Sunday bookends: Missing the familiar, I finally finished a book and observations since moving into our new home

It’s weird how I keep waiting for this new house to feel familiar when I know it will take a long time for it to happen. Oddly, it does feel somewhat like “home” already and did as soon as we moved in two weeks ago. I don’t miss the town we left, but I do miss the house and the familiarity of the neighborhood. I miss my tub that was bigger and how cozy our small bathroom used to feel.

I miss looking out my backdoor and seeing my neighbor’s house, knowing she’s in there being awesome, because she is. I miss that I could walk next door with a treat for her (though I wish I had done that more now) and she would tell me some hilarious story about her friends (she called one Divorced Debby), her trips to the local casino and her morning swims at the YMCA 30 minutes away. And I miss that sometimes when we were outside in the yard she would talk to me from her bedroom window and she would assure me that I will survive perimenopause and she’d had a lot of the symptoms I am experiencing when I was her age. Let’s be honest, I just miss her.

I miss being close to larger stores and larger playgrounds, but I don’t miss the cliques that were so prevalent where we used to live. I don’t miss driving by old houses where loved ones once live but no longer do or driving by the part of the local cemetery where so many young people were buried. I’m definitely glad to be closer to my parents and in a more rural area too.

Some things I have observed since moving here:

  1. I have failed as a mother because my son has no idea the difference between a washcloth and a hand towel.

“Oh my gosh! It’s like Grandma with the spoons!” To explain, my son sets the table when we go to my parents for lunch on Sundays and he sets the table with the soup spoons, which are larger, instead of the regular dinner spoons, which are smaller. The fact he still doesn’t know the difference cracks us up and the fact we even care what size the spoons are drives him insane. “They’re spoons! Who cares!”

So when he came back from upstairs with a washcloth for me to put in our tiny bathroom on the towel rack (emphasis on the word towel) I stared at him and thought, “My Lord, I’ve never taught my son what a hand towel is. What kind of a mother am I?” So I explained to him that a hand towel is larger than a washcloth, therefore making it easier to dry your hands on. His response? “Who cares?! You can still dry your hands on it!”

Anyhow, have I mentioned my son is a teenager now?

2. Speaking of our tiny bathroom, this room has started to become one of my favorite places to be.

No, it’s not one of my favorite rooms for any reason related to digestive issues I may or may not have (not, thankfully). It’s a favorite of mine because it’s small, quiet and no one can find me. The hum of the fan built into the light also drowns out the sound of whining children, barking dogs, the yowling cat or the husband asking if I’ve unpacked the rest of the clothes yet. I won’t deny I go in there with my phone, with the plan to sit there for a long while, though that plan often falls through and I end up coming out to the sound of a little voice asking “Mooooom? Where are you?”

3. I’ve have spent almost 18 years of marriage without a breadbox or a butter dish. And that is sad. I got one this week in the mail and just ordered the other. Thank you to my friend Jonica (isn’t that an awesome name?) who told me about this butter dish:

I can’t wait to try it out and officially have a butter dish (even though I don’t use that much butter since I no longer eat bread. I can put it on baked potatoes, though!).


4. I know I am officially old because the most exciting thing that happened to me this week was that I bought a breadbox and a vacuum cleaner. Not only was the vacuum cleaner exciting but I looked forward all day to using it and when it appeared I would have to go to bed before I used it, I made everyone stay up late so I could use it. I know. It’s so sad. I recognize this.

5. All of the windows in this house are crank windows. Every last one, which means it will be very hard to put air conditioners in the windows and we will be very hot most of the summer. Or it means we will call someone to replace some of our windows soon.

I finally finished Falling For You by Becky Wade, which was the second book in The Bradford Sister’s series. Each book of the series focuses on a different sister. The first book focuses on Nora, the second on Willow, and the third on Britt. And, of course, each sister has their own love story. I just started the third book in the series, Sweet on You this weekend. True to You is the first book in the series. Each book includes a romance and a little bit of a mystery. They are clean/Christian fiction and very well written.

