Thursday, July 29, 2010

Heading South

I only have a minute because Hamp and I are getting ready to leave for Florida this morning to visit our girls there. Yes, we've been traveling a lot this last week and no matter where we've ended up, it's very hot!! At least that makes going south not as undesirable - it's not cool anywhere right now.

Anyway, I have some great pictures from our Baltimore trip to share and I'll hopefully get to that soon. For now, I just want to say that the American Idol concert was actually really good. The producers did a great job with the stage set up, the screen graphics, etc. and the singers all sound much better live...well except for Sibhoan. Maybe she can sing a note really high and really long and maybe she's unique and refuses to compromise who she is for anyone. That doesn't mean I have to like it, though. :)

I'm leaving you with a teaser picture so you'll check back soon. Lauren had these shirts made for us to wear to the concert and can I just say that they were the best Idol shirts we saw all night?

They say, "Go, Lee" at the bottom because that's who we cheered for during the season to win...and he did.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Braves, Baltimore, and Idols

Good evening to you all! As I'm typing this, we're watching the first place Braves play on television. It has definitely been great timing to return to GA during baseball season, especially this year. The Braves have been in first place longer this year than in the last four years added together. We have the largest lead in any of the divisions and our scrappy team just keeps on winning. (For example, Chipper just got a hit that drove in Prado and Heyward and then McCann followed with a home run and now the Braves are winning 4-2 instead of losing 2-0.) Just so you know, I plan on celebrating my October birthday by watching the Braves win the World Series. :)

Hamp and I leave tomorrow to fly to Baltimore for a long weekend visit. We're looking forward to seeing friends and getting to enjoy some of the fun things to do (and eat!) in the city. At the top of my list are crab cakes and Pitango gelato. It really is true that Baltimore has a unique crab cake and after eating them there, I don't want them anywhere else.

The main reason we're going this particular weekend, though, is for an event being held in Baltimore on Saturday night. You need a little background to fully appreciate our upcoming attendance at this event. In the cold and dark winter months this year, American Idol became our entertainment on Tuesday and Wednesday nights starting in January.

Ellis and Ginger's daughter, Lauren, became my Idol Buddy and we shared popcorn, hot chocolate, and other treats as we often watched the show together.

Then with only 4 weeks left, I moved away and abandoned her as the season finale approached. We were both very sad at the timing, but thanks to her parents sharing their cell phones, we stayed in touch via texts and calls as we critiqued the remaining contestants and cheered for our favorites.

On the last night as we waited expectantly through the two hour finale, I remembered that the top ten finalists go on a summer tour each year after the show. Yes, you guessed it....this Saturday night Lauren and I (and her mom who is graciously joining us) are going to the American Idol Tour in Baltimore. Laugh if you must, but just in case you wondered, our pick won so we must have learned something along the way. Congratulations to Lee DeWyze; we'll see you Saturday night.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Dysfunctionally Fun

I have always loved illustrated calendars. When I was growing up, I used to get a Joan Walsh Anglund calendar every year to hang on my wall. Her pictures were always so whimsical and delicate and they made me smile whenever I saw them.

Years ago I discovered Mary Engelbreit and immediately became a fan. Her illustrations have a similar feel to them, but they often have a famous quote or something of her own creation on them. I started buying the desk calendars when they became available because it's fun to have a new picture begin each day. And the timing of some of the things a page will say leads me to believe that God has a much greater sense of humor than even I give Him credit for sometimes.

Today was one of those days. Here's what greeted me on this Monday morning.

If you know me or my family at all, you know that there's probably not a more appropriate word to describe us - dysfunctional. I've gotten old enough to no longer fret that this is true and have decided to embrace the reality and run with it.

Perhaps this information will be explanation enough when I show you what I ate for dinner on Saturday night.

You can probably tell it's something with ice cream on it, so I'll fill in the details. It was homemade pound cake by Hamp's dad topped with fresh strawberries smashed with just a taste of sugar topped with Breyer's vanilla ice cream and crowned with Hershey's chocolate syrup.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is a first-born, rule following, middle aged woman's attempt to put the fun back into dysfunctional. And what a grand experiment it was! I think I will be doing more of these things as the days go by; anyone want to join me?

Sunday, July 18, 2010


It's Sunday evening and we're resting in the quiet after a busy week and before a busy ending to the month of July. Living back in the suburbs has added MANY more hours of driving and I'm not a fan. All of our friends, doctors, and familiar haunts are 30-40 minutes away, so we're hoping as time goes on that we'll do life closer to home more often and spend less time on the road. But for now, that's the way it is.

