Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dash like a Warrior

I dashed like a warrior this morning with some amazing friends.

A co-worker turns 40 this week and wanted to do something special for her 40th. So she chose the Warrior Dash. Basically, this is a 5K trail run obstacle course. Yes, those pictures are real. I jumped over fire. It's a true story.

We started the weekend with a long drive to KC (we made a few pits stops...). There weren't more than a handful of quiet moments the whole drive.

After checking into our hotel, we headed to Zona Rosa for some shopping and eating.

 I am a library nerd. I want these. (But I stayed true to my clutter-free pledge and didn't even look at the price!)

Yogurtini - NOT as good as Orange Leaf.

I had so much fun hanging out with these girls. Well, women. :) I love them dearly and am so privileged to have such amazing coworkers. I can't even tell you how awesome they are. Maybe some day I'll try. It was great to get a chance to spend time with them outside of the school day. (And getting to hang out with them makes the fact that school starts two weeks from tomorrow - thanks, Amy, for pointing that out! - a little more bearable, because I get to see them!)

After our night on the town, Michelle's car was broken into (it may have been accidentally left unlocked) at QuikTrip and two phones and a purse (luckily minus the wallet) were stolen. Talk about a damper on the weekend! Fortunately, this didn't prevent us from talking and laughing until about 1:30 a.m.

This morning we headed out - to the WARRIOR DASH! Our wave started at 11:00. It was hot, hot, hot. The first mile, which didn't have any obstacles, was so hard, but after that things were pretty good. (They're gonna laugh at me if they read this.)


I promise, I was at least as muddy as everyone else! I just had to wash off first so I could go grab my camera so we could have some muddy pictures. Michelle promised to buy everyone an official photo of them crossing the finish line as a souvenir. I'm going to hold her to that one.

The race was hard. So hard. I was really worried about the obstacles, but compared to the trail, they were a piece of cake. The website wasn't kidding when it said they looked for the roughest, hilliest ground they could find. The trail was so muddy in some places that it was impossible to actually run - anyone would fall.

But I am so glad I did. I haven't really done much running since my knee surgery (2007). I definitely didn't train for anything until this. (Although I didn't really train, just worked my way up to 3 miles of running, which wasn't nearly enough for this race.) And really, as crazy as it might sound, it was fun. A lot of fun.

I don't know about anyone else, but I'll sign up for the second annual trip!

Friday, July 29, 2011

De-clutter... Space #1

One of my friends, Gretchen, recently blogged about her mission to simplify. (I hope it's okay that I'm linking to you, Gretch!) Her "organizing mantra" is from the Organizing Junkie: "Clutter = anything you don't love or use or have the space to store."

I love this. Except... we have a lot of room to store things. We have three bedrooms. Well - right now we have a bedroom and a study and a sewing/guest room. We have a full, unfinished basement. And when we were looking at houses, we vowed not to be "those people" - you know, who have so much stuff in the garage that they can't use it for cars.

(And while it does seem ridiculous to have a 3-bedroom house with a full unfinished basement for two people - and a dog - part of the reason we bought our abode is that this is most definitely our "forever" home, at least for as long as we live here in Atown... there's no "moving up" for us.)

So I decided I had to slightly modify the mantra: "Clutter = anything I don't love or use or have the space to store for a specific purpose."

I've been in a continual state of de-cluttering since I first happened across an episode of Hoarders. Yikes - that show. But I decided it was time to go through the house room by room and simplify, getting rid of things and organizing the spaces we use... and not storing things just because.... you know, just because someone wrapped it up for our wedding or just because it was a good book or just because I might use it some day even though I haven't used it ever or just because I don't know what to do with it or how to get rid of it. We'll probably still have a lot of stuff, but eventually...

I certainly do have things I store - but for a specific purpose. I probably only use my canner a handful of days out of the year. But it serves a purpose that I'm not going to give up. I have four boxes of Christmas decorations in the basement that just come out between Thanksgiving and New Year's. But they are part of a celebration (and also part of some major memories of my childhood and celebrations at my grandparents' homes). So that kind of storage is okay.

