Friday, July 29, 2011

Good List Fridays, Volume ii

This kitty never fails to amaze me. What a silly girl ...

...I know, right?!... Hang on to your hats: I'm posting for the second time in 2 days! :) ...

Happy Friday, friends! I hope you've all had a wonderful week :)

I've had a busy (as always) but good one, although I am definitely counting it as a blessing that I have 2 days of respite before another Monday rolls around.

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the second installment of "Good List Fridays".

Good List
1. Jon.

2. Chocolate milk (I'm loving dark chocolate almond milk!). Best. post-run treat. ever.

3. It's that time of year again... Time for the State Fair! I LOVE the fair. The sounds, the smells, the sights & the tastes (roasted corn & funnel cake? Don't mind if I do...) It's an essential component of summertime for me. ...Now just to convince my husband to go with me... This conversation actually took place: Amy:"I'm upping the ante: if you take me to the State Fair, I'll do dishes for a week!" Jon:"We'll see..." ...I think I'll wear him down yet!

4. Nerdy running moment of the week: I am ridiculously excited about my new fuel belt. I may or may not have worn it around the house for a while on Monday evening. ... In my defense, it gets really tiring to carry a handheld water bottle after 10 miles...

5. This week has calmed down enough (or perhaps I've adapted to the new pace?) that I'm back in the kitchen. Preparing dinner every night is therapeutic for me. All is right with the world again.

6. Yeah. ... So I'm running 14 miles on tomorrow morning. 14 miles. This is huge for me, physically, mentally & spiritually. This will be the farthest I've ever run. And while I'm crazy excited, I'm also scared to death. Assuming I live through it, I plan to write about my experiences in marathon training sometime soon :) (Feel free to send positive thoughts & prayers my way tomorrow morning from about 6:30 - 9:30 am ET ...)

7. The nights when I am absolutely on fire to write. Sometimes I go for weeks with just a tiny, flickering flame that I'm struggling to keep lit... but then something clicks and the words flow freely. Last night I poured my heart and soul into this post. ...This is my favorite kind of 'work' ...

8. Charcoal grills, sunshine & ice cold beer.

9. Taking chances. This week I'm making some big, bold moves. ... Hoping to fill you in soon ♥

10. "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." ~ Mark Twain

Your Turn: What tops your list of "Good Things" this week?

Thursday, July 28, 2011


"Sisters function as safety nets in a chaotic world simply by being there for each other. "
~ Carol Saline

canoe trip, circa 2005

This is Laurie.

She is my best friend, and my little sister.

July, 1989

I met Laurie when I was three years old, and it's safe to say that my life has not been the same since.

"Teddy Bear Tea", circa 1991

The beauty of having a sister is that you always have someone to play with... and the beauty of having a little sister is that, at least until a certain age, you get to call the shots & make up the rules for the game.

Laurie was always up for whatever I suggested. Sometimes we would put on our long skirts and bonnets & go on "pioneering adventures" in our backyard, our back deck becoming our covered wagon as we ventured into the unknown, inevitably encountering wild animals and nursing each other back to health after a bout with the dreaded scarlet fever.

... Sometimes we would put on our pretty dresses and sling white gauzy mosquito netting over our heads and perform wedding ceremonies.

Sometimes we would simply sit together and tell stories.

"Biking" together, circa 1991

I've heard it said that the love of sisters is a "volatile love"... and I know that it's true. We were in no way "atypical siblings" ... and we frequently drove each other nuts. I think because we were girls, that added in a little bit of (mostly) healthy competition into the mix as well. Laurie knows what makes me tick ... and she also knows what ticks me off (she always has ;).

But at the end of the day, I love her fiercely. I feel her joy intensely, and her pain acutely. I would walk through fire for this girl. ... and I know she'd do the same for me.

She's always been musical! Circa 1991

Laurie has always had a way of nurturing and bringing out my creativity (and it is here that I assure you that this post is coming late not because I lacked inspiration, but rather because I lacked time :).

With Laurie I was free to let my imagination roam... to let my words carry me away.... to free myself and believe what my heart wanted to believe. In recent years she has continued to inspire me creatively. For example: she encouraged me to go for it when I was considering starting my blog, and helped me to come up with the name "Amy Around the Corner". I may have mentioned that I am (in fits & starts) writing a novel -- Laurie was the first person I told, and I think that she's just as excited about it as I am.

