Saturday, October 17, 2009

Snowy Is In ICU

On the drive here to Manteo, the doctor called about Snowy. She said he is not bouncing back like they had hoped, hasn't eaten anything at all and has been able to urinate very little. He is in the ICU and on Valium, morphine and IV fluids.

They were about to give him a high dose of steroids to reduce inflammation but needed our permission first because it can have serious side effects. They were also going to sedate him and put in a 12-hour catheter, but when they tried that, he actually leaked a little urine so they're going to wait on the catheter a little longer and see if the steroid reduces inflammation enough to bring about results.

Sarah and I had another Snowy Cry Session after the doctor's phone call; it's terrible to think of him being in such pain and having to be away from home and away from the family he loves.

The doctor said if anything changed in the middle of the night, they would call us. Otherwise, we'll get a call in the morning to let us know how his night went and another call in the afternoon to see when he might be able to go home. They won't discharge him, of course, until he's eating, his pain is manageable and he's able to urinate. (And in the meantime, the bill goes up, up, up! Yikes.)

We're about to head out for a dinner; I'll be in touch if anything changes.

Thanks for your prayers for peace and comfort for little Snowy and for his family, as well.

The Fifth Smith

The hospital called this morning and said that Snowy can't be discharged today after all. He's still in quite a bit of pain and unable to urinate so he has a catheter in and is still on IV meds and fluids. They also did an ultrasound and said there's a lot of inflammation issues that need to be resolved before he can be released.

And it really worked out okay because we were in sort of a quandary about picking him up today and then either traveling with him (a challenge for all involved) or leaving me behind to care for him, which would put a bit of a dent into the music line up since I play the keyboard for the worship team.

We'll either pick him up tomorrow evening when we get home or on Monday morning. And believe me, when he gets home he will be hugged, and cuddled, and petted, and patted and spoiled rotten. (Not that he isn't all the time anyway!)

A few of you mentioned pet insurance in the comments and yes, that sort of thing actually does exist. Steve did some research on it last night and it's about $30 a month. We may look into giving that a try since enormous vet bills are not our list of favorite things.

Again, thanks for all your sweet comments and prayers for our family. We are so happy to know that our beloved "Fifth Smith" will be back home with us soon.

We'll head out to Manteo in a couple hours. We'll be attending a dinner tonight, have the service in the morning and then turn right back around and head home tomorrow night.

Our realtor did get our offer written up and presented to the family who owns the house that we're hoping to rent/buy. We should hear an initial response from them early next week. If all goes well, the very earliest we could be in the house is December 1st. We're not sure of all the details yet, but for the month of November, Steve may just end up moving to Manteo by himself with Sarah and I driving over on weekends. That would keep us from having to move so much family stuff over there until we actually have a house to move it all into.Lots of details to work out.

Happily, Nathan will be here at least a week in November which is just exactly the right timing to help us pack. Hurray for a strong and wonderful son!

Time to go finish the packing that was interrupted by the doggie emergency yesterday. Thanks for checking in!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Snowy Update

It's been a very long day as tears and love were all wrapped around one white, 5 1/2 pound package and delivered to the surgeon at 2 pm.

We met with a doctor who explained that they would do blood work first thing. She said that since Snowy hadn't been able to urinate for so long, toxins could very well have built up inside his body affecting many different areas, including his heart function.

She then explained that during the surgery, the surgeon would first attempt to push the (huge) kidney stone back into the bladder and then make an incision in Snowy's abdomen and remove the stone from that direction. That would be the best case scenario.

She said that if that didn't work, there was the possibility that they would have to re-route his "plumbing" altogether so that for the rest of his life, he would urinate like a female dog instead of a male. (That scenario had something to do with fissions and scar tissue that would make urinating difficult or impossible the "old" way. That would also push the cost of the surgery to over $3,000 instead of "only" $2,000.)

We sat in that little room and filled out forms and signed papers having to do with "Do Not Resuscitate Orders" and what we wanted them to do if he had a cardiac arrest during surgery. By the end of it, we were both broken down in tears and basically cried all the way home.

