Thursday, April 28, 2011

Weathering the Storms

First of all, thank you so very much to everyone who has sent love and prayers to us. Jeff and I are fine. There was no damage at our home in Alabaster and we even had very little debris end up in our yard. We recognize that we were very fortunate because we know for sure one tornado literally went right over us! My family in Cullman is also safe. Catherine didn't have any damage at her house, only debris and stuff in the yard. We did have some minor damage out at the farm, but we were very fortunate.

I'm heartbroken to see the devastation all over. I will admit my own selfishness and crying a lot of tears over the damage to my home church. I know it's just a building and it can be fixed, but that place is as much my home as any house I may have lived in (more so in many ways) and a little piece of my soul was destroyed along with it! This is a picture of one of the windows in the sanctuary. I can't say for certain, but I think this is actually the window in several of my wedding photos.

Working in the hospital today was a surreal experience. I was definitely overwhelmed. I went down to the Emergency Department for a while and I really was in shock of what I was seeing and hearing. The stories are absolutely heartbreaking. I will be processing this for a long, long time.

Now that the physical storms are over, the mental/spiritual/emotional ones are just beginning, not only for me but for everyone who has been touched by this in any way (which, if you're reading this, I'm guessing also includes you!) Love and prayers to all!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dining Out For Life 2011

It's that time of year again! Dining out for Life in Birmingham is TOMORROW (April 28th)! It's also perfect timing in my world because the fridge will be totally cleaned out in preparation for our leaving town on Friday, so dinner out Thursday is pretty much a given. Now we (and you!) can enjoy a wonderful meal and help a good cause, too!

I have no idea where I will be headed for dinner, but there are a few of my favorite places on the list.

Silvertron Cafe - This is where Jeff and I went on our first date, and we still go here occasionally as a special place for us. Very good stuff. I'm partial to the steak sandwiches, Jeff could eat his weight in onion rings.

Cantina - super-duper yummy food. I'm partial to the gaucho steak sandwich. They're only doing lunch this year so I will have to miss out, but if you're hunting a good lunch spot, check them out!

Jackson's Bar & Bistro - Very good food and the only place I've found in the states that can make a good Pimms Cup! And, they win the prize for donating the highest percentage of proceeds of all the participating restaurants (33%)

Or, if you need some other suggestions, just check out the complete list of participating restaurants! Can't wait to hear about where you go tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Week 16

Yes, I know I'm doing my weekly update early this week. But let's be real. I've got a million things going on right now, not to mention the fact that I have a very important reminder to give everyone tomorrow. It's hard to believe that it's been almost four months since I started this little project. I'm still really enjoying it, although I think I'm putting a little extra pressure on myself because I really do want to be able to say I have completed all of this stuff in the 101 weeks I gave myself. So what have I accomplished this week?

24 - Completed! I won't tell you who the lucky recipient of said letter is because it only recently made its way into the mail and hasn't been received yet, but it was a good thing to sit down and do! I'm hoping to do it again soon! So if you want a "real" letter, drop me your address and I'll make it happen!

44 - Completed! This one was kind of unintentional. Jeff has decided to take on couponing as a hobby (this house-husband thing is going a bit too far, but that's another tangent for another day) and so he headed off to the store last week to take care of business. I was surprised, but I didn't gripe or complain about any of it, I was just grateful that it was one less thing I'd have to deal with!

48 - In Process - So far, so good on this one. The challenge will be while we're on vacation...

50 - Completed! I'm satisfied with my ability to cross this one off my list, but I'm looking forward to continuing to explore and practice spiritual disciplines as I seek a consistent routine that works for me.

52 - Completed! - This was something I totally didn't expect to happen this week! I went shopping planning to help my mother-in-law find something and ended up with THE most fabulous dress. I normally don't wear dresses because they just don't fit me right, but this one was perfect! I wore my fabulous red shoes with it this morning and it was awesome, but I'm also thinking some bright colored sandals would be good too. And maybe some funky jewelry...

59 - Completed! Jeff sat down and taught me how to play chess this week. I've sort of had a vague idea from self-teaching using the computer, but it's very different sitting down to play with another individual. I definitely need to practice, but I'm getting it. I could see us doing more of this!

65 - Completed! I got my herbs put in AND as a bonus added some cherry tomatoes and jalapeno peppers that my father-in-law brought us. Still contemplating another herb or two, but those would have to go into pots, so we'll wait and see.