There's been a lot going on recently that has prompted me to think about the word "courage" and what exactly that means to me. A logical place to look for a definition is in the dictionary, so I thought I'd do that just to see what it had to say.

"Courage - the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery"

Those of us more mature adults might have this picture pop into our heads (complete with a remembered snarl and growl) when we hear the word courage:

A little more modern picture might look more like this:

But I have to say I don't agree with the thought that courage involves facing difficulties without fear. Instead, I think this quote is more accurate:

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear." ~Ambrose Redmoon

I have a friend whose judgement that physical health and emotional peace were more important to her than fear. This determination has given her the strength to choose loss which ultimately is leading to life.

I've recently watched a young man only weeks away from his wedding determine that spiritual and emotional health were more important than fear.  At a high cost to himself and others, he's choosing to seek God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength as he navigates an unknown future.

For over three years I've watched two beautiful young ladies choose to believe that what God says about them is greater than their fear.  They've invested time and resources in learning to dream again because to stop dreaming means they've stopped living.

A couple of weeks ago I was reading a book and came across this sentence that resonated within me and I've decided that it's my new philosophy on courage:

"It takes courage to live everyday lives."

Here's to the sacredness of the everyday.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Family, Freedom, and the Fourth

Keepin' up with the Joneses has become somewhat difficult in recent weeks as is evidenced by my lack of posts for you to read. It's just been hard to find a chunk of time on a regular basis to jot a new brilliant thought or pondering. Then next thing I know, two weeks have gone by and there's too much to say. So I'll just write for a while about whatever decides to surface to the forefront of my brain and you can read if you'd like.

First, can I just say that it's hot outside? Seriously, having the number 100 being thrown around as the temperature for the day is just not my idea of summer fun. Today has found me inside trying to keep the thermostat as high as possible so it won't run non-stop for 12 hours. We're discovering that having a top floor apartment is not the best choice in the summertime. Hopefully come winter, we'll reap the benefits of the fact that hot air rises.

Well, the 4th of July has come and gone and with it another celebration of our country's freedom. I must confess I wonder how much longer we'll be able to do so, but that's a topic for another day. We had a quiet day with my brother and sister and some of our kids joining us at different times throughout the day as we grilled out the mandatory hamburgers and hotdogs and then went to watch fireworks at Marietta Square. We did have a couple of small adventures that are hopefully exclusive to our family. I can't imagine anyone wanting to experience these, but I suppose you never know.

For starters, after we ate mid-afternoon, we decided to go to Publix where our mom works on the weekends in their Apron's Program. She loves her job and they've been good to her, so she doesn't like to take days off if she can help it. Consequently, we have had several small family reunions in front of her station inside the store as different ones of us have come in and out of town. Maybe we should be a little embarrassed, but as the years have gone by we seem to be getting bolder in our appearances as you're about to discover.

Three cousins making the best of the circumstances.

Joey pointing out steak sauce.

Matthew flashing his buns.

And Grant with my purse.

Here's the surprised and happy mother with her three kids.

And the proud grandmother with some of her grandkids.

Somehow, this isn't what we envisioned holidays looking like. :)

Because we were going to Marietta Square, we three kids decided we wanted to go to the National Cemetery to see my Dad's gravesite. With all of the traffic and blocked streets, we knew we would have to walk. What we didn't foresee was that the "shortcut" my sister boasted of knowing would take us on a rather interesting walkabout in the nearby neighborhoods. Once we emerged into safer surroundings, we found ourselves about a block down from the main opening so we did what any respectful American would do - we jumped the rock wall surrounding the cemetery and headed to our destination. I'm pretty sure Grant will never be the same as he observed the behavior of his father and two aunts. Joey and Matthew never missed a beat so I'm not really sure what that might say about them...or us.

Matthew taking in the view which is actually very sobering.

After taking a much more direct route back to the square, we sampled a too greasy funnel cake,

and settled on our blankets to enjoy the cooler weather that had moved in as we waited for the fireworks.

In past years, we've experienced the 4th of July with over 50 people in our home to sharing it with only 2 others last year in Baltimore. But each year I always think about the cost some of my countrymen and women have had to pay so I can still live as I choose and I hope to never take it for granted. Yet even in that recognition, I realize that there's an even greater price that's been paid for my freedom and sadly I take it for granted way too often as well.

"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery." ~Galatians 5:1

There's really nothing else to add to that reminder, so I won't.