Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Worst Nightmare Realized

My "I'd never" list is quite long and covers a WIDE variety of topics. But probably the largest topic it covers is children and the raising of them. I have lots of opinions and lots of ideas on how best to raise a child. Doesn't every person over the age of 30 who does not have a child?  And yet, most of the people that have been in that camp, when they have children, do all of the things that they proclaimed they'd never do. This is what I hear...but I know I'd never be that way....oh wait...there's another one of those!
Let's see....I'd never ignore "sass talk." I'd never let my child's friends spend the night (aren't I nice?). I'd never coddle. I'd never give in after saying "no" already. I'd never.... One of the things that I've always said that I'd never do is have the child's extra curricular activities interfere with the family's normal mode of operation. I've always said that the family unit comes first, not the individual, so any activity would need to fit around the family instead of the family fitting around the activity. It sounds quite noble in my head. I vowed I'd never be a soccer mom. Since I don't have children, the "I'd never" list remains firmly intact. However, we now have Lucy. And at times, I try to objectively look at my behavior toward the dog and realize that if Nate and I did have children my "I'd never" list would be in serious trouble.
I have signed Lucy up for an agility training class. Why? Because she loves socializing with other dogs and it's good for her. Since when does what is good for a dog reign anywhere in my brain? I grew up on a farm. We had an indoor dog and an outdoor dog. We had 17 cats that lived in the barn and we raised all sorts of other animals. Never did the social outlet needs of the animals ever compute in our brains. Ruffles (our miniature schnauzer) was crate trained and she would be in that crate while we were at school/work and all night. We'd let her out when we got home and the socializing we did with her was usually when we let her out of her crate and put her in again. To be fair, Ruffles was my younger brother, Jonathan's, best friend and they'd take 52 mile walks around our 3 acre property quite often. Raggles was the outside dog and we'd greet her and love on her when we were coming or going but other than that, not much in the way of social interaction for Raggles either. As one was the inside dog and the other the outside, I honestly don't even remember them socializing much amongst themselves, either. They seemed happy enough. We didn't sign them up for classes so they could socialize. For that matter, Lucy has Buddy, our cat. Isn't that socialization enough?
Evidently not...for I have signed her up and will pay for her to go to class every Thursday from 7:45-8:45 pm. and I will drive her 30 minutes to class and 30 minutes home and work with her. That's right, people who know me well. This is going to put a definite crimp in my schedule as this will cut into my bed time! And this is for a dog. What in the world would I do for a child????

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Gardening - Step One

I have been researching gardening and trying to find the best place in our yard for our garden. This has been a helpful resource: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Gardening because I honestly have no idea where to place the garden. In my reading, I think the best place is unfortunately, the exact place I planted my new lilac bushes. So, I'm going to need to look into replanting those somewhere else.
We also need to determine what we want to plant to determine how much space we will need. I think through the vegetables we eat and I would love to grow tomatoes. The taste of a homegrown tomato can NOT be beat! In fact, I don't think a store bought tomato has much taste in the first place! So, that's a must. But, I also want our garden to be successful, so I want to choose the easiest plants to grow as well. I also want to consider the "dirty dozen" of pesticides and see which ones fit the easiest plant list as well. And then there's the factor of what vegetables we like to eat. That's kinda important too! There is a lot to consider!
Nate and I have talked about actually tilling the garden space this fall so that come spring, we're not doing that on top of planting.
So, first things first!  I need to decide where and how big to prepare for tilling.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Blast From The Past

I decided to make Haitian Rice & Beans yesterday. The problem is, I remember that when we moved back from Haiti we tried to make it a few times and it just never tasted like it did in Haiti. So I scoured the internet for the recipe that had the best reviews from people at least claiming to have some connection to Haiti.  And then I went to work. It was supposed to be for lunch... Lunch came and went with no rice and beans. I did use a wild rice blend instead of plain white rice to up the fiber content some and it was taking forever for the rice to cook! So, we ate some bread and waited.... At 5:00 we ate our "lunch" of diri kole ( that's fancy shmancy Creole for Rice & Beans) and it actually turned out pretty good!  Which is a GOOD thing because we have quite a bit for left overs!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Odds and Ends and the Unexpected

Yesterday was a busy day. I had planned for it to be a fairly calm and restful as we had plans to attend the Lions vs. Patriots game that started ay 8 pm. I had planned to give myself a mani/pedi and to color my hair...That's right, my friends!  It's that time again! I went to Great Clips last week and got my hair cut and then went shopping for the hair color at Meijer. This time I chose Light Reddish Brown. The picture on the box is
I was very relieved that as I was putting the color on my hair it in no way looked purple. It was actually more of a butterscotch color. I dutifully kept it on for the full 30 minutes to cover those pesky gray hairs I have and then took the advice of someone from the last coloring experience and rinsed my hair until the shower water turned cold (well, not quite, but it seemed like I rinsed for a LONG time), then I washed and conditioned my hair as instructed and was excited to see the gorgeous results. Sometimes I'm too optimistic for my own good.  When will I finally say, "you know what? This coloring your own hair is for the birds!  Call Pam and have her do it again!" I dried my hair and noticed that while drying it wasn't showing much red. When I finished, I guess to look on the bright side, my hair is not purple. On the negative side, there is no "Light Reddish" about's brown. Brown, brown, brown. Plain brown. To further show my Pollyana side, when I went to Meijer I saw that the hair color was buy one get one free. Can you believe it?  I got two hair color kits for $3.94. That means I can color my hair for two months for $3.94. Think of the money I'm saving!  The problem is, I don't like the color.  So, I'm out to find another color that works. Stay tuned for next month's hair coloring extravaganza!

Yesterday I also made the granola bars I mentioned in my previous post. They didn't turn out too badly. They taste like bird seed that's been packed together with honey. I had used the steel cut oats, as was suggested for granola bars, so I think that's what gave it the bird seed texture. They are also a tad on the crumbly side. Nate, being the giving person he is, is encouraging me to give them away to the friends ...isn't he so generous?! I told him I didn't want him to miss out on the opportunity to eat them. He then began choking on a seed, or an oat, that got lodged in his throat. If I come home one day and they have mysteriously disappeared I'll know who to question!

On the unexpected side of things, as Lucy and I were beginning our bedtime ritual, I was reading and she was chewing on the remains of her stuffed animal...or so I thought. Nate came up and joined us and all of sudden exclaimed over what Lucy had done. For a bit of background, we have not bought her any more stuffed animals because within minutes, she has destroyed them and removed all the stuffing leaving it all over the floor for us to pick up. This is not a game that I wish to play, so we just have not replaced her destroyed stuffed animals with new ones. However, the one thing we hadn't thought of was her finding her own replacement: our comforter.

The first picture shows the corner that she has eaten (the missing fabric has not yet been may take a few days to get through her system...) compared to what the corner should look like. the second is just a close up of the corner she ate. she had also removed quite a bit of stuffing and it was all over the floor. I now have to sew the comforter up and pay more attention to what she's chewing on!  We made a decision right then and there that we are throwing out all stuffed animal remains that we've allowed her to keep. She is only allowed rubber toys from this point forward.