Sarah spending a few last minutes with her dear little companion at the doctor's.

When we got home, the three of us sat at the kitchen table and had a pretty serious and heartbreaking talk about how high the expenses could go and how much we thought we would be able to justify paying if it went way up over $2,000.

That is NOT a conversation I ever care to have again with my daughter. Snowy has been her shining light throughout the worst months and years of cancer treatment and to contemplate with her that he could be at the end of his life was a conversation that was beyond excruciating.

Although she was teary eyed, she was also level headed and she bravely told Steve and me that she understood that as much as we all loved Snowy, there were financial issues to consider as well, in light of our recent (almost) year of unemployment. We all finally agreed that we would just wait and hear back from the surgeon once he got into the surgery and could actually tell us what direction the surgery would end up going.

There were more tears, a family prayer and a hug before we all drifted away to various parts of the house to just be alone.

And also to think about a beloved white doggy at the hospital, with needles in his veins, love in his heart, and a difficult surgery ahead of him.

They said we would hear something around 8 pm. I'll let you know. . .

Just as I finished typing this, the hospital called.

Snowy came through the surgery very well and thankfully, they WERE able to get the stone pushed back into his bladder and remove it! Woo-hoo!

He is still on IV's and on morphine and isn't quite awake yet, but they said if he starts eating a little bit tomorrow morning, we can conceivably plan on bringing him home tomorrow afternoon. (The hospital is about an hour away.)

We're still not sure what we're going to to do about Manteo; Steve, of course, will go tomorrow regardless, but we'll have to see how well Snowy is feeling before we decide what Sarah and I will do.

Thank you for your kind comments, thoughts, and prayers!

We are one very happy, grateful, Snowy-blessed Smith family tonight!!!!

Snowy In Surgery

Sarah and I are headed out to Raleigh right now to take Snowy to a big animal hospital for emergency surgery. He has a huge kidney stone lodged in the opening of his ureter and hasn't been able to urinate all day.

The vet here in Smithfield said the place where it is showing up on the x-rays will make it a very tricky surgery.

Sarah is in tears; I'm not far behind.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Tech Question, Pictures, Nathan News And A Recipe

It's Friday so it must be time to go to Manteo! But of course we can't leave until I first do my Frenzied Packing Routine. And write a blog entry.

I had planned to post a cute video today that Sarah and I made together (featuring Snowy, Sarah and me) but I'm having a technical difficulty which I wondered if any of you techies could help me out with.

We made the video in Windows Movie Maker (an older version) adding music to the little bit of dialogue that was already present. When I saved the movie to my computer and played it there, all the elements were intact. However, when I tried to upload it to Blogger and You Tube, the music soundtrack disappeared just leaving the dialogue. (The song is royalty free, by the way, so I do have permission to use it.)

Does anyone have any idea why that is happening and what I can do to fix it?

Thank you very much, in advance, from this non-techy gal.


Recently I spent a little time messing around with some editing on the Smithellaneous logo. Aren't these fun?

I also ran across this miscellaneous picture of Nathan in my file searches and it made me miss him frightfully.

I'm missing him especially right now because he called us yesterday to tell us that when he went to donate plasma yesterday, the medical tech listened to his heart for the longest time. He finally put away his stethoscope and said, "I'm sorry you can't donate plasma because you have an irregular heartbeat. You need to go see a doctor for a complete check up."

What's THAT all about? We've never heard anything about an irregular heartbeat before now!

Of course, being a mom, I had to immediately jump into Worried Mother Mode. Because that's what moms do.

He called to tell us that news and also discuss how to deal with insurance issues when he goes to the doctor. It really seems like he's a true grown up now, going to the doctor without a parent in tow.

Thankfully, he's coming home at Thanksgiving for about a week so I'll be able to ply him with hugs and chicken soup. Moms can cure a lot of things that doctors can't.


