Monday, October 22, 2012

will you be my buddy? Buddy Walk 2012 Bham

So . . .guess what Laura and I did a week ago? We walked in the Buddy Walk held at Regions Park which just happens to be very convenient to our house!! I had never heard of the Buddy Walk before this year. One day I was driving down Shades Crest Road and I saw a sign in someones front yard advertising the walk. A few days later, I received a text from Laura asking if I would like to walk with her and the team from her school. I said, "YES!" She said that she was ordering a t-shirt for me. What can I say . . .I'm a sucker for a new t-shirt!! On the day of the walk, we went to church and had lunch at Grandmother's house after church and then rode out to Regions Park. I never dreamed that it was such a large walk.  It is not on the same level as the Susan Komen Race for the Cure but there were a lot of people at Regions Park!! I had no idea what to expect. They had a stage and they gave out some awards - things like the team who raised the most money and the team who had the most members. There were children everywhere - from infants in strollers to "big" kids . . .and I don't think I realized the wide range of abilities for a person who has Down Syndrome. In order to get the crowd fired up, they played some dance tunes and the whole crowd was dancing. They played the Cupid Shuffle (I think that is the name) - seems like that song has been played at every wedding reception this year. They also played Y.M.C.A. and that is what the crowd was doing as I snapped this photo. I didn't know this and I haven't verified this fact, but someone told me this week that many children/adults who have Down Syndrome love to dance. Now I don't know how that compares with the population at large. Lots of folks like to dance . . .and there was dancing going on all over this place.  

The reason Laura wanted to walk in the Buddy Walk is because "her child" that she works with every single day has Down Syndrome.  She told me that I couldn't post any pictures of him on here or on facebook but just let me tell you . . .I got some great shots and I have printed the photos.  I have a set for the special ed teacher (I hope that is still the title for that teaching position - if it is not, please forgive me).  I also have a set of photos for the student's daddy.  His daddy walked with us and it was nice to meet both of them.  Laura's little boy loves to dance and I have some cute pictures of him dancing.  I also have a great picture of him with Chuck E. Cheese!  (that rat had to be so hot in that furry costume!!)

We had turned the corner and I was able to look back over the rest of the folks coming along behind us.  We somehow ended up toward the front of the walk which was nice.  See, I told you there were lots of folks!!!

I met some of the teachers from Laura's school.  Everyone was really nice.  This was their official group from the school. 

Unbeknownst (that is evidently not a word because the "abc checker" won't recognize it -- I've heard it before so I'm wondering if I have it spelled so incorrectly that checker can't recognize the word!!!!) to me, we were supposed to wear lots of bling.  Laura's teacher friend had on her bling.  I had accidentally left my pearl necklace and earrings on with my t-shirt and shorts so I fit right in!!  In the picture above, the girl on the far right with red hair is from England.  She is doing the teacher exchange program.  I loved listening to her talk!

There were inflatables for the children and there were food tents and lots of different groups had their own tents.  There was even a tent for information about adopting a child with Down Syndrome.  I wanted to slide down this slide but I think I'm over the weight limit.  Doesn't it look fun????

This bike was one of my favorite things.  This is either a grandfather or an older father.  His special needs son was usually on the other seat.  I wonder where in the world they found a bike like that so that he could ride and I also wondered if they had made it . . .and I wondered how much something like that would cost.
There was also a boy scout troop carrying signs with a picture of their buddy who was also a scout.

I can't believe it - just a couple of weeks ago, I walked in the mental health walk and then the Buddy Walk.  Neither was a long walk - maybe a mile or so - both walks were short because the short walk allowed those affected to walk with us - to use their abilities!!!

I am so proud of Laura. Not only is she working with this sweet child every single day but she has agreed to sit with another child on Sunday nights at our church during confirmation. He is one of a set of quads . . and he is non-verbal . . .and this way, he can be confirmed with his siblings. I am a middle-aged mom and I am so proud of my girl!!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Goin' to Ruffner Mountain . . .gonna get married . . .

Guess what? Another wedding? Yes!! How did you ever guess? I love that we have been to so many this year and I love how different each one has been and how the service and the decor and the food all tell the story of the bride and groom.  Kendall and Nathan got married on October 13 at Ruffner Mountain.  It was a small wedding and Mark and I felt so honored to be included!!  Kendall is a twin (boy/girl) and the same age as Laura and Glenn.  She was in Sunday School with them in junior high/high school (I think - not sure of the exact years).  Fast forward to 2010 when the young adult group started meeting at our house and Kendall came to the very first study!!  She brought her friend, Nathan.  As Nathan was walking up the front porch steps, he and Mark realized that they knew each other.  Nathan's mom had worked with Mark.  Small world.  Anyway, we have loved getting to know Kendall and Nathan and now they are married!!!  The venue was quite pretty.  I loved the sheer curtains that were a "shield" from the parking lot and I loved how they blew in the breeze.  The wedding was held in the late afternoon and the sun was shining directly into the pavilion.  Very pretty (but one side of my face got sunburned!!)  (I just re-read that paragraph and it is all over the place but I am tired tonight so it is going to stay just like it is!!)

