Laboring over the Hodgepodge

1. As August draws to a close, share what's been your favorite weekend of the entire summer?
The 4th of July weekend.  We spent it in Huntsville with my in-laws, and  CH's uncle & lady friend from Denmark.  

(My MIL & her sweet brother!)
2. Labor Day is marked in the US of A on Monday, September 1st.  What paying job have you held that you've loved the most? Liked the least?
The one I have now.  The least:  Being the Assistant Manager for N. Ga. when I worked for a company that contracted with nursing homes.

3. Does the new school year start before or after Labor Day where you live? When do you think it should begin? There is much discussion now about older students having later start times to their school day...your thoughts?
Geez, we're already a month into school!  Only 5 more weeks until Fall Break!
I don't know that having a later start time would matter...the kids would just stay up later.
4. What's something you've worked at recently that could be deemed a 'labor of love'?
I have no answer for this one!

5.Which of the following work idioms can you most relate to right now...'A woman's work is never done.', 'All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.' 'Many hands make light work.'
A woman's work is never done.  Doesn't it always seem like there's something that needs to be done?

6. Crab or lobster or thanks, but no thanks? Favorite way to have your choice prepared?
I don't think I've ever had crab.  I've had lobster once & loved it.  I have no idea how it was prepared.

7. Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, 'Three rules of work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.' Which of the three do you consider to be the most important? Share one of your own 'rules of work'.
From discord find harmony.  If you can find harmony, everything will fall into place.
Love what you do; if you don't love it, move on.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
I'm in the middle of Kindergarten Speech/Language Screenings this week...always a fun time!  The kids are keeping us laughing, which means it's not time for me to retire yet!

Weekend Wrap-up

I spent a lot of time (or way too depends on how you look at it!) watching The Killing.  I'm just about done with it.
Saturday, somebody had a milestone birthday:
Nope, it wasn't me!  I'm now married to a 50 year old man. To celebrate, we went into the big city and bought a tool cart. Getting there was quite an ordeal:  Google maps took us through a not so nice neighborhood, then told us to go left when we should have gone right.  I tried to put in the name of the store, and CH told me the wrong name.  We went to the wrong one and CH pulled up the email that had a coupon when we were in the store. That's when we realized we were in the wrong tool store. So we went back the same way we originally went (through the neighborhood), took a right instead of a left, and found the right store. We had lunch at Sam & Andy's, which is a well-known burgers & more restaurant in the Knoxville area.  There used to be one near UT's campus, but it closed down. It didn't disappoint.
For dinner, my dad joined us for dinner, along with MS & his GF, and YS & his GF.  OS was the only one missing. He'll be heading south next Saturday! 
Sunday morning, I went to Mass and then went to Daddy's house.  He has been going to the cemetery Sunday mornings, so I've been joining him. He actually let me drive this time! After that, I went home, finished some laundry and did some light housework, then settled in to watch more of The Killing.  I got a couple of blog posts written for my speech blog, and went out to dinner at our usual Mexican spot. Not bad for a weekend, huh?