Okay. I promised a recipe in the title of this post and a recipe you shall have. I realize that my Tortilla Thingy recipe I posted earlier was pretty simple and basic and that you all are probably just yearning for something with a couple more steps.

This recipe (which I got from Steve's mom years ago) is delicious and takes less than fifteen minutes to make. I'm sure you could substitute shrimp for the chicken if you want, but I'm not a real pro on cooking shrimp so I wouldn't know how to tell you to do that.

And Sue, this recipe contains NO cheese or sour cream!

Chicken Scampi (A Smith Family Favorite)

1/2 C butter
1/4 C olive oil
1/4 C chopped onion
1 T minced garlic (I use garlic from the jar)
Juice of one lemon (or 2 T. reconstituted)
2 lbs boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (Can use more or less chicken)
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/4 C minced fresh parsley (I just sprinkle in some dried parsley for color)
1 tomato (fresh or can use diced tomato from can)

In skillet, heat butter and oil. Saute' onion and garlic briefly. Add lemon juice, chicken, salt, pepper and parsley. Cook, stirring frequently for 5-8 minutes or until chicken is done. Add diced tomato and heat through.

Serve over noodles and rice. About 4 servings.

How simple is THAT?

And while we're on the subject of cooking, someone in the comments a few days mentioned that she didn't spray her non stick pans with Pam. It seems to me that I've read something about that in a magazine but I can't remember all the details.

Do you spray you non-stick pans with Pam or go Pam-less?

This inquiring mind wants to know!

The Jonas Brothers
At The Consignment Store

Earlier this week, I went to Second Fling in Goldsboro, NC, a store which just happens to be my favorite consignment store in the whole world. It's a place where I've shopped at least a couple times a year for the past thirty years.

In fact, I was reminiscing about it at dinner last night, telling Steve and Sarah that I went there before I was married, and when I was a newlywed. I got maternity clothes there when I was pregnant with both kids and I also went there to buy clothes for them as they were growing up. In fact, I got one of my all time favorite dresses for Sarah there when she was about five; it had paper dolls all over it and was done up in the sweetest style and colors. I will always adore that dress and have even saved it as a keepsake.

Here's a not-so-clear picture of it. (Sarah had a cast on her arm because she broke it when she slipped on some ice.)

I remember buying a sport coat there for Steve that he wore forever when we were on the road; of course, I have bought tons of clothes for myself, as well as books of all varieties, lots of jewelry and even a few home decorations. I've taken loads of clothes there over the years to re-sell and got back some nice little chunks of change in return.

I'm not a hundred percent sure on this, but I think that some of the same people who worked there thirty years ago are still there. When I walk into the building, it's like time has stopped. Although the world outside has gone on, presidential administrations have changed, tyrants have been toppled, and wars have been fought, Second Fling still stands basically unchanged in the same spot, offering the same sweet brand of Southern charm and lovely bargains that they have all through the years. (Sarah calls clothes found at consignment stores, "pre-loved clothes." Don't you love that?)

And the place is huge. When I say huge, I mean huge. Larger than huge. Huger than huge! Behomothic, even! (I just learned that word. Isn't it great?)

I can spend half a day in just the front part of the store, and still never really see everything. (Of course, I'm the sort of person who tries on thirty items for every one thing I buy, so that takes a while.)

Besides the regular women's clothes in the front area of the building, there are also evening gowns, wedding gowns, the biggest inventory of shoes you have EVER seen in a consignment store, pocketbooks, lingerie, some nicer furniture, nursing scrubs, fine china, and tons of jewelry.

Then there's a hallway that leads back to a smaller room that features men's and children's clothes. Through yet another door is an additional enormous room with even more household stuff, rows and rows of books (be still my heart), Cd's, videos and DVDs, men's bargain clothes, exercise equipment, decorations, and miles of miscellany.

If you walk even further back through the building, there is another room almost as big as the cavernous room in the front of the store which is sort of the "yard sale" area. It features clothing where the prices are more on the thrift store/yard sale scale.

