Oh, Hi!

Well, then! The Virus Seriousness and Annoyance Factor has dropped significantly. The sun is shining and birds are singing – hallelujah, amen!

You may have been wondering what you’ve been missing from us in the past week. Rest assured – not much. But there are a smattering of things that snuck in before my entire respiratory system went kablooie.

First: The BBQ class.  (Alternate title: Why? What do you do at work?)

The chefs at work decided they were tired of some of us equating KC Masterpiece with ALL BBQ and everything else with WHY DOES THAT BBQ TASTE WEIRD? so they gave a few of us an opportunity to learn and further appreciate American Barbecue and all its regional intricacies.

It’s been awhile since I took that culinary course, but this made me miss it. I don’t miss the long nights, mind you, but there’s a certain, I don’t know… order to a professional kitchen that is thrilling and comforting all at once. And by “order” I mean how the people operate. Blunt, but respectful. Vulgar [sometimes] but congenial. An interesting dichotomy, to be sure.

We learned rubs, mops & sauces. Ribs, brisket, sausage & pulled pork. Texas, Kansas City, Memphis, North & South Carolinas.

After an entire afternoon of preparing and inhaling the most delicious aromas you could possibly imagine, we feasted:

Oh yes, we feasted.

Then, the second thing: Baby got a new set of tools.

Graham had some Easter money to spend, so he went to Toys R Us and picked out a set of tools to rival his daddy’s. And, oh my gosh, this kid is unstoppable. Whenever we ask him if he wants to go play, his face lights up and he said, “TOOLS?!” He’s constantly fixing things around the house, and sometimes puts a screwdriver or pliers in our hands so we can help him.

It’s so freaking cute, you guys.

That’s really the only thing significant going on at our house. Like I said – it isn’t much. Looking forward to healthier (and thus happier) times ahead!!

 

‘Tis the Season

Every year, I optimistically think that we won’t be as busy as we were last year over the holidays.  This year, we stood a good fighting chance – and I actually think it has been less busy and less stressful, but LOR-DY it hit like a tsunami this week.

Busy like whoa.

It hasn’t helped that Andy and I are both crazed lunatics at work right now, but with all the other stuff piled on? Yikes. Thursday was the tipping point, and now I think it’s all a smooth downhill coast to Christmas.

But here’s what our day was like yesterday.

Here’s Graham being Graham: totally amped to start his morning.  He insisted on wearing a hat that day so :::shrug::: I guess I can’t argue with such a simple (and adorable) request.

You can’t see it, but in the car with us are:

  1. My purse
  2. Graham’s backpack
  3. My coffee
  4. 3 teachers presents
  5. 1 toddler present
  6. A tote bag containing string, masking tape, 18 paper snowflakes, 200 pipe cleaners and 20 jingle bells
  7. A pan of homemade caramel brownies
  8. 2 pints of Blue Bell ice cream
  9. A partridge in a pear tree (kidding)

We made it to daycare, and I dropped Graham off.  I drove over to work, dropped off the brownies and stashed the ice cream in the freezer then…

… off to the dentist! I actually fairly enjoy this – at least the end result.  Plus it’s always nice to catch up with the guy, a friend of my dad’s.

After the dentist, I made a quick stop to the drugstore to pick up a couple of birthday cards, because I – somehow – ended up being the December birthday co-captain for our team.  (We have monthly birthday parties.  Because we love cake and other homemade sweet goodies.)  This is what my caramel brownies and Blue Bell ice cream was all about.

I can’t decide if this picture looks delicious or disgusting, but let me assure you – it’s DELICIOUS. :)

Next up department meeting. We had a great year, way to go, woohoo… then…

TODDLER PARTY!  Yes, it was our room’s Christmas party yesterday afternoon.  We decorated the room with paper snowflakes, garland… the whole bit. The tods’ eyes about bugged out of their heads when they came back to the room after playtime.  So awesome.

We had a craft (thank you, Pinterest) where we stuck pipe cleaners through jinglebells and then twisted the ends together to make handles.  Instant handbells!  Graham was big enough to try and thread these himself.  He took his task very seriously.

Then came the book exchange.  Each kid was a Secret Santa for another kid. Here’s Cole (in green), delivering his gift.

Cole so loved the gift-giving that, when Graham tried to give Cole his Secret Santa gift (read: every time I was able to pry the gift bag out of Graham’s hands to give it to Cole), Cole would march it right back to us and hand it to Graham.  (Like, “I actually think he really wants this Ms. Debbie.”)  I finally distracted Graham with his actual present, and – to my surprise…

He can completely unwrap his own gifts!  Bring it ON, Christmas morning!!!

