With all the rain we’ve had over the past three weeks, you’d think my house would be squeaky clean.
Alas, not so much.
With all the rain we’ve had over the past three weeks, you’d think my house would be squeaky clean.
Alas, not so much.
Last Friday was prom night. Swimmer Girl is a planner, so by Friday afternoon, her dress was hemmed and hanging in her closet, her nails were gelled, her hair and makeup were done, and she was putting on the finishing touches before her date arrived. On cue, she glided down the stairs, pinned on his boutonniere, slipped on her corsage, posed for indoor pics and outdoor pics, and was tucked into her date’s ride just before a rain shower began.
Now, she has seen us head out for dinner, overnight trips, weekend getaways, and even week-long vacations without her, but I guess it hadn’t yet sunk in that our lives are no longer completely intertwined with hers.
I watched her have that moment of stunning realization: her parents have a life, separate and apart from her and her brothers. I witnessed the same moment with each of our sons, at about the same age. While they won’t admit it, I think before this epiphany, each of our children thought we simply deflated into catatonic 2-D figures that sat on the couch and waited for them to return from dates and activities with their friends.
I guess we created that assumption. When our children were young, we were with them round-the-clock almost constantly. And on the rare occasion when we had a childless outing, we made sure they were well-cared for by adults they knew and we trusted. We made them aware of our plans in advance, and assured them we would return on schedule. And so they grew up with a perception that their parents lacked spontaneity…or any real social life to speak of.
But now the secret is out, the jig is up. Our children see us as people who do things other than raise children. Which is a good thing, considering we have almost worked ourselves out of that gig.
P.S. If you’re wondering where my garden updates are from now on, please check out my Garden Coach blog posts. You’ll find all the gritty details on my garden week-by-week over there.
Our “Spring Break” trip (minus any actual Spring Break-ers) was a week of relaxed-pace recreating in Myrtle Beach. I knew our vacation was off to a great start when I spied our condo’s dishes:
If you guessed Fiesta, you guessed correctly. I’m feeling very influential these days. Or maybe I’m just in good company. What’s not to love about these dishes?
The week provided several rounds of golf for Mr. Official, a couple hours of hot yoga and a nice 5-mile run for me, plus plenty of pool time. Our winter whites have been banished for the season, replaced by a pink-brown color they call “tan” – I hear it’s the “in” color this summer.
The temperatures exceeded expectations, pegging out in the high 70s/low 80s most days. We ate our fill of local seafood each night and we drove Thunder Road:
…well, one of us did. Somebody had to take pics, and besides, I wasn’t sure I met the height requirements.
Because Mr. Official is an easy-going good sport, one night he agreed to forgo a seafood feast and dine on movie theater popcorn and Cokes while watching Jurassic Park in 3-D (in a nearly empty theater.. which was kinda weird.)
In between golf, yoga, and taking laps around the lazy river on innertubes, we also got in a day of antiquing, which netted two red fruit bowls and a turquoise salad bowl for my (ever-growing) collection. I also acquired some wonderful additions to our landscape, courtesy of a plant sale at Brookgreen Gardens and a fabulous little nursery in Murrells Inlet:.
But the highlight of the trip was on Friday…it was a paparazzi moment for me and my camera when I spotted this gosling surrounded by a couple tough-looking bodyguards on high alert. I managed to squeeze off a few shots before they shooed me away.
Technically, it was six goslings.
Oh, wait…you thought I spotted Ryan Gosling? Silly goose. Nope. But I think these Canadians are just as cute as he, and it was way easier to get a photo of ‘em than THAT guy.
Forget the Ides of March and all that. Sorry Julius Caesar, but that was so last week.
It is the final week of March and the first full week of spring, according to the calendar. But the weather says otherwise. In fact, as I write this, it is snowing. Yes, snowing.
In. The. South.
It is not expected to stick or accumulate, and we should start a slow ascent into warmer temperatures as the week wears on…at least that’s what the weather men and women are promising. One can only hope, because my Easter dress is sleeveless and my shoes are strappy, and I have no intentions of wearing a jacket. So have a heart, Mother Nature.
