So Much Love

So Much Love

Last Friday, only a few hours after I posted I Wait, my father peacefully took his last breath. My mother and one sister were there with him and there was no struggle, no suffering, just a calm passing from this life to the next.

The response to my post was astounding. So many people expressed sympathy and prayers and a shared mourning. I could feel the love of friends and family through the computer screen.

Between my two sisters and myself, we gave Dad nine grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren. After his passing the grandkids with social media posted beautiful tributes to him, setting to words the legacy he passed on.

Their words not only honored him, they blessed my mother, my sisters and me, and glorified God. The responses to their posts were again full of sympathy, prayers and a unified grieving. Again, the warmth and caring that came through was astonishing.

My dad was a great man and together, he and my mother forged lifelong friendships and the respect and admiration of so many people. We, as a family, have been comforted and gladdened by the outpouring of love.

While this time is a sad time, there’s a complete joy and comfort in knowing where he is, a pleasure in our entire family being together, and an overwhelming peace that can only come from God.

All that love is overwhelming.

Tea and Quilts

Today was a lovely day for me and The Girl. She goes back to school on Sunday and we decided to finally make our way to the Penn Museum in Philadelphia, a place she’s wanted to visit since we moved here nearly ten years ago. Turns out, however, the museum is closed on Mondays.

Undaunted, we still made our way into the city, managed to find a decent parking spot and met The Boy for a cheap, delicious and way too large lunch. Philadelphia is known for its murals and, in fact, there are more than 3,000 of the colorful works of art scattered throughout the city. I’m always awed by their vibrant beauty so I grabbed these pics with my phone. (I made the conscious decision to leave my camera at home. *sigh*)

Mural 2

After we ate lunch The Boy went back to work and The Girl and I walked four blocks to Miel Patisserie, a divine French pastry shop, so we could finally experience French macarons. They’re quite as colorful as the murals and look like the little cookies on the time wasting game, Cookie Jam, on my iPad.

Macarons 2 Tea and Macarons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They also had really good tea. My tea was caramel toffee flavored and Katie’s was called Noel and was flavored with cinnamon and cardamom.

We enjoyed our sweet refreshments and walked back the four blocks to the car with about 15 minutes to spare before the meter ran out.

On our way home we made a stop at IKEA because IKEA. It’s like Disneyland. It even has flags at the entrance to the parking lot. The Girl bought a plant and named her Mabel, while I bought a $5.00 cheese grater. I spare no expense for my cheese preparations.

When we got home Mr. Jenster was off bowling so we made more tea to go with the macarons we brought with us and watched a few episodes of “Call the Midwife”.

Even though our original plans were dashed, it was an absolutely delightful day.

And as for quilts, it’s my day over at Grace & Such.

The Beginning of the Beginning

 

The beginningToday was my very last day at work. I don’t actually know how I feel about it. I do know that I feel better about it than I did a couple of weeks ago. Now that I’ve worked with my replacement for two weeks I feel such a relief. She’s going to do a bang up job and there’s a huge comfort in knowing everything will be fine without me.

But can I tell you a little secret? That makes me a little sad. Turns out the laid back, “whatever” Jenster has a small issue with control.

I know! It came as a surprise to me, too!!

I relinquished all my keys, my desk drawers, my phone, my email and a ton of other things today and gave up what little control and/or power that came with the position. It wasn’t much, to be sure. But it was mine and now it’s not.

The thought of not seeing these people I’ve become so fond of over the last several years is kind of weird. And sad. But mostly weird because it just doesn’t seem very real. I wonder how long it’s going to take me to realize it’s really, truly, absolutely over.

But it’s not just an end for me. It’s a beginning and I’m delighted at the prospects!

There are a lot of things in my near future that I’m definitely looking forward to. A trip with Todd, a girls’ trip to Myrtle Beach, another trip up to Maine, and just today I booked a trip to Fort Worth to see both my sisters and my mom. There are some projects around the house that I’m eager to get started on, along with just keeping up with the day to day stuff. How crazy is it that I’m happy to have time to do my chores other than in the evenings or on the weekends?

