Friday, November 29, 2013

Thankgiving in Pictures

Our Thanksgiving table. Our guests this year were Mom's college roomate and her husband, and some of my dad's students from the Naval Test Pilot School.
My favorite part - the pies! :) Dad's students were very proud that they'd located two pies "without egg or milk," since they knew about the food allergies. Both actually did contain milk & eggs (casein, etc) but we were touched at their efforts :))

Fellowshipping around the table

Telling animated stories and laughing :)

After barking at all the guests as they arrived, Oliver was all worn out. :)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

My Thankfulness List

I Am Thankful
... to be alive.
... to be warm.
... to be fed.
... to be loved.
... to be healthy.
... to be safe.
... to be single.
... to be unafraid.
... for my home.
... for full propane tanks.
... for electric hookups.
... for heated hoses.
... for warm socks.
... for homemade soup.
... for air conditioning units.
... for the color gray.
(and the color orange)
... for sunshine.
... for my friends.
... for my family.
... for friends who become family.
... for cars.
... for planes.
... for telephones.
... for text messages.
... for FaceTime and Skype.
... for the Postal Service.
... for the wonder that is the Internet.
... for Pinterest, too.
... for books.
... for coffee.
... for the children in my life.
(especially the children.)
... for the blessings of harvest.
(especially the pumpkins.)
... that I have the best BFF in the world.
... that God gave her an amazing husband
... and a beautiful, beautiful son.
... that her mother is here to celebrate Thanksgiving.
... that He answers prayer.
... that He provides for all our needs.
... that His grace is sufficient.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Holiday Bucket List 2013

Note: I've decided to break up my bucket lists into "holiday" (starting the week of Thanksgiving and running til New Year's Day) and "winter" (starting New Year's Day and running until it starts to feel like spring ;)).

1) Decorate!
2) Drink hot cocoa with marshmallows or whipped cream
3) Celebrate when 97.1 turns into the Christmas music station (and then permanently switch the car radio over, lol!)
4) Go to Ann Marie Garden In Lights
5) Make cinnamon-dough ornaments
6) Eat pumpkin pie
7) Take a late-night shopping trip
8) Sew stockings for Zinnia and Zhiva
9) Read the Christmas story
10) Read A Christmas Carol
11) Watch my favorite holiday movies
12) Send Advent gifts to Khy
13) Make a Christmas craft with Abigail
14) Do a random act of kindness
15) Take a nap and stay up late wrapping presents
16) Burn holiday candles
17) Make a "thankfulness list"
18) Write thank-you cards for the Christmas cantata cast
19) Pull out Christmas music (and add a new CD to the collection)
20) Take a shopping trip just for Christmas cards
21) Buy new PJ's
22) Eat a leftover turkey sandwich :)
23) Read How The Grinch Stole Christmas with Abby
24) Go to bed early
25) Start an ornament collection
26) Send Christmas cards
27) Take a holiday photo
28) Go hear live Christmas music

Sunday, November 17, 2013


Oh. My. Word.

The weekend is over. Thank goodness.

It was a really good weekend. A lot was accomplished. Money was made (thank God!). But I'm kind of exhausted, and I've been around people almost nonstop for three days, and I'm really just looking forward to crawling into my trailer, locking the door behind me, and savoring the peace and quiet. :)

But first, a recap:

The Vintage & Farm Sale up at Boondoggie Farm was yesterday. This was the first time I've gotten to work a show, although not, oddly enough, the first time I've sold there (since I was sick the last show, Maggie graciously sold for me along with her own table). It was a small show that was totally outdoors, but within forty minutes I'd sold half my stock, Maggie had sold one of her biggest pieces, and the day kept going well. I came home with only three cozies left, tons of ideas, and a custom order. Can't wait to show again next month!

