Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cookie House

It has come to my attention that since I have moved into my new house (approximately 2.5 months ago) I have made no less than 8 batches of cookies.

... Which equates to almost 1 batch per week.... Which, really, while delicious, is also kind of ridiculous.

I equate this baking frenzy with (a) finally getting out our kitchen aid mixer (which was a wedding present; yes, the wedding was last September. ... and we didn't even manage to get the mixer out for Christmas cookies!) and (b) happiness. I have found unbridled joy in cooking for J in our new kitchen. As I intimated in this post, cooking has been almost spiritual for me recently, and it gives me so much peace and purpose-- so, why stop now?! ‘Cookie House’ it shall remain.

(Furthermore, it has come to my attention that somehow -and oh, my don't ask me how this happened; it's a complete mystery to me - I managed to go through the 2009 holiday season without making my favorite cookies. OH THE HORROR!! Consequently, my next batch of cookies shall be strawberry thumbprints. (Watch for a recipe soon :)

Anyhoo: Happy hump day, bloggies! I hope you have been having a wonderful week so far. As I may or may not have mentioned, J and I both took Monday off of work (to recover from relax after a weekend in PA - more on that in a minute) -- so my week is going fairly quickly. I'm so glad that I am halfway (as of now -- my lunch hour) to another weekend! Hallelujah!

And now, before I move forward... a little recap of last week's happenings. The latter part of last week (Thursday, Friday + weekend) flew by in a delighful mix of old friends, laughter, hard work and, yes, a little play, too. On Thursday I took the day off, but woke at the same time and proceeded to work up a sweat (I wish I was kidding) cleaning the house (I forgot how heartily I dislike scrubbing bath tubs...), running to the store 2x (ugh. don't ask.) and tying up some loose ends before my best friend Saundra (remember, the girl who brought me to and through my 1st half-marathon?) arrived. Saundra and I quickly scooted outside for a run/walk (heavier on the walking part, which was a blessing, as my current fitness levels are somewhat *eh hem* less than stellar ... and Saun is pretty fast!) It was really wonderful being in the sunshine, walking and talking with my friend like we used to when we were roommates (Academic year 2005 – 2006 … aaand, now I feel old…) After a quick shower and some “cute-ing-up”, we headed to the mall for lunch with another friend (and roommate!) and bridesmaid dress shopping.

Shopping was a complete success, for these two reasons:

This: (picture source)

and this:

Fabulous, no?!

Now, can we just pause a minute for me to tell you how excited I am that Yagoot opened at Easton?! I have been drooling over the beautiful yogurt creations that have been popping up all over blogland, and feeling very left out and miffed that C-bus doesn’t seem to have anything like this (hm.. I think we might have some TCBY somewhere … but I’ve never been). And then, on Thursday afternoon, following a minor wardrobe malfunction (mine. strapless bras are not my friend.) and preceeding a blister (inevitably, cute shoes ≠comfortable shoes) – I was introduced to yagoot. And life was good. Creamy, sweet and tangy good, in fact (perfect with the fresh strawberries I got on top!) If you’re in the area, I highly recommend you check this place out :) … Yummm … I digress …

Friday, Saturday and Sunday were PA days. J and I woke early on Friday (5-ish a.m. … the goal was to be out of the house at 6, but I kept hitting snooze button) and got into Carlisle around 1:15. We spent the weekend weeding, mulching, trimming, mowing, painting, re-applying sunscreen, catching up, and eating great food. On Saturday evening we found a hole-in-the-wall Italian place for dinner—which served huge portions of hearty comfort food – heavenly! And….AND… to celebrate my Aunt and Uncle’s 39th (!) wedding anniversary, we indulged in ice cream cake for dessert (which I typically don’t like, but this was good, folks. White cake and vanilla ice cream, all frosted with whipped cream. *Drool* …. It kind of reminded me of a certain birthday cake that someone awesome got for me and J this year ;) … Again, I digress.

Perhaps the best part of the weekend, though was just observing J as he interacted with my family. I loved showing him “my second home”. I loved sitting at the picnic table in the back yard, laughing with him and Laurie and the cousins. I loved the way he worked so hard and never admitted he was exhausted. I loved wandering with him through the neighborhood and around campus. I loved him for allowing me to have this weekend, because it was everything I was hoping it would be.