I’m most anxious to get down to writing, though. Working on my book and keeping up with this blog a little better. (I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, Oh brother. She’s going to go back to the days when she blogged about every.blessed.thing like boob tattoos and hairy feet, and you’re rolling your eyes. Well maybe I will and maybe I won’t. We’ll just have to see.) And I’m especially thrilled to start working on the project I mentioned in the last post. I’m still not ready to tell you much about it, but I will say it’s going to be fabulous.

Just like this new chapter of my life. Another Someday is here and I believe it’s going to be fabulous!

 

On The Road To A Great 2015

Driving on an empty road to upcoming 20152015 is a big year with some huge milestones for me. In May I will celebrate 10 years as a cancer survivor and in November I’ll be a half a century old. My 40’s have not been at all what I had planned them to be. I’m fairly certain that if I didn’t have a reason to celebrate the 10 year surviversary things would have been much different. But nothing can be done about that so I’ll just go from here, making whatever changes I can to be who/what I want to be.

I started off my year by “retiring” from the preschool. June 5th will be my last day and while I know this was the right decision, it was a hard thing to do. I like my job and I adore my co-workers. But this job started out as a part time “something to do” a little over six years ago and it has morphed into a full time position for all intents and purposes. I am unable to do the things I need to do, the things I want to do and work with any type of proficiency. My job gets the vast majority of my efforts and everything else gets whatever is left.

Make no mistake. I fully understand just how fortunate I am to be able to make this decision and believe you me, I am very grateful! With all this new-found time I’ll have on my hands I will write books and clean my house and complete projects and cook more dinners and eat healthy and exercise and accompany Mr. Jenster on business trips and learn how to garden and go visit Katie at school on a whim and try yoga and volunteer more and go into Philly to meet Taylor for lunch and take more pictures and learn new things. I’ll have much more time to start making my somedays happen. Or maybe I’ll just read more. Who knows?

Mr. Jenster believes I’m leaving the working world so I can take care of him. I’m just going to let him believe that. It’s easier this way.

 

Good For The Soul

I’ve been stuck in a rut lately . You know how it is – every day you repeat the same task, the same function, the same drudgery . You are merely existing and not really living.

That’s just life and I see no help for it. At least not on a daily basis. But sometimes you just gotta get away from that existence and live a little. And that’s exactly what I’m doing this weekend.

I am in Cape May, right across the street from a quiet beach with five girlfriends. The kind of friends who will unashamedly make you pee your pants because they make you laugh so hard. They see you stand that certain way and know you’re just one zinger away from cursing your lack of Depends. Cruel women, and yet I adore them.

They’re also the kind of women who strive to know Jesus better. I think of them kind of like a soul trust – a brain trust for the spirit. The collective wisdom is staggering. I am so happy to be a leach to their oozing brilliance.

I love this very safe environment. We sometimes have opposing views about politics, church, books, fashionable hats and the like, but we love each other and we don’t waste time on such unimportant differences. The one thing we have in common is a very big, very awesome God. Well, that and a love of all things Outlander.

Some may say we should feel guilty about going away without our husbands, the other half of our whole group. And by “some” I mean our husbands. But I say I’m not into guilt so let’s make it up with a barbecue for the entire gang later this month and call it good.

This weekend is about recharging my batteries. It’s about getting away from the monotony of the every day and embracing this big, beautiful life. It’s about the peace that envelops me from gazing at a steel gray ocean and listening to pounding surf. It’s about tears with friends over a reenactment of the first Outlander episode or a real hurt that another is experiencing.

It’s about connecting. Connecting to each other and connecting to God.

It’s about disconnecting. Disconnecting from the stress of that daily life.