As soon as the show ended, I helped pack up our stuff so I could RUN to my next event - babysitting for a new client! I was a teensy bit apprehensive about it since, although I was recommended to them by a friend, they seemed a little... distrustful? nervous? (Apparently they've had bad experiences with sitters before :( ). But the night went terrifically - the girls (ages 5 & 7) were well-behaved, and we played games, read books, and played all night. Both were bathed, brushed, and completely ready for bed by the time their parents got home, and not only did the parents bring me a dessert from the restaurant they went to (!) but they paid me time-and-a-half my hourly rate and texted me a little later to let me know how pleased they were and how much the girls liked me, and would I come back again in the future? I think we're going to have a great relationship after all. :)

Today I was in the nursery at church with four little ones, all boys! Usually we have more girls, so that was a switch for me. I enjoyed getting to interact with them and everyone was reasonably well-behaved, so that made the morning much easier. :) Then this afternoon we had Christmas cantata practice - only two Sundays and three Saturdays left before the Big Day! :) I'm totally confident now, as everyone seems to have their lines down pat and the acting is starting to reach a new level of realism. So excited to see the fruit of all our hard work finally paying off!

I can't believe Thanksgiving is next week. I'm looking forward to spending time with friends and family, and kicking off the Christmas season! :)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sympathetic Pain

Disclaimer: This is a vent.

There's really only one way to say it: Abby's having a rough adjustment to kindergarten.

It's not that she's overwhelmed by the materials they're learning (if anything, I think she's a little puzzled about why people keep asking her to trace and copy N's and 4's and asking what sound the letter E makes, when she's known all that for at least a year) but she's just not down with the program. The days are too long. The slides are too big. There's not time for naps. She misses mommy (and, I suspect, the cousins and friends that have been a big part of her life up til now).

I know, I know. Apparently, these are pretty normal complaints from the kindergarten-going crowd, and it could be worse. But it still feels wrong. I was all prepared to soldier through my sad feelings when I was sure she was gonna love school and I was the one who dreaded dropping her off each morning. I was unprepared for what it would feel like if we both sat in the parking lot each morning, both wishing we could say, "Forget this - let's go on a Starbucks date together, then see what the cousins are up to... explore the marine museum... play games... make art... say 'I love you' a hundred times."

Yesterday, as we were sitting in the school parking lot waiting for the drop-off doors to open, she began concocting a plan in which, instead of dropping her off, I kidnapped her and took her home to spend the day with me, then returned her to the school parking lot right before mommy got there so it would look like business as usual. This morning, she told me very earnestly that she was going to come to live with me in my trailer, if I wouldn't make her go to school (there was, she pointed out, plenty of room in my bed, and she'd help take care of Zhiva and Zinnia).

And even though I smile and tell her she's such a silly goose... part of my heart breaks.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

(Another) Randomizer

1. Right after we got back from Alabama, Crisy texted me to ask if she could drop some clothes off for me. I was kind of dubious, since Cris and I are not the same size (at all. not even close.), but when I got home I was amazed to see a couple big bags full of clothes, almost all of which fit me beautifully! (Turns out, they weren't her clothes, she was just passing them on. :)) And they were gorgeous! Cute cardis and adorable tops and some dresses that almost made me wish for summer again. I had so much fun trying everything on and mixing up new outfits - I've been wanting to shop for new clothes so badly, but it's totally just not in the budget right now, what with winter coming on and the holidays approaching. And this was like having my own private shopping spree. I was totally blessed and wasted no time in telling her so. Oh! And did I mention that, included in that big pile of clothes, was a top I'd been yearning for just recently?!? Yup. It's official. Crisy is God's messenger. :)

2. Speaking of holidays... OhmygoshwillChristmasnevercome? CanIdecorateyet? IsthatChristmasmusicIhear? (I know, I know. Some folks hate people like me, who can barely force ourselves to survive Halloween before we start decking the halls and trimming the tree.) I had originally scheduled my 2013 Holiday Bucket List to start on November 24th (the week of Thanksgiving), but folks, I'm thinking I'm not going to survive till then. Wrapping Christmas presents to schlep to Alabama dissolved what little self-control I have left. And also, I'm such a Christmas softie. Lately I find myself thinking about going to shop at Michael's or Ollie's because they're already playing Christmas music. And don't even get me started on the Christmas room at Wal-Mart - apparently how tired and broke I am, no visit to WM is complete without a spin through the decorated trees.