Since the wedding was outside, I sneaked a couple of snapshots in during the ceremony.  No flash needed . . .and only a tiny click.  I took my good camera this time - no more phones if I want to take lots of photos.   The groom and groomsmen wore brown tuxes which I don't think I've ever seen but I really loved the way they looked with the green dresses.  Both brown and green are colors that were reflected all around us as the pavilion felt almost like a tree house.

Dave did the service (I'm sure there is some correct preacher lingo for that) -- he performed the ceremony and preached the homily and blessed the elements (that sounds more official, doesn't it?).  It was good to see Dave and Angela and Leo and to visit with them.  He made us all laugh several times which I think is great in a marriage ceremony when everyone is so nervous!!

The reception was held in the actual "nature center" where the exhibits are located.  There was a cupcake table and you can see the nature theme . . cupcakes on a stump!!  We were once again in the trees which was quite lovely.  My only complaint was that I wore high heels (mistake!!) and we walked across the parking lot from the wedding location to the reception (half a block or so .  .) not good for me in high heels.  Funny story about my shoes . . .I hate shoes.  I love to look at them and I love to see them on other people's feet but I hate shoes.  Give me a pair of flip flops anytime and I am a happy girl.  I will still be wearing flip flops in December.  January is about the only month that I don't wear them.  Other people will have on boots . . and I will have on flip flops.  So . . .I had on my brown flip flops in the car because we were going to Bass Pro Shop after the wedding.  (as I typed those words, I laughed out loud - sounds like a red neck date to me!!).  Mark pulled up to the venue (in our big and black and shiny 4X4 pick up truck (red neck??) and to get out of the truck,  I have to slide off the seat to the ground . . .and I didn't have my shoes on.  I was standing there putting them on in the parking lot.  Mark said, "Lisa - why didn't you do that in the car?"  I smiled and looked at him and responded, "I don't care."  He just shook his head and muttered, "I know you don't."  He might drive a pick up truck (which is really fancy) and he might hunt and fish but he also dresses well and cares . . .well, I guess about what people think.  I have a tendency not to care as much.  I am who I am . . .and I love flip flops . . .and you can talk about me and my flip flops . . .but I'm still probably going to wear them.  If I could find just a few pairs of really really comfortable shoes . . .I would buy them.  I have a brown pair of merrells and a black pair and they are almost (not totally but almost) comfortable.  I don't remember the last time I had shoes (besides flip flops) that I would call comfortable.  OK - sorry about that long tangent . . .back to the wedding . . . .

Look - there was a bear guarding the cakes (the bear didn't stop people from cutting the cakes before the bride had even seen them).

There was a deck outside the reception room and that is where we spent most of our time.  We were so excited to visit with Ed and Amy and Kendall and Nathan and Will.  They are no longer at our church but are helping Dave plant a new church and so we miss them on Tuesday nights.  I am proud of all of them.  Mark really loves talking with Ed and had been telling me things for days . . .like "Ed loves Zombies.  I want to tell him about the Zombie Chase run."  They also really like to talk about guns and other stuff.

The reception table (food line) was between some exhibits which was really nice because there was stuff to look at while you waited.  Leo was fascinated with the turtles.

Here is the lovely bride!!!  Kendall - why is your arm behind your back???  hahahaha!

Her dress was lovely. Her momma looked so pretty, too (I didn't get a picture) and Nathan looked handsome. It was really a nice wedding. Their first act as husband and wife was to serve communion to the guests. That was really special. Kendall's dad died years ago and her twin brother walked her down the aisle. I almost cried when Dave asked him, "who gives this woman to be married . . " and her brother said, "I do on behalf of our mother." It was just such a sweet moment . . .and as one whose parents have been dead a long time . . .it was just special.  Guess what?  I think we have only one more wedding  in 2012. . . in November!!  But 2013 is going to be filled with weddings, too!!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

how could it possibly be in such a MESS????