I also read a chapter a night of About Your Father by Peggy Rowe. As I told her on her Facebook page, reading one chapter a night is like unwrapping a special gift at the end of a long day.

51z4jVNc3hL._SY346_

712VW7RcmDL._RI_Because I want to start a garden, I’ve been watching a show from Ireland called Grow, Cook, Eat. I’m learning a lot about planting, harvesting and cooking various vegetables, but I’m also developing the weird habit of speaking in an Irish accent. We visited our local greenhouse Saturday and my daughter chose a Begonia, which I proceeded to pronounce the name of in a thick Irish accent. In public. So…yeah..there is a downside for those around me to me binge-watching an Irish show. Unfortunately for them, I’m going to watch it again this week as I try to decide the best way to take care of the flowers and the herbs I bought until I can figure out where I’m going to plant them.

I did learn this week that the garden space we have practically floods during heavy rainfall so I am considering building raised garden beds, which for someone whose thumb is more black than green (I kill plants. Remember?), is pretty ambitious, if not insane. Still, I would like to at least try to build them and plant in them and see what develops.

I also watched a movie called Juliet and Rodeo on Amazon that I thought was going to be totally horrible, but it actually wasn’t that bad. The acting was pretty authentic, less like lines being delivered, and more organically done. It’s about a romance writer who goes back to her father’s ranch to sell it after he dies. She goes back to her past (of course) and brings her daughter who meets a handsome young man and, you know, conflict and love ensues. It was a nice distraction from other things this week.

Getting out of the house Saturday was definitely needed and we enjoyed our trip to a small greenhouse about ten minutes from our house that has been run by a local family for the last 45 years or so. I’ll be writing about that trip in a separate blog post later this week. I picked up a hanging basket for my mom for Mother’s Day because I had a feeling I wouldn’t actually get it done next week. I am surprised at myself but I didn’t even take a photo of the basket before I dropped it off at their house on the way back from the greenhouse.

I did take a few photos at the greenhouse of my daughter dressed up as Elsa (side note: I can not take watching Frozen II one more time! NOT. ONE. MORE. TIME.)

DSC_0023DSC_0038

So what have all you been up to this week? Reading or watching anything good? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday Bookends: My Kindle returns home, Christmas in review, and novel breakthrough

Christmas is behind us and a new year awaits its start in only a few days, which seems completely impossible to me.

What a relief it was when my Kindle was back in my arms this week after we gave my mom her new Kindle. I, being the wonderful daughter I am, gave my mom my Kindle when hers died about a month ago, knowing we (our family, my brother and his wife, and my dad) could buy her a new one for Christmas. I’d had the Kindle since Black Friday so it was hard not to give it to her ahead of time, but my husband insisted, “It’s a Christmas gift so we will give it to her on Christmas.” So, I downloaded the app on my phone instead and squinted to read my books for a month.

Now, my Kindle is home, my mom’s new Kindle is set up, and all is right with the world. Or it was. For a day anyhow. Then I started a book that killed off yet another parent and in a car accident, so, yeah, the anxiety part of me will now worry about that happening to me while my kids are in the car.

The book Lead Me Home by Amy K. Sorrell is very well written but a bit hard to slog through the beginning part of, only because I don’t like tough subjects in books sometimes. The writing is so well done I was carried along through the character’s stories, despite my anxiety-ridden thoughts.

The story is about a minister who has lost his wife and is trying to navigate life raising his teenage daughter and keeping his church operational. I’m going to keep reading it, simply because I enjoy how she is developing the characters in a slow, methodical way, through short, yet still dense, chapters.

I’m also reading another Paddington book with my 5-year old and I laugh at the stories more than she does because the humor is a little subtle and also because, as I’ve mentioned before, she usually passes out five minutes into me reading it to her. We start a lot of the chapters over, but I don’t mind. The stories are cute and light, something I need these days.

As for what I’m watching, I watched a movie called The Way, Way Back with Steve Correll, Sam Rockwell, Toni Collette, and Allison Janney. It was much better than I expected. It’s about an awkward 14-year old who goes on summer vacation to the beach with his mom and her boyfriend and his daughter. To avoid the overbearing boyfriend (Carrell) the boy visits a waterpark where he befriends Rockwell’s character and starts to climb out of his shell and learn how to stand up to the jerk boyfriend but also how to simply live and have fun.