I hesitated to put my thoughts & feelings down in this post because I know there are plenty of you who have lost a parent (or both of them).  I don't mean to sound like I'm the only person that has been through this.  But then I decided that I needed to write this...for me.
Some of us went to Mama's grave yesterday since it had been 1 month since she died.  In some ways it seems like it was yesterday, and in some ways it seems like it happened forever ago.  The grave marker is now in place, and it is absolutely beautiful.  It is a joint marker for both of my parents; it has dogwood flowers in the bottom corners.  It had to be very sobering for my father to see his name on the marker.  
I didn't think it would feel like this.  I guess I didn't know how it would feel to have that hole in my heart.  I never imagined I would cry when someone told me I look like Mama.  
We all know the 5 stages of grief.  The denial (Stage 1) is still there at times.  I just can't believe Mama is gone.  I can't believe I won't be able to call her up and ask her questions that come up, like the priests' names that were at our parish a few years ago.  She's the first person I think of to ask about things like that.  And then, I remember that I can't.  And so I accept it (Stage 5).  
Stage 2:  Anger.  How can I be angry?  My mother lived a full life:  she & Daddy raised 10 healthy, well adjusted children.  She was able to see most of her grandsons grow into handsome men & her granddaughter grow into a very beautiful, poised young woman.  She even had the joy of seeing a few great-grandchildren.  They got to do some traveling...just the 2 of them.  She left this earth the way she wanted:  quickly, before Daddy, and before her mind was too far gone.  I am so thankful that we didn't have to go through Mama not knowing who we are when we saw her, like some friends and cousins did.  God really spared us and was extremely merciful in that aspect.  As I look back over the past few years, I realize that He actually prepared us for her leaving us:  Daddy had taken over the cooking and cleaning, and we (the kids) had learned not to depend on her quite so much.  We didn't want her worrying, so there were a lot of things we kept from her.  Angry?  Not at all.  And I can't imagine myself going through that stage, either.  Mama isn't worrying, and she isn't hurting any more.  For that, I'm extremely thankful.
Stage 3:  Bargaining.  There's no reason to bargain, for the same reasons I stated about anger.
Stage 4:  Depression.  Mama would kick my butt if I got depressed about her passing away.  There's no doubt that she's in heaven.  Do you remember the song Last Kiss by Pearl Jam? There's a line in it that says, "She's gone to heaven so I've got to be good  So I can see my baby when I leave this world."  That line has been going through my mind since her passing. 
 Stage 5:  Acceptance.  I think I accepted it from the day she passed away.  I know she was tired; she told that to me and at least 1 sister.  She was tired of her back and hip hurting all of the time.  She was tired of being anxious and worrying.  It's hard not to accept it.  It is what it is; we all knew that day would come.  We have no choice but to accept it and take what Mama taught us and live our lives.
During their trip to Australia to visit one of Mama's cousins, she  had the opportunity to visit a school.  She ran across this; it left such an impression that she requested that it be read at her Funeral Mass:
Death is nothing at all.  I have only slipped away into the next room.  Whatever we were to each that we are still.  Call me by my old familiar name, speak to me in the easy way which you always used.  Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.   Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.  Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.  Let my name be the household word that it always was.  Let it be spoken without effort.  Without the trace of a shadow on it.  Life means all that it ever meant.  It is the same as it ever was.  There is absolutely unbroken continuity.  Why should I be out of your mind because I am out of your sight.  I am but waiting for you for an interval somewhere very near - just around the corner.  All is well.  Nothing is past, all will be as it was before - only better infinitely happier and forever.  We will all be one together with Christ. 
(After googling it, I found that the author is Henry Scott Holland.  The phrases in pink are from the original.)
I can hear Mama saying "Life goes on".  And so it does.

The Key to the Hodgepodge

1. What would you say is the key to success?
Being happy.

2. Have you ever been to the Florida Keys? Any desire to visit that part of the US of A?
The past couple of years, CH & I have spent New Year's in The Keys.  That is the perfect time to head down there!  

3. When and where did you last see a real live donkey? Monkey? Turkey?
I saw a donkey the other day, but can't remember where.  I saw a monkey (well, actually a chimp) last summer at the Copenhagen zoo.  I saw a turkey in the mountains not long ago.

4. An old Portuguese proverb says, 'Beware of the door with too many keys.'What do you think this means? Share an example of how this has proven true or false in your own life. 
To me, it means that something is locked up with multiple locks.  In other words, it is something that is not to be trusted.  

5. Besides your home, vehicle, and special jewelry, what is something you keep under lock and key?
My passport.

6. When did you last get keyed up about something?
I can't believe I can't think of something!  I get keyed up from time to time...thanks to CH.

7. Who thinks we need an easy one right about now?  Key lime pie...yes please or no thank you?
Oh, yes!  Especially if it's fried from a little place in The Keys:

8. Insert your own random thought here.
The first week of school is halfway over.  Actually, it is halfway over since we're out of school tomorrow because of election day.  Does anybody else think it's weird that we're having elections on a Thursday?  


If you're a baseball fan and were hoping for a post on the Cards, sorry!  I've been a bit obsessed with cardinals (the birds) lately.  Either in the Spring or early Summer, a friend of mine posted on Facebook that seeing a cardinal is a sign that someone who has passed away is coming to visit.
The morning that Mama passed away, there were several cardinals at the bird feeder.  The morning that I read the post from Michele, a female landed on the shephard's crook near to where I sat and chirped loudly, almost like she was scolding me.  That morning I was extremely sad, until I saw the bird.  I've seen a female cardinal every day since the funeral, usually in the mornings when I'm having the hardest time with her being gone.  
Sunday morning, CH & I were talking about Mama when he looked outside and told me there was a cardinal at the bird feeder at the edge of the porch.  Seeing them is a comfort. Maybe I'm grasping at straws, but I'm loving seeing and hearing those birds.  

From "Cardinal Signs & Symbols":
Cardinal Sounds are symbolic of: Cheer, elevation, clarity & communication
  • The call of a cardinal can come to cheer us up, or cheer us on.
  • The unique clarity of his call is can be used to gain our attention and lift us from our depression, our sorrow or perhaps our ordinariness. The cardinal’s call can call to us to do our duty.
  • A cardinal call can tell us to give up any vanity or appearances we may be holding on to and follow the hope in our heart, a cardinal hope that will lead us, on our upward journey through the cycle of life.
A cardinal is a representative of a loved one who has passed. When you see one, it means they are visiting you. They usually show up when you most need them or miss them. They also make an appearance during times of celebration as well as despair to let you know they will always be with you. Look for them, they'll appear. 

