This is My "Real" Blog: July 2008

Angie's Blog!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


We got home at about 6:30 this evening.

Mark came through his surgery just fine. The doctor was his usual "charming" self. I think he was flirting with me. . .you know, playing a mix of "hard to get" and "I don't remember operating on you." Either way it worked. . . I swooned.

After a run to Kroger for medicine. . .Sonic for a bag of pellet ice. . . Zaxby's for a buffalo salad. . . it was time to get all my little chickees home and in bed. As I type, Mark is resting in bed (with the help of Lortab), Caroline is sleeping, and Edison is in bed too.

God's in his heaven. . and all is right with the world.

Thanks for prayers and well wishes for us all. We love you all, and are grateful.

Oh. . .and nine days until the Olympics. You guys ready?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

So many things to do . . . and so much to say. . .

We have made it to Tuesday. Honestly, on Sunday night, I was wondering if we'd make it this far! Seriously. But, we've made it - so there you go.

Mark had his pre-op lab work done yesterday afternoon. Not fun for him, but it's done. Everything looked fine -- from my perspective.

One bit of news. . . . while he was in the midst of the blood draw, he informed me that he has begun working with our newest drummer at church (professional travel agent) on a cruise for our 20th anniversary next year.

And so the diet begins anew. . . .

That was cool. Not necessarily the time and place one usually hears such things. But, I wasn't going to ALL.

Last night, I had a Buddy Walk planning meeting exactly two blocks from the hospital where we had Mark's lab work done. So yes, in this time of extreme gas prices. . . I drove downtown TWICE in four hours.

It's all good. Really. And, dinner was at one of my favorite places -- The Cumberland Grill -- and the crab bisque was *nearly* as good as always. (not as thick as I like it!)

It stormed like a mother last night (I can say that because I am one). Flashing lightning, thunder, gallons of rain. It was wonderful. Humid, but wonderful.

Work today was BUSY. Productive, but busy. I am in the midst of planning and selecting music for the choir and band(s) for the fall & Christmas. I found some really good stuff. Still have a bit of a pile to weed through, but I'm getting there.

So, it's nearly 9:30 p.m., I need to empty the sink of the clean dishes, and I need to figure out what "waiting room activities" I'm going to take with me tomorrow. I plan on taking a book, and probably my most recent crocheting project. We'll see. Yes, there *are* gummy bears, as well.

The cruise is NEXT year. A girl's gotta stay nutritionally balanced while her man is in surgery. Dig?

So, the next time I write, we will all be home. . . we will have good news. . .and we will be resting. (All of us)

Thanks for prayers. We love you!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

I have obligations. . . .

Jake, aka "The Muter" sent me a reminder that I haven't done this week's assignment.

12:00 (midnight) - take a Tylenol PM

12:30 a.m. - Watch 2nd episode of "Fraiser" on Lifetime

1:00 a.m - fall blissfully asleep

9:12 a.m. (literally) - wake up and wonder if my alarm actually went off

9:47 a.m. (not-so-literally) - greeted by Caroline in bed with me

10:00 a.m. - eat two (2) Brown Sugar/Cinnamon Pop-Tarts

10:30 a.m. - take shower

11:00 a.m. - decide that I don't need to go to work this morning

11:24 a.m. - call Mom, arrange for childcare while WE GO BUY A NEW OVEN!!!

12:10 p.m. - drop Caroline at Grandma's house

12:34 p.m. - eat a chili cheese coney (with onion rings) at Sonic (yum!)

1:00 p.m. - go pick out my new stove (stainless steel. . . really pretty!)

1:34 p.m. - arrive at Mom's house -- oven paperwork in hand

2:30 p.m. - arrive home -- send Edison to shower (icky boy)

3:30 p.m. - realize that I need to leave for a wedding soon

3:40 p.m. - begin dressing (even putting on panty hose)

4:10 p.m. - leave for church

4:15 p.m. - check email in my office

4:28 p.m. - head for Worship Center

4:35 p.m. - take my seat at piano

4:40 p.m. - check my voicemail (discreetly) while sitting at piano

4:45 p.m. - begin playing prelude (When You Say Nothing at All, Goin' to the Chapel, To Make You Feel My Love, When i Fall in Love, I will Be Here)

4:59 p.m. - begin playing Canon in D by Pachelbel (seating of parents/family members)

5:01 p.m. - begin playing "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" processional

5:04 p.m - begin playing "I Love Thee" as the bride comes down the aisle

5:05 p.m. - breathe a sigh of relief. I'm done until the Unity Candle

5:15 p.m. - play "Ave Maria" for unity candlelighting (messed it up -- oh well!)

5:18 p.m. - play "Wedding March" as the wedding party exits

5:24 p.m. - leave piano

5:30 p.m. - decide to go to reception because I hadn't gotten paid yet

5:31 p.m. - receive check for playing for wedding while in line for food

5:36 p.m. - eat some fruit & veggies at reception

5:50 p.m. - head for home

6:10 p.m. - say "Goodbye" to Edison and Mark who are going to the stock car races

6:15 p.m. - fix turkey & swiss bagel for dinner

6:30 p.m. - chase Caroline away from my plate -- little mooch!

6:45 p.m. - watch Max & Ruby with Caroline

7:00 p.m. - watch Dora the Explorer with Caroline

7:40 p.m. - begin running Caroline's bath water

7:45 p.m. - give Caroline a bath

7:59 p.m. - dry Caroline's hair

8:00 p.m. - help Caroline brush her teeth

8:05 p.m. - pick up toys in Caroline's room; pick out church clothes for tomorrow

8:12 p.m. - put Caroline in bed; put the NASCAR race on my TV

8:30 p.m. - eat a powdered donut

8:40 p.m. - play on Facebook; realize that this assignment is still undone

8:50 p.m. - log onto blogger

8:55 p.m. - begin this assignment

9:03 p.m. - finish

9:04 p.m. - logout!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Okay now. . .this is crazy

I cannot believe this week.

Seriously. It's already Friday. It's the 25th of July (5 months 'til Christmas). In three weeks, both of my kids will be in school.