So yes, the toddler party was a success.  Sadly, that’s not all I had to do that day.  I got Graham dropped off at home, then I had church rehearsal that night until 9:30. I was asleep before my head hit the pillow that night.

But, it wasn’t all for naught. I had a great day. And the toddler parties, while kind of tedious to plan and exhausting to execute are so, SO totally worth it. Because, you see, I’d do anything to see this face.

Boots and Blazers

Saturday night, we got Graham and his favorite young lady, Rebekah, together for an evening of giggles and fun at our house, and Andy and I set out for downtown. Destination: Turner’s 25th Anniversary Gala.

This event has two notable footnotes that bear mentioning.

1. The attire listed on the invitation was “Boots and Blazers”. ??? We had no idea what to do with that – especially because this was also being coined as a “gala”. I’ll spare you the details, but two trips to Macy’s and three dresses later, I had finally identified an outfit. Andy had something in the closet that worked, because he’s so prepared that way. :) And, of course, I have no pictures (right now) except for our goofy photo booth shots.

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We had a lot of fun. :)

2. Because of a couple of turns of events at the company, I ended up being commissioned to make a montage video that highlighted the company’s projects and community service efforts over the last 25 years. The video was played at the gala.

The folks who hired me were so pleased with the video that they got me a thank you gift. I was so blown away because the gift ended up being enough to get me one of these bad boys:

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I am so excited. :)

That night, we also had an earthquake that was felt in the area. Andy and I didn’t feel it, because we were driving home from the gala at the time. Rebekah, however, did. She was a little freaked out because she was just laying down to sleep and she felt the house shake a bit, Graham’s musical toys started all going off and the pots and pans started to rattle. Insane, no?

The rest of the weekend was less intense, we went to church and the mall on Sunday. Sunday night, I was up all night with a stomach bug. You know, really fun things like that. As a result, however I get to miss a crazy day at work today and, instead, drain the TiVo of all my back episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives. There are worse things!

Tree Steaks: Two Wit Whiz, One Witout

Today we finished the business part of the business trip. We were working about an hour and a half from Philly, so we drove back to town to stay overnight before our early flight out tomorrow morning. You know how I always complain about how I never get to do local things while I’m traveling? Okay, maybe you don’t. Moot point. Today, I DID!

Our first stop, after leaving work, was at a grocery store where my co-worker, Mike, bought us a round of Birch Beers for the road.

No worries about a possible DUI, birch beer is a soft drink that tastes like root beer. Very like root beer. Almost indistinguishable from root beer. Regardless, it’s a local thing, and we had it. Darn if I didn’t feel a little special driving to Philly, drinking out of a glass bottle.

Then, for dinner, we drove down to South Philly for some cheesesteaks. This was fabulous. Philadelphians eat their steaks with chopped onion and Cheez Whiz. Desiring the full experience, I ate the Whiz. I did, however, forego the onion. I’m all for being a purist, but I also value a cooperative digestive system.

If you want steaks in Philly, you go to Geno’s or Pat’s, which are right across the street from each other. Pat’s had a long line, so we went to Geno’s. Bon Appetit!

Ahhh, it’s been a good week, but I’m so glad to be coming home tomorrow!

Today, I…

…went grocery shopping before work.
…organized my sock drawer. Also, before work.
…spent an hour and a half at a tea room.
…spoke with a Tea Master. No kidding.
…gained an interesting new perspective on life.*
…ate a Sprinkles cupcake, red velvet, for the first time ever.

*So, the Tea Master was telling us all about different Asian cultures. He gave me a misshapen, but beautiful, thin ceramic mug, and said that the Japanese believe that beauty is not perfection, but imperfection. Value is found in that which makes you unique. I told him that this thought was really counterintuitive to our culture. He agreed and said that our culture values preservation – something actually quite backward to nature. We like things ‘like new’, including our own bodies. In a lot of Asian cultures, it is believed that everything has a life, and, like living things, they too should have a natural progress where they start new, and then, with use, become worn in. “Think of fine china,” he said, “these cultures believe that, like we do so often, if we put it away and make sure that it never gets scratched, chipped or stained, then the china dies in a way. It never had a chance to really live a natural progression of life.” So, in the moment, that actually made a lot of sense to me.

Then I thought of this, which I’d found quite some time ago. It says: “Everything scratches. Everything dents. No matter how many times you polish it. You need to be ok with this. Nothing is new forever.”

It resonated with me back then, so much so that I’d saved it in my Favorites folder. I guess this is the second time I’ve had to hear the message. I love this, and I find it very freeing.