blessings... 7 years later

Exactly seven years ago, I started this blog.

I remember it being a few days before Thanksgiving... I was in grad school and had a few days off, my family was coming to celebrate with us, and I think I just decided that a blog was a good idea.

My very first post talks about things that I no longer have any interest in.  I read a zillion blogs back then.  Now, I don't read any.

I'm 7 years older but still have a great (albeit different) job, an amazing man, a good dog and no health issues.  I still have an incredible family and the best friends I could ask for.  Safe to say I am still incredibly blessed and still that cat by the bar, toasting to the good life.

However, it is crazy how much can happen in 7 years.  That feels like a lifetime ago in some ways.  I was 31.  THIRTY-ONE!  Now I am pushing 40.  I probably only had about 7 nieces/nephews.  Now I am pushing fourteen!  There have been some hard, challenging personal times and I've come through them and learned that I *can* do hard things.  There have been some hard, challenging personal times for so many that I love, and I have stood by them (and will continue to stand with them) as they learn that *they* can do hard things.

In a way, I feel like I should add an asterisk or something... I'll still that cat by the bar, toasting to the good life, but I'm also that cat that wants to be home by 10pm.  But I'm also that cat that toasts to the good life but also toasts with occasional tears welled up due to some mourning, or longing, or grieving.  I think it is important to note that those times aren't any less valuable.  After all, you usually have to see the whole picture to really capture the full beauty.



Most months, our electric bill is about $100ish.  In the summer/hot months, the highest it gets is about $150.  (We don't ever really turn the thermostat below 72.)

This month, I saw this:
Our bill was literally $200 higher, and it isn't the dead of summer.

I called Larry and had him immediately go up to the office to get it straightened out.  Turns out, they had applied somebody else’s bill to ours and overcharged us by $220.  They got it fixed and are going to cut me a check.

All I could think was “What if this had happened 10 years ago?”  When I was teaching, I lived paycheck to paycheck, and I didn’t even do that very well.  If I had been overcharged that much back then, pretty much every other bill I paid would have bounced and I would have racked up overdraft and late fees.  They would have fixed it, but not before it did a number on me.  I would have had to borrow money to get gas and a few packets of ramen.  It would have been embarrassing and humiliating and not even my fault.  Seems like a lifetime ago, but it really wasn’t.

So today, I am so very thankful that I had the extra $220 in my account and only noticed it because I happened to be online on the exact day it posted. I’m glad it happened to me and not somebody else. 



I guess I just don't get bucket lists.

"Do all of these things before you DIE or your life was basically meaningless!" I'm sure I've misinterpreted it, but that is what it seems like to me. Feel free to enlighten me if I have it wrong.

Either way, I'm content to live an un-bucket life. I think there are so many magical everyday moments that are worth far more than skydiving or hiking the Appalachian trail could ever be. You can't always plan them either.

My un-bucket list includes things like:
- having my mom keep me awake when I got a concussion and was scared to fall asleep
- my dad trying his darnedest to embarrass us all by acting crazy in the movie theater parking lot
- singing "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show" with my family
- Pot-luck Thanksgiving dinners at church
- the infamous ANWAR SADAAAAAT incident during sibling game night
- dressing up as the Spice Girls for Halloween
- coming home from work to see that 4 weenie dog puppies had been born in my bathroom
- buying my first pair of tall black boots after a nasty breakup
- meeting Larry on a night when I had no intention of even talking to any men
- hearing the name/ birth announcement of new nieces and nephews
- dinner in NOLA at Stella's
- the Red Door night in southern Cali
- the unexpected surprise of vibrant trees changing colors when arriving to see Duke basketball
- shopping along the cinque terre
- walking into my backyard and finding a surprise party planned for me
- hopping into a hummer limo after the Rolling Stones concert when we couldn't find any other way home

I think John Lennon or somebody said that "life is what happens while you're busy making other plans." I totally agree with that. Instead of planning a bunch of things I want to *eventually* do, I kind of like enjoying the things I *actually* get to do.

This doesn't mean I won't dream of a month in Italy or of owning a fabulous pair of high heels.... It just means I'll be perfectly content with whatever I've gotten to experience when I finally do kick the bucket.



I don't actually remember writing this, but it was sitting in my unpublished drafts so I figured, "what the heck."  It should have been posted in August but I guess I wasn't ready to share it then.


I love hearing the stories of "Meet the Teacher" night. How every single one of your kids think they hit the jackpot. Because - let's be honest - they did! Every single one of them has a teacher who has been thinking of them for months and planning for them for weeks. They all walk into their respective classrooms being anticipated. So I love this time of year when everyone else feels that.