It's too soon. And, on the other hand, it's not soon enough.

I am truly sorry for the crazy week I've had, which has led to a vacant blog. No one likes a vacant blog. . .or a neglected blog. And I have been/done both this week.

Seriously apologize for that.

Hmmm. What has happened this week? Let's see:

Edison got his braces off. I know. I know. I have NOT yet taken photos of his beautiful teeth. That is coming. Pinkie swear.

Mark got some good news and some bad news. He received a handsome bonus at work -- a real blessing. Mark has not just one, but two hernias. (Herniia? Plural spelling, please)

He got to meet Dr. McPersonality today. Of course, he likes him. He thinks he's perfectly fine, friendly, and wonderful. I still say he has all the personality of the pine cones that are falling into my back yard. But, I guess it's just me.

He has surgery scheduled for NEXT WEDNESDAY. Yeah. We get the diagnosis of one hernia on this past Monday, and today, we learn that there are twins ... and that they're being fixed next week.

I guess it's good to get things taken care of in a timely manner, eh?

So, the next week or so is going to be. . .uh, let's say "interesting" and leave it at that, 'kay?

Caroline went to the Cardiologist today -- just for a friendly visit. Seriously.

He is helping the Down syndrome group with a project for Buddy Walk, and we just popped in (for an hour) to talk about the project, take some pictures for his website and for this project, and just "catch up." What? You don't go for social visits with your child's medical specialists?

I guess I really do have a life, eh?

So, other than playing for a wedding this weekend -- I'm just a musician for hire (don't know the bride or groom) -- I'm trying to keep both oars in the water. I feel like the candle that's being burned at both ends is cracking in the middle, too, but in the infamous words of Gloria Gaynor. . .
"I will survive!"

Have a blessed weekend. . . in case I don't get back on here!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The smells of summer. . .and the memories of Sophia

I'm a little melancholy tonight. I'm also a little tired. Baking does that to a person. I've been hit with zucchini. You know, the gift that keeps on giving?

You know that you work at a church in a rural area when stray tomatoes and zucchini start arriving in half-boxes, and no one will take credit for leaving the "gift" for you.

So, I'm dealing with zucchini the best I can. You know zucchini, right? . . . the plant that will survive the impending holocaust (along with cockroaches)?!

Yeah, I made the mistake of buying some at the grocery store the other night. I made zucchini pancakes with them. Where's the mistake? Read on. . .

I made the zucchini pancakes (bisquick, parmesan cheese, eggs, etc.) and you fry them up in the skillet. (SERIOUS Yummage) Anyway, I told my dad about them, and gave him a couple. When he asked where I got my zucchini, I told him "Kroger."

Mistake. They're growing zucchini in the garden.

So, the next morning, I was greeted at my office door by three (3) zucchinis hanging from a grocery bag on the handle. I brought them home immediately -- didn't want them to spoil. And there they sat. . . with the store-bought zucchini.

Our weekend was a zoo. I think I told you about that. If not? It was a zoo. So, my five zucchini sat on the kitchen counter through one of the most humid, hot weekends on record.

My zucchini?

Well, the store-bought ones were literally dissolving tonight, when I started the baking process. But, Dad's garden variety were hearty and healthy.

So, I grated up two and half of those bad boys--and made zucchini bread. Sophia's Zucchini Bread to be exact! I found it on (my favorite source for online recipes). It is very, very good.

I opted to add 3/4 cup of chocolate chips to the first batch (two loaves of bread). The 2nd batch turned into 12 muffins and 1 loaf (non-chocolated!). The muffins that Mark and I have "taste-tested" thus far have been pretty good. So, I hold out high hopes for the chocolate bread.

Oh? You want the recipe. Okay.

Sophia's Zucchini Bread (ala Angie)

3 eggs
2 c. sugar
3 t. vanilla
1 c. oil

3 c. flour
3 t. cinnamon (I used 1 T)
1 t. salt
1 t. soda
1/4 t. baking powder

1 c. chopped nuts (Sophia uses walnuts; I use pecans)
3 c. grated zucchini
3/4 c. chocolate chips

Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
Beat the eggs in a mixer bowl. When mixed up -- add in the sugar, oil, and vanilla.
Add in the flour mixture 1 cup at a time.
Stir in the zucchini and nuts (and the chocolate chips, if you dare!)

Pour into two greased loaf pans (Sophia doesn't grease her pans) and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

I don't know about Sophia, but I'm loving the sweet smell of summer in my kitchen tonight!

And speaking of Sophia. . . .I read the news today that Estelle Getty had died. She was one of the "Golden Girls," whose character was named "Sophia Petrillo." To the chagrin of my husband, I love that show. I watch it (late at night) when he's away from home. I watch it on Lifetime TV in the mornings, when I'm here by myself.

I remember laughing at it with my parents during my high school & college years. I remember one of our dearest friends, Rex Jones, called them "The Dirty Girls" because of the innuendos. Rex died a number of years ago -- I think he would be absolutely mortified to see what passes for innuendo these days. . .but I digress.

I always loved Sophia's character. I loved how she carried that small straw purse everywhere she went. And, her monologues that always began like this, "Picture it. . Sicilily, 1935. . .a young peasant girl. . . " and then an outrageous story followed. Her sarcastic delivery. . . it was timeless. I still laugh to this day.

But on this day, I remember an actress that was funny. She was quirky. She had style.

Rest in peace, Sophia. I'll see you in syndication!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I Swear, if I Start Hearing "On the Wings of Love. . . "


About an hour ago, I was sitting at the kitchen table, talking to Mark, when I hear something. A whistle? A flute?


A recorder.

You know, the kind we all got in 4th grade. The thin, taupe instruments of death that made our parents wish that they have blasted the radio even louder when they were teenagers.

You guessed it. It was Edison. . .playing the recorder. . . (sigh).

I bought the blasted thing for him when I was homeschooling him, and didn't know any better. It did have one benefit, however. When we enrolled him in school, and it was time to go out and buy recorders, we already had one. (It was still gathering dust inside the thin, vinyl protective sleeve-thingie.)