It’s about sitting on a balcony overlooking the beach and writing or reading. It’s about shopping and eating and coffee and wine and napping and sinking toes in the sand and breathing in the tangy air and just being.

It’s about living. And it’s good for my soul.

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Celebration Surprise

Todd is going to be 50 next Tuesday and we have a whole week of celebrating planned. We started the birthday week last night with a surprise visit from Katie.

Let me give you a little back story for this surprise. Over the summer she was our ice cream gopher. She would even tell you she was bullied a couple of evenings to run out for ice cream for the rest of us. I don’t think that’s technically true as she was never threatened or verbally assaulted, but whatever. I’ll let her have it.

She has also always been the one to change our whiteboard calendar. Said calendar still says August. So the other day I posted a picture on Facebook, tagged Katie and said, “You need to come home and change the calendar.”

So this is how it went down yesterday. She left after her last class and made the 7 hour drive home. But before she came to the house she stopped at the store and called me, saying she was bored so she thought she would call. (We had to keep to the script in case Todd could hear our conversation.) It went something like this:

KT:     Hi! I’m bored so I thought I would call.

Me:    No plans with the friends tonight?

KT:     No. They all went home for the weekend.

Me:    Oh. I know! You can come home and change the calendar!

KT:     Haha.

Me:    Or you could bring me ice cream!

KT:     Yeah. I’ll get right on that.

Me:    Okay!

KT:     I gotta go! Emily just came in.

Me:    Alright. Have fun!

About 10 minutes later she came walking in the front door, carrying a bag with a gallon of ice cream and a package of Oreos. Todd had no idea and he was so happy to see her!

Note to self: Don’t let Katie leave tomorrow without fixing the calendar.

A Happy June

June has been quite a month. A great month, really. From really close to the very beginning. I think I’ll tell you about it.

The first week of the month it became much too apparent that we needed a new washer and dryer. I was running the spin cycle a couple times, sometimes up to 5 times for bedding, just so things wouldn’t be dripping when I put them into the dryer, which nearly always took at least two runs to get mostly dry clothes. The set had been purchased when the original owners built the house 14 years ago so they’d had a good run. But it was time to say our goodbyes and move on.

While the thought of bigger, better, shiner and maybe even colorful was thrilling, the thought of paying for it was not. This year is already shaping up to be the year of needing money faster than we can pull it off the tree. Adding yet another large expense made me cringe. Until I started doing research and looking at the alluring beauties and learning what friends’ had and what they liked and what they didn’t. So one night while Todd was out of town Katie and I headed up to Home Depot to “look”. Looking turned into talking to an employee which turned into ordering it right there on the spot with Todd on the phone so he could answer all the manly questions that I didn’t possess knowledge of.

I ended up buying the white ones (cheaper), but aren't they lovely?

I ended up buying the white ones (cheaper), but aren’t they lovely?

The worst part about the whole thing — well, besides the money that is now forever gone — is that they delivered and hooked up the set the following Monday. I was not home that day, nor the next two days after that (which is part of my great month story I’ll be getting to in a minute). Todd had to wash all manner of bedding (which is another part of my great month story) and I promise you I was jealous. Never in my whole entire life have I ever been jealous of someone else doing laundry. Seriously never. Ever.

So that Monday, which was the 10th, was the beginning of my really great month. Katie was in the last week of high school but her finals were done. Thursday night was graduation and Wednesday was mandatory walk through, but she had gotten permission to miss it so she could attend her college orientation.

You read that right. College my-baby’s-going-away-in-the-fall orientation. More on that later. Much later. I’m not quite ready to go there.

Back to the 10th. Katie and I packed up Raven (the name she has given my new car – one of our please-take-my-money-because-obviously-I-don’t-want-it expenses) and hit the road, bound for Radford University.

Radford

Yes, THAT Radford. The Radford that’s been all over the news this past week for misspellings on their diplomas. At least it took the focus off their party school status.

