July in Pictures pt. 4

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Remember those sentences I wrote about a night in by myself? Well...I grabbed a camera during that particular evening I was writing about and snapped some pictures during my wander. Here they are, recording the progress of my little garden as of July 30, 2016. The peas were in the height of their production, the cucumbers were JUST starting to take off, and the zinnias were picked bare. The light was just right and I had time to myself.

Years ago, I met this guy while I was on vacation in Baltimore. We talked and swapped info and continued our friendship long distance. My Mom asked about him the other day when I was taking her to work which got me thinking back on that time. Well, the two of us lived VERY different lives, but he was trying to get his life back on track and we had Christ in common. He used to call me after a long day and we would chat about life and our faith and soooo many things. One night, he called and I was out in the garden, so I took the phone out there with me. He asked me what I was doing and I think he might have laughed when I told him I was working in the garden.

I never thought of it as being odd, but I guess maybe it was. There I was 22 or 23 and my idea of relaxing was spending time in the front flower bed deadheading petunias and trimming back the geraniums. That hasn't changed. It's peaceful and calm and there are few places I'd rather be than stooped over things I've planted and tended and nurtured.

Remember that hole I mentioned? As of July 30, it was still there. :) As of today, the cucumbers spread right over it (I never did set my cucumber trellis up this year) and have been threatening to use the pea trellis on the one side while crowding out the zinnias on the other.

I brought mint from our other house with me and plunked it down into the dirt here. So far, so good. I'll take a cutting off of it wherever I go!!! It's from the ranch and my friend Heidi gifted it to me during what I think of as one of the best summers of our lives. Tending it and smelling it and seeing it makes me happier than I can say.

So, there you have it...A wander through my garden just before the sun set on July. AND the conclusion on the July in pictures series.

Packing Up

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

May 18, 2014
This time last year had us settling into a new rhythm at The Queen's Cottage. When we first came we thought we were going to be here for three straight months. We thought this was going to be a "vacation" home that would provide my brother and sister with the ability to audition for plays and the rest of us with the ability to have a place to stay while we were looking for a place to buy so that we could move to this town. As you all know, the three months came and went and turned into six and then ten and now twelve. My brother and sister have been in show after show. They got summer jobs. They found a group of friends. They are always going and doing and having the time of their lives.

Our other house - the house that we've called "home" for nine years now - is officially being sold. The buyers are just waiting for us to get everything packed up and moved out. This means that we'll be leaving behind the little town where we spent the last 20 years. I've come and gone a lot over the years, but I always returned. During every one of the seasons that I spent living away from that town, I knew that I had a room full of my stuff at "home" and a town of people who would write me letters and call just to chat and welcome me back as soon as my time away was over. 

This last weekend, we went back to do one of the final rounds of packing up. Packing after not living in a place for a year is TOUGH. First, we had to CLEAN. Then we went room by room sorting and organizing and game planning while packing what we could all along the way. We made A LOT of progress and narrowed it down to the things that could and had to wait. Now that there are officially buyers, it's coming to an end. Nothing can stay. It all has to be boxed up. This last weekend we packed up the decorations, took down the wall hangings, emptied all of the kitchen cabinets, and packed up the things that were still hanging around in closets. There were two moments that really got to me.

The first one happened in my bedroom. I stood on my desk chair - the one with the plastic blue seat that used to belong to the school and became mine when it ended up in the dump back when I was in sixth or seventh grade - and carefully took down the curtains. There was something so final about taking them down and folding them up. All of a sudden, I saw my room the way people will see it until it becomes whatever room the new people make it into.

Later on, I used the packing tape to tape up the last box of this trip. When I was finished, I gathered up the inventory sheet, the sharpie, the pencil, and the tape. I put each thing away and when all that was left in my hand was the packing tape, I had to decide what to do with it. Without even thinking, I headed straight to the kitchen. I opened the cabinet by the telephone and reached up to put it in its place on the top shelf. As my hand hovered over its spot, something happened. The tape didn't seem to belong there anymore. The cabinet was empty and it felt foolish putting the tape back there again. 

I walked away from the cabinet knowing that I would write about that moment. I was wondering what the new owners would be filling those shelves with. I thought about how they won't know that we kept the packing tape there or that my Mom often kept her little treats right on top of her extra checks on the bottom shelf. And then I thought about how they won't even care. 