I don't have a deadline for this. It will probably happen in stages. One clean sweep of the office in July might leave things behind that don't seem as important in November. The "deep de-cluttering" began in the office and the sewing room. My next step is the basement - the boxes and boxes that I was storing for a garage sale, some day. That's all going away, before school starts.

So here's space #1... the office/study/den/whatever you prefer to call it. Before...

The desk does have drawers. This must have been taken right after we finished refinishing it and moved it into the room.

I probably have enough thank-you cards to last a while.

This was full of stuff - paper and cards and envelopes and crafty stuff. It's all either gone to the basement (to the boxes of things to get rid of - which are going away before school starts) or into the desk. Now it's been moved to another room to organize. This being emptied is probably the biggest difference in the room.

after... (you can't really tell that much of a difference, but I promise, there was a whole box of stuff, plus a couple huge stacks of paper that was recycled or shredded. oh - and the pictures were all hung a long time ago; there just aren't any pictures of the in-between.)

The laptop does help the desk look less cluttered. Ignore the textbooks... I'm almost done with that class.

I do have some questions, though, mostly about paper clutter. Questions like - how long should you keep your pay stub? How many years do you need to save copies of your tax return? What about statements from your health insurance company? Paid bills? ACT scores?

(No. I'm kidding. I figured that one out on my own. I've decided that the max out is probably 8 years. And yes, as embarrassing as it is to admit it, I just now got rid of these.)

What do you do with textbooks you'll never use again (when you're not on campus to take them to the buy-back people at the end of the semester)? Do you ever keep things just because your best friend/grandma/mother-in-law/sister/spouse gave it to you, even though it serves no purpose? (I used to....) Just curious.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

From Donna, with love...

Once upon a time, my Grandma Donna made each of her grandchildren a Raggedy Ann and Andy set, even two for some of us (the granddaughters, maybe?). I don't know when she started or why, but they are precious.

I don't have strong memories of Grandma Donna sewing, not like my Grandma Lu does, anyway. But I can picture her, leaning over the Bernina (that I now have the privilege of using) in the back room, piecing together dresses and aprons and sailor's hats.

I brought mine home from mom and dad's sometime this spring, when Grandma was really sick and I was feeling the need for some childhood comfort. A couple weeks ago I decided they could use a trip through the washing machine, on the gentle cycle. As I separated them from their clothes in preparation, I found a long-forgotten message:

Stitched on each doll's chest is a heart, full of love. It was a beautiful reminder of how much she loved us each. Love you too, Grandma.

Friday, July 22, 2011

vulnerability part 1

I've been trying to think of something to post since Tuesday. There are a few in-progress projects and such that I'm planning posts on, but I suppose I have to finish them first.

I've also been thinking some about what I posted earlier in the week, about blogging about my faith. (Thanks to those of you who posted encouraging comments - it really does mean a lot, probably more than you know.)

If I'm going to be honest (which is hard. really hard in this instance), I have to confess that my daily devotions are a bit lacking. And by lacking I mean pretty much nonexistent. I'm usually not sure how to pray or what to pray for, other than "God you're great, and God you're good..." before meals (but that's a post in and of itself). I often feel lost reading books that I don't identify with. And part of it is that I don't feel very comfortable talking about my faith, and I married a man who feels the same.

But I do want that to change, at least on my end. I guess these are my first baby steps toward that. So I am searching.

I've been researching different daily devotions and translations of the Bible. By this, I really mean e-mailing a few people and googling stuff - great information professional skills, I know. The last time I got a new Bible was in 2002. I was 16. That would be going on 10 years. Wow - I think it's time for a new one, a "fresh start" for my reading and thoughts, if you will. (That old Bible has a lot of marginalia and underlining, a lot of which doesn't exactly fall in line with my current beliefs. I was 16, after all. That's so young.)

Anyway, I just thought I'd share where I'm at right now. I don't know why, but pushing the "publish" button for this post is going to be tough. But I'll do it. Any thoughts or advice or encouragement would be fantastic. (Please be kind. I'm feeling vulnerable.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Usual

We are on the downhill slide into "back to school" days. As much as I'm not ready to go back, I think I'd better start preparing - while we do our best to soak up what's left of a lazy summer.