Anyhoo, it’s about a 7 1/2 hour drive so we were fully stocked with good tunes and, well, that’s about it. I had my coffee and we each had a bottle of water. We made our appropriate stops at the great rest areas they have between here and there for a Starbucks and water and snacks, etc., and then began our search for the obligatory Cracker Barrel stop. After driving through some pretty heavy rain and cursing the 18-wheelers for spraying up water so that I couldn’t see where I was going, the sun peaked out and shined it’s ever-loving rays on the glorious Cracker Barrel sign about an hour out of our final destination.

Cracker Barrel

“Ahhhhhhhhhh” (That would be the sound of angels singing.)

We ate our fill, emptied our bladders and bought chocolate. There was a very ominous black cloud ahead of us, but I wasn’t daunted. I had just driven through a rainstorm of epic proportions. I could handle this miniature dark cloud.

Except I couldn’t. Just as we were going over a bit of a mountain pass the cloud’s dam burst and we couldn’t see more than 10 yards ahead of us. It was horrifying. The only time I’ve ever driven through anything like that before was in the middle of Tennessee on I-40 and I had to pull off until it had passed. This time I put on my hazards, pulled onto the shoulder and crawled along with at least two other vehicles. Ten minutes and it was blessedly done.

We stayed in a hotel Monday night and Tuesday morning began the orientation. After the initial session parents and kids were sent in separate directions and we saw very little of each other after that. Kids and parents were actually supposed to meet up again for dinner, but Katie’s roommate was also there so they ditched me and left me alone to my own devices. I didn’t feel like eating alone in the cafeteria so I went to Wal-Mart, which has unconsciously become a routine stop on every one of my trips, no matter where I am. I don’t remember what exactly I got to eat, but in the spirit of being at college it was something overly processed, extremely flavorful and super unhealthy.

Oh. I forgot to mention that I stayed in a dorm room that night. It was a recently renovated room and had air conditioning and its own bathroom. But let me tell you this. It was no night at the Ritz. Or even Motel 6. When you stripped away those two conveniences it was still a dorm room. A kind of smelly dorm room with a very uncomfortable bed, no cable and no coffee maker.

dorm

Notice the coffee maker, mini-fridge and large flat-screen TV? Oh yeah. Me neither.

Wednesday morning Katie and I checked out of our dorm rooms, (Hers was worse than mine because it didn’t have air conditioning and she had to share her bathroom with three other girls. Only three.) threw our stuff in Raven and grabbed some coffee at the campus Starbucks. After that we split up again and then met up around 11 where we ate at the campus Chick-Fil-A and then headed for home.

Taylor stayed in Lynchburg after school this year because he’s taking two summer sessions and working. He had promised Katie that he would come home for her graduation, though, so after his class on Wednesday morning he and Shelby made for home. Both Lynchburg and Radford are in the same general vicinity of Virginia and I-81 is the way to go. I had joked with him that maybe we would see each other on the road.

Due to my less than comfortable bed the night before I was tired. Katie was blissfully snoozing in the passenger seat and somewhere along the line I started getting really sleepy so I decided it was time to pull off. As we approached a rest area there was a sign that said, “Next rest area, 33 miles”. I debated about waiting until the next stop, but at the last minute chose to stop at the first one. A stretch was really in order and waiting another half an hour did not seem a viable option. I pulled into a spot with no cars on either side, cracked the windows since Katie was still asleep and went into the restroom. As I was coming out she was walking in. She didn’t say much other than she woke up and thought she should probably go, too.

I got out to the car and there was a green truck parked next to me. This green truck looked suspiciously (and exactly) like Taylor’s green truck.

Truck

My reflection in the tailgate is an optical illusion. I’m actually rather tall and thin. (in my head)

Sure enough. He had pulled in after us and parked right next to Raven – the sporty little black car on the left. The funniest thing about all of this is that he had no idea it was my car he parked next to, no idea that we were even there until Katie came out of the bathroom and walked up to him while he was looking at his phone, waiting for Shelby, and said, “Hey, Bro.”

