Monday, July 23, 2007

random acts of kindness

jack goes to camp at a beautiful church retreat on the atlantic ocean. between the summer day camps, and the church youth group camps, they have as many as 1600 youth on campus each week. the grounds themselves used to be Fort Caswell, and are studded with old encampments, armories, fortifications, etc.

there is a security gate that is manned 24 hours. the guards are all so friendly, always smiling, always giving directions, talking about the history of the fort with people who just happen to stumble across it. they have a small guard "shack", and it has got to be hot in there!

on friday, we dropped of milk and fresh baked cookies to the guard on duty. he was totally surprised ( a little taken off-"guard" even!!) just a small thank you! (we know he enjoyed it as we saw him brushing cookie crumbs off of his lips!)

Friday, July 20, 2007

spt - it's too darn hot

it's hot!

too hot to play outside, too hot to walk barefoot across the pavement, too hot to blog! the swimming pool feels like bathwater and my glasses fog up every time i step out of the sweet, sweet air conditioning!

what are you doing to stay cool this summer?

Monday, July 16, 2007


i am totally excited to embrace some geekness this week - all for the sake of my blog!!

i am so NOT a geek. a dork, maybe. a geek? no. but this little challenge has ended up to be one of my favorites!! how excited am i to do an spt post that is actually taking spt to a whole new level?!?

i've been trying to find time the past few weeks to add about 10 new bloggers to the "image consultant" sidebar. it's just one of those tasks that gets pushed aside and pushed aside. and a recap? forget about it this time of year. it's all i can do to click through all of the links to see who's updated for spt.

one new blogger i've connected with this week is jen, who has taken on the RAK challenge. (kristi, maybe you should consider hooking me up with jen's blog a RAK on your part!!) anyway, jen has this totally cool link on her blog to blogging basics 101, which just might become my own personal geek support system! it's got answers to tons of pesky questions!

at blogging basics 101, i found out that spt is actually a *carnival* (points for learning a new blogging term!) according to the site, when you are hosting a carnival you are inviting people to write on a specific topic. you give them the topic, which day they need to post the blog entry on that topic, then ask them to come back to your site and submit their link so everyone can see what everyone else wrote.

who knew?!?

even better (more thanks, jen) they gave a shout out to this great thing called *mr. linky.* (more points for learning a cool new blogging tool!) how perfect that this spt will be the premier of *mr. linky* on amuse-bouche! i am swelling with geekness!!

so go ahead. get your geek on and post your spt link right here!! don't forget to use the permalink for your spt post. (as always, comments ARE welcome at any time, too!)

good mail is YUMMY

check out this delicious good mail i received !!

i am not a big cereal fan. so just imagine my surprise when i found out these three little boxes were bursting with ribbon!! thank you, kristi.

i also got some very creative poppin' good mail from rebekah. (sorry no photo, but it didn't last that long!!) suffice it to say, jiffy pop smells and tastes EXACTLY the way i remember it!!

have you gotten any YUMMY good mail lately?

Friday, July 13, 2007

spt - embrace your geekness

did you know that today, july 13th, is "embrace your geekness" day?

according to what i've found on the internet:

A geek is an individual who is highly intelligent (brainy) and technically oriented. They are most often associated with the computer, and computer systems world. A geek is usually formal, studious and into his technical world, often to the exclusion of all else. A geek is closely related to a "Nerd". A nerd however, may or may not possess technical expertise.

Some people view the term "Geek" with a negative connotation. Are they jealous of your knowledge and skills, perhaps? We certainly think so.

Enjoy Embrace Your Geekness Day to the fullest. Spend plenty of time with your computer. Talk computer lingo and jargon. If you are a geek, stand tall and proud. Isn't it great to be so brilliant and gifted!?

do you have a "geekness" about you? we're all together in this great big blogosphere, so i imagine we've all mastered the basics of desktop publishing. do you have a secret fascination with programming? were you in line last week for a new iphone? do you actually know what gigs and pixels and java script are?

or do you love a geek? is there someone you can go to when your beloved PC is misbehaving?

embrace your geek! make it a point to learn one new computer phrase this weekend. share a tip you've mastered. update your blog, if nothing else!!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

no such thing as random

jen has picked up a challenge that kristi threw down yesterday. i have a wonderful story to share. i know there are a lot of you cruising by amuse-bouche today to check for an spt challenge, and i hope you will be inspired to share your stories, too. take a moment to post your own random acts of kindness. thank you jen for taking this idea and running with it!! we have not ever *met* in the blogosphere before, but our circles are definitely intertwined!!