Packing up is something I've done A LOT . It's not the work of packing that is tough, but the work of thinking your way through the process that is the real work. We've put the work in and we're almost ready. Every trip could be our last. After that, the town won't be home anymore. Instead it will be a place that was home. 

I left the tape. For now, it's still where every single one of us will expect to find it. Ten years from now, we'll think of it as belonging in that cabinet and we'll picture it sitting there when we can't find it.

Curtains and tape have a lot to teach us. We'll be taking them and their lessons with us wherever we end up unpacking all of these boxes and the memories that go with them. 

July In Pictures pt. 3

Monday, August 29, 2016

July 7
These are some of the other things July held for us...First up was more theatre fun. I think my brother has spent more of his life dressed up in costumes than he has in regular clothes.

July 15
My dad took his vacation and brought our dog up to join us at The Queen's Cottage. She had a trial run earlier this spring and it was decided that she would stay at our old house until it sold....It's the end of August and she's still here, so I guess this is her home now. I'm sure she misses having free run of the barn, creek, pastures, and property, but that's life. Her first stop was a trip to the dog wash.

She really is a city dog now. She loved it and tried to make friends with the psycho dog that was barking at everyone and that even tried to lunge at her. While we were there, my Mom and I decided that dog washes are definitely worth it and that parents need to build tubs like this for bathing their kiddos. It was sooooo nice not to have to bend over!

July 19

Every chance I got, I went to the beach with whoever would go with me. I went with my sister, my brother, my brother AND my sister, and my brother and sister and our friend Aubrey. And if it warms up again, I'm sure you'll find me there!

I didn't ever swim at 24, but I got quite a bit of swimming in at 25. :) It was just as amazing as I remembered it being!!!!

July 23

I spent a fair amount of time in my garden harvesting peas and zinnias. July 23 marked the first big harvest of both. I enjoyed cutting flowers and making bouquets each week. The peas have since dried up, but the zinnias are still going at full speed ahead! I seriously can't keep up with them.

July 24

He took the stage again. He got whoops and hollers after all of his singing. It's been fun to watch him get involved on so many different stages and with different directors. I'm amazed.

We rushed to this performance after an evening of eating and singing with our church family at one of our summer cookouts where we practice singing from our hymnal. I didn't take ANY pictures at any of them, but I enjoyed each one. I cannot sing, so singing in parts surrounded by others was SUPER helpful. I'm already looking forward to the ones we have next summer.

July 27
July 27
This was one of my favorite days from July (I've got a few more pictures to add to this and possibly a correction or two to make.)...My sister and I spent the morning playing Monopoly (she won with and I lost with ) before heading out to Panda Express for lunch. I didn't plan the day at allll. Everything that happened was totally spontaneous.

I picked my brother up from work (or maybe he didn't have to work that day. I'm not sure which now) and then we had a BBQ dinner. This summer I have hardly cooked real food and when I do, I almost always end up eating it alone. They're gone at meal times and when they come home they're ready to crash. So, anytime I get to cook food AND eat it with someone feels like a party. Just this week (as in August 22) I grilled my sister and I hamburgers one afternoon just because she was home and then I made my Mom and I fancy quesadillas with homemade salsa and guacamole for the same reason.

July 30

This was the end of a LONG day. Everyone was gone alllll day. Being home alone in the evenings is kind of the worst for me. I like our eat dinner, talk about the day, and then play a game or watch a movie routine. I have definitely learned to have a night in by myself, but I still prefer company. I had to snap a picture of this because you can see my spot over on the bench, the remnants of time at the lake hanging all over the patio, and the animals who were waiting on everyone to get home right along with me.

What's your idea of a perfect night in? I tend to put on the Early Jazz station on Pandora, eat dinner outside, read or write, putter around the garden and yard, and then go to bed early. Pitiful? Maybe, but I guess that's just how I unwind.

May 17
And one more picture from much earlier this year....Here are my brother and sister with their friends at our other house. I used to snap pictures of them like this all the time. After playing, they'd stop and just lay or sit in a circle and Lydia was always in on it. There are pictures in the yard, around their little table, draped over that swing in the background, around the firepit, and who knows where else....