I must say that I hardly ever even make it back to that room because I usually run out of time and/or energy before I ever get there.

And speaking of running out of energy, I always bring a snack and some water and about halfway through my day at Second Fling, I go out to the car and take a 10-minute rest break. The place is THAT big. It HAS to be big, to hold all the memories I have of it.

Now. Some you might be wondering at this very moment:

Why is this crazy woman rambling on about Second Fling when the title very clearly mentions the Jonas Brothers? Surely, she cannot tie those two subjects together in any sort of logical way.

Oh yes, I can!

As I was leaving Second Fling on Tuesday, I got trapped behind two elderly ladies in the narrow walkway leading out to the front door. They had stopped to look at some furniture that was on display and had camped out there in the aisle in order to further peruse the furniture and discuss it at greater length.

I sighed to myself, shifted into "park" and just sorta hovered nearby, pretending like I was looking at a case of necklaces while the ladies continued to converse in their honeyed, genteel tones. I hated to just go barging on by them while they were having their important furniture talk, and besides, I love to eavesdrop. (As long as the subject is not terribly personal or private.)

I heard one of the women say something about the color of the furniture; her friend then commented on its style.

As they both continued to gaze at the furniture, the first lady said, "Do you want to know something, Miss Mildred? The Jonas Brothers told me that this kind of furniture is coming back into style."

Well! You can be sure THAT line caught my attention!

I cast a fleeting, furtive glance at Miss Mildred to see what her reaction would be and to try and discern whether or not she was at all taken aback by the fact that the Jonas Brothers had been communicating with her friend about furniture styles.

As it turns out, Mildred was completely nonchalant about that bit of news. "Really? Well, it's probably true then, because the Jonas Brothers really know what they're talking about when it comes to furniture."

At this comment, they both nodded wisely to each other and blithely strolled out the door.

I, however, was frozen in my tracks.

I stood and considered the only two options that this conversation could possibly represent:

First option:

The Jonas Brothers are now branching out from their fabulous career in music and have begun advising elderly Southern ladies on styles of furniture.

Second option:
Both of those sweet little ladies are living in some sort of alternate reality, some sort of Fantasy La-La Land, where it makes perfect sense to stand in a consignment store and discuss the Jonas Brothers and their contributions to the furniture industry.

Neither option was appealing. And yet, for the life of me, I couldn't figure out any sort of third option.

I slowly made my way out to the car, chewing hard on that conversation, trying to figure out if I had imagined it all. But no, plain as day, I had heard the words, "Jonas Brothers."

Jonas Brothers.

Oh wait! Suddenly it hit me!

For many years, there had been a furniture store in Smithfield owned by the Jones Brothers. The JONES Brothers.

And since any Southern woman worth her salt can take any one- syllable word on the planet and effortlessly transform it into two or more syllables, Jones naturally became Jonas!
Voila! Mystery solved!

I felt so much better after finally reaching that conclusion because it made me sad to think that those two dear old ladies were thinking that they were in touch with the Jonas Brothers and it confused me beyond words to think that the Jonas Brothers had deviated from their music career to give opinions to elderly Southern ladies about on furniture.

So I went home, a happy woman.

I'd been to my favorite consignment store, I had a bag of bargains to show for it, and I'd transformed Jonas back into Jones. (I'm sure the Jonas Brothers would be thankful.)

It was a day well spent.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Becky Smith Lunchtime Recipe That Is Quick And Tasty And Actually Pretty Good For You

Since you all have been so nice to share your traveling recipes and green bean tips with me, I thought that I would reciprocate and share a recipe of mine. This is a very hoity toity recipe which you can immediately tell by its hoity toity name which is: Tortilla Thingy.

And guess what? I even have pictures to accompany the recipe! Just like a real fancy cooking blogger! Which in the interest of full disclosure, I am not! Which, after you read this recipe and see my pictures, you will fully come to realize that fact even without me having to inform you. Because I am not good at taking pictures with one hand while cooking with the other. And because I don't have my ingredients all lined up in a fancy row with a gourmet kitchen in the background. And also because I even have dirty dishes in my sink. Gasp!

