Wednesday, July 27, 2011

if you got it, use it

First of all, I'm in love with my new hipstamatic app.

Second of all, I'm in love with my garden. As the veggie crop multiplies daily, I've gotten smart about cutting some flowers and giving the indoors a boost from the outside. These Annabelle hydrangeas are crazy gorgeous and make me smile every time I see them peeking through the side of the deck railing. Now they keep me smiling in the kitchen, too. The best part? The bouquets I've created would probably cost $60 and they last more than a week.

The frugal side of me is screaming "Whoo hoo" for using what I've got!


Sometimes the maturity and forethought of my children amazes me. Today, when driving home from here and there, Finn asked, "Mom, when I get on the plane to go to Grandmom and Granddad's next summer with the girls, who will hug you at the airport?"

I caught my evading breath and answered, "No one, Finn. That's gonna be a rough day."

"I know Daddy will rush home from work that day," he answered back. "He'll give you a big hug."

And then he added, "'Cause you'll really need it."

He couldn't be more right.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I don't remember trying out for too many things in my childhood. I mean, when I really think back, the first I recall is a play in junior high and then for cheer leading the summer before senior year. Both memories evoke my old fear of public speaking; the flushing, hot cheeks, the uncontrollable nerves. Thank God I've grown out of that.

The number of times our kids get up and strut their stuff all for the acceptance and judgement of others astounds me. They confidently balance on apparatuses high in the air, they sing a cappella, they recite lines. They fearlessly seek achievement and advancement in a way that makes me proud. If they don't get what they want, their momentary disappointment melts away and they move forward toward the next challenge, the next experience to drink up. Their desire to be good and be adventurous is insatiable. I pray to God they never grow out of that.

This week, Logan tried out for the local affiliate USA Swimming team and made it. We are beyond proud and look forward to our fish making a big splash.

all good things must end

Maybe it's the fact that, until now, our lives have been full of tutus and hair-do's and all things girly, but whatever the reason, the end of Finn's first baseball season is sad for both Mike and me. As things wrapped up last night, our team of Flying Squirrels lingered about. I'm betting that most of us parents knew we had experienced something really special in the last six weeks as we watched our little guys (and gals) morph from distracted and clueless, to kids that pay attention and know the rules (within reason, of course!)

We were the last to leave the baseball park, us Flying Squirrels. That says a lot when you consider that eight full teams and all their fans were there along with us. Our little men and women happily bounded off the diamond, proudly wearing their medals and bouncing with excitement toward whatever lies ahead. And us change-resistant adults seemed to long for it to last just a little longer, to watch a few more baseball bloopers while they're so young and silly, to keep them at this bobble-head in a batting helmet stage for a bit more.

No such luck, he's growing up. But boy has this season been fun!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

gaston photos

Like I said, there were good times, too. Here are a few of our favorite shots...

gaston 2011

As I write this, I wish I was leisurely enjoying a cup of coffee on a miraculously breezy North Carolina morning while looking out on the lake. I wish I had a day ahead whose most stressful moments involved choosing who would tube or ski first or dreading the next sunscreen application. But alas, those days are behind us and and we have 51 weeks of waiting to enjoy that kind of relaxation again.

This year was different from the rest. Lake Gaston was the one time each year that we all saw Griff. Just as Mike, Mary, Alby and I were petering out from the kids' do-it-all-in-one-day attitudes and boundless enthusiasm, Griff would arrive, with all his toys and limitless energy in tow. He'd ask them interesting questions, take them for jet-ski ride after jet-ski ride, snap lots of pictures and video and spend time getting to know them as best he could. Then he'd entertain us all by teaching himself something new, like how to wake board, or how to do some sort of behind-the-boat trick. He was like a hurricane of energy, a windstorm of contagious excitement that we looked forward to each year.

Griff's loss was felt all week long. The nagging feeling you get when you've forgotten something came often and was quickly followed by, "I just can't believe this." We've found that with kids, you're fabulously catapulted into the present and your grieving comes in tiny private bursts when your thoughts break through the chaos of your days. Within the peaceful backdrop of Lake Gaston, Griff broke through.

I'm sure he'd be glad to know that it was a good week, too. Lots to discuss and catch up on, loads of fun provided by the kids and several visitors filled our days. The kids made sure we were moving full speed ahead, but even they, especially Logan, brought Griff up several times.

I guess there's no "getting used to it". There is forever a hole where there used to be something so much larger than life. It's unimaginable that people figure out how to go on with giant holes like the one Griff left, but they do. And we are.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

lights, camera, action!

Well, in hindsight, today was a bucket-list day. I guess this little adventure was never actually on my bucket list, but I know now that it should have been. I was taken totally by surprise a few weeks ago when my editor at GateHouse Media asked if I'd be interested in shooting a quick video spot to become available with my Shoestring Living column when it runs each week. So this writer jumped at the chance, veered left and ventured into some video work. Not ever having done something like this before, I was excited, but nervous, too.

All I can say is thank God for reality TV, because while we shot the first four video spots in my home and our neighborhood today, I thought of the many comments I've heard from judges on shows like The Next Food Network Star. "Look at the camera. Tell a personal story. Smile. Show energy and personality." In one spot, I assemble a recipe I've created. Let me tell you, it's an art to get all those things together without the spoon flipping out of the bowl or forgetting to put in an ingredient!

Anyway, it was such a great experience; one I look forward to continuing. I think I was the most excited after it was all over and I realized how much I truly enjoyed the whole process.

Stay tuned for some links to my video debut!