several weeks ago, my son, jack (6 y.o.) and i were in line at my least favorite store in the world. it was typically crowded and understaffed. we had wasted too much time in the store already, and we just wanted to get home and eat dinner.

in front of us was a very sweet woman. she looked to be in her 80s or so, and we had passed her in several aisles as she was working through her shopping list. after standing in two lines that weren't moving, jack and i ended up behind her.

the contents of her cart were simple: coffee filters, fruit, tomato sauce. nothing outlandish. as the cashier began to ring her up, i heard her mention that she couldn't go over $18.

her total was close to $25. the people in line around us were antsy. heck, I was antsy!! she asked the cashier to hold on to her things, and she would run home and get some more money. she was so sweet. i didn't even think twice before i offered to pay the difference.

jack was mystified! why would we pay for someone else's food?!? what a wonderful way to teach a child!! the woman was astonished! she wanted me to wait. she would come back and bring me money. i wouldn't think of it. she said, "i have never had anyone do this for me. i've done it for others, but no one has ever done this for me. how can i repay you?" i told her to put the $7 in her collection at church, or to give it to someone else who might need it.

was it by chance that i eneded up in her line? that i was able to help her out? that my son was with me to soak it all up? random? i can't say. this woman has obviously lived a life of delivering "random acts of kindness." maybe this was just her time to receive. i'm glad i was behind her.

making the grade

yesterday was one of those super important days in the life of a hampton inn general manager. it was QA day (quality assurance day). that's right... a whole day of an auditor poring over paperwork, checking sheet threadcounts, sniffing approved air freshener, counting donuts, etc. for my brand, this happens twice a year, and they are unannounced. all start getting a little frazzled in the weeks when we know we are "due."

the inspections are absolutely important to the integrity of the brand. sort of a necessary evil. this time around, i was really wigging out. i feel like, with everything else that's going on this summer, my coping mechanisms are mis-firing. throughout the day, i developed an uncontrolable case of bouncing knee (you know, the one where you can. not. sit. still.) and the sense of hyperventalating was almost overpowering!! i even joked that i was going to have to pull out a paper bag and start deep breathing exercises. (at least i was still able to joke!)

and in the end, i am totally relieved and proud to announce that we scored an OUTSTANDING! our seventh outstanding in a row!! i am so grateful to my entire team, who just continue to shine (no pun intended!)

i am also happy to report that i am currently enjoying breathing again.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


ahhh, where do i go to get away from it all?

i love mornings. i love to rise before the family, drink a few cups of coffee, mentally arrange my day. in the spring, my spot is on the deck or front porch, listening to tree frogs and sprinklers, feeling the sun begin to heat the day. in the winter, my spot is by the fireplace, dawn zinging early light through my reproduction rose window. there's nothing quite like having a quiet moment before the chaos of the day.

i love late evenings, too. i love to linger awake after everyone has gone to bed. i enjoy mindless television while i write letters or plan menus. my spot is on the sofa, glass of water beading up on the coaster beside me, basket of stationary supplies at hand on the coffee table, softly scented candles burning nearby. there's nothing quite like having a quiet moment after the chaos of the day.

can you picture it? i feel relaxed just telling you about these places.

oh, how i miss them...

this summer is a whirlwind of activity!! my morning is filled with getting jack up and ready for camp, getting taylor, ahem, *up.* after burning through the days, i do my best to collect myself in the evening. all creative energy spent, i am merely that person who falls asleep on the sofa during the weather forecast, startled awake by the soft sounds of my own snoring.

there is one place left that i can visit throughout the day; strictly stolen moments while the washer spins or dinner simmers. fortunately for me, this retreat is totally portable. in a flash, even for only a few stolen moments, i can remove myself from the chaos of the day.