But today. . . of all days. . . the LORD'S day. . .Edison decides that it's time to hone his skills on a recorder.

I don't know if I have the strength to live through too many self-imposed recorder sessions.

My title? Well, it's somewhat cryptic to those of you who don't watch the Office. But, on one memorable episode, a bird flies into a glass door, and is injured. It's dead. They hold a funeral for the bird. . . and the highlight of the funeral is the song, "On the Wings of Love" sung by Pam--accompanied by Dwight on the recorder.

. . . Yeah. I guess you have to kinda be there to find it truly funny.

Friday, July 18, 2008

How Did This Happen?!?!

One question. . .many implications. Read on.

1) I've not blogged since Tuesday. Well, it's been a very trying, busy week. Not only am I still in "catch up" mode from vacation, but I'm also at a crucial point both at church and with my Buddy Walk coordinator role.

2) I feel like I've been with my children 24/7. And I haven't. Actually, both Edison and Caroline had activities this week. Edison went back to football conditioning/practice and then helped at preschool camp (VBS) at church. Caroline attended her last week of summer school and VBS on non-school days. But still. . . I don't feel like I've had a minute alone -- and I think the kids are getting the blame -- and it's not always THEM.

3) I don't think I've accomplished anything creative for a month. This is spot-on. Other than quilt store shopping, washing that fabric, and crocheting on an afghan or two, I haven't completed anything creative since before we left on vacation. I've barely even finished a sudoku puzzle.

4) The summer is nearly over. This seems to happen every year, but for some reason, this year seemed to fly by faster than others.

5) I cannot stop going to weddings. This is the Summer of Weddings & Babies. We have been to four (4) weddings -- no funerals thus far -- and one baby was born, and another is coming in September. I still have two more weddings for whom I'm playing piano, and one other we plan to attend.

6) I'm having company over for dinner tonight. That's right. . . I'm my own worst enemy. Actually, if that were true, I'd be at Dollywood with my parents (and Caroline & my niece). But, rather than enjoy a "fun" day in the blazing heat, I'm home getting ready to have them over for dinner tonight. So, I'm really not complaining -- I'm the one in the air-conditioning. But, when I compiled the list of the things that I wanted and needed to accomplish today, I nearly cried. I'll get through it. I'll get it done. But, I'm one tired senorita!

So there it is. . . my whining list for the week. I can't believe that the middle of July has come and gone, and that my children will both be in school a month from today. (Edison starts the 11th; Caroline the 18th) That's living in the south, y'all!

I pray that it's a happy Friday for you. And now if you'll excuse me, there's this "to-do" list -- which includes a much-needed haircut!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Totally Random? You Decide.

Okay, this one is tricky. I'm copying stuff directly from his blog, because if I tried to explain it, you'd be as confused as I am. ::hee::

Below are 9 questions. I have to turn my iPod/MP3 player on and turn on shuffle mode. Then, I must ask myself the first question below. I play the first song on the shuffle list and type the song title and artist as my answer under the question. Below my answer, I explain it from my perspective in parentheses. Then I ask the next question and go to the next song. NO CHEATING!

If you do not have an iPod or MP3 Player, use some music listening software on your computer. If you don't have music on your computer, then just write down nine songs and pull them out of a hat as you go along. If you don't know 9 songs, then you aren't modern enough and shouldn't be on the internet in the first place.

Okay -- so I tried this. And, I'm obviously pretty new to the whole MP3 world. . . and my list was coming out in alphabetical order. Why Holy is the Lord is in the midst of the alpha list, I have no clue. Here is my first list. Doh. I'll print the actual "shuffled" list below. . .

How does the world see me?
(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher by Michael McDonald

How will my future life be?
A Day in the Life - the Beatles

What should I do with my life?
Holy is the Lord - Southeast Christian Church

How will I be remembered?
A Salty Dog - by Styx

What is my current theme song?
A Shadow in Your Light - Lenny LeBlanc

What is my signature dance song?
A.D. 1928 (Paradise Theater) - Styx

What will be played at my funeral?
Above All - Lenny LeBlanc

What will my week be like?
Accidentally Like a Martyr - Warren Zevon

What is some good advice for me?
Afraid of Love - Toto

What did the world sing when I was born?
Africa - Toto

Now, the real results. I'm such an idiot.

How does the world see me?
Dirty Work - Steely Dan
(Hmm. Not quite sure about this -- I do end up doing stuff that no one else wants to do from time to time. So. . . ?)

How will my future life be?
With a Little Help from my Friends - the Beatles
(Yep - Word.)

What should I do with my life?
Like Eagles - Don Moen
(This song is based on Isaiah 40:31 -- I will soar on wings like eagles, walk and not faint, run and not grow weary. . .when on YOU I wait. Sounds good to me)

How will I be remembered?
While You Were Sleeping - Casting Crowns
(I find this kinda cool -- because I do more in my life when the rest of my family and friends are alseep!)

What is my current theme song?
Two Hands, One Heart - Don Moen
(This song was my theme a few years back - I still love it. I've got 2 hands to serve others and 1 heart to serve my God. Cool beans, kiddos.)

What is my signature dance song?
The Real Sin Savior - Apologetix
(This is one of my 13-years old's songs that's on MY player. Ironically, it is a parody of a rap song with a killer dance beat!)

What will be played at my funeral?
If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free - Sting
(Seriously. . . do I need to say more? 'Cause if I do, I'm gonna start crying.)

What will my week be like?
I Believe (When I Fall in Love) - Michael McDonald
(Okay - I am currently obsessed with this song. It's haunting me. Of course, maybe it's because when I hear it, I hear Michael McDonald singing it to me. . .which is a whole other blog post!)

What is some good advice for me?
Rockin' the Paradise - Styx
("Tonight's the night we make history. . . honey you and I. . . and I'll take any risk to tie back the hands of time. . " This song is such a good mix of ballad and hard rock -- kinda like my life. Sometimes it's gentle--other times wild!)