If you are my friend on facebook, you have already seen the before and after pics of my pantry. (as a matter of fact, one of Mark's male co-workers had something snarky to say about the fact that I posted those pictures . . .I unfriended him.)  I've been on a cleaning frenzy for the last few weeks. I was so bothered by all the mess in my house that I actually took a day of vacation this week and have cleaned out even more things!!! Something happened when I went back to work - NOT ENOUGH T.I.M.E. Anyone else have that problem?  I cleaned out my pantry last year and you would think we could keep it clean BUT we can't seem to do so.  I know that some of it is my problem, but my wonderful husband (who really is great) has a tendency to take things out and put things back anywhere there is a space.  If I clean out a closet, he finds something to put in the empty space.  As a matter of fact, this morning when I got up, the baggies were just sitting on a shelf in the pantry . . .hmmmmm.  Anyway, this is what my pantry looked like a week or so ago.  My friend, Kristi, loves these pictures because she says they make her feel better about herself and her pantry.  I'm so glad I can be of assistance.

You  need to know this - buried in this picture are two little shelving units, a turntable or two and a couple of little white bins.

Look at the floor - the mess even spills over to the floor.  I have found out an important fact in my lifetime.  If you really want to organize something . . .you have to start from scratch.  So I did - once again.  I emptied out everything from my pantry.  E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.  I wish I had time to paint the inside - it needs it.  Now you can see the little shelves and white bins.
oh my goodness - I shouldn't even show this . . .here is everything from the pantry - overflowing all over my very large dining room table.  Look in the chair on the left - there is one turntable.
I had a helper during all of this . . .he kept moving to the patches of sunshine.
I grouped like things together as I removed them from the pantry (as much as possible).  I looked at expiration dates as I started to put things back.  I actually DID NOT throw away very much.
Now everything has a place. Canned goods are together.  Sauces are together.  Even the cat food (bottom shelf - right corner) are together.  Now look at those two little shelves hanging under the bottom shelf.  "wraps" - foil, plastic, etc. are in the bin on the left.  "baggies" of all shapes and sizes are on the right.  Guess where I found the box of baggies this morning.  Stuck to the right of the cat food????  Really????? 

Cleaning out the pantry wasn't enough for that day.  I stopped in the middle of the cleaning and took a quick shower and a quick dry to the hair . . .no make-up . . .and ran to target to get more turntables.  Of course, I looked like crap - t-shirt with a couple of holes and no make-up and not fixed hair . . and I run into someone I haven't seen in 8 years -- AND she looked great.  She even had on pearls.  Alas, the story of my life.  Anyway . . I digress . . .on to the cleaning.  This is my spice cabinet.  I took every thing - every single item out and put it on the counter and I wiped off the shelves.
I bought a small turntable for each shelf.  The bottom shelf holds spices that begin with A-C.  The next shelf holds the rest of the alphabet and the top shelf holds salt and seasoning salt and cavenders and Slap Yo Mama - you know - those kinds of things.  Isn't it lovely????
So . . . what gets ahead of you in your house? Laundry? Cabinets? Linen Closets? Since I went back to work, it seems like I never get caught up. I will admit that I'm feeling just a little better!! Especially since this week, I cleaned out my closet - there is indeed a floor in my closet - imagine that???!!! I had to wear my allergy mask to clean it out because there was so much dust. Unbelievable amount of dust. I bought three big pretty baskets at target for $20 bucks each and put them on the top shelves of my closet and filled one with purses and bags and filled one with shoes that I don't wear often and I filled the last one with "stuff" that was just hanging out in my closet. I filled a bag with give-away clothes and another bag with trash. I still have a sack of stuff to go through but I'm going to do it one night next week. I also straightened the inside of all my kitchen cabinets. Now upstairs . . .that is a whole different story. (haha - pun not intended but funny) We have a huge walk-in attic storage space that is packed. I think that I will get Mark to pull everything out and put it in the guest room since there is no furniture in there right now. Then . . two closets in Laura's old room, a big closet in Glenn's room, a HUGE closet in the guest room and a "toy" closet and a "craft/wrapping paper" closet in the bonus room. Is there an end in sight? The problem is . . .by the time I finish the upstairs, will I have to start over downstairs? Only time will tell.

Friday, October 19, 2012

FREEZE FRAME! Not really!! How do you freeze okra?

There are many perks that come with working on a church staff. It is rare for someone to scream and curse at you (that is a biggie after working in the corporate world!). Let's see . . .what are some other perks? I get to serve communion often (really love that one). We can pray or read our Bible and no one will turn us in to "someone in charge." Lots of good perks!! Today's perk is about okra!! Several times a year, people just show up in the church office with "gifts" for us to share. A week or so ago, one of our fine members (as a matter of fact, he is one of the few members who will ever say "amen" or "hallelujah" out loud!!) brought us some of the bounty from his garden. I brought a giant sack of okra home and fried some (using another church members recipe) and then I didn't want to waste the remainder . . .so I decided to freeze it to use in my gumbo on New Year's Eve. I had no idea how to freeze okra so I googled "how to freeze okra." Works every time. This is what you do . . . the first step is to simply wash the okra.