3. In a true case of "When it rains, it pours," I have three babysitting jobs this week and two next week. Yay! :) One is with a new family, so I'm excited about getting to know the girls and hopefully adding them onto my "regulars" list. Also hoping that as the holidays get closer, people will need me more!

4. Next week, Maggie and I are going to have our own table at a craft/vintage fair nearby! Maggie's been working on some refurbished pieces to sell, and I'm working on my collection of coffee cozies, as well as some gift tags, a couple of adorable message boards, and whatever else I can come up with this week to sell. Again, I'm really hoping to make a good chunk of change, as this will probably be one of our last, if not the last, craft fair we do this year.

5. Even though the weather has been pretty gorgeous, we've had some legitimately cold nights, enough that I feel like I got a decent taste of what wintertime in the trailer will feel like. It's cold. There's just no two ways around it, a trailer is colder than a stick-n-brick house. But, the good news is that even on the coldest days, so far the sunshine seems to heat everything up to a pretty liveable (if coolish) temperature by noon. And so far, I haven't woken up cold - my little sleeping compartment filled with my huge fleece blanket, down comforter, and second comforter keeps me toasty and warm! (Don't feel sorry for me - in some ways, this is my dream come true: I like to snuggle under a ton of blankets, and it's finally cool enough to do so comfortably!) In fact, one night I experimented with turning off the heat and just running the electric space heater for the girls, and we all stayed quite comfortable throughout the night. Nice to know, since I'm really trying to conserve as much propane as possible!
When I'm not sleeping, I'm wearing more clothes than I have in a long time - sweats, sweaters, long sleeve shirts, socks, etc. For someone who usually lounges year-round in tank tops, this has been a little bit of an adjustment, but really not too bad.

6. Speaking of cold weather... today dawned warm and sunny, and Maggie and I decided to take advantage of the beautiful day to head off on an adventure after church. We drove up to beautiful Chesapeake Beach to have a picnic lunch on the piers, walk all around the boardwalk, and explore Nice 'N Fleazy Antiques, where we stumbled into their book room and spent the next half-hour squealing in delight with each new find. I love old books! We tickled the proprietors, who, it turns out, were watching us and found our reactions hysterical. :)

Thursday, November 7, 2013


1) I had a few extremely, shall we say, hormonal days this week. I was tired from our totally-worth it trip. I had a horrible, awful, very bad, no good (and awful to boot!) day. I was struggling with a migraine for a couple of days. (Did I mention how bone-weary tired I have been this week?) None of those things should have impacted me as much as they did, but all combined kind of wrecked me. I'm not really a crier, but I told Maggie as we drove home Wednesday that all I wanted was to go home, hide in my trailer, and have a really good cry. Last night went much, much better, but I was still feeling weepy and strung out, so Maggie treated me to ice cream and a movie - "Barefoot In The Park." I laughed hysterically, felt much better, and woke up this morning feeling like my old self. :)

2) The girls are leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. First it was my hoodie, which got nibbled on while I leaned against their cage to watch a movie...

... then it was one of the pillows on my sofa, which was left accidentally within grabbing distance.

Not to mention the cord to the blinds, which Zinnia gleefully shorted by eight inches. Or the half-dozen balls of yarn I've lost to Zhiva, who has a passion for yarn like I do. I'm not mad, because really it's the fault of the humans who stupidly absentmindedly leave things within grabbing distance, but really - it's amazing how destructive they can be in so short a time.
Despite this, they continue to be my babies. :) I should post pictures because they've gotten quite big since the last picts I took!
3) After doing a bunch of research into winterizing my trailer (have I talked about this already? Somehow I feel like I have) I have decided that instead of spending $150 on a heated hose, I'm going to make my own with $6 worth of foam insulation, some heat tape, and, of course, duct tape. :) I'm also going to buy a couple of space heaters and switch to using them instead of my propane-based heating system. I've heard this runs a bit cooler, but as I prefer cooler temps this shouldn't be a problem, especially at night, where I'm really more concerned about the girls staying warm than myself. Hopefully this will keep my propane costs down!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

My Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad (and awful to boot!) Day

I was going to write about how yesterday, after getting only a few hour's sleep, I went to teach swim (with Maggie, who is temporarily a full-time coach with me! Yay!) and had two kids added to my already-big class that included not only three toddlers but three full-size kids (not a good mix, and one I will probably put my foot down on doing again).