So we had a little mini-reunion at some random rest area in Virginia. This was a very fortuitous meeting for Taylor as I bought his gas and dinner for he and Shelby at our usual stop in Carlisle Pennsylvania right before getting on the turnpike for the last leg of the trip.

Todd and Sookie were extremely excited to see so many of their people getting home at the same time. But the fun wasn’t over quite yet. I went to bed rather early – I think before 9 – and Todd had to drive to the airport around 11 or so to pick up his parents who were coming in from California for Katie’s graduation.

Which is why we had all that bedding to wash. (See? I told you I would explain it.)

Alright. Let’s see. We’re now on Thursday. Yeah.  So Thursday was supposed to be graduation, except the weather was unpredictable (much like it’s been for a while) and the graduation class is very large so moving it inside is a logistical nightmare and reduces the number of people who can attend. They finally postponed it until Friday. So it went like this:

Thursday:

I ran to the drugstore early in the morning for milk and cereal because there was no food in the cupboard. Seriously – nothing good to eat. And I knew grocery shopping was going to be an all day event but I couldn’t let all those people in my house starve whilst waiting for me to get back with the goods. A storm was rolling in and I wanted some sort of sustenance for my guests before the epic weather hit.

I forgot to mention that at this point I hadn’t had a shower since, um, Monday. No, Tuesday. I did take a shower at the hotel Tuesday morning.  I guess it wasn’t so horrible. I hadn’t started really smelling yet so we were good.

I made it home from this quick run right before a good storm rolled through. I then took a shower. A gloriously hot, steamy, long shower. I love guests and all, but at that point I didn’t care if I used up all the hot water. I figured I had risked the tumultuous elements so they wouldn’t starve, I had done my unselfish deed for the day. Besides, there was a lot of shaving that had to get done.

Katie and I then spent the day buying consumables. We started at Costco, brought that stuff home, and then went to the grocery store for all the rest. I know I’ve mentioned before that I hate grocery shopping. That day was no exception and boy was I glad to be done with it!

Friday:

We had sandwiches for dinner – but not lame and wimpy sandwiches. I had the good bread, the good lunch meat, all the toppings and condiments along with chips, dips, salads and all that good stuff.

Then we went to the football stadium for the graduation ceremony. It turned out to be a perfect evening for an outdoor event.

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600+ kids takes a long time to get through, however, and those bleachers are not exactly barcaloungers, if you know what I’m sayin. Still, as far as high school graduations go, it was pretty decent.

After the graduation we went back to the house for desserts and our friends, Kris and Shelby (not to be confused with Taylor’s Shelby) came over and joined us. It was nice.

Saturday:

Todd’s parents took us all to dinner to celebrate the following:

Taylor’s 21st birthday (April)

Shelby’s graduation (May)

Mother’s Day (May)

Katie’s graduation (June)

Father’s Day (June)

Our Anniversary (June)

And I think that’s it. We went to a place called Parc Bistro and ordered rather exotic foods like lamb chops with merguez stuffing and mustard barbecue sauce; sauteed king salmon with whipped okinawa sweet potatoes, warm asparagus and stone fruit chutney; venison loin wrapped in applewood smoked bacon, served with cous cous, balsamic glazed brussels sprouts and port wine pear sauce. I would have taken pictures (because that’s what I do) but since it was a rather upscale place I resisted. Not only that, but I had already eaten half of my dish before I even thought about memorializing the meal in a photo.

Sunday was a sad, sad day because Taylor and Shelby left. But it had been a really great visit with them.

Though nice, the following week was much less exciting. Susan and Philip were still here, but Todd and I both had to work and Katie had several things she had to do as well. Philip went on a walkabout with Sookie every day. I’m talking miles and miles. They would be gone for an hour at the least, sometimes up to two. Someday I might do that, too. But I would want to take my camera with me and it would take me infinitely longer to walk the same distance because I’d be stopping to take pictures along the way. So maybe I won’t.

