Five on Friday - Stuff Edition

Five things I'm loving this Friday:

Please note, none of these are affiliate links. I get nothing from what I've shared today, other than the knowledge that someone else will know about the small things I'm loving right now.

  1. I'm studying Adam Hamilton's Revival on Wednesday nights, in a group led by our pastor. Having not been raised Methodist, it's interesting for me to get more information on the roots of our particular brand of Protestantism, and it's also helping clarify the things I love about the United Methodist Church. To top it off, it's just a great read. 
  2. K-LOVE's Spotify Channel. I listen to Spotify at work, and I love the K-LOVE Today channel. It's updated regularly with new stuff, and it works particularly well on days when I need a little pick me up, and the classical at work stations don't quite cut it. Besides, who couldn't use a little Crowder in the afternoon?
  3. I've been feeling sort of yucky lately. It's a combination of of the ragweed and junk in the air that sets up my annual October sickness. But, I've been drinking Lemon Zinger tea and it either really helps, or it just makes me feel good so I don't think about how crummy I've been feeling. 
  4. I typically don't start eating any and everything with pumpkin spice, but I like these Kashi Pumpkin Spice and Flax granola bars. I tried one a few weeks ago (at church of all places, thank you Jean for sharing!) and love them. They're in my desk snack drawer, along with my regular Luna Mint Chocolate Chip protein bars, and they're delicious. 
  5. My Frye loafers. I have had these shoes at least ten years, probably longer, and they are amazing. They still look good, they are ridiculously comfortable, and fit perfectly with my preppy sort of style. I can't even find they style any more to share, but here is the pair I keep looking at - the Erin Oxford. I did not pay anywhere near full price for mine, but considering the wear I've gotten out of them, it would be worth the price. 
So, what are you loving this week? Did I lose anyone when I mentioned pumpkin spice anything? 


October Is a Mixed Bag

October is such a mixed bag of emotions for me.

Sarah and Briana both have birthdays in the middle of the month, so it's a happy time in our family. The temperatures start to cool off, football is in full swing, and I'm thinking ahead to Thanksgiving and Christmas, looking forward to the holiday season.

But there are two days in October that I now dread. October 6th is my brother's birthday. I say "is" with meaning, because of October 22nd, the date two years ago when he was taken from us much too soon. I can't bring myself to say "was." (I still talk about my Daddy and my grandparents' birthdays in present tense. They're not gone from us, just gone from this world.)

So I plan around it. I know that I need to stay busy while I'm at work those days, and try to keep my mind occupied with as many other important and urgent things as I can, so I don't walk around in tears all day. I know that I need to find something at home to occupy my time as much as possible, so I put off the inevitable come-apart as long as I can.

And I try to keep those happy times as close to the front of my mind as I can. I remember riding bikes in circles around the yard. I remember mowing grass and taking turns on the riding lawnmower (and getting stuck with the push mower on the hills.) I remember picking blackberries from the bushes near the edge of the woods, and digging a giant hole next to Daddy's workshop for our adventures. I remember the tree house Daddy built, and how we pulled the cats up in buckets because "cats like to climb, right?"

Or sitting in the back of the car on our rides "around the block" or "to town" for lunch on Sunday. I remember when we were teenagers and at each others' throats, because a brother and sister that close in age are probably incapable of anything BUT that as teenagers. And I remember the change that happened as we grew up, and how I would call him when I needed an objective opinion, or when there was something only he would understand.

It makes me sad for all the years we will miss together here. I'm comforted in knowing I'll see him again one day, and laugh thinking about how he's probably up there grinning like a Cheshire cat because he got to find out the answers before I did. He'll probably meet me there and bust out with this list of stuff he knows before my second foot hits the inside of the Pearly Gates.

But what I can do is keep his memory, and memories of my Daddy and all those other family members, alive here. I can talk about them, laugh about them, and tell my daughter, so that she can remember them and hopefully pass them on to her kids one day.

Until then, I'll be enjoying what passes for fall in Houston, with a nice stiff drink from time to time, and a well-placed come-apart as far from the proverbial maddening crowds as I can manage.


September is for Sisters

Briana, my bonus daughter, is safely ensconced in her freshman dorm. She's studying at Ohio University, working part-time in the cafeteria, and is excited about all the possibilities ahead of her these next four years. I am so proud of her for working hard, and I know that "Sister" is going to thrive in a supportive and encouraging environment.

Sarah started pre-k this year. She's at the same daycare, but is now in the "Rascals" class, a name I feel was clearly inspired by the general behavior of four and five year old kids. She got to go with John to get Briana (I'm sorry, Sister) settled in, and was so excited about that trip she talked of little else for a week when they got back.

It was good for the sisters to be together, and good for John to have time with both his girls. That happens much too infrequently.

Now it's time to get back in our routine for the fall. We have birthdays in October - Briana's is the 15th and Sarah's is the 18th. Next thing you know it will be Christmas. Time to start shopping...

By the way, John is still looking for a job. He's working two part-time jobs and looking, but at this point we are just waiting on his next opportunity to happen. I know it will. I have absolute faith it will. It's just hard to keep on waiting and praying and being patient. Turns out that does not pay the bills.

We'll see what the next chapter of all our stories hold. Hopefully that's sooner rather than later.


Throwback Thursday - Shelling Peas

Recently I was talking with Sarah about things I remember when I was her age.