So, just another quiet Saturday in our house!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Michigan Musings

Since moving to Michigan 4 years ago I believe that I have finally adjusted to the weather, for the most part (you will probably need to remind me of that mid January). But the weather is not the only thing that sets Michigan apart from all other states that I have lived in. One of the major things I had to adjust to was how different it is to drive here. You would think that most states have fairly similar rules when it comes to speed limit, the signage that is used, etc.  But there are things that happen on the roads here that I think are ludicrous.
1.  The "Michigan Left"
The Michigan Left has nothing to do with turning left. Well, you want to turn left, but it isn't allowed. They claim that studies show it's "safer" to do a Michigan Left and yet I beg to differ. It seems absolutely assanine to think it's safer to do a U-Turn into oncoming traffic to be able to turn left. That's what a Michigan Left is. You approach the intersection and you want to turn left. However, you clearly see that there is no turn lane, there is no left turn light, and there is a sign that clearly says:

What you see instead, is a sign that says "Westbound Eisenhower" and points to the right. You can see from your trusty car compass that turning right will definitely take you East, but you obey and quickly move over two lanes to get into the right turn lane. You turn right and about 200 yards ahead you see another sign "Westbound Eisenhower" and it takes you into a left turn lane that puts you into the que to do a U-Turn. You fenagle a U-Turn with traffic barreling down on you to end up back at the same light you were 1 minute before waiting at a red light to go straight. It's insane. I don't understand it. No other state does this, or at least, no other state that I'm aware of and it is known as "A Michigan Left."
2.  Speed Limits are Merely Suggestions
With Michigan being the only state in the Union to lose population according to Census 2010, We are hurting for money. The economic downturn has hit us very hard and it's turned more into a recession/depression for the state vs just a "downturn." So, state services have been cut left & right, which means that the number of police officers on the roads has dropped considerably. The speed limit is 70 in the state, but if you are going 70, you feel as if you are sitting still because cars whiz past you on both fact, one time, we were passed on the shoulder, as there was no free lane available for the person to pass us and all the other cars in front of us. When we first moved here, I refused to drive on I-94 because I feared for my life. I would literally have anxiety attacks if I knew we were going to drive on the interstate because it was scary. My sister came to visit in November (we had moved in August) and I was trying to figure out a way to the airport that did not involve getting on the interstate. I sucked it up and drove on the highway anyway and that was when I became a Michigan driver. For your safety, you can't drive 70, or God forbid, a little under 70 and be safe. You must drive over the speed limit as fast as you can.
3. Tailgating
This is what makes #2, in my opinion, so dangerous. People here don't just drive 80-90 miles an hour on a regular basis, but they do it while they are sucking up the fumes from the car in front of them. I have been driving at times and literally cannot tell what kind of vehicle is behind me because all I can see is the chrome grill of their hood in my rear view mirror. It's not like I'm in the "fast lane" and driving 15 miles below the speed limit with no one else around me and he's trying to "encourage" me to move over. I'm normally following a car, who is following another car, and we have cars on all sides of us. And this vehicle is stuck to my bumper. It happens so often here, that it is common place and this is when I start to have a minor hyperventilation episode because if I even have to touch my brakes, I know that guy is going to be sitting in my backseat. So, I get over as soon as possible so he can zoom up and do his same tactics on the next car. Unfortunately this sort of bully tactic is not only found in Michigan, but I can safely say I have never seen it used more than here. When I lived in Charlotte, you'd have the occasional dorkus that drove this way and you'd grumble at him and get out of his way and move on with the rest of traffic. But when you are dealing with the majority of drivers doing this, it can lead to some serious problems.
4. No Inspections
That's right! Thee are no car inspections required in the state of Michigan. That means that you can drive with your car duck taped together and if it runs and will actually move down the road, Go For It!  I don't know if it's the car manufacturer lobby at the state level, but I think it's absolutely ludicrous for the state that Henry Ford called home to allow these cars that are destroying our ozone and dropping parts as they drive. It makes #2 and #3 on this list even more dangerous as these cars literally are held together with ropes and wires and duck tape.
5. Road Conditions
A. As mentioned in #2, there is no money in the state. So, repair work on roads is non-existent. Although I think they have used a ton of money to buy orange barrels and they just put them near dangerous spots in the road. A pot hole in Michigan is not a small eroded part of the road that makes the road a little rough. That doesn't qualify as a "pot hole." What qualifies as a pot hole here is basically something that can ruin your car. they actually have a segment on the news that discusses where the worst pot holes are located and routes to take to avoid them. I describe some roads as the "moon's surface" because of the craters you need to drive over and through to get to your destination. 
B. The other part of having no money in the state is that there isn't enough money to treat the roads when winter whether hits. they have to prioritize and hold back whenever possible. So, driving in the winter time can be quite treacherous depending on if the state has determined the conditions are bad enough to treat the roads or not.

So, as I continue to try to understand some of the thought processes that govern my new state, I'm going to try to remain calm and get out of the way!

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Song I Woke Up To This Morning

The title makes it seem like my alarm plays music. That isn't so....It's an annoying beeping noise that I can't turn off fast enough. But this morning, under the beeping, this song was playing in my heart. I got up, went to the shower, and started singing it...(sorry if I woke you up,Nate). And I don't know if anyone else needs to hear it or not, but I thought I'd share it as an added post.

Real Food aka: I Have Become My Mother

Have you read any of these books by Michael Pollan:  The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food, Food Rules?  Have you seen the movies Food, Inc, King Corn or Fastfood Nation?  If you can answer "yes" to all of these, then you are in the same boat I am!  I have read & watched it all. The thing is, living it is very different and difficult.  And I promise, I try!  I have tried to only buy locally raised, grass fed, organic meat. I have tried to use only real food with little to no processing involved. And what gets me EVERY time is how expensive it is. I don't mind the work. In fact, I love to cook. I love to bake. That is not a deterrent for me, but the cost. Oy!  I'll try it for a week or two or even a month and Nate will look at me after working on the budget and say, "um.... do you know that the groceries ran us 200% over budget this month?" And I commit to cutting back and the only way I have found to cut back, is to go back to my ignorant way of preparing food. So, I was excited to come across Lisa Leake from Charlotte, NC . She and her husband committed to eating real food on a budget of $125 for the week for her family of four. I frankly don't know how she did it, but I look forward to delving more into this blog and finding out more!  I already found a couple of recipes I want to try out on Nate, so I hope he's ready!  I made the cheese crackers that are supposed to taste like Pepperidge Farms Goldfish. This is what they looked like: (as you can see, when you compare it to the original recipe, I did sprinkle with a little sea salt while they baked). 

One of the things this blog really excited in me is a desire to have my own garden. Now I know that my parents are shaking their heads and chuckling (more like a maniacal chuckle than a happy chuckle, I'm sure) because they are remembering our gargantuan garden and how I basically had to be threatened with loss of life and/or limb to even go work in the garden. I remember my mom handing me a brown paper bag (one of the big ones from the grocery store) and saying, "go pick green beans."  I'd go (um...this would be after whining, possibly kicking, a bit of screaming, as well) and come back with the bag 1/4 full. When I used the word gargantuan earlier to describe the garden? That was NOT hyperbole. You can ask my can even ask my parents. The garden was huge. And filling the huge paper bag 1/4 full was a sign that I went and picked the top green bean off of every plant instead of actually lifting the leaves and looking everywhere on the plant for all green beans that could be picked. I would be sent back out to "fill the bag." But what will cause a loud enough groan to be heard from Charlotte, NC all the way to my home in Ann Arbor is the fact that Nate and I are considering also canning and freezing what we grow in our garden to keep us with veggies throughout the winter as well. There's a lifelong learning class being held at our local community college called "Canning Basics."   I'm thinking about taking that class! I had always said, while watching my mother can and freeze and garden all summer that I would never do these things. Now, here I am, looking up books, thinking of taking a class, and plotting the best place in my backyard for a garden. This should be an interesting adventure!

