Saturday, June 25, 2016

Yes, It's Hot, And I'm Thankful For That!

For me, and I think I speak for a lot of people when I say this, summer officially starts the day after school ends. According to the calendar, it doesn't begin until June 21, but that's just plain wrong. The three months of summer vacation are the fastest three months of the year, and one of them has already passed without me having accomplished ANYTHING I had planned to get done - oops. Better get with it. Until then, here are my Ten Things of Thankful for the week:

1. I really, really, REALLY hate cold weather, so I'm okay with the unseasonably hot weather we've had this week (it was 97 yesterday with a heat index of 105). You know why? Because when you're hot, it's mostly a surface thing, but when you're cold, it gets you right down inside your very core.

2. We spent last weekend at the lake house - ahhh! We went to White Water, a local water park, both Saturday and Sunday (we have season passes). The water was delightful, which means it wasn't icy cold. and everyone got along.

3. I spent a good hour on Sunday morning floating around in the Lazy River in an inner tube alllll by myself. It was delightful and deserves an entry of its own.

4. I bought myself a back scratcher for the car the other day, and it was one of my best investments ever. Am I the only one whose back always itches while driving, right in the center of my back, where you can't reach it no matter how much you contort? 

It telescopes = awesome

5. The College Boy and I went to a play last weekend as partial fulfillment of a theater class he is taking on-line this summer (general ed requirement). The college has a summer program called Tent Theater, and the plays are performed in, yes, a tent. It's been in existence since 1963 (the tent, you might be glad to know, has been upgraded since then and has ceiling fans in it) and includes a mix of college students and theater professionals. We saw "Shake It Up," a musical based on the music of Elvis Presley. It was kind of like Mamma Mia meets Footloose, and we thoroughly enjoyed it, which is a HUGE thankful, because College Boy is not into musicals. We will be seeing two more shows over the next few weeks, and we're both looking forward to it.

6. It's blueberry season in the Ozarks, and I begged the College Boy to go pick with me early one morning (and by early, I mean we were AT the blueberry farm at 7 a.m.). He's a good picker, and between the two of us, we picked sixteen pounds of blueberries (for the record, I picked more than he did, and I eat A LOT of blueberries as I pick). They are now nestled in the deep freeze in recipe-ready two-cup portions.

My picking partner.

16 pounds of blueberries

7. I found out this week that there IS a limit to how many fresh blueberries I can eat. I found this out by surpassing that limit, but the good news is it didn't kill me, and I still like blueberries.

8. Wednesday, my baby boy turned 21, which does not seem possible. As he had to renew his driver's license anyway, he decided to take the on-line boating license test (even though we do not own a boat), just so he could get a little ship's wheel emblem on his new driver's license. My husband pointed out that he studied harder for the boating test than he did for the MCAT, but he passed both, so there's that.

They were having a sweet moment.

9. My daughter is a senior model for a local photographer, and he asked her if she would like to do an extra shoot for a hair salon for advertising use. She jumped all over that, so this morning, we went to the salon, where she got her hair and make up done, and the amazing Joshua Carter took pictures, and they, of course, turned out gorgeous. Just gorgeous. WHY ARE MY KIDS SO DARN GROWN UP ALL OF A SUDDEN?!

Emma getting her hair and makeup done.

The creative mind of Joshua Carter wanted
a picture on the roof with the courthouse in the
background. I knew my limitations and
did not attempt to climb up the ladder

The model multi-tasks.

Photo Credit: Joshua Carter/LifeCaptured Photography

10. I think I'm about ready to get a kitten....

Ten Things of Thankful

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Letter To My Son On His 21st Birthday

Dear Kyle:

When we brought you home from the hospital twenty-one years ago, we sat you down in the middle of the family room floor in your car seat, looked at each other and said, "Now what?" 

The cat took an immediate dislike to you (okay, it was really complete and total hatred), you were a barracuda when I nursed you, you blew out your diaper at LEAST once a day, you spit up gallons, usually of the projectile variety, and yet, we STILL found you exquisite. 

And then we blinked, and today, you're an adult. A real, honest-to-goodness adult, at least in the eyes of the law. I, however, know you better as the man-boy who still brings rocks home in his pockets, who gets completely animated when talking about subjects like purkinje cells (which I still don't understand), who is solicitous with his grandmother one moment, and then is bouncing around like an overgrown puppy the next.  So on this day of reflection and celebration, here are a few things I'd like you to know:

Never lose your tender heart. You try to hide it from others, maybe from fear of appearing vulnerable, but it's an admirable trait to have and should be nurtured.