What did the world sing when I was born?
Evil Woman - ELO
(I laughed out loud--and had to explain this particular MEME to my husband on this one. The irony? The name "Angela" means ANGEL. Explain this--I dare you!)

There you have it. I hope you enjoyed both of these lists. I really like the way "the Muter" spurs me on to do some unique blogging. I encourage you to do this -- or if you don't have an MP3 player, just name some songs that you wish answered these questions. You'll have fun -- I guarantee it!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Did I say "OverWhelmed?"

Good. Because, I meant to.

I'm feeling like I'm just barely able to tread water and keep my head above the waves. (Which reminds me of the old Bill Cosby skit where Noah and God are talking. . . "How long can you tread water?") Such fun.

Anyway. . . I'm finding it harder and harder to live up to this year's word: Simplify.

My life feels like anything other than simple right now. In fact: Frenzy would be a more appropriate word for my life.

But, there's a sense of calm, and a Source of peace which passes all understanding. I need to seek HIM first. Then, all these things will be added. . . . yeah, I've got a tune running through some of your heads. (You're welcome)

* * * * * * * *Enough whining* * * * * * * * * * *

I have some really cool things to share -- and it's my bad for not sharing them first. Of course, you all read about my meeting up with Christy last week. It seems IMPOSSIBLE to believe that was one week ago today. But, it was. Wow.

Anyway, meeting her was so cool -- because it was the first time I'd met someone in person whose blog I read on a regular basis, that I'd never met before.

Today was my second opportunity. You'll see the name "Jennilu" in the right hand column of my blog. Jennifer lives here in my little town-let. (It's not big enough to be a town -- although we have a Starbucks and a McDonalds) Anyway, she and I found each other online, and discoverd that we lived in the same general vicinity. She had been to our church before -- because her daughter had gone to Art Camp here.

Today -- while picking her daughter up from Art Camp, she and Kaylea came up to my office and met me in person. They got to meet Edison and Caroline, too. It was bizarre, neat, sweet, and so cool all at the same time. I got to hug her -- and put a face and HUG to the words and conversations that have been such fun for me over the past couple months.

And now. . . there's a possibility that my friend Judy (also on RH column) may be coming through Knoxville sometime in the next week. Wouldn't that be a total HOOT? I could say that I'd met THREE blog friends within a month -- in person?!!?!?

And yes, Beth and Melany -- I want to meet you guys, too. In the worst possible way. And Helen? Don't get me started. I've wanted to travel to Australia for YEARS. Talk about a dream come true.

But today -- I'm thankful for a "neighborhood" blog buddy. And, she's officially my "real life friend" as of today. We hugged and everything. . .

A Nap is Definitely In Order. . . .

You know that feeling of being overwhelmed at work?
You know that feeling of being overwhelmed at home?
You know that feeling of being overwhelmed in life?

Yeah. . .I'm there. And when you add a sleepless night to it, well. . .it gets kinda ugly. You know "I-just-took-a-nap-ugly?" Yeah, that was me about six hours ago.

Mark and Edison both came home from vacation with a bit of sickness. Mark was actually experiencing some of it the night before we left Illinois. He is still coughing a bit. And no, thank you for asking, he probably *won't* go to the doctor. But last night, when I was exhausted, and should have been sleeping, I wasn't. I couldn't. I've told a number of people today that it was Mark's fault. And, it sorta was his fault.

He snored. Like, really snored.

Like, snored like I used to before I got my sleep apnea diagnosed, and started wearing my "Annakin Skywalker" mask to bed. (Seriously, it looks like a cross between the head gear young Skywalker wore in the pod racer battles and a jock strap) And let me tell you -- it does a number on one's complexion and facial wrinkle situation in the morning--to say nothing of "Strap Hair!" Yeah, I'm a sight first thing in the morning.

Anyway, I totally digressed there. Sorry. I had a long day yesterday -- some friends asked me to play for their wedding. It was my pleasure and honor to do so. But, I have to admit that cramming that in during the same (short) week due to my vacation made for some crazy days.

AND. . .on top of that, we had our Baby Dedication in church this morning...which meant I had to organize the families, get gifts together, and program the service. It wasn't horrid -- but it was time-consuming. So, when I fell into bed last night, I was a prime candidate for serious sleep.

Except for the snoring.

Yeah, I was contemplating taking some sort of OTC sleep aid -- but at 2:30 a.m., I knew that I would be a BEAR to wake up at 7 a.m. What did I do? The same thing he did to me all those years B.S. (before strap -- what were you thinking?).

I prodded him.
I poked him.
I kicked him.
I tapped him.
I nudged him.

Most importantly, I did NOT smother him.

Eventually, sometime after 3:30 a.m., he quieted down, and I was able to fall asleep. Now, some of you may ask why I didn't do something more proactive in getting myself to sleep. Why not relocate? (Sleep apnea -- moving that machine is a pain in the butt).

Why not relocate him? (Two sleeping children who needed their rest, too)

Why not get up and do something? (I actually considered this -- but I knew he'd get up, wonder where I was, and try to encourage me back to bed -- and then the cycle would begin again)

So, I just laid in bed -- thinking of things.

Things I needed to do.
Things I have to work on this week.
Things I should have done this past week.
Songs for church I want to learn
Ideas for Buddy Walk.
Deadlines for Buddy Walk -- this actually freaked me out a bit.

And then. . .like nearly every other Saturday night of my life. . . I started worrying about this morning's service. Would the families show up for Baby Dedication? Would "extra" families show up that we didn't know about? Would the service run long? Would the service be too short? Would the drummer show up?

. . .and on and on and on.

So.....when we finished lunch today I excused myself from the computer, and went to the bathroom. I think I told Mark that I'd be back.

I lied.

I put on my softest, comfiest pajama pants. . . and went to sleep. No one snored. Well, I might have -- but I was sleeping, so I didn't notice.

And, as Moses said in Genesis 1: ". . .it was good."

Have a lovely week. I'll be in and out -- meeting those deadlines I panicked about last night. Hopefully, some of my "extra curricular" projects (quilting, etc.) will get a little bit of my attention this week. But if not. . .I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.