Update:  Nate didn't like the "cheesy crackers" that looked more like snickerdoodles. Correction.... he HATED them. He took two (being the ever optimistic  and hopeful taste tester).  He ate one of them and put the other one back and said, "These are kinda gross." I suggested that I make them thinner and less cookie like.  He said, "Nope!  Wouldn't help!"  hmmmm... does that deter the wife? NO!  Next recipe here I come! Oh, and mom?  Can I have all your old canning stuff?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fitness/Exercise Update

Yesterday I struggled with snacking. You know it's going to be a tough day foodwise when you are scarfing your lunch at 10:45 AM. I was so hungry! So, by the time I got home and let Lucy out, I was already dreaming about what I could eat....and none of it was healthy, and fortunately, because of that fact, none of it was in the house. I still proceeded to do some damage with 1 light cheese sticks and about a bazillion and a half fat free pretzel sticks. Before bed we made popcorn as well, so that was a bit of an issue. My sodium intake for the day was astronomical, I'm sure! I did run again yesterday logging 4.10 miles. I was able to run 25 minutes straight, then I walked for 5, ran for 10, walked for 5, and then cooled down for 6. I worked off 541 calories so, I was pleased with that progress. I am now at 12.26 miles toward my 15 mile/week goal for the facebook challenge I joined. I see that when I have a goal set like that I really work hard to achieve it. It makes me ponder the idea of signing up for a race, but I'm still not quite ready to do that. As you know, I backed out of the last one and I'm afraid of doing that again. I get mailings about upcoming races that I could sign up for but I throw them away.One that I ran last year, The Big Heart Big House Run is coming up in October. It's like this big cloud hanging over me. I guess I realize I should sign up for it. That would give me a goal to work toward and I'd have over a month to continue preparing for it. Let me think on that some more...
In other health related news, I've been having a lot of pain in my upper shoulder/neck. I do not have full range of motion in turning my head. I honestly feel that it is connected to sitting at a desk all day. I've thought about trying to come up with a desk system where I would stand instead of sit as my ab muscles basically do nothing all day. In fact, when my back starts hurting and I remember to suck in the abs, I'll hear cracks and I know it's all related to how strong my core is. But now I'm in quite a bit of pain. So, I am going to call to set up an appointment for a massage and see if that helps and then also begin to focus on my core. I thought about getting in to see a chiropractor but I am wary of that slippery slope...I'd end up spending the rest of my life and our life savings in the chiropractor's office getting adjusted. Does anyone have any thoughts on any of this? 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

She Did "Down!"

She did it!  Lucy has struggled since the first week of dog training with the command "down." Our instructor, Camille Ward, taught us that you don't introduce the word command until they understand what "down" is, so you basically have to teach her to go down and then once she has that, introduce the word. We've been working....oh, we have been working. She wouldn't go down for anything...even liverwurst!  It's one of the hardest commands to teach a dog, according to Camille, and we are proof of how hard it is!  But today, oh glorious day, she did it. She has known what the command means for quite some time but usually, she'd just cock her head to the side and stand up from the "sit" we had her in to start with. It was quite frustrating. But today she proved that she knows exactly what the word means. Will she ever do it again? I don't know. Right now, I don't care. She has done it several times now. About 20 minutes after Lucy had accomplished this feat, my mom called and asked if I had heard the news of the DC earthquake... it had happened 20 minutes it a coincidence that both happened around the same time??? I don't think so either.....

On other news, I ate according to "plan" and ran/walked again for 4.21 miles....a total this week of 8.16 miles....over halfway to my goal of 15 for the week!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

No Regrets

Isn't it amazing how different you feel after living a day the way you are "supposed to?" Don't get me wrong, I'm sure that I did something wrong or displayed the wrong attitude or said the wrong thing yesterday. I doubt that I've ever gone one day doing everything that I was supposed to do when I was supposed to do it. But yesterday, in the area of food and exercise (my struggle areas right now) I did what I had set out to do. I ate only what was planned and no more. I measured out everything, tracking the Weight Watchers points used. I didn't snack in the afternoon, which had become a bit of a habit since starting to work part time. Nate and I went straight to the hemming or discussion about how we didn't "feel like it." We just went. I actually joined a facebook challenge yesterday put out there by My goal to lose 100lbs in 1 year or less.
The creator of this page, Genny, just bought a treadmill and inspired everyone that follows her journey on facebook to set a goal and join her on the treadmill. I set a modest goal of 15 miles this week. I figured, if I did a 5K for 5 days, I'd equal that no problem. I'm easing my way back into the running game. I've been pretty hard on myself since backing out of the 10K I signed up to run back in June and the destructive self talk has done a number on my confidence.  So, yesterday, we worked out for 45 minutes and I went 3.95 miles in that time. I walked for 5, ran for 15, walked for 5, ran for 15, and then walked for 5 and then also did a 6 minute cool down for an actual total of 51 minutes. It felt great. The whole day felt great. Waking up this morning with no regrets was a GREAT feeling of freedom.

This brings me to my exciting recipe post of the day. Now, I will tell you that although I love this, Nate's not a fan. The texture of this banana ice cream is truly that of soft serve ice cream. You really need to work with the frozen bananas in the food does take some time to reach the right consistency, but it is totally worth the work. I put some low calorie chocolate syrup and a tablespoon of chopped peanuts on top. It was phenomenal!

Here's hoping that your day is one with no regrets!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Note to Self and other news

Excuse me for a moment.... I need to have a stern "Come to Jesus" meetin' with myself.  Self, you set goals, you set parameters, you committed. There's no backing out now. Oh, and by the way, pizza is not your friend...stop treating it as such!

Ok, thanks...I needed to do that.....

If you haven't noticed already, I'm afraid I'll be the bearer of bad news....Summer is coming to an end. How I can tell? Nate and I have divided up Doggy Duty between us. I'm in charge of taking care of the dog and the main playmate in the morning and afternoon. This means that I am to take Lucy out first thing in the morning. I wake up at 5 am, get ready and am usually down to take the dog out around 5:30. Earlier in the summer, I enjoyed watching the sun rise as I had Lucy out. Now, I'm out there and have the back patio light on and gaze at the stars in the pitch black sky...there is no hint of light on the horizon.... the sun hasn't even thought about rising yet. It seems like summer has flown by, hasn't it? I hope you have enjoyed it!  What's your greatest moment from Summer 2011?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

So, If It's Not Rocket Science, What's My Problem?

I wrote a post several weeks ago about how weight loss is not rocket science. But I'm still struggling. My eating & exercise habits are so closely intertwined with my emotional state that I eat what I feel like, regardless of if it's healthy, low calorie, good for me food. I've gotten into a very dangerous habit of believing that "I deserve it" and that "one little meal won't hurt."  The problem is my thinking is totally skewed. What I deserve is a healthy body and a life lived from a position of victory, not victim. I have entered a state of complacency that I remember from way back that led to weighing 240 pounds. It's not a good place and it needs to be changed dramatically, radically, & immediately. I'm not trying to be overdramatic here, I'm being serious. It needs to change today. I weighed myself today and I've gained back all that I had lost and then some. So now I'm 22.6 pounds heavier than I was when I was married. At my lightest weight I weighed 150..but that was achieved by some crazy living - I ate the same thing everyday to avoid any choice in the matter (in fact, when I met Nate, he thought I couldn't or didn't like to cook because I cooked the same thing all the time!), I worked out daily and then I also was going out dancing on the weekends and literally dancing from about 9 pm to 3 am on Friday and Saturdays. I worked off a LOT of weight dancing with my friends. I developed a more moderate balance after Nate and I got serious and weighed 158 when we were married and now I weighed this morning and the scale read 180.6. I have avoided typing my actual weight in previous posts. I realized you could figure out the math but now is the time to truly just be honest and put it out there. Things need to change. Things need to change now. I've mentioned a couple times how I enjoy watching TV. Do you know how much time I spend watching TV? I'm honestly afraid to figure it out. So, here's my planning that I'm committing to:

1.  Track all food eaten  - follow the old Weight Watchers plan (tried the new one and really have great animosity towards that calculator they make you buy).