It is definitely March Madness around here. Every night the sound of rubber soles running, stopping, spinning and jumping on oak flooring reverberates throughout our home, thanks to high-def televisions in practically every room. It matters not that we have no dog in this year’s hunt…Smokey is on hiatus and resting up for fall football. We will watch teams we have never heard of play all evening long, until the Sweet Sixteen becomes four and four becomes one NCAA champ. Then we can resume regularly scheduled programming. (Okay, I confess: I sneak off to a corner of the house and watch Dallas on Monday nights. And Duck Dynasty on Wednesdays. But otherwise, I’m all-in for whoever’s playing next.)
There is a glimmer of silver lining to this unseasonably cold weather: I have a good reason to try my hand at one last chicken pot pie for the season (new recipe, new hopes), and a pot of Cincinnati-style chili and beans over spaghetti. The crockpot will get a workout with a brisket that will be turned into hash and a new slow-cooked barbeque chicken with sweet potato cornbread on the side. Then maybe…just maybe, the weather will warm and we can begin welcoming spring with grilled foods and cool salads.
Oh and one last thing…March Madness can also explain away a recent shopping spree through Macy’s online store. Right? As long as the new Fiesta bowls arrive while it is still March, that’s my defense and I’m sticking to it.
Oh blog, where are thou?
Yes, I know…it’s been here all along, and somehow my attention (meager as it is) has been diverted for several weeks. Long story short, be careful about taking on volunteer “opportunities” in your “spare” time. The result can mean you wake up and realize a couple months have raced by and you barely looked up to notice the clock racing or the sun rising or setting.
This past weekend was the annual springing ahead of said clock. It is the weekend I love and dread in equal proportions each year. I love having longer evenings and here in the South, the time change is immediately followed by warmer evenings as well. But for a few days, I struggle with the alarm going off in a pre-dawn hour.
Our Saturday was spent driving to Knoxville to watch the Vols beat Mizzou, then driving back, knowing the East/Central time zone switch would be compounded this time by the arrival of the annual time change. It arrived right on cue, so Sunday morning came all too soon, but I was up and out the door bright and early. After lunch, Swimmer Girl and I went shopping for Easter dresses and we emerged victorious, with two dresses in tow. We rushed to the high school for a matinee production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” It was very well done, but my eyelids were drooping after the intermission, so when we got home, I grabbed a nap. Even with the nap, bedtime came early Sunday night.
And the Monday morning alarm was completely ignored. Tomorrow, treadmill, tomorrow.
I don’t know about you, but when I decide to clean something, I go all in. On Saturday morning, we enjoyed cornmeal and blueberry pancakes from a cookbook Middle Son gave me for Christmas (the recipe needs some tweaking but it has potential.) And as we ate, I kept looking over at the kitchen and thinking about the pent-up post-holiday clutter that never seemed to quite go away no matter how many times I glared at it. Hmmmm.
So as soon as breakfast was over, I set in to clean, and clean I did. The dishwasher and oven cleaned themselves, but every surface and several cabinets got some one-on-one time with me. Every countertop was completely cleared, scrubbed and buffed. The backsplash areas got a damp cloth and stubborn stains got treated to the magic of a Magic Eraser. The plasticware cabinet was overhauled and the coffee grinder was relegated to the garage. Every now and again, I might need it…but with the arrival of the Keurig, those times are few and far between these days. As I wiped off the top of the microwave, a strip of plastic suddenly appeared…it was one of those protective strips they put on in the factory so it doesn’t get scratched from store to installation. For shame. This house was finished over six years ago and we’ve lived here for almost two years….and I’m just now finding and removing it? I *do* wipe that ledge atop the microwave occasionally, I swear.
The finishing touch was to scrub and buff the sinks. I had seen this tip on Pinterest and decided to give it a whirl. Well, at least the last part. I used my trusty Barkeeper’s Friend to do the scouring, then did the olive oil buff job. They are definitely shinier and I hope they’ll stay a little cleaner…for at least a few days.
Do you clean your sinks? I hear horror stories of people who don’t…really? I scour mine at least a couple times a week, and definitely after any raw meat has dripped or dribbled in a basin.
Even clean, the kitchen is visually busy. My rainbow of Fiestaware isn’t exactly a soothing monochromatic color scheme and I use tools, prep bowls and appliances too often to keep them tucked away in cabinets.