We didn’t get to do any real touristy stuff and I felt bad about that, but it was a nice and relaxed visit. Saturday morning Todd took them to the airport. On Sunday he went back to the airport to fly to Akron and Katie hopped on a bus with a ton of other teenagers for their annual teen conference – this year in Michigan.

I know you’re all intelligent people and I don’t have to spell it out for you, but I’m going to anyway. I was alone. A-L-O-N-E. From Sunday afternoon until Friday morning. I watched what I wanted or I watched nothing at all. I ate what I wanted. It was a delightful week.

Sidenote – When I took Sookie for a walk on Monday we went around the block. The big block – almost a half a mile. When we got back to the house she gave me this look like, “Are you kidding me? That’s it?” Yep. That’s it, dog.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my people a lot.  I love them a lot of a lot. And I missed them, too. But I relished the temporary aloneness. It was just nice. I was more than ready for Todd to come home, though. Probably by Wednesday. And I’m definitely ready for Katie to get home tonight as well.

Which leads me to revisit a comment I made earlier about her going to college in the fall. Right now she’s been gone for a week and I miss her and the realization that I will be going weeks, if not months sometimes, without seeing her makes me sad. Ask me again next Saturday after she’s been home for a week. I might have a completely different outlook. Typically it changes from day to day, sometimes hour to hour, or even minute to minute.

But all that is a post for another day and I have wasted enough of your time waxing poetically about the beauty of my June. That is assuming, of course, that you actually made it to here. And if you did, thanks for hanging around. I appreciate it.

Down To The Wire

Today was my bi-annual follow up appointment with the White Russian. In a nutshell, I’m fine. My blood pressure was a little high, but it was probably because I was worried about not getting there on time. I left work about 30 minutes later than I had planned with an admonition from Terri not to speed. I may have lied and said, “Okay. I won’t.” Which is a bad thing to admit for anybody, but it seems especially horrific for someone who: a) works for a church; and b) is talking to one of the pastors. Lightening didn’t strike, though, so…

And depending on one’s definition of speeding I may or may not have actually done so. 

Definition 1: Exceeding the speed as indicated on those little signs on the side of the road.

Then yes. I sped.

Definition 2: Going faster than every other blessed car on the freeway who happens to be going 10 miles an hour over the posted speed.

Then no. I didn’t speed.

Regardless of whether I sped or not, I did make it to my appointment on time. I’m getting really tired of their efficiency in that office. I never get to read even a paragraph of my book before they’re calling me back or the doctor is coming in or whatever. Very disappointing.

When he did come in he asked about the kids and how Taylor was liking college and what he was doing this summer and if Katie knew where she wanted to go next year, etc. I was almost offended because, you know, it’s supposed to be about me. Everything is supposed to be about me. When will people learn this?

Anyway. Back to me.

The plan is that I have six more months on the Arimidex and then another year on the Fosamax. Well, hopefully only one more year on the Fosamax. It will actually depend on whether or not I start building bone again after I stop the Arimidex. Bottom line, however, is that we don’t want me to be on the Fosamax for much longer. I’m not worried, though. I have a plan…

But I’m going to save that for another day.

So I go back in six more months (February), at which time I will have been on the Arimidex for five years plus the two years on Tamoxifen. The current recommended standard of care. Of course a little over three years ago the recommended standard of care was five years total of any combination. If I go back in February and he tells me the recommended standard of care has changed again and I need to stay on the Arimidex for another allotment of time I think I will respectfully decline. But again, that’s a post for another day.

Unless something has cropped up between now and February – and there’s no reason to think anything will – I will go from seeing him every six months to only once a year. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Not true. I know exactly how I feel about that. I’m not happy about it. For one thing, I like being followed so closely by an oncologist. My risk for a recurrence or metastasis is very slim. My risk of a new cancer is only slightly higher than the average Joe simply because I have a history of cancer. So it’s almost like being followed by an oncologist is an unfair advantage. An unfair advantage that I like.