So yeah, I'd say it's been a very productive week! This brings my total of completed tasks up to 15! So I'm almost caught up with an average pace! This time next week I will be out on a big boat, so it'll be two weeks before you get another update, but I am very excited about all the stuff I want to be able to cross off the list when I get back! Hopefully by then I'll be ahead of the curve!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Monday

Whew! I really did have all kinds of intentions of posting some fun (and perhaps even thought-provoking) Holy Week/Easter things but somehow this crazy week got away from me, so will you settle for a brief re-cap?

Holy Thursday - Had my usual service of communion and tenebrae. It was lovely, and surprisingly well attended. I think we had 10 this year (which is a lot for a special service!) This is probably one of my favorite services to plan and lead all year long!

Good Friday - I actually had this day off from work. In homage to my great-grandfather, I did a little planting but for the most part it was a low-key day around our house.

Saturday - This was a CRAZY busy day for me. I agreed to cover 4 hours at the hospital for someone, and Jeff was a trooper and came with me. After I got done there, we headed over to the church for the Easter Egg hunt. We had about 30 people for that, so that was good. Then after that was over, we went home for a few minutes, then up to the shopping center to meet Jeff's parents. His mother and I both ended up getting new dresses, then we went to meet some folks for dinner. I was thinking there would be 6-10, but it was more like double that! Needless to say I was exhausted by the time we got home.

Easter - Beautiful day! We headed to church, which was a very nice service. We were joined there by Jeff's parents and my step-mom so that was great. Then we went to lunch. Sadly we didn't get to go see any of the other family because I had to be at the hospital at 4 for my "real" on-call shift.

So today is my "day of rest". I have some leftover candy from the egg hunt so I'm a happy girl. This is going to be a busy week, but something about a new season inspires and motivates me!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Week 15

Another week, another chance to check in on my 101 list.

48 - In Process - Technically I could probably cross this one off my list. I finally got a pedometer and discovered that I'm walking at least 4 miles in a given day, much less each week! Still, I need the discipline of walking in addition to what I HAVE to do for work, so I'll let this week count as the first of my month. It'll be good for me to have the motivation to keep myself moving, especially going on vacation!

50 - Continued - I could probably cross this one off the list, but I'm not satisfied with what I've done so I want to keep working on it. It's my list so I get to do things like that. I'm not doing all this stuff just for to have something to do, but because I think I can get something from the experience!

65 - Still in Process - I had every intention of getting my stuff planted this week, but it just hasn't happened yet. I will probably do it tonight when I get home from work, but it has to be done before company comes this weekend!

97 - Completed - This was sort of a surprise to have completed at this point, but it was also super-rewarding. Monday after I got home from being on call, I told Jeff exactly what I wanted to do with my day - take a nap, go have Chinese for lunch, get a new memory card for my camera, and go the Botanical Gardens. It was a wonderful day and exactly what I hoped for! Even though this one is officially off the list now, it's something I will continue to try and do!

My "concrete goal" of going to a movie or the zoo didn't happen. The Botanical Gardens was nice, but I still want to go to the zoo! I think I will put that aside as the concrete goal until we get back from the cruise. Instead, my goal for this week will be to go see a movie!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Garden 2011

Well, now that it's nice and warm, we decided it was time to get the garden going again.

The first task was the flowers for the front of the house. We got some nice new hanging baskets last year so we filled them with petunias. We also decided we need something for the bed around the mailbox so I got some lavender. Unfortunately, it still looks kind of puny so I'll have to get some other stuff to go out there, too. I also got a pot of African daisies to go on the front porch just because they were pretty.

For the herb garden I picked out some dill and some chives. My rosemary and thyme survived the winter. The rosemary got re-potted (finally!) and the thyme is still hanging out. I am thinking I will get some tarragon or sage, I'm not sure which yet. I may also put some peppers in, but I've not decided. I guess I'll wait and see what looks good the next time I'm out.

For the vegetable garden we got the usuals - tomatoes, pickling cucumbers, and peppers. We also got some cabbage and Jeff is going to start some more pole beans from seed. We'll probably also get a watermelon vine if we can find any!

And I also got my replacement rose bush! I thought I wanted one with big roses since the other one is little pink roses, but this was a really neat hybrid of three colors, so I got it and I'm really loving it. The picture is my "old" rose bush from last year, but it just looks so pretty I couldn't help but share! It's the best looking of anything right now. I'll post more pictures once stuff starts looking better!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Five - Birthdays

Today's Friday Five lets us talk about a topic with which I have a love-hate relationship. I don't want to be a birthday scrooge, but I just don't like them that much.