2. Track all exercise - Exercise daily- If it's not going to the gym for strenuous, hard core exercise, it needs to be at the minimum, walking the dog.

3. When watching TV - Stay Moving. Do floor exercises while watching tv or do other chores...just don't sit like a slug anymore!

Those are my commitments to you and more importantly, the commitments I'm making to myself. So, here we go!

Saturday, August 20, 2011


I saw an old friend yesterday and got caught up on the "nitty gritty" of lift that she has gone through since we last spoke. She shared some really heavy things and I feel guilty ..guilty for not being there, guilty for losing touch, guilty for being so self focused that I didn't even think nor notice that time was marching by and people other than myself are dealing with life too. Unfortunately, this is my MO. I took a personality test when I was younger and I was identified as a "beaver." (Just a suggestion:  If you don't want to constantly be described as an animal, don't take Gary Smalley's personality test...or take it privately and never reveal what you learn. Instead of taking the test with your family and having them say, "well, you're a beaver" when you share stuff). According to Smalley, beavers are task oriented. They like people, but relationships tend to get in the way of tasks, so there's a bit of an "out of sight, out of mind" mentality to the beaver. This description does fit me...and yet I don't like it. I want to be one of those people that is a friend for life. I want to be one of those people that stays in contact with people and invests in people because I honestly believe that relationships and community are why I'm on this earth. They should be my focus...and yet, what do I tend to focus on?  Chores, work, and the relationships that are connected with those things. I've been confronted by friends that say, "you don't contact me anymore. You don't call or write. I never see you anymore." And I feel guilty. I apologize and I promise to "do better." And I do....for a time.... and then it goes back to my natural instinct and we lose touch again. I feel like I should maybe wear a sandwich board that warns people of my friendship MO so they can make an informed decision before deciding if they want to be my friend. I've tried to tell people and they tend to get offended rather than understand. I guess I don't blame them.  If a friend of mine told me "by the way, since you're leaving work, and work is what made us friends and it's what we have in common, please know that in time we won't talk anymore because that's just the way I am. It doesn't mean I don't care about you or wish you well or that I don't consider you my friend anymore. It's just that life's gone on." I actually said this to a former co-worker when she leaving the job for another position and she said, "uh...that's not cool." And I agree with her. But what can I do? I do try. I do make attempts. and then it falls by the wayside and I just let it go. And now my heart hurts for my friend who has gone through so much in the last several months and I wasn't there to help support her in her time of need.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The WURST smell ever!

Having only furry children, I tend to dote on then a little bit....ok, a lot..... ok, constantly!  But yesterday's actions far exceed anything I have done thus far. If Lucy ever comes to you and complains that her momma doesn't love her you can....well, that would mean that a dog is speaking English and that would be further proof of her outstanding upbringing!

If you've read any of my other posts you know that Thursday's are Dog Training Class days. And you know that yesterday's dog training class was graduation and we are supposed to perform a "trick."  True to form, Nate and I waited until 1:45 pm yesterday afternoon to begin training Lucy and when I say "Nate and I", I mean "me."  Due to this being incredibly high stakes (having to perform a trick), and not having accomplished "down" yet, I entered the afternoon training session with the very best weapon I could find:  liverwurst.

I know NOTHING about liverwurst except that at times my dad would order a liverwurst sandwich or a side of livermush or something similar at restaurants and we'd be thoroughly grossed out watching him eat...and we'd silently wonder when he'd fall over dead from food poisoning from eating expired liverwurst as he had to be the only person ever to order such a thing in the restaurant. I am NOT a fan of any processed ground meats... I will occasionally eat a hot dog but that's on a rare occasion that we are at the baseball game and it's tradition that you have to eat a hot dog at a baseball game. However, at one of our dog training classes I was totally shocked at how the teacher held Lucy's attention. She later admitted that she had used liverwurst as her treat. I've had it on my shopping list for weeks but couldn't bring myself to buy it...until yesterday. I needed her complete attention. I needed to pull out the big guns. I needed a dog who wouldn't care about anything other than the liverwurst I had and would do anything and everything to get it. So, when I bought it, I noticed it looked a tad slimy and as the teacher mentioned that she baked hers, I thought I'd bake the slime off of it. As the liverwurst baked, Lucy licked the oven. When I first pulled it out, I wasn't too repulsed...but then I started cutting it up into pieces, and oh my word... the stench that came from it about put me under. I truly thought I was going to throw up.

But the training that came out of having such a weapon in the arsenal was like working with a puppet on a string. After training she didn't care about playing fetch. She didn't care about anything but getting more liverwurst. In fact, the rest of the afternoon, as I tried to work on the computer, she curled up in my lap and licked my fingers a few times...then tried to lick the computer.... all she cares about is the liverwurst. She gazed at me adoringly and just waited for my next command. I do believe I have a liverwurst addict on my hands! Now that I have the most obedient dog on the history of the planet, my main concern is that the liverwurst smell that I endured by cutting it into small pieces will be coming from her a far more foul way... That truly will be the WURST smell ever!

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Genesis 1:3:  And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.

Genesis 1:14:  And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years,a nd let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth."  And it was so. God made two great lights - the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good.

Did you notice?  God created light before He created the sun, moon & stars. In fact, God created light on the first day of creation and the sun, moon & stars came to be on day four.

Our pastor mentioned this last night at church and I honestly don't think I had ever made that connection before. I love how His Word is living and active and how I am constantly learning more and more about Him and about myself through it.

Let your light so shine before men that they will see your good works and glorify Your Heavenly Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16.

If I am in correct relationship with the Lord and the Holy Spirit is moving and active in me and through me, then there will be no question to others Who is responsible for any good that I do.

This is my prayer. That His light will shine through me in such a way that no one will question Whose I am.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Social Life?

I must admit that we don't have much of a social life. Both Nate and I are creatures of habit so we tend to stick with the routine of work, gym, dinner, tv for me and the computer or, if he's being a total brainiac, a book for Nate, Lucy and I go to bed and Nate comes up and takes Lucy out and to her crate and then he comes to bed. That's the routine...that's what we do. In fact, if I'm not headed up to bed by 9 pm, Nate is normally asking me why I'm not headed to bed yet. We generally plan to "do something" on the weekends. But lately, we've been exhibiting quite the social life!  Well, I guess that's if you are a total social butterfly this may still make you yawn, but for us it's major!  A couple of weeks ago we went to visit some friends in Traverse City who have a cottage. We socialized with them all weekend. Last week we went out to eat and to a concert that was in downtown Ypsilanti and then we saw Rise of the Planet of the Apes in the same weekend. This was after going shopping at Sam's in the afternoon!  I know, VERY exciting!  Yesterday we bought a Groupon coupon to another local restaurant that we want to try and we are going there tonight on our way to church.It's our first time to use Groupon, so we're pretty excited! Tomorrow, we are attending a Humane Society "Yappy Hour" Fundraiser with Lucy before attending her Dog Training Graduation. Once again, two events in ONE day! I figure that if we are going to show everyone a trick at graduation I should be properly soused.  Depending on how soused I get it might be me doing the trick, but it should prove fun, and the getting soused part, I have to do my part to raise money for the Humane Society, don't I?! In a couple of weeks we head out of town again to Pittsburgh "just cuz." We got a GREAT deal at Priceline (who knew that it actually worked?) and instead of paying the standard rate for a hotel, they accepted our offer of $75.00/night!  Isn't that amazing!  We then have been given two tickets to a University Musical Society performance of our choice as a thank you for me working with their organization this past summer. We've chosen to see The Infernal Comedy: Confessions of A Serial Killer starring John Malkovich. We're really excited about that as well!  Whew!  Is it time for bed yet?  I'm exhausted!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