… And, all right… I’m not going to lie… I loved the fact that J almost had a heart attack when I gave him this on Sunday morning. (I think he thought I might 'have a surprise for him' when I handed him the card!)

Heh. I couldn’t resist. (But… why didn’t they have “cat mommy cards” for Mothers Day?!)

And so now we’re caught back up to this week, which so far has been … well, a little bit rough. (Re-immersion in ‘real life’ always is.) I may have a few more thoughts related to this to share with you later this week … but for now, I am still sorting things out in my own head and heart. Don’t worry though – just because I’m not quite feeling myself doesn’t mean I cannot give you the List Day you deserve!


Good List

1. J.He is a constant good in my life, always supporting me, but always pushing me to be my best. His patience astounds me. (So thankful for this… especially this week!)

2. Re-Usable water bottles. I love their sturdiness!

3. Pencils. Because sometimes it is necessary to erase and start over.

4. Hard work. Sometimes, I think that the worth of a day can be measured in the soreness of muscles and the dirt under your fingernails.

5. Daydreams. I had forgotten that one of the things I love most about running is that it allows me ample time to dream. I love nothing more than to allow myself to be carried away by my imagination as my feet (and lungs!) endure the miles.

6. Gracie. Oh, how my little girl blesses me! She seems to have an innate sense for when I am feeling sad—and she always wanders over to be with me, sometimes head-butting me, sometimes squeaking for attention, sometimes giving my finger a good natured nibble. All as if to say, “Don’t be sad, Mama…Hey, life goes on.”

7. Tomato sandwiches. (Acid reflux be damned. I will enjoy this favorite summer treat!)

8. Coffee. A persistent if somewhat evil force in my life. I enjoyed several cups of coffee this weekend, including a couple fabulous cups from a pot brewed by my uncle (I believe it was a mix of DD vanilla and DD cinnamon?)

9. Reality checks.

10. “We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal and then leap into the dark to our success.” – Henry David Thoreau

Summer Lovin’

I admit that Fall will always hold first place in my heart as my favorite season of the year, but summer has a loveliness all it’s own. Here are just a few things that I delight in during the warmer months:

- tomato sandwiches

- longer daylight hours

- cool morning runs

- The smell of sunscreen and bug spray

- grilling out

- sitting in the twilight with best friends, both old and new –I’ve found that summer nights inspire some of the best & deepest conversations.

- ice cream (and sorbet, and frozen yogurt)

- fireflies

- sleeping with the windows open

- sangria

- sprinklers

- road trips

- thunderstorms

- bonfires

- family gatherings

- fireworks

- church day camp (perhaps more accurately for me this year – night camp. I’ve got the 3rd graders!)

- afternoon naps with a good book (… now, if you know me, you know that I enjoy this on a fairly regular basis anyway… but it seems especially decadent on a muggy summer afternoon

- Homemade pickles (Yes, please!)

- The way the world seems to run on a different schedule. Just a little slower; a little more laid back. Things really start to come alive at 8 pm.

What are your favorite things about summer?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Odds & Ends

A few thoughts for this Tuesday evening:

~ I composed most of this post (read: a bunch of amusing, if random, thoughts) in my head this evening while I was running .
~ Tonight's run was pretty miserable. I think I lost 5 lbs in sweat. I think I almost tacked a small boy to get his scooter. I think I found the only path through our neighborhood that doesn't have an inch of shade. ... Heh. Yeah, it was one of those ;)
~ I am convinced that the pickles I ate before the run helped me not to die out there. Please don't read this wrong -- I still felt like I was going to die.... but I am pleased to report that I made it home in one piece ... and am absolutely fine now :)
~I also decided (for the nth time) that I really need to carry around a pocket recorder or a small notebook at all times ... I (go figure) tend to be at my most creative when I am nowhere near paper or a computer.
~I love, Love LOVE iced tea. I think I love it more this year than I've ever had before. I know this passion has been slow brewing (heh) for just about my whole life ... as my mother drinks tea like water (ironically, my mother-in-law drinks coffee like it's water .... that's not an indication that the two don't get along well, though. Perhaps they bond over their mutual love of hot caffeinated beverages?! Anyhoo...) ...I am fighting the siren call of an icy pitcher of cold brew white peach tea as we speak.
~ (btw: back now, with tea.)
~ In the spirit of honesty, I need to admit to you that (in case you might check it) I am going to be changing my half-marathon plan. I realized (after the fact, of course...) that as lovely as this plan looks... I don't run 4 days a week. (Kind of like I don't cut cake...) I haven't run 4 days a week since I was on the cross country team in high school -- and oh baby, those days are gone. Therefore, I will be tweaking the plan to be more Amy-like. Little by little, color by color :)
~ I used to think that chocolate chip cookies were my least favorite kind of cookie (... not because I disliked them, persay... but... meh. I thought they were kind of "nothing special".) I was oh so delightfully wrong.
~ PA weekend is coming up (T-minus 2 days!) and I am so excited.
~ Another "true confession". As a result (I like to believe) of being happily married, my pants are getting a little tight. Sigh. Which is rather tragic, seeing how it's summer, and clothes are typically on the tight side anyway... Therefore, my newest project (not diet!) will be an exercise in moderation ... just cutting back a bit on the desserts, and being diligent with the running plan ~ My husband, on the other hand.. just started getting his MBA. Master in Beer Appreciation... I guess it's all a matter of preference :)
~ I have no idea what to think of this. As you know, I am a religious person (I technically consider myself more spiritual... for me it's more about the personal than the institution ...) and so part of me is sad, because, as you might guess this has opened a lot of doors for jokes and ridicule. But... at the same time? That statue was kind of ridiculous.
~ Speaking of that storm -- it got pretty crazy here last night around 1 am. Lots of lightening and wind! We were really blessed to only have to reset our alarm clock and microwave (power outage) -- One of my clients told me today that the lightening completely took out their internet and phone systems.
~ I have decided that Tim McGraw's "Southern Voice" is going to be this summer's soundtrack song (you know... every summer's got one: in future years whenever I hear this song I will remember our first summer in the new house!)

Well, that's all for now-- I'll be back tomorrow with some lists!

Your Turn: What song is the soundtrack of your summer?

Thursday, June 10, 2010


For reasons I will disclose below (nope, can tell you now... not pregnant...) I am absolutely starving today. It's really kind of absurd-- and in an effort to keep my hands busy (and out of the proverbial 'cookie jar'... which in my house really means tortilla chip bag ) I am going to spend some time with you, dear bloggies :)

Now, don't worry, I'm not going to talk any more about food or hunger in this post -my eats today wouldn't quite make a nutritionist's blood run cold.... but as I alluded to earlier, the quantity has been rather staggering... -- which is good because, as you know, food blogging isn't my schtick (except to sing the praises of good food, which I do with great gusto, as well as great frequency...) But I did want to talk about being ravenous. What a great word, right?! It's one of those words that I just love to roll around in my mouth-- it feels lush and juicy; delightful and delicious. Ravenous means deep aching, passionate hunger; in fact, Webster defines it as, “very eager or greedy for … satisfaction or gratification.” ...And I can say without hesitation that today I am ravenous for life.

Everything about this day just screams decadence: the sweet warm breeze; the scent of freshly mown grass (is mown a word? mowed?); the sparkly, pure sunshine. It's one of those days when I want to drop everything that I'm doing (if only) and head outside to just soak it all in; to race barefoot through the velvety grass; to lift my hands and face to the sun and just worship with all I am.

Enough fluff :) Happy Thursday, bloggies! While my week is going far from quickly (read: creeping by at a typical ‘summery pace’… sigh) it has been going well. Some ‘good stuff’s’ that have happened in my world lately include:

  • J rescuing one of my favorite earrings from an untimely demise after I dropped it down the sink at 6 am yesterday morning. It wasn’t expensive at all (I believe I got them from AE last summer)… but as I stated earlier, they were my favorites – and more importantly, they were my wedding earrings. I am happy to report that the rogue bauble is safe, sound and sanitized – and J is my hero!
  • And, we’ve officially entered training season.

Training season?! Let me explain: If you’ve been with me for a little while, you might remember reading this post about my very first half-marathon. Well, this year, I am going to do it again. I think I probably said this before—but the course is pretty much fabulous. It starts at Tuttle Mall in Dublin, winds past the tall ears of corn, through some really neat neat neighborhoods, and through Riverside Park. (Ooooh, getting butterflies in my tummy just thinking about this!!) This year the race is on August 29, and I am going to PR. Last year I finished with a time of 2:27:xx…. and this year, I would like to finish around 2:15 (ultimate goal is 2:10… realistic goal is 2:15. SOMEDAY I want to run a half in under 2 hours!) I do realize of course that this race is taking place on possibly one of the hottest weekends of the year… and it is possible that I may not run as fast as I’d like to. Still, this goal is a really good motivator and starting point for me :)

So. Excited.