One thing that stands out VERY clearly is shelling peas. Sometimes green peas, sometimes black-eyed peas, sometimes purple-hull peas, but definitely sitting in the dining room, a basket or bushel of peas in front of us while we shelled peas.

I remember doing it at home with my mom and brother, when it was too hot outside to go play and we'd sit and watch television, one of our five or six channels. Sometimes we shelled peas at my grandparent's house, either inside or on the back porch where my Grandpa's chair always was.

Sometimes we shucked corn. Sometimes we shelled peas, but the peas are what I remember most, and it's a happy memory.

It kind of makes me want to find a farmer's market, get my hands on a bushel, and teach Sarah how to shell peas. (Then I remember I don't have freezer space and come back to reality.)

But it's funny how the simple things that don't feel like much when they're happening wind up being the things that stick with you on a hot July afternoon, when you've moved a few hundred miles away and find yourself nostalgic for your childhood.


Five on Friday - Podcast Edition

1. Around the Table Podcast 
      Jaycee and Maggie talk about things that make me laugh, make me think, and make me wish we were sitting together having a conversation. The tone is warm and welcoming, funny and honest, and just makes me feel better when the episode is over, even when it's a tougher topic.

2. The Popcast, aka, Knox and Jamie
     Full disclosure - Jamie and I were on the academic team together in school, so I've been privy to how funny she is for a long time. Well, not THAT long, let's be clear, but long enough. Even when I find myself on Team Knox (introverts have to stick together, yo!) It's just fun and light, and even when they deep dive, it's entirely appropriate. Caveat - do NOT listen to the Hanksgiving episode. Just trust me, and know that you owe me a cup of coffee for saving you.

3. Beyond the To-Do List 
     Erik has a great rotation of guests covering all sorts of topics, and while I'm still fairly new to following this one, I look forward to new episodes and am catching up on old ones. The guests and their individual topics are varied, but I always learn something, and it's presented in a way that doesn't leave you feeling like you've been lectured on what you're doing wrong, but inspired to take away something positive from each episode.

4. Open Paddock
     I would be completely remiss in my wifely duties if I didn't mention Open Paddock. My brother started out with them several years ago, and Open Paddock is how he got to fulfill his dream of attending the Indianapolis 500 with a press pass. I'll be forever grateful to them for that. My husband John is now a regular contributor, and recently edited his first episode. If you're into racing, check them out.

5. Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me!
     Looking for a hilarious hour of... well you never quite know what you're going to get when you listen, but you can rest assured you will laugh. Peter Sagal is one of my favorite hosts, and I'm growing fonder of Legendary Anchor Man Bill Kurtis, despite my continued fondness for Scorekeeper Emeritus Carl Kassell. No surprise, my favorite portion is "Lightning Fill in the Blank."


Courting Controversy

Oh no, she's going to talk about same-sex marriage... nope.

Wait, then she's going to talk about the Confederate flag... nope.

Economic upheaval in Greece? Lucky you... nope.

Yesterday the internet saw the completely epic fail that was the #AskELJames tag on Twitter.

Someone at Twitter HQ and on EL James' PR team decided a fabulous way to promote the next worst thing in "literature" was to create a hashtag - #AskELJames - and open up Twitter for all the amazing, contextually appropriate questions that would arise from fans of questionable fan-fiction masquerading as naughty novels for whoever the heck the target audience for EL James is.

At any rate, it imploded into a beautiful mess. Schadenfreude at its finest. People asked if she was waiting for Stephanie Meyer to answer the questions first so James would know what to write. People asked what she hated more, women or the English language. People asked why she blocked survivors of domestic abuse with genuine questions about the content of her books.

Naturally people also asked about completely unrelated things - when she thought a car park in the UK would be repaired, did she favor the Libs in this election, what were her thoughts on the unrest in the Ukraine, all of which went without a response. She did answer questions about the new Magic Mike movie, what her astrological sign was, and what part of writing her new book made her cry (spoiler alert: it was not realizing what she had done and crying tears of remorse.)

I know people love these books for some reason. I'll fully admit, I have not read much of any of them, but the excerpts don't make me feel like I'm missing anything. She is probably laughing all the way to the bank, when she's not rolling around in a Scrooge McDuck vault of money.

Until then, I'll leave my questionable reading to A Song of Ice and Fire. Nothing like a little bloodthirsty medieval-esque kingdom building to take your mind off things.



Do you not know?

    Have you not heard?

The Lord is the everlasting God,

    the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He will not grow tired or weary,

    and his understanding no one can fathom.

He gives strength to the weary

    and increases the power of the weak.

Even youths grow tired and weary,

    and young men stumble and fall;

but those who hope in the Lord

    will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles;

    they will run and not grow weary,

    they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:28-31

This is one of those passages that comes to my heart when I have one of "those" days - you know the ones. The unexpected news that can leave you nearly literally without speech.

I found myself today with a dear friend in my heart, just nearly completely without the words to even know where to start praying. I still am not entirely sure what to do, or how to help.

There is hope in the Lord. There is a place to renew our strength. Someone to walk with us who never gets tired, who never stumbles, who carries the load for us, and probably carries more of it for us than we'd care to admit, when we try to carry it all by ourselves.

And there is hope in friendship. In the old ones that seem to get taken for granted. The ones that feel as comfortable as your favorite old sweater. The new ones that are just tiny little bits of warmth, but that will grow into something familiar and loving and kind.