. . .and I've got the Tylenol PM to prove it!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Pink Potpourri - Giveaway

My friend, Allie, who I met through the blog is giving away a really cool painting on her blog.

Pink Potpourri (link)

Go there, leave a comment -- and mention it on your blog, and you might win.

. . . but please (God) let me win this one. It's going in my sun room, if I win!

Oh. . . and there are vacation blogs (3 entries) after this one!


Illinois Vacation - Part 1

That's right. . . you're reading this like a Star Wars series of movies. I wrote them in reverse order -- but you're getting a chronological recap of the Illinois portion of our vacation. Not easy, let me tell you . . . but you all are worth it.

So, after you've read this blog entry, there are two more (with pictures and stories). You'll be hooked from minute #1, I promise!

On Friday, we arrived in Illinois. It was quite a trip down memory lane for me. As we drove through Indiana, I remembered the many times I had driven this route from Milligan to home. It's been well over 8 years since we drove north on Interstate 65, so this was fun--in a long, boring drive kind of way.

When we got to Crown Point, Indiana, we remembered what it means to celebrate Independence Day in a small Midwestern town. They shut down for the parade. Which means? The route across Hwy. 231 which takes you around the town square was NOT possible. No, our poor little GPS just about reached out and slapped the crap out of us for not paying attention.

Eventually, we made it through town -- racing the front of the parade. Once we got out, we headed for Illinois. And, suddenly -- there we were. We spent a couple hours seeing some of my old houses and schools. (Edison was thrilled. Trust me)

Here are some of those places. And, rather than write long stories about each one, I'll put captions. I fully intend to do some digi scrap pages of these places and memories. Here are the pictures:

My high school. It's a 6th grade "center" now.

The "Dome" where I graduated from high school.

Deer Creek Christian Church -- where I was baptized, and where we got married.

The house next door to the church. We lived there. It had a red door.

This house was where I lived from 3rd grade until 7th grade.

This is my elementary school - 3rd to 6th grade. It's now "Coretta Scott King Magnet School" Times have changed.

After we finished in University Park, we headed toward Monee. This was the first place I remember living. We moved to Monee when I was 3 years old -- and moved in the middle of my 3rd grade year.

All of my earliest memories are in this little town. Walking to the store for penny candy. Listening to the train go through town at night. Seeing the tiny red light on top of the water tower.

Monee Elementary School -- my first school.

Our house on Linden Avenue.

And, I cannot explain this. I cried when we got to the house. I don't know why. I guess I figured out the true meaning of the phrase, "You can't go home again." Because, suddenly, my life had passed -- and those memories in that sweet little bungalow home were just that. . . memories.

After we left the south suburbs, we headed toward the western suburbs. And, on our way, we went through Mark's old stomping grounds. We were able to show Edison a few sites of importance to us. Hopefully, you'll enjoy them, too. (Quasi-Celebrity sighting -- so, stay with me)

White's old house on Brainard Avenue. Mark lived here until we got married. We spent lots of time there -- during our dating days.

Kirschbaum's Bakery. Mark's favorite bakery of all time. Of course, they were closed for the month of July. Oh well. . .

CELEBRITY HOUSE!!! This is the house where Tommy Shaw (guitarist from Styx) used to live back in the 80s.

So, there you have it. Part one is complete. Please read on for parts two and three. I promise they'll be worth it. How can I make that promise? I've already written them, remember?

Illinois Vacation - Part 2

I'm actually writing these in reverse order. Part 3 was written first. Then, part 2. Part 1 is yet to be written. Our weekend was a bit crazy, but it was wonderful.

On Saturday morning, I went to visit some quilt shops with Char & her daughter and granddaughter. Unfortunately, the shop we drove an hour to visit was closed for the holiday weekend. Yeah, we were disappointed. We had checked the internet, and according to them, they were open. However, when we pulled up in the driveway, we learned otherwise.

So, we stopped on the way back home at another shop -- which was actually cool. It is called A Touch of Amish. It's located in Barrington, IL. It is made up of *two* victorian homes.

One was on the site -- the other was moved to the site -- and "fused" together with the other one. Result? One kicking quilt shop. (Money spent? About $40)

Then, on the way back to Wheaton, we stopped at The Quilt Merchant where Beth (Char's daughter) works -- and is owned by her mother-in-law. It's a very nice shop. Their specialty is 30s reproduction fabrics. They have a really nice selection -- and I was able to find a few things that just had to come home with me. ($30 worth)

While us girls were gone, Mark, Edison, and Steve went to Cantigny, a beautiful park in Wheaton. They enjoyed going through the museum, and seeing the beautifully landscaped grounds. They also visited the French Market in downtown Wheaton. Yummy raspberries, blueberries, and delicious scones were purchased.

They also stopped into "Hairadise," my former salon in downtown Wheaton. Michelle Spane is the owner of the salon. She cut my hair from 1989 until 1996, when we moved away. She gave Edison his first hair cut. She was a major part of my life. What I loved? Mark said that when he and the kids walked in -- she immediately knew who he was.

I didn't get a chance to get by and see her, but I have her email we'll be able to maintain contact. (I'll even tell her about the blog -- if you're reading this, I love you, Michelle!)

After we got back from quilt shopping and sight-seeing, we got ready for Saturday evening. We were finally going to have Aurelio's pizza!!

We had dinner plans with Tom & Judith.

Tom and I went to junior high and high school together. I had never met Judith -- she is wonderful. She actually has family here in Tennessee--so I'm hoping that we'll get to see them the next time they're down here.

Edison loved Aurelio's.

He also loved Tom's house. They had Guitar Hero III and a collection of cars that were very impressive. So, although we hated to pull ourselves away, we had to scoot down the road to get to church.

We attended the Saturday evening service at Community Christian Church in Naperville. We attended at the "Yellow Box" which is their main campus. We had a great time -- we were even able to see Jon & Lisa -- old friends from the old days. We actually played and sang at their wedding. We also got to meet one of their staff pastors who is married to a friend's daughter. That was fun.