On this particular day, we were back at our other house packing stuff up and they invited their friends over since it had been a while since they'd all been together. My Mom and I were sitting at our spots at the kitchen table having a break of our own. I looked out and say them sitting and got a little teary eyed...This days are coming to an end. We're moving for real. They're growing up and this yard isn't going to be ours anymore. I grabbed an iPod and snapped a picture and now I'm sharing it and making all of us cry all over again.

Our life in that small town was sooo hard a lot of the time, but it was also REALLY good. I'll always carry a piece of it with me and I expect that my brother and sister will carry an even bigger piece of it with them, because it's all they ever knew.

August Playlist || The Rap Edition

Sunday, August 28, 2016

July 2009
One of the most shocking things that people learn about me is that I'm crazy about hip hop. If I'm in the car by myself (or with a willing or not so willing passenger), there is one kind of music that you can expect to hear blasting through the speakers.

Summer is the season for mixtapes. If I was going to make one, these are the songs that would be on it right now! Each one features one of my favorite rappers bringing TRUTH to their listeners...

I'm A Believer - Tedashii

You Will - Andy Mineo

Cling To You - Trip Lee

This Songs for You - Tedashii

Hello Change - Sho Baraka 

I know...It's not for everyone.

What would be on your mixtape based on the songs you've had on repeat lately?

On a more serious note...A rapper is nothing without a DJ. Cross Movement was my introduction to Christian Hip Hop and their DJ, Nelson Chu, went on to work with many of the new names who were coming to the stage. Please, pray for this man's family. He stepped down from his role a few years ago because of health issues. He recently passed away after complications from a lung transplant. I praise God for his life and his gift. It's an honor to pray for his family and to ask you to do the same! 

July In Pictures pt. 2

Friday, August 26, 2016

Before summer ever even began, there were a few things jotted down on the calendar. My sister's trip to SC was the first, then there were the summer jobs, two plays, and getting our other house on the market.

It wasn't much, but we knew we were going to be BUSY. And we have been. July, was an especially hectic month. With work and rehearsals and performances and church there was very little time for much else. I mentioned that I got roped into costuming one of the plays they were in and today I have pictures from it. My Mom did FAR more than I did, but this is what we were working on.

The actors in this show were fantastic. During the first night of rehearsals, I called to check in with my Mom and she overheard them singing one of their songs as a warmup. She asked if she was hearing a track playing and I told her that, no, it was the actors singing together FOR THE FIRST TIME. My favorite moment in the actual show wasn't during a song or a dance or a moving scene, but when my brother got to eat cheese on stage. This boy LOVES cheese and theatre. It came together on a huge stage and it was almost more than I could take. God is SOOOO good.

My sister had several roles during this play...I didn't get very many great pictures of her, but the ones during this sequence are some of my favorites!!! That shirt she's wearing??? It's a men's dress shirt that my Mom turned into a peasant shirt! She's AMAZING.

And my sister's ability to do WHATEVER they ask her to and to switch roles and characters and costumes and smile the whole entire time is truly something to admire. She pulls it off soooo well and I just know that she is a quiet blessing to all those acting alongside of her. Scroll down and you'll see a couple of pictures she took backstage...

From a lady to one of the sons.

To a ghost...She does it alll!

My brother and sister call me their personal paparazzi. And they love it. They're always saying, "Take pictures!!!" or, "Make sure you get a picture of ____, when _____ happens." or "Did you get a picture of _____?" and I love it. Mostly, I just have my camera handy and quietly take my pictures and they pretend like I'm not there. Well, every now and then, they spot me. When I was taking this shot, I realized that my brother knew what I was doing. He's looking right at me and making a face....So, I did what I do and zoomed in for a close up!

When he was little we would do this thing where we would stare at each other and make faces. Usually I would make an angry face and then he would make it back and then I would make a super smiley face and he would make it back and we'd go back and forth with this until it ended in laughter....

Here's the face. No smile, big eyes. I SEEEEEE YOU!

And that's round two of the pictures in July series. This play ate up soooo many nights and weekends and entire days. The memories will be with us a lifetime.