But the other reason I know I’ll be disappointed to have my visits reduced is because I genuinely like the staff. I really do look forward to seeing them.

Let me be honest though. I would much rather whine and complain about not being able to visit the oncologist more than once a year than have to go once a week, which is what the alternative would be.

After the appointment I drove down to Starbuck’s for my obligatory post-oncology follow up treat. But this time I changed things up a bit. I got a grande mocha cookie crumble frappuccino.

Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino

Coffee blended with mocha sauce, vanilla syrup, chocolaty chips, milk and ice, and topped with chocolaty whipped cream and chocolate cookie crumbles.

 

It was yummy. Really yummy. But I probably won’t get one again just because it was a little too ice cream for me. Don’t get me wrong! I am not against ice cream. At all. I just have certain Starbuck’s expectations and this did not meet my typical criteria. But again, it was very delicious!

I guess I should add that I will miss the obligatory post-oncology follow up treat.

But I’m pretty sure I’ll learn to deal.

Crackalackin’…

… as in “here’s what’s happening” or “this is what’s going on.” The Urban Dictionary used it in this example:

Bob:  Yo
Joe:  Yo, what’s poppin’ fresh?
Bob:  Not much kid, what’s crackalackin’ 

But as usual, I digress.

A ton has happened since my one sentence post from a week ago. Kids’ Camp was, as usual, phenomenal. Over 1200 kids were registered and we averaged 950 kids each day. And we didn’t lose any!! Tremendous amounts of fun were had by all.

Friday after Kids’ Camp we threw stuff in the car, said goodbye to Sookie and asked her to please stop shedding all over everything, and drove down to DC to spend the weekend with Taylor. The ride was a typical I-95 corridor drive. If you don’t know what that means, here’s the Facebook status I wrote while stuck in traffic:

“I love I-95,” said no one ever.

We finally made it to DC and instead of driving straight to the hotel as originally planned, we met Taylor at his metro stop, drove him by his lodgings so he could pick up a few things and then headed to the Embassy Suites.

To say I was giddy with joy would be an understatement. I had all my peeps in the same room.

Saturday we went to the International Spy Museum.

Veddddy intarestink. Before you can begin in the museum you have to choose an alias. When you finish the museum you have to debrief and, depending on how well you answer the questions, you can either “leave the country” or you will be detained and disavowed. Very Mission Impossible. I was the only one who was allowed to leave.

So now you know. I’m actually an international spy. But I can’t really tell you anything more than that without the risk of blowing my cover.

After that we had a late lunch at Hard Rock Cafe (why is it always the Hard Rock Cafe?)

Next to the Hard Rock is Ford’s Theatre. THE Ford’s Theatre where President Lincoln was shot. Right across the street is the house where he died.

The rest of the day held cupcakes and Starbucks and an awesome jazz band in front of the Verizon Center.

Sunday was a walk around the Mall and a visit to the National History Museum to see dinosaurs and butterflies and diamonds and the like.

Then we walked to Busboys and Poets, a Bohemianesque restaurant that Taylor suggested. It was very yum! By then it was time to head out.

Taylor had decided to follow us home in his truck so he could get the shell he bought on Craigslist and that Todd and I picked up for him a few weeks ago.

It fits and looks much better on Taylor’s truck.

Katie rode with Taylor. It was a quiet ride home from DC…

We noticed that Taylor wouldn’t go even 5 miles over the speed limit, no doubt because of the harsh speeding ticket he got back in January. At one point, however, he started going a little faster. Todd and I decided it was because Katie was still talking and he just wanted to get home as fast as he could. Then we watched as he took a wrong exit. I thought maybe his GPS steered him wrong, but Todd thought he might have offed Katie and wanted to get rid of the evidence before he came home. Turns out I was right.