New Acquisitions

Just in case you haven't heard, Borders is going out of business. For some of you that might not be that big of a deal, but for those of us in Ann Arbor, Michigan, it's a huge deal. Border's started in Ann Arbor and it's headquarters is (oops....was) in Ann Arbor. We had two "Big Box" stores here, which are now both shutting down. I don't remember how many people are now without jobs in the area, but it has hit the area hard. Nate and I decided to go to their out of business sales and see what books were still available and I have gotten two new cookbooks that I'm really excited about. I've mentioned that my biggest vice is reality TV...I may have mentioned that before...and one of my favorite new reality shows is Rocco's Dinner Party. In one of the episodes, Rocco requires the contestants to keep all of the recipes below 350 calories for his health conscious guests. Throughout the competition, Rocco shamelessly plugged his new cookbook Now Eat This! When we walked into Border's I saw the book and knew immediately that I had to get it because, of course, it's an amazig cookbook, not because Rocco has any sort of influence over me....not at all! And this week, most of our meals have been from this book.  On Saturday I made Deep Dish Pizza, yesterday we had Charred Beef Burgers with Baba Ghanoush (I will have you know I made HOMEMADE baba ghanoush! For those of you that have made it already, I can hear your, "Whatev..." from here...for those of you that haven't made's pretty easy, but if you want to think of me as the mom in the Rice Krispy treat commercial, that's fine too).  Tonight is Eggplant "Manicotti". Manicotti is in quotes because you actually thinly slice the eggplant, bake it in the oven and then use that in place of manicotti noodles. The recipes have been very good thus far and I'm looking forward to making others....but right now I have to figure why a "dead fish" smell is being emitted from the dog.... not pleasant at all!

Monday, August 15, 2011


For those of you that know me, you know that I used to run...I ran two 5K's, signed up for my first 10K and then I hit a wall. I'm not sure what happened, but last Winter, which turned into Spring, which turned into Summer, I could not get myself to run. It felt like my legs were made of lead. In fact, I didn't train enough and had to drop out of the 10K. I'm still not sure what was going on at the time. I was just really struggling During this time I also dropped out of Weight Watchers and have been yo-yoing up and down the scale for the last several months. But yesterday I knew that the "used to" was about to end. I don't know what did it, what caused it, or what changed. But it was almost like the sky had turned from stormy to blue and I just knew that today I was going to run. Nate and I had decided that we would amp up our workouts to 45 minutes in length, so when we got to the gym this afternoon, I headed straight for the treadmill. I hadn't told anyone that I was going to run because I was afraid that if I chickened out, I didn't want to be held accountable. But today the "used to" turned into a "doing." I walked for 5 minutes, ran for 10, walked for another 5, and then ran for another 10, walked for another 5, ran for another 10, and then walked for another 5 as a cool down. I now sit here to write this and I am spent...wiped out..... and it feels glorious. I feel glorious.

Sports Classics

Why on earth does anyone want to watch a sports event when they already know the outcome? This is, by the way, how I spent yesterday afternoon. Unfortunately, Nate was paying attention as I flipped through the channels. I must admit, I'm the channel flipper in the family. Nate would prefer the TV remain off but I can sit there hitting the channel "up" button over and over and over, spend 3 seconds on a channel and move to the next. I can literally do this and try to stay abreast of every show that we can view. So today, as I was flipping channels, I came across the Big 10 Network playing a classic game from 1998: the Rose Bowl featuring, yours truly, University of Michigan vs. Washington State University. I tried to quickly change the channel before Nate saw what it was but I didn't quite switch fast enough. "Wait, go back!" He exclaimed. I sighed and knew the afternoon was doomed. He was so excited about this game.... a game that he already knew everything about and decided that I needed to know all the details too. He knew the outcome: 21-16. He knew the winner: UM.  He knew all of the plays. He knew the ones that would spark controversy, the great throws, etc. And yet, I couldn't change the channel. We had to watch this game. We watched it through dinner, in fact. When I started to stand to clean up after dinner, he grabbed my hand and begged me to stay through the end. As he so rarely asks me to watch anything with me I acquiesced especially after remembering how much he puts up with. He actually stays within earshot when I'm watching The Real Housewives of _________ (fill in the blank) marathon on Bravo. (Please know that I do have some standards and I do not watch The Real Housewives of Atlanta. I only watch Orange County, New York, New Jersey, & Beverly Hills. I do have some standards, you know!) So, I sighed and sat back down and thought of all the rewards and pats and kudos I should receive for such an amazing sacrifice. We watched the end of the game, (which, if I'm being honest, when he asked me to wait and watch, there were only 30 seconds left to the game). We watched Bob Griese get all emotional over his son, Brian, the UM quarterback being named the MVP. And then it was over. Don't get me wrong, I love sports. I love college basketball (go Duke!). I love college football (Go Blue!). I love baseball (Go Cubs, Go!). You name the sport, I'll name my favorite team. But classic sports, I just don't get. What excites me about sports is the unknown, the suspense, the thrill of the game. There's none of that in the classics. There is no suspense. I just don't get the draw. In a few weeks (Nate knows and announces each day the official number of days left) College football will begin and every Saturday we will have the TV on from around 11 AM until around 11 PM. It will be tuned to ESPN and it's affiliate stations as we hop from one college game to the next. And I will get into it big time and I will enjoy every minute of it but I never plan to watch those games again...or at least, until the next time I'm flipping channels and Nate is paying attention!