Summer Bucket List: How'd I Do?

Today is the first day of school for the school system where I work.  We had to be there at 7:00 a.m.  YUCK.  I think it's harder for me to go back this year after seeing pictures of a retirement party for a couple of teachers that started their careers the same time I did.   Can I really be that old?  That could have been me, but I would have had to have stayed in the same place for 30 years.  No, thank you.  Anyway, the kids are still making me laugh, which is a requirement for me to continue working!  Well, that, and increasing my retirement fund.
It's time to look back at the "Summer Bucket List" I made back at the end of May and see how I did.

~  Clean the house.  By that, I mean really clean the house.
I actually did pretty well with this.  Doing those posts of my house may have helped a little; I didn't want to let y'all think that I didn't take care of my house! :)

~  Clean out closets.  There are a couple of closets that have been neglected; I need to pay attention to them and get them reorganized.
The hall closet was reorganized and cleaned out.  That was the main one I wanted to do.  I still need to do the front hall closet. We have quite a few jackets that are just hanging in there that need to be donated.

~  Look through the totes in the basement and purge them.  We've been in the house for almost 10 years; it's time to seriously get in there and get rid of some stuff.
I made it through some of the totes, but I couldn't do anything else because the stuff in there isn't mine.

~  Eat right.  I'm a stress eater, and this past school year was very stressful, which resulted in quite a bit of weight gain.
Yeah for this one!!!  I did very well with this.  My lab results for my A1C & cholesterol (as well as the numbers on the scale) confirmed this.

~  Exercise more.  (See the previous explanation)
See above.  I walked every weekday at 6 a.m., except for a couple of days when we were in Mobile & Huntsville, and then a couple of days after Mama passed away.  I also did my arm exercises.  I gave myself a break on the weekends.

~  Read.  I have about a gazillion books on my Kindle app that need to be read.
I did much better in June than July, but I only have 1 more book to finish before I complete my Goodreads Book Challenge.  I'm about half-way through "Killing Jesus" (Bill O'Reilly).  

~  Keep the tv off during the day.
I kept the tv off most days until around 5 or 6 pm.  Except when I watched "Orange is the New Black".  I watched it through ChromeCast (like Apple TV) and it was easier to watch it while CH was at work so I wouldn't slow down the internet when he wanted to play his little computer game World of Tanks in the evening.

~  Limit my time on the computer during the day.
Some days were better than others.  I would check emails & read blogs a little bit in the morning, then close my laptop and do things around the house.

~  Do a better job at blogging.
Looking back at the number of posts I wrote, I guess I could've done better than I did.  Out of all the items on my list, this one was the least successful.

So, there you have it.  If you had a summer bucket list, how did you do or how are you doing (since it's really the middle of summer!)?

The Story of Our House: Bedrooms & Bathrooms Then & Now

Our house has 3 or 4 bedrooms.  Since the room off of the kitchen has a closet, we used it as a bedroom so each of the boys would have their own room.  Since the house was built in the 60's, the rooms' sizes are okay, but the closets are extremely small.  That's the biggest thing I miss about our SC house:  the closets. 
As with the living room and hallway, we pulled up the carpet in favor of the hardwood floors.
This bedroom is currently being used as CH's office, but we plan on moving it to bedroom #3 and making putting a bed in it to be used as a guest room:
(click on the pictures for a better view)

 Bedroom 2 can be used as a guest bedroom, or for the boys who aren't living at home now.
I'm not sure what the woman used Bedroom 4 for, but we used it as a bedroom.  This is the room we plan on using for an office.

And the Master:

If you look closer in the "Then" pictures, you can see just how much work we had to do on the walls.  The ceiling was in the same shape.
As recent as last summer, CH had the master bath renovated.  When we moved in, we had new toilets put in because the old ones didn't work, and, I believe, weren't sealed correctly.  (YUCK)  We decided to keep the tubs because it would've been too hard to get them out.  Besides, they're in decent shape, and you just can't find tubs like these any more.  We wanted to get them redone in white, but the guy who was recommended to us never called CH back after multiple messages were left. With the shower curtains closed, you really can't tell, anyway.
The hall bathroom was redone a few years ago.
There are windows in the bathtub/shower areas.  I bought a shower curtain and cut it to size, then hung those up.  Not the prettiest, but it works!
I've enjoyed comparing our house when we bought it to now.  Sometimes you need to go back and see what a change it's gone through.  If you have any suggestions for future improvements, please don't hesitate to speak up!  Especially with that divider in the living room!

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