Remember the importance of being patient. 

Make sure you smile more often than you frown.

Be kind. 

Although you and your sister may squabble from time to time, remember that friends will come and friends will go, but you two will always have each other.

Now that you are legally old enough to drink alcohol, I hope you don't make it a habit to do so. I especially hope you never use alcohol in an attempt to fix anything in your life, because it won't.

Look for the good in every situation, no matter how hopeless that situation seems to be.

Wear sunscreen.

Drive friendly.

When the right girl comes along, you'll know it. If you aren't sure, then she isn't it.

Know that I will always make time to talk to you whenever you need me.

Don't worry so much about what others think of you; chances are, they aren't thinking about you at all.

Shyness can be mistaken for arrogance. Even in the most socially uncomfortable situations, when you wish you could disappear down a rabbit hole, do everything you can to look pleasant and relaxed.

If you have to ask yourself if you should be doing something or not, the answer is not.

Compromise is a good thing; settling is not.

Never let yourself run out of toilet paper.

Develop some strategies to prevent procrastination; it is your worst enemy.

Never stop picking up rocks and bringing them home to me.

Happy birthday, College Boy. I love you more than words can describe.



Friday, June 10, 2016

Two-fer The Price Of One Thankfuls

This week's Ten Things of Thankful is a two-fer, since I didn't get one written last weekend. Go take a bathroom break before you start this; it's going go long....

1. My jug of miracle milk finally gave out, but boy, oh boy, it was a good run! I bought this gallon of skim milk from Aldi in early April when the College Boy a/k/a the Milk Drinker, was home. He drank less than half of it before going back to school, and then it stayed fresh until AFTER Memorial Day weekend. True story! Every time I needed milk for a recipe, I'd get it out, completely convinced that it would be sour, and it wasn't even a little bit blinky!

2. After our week of going to the lake house, to Columbia, and back to the lake house, my daughter and I came home and repacked our bags for Nashville. 

3. I had my yearly post-op follow up in Springfield with my surgeon, a/k/a Dr. Dorian Grey, and everything was fine. I mentioned I sometimes have pain near my left arm pit, and he said it was only due to the removal of the lymph nodes there. I was an eensy bit worried before I asked him, but now I'm not, so yay!

4. Emma and I were the last folks to leave the lake house, staying an extra day to clean and put everything into order. After we got home, I realized I had no independent recollection of locking the back door onto the deck. Emma was the one who closed the door, and SHE didn't have any independent recollection of locking it, either, so she and I swung by there after the doctor's appointment and before hitting the road to Nashville (not exactly on the way, but I couldn't NOT check). Good news - door was locked! 

5. This little detour to the lake house gave me an opportunity to pick up the big ol' jugs of Metamucil and Miralax that are a very expensive necessity when one has to take major doses of calcium to counteract the side effects of aromatase inhibitor therapy for breast cancer and that I left on the kitchen counter.

6. It rained on us, off and on, the entire way to Nashville, but there was no severe weather, and it never rained so hard that it was scary.

7. Emma talked non stop for half the trip, as in for 4+ hours, and I loved every minute of it.

8. We got to see a crop duster as we drove across the soy bean and rice fields in southeast Missouri. I'd never seen one before, and while we were pretty sure it was going to crash into (a) the field or (b) the highway, it was awesome to watch it.

9. We stopped in Cairo, Illinois, so I could show Emma a place on the levy along the Ohio River where you could look over and see tug boats pulled up to shore that I found on my last trip to Nashville in January. I couldn't find that exact spot, but I did find one that was even better; it was a cut-through with a road and a boat ramp and everything. I was way too skeered to drive down there (recurring nightmare about boat ramps), but we parked and walked through and looked at the Ohio River at its absolute widest point, right before the confluence with the Mississippi (more on that later). Emma wasn't particularly excited about it ("If you're so scared of crossing over it on a bridge, why do you like to look at it so much?"), but I thought it was totes cool, and the answer is BECAUSE I'M NOT IN IMMINENT DANGER OF FLYING OFF THE BRIDGE OR HAVING IT COLLAPSE BENEATH MY CAR AND AM SAFELY WATCHING THE WATER FROM THE SHORE.