Sunday, August 14, 2011


I don't believe in coincidences. I don't believe that there's such a thing as "pure, dumb luck" nor that things "just happen." I believe there is a God that is completely and totally involved orchestrating all that happens in us, to us, around us. When I tell people this they want to know why there are bad things that happen. I honestly don't know why things happen the way they do. And admitting that doesn't mean that I still don't believe that God is in charge. All it means is that I'm not God. Good things happen, bad things happen and God is still in charge. I don't know why God had me go to Africa, but I believe in no uncertain terms that He wanted me to go. I went to church that Sunday morning and during the announcements I clearly heard a Voice say, "you're going to Africa."  It was so clear that I gasped and looked around to see if anyone else heard it. If they did, they politely kept focusing on the pastor making announcements. The one place that I had said I never wanted to go to, I was being told I would go. I didn't dismiss the voice as an illusion, but I did want to make sure that the voice I was hearing was God's. Because if it wasn't God's voice, I wasn't interested. I went to lunch with my Dad that day and shared with him what happened and asked him to pray that if it was from God, that He would confirm it to me someway somehow using the verses from Isaiah 6 "Here am I send me." I went home and prayed through the afternoon specifically that God would confirm if this was from Him. I went to church that evening expecting a normal service but the pastor stood up and announced that there would be a guest speaker. The guest speaker was a pastor from Africa. I just about jumped out of my seat. Seriously? Here I am, sitting in Charlotte, NC and a pastor from Africa just so happened to be speaking at my church the very evening that I had asked God for a sign that he wanted me to go to Africa?  The African pastor went up to the podium, opened his Bible and started reading from Isaiah 6. "Then I heard the voice of the LORD saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here I am, Send me!"  I literally almost stood up right then and there and walked down front. I knew that I knew that I knew that God was speaking to me. There was no doubt. This was no coincidence. And I went. I found out when the next missions trip was going and I went. I honestly believed that I might end up staying there. I wasn't sure what God wanted from me beyond going to Africa. Now here I am in a similar situation. No, I'm not feeling like God is calling me to go to Africa. But, in reading the books by Jim Cymbala, I have mentioned in previous posts how I have been so convicted about my prayer life and wanting to get involved with a prayer ministry. And yet, in my heart I know there's more to it than that. I started reading another book called Sun Stand Still by Steven Furtick, and yesterday while reading I was blown away...about like when I heard God tell me to go to Africa. Furtick's theme is how to have audacious faith and believe God for the impossible. I have been so convicted by Cymbala's theme on prayer and the importance of it, and now I'm further convicted on how not to just survive this world as a Christian but be radically sold out to Jesus and make a difference in this world for Him. While reading Sun Stand Still yesterday, Furtick explains when he was hit between the eyes with God's call on his life. He said it happened when he was reading Jim Cymbala's book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire (the first one of the series I'm reading). I stopped reading right there. That might seem like a little thing. But combine that with visiting my in-laws church and having it referenced there as well, I feel like I am hearing God's voice again. I feel as though He is preparing me for something. I don't know what it is. But, I pray that my heart will be opened to hearing His voice and knowing what it is that He has for me to do.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Michigan has been invaded. There have been articles (the one in this picture obviously has not started eating yet...he's much too small)
about this horrific invasion and now I have witnessed these creatures firsthand. The other evening Nate and I were working in the yard which entails him mowing the lawn, sweating profusely, and me watching from the window to know when I should go out and sweep the sidewalk. When I came in I went to shake the rug out and this thing fell off me. If I was a crazy photo driven person, I'd carry my camera with me wherever I am and I would have taken a picture of this thing, but alas, I don't. And, as I'm not particularly fond of bugs, my main objective was annihilation.  I looked at it a little peculiarly and thought, "what in the heck is that?" It looked like a cross between a mosquito and a deer fly. It honestly had the shape of one of these: 
It truly had a triangular shaped wing span like that. The other thing that was strange was that it fell off of me like it was drunk and just kind of sat on the floor and started waddling away.It didn't fly. What I realized about 1 nanosecond later, was that it was too full to fly. I smashed it, which led to the largest amount of blood I have ever seen inside of a bug to come spewing out. It had so engorged itself with my blood...I'm sure it was at least 1/2 the blood inside of me. (yes, I do enjoy hyperbole) There was blood everywhere. I actually called Nate in to come look at it. He later described it as though I had cut off a toe and started bleeding everywhere. He had the presence of mind to ask, "You're going to clean that up, right?"
Really? Who needs to ask stuff like that? Would he have left it there for me to clean up?  I hope not!  The next day was the article in the paper about these mosquitoes. As I read, I hoped I could blame some foreign country like Burundi for these invaders. But alas, they are native to Michigan. So, I guess I have no one to blame but me for living in a place that makes these mini stealth suckers. So, who wants to come visit?! :)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Cramming for Class

Do you remember when you were in school and how you'd know about an upcoming test or assignment for quite a while? And do you remember how you'd procrastinate until the last minute to study or complete the assignment ?And do you remember actually going in for the test or to turn in the assignment and expect the highest score possible, even though, in reality, you only prepared or did work worthy of maybe a low C at best?  Yeah?  Well, welcome to Nate and Jenna's world of dog training class. If we would be totally honest with you, we would have to tell you we don't do any training with Lucy until the day of class. In fact, we don't do any training with Lucy until a few hours before class. There, in those few hours before class, I attempt to cram a week's worth of work with Lucy into two hours and train her on all the assignments we were given the week before so that she can pass the test of "what you learned this week."  Yep!  Those habits developed in middle school, high school, and practiced again in college, are proving to remain true for our lives even as adults. Lucy honestly does the best she can. She loves to socialize and please everyone, so she really does try. But she's got those sniffers that come with the beagle breed that sometimes take over and all is forgotten. Remember though, that "all" entails 2 hours of practice/study at home before having to perform in front of 10 other puppies who obviously have more devout and committed parents than she. There's this one dog, "Boo" is his name. He sits at attention looking like some soldier in the army. And here we have Lucy who starts getting so excited about seeing all her new friends that she pees all over herself and whoever she is greeting. And then there's this other dog, a Border Collie.(insert angelic chorus here)  And evidently, that is the breed of all breeds because she does absolutely everything that her parent commands the first time she commands it(once again, angelic chorus). When I make a comment to the teacher about how well "Nellie" has done, her reply is, "Well, she's a Border Collie." What are we: chopped liver?  No....we're a Beagle. We tell Lucy to sit and if we are lucky, she will cock her head to the side and look at us, proving that her hearing is intact. We have learned that look means, "Oh yeah? You want me to sit?  What's in it for me?" When she sees the treat she sits. I thought that the purpose of treats was for training only but that you wouldn't necessarily have to stock pile turkey hotdogs just to get her to go in her crate each night because they would eventually just do it because you ask once trained.  We learned this not to be true. We had gotten away from giving Lucy treats to go in her crate and so she stopped going in willingly and would run around making it a game. I brought the treats back and she goes into her crate like it's the greatest thing ever. So, getting back to class, I wasn't holding out much hope for last night's class. But Lucy did things that we haven't tried more than once. In fact, as we told her to sit, then stay in that position, and then took steps away from her reminding her to continue staying the teacher was just amazed and praised us to the skies about how hard it is to teach that and we must have been working on that for quite a while. We couldn't believe it. We must be amazing dog trainers! If I can do in two hours what it takes others a week to do, I should open up my own dog training class! Does that mean that we can procrastinate and only practice for one hour before next week's class?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

August 11, 2011

Today is Nate's and my 4 year anniversary. I am happy to say that I love him more today than I did when I said "I do." For those of you that don't know, Nate and I could be one of those success stories for the online dating service. I was struggling to meet good Christian men (found a lot of bad Christians and good Nonchristians but really wanted the combination) on my own in Charlotte, so I bit the bullet and took to the computer. As I had been brought up in a very traditional home, I felt quite uncomfortable with "seeking" men out, so how I resolved that issue was I decided to set up my profile for others to see and then I would wait. I would not contact anyone. I would wait to see if people would contact me. If I remember correctly, I think I set up my profile in January 2006. At the end of February I was contacted by Nate. His humor and wit in the way he set up his profile made me laugh out loud and I immediately wanted to get to know this guy more. However, Nate was from Ithaca, NY and I was in Charlotte, NC. Neither one of us thought it would amount to anything as long distance is not easy even in the best of circumstances. We communicated via the dating site for a while and then exchanged "real" email and IM addresses. And then we started speaking on the phone. In May 2006, we came to a breaking point because I had also been communicating with other men online as well and had a date with one of them. When Nate and I were IMing one day he asked what my plans were for the evening. I had decided that if he asked I'd tell the truth. We didn't "speak" (no emails or IMs or phone calls) for 5 days. I was beside myself. His not talking to me for several days made me come to terms with how much I cared about him and he admits that when he heard I was going out on a date with someone else, he realized what I meant to him. Why was it 5 days, you might ask?  Nate was in Colorado at a conference and had extended his time there a few days to hike in the mountains. When he returned, and we resumed contact, we agreed to meet. We met on June 9, 2006 in Washington DC. We had a great time exploring the capitol and getting to know one another. At the end of that meeting, we realized that we wanted to continue this and see where it ended up. So at the end of July, I flew to Ithaca and spent the weekend seeing Nate in his surroundings and over Labor Day weekend, Nate flew to Charlotte and met my family and friends. In the midst of sharing our past histories, we discovered that his father had been a pastor for an EMC (Evangelical Mennonite Church) in Midland, MI at one point. That is the church denomination I was a part of growing up. And, if you can tell by the name, it isn't a very large denomination (in fact, I don't think it even exists under that name anymore). I was astounded. When he asked me where I grew up I told him and he knew the town. This may not seem like a big deal to many people, but trust me, it is SHOCKING to find someone who is familiar with Gridley, IL that didn't grow up there. My usual response to people that ask where I'm from is, "oh, it's a really small town in IL near Bloomington/ Normal."  When he asked me for the name, I told him and he said, "Oh yeah, I think I've been there." And this is the freaky part. He said, "I've been to Meadows." Um.  Gridley is small, but Meadows? Meadows is basically non-existent. It turned out that a man that went to my church was very close to Nate's parents, Bill Klopfenstein. He had retired to the Meadows Retirement Home, and attended my church. Bill actually baptized Nate at my small church in Gridley. I was astonished. When we looked at when these things happened and how we hadn't met, we realized that we probably went to the same church camp (Nate can't remember the name of the camp he went to but Miracle Camp "sounds familiar") at the same time. When Bill Klopfenstein baptized him, my family was in Haiti, so it was kinda like that movie Sliding Doors and our "doors" kept opening when the other wasn't around. For my mom, this was what she needed to hear to realize that God had amazingly orchestrated this relationship and that it "was meant to be." Nate & I committed to seeing each other once a month and talked daily. In October, I flew up to Ithaca and in November, we met in Bloomington, IL for my cousin's wedding, where Nate was introduced to EVERYONE. I mean, he was introduced to aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, third was quite overwhelming!  By then, we knew. We knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. For Christmas, I flew to New York and on Christmas morning, Nate asked me to marry him. From then it was a whirlwind of craziness - planning, shopping, etc. As you can see from this description, I still had not met Nate's family. Nate's parents were in Alaska for the year and so in April of 2007 we flew out to Alaska so I could meet them. We had a great week with them. During all of this, Nate and I were both packing, putting our houses on the market, and preparing to merge our lives. Nate was offered a position in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan, and in May of 2007 we met in Detroit to look for a new home for us. Nate moved in June, and then I moved my stuff at the end of July and then after our honeymoon in Cancun, we drove up to Ann Arbor from Charlotte. It has been a fabulous four years and am looking forward to many many more! Happy Anniversary to the love of my life!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