And nervous, too… but mainly excited :) I’m also excited because, in an effort to hold myself accountable, I have created a training plan to share with you—which I will be updating daily.

AMY’s Half-Marathon Training Plan

Anyway, though…. to bring things back full circle: running makes me hungry—especially when I am ‘pushing it’ regularly, as opposed to “fun runs” (at most) once a week. Somehow I always forget that— how much it whacks out my metabolism, my sleep, and my appetite for about a week. I have been a cranky (sleep), lethargic (metabolism) snack-monster for the past few days. … And part of me loves these changes because—you know what—these ‘side-effects’ (if you will) are proof that my body is responding to the changes. …Still, poor J. I don’t take it lightly that my husband has the patience of a saint :) I plan to cook the man a wonderful dinner tonight in order to get back in his good graces…

Let’s delve into some more Good Stuff, shall we?

Good List

  1. J. My husband, my hero. (“Awww moment” for you: J has been especially tender and snuggly with our fuzz babies lately… which always warms my heart. I know he’ll be a great father someday!)
  2. New playlists (just for fun, I’ve linked my latest one here…. please don’t stop reading if you are appalled by some of the stuff on here *cough*MiLeY*cough*. I promise I’ll never sing any of these songs to you… That’s what Gracie is for.)
  3. Sour gummies. I totally ate half a bag of SourPatch Kids today. … because somedays are just ‘half bag of candy = sugar crash at 2pm’ kinds of days…
  4. The return of popsicles and other fruity, icy, summery delights. Bring on the ice cream, watermelon and margaritas!
  5. A perfect (and I do not use that term lightly) Saturday: Last Saturday was abssolutlely wonderful … every single second of it. Laurie and I went shopping (and we may or may not have spent over half the trip in the bookstore), I came home a grabbed a much needed nap with Gracie, and then J and I went out for a dinner date. If I could live all the rest of you Saturdays in the same way, believe me, I would!
  6. Beautiful, supple leather journals, that just make me ache to pour my heart out onto their pages. (A treasure found on Saturday’s 2+ hour bookstore stop!)
  7. New books. (Why did I wait so long to read this one?)
  8. Allergy medicine (sigh. tis still the season…)
  9. Honeysuckle. That sweet smell never fails to bring me memories of childhood summers in PA.
  10. “To see things in the seed, that is genius.” – Lao Tzu

All right… I need to get moving over here… Have a wonderful Thursday night, friends—celebrate—it’s almost Friiidayyyy!!!

Friday, June 4, 2010

5 things on Friday

Happy Friday afternoon, bloggies! I hope you are having a fabulous day, and looking forward to a nice (if not long) weekend :) I, predictably, am to the point where I am bouncing off the walls-- so I feel that it is the perfect time for another post... So, without further ado, here are 5 (good) things for this Friday:

Good thing #1
Gracie is finally out of confinement!!! (I feel that 3 exclamations marks is not nearly enough to convey my enthusiasm... but I kind of feel like 3 might be as many as I can get away with, without sounding like a "Twilight-crazed" preteen girl-- "squeeee!" ... wait...) Anyway, we let 'our little one' out when we got home from work, and after Baron got over himself, we all had a very nice night.

Good thing #2
It's June!

...Yes, I realize it's been June for a while now, but I refuse to curb my excitement :) New months are always a treat, because they bring with them fresh new starts, and new chances. June is extra special, though, because it's halfway through the year (Ho.Ly. MOLY. That 1st 6 months went awfully quickly!) Therefore, it is time for me to reexamine some of my goals (yikes, this could be brutal) and give an honest progress report :)
From the list published here:

So, how am I doing?

Goal 1: This has been almost too easy. I've definitely been reading 1, if not 2 books per month. Now, in the spirit of complete honesty ... I cringe when I say this (and my librarian mother I'm sure is cringing, too...) but-- unfortunately my library fines seem to be in direct proportion with the number of books I'm reading... Apparently, I have good taste, and can't renew any books because other people have placed them on reserve.... Ah. well. Still a win in my mind ;)

Grade: A+

Goal 2: Oh, date night, how I miss you. Date night has dwindled as our energy level has dwindled... I'm pretty sure that we haven't gone out for date night since we moved into the new house. ... Of course, there's always tomorrow to get this turned around (Amy begins scheming...)