Friday, July 06, 2007

spt - yankee doodle dandy

please indulge me with the photo recap. i LoVe the 4th of july!!

taylor and i did some quick iron-ons for our parade day tees

jack worked hard at the church men's club hot dog booth (photo taken just before he *fell into* the ice tub of sodas

hanging around during the parade

brother-in-law adrian & cousin max

sister patricia and brother-in-law andrew (visiting from the ATL)

cousin allison

shriners are always a big hit during the parade

afternoon cookout fun

lots of love for baby rebecca

spt challenge - stolen moments

i loved seeing everyone's photos of their fourth of july celebrations!! there was plenty of watermelon, fireworks & red, white and blue!! i know some of us (myself included!) have not had a chance to finish our spt recaps... take your time!! savor the memories of your holiday! remember, these lazy, hazy crazy days will be gone much too quickly!!

despite the *vacation* part of "summer vacation," it seems we are all just as crazy as ever. swim teams, scout trips, family vacations (and new family cars!), new babies, family reunions, rock concerts, and even stomach bugs have kept us all hopping this summer!

where do you go at the end of the day, when the house is quiet and you have a few stolen moments? is there a special place in your home that becomes your retreat for reading, surfing, blogging, scrapbooking? or is this the place where you enjoy steaming hot coffee in the morning before the day gets away from you?

what makes this a comforting spot for you? is it filled with photos? mementos? an overstuffed chair? do you shut the door against the world, or do you throw open your shutters and take in the view? is there music playing? a DVD running? a candle burning?

in the insanity of summer, where do you spend your stolen moments?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

spt - sort of

here are two quick pics for my yankee doodle dandy preview. (most of you are aware that my camera suffered a fatal fall back in march. it was all for the spt cause!! dawson's creek IS the sandiest place on earth...)

i have managed to limp along the photography front using a combination of borrowed cameras, my freebie hampton inn camera & my camera phone. as you can well imagine, keeping track of all of the cords necessary to download photos from each device can be a frustrating challenge!

we had three or four cameras out and about with us yesterday as we took in the Official North Carolina Fourth of July Festival & Parade. Here's what I've managed to download so far...

we had a fun, traditional, july 4th. i began my day by doing my walk first thing, and it was *almost* chilly enough for a sweatshirt! i hope to get some more photos up later today so that i can properly document the day.

hope you had a very red, white & blue holiday!

Monday, July 02, 2007

the BIG something

i've got something else on my mind. last week, i shared a laundry list of "things i'm doing" these days. i left a few things off my list. things like:

rehearsing mozart's "requiem",
planning a murder mystery fundraiser for my organization, where we live,
preparing recreation activities for vacation bible school.

but there's something else.

i'd like to introduce you to taylor.

taylor is matty's 16 year-old daughter. she is a beautiful, intelligent, outspoken, well-mannered, young woman. she has lived an unbelievable life in her 16 short years on this earth.

due to an ugly divorce and an even uglier custody battle, matty has had little to no contact with taylor since she was 6 years old. she has spent most of her life living with her maternal grandmother in florida. one year ago, she put herself on a greyhound bus and ran away to her mother in georgia. as far as we can tell, it was pretty much "out of the frying pan, into the fire" for her. the time spent with her mother was apparantly more stressful than being with her grandmother.

in the 10 years that i have known & loved matty, he has tried to share with me the horror of this family. having grown up in a very "cookie cutter" family myself (is it possible to be too normal?), i have a very hard time believing the stories he has told me. i have been known to refer to them as the "jerry springer family."

on tuesday, may 29th (2 days after her 16th birthday), we received an early morning phone call from georgia. "can taylor come stay with you for a few weeks?"

of course! matty has dreamed of spending time with his daughter for the past 10 years. we had even extended an invitation for her to spend her summer with us back in march, but were never taken up on it.

matty picked up taylor that friday. within a week, her mother called and asked us to keep her for the summer. two weeks later, her mother called to tell us that she didn't want taylor to come back at all.

all of you women out there were 16 once. there's plenty to be worried about when you are 16. being rejected by your mother again and again should never be one of those things.

i have spent the better part of this past month getting to know this young woman who has entered our home. she is amazingly resilient, considering the emotional turmoil she has been through. she will stay with us for her junior and senior years of high school.

she is incredible with jack, and he absolutely adores her. she and her father share the same quirky sense of humor, and they keep me in stitches. matty has found a new calm in his life, now that taylor is under his roof.

even as i type this, i think maybe it hasn't even sunk in with me yet. i know this is a blessing that we are able to help her settle down, enjoy & excel in her final years of high school. this is a journey that i did not expect to take this year. i hope i am prepared for it.