Next step is to cut off the little stem BUT don't cut down into the seed pod.  You know why you don't want to cut down into the seed pod?  It will make the water and okra all slimy!!  You can see from the photos that I was standing in my kitchen with the afternoon sun pouring through the windows!!

Fill a pot in the sink with ice and water (you will need it soon!!)

Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil.  As soon as the water is boiling, drop the okra into the boiling water and set the kitchen timer for 3 minutes.

Let that okra boil for 3 minutes.  If you  have large pods, let it boil for 4 minutes.  This okra was perfect - small tender pods picked lovingly at just the right time!!

As soon as the timer goes off, pour the okra and boiling water into a colander and IMMEDIATELY drop the okra into the "ice bath" that you prepared earlier.  This stops the cooking process.

I then cut the okra into desired size pieces (just perfect for gumbo or homemade soup) and spread it out on a cookie sheet and popped the whole cookie sheet into the freezer for about 20-30 minutes.

After 30 minutes or so, I took the okra out of the freezer and put it into freezer bags. I zipped the closing almost closed (on the baggie) and stuck a straw down through the tiny hole and sucked out all the air (cheap woman's way to vacuum seal!!). The okra will be wonderful to use later in the winter!! p.s. I hate boiled okra but I love to use it in soup and gumbo!!
p.s.s. I grew up in a very blue collar family and we always called it "okry" . . .I believe I was a young adult before I realized that it is really "okra"

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Life is a gift - yes, it is!!!

This is my friend, Nancy. Nancy is not JUST my friend, she is also Mark's first cousin. Nancy is not just my friend and Mark's cousin . . .without Nancy, I might never have met Mark! Years ago (30?? years ago!!), Nancy and her sister, Sally organized a canoe trip down on the Cahaba River for a group of single young adults.  Mark was living out of town but came home a lot on the weekends and Nancy and Sally begged Mark and George to go on that canoe trip.  I met Mark that day and the rest is history.  Nancy is not just those things I mentioned . . .friend, cousin, match-maker . . .Nancy IS A FIGHTER AND A SURVIVOR!! Yes, she is!!! Life is indeed a gift and it is meant to be celebrated.  Doesn't she look pretty in pink???

We even had pink cupcakes at our celebration - Edgar's is known for their strawberry cakes/cupcakes.

We had birthday balloons . . .

and a candle . . .we had laughter - lots of laughter . . .

. . . .we also had the most important ingredient. . . friendship and love.  Sometimes I am amazed at all the blessings in my life.  Lunch with friends is one of those wonderful blessings.  Nancy's birthday was and is indeed a celebration.  That birthday lunch was a celebration that she was born all those years ago (sorry - couldn't help since she is a little older than I)!!

The birthday celebration was also a celebration of the gift of life - for each one of us. I thank God for Nancy!!  (p.s. I also thank God for her recent clean scans!!)  Look at those smiles - we are blessed.  Yes, we are.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Where have I been??

Where have I been for the last few weeks??? Well, my blog wouldn't accept any more photos . . .so I had to wait until last Friday when I was off and could sit down and follow the directions to purchase some more storage space. My friend, Kat, tried to help me but alas . . .her idea would not work. So what have I been doing? We've been attending weddings!! I think I need to rename my blog . . .the wedding guest . . . or something equally as silly. I have loved attending all of these weddings. We love the folks getting married and so it has been a pleasure. The McKaskles are like our family -- they have twins also!! They had one wedding last fall and one wedding this fall and we were able to attend both. This wedding was in Atlanta and it was at 11:00 a.m. so we decided to drive over very early on Saturday morning . . .yes, that is the sun rising in that first picture.  It was dark when we left our house.  Our trip was made much more fun by the addition of two church friends - Tina and Lisa (another Lisa!! . . .who just happens to read my blog).  I told them that it was their job to make us laugh all the way to Atlanta and back . . .and they did a pretty good job!!!

We laughed a lot. They did a really good job!!