What are your feelings about celebrating birthdays, especially your own? - Birthdays for other people are fun, but I absolutely HATE celebrating my birthday. It never fails, something always goes horribly wrong and it's just a nightmare. If anyone ever watched Mad About You, there was one episode that highlights the ways Jamie has tried over the years to give Paul a fabulous birthday, with each year failing more miserably than the last. That's pretty much how things seem to go for me, so I'd just as soon not even go there...

Do you have any family traditions about birthdays? - Not anymore. We used to always go out as a family with the birthday person picking the place, but that got stopped about my 21st (another rant for another day!) One tradition I would like to start with our children would be birthday outings/trips in place of parties. We'll see how that goes...

Is it easy to remember friends/family members birthdays? If so, how do you do it? - I'm not great at remembering lots on my own, but I do keep pretty good records. And facebook is such a huge help it's not even funny! Now if only I could stay one step ahead and actually MAIL cards on time...

What was one of your favorite birthdays (or unhappiest?) - Really and truly I don't have a favorite or happiest birthday that I can remember. I have lots of really unhappy birthday stories but those just kind of make me feel like Debbie Downer so I'll just say that, as of right now, I don't have a favorite birthday. Maybe one of these days I can change that, but right now I'm not holding my breath.

Post anything else you want to share about birthdays - I'm not a huge cake person, I'd much prefer to just stick to the ice cream! And the picture is of me at my second birthday party. I wish I could find a dress like that in my size now, it was cute!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Week 14

I have been thinking about my approach to my list and think I'm missing something in my approach. Although I'm doing weekly check ins and it's pretty constantly on my mind, I think I need to make at least one concrete goal per week if I actually want to make this stuff happen! But first, let's check in on what has been happening in the past week!

#50 - Almost done - I'm beginning my newest discipline(s) this week. I'm sort of looking at combining two - praying the psalms and lectio divina. We'll see how it goes!

#65 - In Process - I have re-potted my Rosemary and have secured some chives and dill, but still have a little space to add more. I'm in the process of deciding what I want. I'm thinking I may do some peppers and some sage, but we'll have to see.

#66 - Completed! Yay! We decided to tackle the landscaping head on this week, so while we were out buying plants, I casually wandered over to the roses and fell in love with a wonderful hybrid tea rose that has three different colors in it. It was already starting to bud and bloom, so it's better off than the stick in a bucket of dirt I had last time! I got it all re-potted by myself and it's adjusting nicely to its new home by our fence! We also put up new hanging baskets of petunias, some flowers (I don't remember the name) by the retaining wall, a pot of daisies on the porch, lavender by the mailbox, and a dwarf gardenia that will eventually have a permanent home in the back yard!

#87 - I'm seriously considering modifying this one. Originally it was to go see the symphony, but I sort of feel like I have done that after having seen the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra. They were really fantastic and it was a totally soul-feeding experience. Part of me feels like changing it after the fact would be cheating, and I really would like to go to the symphony too, so I guess it will stay for the time being.

So my goal for this week - If the weather is nice on Friday, go to the zoo with Jeff. If it's rainy, we'll go to a movie instead. And if I have a chance, I want to finish up my herb garden. Ok, so that's several goals. It should make it that much easier to complete at least one of them!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

ACPE National Conference 2011

I don't know what possessed me, but I decided it would be a good idea to attend the ACPE national conference in Salt Lake City. I thought it would be cool. I mean really, how often would I get the chance to do something like this? Plus, I'm seriously considering doing supervisory CPE so the chance to do a little networking at the conference never hurt anyone!

I flew out with my classmate Leigh Ann who was kind enough to agree to share a hotel room with me also! Her classmate from seminary, Yvonne, stayed with us also, so it was fun to have a few partners in crime while we were out there.

Because I was later registering I honestly didn't expect to get into a workshop I was interested in, but I did! It was on narrative theology, which was very exciting. The workshop itself was pretty good, but I got the impression that the person leading/teaching it had never really done this before because the other members of the class seemed to take more of a lead in it. Even though most of it was geared toward being used as a supervisor (I think I was the only person who wasn't a supervisor in that group!) I definitely saw some implications for working with patients as well!