But when it’s clean, it definitely sets a better “tone” for our open floor plan. And I know the kitchen won’t stay this clean for long. We work hard, play hard, and eat hard in this area and I wouldn’t have it any other way. For now, we’ll do what we can to maintain it….and in a few weeks, I’ll be running a sinkful of scalding hot water and doing it all over again.
After the kitchen was finished, Swimmer Girl and I headed out for pedicures and a movie (Les Miserables). Five hours of uninterrupted mother-daughter weekend time = awesome.
I hope your weekend was filled with some activities that gave you a sense of satisfaction, and some opportunities to savor a special moment. Those are the best weekends, in my book.
P.S. Yes, I’m still keeping up with my daily Bible readings, which is proving extremely convenient since they are posted on Facebook every day. Last week’s passages blazed a trail through the lives of patriarchs, and I’ve once again pondered our oh-so-human frailties: deception, favoritism and envy marred the relationships of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their families. This week will focus on Joseph…and his ability to see God and good in the trials of life. We could all learn a lesson or two from his story.
Why did Adam Lanza shoot 26 people in Newtown, Connecticut?
Why did he target children with whom he had no known connection?
This question is on every person’s mind and lips in the aftermath. If we knew WHY, we could perhaps prevent the next tragedy, right?
No one will ever know for sure why he entered Sandy Hook Elementary and killed so many people before he took his own life. But we can hazard some guesses.
Some will say it’s guns. But guns have been part of our culture since our country began. And it’s not just assault weapons. Case in point? Switzerland requires every adult male to have a military-issued assault rifle, and they train them on using it as part of their national militia. And their gun crime rate is much smaller than ours. So we can’t lay it solely at the feet of the availability of assault weapons, although many people rightfully question whether citizens really *need* unfettered access to weapons that are intended for the sole purpose of killing other humans.
Some will say it’s symptomatic of our broken healthcare system. But arguably, no healthcare system in the world or history has ever effectively tackled the challenges of mental health. If somiething was never perfect, it can’t be broken. Maybe the perfect system has yet to be invented, but we have countless high-functioning autistic members of society, as well as countless who suffer from anxiety, depression and serious mental illness. Many of whom do not and will never pose a threat to anyone. So it’s not simply the lack of healthcare…which is available, albeit not free.
Some will say that it’s the proliferation of violent video games, movies and rap lyrics that have led us to view killing with jaded eyes. That issue warrants further exploration, but the same people who champion limiting our Second Amendment right to bear arms are “up in arms” when anyone breathes a word about limiting their First Amendment right to free speech, even though that right was clearly intended to allow us free speech against our rulers; nothing more, nothing less.
Some will say it’s because we’ve removed God from schools and society. It is apparent that turning our backs on godly principles has made us less moral and respectful in the years since we acquiesced to the demands of those who reject Him in their own lives. However, I’d say God is right where He wishes to be, whether we acknowledge Him or ignore Him or refuse to believe in Him.
We can cast about all we want, and will probably never come to a consensus on an answer to the question of “Why?”
As a society, we cannot shoulder responsibility for Adam Lanza’s actions that dreadful day. Regardless of what factored into his life and worldview, he alone chose his path. And we cannot legislate enough rules or laws that will guarantee another person doesn’t follow the same path, whether it’s with guns, bombs, poison gas or any other tool they choose to carry out a horrific plan.
At the same time, as individuals, we cannot continue to ignore our responsibility to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. If we all followed that simple but oh-so-hard-to-live principle, these issues would vanish without any need for legislation or rules.
Guns would be viewed as a lethal responsibility of those who sell and buy them.
Mental health would become a personal responsibility for everyone, and a family responsibility when an individual is too fractured to make choices for their well-being. We would have to accept the need for institutions and we would provide humane and dignified treatment of those who need to be in that environment for their safety and ours.
Violent movies, games and songs would wither on the vine because people would simply choose to not buy, look or listen to them. The economic forces would efficiently deal them out of society.
And our children, whether they are 6-week-old fetuses or 6-year-old first graders, would not be harmed by anyone.
So I guess there is an answer to the question, “Why?” It’s just not an answer that all are willing to hear or accept.
I pray – fervently – that on this eve of the day the world acknowledges that Jesus entered the world, that we would all ask ourselves why we don’t strive harder to live this simple truth? And why don’t we share the good news of Jesus’ teachings with others?