I could not, for any amount of money, drive down this road.

10. We spent our time in Nashville eating, talking and being very, very lazy. It was perfect!

We suck at taking selfies of ourselves,
so Emma and Mackenzie amused themselves
by taking pictures of us taking pictures
of ourselves.

11. My Person, Terri, has a knack for getting free stuff. She and her daughter had two tickets to go see a production of West Side Story at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center on Saturday afternoon that they already had when we planned the trip. Then Terri found out she could get two FREE tickets to the performance as well, so we were all able to go. Well done, Studio Tenn! We were in tears when it ended.

Inside the lobby of the Schermerhorn.

12. When we picked up the free tickets at will call, we were given an upgrade to the third row, left side (Emma and Terri's daughter Mackenzie had the paid seats that were in the fifth row center).

13. Before we went to the play, we had brunch at Terri's son's restaurant, Party Fowl (if you're ever in Nashville, go there for Nashville hot chicken). I had the apple stuffed cinnamon brioche french toast (dipped in orange custard before frying) with hot chicken on the side (because food rules don't allow for it to touch the french toast). Sigh.


14. Emma and I shopped at our favorite thrift store, Music City Thrift. I scored Hawaiian shirts for the College Boy and Emma scored some Southern Shirts for next to nothing.

15. We ate at my very very very very VERY favorite place, San Antonio Taco Company, TWICE (another must visit if you're ever in Nashville).

Chicken soft tacos and queso and chips.
My tummy is in lurrrrrve.

16. I made the mistake of driving Emma around the campus of Belmont University, and now she's in love and thinks she will die if she doesn't get to go there (with tuition, room and board and books running about $42,000 PER YEAR, she may as well start planning her funeral now, because it isn't going to happen). 

I took this from the top of a parking garage.

17. Although neither one of us wanted to leave, we finally had to, so to make the trip a little less depressing, we made a couple of stops along the way. The first one was at Fort Defiance park, which is where the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers is (I SAID there'd be more about that). I have tried to see it for years, ever since I learned about it from Christine, but it's either been under water or damaged because of flood waters. Finally, FINALLY, it was open! AND IT WAS AWESOME, although I have to tell you the Mississippi River smelled like raw sewage, while the Ohio was pretty and blue and odor-free.

See the blue water on the left? The Ohio River.
See the dirty brown water on the right?
The Mississippi River.

18. We met this man while at the confluence. He told us he had been kayaking on the Mississippi, headed to the Gulf of Mexico, but the water was so rough that it caused him to capsize, and he had decided to abort the trip. He was spreading his stuff out to dry and waiting for his son to come from Cincinnati to pick him up. This thankful is for him that he didn't drown, because he certainly could have. AND THAT'S WHY I DON'T WANT TO BE ON THE WATER OR OVER THE WATER OR UNDER THE WATER. Next to is just fine, thankyouverymuch.

This is either a very brave or very stupid man.

19. We made another stop at Big Spring State Park in Van Buren, Missouri. It's a few miles off the beaten path, but it's really spectacular, with 288 million gallons of water bubbling out of it on an average day (ONE DAY, PEOPLE, DID YOU GET THAT?!). To put it into perspective, it would fill Busch Stadium in only 33 hours. 

Big Spring State Park

20. When we finally got back to Joplin after two weeks away, Emma had to spend the day raiding the closets of her friends for her senior model photo shoot on Thursday. Ever since she was a freshman, she has wanted to be a senior model for a local photographer whose work she has admired, and she was selected to be one earlier this spring. I don't know if the senior model thing is common elsewhere, but around here, the local photographers choose these models and do shoots with them, then the models are supposed to put the pictures on social media to try and get more business for the photographer. When someone mentions they came to the photographer because of the senior model, that model gets a discount on her pictures. The shoot went unbelievably well, especially because I find it unbelievable that SHE'S A SENIOR IN HIGH SCHOOL. These aren't even the "real" senior pictures yet. HOW AM I EVER GOING TO CHOOSE?!

Photo by Joshua Carter/Life Captured

There! Two weeks' worth of thankfuls. And one more for YOU if you stayed with me all the way through to the end of this post. Are you thankful? Sure, you are! Link up your list below.

Ten Things of Thankful

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