The best part about being there as a student was that we weren't on any committees so we didn't have to go to those meetings and had some good down time to hang out and explore. Our hotel was about half a mile from the Mormon temple and all the surrounding buildings, so I knew I wanted to do some exploring around there. The weather was supposed to be cooler than at home (but then again, almost anywhere is going to be cooler than home!) and rainy, but I was hopeful that I'd get to do some exploring anyway. Sadly, it was not only rainy, it SNOWED most of the time! Seriously? It actually wasn't too bad and it was kind of neat. We did get to do a little exploring around the Temple Square when we went to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. That was stinking amazing! Loved it! I definitely would like to go back and see more of the visitor's centers and generally poke around some more. The general scenery of the mountains was just amazing! I was seriously in awe every time I stepped outside and saw these beautiful, snow-capped peaks as the backdrop to everything!

I decided to leave the computer at home since internet access wasn't free, and instead did all my work "the old fashioned way" with a pen and a notebook! Isn't that such a novel idea? Yes, it made me slow down a little bit and I probably lost a few thoughts I would have liked to have captured that I probably could have gotten if I was typing, but it really did free me a bit! I wasn't totally cut off from technology. I still checked my e-mails on my phone and there was a computer in the hotel I could use, but it was nice to not have the distraction of just fooling around. I took some CPE reading with me (aren't I a good student?) but I was pretty much "roughing it" when it comes to distractions. That was good for me. I did get some work done, and also a little pleasure reading thanks to the kindle app on my phone (which pleasure reading is a self-care goal for this unit, so technically that gets work credit too!)

It was a wonderful trip and I really enjoyed it. My only regret was not taking Jeff! Next year the conference will be in Arlington, VA so we may try to make a little mini-vacation out of it if I am able to go! I am also certain I want to go back to Salt Lake City at some point just for fun, because it really was a beautiful place and I enjoyed my time there.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Week 13

Time to check in on the list once again! I decided that I'd start actually referencing the item number for each thing as I update, along with the status. We'll see how long this lasts!

#14 - IN PROGRESS. As you read this, I am on my way to visit one of my four new states - Utah! Stay tuned for more on this after I get back.

#45 - IN PROGRESS. We have spoken with the neighbors about getting together and have all said "hey we want to do this" but it's just a matter of actually doing it. Obviously, not gonna happen this weekend because of my being gone but perhaps next weekend if the weather continues to cooperate...

#99 - COMPLETED! Ok, so I cheated a little on this one and I made a no-bake key lime pie. But honestly, that's kind of what I was hoping for with this one, it's really tasty, and it's something I can see myself doing again, so I count this as a win! I'm sure I'll post a recipe soon so stay tuned.

There are lots of other things on the horizon, but right now I'm just focused on getting through this month! So far I've crossed off 7 items in 13 weeks. Still have to get myself back on track, but a least some things are happening!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Ham and Potato Casserole

This is something we didn't have super-often when I was growing up, but I definitely associate it with childhood (or the alternate version - ham and macaroni!) Unfortunately, my mom never made it like this and for the life of me I can't figure out why because it's so stinking easy!

Essentially, I take my recipe for hashbrown casserole and add some diced ham to it (and I retract my earlier statement about the shape of the hashbrowns not mattering. The shredded ones work so much better!) The one major adjustment I made this time was that instead of the cheddar cheese soup, I used a container of Philadelphia Cooking Creme. I've actually really enjoyed this stuff and it worked great in this casserole. I highly recommend it! I also cut the sour cream down to 8 oz, and it was fine.

Even on his current low-carb kick, Jeff couldn't resist a little bowl of this stuff. It's just that kind of fabulous comfort food! If you try it, let me know what you think.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday Five - Quick Picks

Today's Friday Five invites us to quickly pick five things that are good in our lives right now. I'm all for "quick" right now, so here goes!

Feeling better - I've been really under the weather this week but I'm finally starting to really feel better, which is wonderful!

Trips - I'm headed out to Utah on Wednesday for the national ACPE conference, then on a cruise at the end of the month.

Being productive - I'm meeting with my liaison to the Board of Ordained Ministry today to see about getting my rear in gear to reapply this year!

Affirmation - I got a good report from my consultation committee so that's always good to hear!

Puppy snuggles - these always make life a little bit better!

And my bonus something I could do without: Not having my voice back 100%. It makes everything so frustrating!