My niece, Autumn, inspired me today. Both of my nieces went to summer camp this year for the first time and they came back on fire for God! Every since Autumn and Lauren have returned they have spent more and more time getting to know Jesus Christ. They have been watching sermons online, listening to praise music, and not just that, but they are also posting these things to facebook, witnessing to their friends. Well, today Autumn posted to facebook an article from September 2010 about her pastor preaching for 24 hours straight. The article hit me right between the eyes. No, I didn't immediately want to pull an all-nighter... but what struck me was this: here I have been whining and struggling with things that are already taken care of, praying for things that God has already answered. Pastor Steven Furtick asks a question in the article that stopped me short: "Why did you stop believing God for the impossible?"
Why did I? Or, maybe the question should be, when did I? Why did I decide that it was easier to do life in my own strength? When did I decide that doing it myself made more sense than trusting in a God that knows the past, present & future already? Why would I ever dream that trusting in my own strength was more reliable than trusting in the Creator of the universe? As I whine and complain about minor mundane things I'm struck with how often the temporal world is more real to me than the eternal grace of the Lord residing within me. Just because my limited physical senses can't see/taste/touch it doesn't mean it is any less real.This life is just a breath...a minor blip on the screen. And yes, I want to live the rest of my days believing God for the impossible. Yes, I want to live the rest of this life as it really is, a  small little speck on the timeline of eternity and have what matters to God be what matters to me.
And this was all brought about because a young girl who is living sold out for Jesus shared what God is doing for her. Thank you, my dear Autumn for being a light for Jesus and reminding me of what truly matters.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Truthful State

Nate and I went away for the weekend going north into the Upper Lower Peninsula, or if you use your hand to show the map of Michigan, we were at the tip of the pinky. If you'd rather just know where we were, we were near Traverse City, the home of all cherries ever grown. Except for George Washington's cherry tree, Traverse City must own every cherry out there because they are REALLY obsessed with all things cherry. They have cherry pie, cherry jam, cherry coffee, cherry tea, cherry wine, cherry muffins, cherry and almond encrusted __________ (fill in the blank of any meat you can think of),  cherry chicken salad, etc and so on. Since coming home I've struggled with what to write to all of you. I want to be witty. I want to be wise. I want to be__________ (fill in the blank with all good things). Instead, I'm in a state of flux. I feel a bit restless. I feel totally unmotivated. I am frustrated with my lack of desire to make right choices regarding food and exercise. I've been here before. I had hoped to avoid it again. But, going around in a circle seems to be the journey of life sometimes. And so here I am. Thinking through, but not calculating the number of calories I took in over the weekend and the lack of calories used... thinking through the mental talk I gave myself yesterday of  "C'mon Jenna! Get yourself together!" and how after so little sleep last night all I could muster was a 4 mile/hr walk on the treadmill....that lasted 35 minutes...using up a whopping 200 calories...and all I dreamt about while grocery shopping was that's what I cooked...even though I have chicken marinating for the grill and a very nice sweet potato ready for baking. From the sermon on Sunday I need to remember that the condition of my heart today affects my life today. Yesterday is done. Living in regret over "couldas/shouldas" does no one any good. Although we would love to have some "do overs" in life, they aren't a reality. I need to let today go and commit to living tomorrow as the gift that it is. So, I believe I will call it a day, good reader, and I look forward to a new day with new opportunities and a renewed heart and mind tomorrow....of course, as Annie so famously said, "Tomorrow is always a day away."

Sleep Deprivation

Don't you hate it when you wake up feeling "wide awake" and you see that it is only midnight?  That's what happened last mean this morning. I went to bed at 10:00 proud of myself for staying up "so late." When Nate came to bed at midnight I woke up and I think I may have fallen into a semi-sleep but about 1 AM I woke up and was awake for hours. I watched the clock change. I switched positions, reallocated sheets and blankets, re-juxtaposed my pillows, turned on the ceiling fan, and then did almost all of those over again and again until about 3:30. At 3:32 I looked at the clock and thought to myself. I have an hour and a half left...dear Lord, please! And at some point I fell asleep. Only to have my alarm clock go off at 5:00 and feel like I could sleep through the day. Oh Lord, Give me strength!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Restaurants & Waitstaff

Full disclosure:  I was a waitress through high school and college, so this will not be an unbiased post in the least.  More full disclosure:  what blog is unbiased?  NONE of my posts are without any bias. So, there you go.

As Nate had a meeting, I had the opportunity to go out to dinner by myself....something I (before today the word to fit there would be "never") rarely do. I took the time to research where I wanted to go. I like independent restaurants that pride themselves on homemade products using local ingredients and I do everything I can to avoid chains. So, I researched and found a restaurant that sounded like a local gem. The reviews said the waitstaff was phenomenal, which is incredibly important to me. With my past experience as a waitress, I may be sympathetic to how hard they work, but I also have very high expectations, which usually leads to me being somewhat dissatisfied with the service I receive.

I went to the restaurant and the sign asked me to wait to be seated. A waitress meandered through a few times looked at me each time and kept walking. I waited what seemed like an eternity, but in actuality  it was probably like 5 minutes or so. That same waitress came up to me eventually and said, "Do you want to be seated or something?" Don't you hate it when you want to come back with a smart remark but your brain has just gone blank? I replied in the affirmative and she still stood there. "For just one?" she asked.  I said, "Yep! Just one!" And she took me to a table. At this point "not happy" is a little bit of an understatement of how I was feeling about this place. But fortunately, I stayed. And fortunately, being on my own, I was able to watch and observe what the real story was of this place. Although the girl has much to learn, I learned that it was her first day working at this restaurant,and from what I witnessed, it was her first day working anywhere! I also learned that there was only one waiter that was serving the entire dining room. Granted, it was a small dining room, but it was quite full and a steady stream of people kept coming. He was running around trying to take care of everyone...and you know those moments when you are so overwhelmed that no thought can stay in your brain very long at all? That seemed to be what he was going through. The table behind me was waiting for their dessert, the table to the side of me was waiting for their check, and then there were three tables waiting for their order to be taken. And then there was me. So, he was quite busy not only taking care of the customers but also trying to train the new girl. My meal was delicious and the waiter was increasingly apologetic as he forgot the salad and I sat without a water refill for a long time. And it gave me the time to remember another time and place, where I wore a red and white plaid skirt working at Stan's Restaurant, the amazing (amazing in this instance = only) sit-down restaurant in my hometown. I remembered times of running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to meet the demands of the customers. My heart went out to "John" the waiter and I wish him a well deserved rest today or at least until the restaurant opens today at 3:00 and it starts all over again!