Yesterday for lunch we went to a local drive-in, where Brad has apparently been a few times.

We walked up to the window to order, and the college girl who works there (her family owns it) saw Brad and asked, "Do you want what you always have?"

"Yep," he replied with a grin.

She wrote down his order, complete with the "ketchup and mustard only" directive for the hamburger. In my disbelief, I could barely order. He informed me later that, when he calls his order in he doesn't have to give his name - they just know.

So either he goes there too often or they need a few more customers... Or maybe he's just that famous around here?!


Slice of Life Tuesday!

Sunday, July 17, 2011


"Bidden or not bidden, God is present." -Desiderius Erasmus

If you've been lurking around my blog for any amount of time, you may have noticed that there's definitely something I don't post much - maybe not really at all - about: faith.

(And I do say lurking on purpose, because ya'll don't comment... and I have fixed my commenting settings so everybody should be able to comment without logging into anything. I'll keep it that way unless somebody says something mean.)

Anyway, back to the point. Faith. Mine, specifically, since this is my blog after all.

Yikes. Isn't that one of the things you're not supposed to talk about with friends? Politics, religion... I always thought there was a third but I can't seem to think of it right now.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love a good discussion about my faith and all that entails. I just don't post about it, well, because I feel like so many people who do blog about their faith have things "figured out." Or, at least they come across as having it figured out. And it's not just on blogs. A lot of people I spend quality time with appear to have this faith thing down.

Confession time: I don't. Have it all figured out, that is.

Sure, I believe in God. I like Jesus and learning to follow in his footsteps. I spend time praying and reading my Bible and worshiping and having fantastic discussions in Sunday School.

But I'm not so sure about a lot of things. And that's why I don't talk about my faith much. Or at all.

It's hard. I don't want to be judged. Heck, I don't even want to open myself up to the possibility of being judged. (A lot of people around here would probably label me a "Liberal," if you're into labels like that... and, in case you haven't noticed, that kind of thing is often frowned upon in Kansas.)

I'm not really sure what my point here is. Maybe I'm trying to articulate a goal to blog more openly about my faith and my doubt and my questions. Maybe I want a reminder for myself to invite God to be present in all aspects of my life. Maybe I'm just trying to explain away my lack of posts. I guess we'll find out...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

and the thunder rolls...

We watched the clouds roll in last night at the lake. (Brad was fishing. I was photog-ing) They brought a brief cold front with them - and a tiny bit of rain. It was amazing.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

putting up corn

When we were growing up, my dad always planted a few rows of sweet corn (and by a few rows, I mean a couple acres). The field that he devoted a corner of migrated from year to year, but we almost always had a great crop. We would pick it, shuck it, and sell it by the baker's dozen to neighbors, family, mom's coworkers, and anyone who happened to drive by when we set up the card table by the road (and, as you can imagine, we didn't have many drive-bys, out in the boondocks).

I clearly remember (dreading) the wake-up call, the hot, dusty field, the sticky kernels, the fat worms, the fights over which radio station to listen to. I won't try to glamorize this; I disliked every moment - until we devoured the corn at dinner each night... and mostly until the end of the season came and we sat down to add up and divide the profits.

This past several years have been hit or miss with the sweet corn. Too hot, too dry, didn't plant it, etc... But this year my dad chose a spot down by the creek, close enough for a little extra shade and water. And it was pretty perfect. So Saturday, I went over to mom and dad's and "put up" some corn.

By the time I got there, my mom had already picked a truckload of corn, and she and my grandparents were busy shucking it.

We use my mom's recipe, which probably has been passed down the line for a while:
18 c. raw corn cut off the cob
1/2 c. sugar
2 c. water
4 tsp. salt
Mix, bring to a boil, simmer for 5 min., cool, bag.

I think, in the end, when we added it up, my mom, Grandma, and I divided 20 pints and 25 quarts, plus nine bags of corn on the cob - all to freeze. There were also quite a few bags of corn on the cob to eat ourselves and give away... And my mom said she had only picked about 1/4 of the field. Yikes!