While the band was playing one of the songs, a familiar face found my familiar face in the audience--and suddenly Doug knew we were there! Shortly thereafter, his beautiful wife, Kim, walked in and sat with us. After church, we talked with friends. . .met some new friends, and ate some delicious cookies. But, for us, that just simply wasn't enough.

We headed to Seven Dwarfs, a place that is literally frozen in time in Wheaton. Edison loved the meal -- but the transportation to the restaurant was his favorite part. You see, Doug took Edison blazing out of the parking lot of the church in this. . .

Need I say more? And, for my money. . . breakfast for dinner is always a hit!

Doug took great advantage of the chance to educate Edison about moose kisses. Moose kisses encompass the gentle art of licking the intended's face. Edison was delighted?

Of course, Doug and Kim got a big kick out of Caroline--and she kinda liked them, too!

On Sunday morning, we went back to Wheaton Wesleyan Church. This church was our home for five years, from 1991 until 1996. We became a family there --going from "the two of us" to "the three of us." These people loved and nurtured us in the early days of our marriage. And, a chance to go back and see them -- and introduce them to Caroline--well, that was just phenomenal!

Everyone was amazed at how much Edison has grown. . . but it was 12 years. Ya know? He had a good time, I think. It was a bit hard to say. Caroline? She just made friends with everyone she came in contact with. Surprised? Didn't think so.

Sunday afternoon, we headed out to Maple Park for lunch with two families that we went to church with in Wheaton. Julaine & Steve (and their five wonderful kids) live out in this beautiful "suburb" which is nearly an hour west of Wheaton. They have a beautiful home -- and a full, gorgeous corn field behind them. You really couldn't ask for a better view.

Mike & Thelene, and their two kids were also there. They still attend WWC -- but they weren't there on that particular Sunday. So, they joined us for burgers, brats, baked beans, potato salad, cookie salad (that's right -- I said cookie salad), corn casserole, and Ho-Ho cake. Yeah, we ate like pigs. But, it was delicious.

After lunch, the kids and dads went swimming. They all had fun -- the Moms (and Becca, Julaine's beautiful daughter) sat around and watched them. It was great.

We created new "inside" jokes -- and laughed about old times. It was such a great time. We hated to leave -- but around dinner time, we headed back to Wheaton. Upon arriving at Steve & Char's house, we had a great dinner of spaghetti, salad, and italian bread. YUM. Caroline ate three (small) plates of spaghetti. Baby girl can eat, I tell you!

So, it was a phenomenal, fun-filled weekend. So many chances to reminisce and reflect. We are so very, very blessed.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Illinois Vacation - Part 3

The last two days of our vacation made this the best trip we've taken in a long time. I realize that sounds bizarre, but it's true. I'm talking about Monday and Tuesday. Although Wednesday was pretty cool, too.

On Monday, we ventured over to Wheaton College to have lunch with some of our friends that still work at the college.

Mark & Dan Crabtree had a great time reminiscing. We really miss this bunch of people -- and spending time with them was just amazing for us.

It was such a treat to catch up on all the campus (and off-campus) gossip.

Then, as you may have read on Christy's blog, we met up at Cosley Park in Wheaton. She described the process pretty much as I would. We were nervous. Very nervous. I mean, for those of you who read this blog that have never met me -- I'm not nearly as glamorous as this blog might lead you to believe. (yes, I am snickering as I type this!)

In all actuality, I'm about the most unglamorous person God created. But, as I guess I came to discover this week -- I am a cherished child of God. I was created in His image. And for that reason alone, I am a valued member of society.

No. You have not stumbled upon a self-esteem building blog entry. Nor have you stumbled upon an ego maniac who needs to flex her "diva" muscles. I just had a moment this week, where I realized that I am loved and cherished *right now* and even more than my friends and family love me. . . I have a Savior who loves me even more. How cool is that? But, that's really not the point of this entry. You want pictures and stories. So, here you go.

Meeting Henry, Christy, Stephen & Maggie was such a wonderful treat. Like I eluded to previously, I was nervous about meeting them. But, as soon as I hugged Christy, and planted a kiss on Henry's little cheek, all those fears rolled away, and we just had fun! Here's some of the evidence:

After our afternoon at the park, we spent a little time at the Billy Graham Center (Wheaton College) reminiscing with some of my former co-workers. We even called one of my friends out of a meeting. How scary is that?!?! (But she came. . .)

(No, I'm not crazy about the angle on the picture. . . but I'm posting it.) Amazing, huh?

After we left the college, we got ready for dinner on Monday night. We ate at our favorite restaurant. . . but it was at a new location. Reza's is an amazing Persian restaurant in far North Chicago. We went to a new location in Downers Grove. The ambiance wasn't the same -- and as Doug pointed out -- the food portions are smaller and the prices are larger.

But it was still really, really good. And the company was even better. (there *are* pictures. . just not on this computer) Mark, however, had started feeling not-so-good on Monday -- and it hit him like a ton of bricks during dessert on Monday night. I drove us home. Which was actually kinda fun. We stopped for drugs at CVS on the way home, and he was in bed before you could say "mononucleosis." No, he didn't have mono. (it was the longest sickness name I could think of)

On Tuesday morning, we knew we were supposed to hit the road. We also had a driver/dad who didn't feel 100%. So, we started a bit later than we had hoped. Our plan (initially) was to take Edison around Downtown Chicago, and give him a taste of the city. But, that wasn't going to happen on this trip.

He was bummed . . and we got a little attitude from him as we bypassed the city and headed for the south suburbs. But, we promised him a trip to the city next year, when my nephew graduates from high school. Part of our trip to Michigan next year will include time in Chicago -- and (hopefully) a chance to meet up with Joni and Judy (two more blogging friends).

We met up with my friend Karen, from high school. We didn't actually go to school together, but we attended church together, from probably 5th or 6th grade on. We were in each others' weddings. She is beyond a doubt, one of my lifetime friends that I cherish more than I can express. We lost touch for a number of years, but hooked back up on facebook (of all places) while we were in Ohio/Illinois. It went something like this:

"Hey Angie! It's me. If you're ever in the area, we need to get together for Aurelio's pizza!"