We arrived at Peachtree Road UMC and the church was beautiful. We toured the main sanctuary and we actually talked to a docent . . .I was surprised that a church had docents who would give tours. They were doing flowers on the altar for an evening wedding and it was a huge arrangement.  After our tour, we went into the chapel. The chapel had its own pipe organ.   I didn't take any pictures during the ceremony . . .just this one of the acolytes coming in to light the candles. I wish that I had taken a picture of the back of the chapel. The pipes in the back came out of the wall like long skinny horns. I was talking to Scott (friend and choir director at our church) about those horns and he said, "Oh!  the Trompette en Chamade" - I said, "whatever!!"  (I did not remember what he called them and I have just googled images of pipe organ horns until I found some similar ones!!)

Isn't this car amazing? This was the car and chauffeur for the bride and groom!! I've never seen a female chauffeur, have you?

The reception was held at Chastain Park. Very cool location. We had the hardest time finding the place. We were within a block or so but our GPS kept telling us to go the wrong way. We should have followed Guy and Phella. They called us from the parking lot and we had to turn around!! The centerpieces were all kind of "earthy" - sticks and small stumps amongs the flowers - very pretty.

Speaking of Guy and Phella -- here they are. They are so photogenic!! (those are the sticks from another flower arrangement coming out of the back of Phella's head!!)

Hayden and Jan gave the most unique gift to both of their girls. They had an artist come to the reception and paint the reception while it was happening. The girls will have the painting forever. That is such a wonderful gift.

This was the view from the porch of the room. We were looking out over some folks training their horses. It was too hot to stand out there for very long.

The reception food was yummy. They served mimosas (you can see that is what I was drinking) and cranberry juice & vodka (I've always called those a poinsettia but Lisa called them something else . . . .) They served all sorts of brunch items like hash browns (my fav) and eggs (Mark's fav) and then they had a table with mac and cheese (I think??) and slaw and these really neat BBQ roll ups (on the right of the plate). The guy was making those roll ups as fast as the group could eat them!!   By the way, this was a small plate NOT a large plate!!  The thing under the corn is a fried green tomato and it was yummy!! Oh by the way, the reception was a Jazz Brunch.

Here is a picture of pretty Tina. We have been to several weddings together and have sat together at several wedding receptions in the last year or so!! I love Tina. She is married to our youth pastor and they have three gorgeous little girls. I feel like Mark and I have been so blessed because we get to hang out with some of these amazing young adults and young parents.   She was nice enough to snap a pic of me!!  I have on my "wedding" dress.  I have several (depending on the time of day and weather) so you will seem the same dresses over and over in my pictures!!

In this picture, Jan and Hayden had just entered the room and they were greeting us (which was kind of easy because we were sitting at the table right inside the door!!)

I think they were as happy to see us as we were to see them. For the last five or six years, we have all been at the beach together (Guy and Phella, Hayden and Jan, Mark and me) on this same weekend. Kind of neat that we were able to still be together even though we weren't at the beach.

Look at Jan's cool skirt. It reminds me of Belle's dress in Beauty and the Beast!!

Mark and Hayden were so happy to be together. They are so funny together. Jan and Hayden are our friends who can make us laugh until we cry!!

They did a lead out and Hayden and Jan entered first.

Then the bridesmaids and groomsmen. The bridesmaid's skirts and sweaters were so cute and just perfect for a morning wedding. I'm never going to a wedding without my real camera again (I say that but I probably will!!)  I love my phone and it takes great pictures but the operator (that would be me) was not doing such a great job on this day.  Oh - you can see more sticks in this picture.  They were really very pretty.

Here is the sweet bride (and of course, the groom!!). Her dress was perfect for a morning wedding.

If you are tired of looking at pictures . . .I'm almost finished!!! Tina and the girls - Rebecca and Anna Claire.

Here is a sneak peak at the painting. Look - you can see Jan in her yellow skirt!

The cake and all the flowers were beautiful. It was a lovely wedding and it was great to spend time with friends. The tall vases had wood down in them.  It was very unique but very attractive.

Stay tuned - more weddings to come!!  I was really sad that we had to miss one wedding recently - it was in Memphis and we just couldn't figure out how to get there and get back and Mark had a prior commitment but oh I hated to miss it.  The daddy of the groom (Duane) and Mark have been friends for a long time - they meet every Tuesday morning (at 6:00 a.m.!!!!)  in a men's accountability group (Emmaus reunion group) and they have been doing that for 10 or 15 years.  They've been meeting since our kids were in middle school.  The groom's mom (Terrie) and I were in Thursday morning Bible studies together back when I was a stay at home mom.  We are all in the same Sunday School class and they are sweet friends.  You can see the lovely bride in the post about Whitney's Tea.  I was so happy that I could help with the tea and attend another party since we weren't able to attend the wedding.

ok - more weddings to come . . .