Alrighty then. With all of that out of the way, shall we begin?

This is something I make for lunch a lot. It could also be made for dinner with a baked potato and a vegetable for when you're in a hurry and are completely lacking in any good dinner ideas. Not that that would ever happen to you. Or me.

Yeah, right.


Our first picture shows our cast of characters, er, line up of ingredients.

Just five little ol' bitty ingredients. That's not too overwhelming, now is it? (I hate recipes that call for twenty-seven ingredients, most of which I do not even have. Or know what they are.)

And just to prove to you beyond any doubt that I am not a fancy cooking blogger, here are the dirty dishes in my sink.

There. Now don't you feel better about your own dirty dishes? Let's have a moment of silence for the Sisterhood of Dirty Dishes.

After contemplating the dirty dishes, the first step in our recipe is to spray a pan with Pam.

Got that? Do I need to wait for any of you to catch up? No?

Okay. Good.

Then we sprinkle a little Lawry's seasoned salt into the Pam. Which is in the pan. Which makes it the "Pan Pam." Which sounds like a dance from the 60's. Not that I was even born in the 60's. Oh wait. Maybe I was. I can't remember.

Now usually when I sprinkle the Lawry's salt into my pan of Pam, it spreads out in a lovely, lofty, wafty manner and covers the pan in a well-organized layer of Lawryness. However, since I was sprinkling with my left hand and taking a picture with my right, the salt sort of got all clumped together. Your salt should not be allowed to clump. If it does, you--and your salt-- will be asked to leave.

Next, we take a flour tortilla shell and throw, toss, or place it into the Pan Pam. Let the Pam heat up a little bit first so that the shell "sizzles" a bit when it's placed into the skillet. The sizzling is my favorite part of the whole recipe. And no, I don't get out much.

Has everyone got that? Let's continue.

Now carefully place some shredded cheese (any ol' kind will do) on half of the tortilla shell which you previously placed in the Pan O' Pam.

Next, add some meat. Any kind of meat. Ham, turkey, bacon, pepperoni, chicken. Shoot. You could even put Spam in there if you wanted. Then you'd have a dish featuring Pan Pammed Spam. (That retching noise you hear in the background is Steve who utterly loathes Spam.)

I chose to add turkey. (And sprinkled some black pepper on it.)

Next you . . . Wait! Hold everything! We have an emergency! A cooking emergency! A cooking blog emergency!

I just realized that I neglected to take a picture of the next step of the recipe! I just KNEW I wasn't a fancy cooking blogger! What professional fancy cooking blogger ever forgets to take crucial photos??!!

Sigh. Let me sit and castigate myself a moment.

Okay. I'm done.

The crucial, unphotographed step to the recipe is this: Just about one minute after you add your meat and cheese (and any other ingredient you like--Nathan adds sliced jalapeno peppers), reach into the pan and grasp the empty side of the Panned, Pammed Tortilla Thingy. Fold it over the full side. (Or you could use a spatula and sort of swoosh it up and over.)

Um. There was probably a better way to explain that maneuver but that's the best I can come up with. (Since I am not a fancy cooking blogger.)

Then cover the pan with a lid that doesn't quite fit. This is a very important step. If your lid fits exactly, your Tortilla Thingy will not turn out and you will be tortilla-less. Just kidding. Fitted lids are definitely a benefit; I just don't happen to have one for this pan. Because remember, I am not a fancy cooking blogger. (Um. Did I mention that already?)

While the first side of your Tortilla Thingy is browning, go to your cupboard and get a glass. Because you must have something to drink with your lunch. (And just so you know, the reason there is a pen in my glass cupboard is because I have a grocery list taped to the door of that particular cupboard and I like having a pen within reach.)

Fill the glass with ice. Or not. Depending on your preference. Personally, I must have wheel barrows full of ice in my glass or I am not a happy woman. And we don't want that. Since I am already not a fancy cooking blogger.