Grade: B-

Goal 3: Keep writing. Yup... I've definitely done that. I may not have written out my story (did anyone unscramble this besides Laurie?)... but I haven't given up on it either. Therefore, while this is still in the works, I think it's a very promising start.

Grade: B+

Goal 4: Uhm, Fail. Definitely need to get a little more motivation on this one...

Grade: D+

Goal 5: Well, we're not going to accomplish the huge 'Travel out West' roadtrip that I had in mind when I wrote out the list, but I would like to think of this not as failed.... but rather as put on hold for a while. After all, the reason we will not be traveling this summer is because we traveled across town at the end of March ... to a new house ;)

Grade: Withdrawn

Goal 6: Ah, running... sigh. There are good days, there are bad days, and there are 'heaven-help-me-because-i-would-rather-sit-here-and-eat-this-bag-of-chips' days. I definitely need to put a little more work into this one.

Grade: C

Quite frankly, I am breathing a sigh of relief over all :) There are definitely things that need some work (eh hem... numbers 4 and 6.. I'm looking right at you!), but I don't feel completely discouraged and defeated as I have in some years past. Maybe I'm finally learning the right way to make New Years' Resolutions!?

Good thing #3
If you are ever in Gahanna,
Lola's is a fabulous restaraunt!! I promised you a review last week, and here it is: *Awesome*. Go tonight. Small, cozy mom & pop type place within walking distance of Creekside. The food is to die for-- and one of their specialties is a ravoili of the day (uniquely filled each day of the week!) ... Love.

Good Thing #4

After a horrendously long time (like, I kid you not, 2 months) I got the chance to have a nice long conversation with my best friend (The one who ran my 1st half marathon with me!) This woman just inspires me, and talking with her for an hour lifts my heart for at least a week. I am so honored that she asked me to stand with her next summer as she marries the man of her dreams. ... And, of course, I agreed :)

Good Thing #5

Caffeine ... Or the lack thereof.

As I alluded in an earlier post, I am attempting to drastically cut back / cut out the coffee. This is for a couple fairly important health related reasons, namely: my stomach and my sanity.

I'm not sure I mentioned it last year, but there was a period of time (like, oh, January to September) when I was absolutely convinced I had an ulcer. Ughh. Not fun, bloggies, not fun at all. In the end, I took a bunch of tests (whew. expensive tests!) and nothing was found ... but I still felt awful. I think (whatever it was) it was heavily influenced by the catastrophic levels of stress in my life... because it leveled out once October rolled around. (J likes to gloat that he healed me with his magical-perfect-husbandness... While there may be some truth to that... I know it was probably a combination of a lot of stuff.) So, anyway... while the stomach pain didn't completely disappear, now I can go weeks and months without experiencing it ... while, at it's "peak awful-ness" I was having problems just about every day.

But that gnawing feeling that always signaled me that I was headed for a miserable afternoon? Coffee seems to trigger that sometimes. Sigh ... and no matter how much I love it, I'm just not sure it's worth it. (On top of that, I have discovered that drinking coffee gives me pretty drastic anxiety. Which again, is rather miserable... and not worth it.)

Soo... I am drinking decaf for now (hence the praise in Wednesday's Good List.) While I realize decaf has a bit of a 'why bother' stigma associated with it (hmm. much like diet coke.... which I also love because I love...)-- AND I don't really want to think too hard about the decaffeination process... for me, for now, it is a good thing. Maybe in the future I'll be able to let go of my morning coffee ritual completely... I'm not in a huge rush. After all, I had years of co-ops over which to develop this obsession passion... so I'll take it slow. ...and of course I will occasionally treat myself to a beloved vanilla latte (uhm.. which, duh, I supposed I could get decaffeinated ...) Therefore, this "development" makes the good list because, while (not gonna lie) I'm a little sad that my love affair had to end this way... I know it is a step in the right direction for my health :)

So there you have it: what are '5 Friday things' that summarize your week?

It's time for me to get "weekending"... but if I don't make it back before next Monday, have a wonderful Saturday & Sunday!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Live Big

For my Grandpa.

Reading with Grandpa (Clearly, I am the small, bald one.)

I feel incredibly blessed to be able to say that I've had many strong, wonderful influences in my life. Through the years, these people have encouraged me, inspired me, and brought to the surface the most authentic , if most hidden pieces of my soul. Who I am, and perhaps more importantly, who I am becoming, would not be possible without them.