I see your First Day of School posts. Usually, I'll click "like." Because I *do* like them. I love the look in your children's eyes. Some are so excited, some are trepidatious, and some are so embarrassed that you're making them take this picture. (Middle school parents, I'm looking at you.) I see the attention you've taken to do their hair and how you've given them a sign to hold. (I don't care if it is perfectly chalkboarded or simply in ballpoint pen. I get the gist.)

But I'll just  come out and say it....This time of year is also a little hard for me.

I never actually planned to be a mom, but I figured I would be.  And not only that, I was going to be the mom that made funfetti pancakes for a week straight leading up to the first day of school.  Make personalized labels for each and every school supply. Pack lunches like a champ, including a daily note and dessert. Have the cutest "first day of Xth grade" pictures on earth. Make the rest of you look like a chump with my teacher gifts. I'M HOMEROOM MOTHER MATERIAL DANGIT!

But my plans aren't always His plans, and I get to be an Aunt, a teacher, a coach, a facilitator and a cheerleader instead of a mom. And believe it or not,  I really am okay with that. I figure there is a reason that has yet to be exposed. So I relish the roles I was given and look forward to seeing what I'm supposed to do with them.

But please know that if I don't gush over your photos or wish you the best first day ever, it doesn't mean that I'm not happy for you. It just means that I'm thinking about those first day of school outfits that I'll never get to buy.


hobo casserole

If you had to pick one food/dish that reminded you of your childhood, what would it be?

My first inclination is pancakes.  My mom made pancakes every Saturday morning.  As I got older, we were allowed to sleep in, but that didn't mean I missed out.... there was a green bun warmer that lived on the stove, and without fail - there would be pancakes in there, still slightly warm.  I can picture the yellow mixing bowl full of batter as we speak.  Some days after school, we had pancake pb&j as our snack.  Pancakes are a natural choice for my response.

But pancakes don't make for a very exciting blog post, so I'm switching midstream.

I realize now that there were days we had really limited resources. I guess I didn't see it then because we never went without a meal. No matter what, we always had a warm "supper" to sit down to and eat together as a family. I loved my mom's homemade pizza and chalupas, but I have to go with a dish that is somewhat notorious in our home. It is lovingly referred to as "Hobo Casserole."  That isn't what we called it when we were kids - I think we called it "hot dog casserole." Because that is what it is.  It consists of potatoes, hot dogs and celery in a flour based gravy.

This is the closest picture I can find, but it is totally wrong:

Our hot dog pieces were smaller, there were no peas and I don't remember having cheese on top.  But MAN, it was good.  I think it is true that "love" is sometimes the extra ingredient - that is the only way I can make sense of this now that my palate is a little more refined.

We haven't had Hobo casserole in a long time. Fortunately, none of us face the reality where a $1 pack of hot dogs is the only meat we can afford.  But when I think of it, it may as well have been caviar or foie gras - because it provides me with memories that are just as rich. 

Scratch that... the memories are priceless.


dusting her off

I can feel my mind starting to get lazy, and that isn't a good thing.  I figure that dusting off the ol' blog and writing here again is a good jumpstart - even if it is full of nonsense.
Since I need a little security to make sure I have something say, I'm going to use this and this (and maybe a few other things) as a crutch.  I'm not committing to all 30 days or saying I'll do them in any sort of order, but at least it gives me some ideas if I get stuck.

Today, I'll start with making a list.

Things I Keep Meaning to Do:
1.  Get involved in an adult literacy initiative
2.  Pre-purchase birthday cards for all family members/put addresses and stamps on envelopes
3.  Get my principal certificate
4.  Join a conversational Spanish meet-up
5.  Use the crockpot more.
6.  Learn calligraphy
7.  Start cross-stitching and learn to embroider

Baby steps.



I feel like I've already told this story, but don't feel like going back to look. I was waiting for a meeting to start last night and took one of those buzzfeed quizzes... This one was "Which magical creature are you?" Don't judge.  I had a lot of time to kill.

I got mermaid.

It may be pushing it to say I "feel whole" when I'm near the ocean.  I love the beach, but that is a bit much.   Pretty sure anyone who picks Hawaii as a getaway location gets mermaids but whatever. (Italy was not an option.)

Anyway, it made me laugh, because when I was young, I used to pretend I was a mermaid. Sarah and I would get dropped off at Maxey Pool for the day. We would swim, swim, swim and swim some more. (Crazy to think there was ever a day when I didn't care about how I looked in a bathing suit.) Eventually we started pretending that we were mermaids. I was "Pearl" and she was "Scissors."  (Foreshadowing to the type of grown-ups we would eventually be, no? Me in my cardigans and pearls, her in funky classic style....)
I don't remember the story behind this picture, but it still makes me laugh.

Now I'm craving a trip to the beach.  Thanks a lot buzzfeed.