By this time, your Tortilla Thingy should be ready to flip. So flip it already!

Of course, you may want to remove the lid first. (It's just a thought. Far be it from me to tell you what to do.)

Let the other side of your Tortilla Thingy brown for a minute or two. And be sure to replace the lid (which may or may not fit) so that the cheese continues to melt. And become gooey. This vital step allows all the cheese calories to leak out.

And now, we are about to have our voila' moment!

Voila! (See, I told you it was coming.)

Presenting one Tasty Terrific Tortilla Thingy.


But wait! There's more!

Now we have to "plate" our creation. ("Plate" is a term that fancy cooking bloggers throw around all the time. Not that I would know anything about that.)

First of all (and I lied earlier about only needing five ingredients; I didn't want to overwhelm you right at the beginning), find something you can dip ye olde tortilla thingy into. Salsa, buffalo sauce, bar-b-q sauce, ranch dressing--it's all good. I chose lite Ranch.

(Actually, my all time favorite dipping sauce is Chick-Fil-A sauce which I hardly ever have in the house. And when I do manage to sneak a packet of it home with me, I always hide it from the rest of the family in a shameful display of Pastor's Wife Selfishness.)

You also need a side dish of some sort. I like Sun Chips.

Plate your creation. Step back and admire.

There now. Wasn't that fun? Don't you feel like a fancy cooking blogger now?

Me either.


Note: If you are cooking for more than one, put the tortilla shell in the pan and cover the entire thing with your ingredients. Then add another whole tortilla shell on top of that, spray it with Pam and flip over at the correct time.

Whatever you deem the correct time to be.

Cut the larger Tortilla Thingy into quarters and share with a friend.

Or eat it all yourself.

Because remember? The cheese calories have all leaked out.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

An Omnivore and a Beloved Neighborhood

I've been posting quite a few pictures of lovely Manteo but recently I got to thinking that Smithfield is lovely, too! In fact, every town in every state has spots that are beautiful and photo worthy.

So a couple days ago, while Steve and I were taking our evening walk, I snapped a few photos of our neighborhood.

Because it's pretty.

Because I'll miss it when we move.

And because it's provided Steve and I with hundreds of companionable evening strolls.

The neighborhood tour begins with our lawn ornament that stands right next to our front steps.

The house that has given shelter to the Smith family for sixty-two months.

Autumn sky and trees

A neighbor's fence

Fall loveliness

There now, wasn't that fun? You got to travel to a new city without ever leaving your front yard! I love that about the Internet!


Thanks to everyone who wrote down ideas for fixin' and freezin' grean beans; it was very helpful. Green beans are not one of my strengths and I am thankful that you all saved me from having to enroll in four years of Green Bean College!

Speaking of green beans, we found out that a certain dog of ours thinks they're great. We had set our bag of beans on the living room floor in Manteo and before we knew it, Sir Snowy had sashayed on over there, inserted his head, and removed a green bean.

Cheerily chomping and chewing

Headed back to the bag for an additional bean. Or two.

Snowy is obviously an omnivore--he eats meat, veggies, dog food and miscellaneous rotten food stuck to the parking lot when we're walking him while traveling. What is it about dogs and old, yukky food?


A Few Questions . . .

Q. Ann asked, "Is the house you're looking into this week the fixer upper you mentioned before, or something else?"

A. Actually, when I referred to this house before as a fixer upper, I wasn't using the right term. (House terms are not my specialty.) It isn't a fixer upper in the sense that it has to have serious renovations before we can move in; we could move in tomorrow, if necessary.

However, there are some cabinet fronts that need replacing and some painting that needs to be done and a few repairs here and there. Nothing too terribly serious.

Steve and I both enjoy taking a home and, little by little, fixing it and changing it and updating it and making it our own. This home has plenty of potential for that.

Steve called the real estate agent today to tell him to go ahead and make the offer to the owner so we'll see what happens from there.

Q. "Random" asked, "How are the 'during-the-week' duties being handled at the church right now? Surely you don't have to make the drive more than once a week."