26FAXON1_SPAN-jumbo

It was a subtle film, without the over the top drama, language or sex other films provide and I liked that. I also liked that the teen was portrayed as an actual teen, not the caricature of one. He left sentences unfinished, had no idea how to hold conversations and simply scowled in scenes where other movies would have thrown in unnecessary dialogue. I also liked that the characters were portrayed as flawed and broken but not crazy dysfunctional like in some movies. It’s a fairly clean movie, other than some odd sexual innuendos from Rockwell’s character and the occasional “b.s.”. I found it streaming on Amazon, but I’m sure it is streaming other places as well.

Our Christmas was quiet with a small gathering of my immediate family at my parents. My husband’s family doesn’t talk to us and my brother and his wife stayed home because my sister-in-law had to work so it was a quiet Christmas. We made cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve at the request of my daughter.

This was our second year of not having my Aunt Dianne at Christmas after she passed away four days after Christmas 2017. In fact, today is the anniversary of the day she passed away from a heart attack (we suspect anyhow) in my parent’s dining room. She was living with my parents at the time and had previously suffered two heart attacks, was on oxygen and had heart failure. It’s odd not having her around to laugh with and watch her enjoy Christmas so fully, which she did, every year. A few years before she passed away she had started making sausage balls for Christmas, which was something she used to make when she lived in North Carolina. Her final Christmas she could barely stand without gasping for breath and getting dizzy but she made sausage balls for the entire family, excited to do so.

Last year I made them in honor of her and they didn’t come out too bad. I tried it again this year and overcooked them, but my parents also made some which came out a little better and everyone was able to enjoy. I may try another couple of batches for New Years but I already know I won’t be able to make them as well as Aunt Dianne always did.

In case you’re wondering what sausage balls are, here is a simple recipe. The only difference for me is I substitute the regular Bisquick for gluten free Bisquick, since I have a corn allergy. (No. I’m serious. Don’t laugh. I’m actually allergic to .. sigh…corn. I’m a freak of nature.)

DSC_6855_1DSC_6860-2DSC_6921-2DSC_6952

Every year my dad hangs a star on a tree on his hillside, which can be seen from the main highway. It’s been something neighbors and friends look for but this year Dad wasn’t in the mood to lug the thing up the hill and weather and preparations to sell our house kept us from helping him, so it looked like the star wouldn’t be erected. But one day last week a family friend tagged me on Facebook (which I checked during the holiday season prior to my planned 30-day detox) and announced that the star was on the hillside.

It turned out my dad hadn’t climbed up the 12 feet he usually does with my husband’s help to nail it to the three (thankfully) but had propped it up instead.

DSC_6984

The star doesn’t look as big in the photo as it actually is. It’s probably five feet wide and 10 feet tall. The tree he usually hangs it on is dying, which means it can’t be nailed there anyhow. The tree is an Ash tree and our state has been overrun with Ash bores, a nasty little bug to take out the population of another nasty bug that was brought in to get rid of another nasty bug and … well, you get the idea. It’s a never-ending cycle that our federal and state environmental agencies don’t seem to learn from.

I wrote about the star in a blog post last year  and the year before as well.

I pushed through a wall in my novel this past week and that has opened up a lot of the story for me, which is coming at a good time because I’ve officially started a 30-day social media detox and finishing the novel will be something that will fill the days I feel the urge to use social media to check up on friends or family who no longer talk to me.

Yes, I know, leave the past behind and never look back. And, yes, I know, I’m pathetic.

I did well at not looking back last year when I did a detox but fell off the wagon this year so I’m climbing back on.  Wish me luck and feel free to follow my novel here on the blog or wait for it to come out as an ebook in the spring of 2019.

I’m also hoping to continue work on another novel and a Biblical-fiction novella I started more than six months ago. Wish me luck for finishing those as well.

So how did your Christmas or holiday time go? And what are you reading or watching? Let me know in the comments!