Thursday, August 4, 2011


That's the only word to describe what I'm feeling right now. I worked a 13.5 hour day yesterday and for someone that has gotten used to working 5 hours a day, it's a little difficult to put any sort of thoughts together right now. When Nate picked me up from work everything hurt. I just ached all over. It was a great event and I was so proud to be a part of it, but I was just exhausted. And yet, when I got home, I was too wired to go to sleep. I stayed up until 11:00 and then I woke up again at 1:30 thinking through it all through again. Now is the time for rejuvenation. Advice for the day: take the time to rejuvenate!

On another note, I'm very disappointed with Lucy. Her Grandma Daniel gave her a gift of 3 stuffed squeak toys back in March. She ripped the chipmunk apart first then she ripped apart the bear, but she held on to Gator. She slept with him, she wouldn't get out of her crate in the morning without grabbing him to carry around. He was her security blanket. It was very cute. She didn't rip at him, she didn't try to get out his "squeak box" but then, the day before yesterday, she started. It started with a nibble on the ear and then everything went to hell in a handbasket after that and now Gator no longer has a brain. And looking at the demise of Chipmunk and Bear (you're going to have to trust me on what they were...I know without their heads, it's a little difficult to tell....suffice it to say, the chipmunk was the brown one and it was a black bear). The future for Gator is not very bright.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Planning Toward Mediocrity

I've mentioned before that I am reading Jim Cymbala's book, Fresh Power. In the portion I read today there was a quote that made me pause.

"Most people plot and plan themselves into mediocrity, while now and again somebody forgets himself into greatness." – E Stanley Jones

If you asked my husband to describe me, I'm sure he would use the word "planner" somewhere in his description. Whenever we go out of town for even a weekend, it takes days for me to plan and prepare everything. In fact, it takes me longer to get us ready to go than we are ever actually gone! Any time that he brings up an idea for a trip or somewhere we should go visit, my mind immediately goes to planning mode. I come off as disinterested, when honestly, I'm already thinking, "call Karen about house sitting".... "make a menu list that will clean out the refrigerator/freezer"..... "clean upstairs 2 days before leaving"...."clean downstairs 1 day before leaving".... 

I think you get my point. Instead of embracing the excitement and thinking about the fun we would have, I immediately make the to do list. What if I just went with the excitement factor? What if I enthusiastically jumped in with both feet instead of immediately taking out the list and writing down who is responsible for what before being able to leave. Does it really matter if the grass gets mowed before we leave instead of waiting until we get back? Does it really matter if the house is spotless when we leave? Could I just take a breath, relax, and enjoy the journey instead of plotting and planning my way into mediocrity? Yes, some of the things that I do during that time do need to be done. But does it have to be done the minute Nate even suggests an idea? Do I end up destroying any excitement or joy he had with his idea with my planning mode? Does he just want to say, "You know what? Forget it." Could I maybe just forget myself and look to others for once and stumble into a great experience?  I think I might just give it a whirl!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Awkward moments

Don't you hate it when you get your hair done (trimmed/cut/colored/shaved, whatever the case may be) over the weekend and then you return to work on Monday and face the jury of your workmates?  I've been on both sides of the situation. When someone gets their hair done and I say, "Wow! You got your hair cut!" Notice that I haven't said that it looks nice, or that it becomes them. I just stated a fact. Today, I received a few of those comments regarding my hair. If you remember, Friday night I colored it "Auburn Brown." As someone said today..."Um.... what color did you color your hair?"

"Auburn Brown."

"um.... THAT'S not Auburn Brown...that's more......"  and their voice trails off and I think they are maybe hoping that a gigantic hole in the middle of the floor will swallow them whole and they will be able to escape the conversation when they realize that I am not going to give them any help in filling in the blank with what we both obviously see as the true color of my hair: purple... but of course, because I'm only hoping to eventually be like Jesus, I challenge them and say, "more what?" They look for a way of escape and say "um.... more... black??" I finally help the person out and say, "do you mean purple?"  They pretend to just notice the purple and make some lame comment about how they hadn't noticed it until I said something....right..... sure....uh-huh.... I totally believe you....

How about the comments like, "I wish I had the guts to do that to my hair!" Hmmm..... really?  Is that a compliment? One girl said, "Wow! Your hair is a different color! Was it that color when you came in this morning?"  I looked at her and said, "No, I was the science experiment for the day."When I told her that it was purple, she said, it's not purple, it's maroon.  Maroon?  Isn't maroon a purple red color?  Wikipedia gives this beautiful chart showing the different shades of maroon:
  • Bright Maroon (Crayola Maroon) (Hex: #C32148) (RGB: 195, 33, 72)
  • Rich Maroon (Maroon (X11)) (web color) (Hex: B03060#) (RGB: 176, 48, 96)
  • Maroon (HTML/CSS) (web color) (Hex: #800000) (RGB: 128, 0, 0)

I think purple hair makes me more bold and more sarcastic. My husband loves it. He said he loves being married to someone who is willing to do stuff like this. You mean, save money or live dangerously and color your hair "auburn brown" only for it to turn purple?

On the whole, people insist they like my hair. Me thinks they insisteth too much!

Monday, August 1, 2011


On August 11th, Nate and I will be celebrating our anniversary.We do have a couple of trips planned in the next several weeks, so I believe we will be taking time then to celebrate. As our anniversary falls on a Thursday, that also tends to complicate any major plans as we both work that day. To further complicate matters, Nate's birthday falls in the previous week, so sometimes, we end up celebrating both at the same time. But none of these "complications" should matter. I want to celebrate the day that Nate and I made a lifelong commitment to one another.
I mentioned that the sermon series this month at church has been about dealing with the excuses we use that keep us from abundant living. Yesterday's was entitled, "But I just don't have time." One of the truths the pastor shared was that you need to plan for what is important because if you don't, the urgent will take it's place. Of course, the first hurdle is identifying what is important. Jesus very clearly stated that the two greatest commandments are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul & mind and love your neighbor as yourself.  By the way, anyone other than yourself qualifies as your neighbor. So often I get bogged down with the urgent: a clean house, the laundry pile that just moves into the ironing pile that transfers back into the laundry pile, the groceries, the meals, etc. The other day I was busy on my computer and Nate came and just sat beside me. I was trying to finish something up rather quickly, and I looked at him and said, "What now?"  I know.....not my finest moment.... but, I promised that this blog would be an honest portrayal of my journey. After my rude comment, Nate left and I continued working. Later he told me that all he had wanted was to spend some time with me. That entire episode came crashing back into my mind as I listened to the sermon yesterday. I was convicted over the fact that I have not planned for what matters most to me: my husband. How blessed I am to have a husband who wants and seeks to spend time with me. That is not something to take for granted. That is something to reciprocate and cherish. From now on, I want to make what is truly important my priority and what is important to me is my marriage and family. I want to do something special for this I just need to figure out what!