A. Fortunately, Steve can do all of his sermon prep here in Smithfield and we can also get set lists and music and arrangements together for the worship team here at home. We also passed out all of our contact info to the church members and they know that they are free to call us anytime.

If there was any sort of big emergency, though, Steve would be ready to hop in his car at a moment's notice.

Q. Robin asked, "Does the Manteo church have a photo directory?"

A. No they don't. And I agree, a directory would make it infinitely easier for us to memorize names. For now, though, we'll just keep on cheerily bumbling our way through the proper placement of all the names and faces. Thankfully, the Manteo folks are being very patient with us, even if we ask them for the fourth or fifth (or sixth) time what their names are.

Eventually we'll know 'em all! Until we do though, I may continue to assign wrong husbands to wrong wives and wrong kids to wrong parents.

h well. Nothing like keeping life interesting!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Emergency Green Bean Help Needed

I forgot to post this earlier today: someone gave us a whole bunch of fresh green beans when we were in Manteo this past weekend. We cooked a few Saturday night but won't get them all eaten.

Does anyone know how to freeze green beans?

Also, any simple green bean recipes out there?

Thank you!

Newbie and Tyhoons in Dishwashers

I just went to Trulia to check on the state of housing in Smithfield and Manteo. I was hoping that maybe, just maybe (while we were all sleeping), housing values in Smithfield would have temporarily risen by 50% (just in time to sell our house) and values in Manteo would have temporarily dropped by 50%, just in time to buy a house.

But alas, here is what the picture looks like. As High School teachers are fond of saying, "Compare and contrast."

And then find a corner to sit in and cry. While you compare. And contrast. And sigh.

Do you see what I'm saying about houses being a lot more expensive in Manteo? Yikes! We may have to revert to our former "being on the road mode" and find ourselves an RV to live in!

Oh well. Those housing costs in Manteo are more than balanced out by delightful people, beautiful natural scenery, a fabulous artsy bookstore, great restaurants, a waterfront downtown and (drum roll, please) at least two thrift stores!

We'll probably give our real estate agent the go ahead this week to start negotiations on the house we're hoping to "rent to own," but at this point, there are no guarantees what can be worked out in that regard.

(RV, anyone?)

I am finally getting the packing and moving every weekend scenario down to a science. I've always wondered how people who own property at the beach and go there several times a month ever get themselves organized enough to make that kind of schedule possible.

I've discovered it's all about making a list and checking it twice. And sometimes, even thrice. I make a list while we're in Manteo about what we need to bring next time we come and I keep a running list at home about what we need to rememberto take the next time we go.

I must say that our brains have gotten quite a good workout over these past few weeks of transition.

In addition to the mental workouts involved in packing every weekend, we are also in the process of memorizing over a hundred names. Have you ever tried to memorize a hundred names in a few weeks and then try to apply each name to the face it belongs to?

I have recently caused unwitting people at our church to be placed in entirely new families and have attributed to them children and spouses they never even knew they had. Because not only are we memorizing the names and which faces go with each name, we are also memorizing who is married to whom and which kids go with each family and what the name of each child is.

I keep a piece of paper with me all the time and I write down names as I learn them. Each time we come home, I open my Manteo File on the computer and add the names and family connections I learned over the past weekend; then I print out copies for Steve and I to study over the week.

And then there are brain challenges as simple and down-to-earth as functioning in a (wonderful) new kitchen every weekend.

The oven, for instance, has two levels--an upper and lower oven that can each be set at different temps. And then the microwave has the convection feature which I am not used to. I kind of tip toe around it warily trying to figure out which button I should push without blowing up half of Manteo.

And the stove top has gas burners instead of electric and so I have learned all about cooking with gas, which is a rather exhilarating experience. And the dishwasher? It took Sarah and me fifteen minutes of pondering to figure out how to run that particular marvel of machinery. There were no buttons on the front and so we opened it up and peered at the little buttons hidden in the top of the door where lights were flashing and a whole universe of options awaited us.