So with this in mind, I’d like to tell you about one of the special ones; a man who has left an indelible hand print on my heart: my grandfather.

When my sister and I were growing up, our grandparents lived in Carlisle, PA. It was always such a treat to go and visit them, to spend time with Grandma and Grandpa. They lived in a large, beautiful old house, and Laurie and I spent our summers devouring books on the wrap around porch. Christmases were spent in Carlisle as well, and the large house was filled with joyful laughter and warm, sweet christmas-y smells. My formative years were spent surrounded by the love of family in that house, and in my heart I still consider it home.

Grandpa was blessed with 6 granddaughters, and he loved each of us with all he was. He recognized our unique talents, and had special ways of showing each of us his love. When we got to spend time with Grandpa, we knew we were the center of his world. He was quick to brag to his friends about all the things we were doing, though we rolled our eyes and blushed outwardly, on the inside we were glowing.

Some of my favorite memories are from when he would take me with him on one of his “downtown trips” -- usually to the bank or the post office. Carlisle is a small college town (it houses Dickinson College), and “our house” was across the street from the college—which meant we had the luxury of walking pretty much everywhere. It was such an honor to be asked by Grandpa to run errands with him, and I remember holding his hand and chattering excitedly to him about everything when I was small (i.e.: we had a particularly memorable conversation when I was about 5, when I tried to convince him I had another sister, whom he had never met ...) We would take joy in everything we saw—new buds on the trees, a shiny penny on the sidewalk, colorful bugs(!), the sunshine breaking through the clouds… As I got older our walks were not so much filled with conversation, but a comfortable silence, and I believe, still the mutual wonder and awe at all that surrounded us (and I still held his hand as we crossed the street.)

My Grandpa was older (we celebrated his 90th birthday on December 25, 2003), but I always took it for granted that he’d be around forever. He was just filled with life-- he enjoyed taking his neighbors out to dinner, attending family reunions (his signature 'pot luck' dish was a bag of Oreos!), and singing bass for the church choir. It was a big inconvenience for him when he had to start walking around town with a cane. Nevertheless, when he got sick in the fall of 2004, life went quickly... He was gone by Christmas, dying just short of his 91st birthday.

How can you fully describe the pain of loss? (Really -- I'm still at a loss…) I think perhaps I felt as if a part of me had died too. I felt like my world was falling apart, and that, effectively, this was the end of my childhood. I had just finished up with the first semester exams of my freshman year, and it felt to me like time had stopped. All I could think about was how I would give anything just to tell him “I love you” one more time. I just shut down, and effectively “numbed off”, I kept everything inside and tried to maintain a strong exterior, when inside my heart was breaking.

I really didn’t even want to go to the funeral. I was completely broken and poured out, and I didn’t think I had the strength to give any more. Visiting hours were some of the most beautiful and painful moments I’ve ever experienced, as I got to laugh and pray ( and cry, there was surely no shortage of tears) with all the people who gathered to remember him. It was a celebration of a long a full life, lived out by a man who loved God with all he was, faithful up until the very last moments. My mother told me later (I remember we were driving together, and I was trying to focus on the road through my tears) that he wasn’t afraid. His faith was so strong, and he realized that even as his earthly body failed, his soul was strong and complete, and he was ready to go home.

It’s been years now, and my heart still aches for him sometimes. It’s funny, because sometimes the smallest things can awaken the deepest parts of my heart that I’ve convinced myself have been effectively hidden away. James Herriot, NPR, and long walks are just a few of the things that bring me close to Grandpa again. Most of all though, it hurts when I realize there was so much more I wanted to learn from him, as I really look to his life as one of my most powerful examples.

However, as I move beyond the hurt, I am left with so many beautiful memories. I am still amazed at the brilliance of the details that come back to me when I close my eyes-- these memories can still take my breath away. Grandpa gave me so many lasting things! He inspired me to obtain an engineering degree, instilled in me a love of math (except word problems.. y'all know how I feel about word problems…), and whenever I go for a run, I feel closer to him. He is a continual inspiration for me to strengthen my faith, and, perhaps most important to me: Grandpa is a prime example of someone leading out a faithful life in service.