It was nice to have him for an extra day. He and Todd got the shell on his truck on Monday and I made the most incredible sandwiches for dinner. Sunday night I had been flipping channels and came across a show called “The United States of Bacon”.

I KNOW!!

Anyway, this dude on the show made grilled cheddar cheese, bacon and apricot preserves sandwiches. YES.HE.DID. And so did I. The preserves are sweet but not overly so. The cheddar cheese was tangy. And the bacon. Oh, the bacon. Do I really need to elaborate? The whole combination was sweet and salty and tangy and I can hardly wait to do it again. Is there a rule about the appropriate amount of time between bacon consumption?

Oh yeah. My kid. I got sidetracked by all that talk of bacon. He left between 6:30 and 7:00 and didn’t hit any traffic. Lucky.

So let’s fast forward to today. Todd left yesterday for Akron and he comes home tomorrow. Katie and I went to Phamous Phil’s Barbeque for an early dinner tonight and it was fabulous phabulous. I think my favorite part is the tea. They don’t have sweet tea – a staple at any good Southern barbeque joint. But what they DO have is simple sugar syrup. So when you order tea they bring it and the sugar syrup so you sweeten it to your liking. Like I said. Phabulous. Then again, my favorite part could be the phried fried pickles. Best I ever ate, and I lived in the South for 18 years, y’all!!

Now we’re about to watch a movie, trying to stay up late because she has to be at the church at 1:45 AM.

“Of course she does,” you may be thinking. But then probably not.

She and 25 or 30 other people, mostly teenagers, will be getting on a charter bus that will take them to an airport where they will fly to Guatemala to build houses and properly set up safe stoves. They are all very excited and I can hardly wait to hear all about their trip, mostly because it will mean she’s home safe.

And that, my friends, is what’s been crackalackin’.

~Epilogue~

1:00 in the morning came really fast. So fast that we never did finish the movie. It is now nearly 3:00 in the morning and I’m a little bit wired. That and I had to come back and fix the errors in this post. At 1:00 I hit “Publish” instead of “Preview”. I blame my tiredness. Which is a pretty solid excuse.

But enough about me. The Guatemala team was boarding the bus at 2:15 when I left the church.

I’m all happy and sad and excited and a little bit worried (but not a lot) and am really looking forward to hearing all about it. If you would like to pray I would ask for the following:

  • Safe travels there and back
  • Good health for the entire team
  • A productive trip
  • Peaceful hearts for the moms and dads
  • Changed lives, both in the Guatemala community they’re serving and in the team

I am now officially tired. It is not looking as though I’ll be to work by 8:30 tomorrow morning today. So that’s all the crackalackin’ I’ve got.

Bragging Rights

I love our church and Sunday mornings are nearly always a joy for me. But there’s one Sunday each year that is my absolute favorite. Student Worship Sunday. This year it happened last Sunday, July 1st.

Yes, I’m a bit partial to one of the singers, seeing as how I birthed her and all. But there is something so moving about watching these kids – all of them – use their incredible talents to lead the congregation in worship.

This first video is of the worship set. The members of the band are: Eric, Student Arts Pastor, guitar and vocals (the dude leading the band); Brad (no relation, though he calls me Mom and I call him son), lead guitar; JC (not actually a student, but all the drummers were out of town so he helped out), drums; Joelle, bass; Erin, keyboards; Katie and Ashley, vocals.

Worship (07-01-12) from CHRIST’S CHURCH OF THE VALLEY on Vimeo.

This next is the communion set with Eric and Katie.

07-01-12 Communion from CHRIST’S CHURCH OF THE VALLEY on Vimeo.

Last (and most definitely least) is a promotional video that Eric and Adam, our High School Pastor, put together for Stretch. Stretch is our very awesome middle school event. And as an added note, Eric wrote this song the night before they filmed this. It’s too bad they don’t have any fun at work.

2012 Stretch Full Throttle Music Video from CHRIST’S CHURCH OF THE VALLEY on Vimeo.