Currently: August 2016

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Another post coming to you from the drafts folder because I wrote this and want to be able to read it again sometime. It's from August 9th...
August 2, 2016 (Photo Credit: My youngest brother.)

Summer is officially winding down. FAST. I'm sitting in my Mom's chair by the window as a big storm is happening outside. We're talking thunder, lightning, and wind. I'm sure the clouds are going to give way to more rain any minute now. It feels like full on FALL. As always, I'm nowhere near ready for summer to end.

The potluck game is still going strong. A new season of auditions will be kicking off in a matter of weeks. We've been settling in with our "new" group of friends and meeting up with them throughout the week. And...Our house, the place that we've called "home" for almost 8 years is currently under contract.

I'm currently...

Hearting: My family. They are amazing. They go after things and try new things and push the limits and don't care what people think or say. They have made new lives for themselves in this town and I'm IMPRESSED. And my brother in SC is one year into his job and continues to amaze me with the life he has made for himself.

Watching: The latest season of The Great British Baking Show. I'm only on episode 3 and I'm pretty sure the guy I'm rooting for is barely hanging in. I better find someone else to cheer on! My brother also took me to see The BFG last week. SOOOO cute! It was a big surprise and the thought he put into it meant so much to me. I love Roald Dahl and that's the ONE movie that I really wanted to see in theatres this summer. Check and check.

Exploring: Plans for fall. New homes. Strategies for focusing on God and leaving my worries behind me.

Creating: Sentences and essays.Witty and lovely notes for the lunches I pack for my brother, sister, and mom. And bouquets of my zinnias that are still going STRONG.

Eating: Fresh sugar snap peas, watermelon, and reese's cups. I'm craving a good hamburger. And the first cucumber (they're REALLY late this year.)

What about you?

July In Photos

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

I've got a four part series set aside to cover the major happenings in July. These are the kinds of things I should have been posting...but from now until the end of this month, I've got a goal to get this stuff cranked out. So, here goes!!!


At the beginning of July we gathered together for a day of birthday surprises for one of our new friends. The birthday girl and her family were some of the first people to reach out to us, include us, and invite us to anything and everything. When the birthday girl's brothers announced what they had up their sleeve, we were all in!

They told their sister that they were going to the park for a picnic and some frisbee. Meanwhile, a big group of us took our places at different locations in the park and planned to go out to meet them bit by bit. Eventually, there we were standing in the middle of the field wishing her a happy birthday. She had nooooo idea what was happening.

After everyone was accounted for, we set out for a hike.

I did all of my hiking in the southeast (Chimney Rock, Grandfather's Mountain, Mt. Mitchell, and Battleground were my FAVORITE places to go). We would pack lunch, take our time, play in the waterfalls, and my grandma kept up in flip flops. I LOVE that kind of hiking. We'd stop for fudge or ice cream or to poke around at any spot that looked interesting. I've learned that very few people hike the way I grew up hiking....

This hike was fun and totally doable, but it started out with one step up a super steep hill after another. I started at the back of the line and just kept zooming around people. No talking. I had to get to the top. I was afraid if I went too slowly or stopped I would die. It was one of the hottest days we had had and I had no idea how long the hike was going to be that intense. It turned out, that the intensity lasted JUST until we made it to the top and then it was all downhill and meandering after that. I had nothing to be afraid of.

We stopped for a water break and pictures and more visiting before making our way back down and around the mountain. The views were pretty gorgeous. I stayed near the front of the pack, but my "I'm going to have to be carried out of here" panic was long gone. I took to chatting and even stopped to snap a few shots.

After the hike was over, we said our goodbyes and she thought they were finally going on their picnic and were headed to watch their dad's softball game. Well, little did she know, the rest of us rushed back to our houses to get our potluck dishes before heading to the very same park. There was more hiding in the bushes...

There they are, having their "picnic". Meanwhile....They are surrounded.



This day will go down as one of my favorite days from the summer of 2016. Not only did we get to celebrate and totally surprise one of our dearest friends, but we also got to spend an entire day with some fantastic people. I met several people whose paths I hadn't crossed yet and got to catch up with others that I just don't see enough. The birthday girl's brothers did a FANTASTIC job at coordinating everything.

Hiking and frisbee and eating and music and visiting made for a wonderful day!