~ ~ ~

As I sit here tonight, I allow my mind to wander-- and inevitably, it comes down to identity. And I think about who I am. .. I know that in a majority of my posts my heart has been crying out (...and not at all subtly, so I'm sure you've gotten the message), "I'm waiting to 'find myself'... I'm here and I'm waiting. I don't know what I am meant to do, but I trust things will fall into place..." And, while I am still very much there -- I find that in writing this, an undeniable truth has emerged:

I know who I want to be. ... And, like my Grandpa, I want to live a big life.

I want to be a quiet but steadfast force for good in the world. I want to be able to go to sleep at night knowing I have given my all: every. single. day. I want to invest in the future through my children and grandchildren, and above all-- I want to touch people's lives by being an example of love in the world-- really respecting and valuing each person in their individuality. And this, friends, is what it means to live a 'big life'.

This I know. ...And tonight? Tonight it is enough. I don't know what tomorrow will bring, and I surely don't know what move to make next (I do know, however, without a doubt, I do need to move ... I need to be vague about this for now, but I'll fill you in as I'm able :) but I know what I ultimately want, and that's surely a good start.

So, in closing, I thank you, Grandpa, for so many things. I thank you for your patience, for your wisdom, and most certainly I thank you for your love. I am so thankful to have known you, as you blessed my life in ways that I am only beginning to understand. I love you.

Taking care of business

Hi friends, Happy Wednesday!

I hope most all of you are reveling in the loveliness of this short 'holiday week', as I am (... although... and please tell me I'm not alone in this: I'm so thankful for my 4-day work week.... but these 4 days sure are dragging on... Why does this happen?!) -- and that you have lots of warm, happy memories of time spent with family and friends from this past weekend.

All right, bloggies, here's the deal: I have an absolutely fabulous post racing around in this little noggin' of mine... and, as much as I love (oh, and I do LOVE) the 'Good Lists'... I feel like this post deserves to stand on it's own. (You'll see what I mean, I promise!)

Actually, this week has been (thank you, sweet heaven) a really happy and good week so far-- which means I have lots to talk about all across the board ... so expect several rapid succession posts over the next few days (... and by rapid succession ... I mean rapid for me. Look for posts on W, R and F !)

Anyhoo (when I deviate from the topic at hand like this I like to tell myself that this 'delightful, stream-of-consciousness' style is something ya'll love about me... right? I promise I do always have a point...), with this in mind, I am going to keep this short and sweet-- and I'll get right down to business. Because, really, the good stuff is always the point.

Good List

1. J. We've both been rather tired lately, so we've made it a priority to keep things low-key and to be really gentle with each other. It has been wonderful, and I love these moments of growth, even when it seems like it's the 'mundane everyday stuff'.

2. Decaf coffee. I am attempting to stop drinking coffee (eeek-- I KNOW! Will discuss later this week...), and this is helping to comfort me as I 'make the break'. I truly think this makes it easier than going 'cold turkey' all at once.

3. The sweet, warm 'kitty smell' of Gracie when I kiss her and nuzzle her neck.

4. Girls' nights. Laurie, Bethany and I went out on Monday night to see Sex and the City 2 (which I really loved! Personally, I liked it even better than the 1st movie.) J and I laugh together a lot... but there is a part of my soul that just craves that one-of-a-kind shrieking, girly laughter. Girlfriends are absolute necessities.

5. Birthday cupcakes: vibrant frosting and moist, velvety cake. Perfection!

6. Opening myself up so that I may completely experience (read: cry) the profoundly touching and beautiful moments in the every day. I've caught myself thinking, as I blink and swallow past the lump in my throat, 'wow. This is really living.'

7. Lovely, encouraging emails, received first thing in the morning. (Yay for different time-zones! ;)

8. Sweet compromise: BFOC with a twist! Pb cookie (1) + bowl of cereal for breakfast. Filling for the tummy, filling for the soul.

9. Dreaming of vacation (PA in 2 weeks, and we're in the beginning phases of planning our anniversary weekend trip!)

10. Peace. I have no idea what I am meant to do with this life, when I need to move forward, or who I will become. I take comfort in the fact that, beyond this: right here-- right now, is exactly where I am meant to be.

And with that, Goodbye for now! May your day be filled with all sorts of wonderful surprises!

PS: Ah... and I almost forgot: Happy National Running Day!

I hope to celebrate this event after work ... if I don't melt in the process.... it's getting up to 90* here in OH today... Summer is here with a vengeance, baby!