And how the other coach (who, THANK GOD, is not the normal coach) decided to have her class of really big kids right next to us - read: lots of splashing and big waves mixed with already-unsteady-on-their-feet tots - and because I don't really know her at all, I didn't really feet comfortable asking her to move.

And how one of my tiny tots leaned over to get a toy and was swooshed off his feet by a wave from said big kids, and went head-over-heels under the water.

And how I rescued him immediately, and he seemed fine and not really that traumatized, but ten minutes later started crying and wouldn't stop sobbing on my shoulder.

And how his parents declined to comfort him or pull him out, so I taught - and I use the word taught very loosely here, because very little teaching/learning went on yesterday - holding him on my hip, and because of this, I couldn't really teach my other two students, both of whom were disturbed by the crying and who started asking ten minutes in if they could go get their towels.

And how one of the kids is an angel and I felt AWFUL that she wasn't really having any fun.

And how the other kid is a BRAT and I wish his parents would, well, be better parents. (His older brother is becoming the bane of every coach who's had him.)

And how I'm pretty sure none of the parents (except the parents of my angel-child) were very happy with me, although I'm not sure what I could have/should have done differently.

And how, because I was so wrapped up in trying to keep everyone from drowning and all, that I basically stuck Mags with all the level 1's, including three brand new students who had no clue what was going on and hadn't had any boundaries set at all.

And how, in the second class, I was jumped on by one of my shall-we-say-less-than-exemplary kids, who we're pretty sure has some form of autism (I do not say this lightly or flippantly - she "stims," has really extreme reactions, has trouble making eye contact, etc), jumped on my neck twice, and, after the first time when I explained that she hurt me and she needed to wait her turn, did it again and laughed.

And how I came home and had a good cry and made myself biscuits and gravy and wished I was back in Alabama.

I was going to write about that... but instead, I think I'll go make a cup of coffee, fold my laundry, and make something lovely in the crockpot.


*Thanks to Bean, who realized yesterday that I was truly, genuinely upset by the events of the evening, and called this morning to make sure I was over it. (I'm not - yet - but I will be). :)

Monday, November 4, 2013

On Family, Foliage, and Fun

I write from one of my favorite places - the beautiful city of Huntsville, Alabama - surrounded by some of my favorite people - my BFF, my favorite-est little boy, and my friend Crisy. Joe will be home from work soon. Although we only got in Friday night and, due to scheduling conflicts with work (inser very sad face), will be back on the road in just a few hours zipping back to Maryland... right now, everything is right in the world.

This has been an amazing trip, starting with our early-start road trip.

Four hours (1/3rd of the way!) into the drive, making out first gas stop/driver change. I drove first so she could catch some ZZZ's after running shift the night before, but Cris and I talked the entire first four hours instead! But apparently she got a "whole four hours of sleep" so she'd be good for, like, days. In contrast, I took two naps on the way down LOL!
In the interest of saving Crisy's reputation, I want to clarify that I made her pose for this picture, and that we were going less than 20 MPH on a very straight back road in Tennessee. ;)
I love road trips pretty much no matter where they end or how long they take, and this one was full of great music, open road, beautiful sunshine, funny signs, and incredible, incredible fall foliage. Seriously, if you want to soak up the last of the autumnal goodness, I highly recommend a road trip that carries you through the countryside of Virginia, skirts the Smoky mountains, and descends into the valleys of Tennessee before depositing you gently on the doorstep of people who love you. Good for the soul.

We pulled into Reb and Joe's driveway just after eight PM and wasted no time in admiring their new apartment, which has truly become a home since they tied the knot this past April. Joe arrived home soon after, Khy was put to bed, and the adults crashed in the living room with episodes of Gilligan's Island playing in the background while we got all caught up on each other's lives. :)

The next morning, Crisy and I slept in a bit, then we all piled into the car to take Joe some coffee at work, do a quick bit of shopping, and eat an early lunch at one of my favoritest places, Mellow Mushroom.