Of course, all I could say was: "We're here. Let's meet up." So we did. . .only our restaurant of choice was Cracker Barrel, rather than Aurelio's. She immediately fell in love with the kids. She had a very special time with Caroline. I know I've done this before, but indulge me. Wanna see?

It was such a great time with Karen. We laughed. We cried. We bought over-priced vintage candy at the Cracker Barrel--and we had to say goodbye all too soon. But, there was still another reunion to come.

We arrived in Carmel, IN about 7:30 p.m. That's a little late for us for dinner, but we made it a point to venture out -- all the way across the parking lot. There was a Max & Erma's across from the hotel -- so we agreed to meet one of my oldest friends (and I don't mean AGE) that I haven't seen since we were both in college.

You see, in 8th grade, we moved from one suburb to another -- it was less than one mile, but it meant that I had to change schools. When I did, I met Sue Cowger. Sue and I became instant friends--and although it was only two years--it was one of my strongest and closest friendships.

We had dinner together -- during a severe thunderstorm that even took the lights and electricity for few minutes. (They eventually came back on) And, then after dinner, Mark and the kids walked (well, ran) back over to the hotel, and Sue and I drove to her house. We sat and talked. . . and talked. . . and talked. . .and talked. We looked at old pictures--identifying faces we hadn't seen in years. We laughed over pictures from junior high musicals in which we both participated. We also laughed about "the incident."

During our 9th grade year, our chorus sang at a local mall for Christmas. You know, back when it wasn't politically correct to sing CHRISTmas carols in public? Sue and I were slated to sing "O Little Town of Bethlehem." She sang soprano. I sang alto. We both? Laughed.

Something happened that had us already in a giddy mood before the music began. But, neither of us remembers what that was. Regardless, we laughed -- actually, we alternated laughing and singing -- for a verse. I think we eventually walked off stage, to regain our composure. We both have a picture of "the event" but I don't have it close enough to scan and put on here.

So, how long did we stay up and talk? Uh. . . that would be 3 a.m. Yep. I said it right. We nearly stayed up all night talking. So, needless to say, we all slept in on Wednesday morning. But, as I crawled into bed, I whispered to Mark, "This was the best. Thank you."

And, I mean absolutely NO disrespect to anyone else that we spent time with over the week. But, I have to say -- with Sue, it was like time stood still for 25 years. We laughed. We reminisced. (Well, I told you that already)

It's amazing to me how there are certain friendships that can literally pick up where you left off. . . and all of our reunions were like this while we were away. Friendships like this are to be cherished and nurtured.

I won't let this much time go by without staying in touch with these cherished friends. . . .I would love to name them all here, but I'm certain that if I attempt to name people, I will leave someone out. So, you know who you are. . .and you know that I love and cherish each one of you.

Thank you for making this a memorable vacation for all of us!

Keeping Up with my Obligations (and a tribute to Jeannette)

Wonder Woman knows.
Wonder Woman has grocery shopped today -- after being away for 10 days.
Wonder Woman is still doing laundry.
Wonder Woman needs to get pictures on Wonder Woman's blog.
Wonder Woman has kept people in suspense.
Wonder Woman is sorry.

Wonder Woman needs Black Raspberry ice cream.

(vacation recap entry & photos to come. . . Wonder Woman promises!)

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


That's it.

Lots of photos.
Lots of new memories.
Lots of fun.

Lots of sleep . . is in order.

I'll write tomorrow.

Pinkie swear.

Sunday, July 06, 2008


If I say "Where to begin. . .?" it sounds so trite. But, it's exactly where I am right now.

Well, actually, I am sitting in our friends' spare bedroom, blogging in the dark, because Caroline is sleeping in the port-a-crib next to us. Mark is patiently waiting to answer his emails, and I'm just hopping through to say. . . .

"Where to begin?!?!"

There are pictures. . .people pictures, not just food pictures. . . and stories. There are memories and tears and lots of laughs to share.

....but not tonight. I'm pooped.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

. . .and we're done!


That's all. Just. . .wow.

Today was awesome. I wasn't quite ready for what all God had in store for me today. But I did walk away with at least three (3) more songs for our worship band to learn. (Fair warning to those of you who READ this. . . we've got some work ahead of us). I also came away with some new, innovative ideas for ways to infuse our services with some fresh ideas. (Was that redundant?)

The first session this morning was led by a man named Ralph Draper. This man has been a bi-vocational pastor for 30-some years. He is currently preaching every Sunday, and the superintendent for his local school district. Seriously. . . the man is OUT there! His message hit me hard. He talked about how we are to live as Christians. . . and how we have GOT to stop forcing the school system to raise our children for us. (Whoa)

It was just excellent.

Then, Reggie Joiner, who helped found North Point Church in GA (with Andy Stanley) spoke. He talked about the all-too-familiar story of the prodigal son. His point was that we (the CHURCH--and its members) can be one of two players: We can be the loving Father, or we can be the complaining, critical older brother. Too many of our churches are "Older Brother" churches. His talk was awesome.

Lunch was fun. We met up with some old friends. Geoff & Lois are friends that Mark and I knew independent of each other. Lois and I went to church camp together (a LOOOOOOONG time ago), and Mark went to church with Geoff back at First Christian in Chicago. Mark played cello at their wedding 22 years ago, and they attended our wedding (nearly) 19 years ago. They have recently started the process to adopt two beautiful little girls. They are now foster parents for these girls' baby brother. So, in their mid- to late-forties, they are raising two toddlers and an infant. (And I thought *my* life was out of control!)

Following lunch, I went to two (2) workshops. The first one, I attended with my boss and his wife. We had fun. We laughed at the same things . . . because we know where our church stands with regard to the subject matter. The speaker is one of the authors of the book "The Simple Church," which our church is going to use as a model in the coming months. He was a great speaker -- very engaging. I took a few notes (forgot my notebook) and really enjoyed myself.

