, I DID it!

I stayed up past 9 pm!

I hung out with my college son!

I didn't fall asleep and/or become incoherent at 9:01!

I was immensely PROUD of my middle-aged self!

Of course, the next day I felt like I'd been in a wrestling match with a 300-pound armadillo but that was okay. My son had been impressed by his mom's amazing ability to be a night owl and I had been impressed by my son's amazing ability to make me feel young again.

It was a great night for a showdown.


On the subject of movies, we use a great website that reviews movies from a family perspective and lets you know exactly what each movie contains as far as sex, language, violence, etc. The Smith Family highly recommends it and uses it frequently.

And now a few questions for class discussion.

Are you a morning person or a night person? If you're a morning person, why do you like the morning better? If you're a night person, why do you like the night better?

Does age make a difference for you? In other words, as you got older, did early bedtime look more appealing? I just need someone to tell me I'm not alone here in my desire for 9 pm bedtimes!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

We Have A Winner!

I just got up from my traditional post-Sunday lunch nap. I napped just a teensy tad longer than I was expecting to and that is why this announcement is a teensy tad delayed.

However, I made sure to secure the services of my lovely assistant to be sure that the drawing was done according to properly standardized drawing precepts. I even took pictures of my lovely assistant so you could see her in action and get a sense of the drama involved in this undertaking.

First, the drawing for the book.

Can you see the intensity?

The name on the paper is Random

And now, for the note cards.

The name is Kelly! (from Pennsylvania)

Congrats to you both!

If you'll email your mailing address to me at, I'll get your Thrift Store Goodies in the mail from the First Ever Thrift Store Goody Giveaway!

I also want to say I enjoyed reading the entries about some of your favorite books/authors. I'll be sure to check those out.

Thanks for playing, everyone! We'll do it again soon.

The Thrift Store Goody Give Away Is Over

You know what? I'm really, really thankful to have readers who are so happy about getting stuff from a Thrift Store, from all places. You all are my kind of people!

The two Thrift Store Goody Give Away winners will be posted this afternoon.

Also, here the answers to couple guest book questions:

Lesley asked if I noticed the grammatical errors that show up in guest book entries.

Actually, that's a very funny question and something I've not thought much about. I think the answer would be that one level of my brain probably does notice them, but mostly I don't pay much attention because it's just such a relief to read something and not be responsible for making it accurate.

When I'm actually writing an update, I'm always thinking about grammar and spelling and it's really fun not to think about those things when reading comments.

In fact, I'm just so happy to actually SEE everyone's comments that you could misspell every word and I wouldn't even mind!

(Wait. Did I just misspell "misspell?" Nope. I just looked it up and it was right. See what I mean? Editing myself is way too much work; why would I ever want to edit you guys, too?)

Sue asked what we would do with $100 for fun. (And Sue, you mentioned OTHER questions I haven't answered? If you asked something else, it has obviously fled my little brain entirely. I'm afraid you will have to re-ask.)

As for the answer (and if it were all up to me), I would either put the entire amount on 4 tickets to one of the big Broadway shows they do in Raleigh OR I would put it in an envelope and pull out a little at at time for movies, bowling, Putt-Putt, and ordering in pizza. (Which is a huge luxury.)

It's kind of a fun topic to contemplate. How about the rest of you? What would you do with $100 of fun money? Maybe you'll give the rest of us some good summertime fun ideas.

And speaking of fun,
Karen, one of my readers, sent me this Movie link which lists free kid's movies that are playing at Regal theaters all summer. You can go to the link and search by your zip code to find the theater that is nearest you. What a great idea!

Speaking of movies, on Friday night, our family went to see Monsters Vs. Aliens at the wonderful $2 theater in town. I'm not a big fan of animated movies OR alien movies, but that movie was truly delightful. As a creative person myself, I have to tip my hat to the incredible creativity of writers and directors who can create those kinds of stories.

Remember! Winners of my first ever Thrift Store Goody Give Away will be announced this afternoon! (And there will be more Thrift Store Goody Give Aways to come!)