When we finally got everything loaded and pushed the (hopefully) correct buttons, we were then concerned because we could barely hear it running.

Did we do everything correctly? Was it, in fact, doing its job? Should we open it and try again?

You see, our dishwasher here in Smithfield has a lovely typhoon sound effect associated with it. (And no, we didn't even have to pay any extra for it to be that loud!) We're used to closing a dishwasher and hearing the sounds of wind, and waves and storms emitting from within.

In Manteo, however, the dishwasher is whisper quiet; it's really quite alarming to experience that much silence after being used to so much more drama in the dishwashing department.

And then if we decide to go to the grocery store, we have to first remember where it is located and then we have to wander the aisles in a pitiful state of confusion while trying to uncover where exactly they stock the popcorn, the french bread and the dog treats.

You can always tell a newcomer to any town by the tentative way they make their way through a grocery store, peering furtively around each corner and plucking nervously at the products on each shelf.

In contrast, the natives of the land whip through the aisles, cornering on two wheels with their carts, talking on their cell phones, waving their hands, snatching things off the shelf with elan and finally showing up at the check out with their fifteen items just one minute and 45 seconds after walking into the store.

Our family on the other hand, has been known to take up to thirty minutes to buy just three items. We then take those three things back to the cottage and tiptoe nervously into the kitchen to try and make peace with the five burners, three ovens, and whispering, gleaming dishwasher that greet us. And don't even get me started on the fridge, another beautiful, high tech, impressive piece of machinery!

And then we decide we might go out for ice cream. But we have to stop and ponder that decision too. Because, where on earth is the ice cream shop? (And is it spelled shop or shoppe? Because spelling is important in this family!)

The bottom line is that we are doing a lot of "stopping and pondering" in Manteo right now, deciphering roads and addresses and stores and people and families and ovens and names and children and neighborhoods and non-typhooning dishwashers and grocery store shelves.

If you've ever moved to a new town, I'm sure you'll agree with me that non-stop pondering is tiring! In a good sort of way, of course. We're learning about our new church family, our new town, our new community, and our new culture and it's been a wonderful experience!

And someday, we will be the ones who are whizzing through the grocery store, picking things off of familiar shelves even as we spot the newbie in the next aisle who looks just slightly concerned and confused.

And we will smile and remember our newbie days and then stand and ponder for a moment how wonderful it is to be a newbie no more. We'll be officially transplanted Manteo-ites and it will be a wonderful thing, indeed.

Until then, we'll continue to ponder and memorize and remember and review and study and think and learn. And it could even be with all that mental activity going on, that enough calories may be burned to justify a trip to the ice cream shop(pe).

If we can just remember where it is.


Let me just add right here how wonderful the lady is who is loaning us our weekend abode. The first week we were there, she had a frozen pre-seasoned, ready-to-put in the oven roast waiting for us. (Along with bowls of chocolates.)

This past week, she had compiled a packet of magazines, brochures, and lists of things to do. We have been so blessed by her and her husband's kindness and generosity.

And speaking ofthose lists of things to do, I mentioned in a past post that on Saturday, Steve and Sarah went to an Elizabethan Faire. Here are a few photos from their outing.

There will be a story about this young man on Sarah's site in the next day or two.

And now this Manteo newbie/Smithfield oldie will take herself downstairs to put some dishes into the typhoon, er, dishwasher, and get some unpacking done.

Thanks for stopping by!


Friday night, we had dinner with a couple from our new church; their two intelligent, active, darling, busy toddlers had reminded me of just how much energy it takes to be a mother of small children.

When I was born in March of 1962, my parents already had three boys under the age of four. (My two younger sisters followed me about two years apart.)

called Mom on Saturday and said to her, "Mom, I really believe you need a couple extra stars in your crown for putting up with six children under the age of ten."

She laughed gently and responded, "You kids are the stars in my crown."

Do I have a great mom, or what?

Working on a longer update to be posted later today . . .