The 2nd session was a mis-calculated error by the convention crew. The room was full to over-flowing. . .and I wound up sitting on the floor. The presenters were from two of our larger churches in the country (Southland Christian Church in Lexington, KY and Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY) They were talking about creating MEMORABLE worship services for our people. I came away with lots of ideas.

But. I must repeat. I sat on the floor.

Dinner was fun. . . had it with the boss & his wife. Lots of laughs. He paid the bill. (It will most likely come from *my* budget!) But, we had a good time.

Tonight's session was good. Not the greatest ever. . . but it was good.

Two fun highlights from today included seeing and saying "See ya later!" to some friends from college. Their oldest son is going to be a freshman at Milligan this fall. Hopefully, this will bring them to our area (from Richmond, VA) from time to time.

The other was the prodigal phone. That's right. I left my cell phone at the convention center tonight. So we turned around, headed BACK to the convention center, and retrieved it from the Lost & Found.

Have I mentioned lately that I'm married to a good man?

So tomorrow. . . Aurelio's Pizza looms on the horizon. I cannot wait. Edison is looking forward to it. I hope he's open-minded. This is not Pizza Hut pizza. (Thank the Good Lord in Heaven!)

Well, it's bedtime. I'm sleepy.

More thoughts and pictures from the road tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Day #3 - Wow.

Excellent day. Lots to talk about. Even some pictures.

Here we go. . .

The day began after a short night's rest. We had decided to put the sofa sleeper mattress on the floor, in order to avoid the mid-back bar. Worked for one of us. Not so much for the other.

Mark slept.
I did not.

Tonight, I'm trying the couch, and Mark will sleep on an air mattress on the floor. I'm guessing we'll both sleep better. We'll see.

We skipped breakfast because I was moving seriously slow. We made it to the convention in time, and Edison joined us for the adult session this morning. I am so glad he did. The worship was definitely more "old school" than I had anticipated. But, the message was amazing.

At the end of the message, people re-enacted this drama, which can be seen on YouTube. Just type in the words "Cardboard Testimonies" and be prepared for an amazing scene. I saw it live -- and I am fairly sure that there wasn't a dry eye in the place today. Totally amazing.

Then, it was another session, lunch at Chick Fil-A, and a workshop session this afternoon. A little more reminiscing and some more hugs from old friends. Then, it was dinner time. . . .

We went to Pomodori for pizza. Excellent choice.

I had the Gorgonzola Walnut Calzone. I know. . .I know. . . it sounds very "vegetarian" but oh my word, it was amazing. Wanuts, Gorgonzola cheese, pesto (HOMEMADE), tomatoes, ricotta cheese. Yeah, it was awesome.

Mark and Caroline split a wood-fired pizza with sausage and cheese. She nearly ate her entire half. Good girl!

After dinner, we headed to Graeter's. Yes, Lois, we finally made it to Graeter's.

Well. . . in a word? Deliciousawesomeness.

I asked for a taste of the coconut chip (coconut ice cream with HUNKS of chocolate). I decided to have a scoop of coconut chip and a scoop of black raspberry chip (same idea -- same HUGE hunks of chocolate) in a waffle cone. Girl behind counter (we'll call her Sasha) broke my waffle cone trying to cram it in there. So, Sasha put my cone upside-down in a cup. It was out of this world!

Wanna see?

Okay, Caroline simply had vanilla. But, you can see that she really liked it!

One last shot from the pizza place tonight. . . they had copper table tops. I had some fun with some photography. Enjoy!


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Day #2 is Under Our Belts

. . . as is some serious breakfast food, and a "typical" American dinner.

We had a great first day on "vacation." This part of our trip is more of a "working" vacation for me. We are at the North American Christian Convention. . . and although I have railed about this before. . . I must say, again, that if we weren't a denomination, this wouldn't exist.

But, as my friend (college buddy) Bill Greer pointed out today in the Milligan College booth. . . no one at a central location tells us (churches) what to do, so we really are NOT a denomination.

I was able to connect with some old friends today. Rob & Kelly are at a church in Maryland. Rob is someone I traveled with while recruiting students for Milligan back in 1983. We also saw Rick & Betsy -- who are ministering at his home church in Richmond, VA.

We're trying to get Edison to start looking at some of the Christian Colleges -- and of course, when you 'look' and sign in at their booths, you get stuff. He came home tonight with a frisbee from Milligan! And, tomorrow, he plans to be sporting a JBC t-shirt.

Other than that, I bumped into the mom of my best friend from college. That was totally random. . .and totally awesome. I haven't seen this friend since Edison was 2 or 3. So, it's been a while. But, it was really cool to see her mom -- who I haven't seen since Laurie's wedding in 1986.

I also ran into some preacher friends I've known through the years. I felt kind of bad -- because it was obvious that they had no clue who I was, but I said "hello" anyway.

So, tomorrow will be more hob-nobbing, and some workshops and morning sessions. I enjoyed the worship session tonight. The speaker was especially good -- and the music was very good. It was extremely encouraging to see that the worship leader was older than me -- and a few of the band members are probably my age, or a little bit older. (Doesn't make me feel like a dinosaur too much)

Oh, I mentioned breakfast and dinner. YUM.

We went to a cool place in downtown Cincinnati called "First Watch" for brunch this morning. I had a Key West Crepe. It was basically an omelette with some flour tossed in to make it more sturdy. YUM. The fillings were smoked turkey, bacon, avocado, red onion, and monterey jack cheese. WHOA. Good stuff.

Then, for dinner, we went to a Frisch's Big Boy. Not because it's our favorite, or anything. We just wanted "regular" food -- and since we couldn't find a Pizza Hut, we ate at the Big Boy. Edison (cheeseburger), Mark (turkey sandwich), Caroline (chicken strips & fries), and Me (Pork Tenderloin sandwich with fries). Dessert? Of course. I had the coconut cream pie, and the kids shared two hot fudge sundaes.

Good day all around. Lots of hugs, laughter, and reminiscing.

. . .and isn't that what vacation is all about??!?!

(pictures tomorrow)

Oh my goodness.... I nearly forgot. Happy Birthday (again) Melany! We saw Canadian stuff today, and thought of you over and over and over. Love you, girl!