So the moral of that little tidbit is that, if you live near my parents, you should go pick corn ASAP... *ahem, Erin!*

reduce, REUSE, recycle

It's slice of life Tuesday!

So the city of Atown, as of the city council meeting last night, is on mandatory water restriction. Outdoor watering is limited to two days a week (which days depend on your house number - we get Tuesday and Friday), from 6-9 a.m. or 7-10 p.m.

*Side note: last night on the news, the weatherman told us that the average number of 100*+ days in Wichita is 11. The record is 21 100*+ days. So far this year, we've had 19 100*+ days, and there are at least four more, just in the 10-day forecast. Yikes. Add in the fact that we've kind of been in an on-again, off-again drought for the past couple of years, more on than off... And you get a severe water shortage in a place that gets its water from two rather dried-up, man-made lakes.*

Anyway, this is not a HUGE deal to us, mainly because we're not huge lawn water-ers, especially since our dog chewed on the wiring for the sprinkler system and we haven't had it fixed yet... (We just use our hose and a sprinkler that she likes to run through, for now.) At least, it's not a big deal grass-wise. "Oh well" if it dies; I grew up on a farm, after all. We only ever had dead grass.

BUT my vegetable garden seems to be hanging on by a thread some days.

I can't just ignore the ban. After all, excessive watering plus extreme heat plus no rain can be a dangerous combination for our water supply. I'd like to still be able to shower next month. (Although I would have to argue that watering my poor wilted cucumbers is not exactly excessive watering.) So since I have a conscience I came up with my own solution. Sort of. It's not really my own solution; I've read this suggestion multiple times...

There is now a small bucket in my shower to collect water that would otherwise just go right back down the drain. I've resisted this idea in the past because it just seemed weird and a little inconvenient, but now it just makes sense. It's not that weird, and it's not really in the way. We've collected several gallons already this morning, put it in a large bucket on the deck, and will use it to water on the five days a week we're not allowed to pull out the hose. Anyone up for joining us?!

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Help

The Help comes out August 10... for once a movie I'm excited about going to see. If you haven't read the book, you should pick it up!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Summer Reading Update 2

My second summer reading update - just as thrilling as the first. I'm now finished with the list of William Allen White nominees. In fact, my list of books to read is getting pretty darn short.

Couldn't put it down
Nickel and Dimed by Ehrenreich (surprisingly, since it is nonfiction...)
The Rest of her Life by Moriarty  (thanks to sister Hannah for this suggestion - great book by a KS author)
The Stormchasers by Blum
Diamonds in the Shadow by Cooney
Shine by Myracle
All the Broken Pieces by Burg (WAW) 
The Great Death by Smelcer (WAW) 
Return to Sender by Alvarez (WAW)
The Amaranth Enchantment by Berry (WAW) (cute ending)
Sing You Home by Picoult
Double Eagle by Collard (WAW)
Heart of a Shepherd by Parry (WAW)
The Center of Everything by Moriarty 

Very good reads
Faith, Hope, & Ivy June by Naylor (WAW)
Anything But Typical by Baskin (WAW)
Operation Yes by Holmes (WAW)
My Name is Phillis Wheatley by Cooper (WAW) 
Notes from the Dog by Paulsen (WAW)
Wild Things by Carmichael (WAW) (I wasn't too into the chapters from the cat's PoV, but other than that it was great.)
Scat by Hiaasen (WAW)

Was okay
Phoenix Rising by Hesse
Confetti Girl by Lopez (WAW)
Years of Dust by Marrin (WAW) (not bad - nonfiction)
The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Philbrick (WAW) (better than I thought it would be!)

Should have abandoned it
Peace Like a River by Enger

Did abandon it
n/a... yet

Yet to read (in no particular order):

Perfect Match by Picoult? (I'm not sure if I've read this one or not)
1984 by Orwell
If I Stay by Forman
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Stewart
anything by Shusterman

*WAW = William Allen White award nominees for 2011-2012

Monday, July 4, 2011


"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little."
-President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1937