We got to sit outside where Khy could run around the fenced-in patio (which was completely empty of patrons except for us!) and enjoy our pizza. :) Then (feeling a little guilty over the pizza LOL) we headed up to Green Mountain Park to explore!

I love Green Mountain! The first time I was here was in the spring of 2010, right after Khy was born; I had flown down to meet my little guy for the first time, and at some point during the weekend, Reb's mom volunteered to watch him for a bit so we girls could get out of the house. We drove up to Green Mountain and had a great time walking the trails and taking pictures.

At Green Mountain Park in 2010
Same tree, grown-up Khy :)

This time, it was great to be able to bring Khy with us and hike with him!

Hiking the trails

Enjoying the beautiful lake!

BFF and favorite boy :)

I made Crisy scale this fallen tree so that I could get a picture 
I told her she looked great, and to look out over the lake radiating confidence.
#fail ;)
We came home, cleaned up, and started preparing for a "big night in." :) Khy went over to nanny's for a sleepover (thanks Lynn!) and Joe started grilling steak, while Reb made mashed potatoes, pasta salad, and mushrooms.

I was allowed to touch the mushrooms for approximately five seconds before Joe flipped out and very politely took over. ;)
Crisy was smarter - she didn't even try lol!

Joe the chef 

Reb and I wanted to go to the hot tub, and (since neither Crisy nor I had brought swimsuits) I was willing to sacrifice my extra shorts and tank top to the cause, but we thought we'd go check that it was open before changing. It was... and we ended up soaking in our street clothes. ;) 
The next day we all slept in, then Reb went to get Khy, Joe started breakfast (french toast, cinnamon rolls, and leftover steak) while Crisy and I hung out and enjoyed the fruits of his labor.

Joe had to leave for work :( and shortly after he left, we all piled into the car to explore some more - this time in Big Spring Park, another one of my favorite places!

Originally we were just gonna walk around, but the fall colors were so beautiful that we ended up having a mini photo shoot, complete with a lot of leaf throwing!

Thoroughly tired, we dropped Crisy off at Joe's work she could get a new phone, and Reb and I took Khy to run at McDonalds, then we headed home to meet Reb's family, who swung by to say hi on their way home from church!

The day before we left, I had driven all around town trying to hunt down some stuffed ham, and managed to find some! With the help of a cooler, it made the long trip with us, and I was able to deliver it safely into their hands. :) I loved getting to see everybody, including Reb's younger brother (who now towers over me!) and sister (who I remember as a tiny tot!) who are practically all grown up now. :)

We spent a lazy afternoon napping, swapping pictures, and generally enjoying each other's company. :) Joe got off work that evening, and pretty soon it was time for Crisy and I to pack up and start our long drive home.

Although I was kind of leery of it at first, we've done it a few times now and I've discovered I LOVE driving through the night. The roads are less crowded, there's a peacefulness about it, and time really does seem to go faster. I got to nap first, then - armed with a couple of CD's worth of RadioLab episodes - I drove for awhile.

The sun was just coming up as we reached the scenic overpass in Virginia, only a few hours from home! Despite the FREEZING temperature, we hopped out to take pictures and enjoy the panoramic views!


Sadly, a few hours later out trip came to an end. :( It was a great time, though, and I look forward to more of these little weekend getaways in the future! I love getting to see how happy my BFF is with her awesome husband, and how quickly my Khy-bear is growing. I think the status I posted on Facebook during the weekend just about sums it up:

I was going to post something I was thankful for each day in November, but in between traveling I've missed the first two days! It occurs to me however, that I could have posted the same thing these past two days and it would be just as true: I am so, so grateful for the 'created family' that God has given me, those special people whose lives at one point became tangled with mine, and who decided to leave them that way. Our friendship has become a sort of web, drawing in others and holding us all secure.. Family isn't just a blood thing - sometimes it's a soul thing, too, and I'm thankful to be a part of this one.