This past Christmas she made me a "Writing Box": a sturdy box with a handcrafted lid, filled with pens, notebooks, (my personal favorites!) steno notepads, and peppermint gum ("Because peppermint sparks creativity," she told me). It's one of the most thoughtful and meaningful gifts I have ever received.

circa 2010

Laurie is hilarious. I'll always remember the nights when we giggled ourselves to sleep in the twin beds up on the Island.

Confession: Laurie doesn't like this picture. But I love it, and I think she's beautiful in it and it's my blog... so it made it into the love letter.

Laurie is beautiful. She has always exuded a confidence that I find enviable: pushing forward to make her own path; embracing new ideas and new challenges. She is one of the most welcoming souls I've ever had the pleasure of meeting -- she genuinely cares about every single person she comes in contact with, and that shines through in her words and actions. Recently, I've had the pleasure of watching her heart catch on fire over issues of social justice-- there is no doubt in my mind that this woman is going to change the world someday.

Laurie's senior choir concert, Spring 2007

With her quiet strength and compassion, it came as no surprise to our family when Laurie decided to pursue nursing as a career. For 4 years we laughed with her as she told funny stories from clinicals, sighed with her as she lamented over tough classes and difficult professors, and were appropriately grossed out amazed by the feats of the human body.

On May 6, we proudly watched as she walked across the stage to receive her diploma. And on August 1, she will begin a new chapter of her life, with her first job as a nurse in a Toledo hospital. And while I am sad that she is moving away, more than that I am excited for her. I'm excited to hear all the stories of her first job, first apartment (without a roommate ... although I am strongly recommending that she get a kitty. Heh. I need a fuzzy niece/nephew to spoil ;), and all the adventures that come with being on your own as a young professional.

I am able to embrace my joy and overlook the ache because of what I know to be true: It doesn't matter how far apart we are. We will always be sisters; we will always be friends. She will always be the girl I shared my childhood with. She will always be the woman I admire. She will always be the one who knows my secret hopes & dreams, as well as embarrassing stories about me that I'd rather she forget... She will always be the one who was standing beside me as I experienced the most intense happiness (getting married) and the most crushing loss (my grandpa) in my life. I know she'll always be there for me, whether she's 2 hours away, 2 towns away, or two doors down.

Sisterhood is a sacred, unbreakable bond.

Of all the things my parents have given me, I am most thankful that they gave me a little sister. My life is so much richer with her in it.

My wedding day, September 2009

Happy birthday, Laurie. Here's to all the beautiful mysteries the future holds.
(July 14, 2011)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Good List Fridays

(Listening to vocal tracks at Lifeway on Monday night. ...The only picture I took all week :)

To say that this week has been exhausting may be an understatement.

... In fact, it may be the understatement of the century. I think even
my diaphragm is tired, as I've had the hiccups for the past 10 minutes

Between Jon's new job (which has him "on call" 24/7 for the first
several weeks, marathon training and the heat (which has been
ridiiiiiculous....), it's safe to say that I am completely wiped out.
... but nothing 10 straight hours of sleep can't fix, I'm sure ;)

Anyhoo... I have a couple of "Love Letters" posts in the pipeline,
that I'm really hoping I can get out to you this weekend. I miss the
blog, and my sweet friends... I miss hunkering down with my keyboard
and getting lost in my own thoughts... I haven't been short of
inspiration, just short of energy & time.

So, for the time being, please accept my apologies for being such a
sporadic blogger these past few weeks. I'm finding that (at least for
me, and at least for now), time management seems to be a very fluid
concept: it's as soon as I get some of my (proverbial) balls in the
air that I realize I am tripping over 2 or 3 that have fallen,
unnoticed, to the floor.

... Nevertheless, life is sweet, and there is a lot of good to be
recognized :) I will continue to practice my juggling skills in the
hopes that someday I can gracefully & effortlessly keep all the joy,
work, obligations & pleasures afloat... but in the meantime I will
celebrate the everyday. Even when it's not perfect & I'm not
"all together".

And this is the concept behind a new series I'd like to start: "Good
List Fridays". I haven't been posting my "Good Lists" as often as I
used to, and this fact does not escape me. Therefore, I am hereby
instituting "Good List Fridays" here on Amy Around the Corner. Care to
join me?

The inaugural list:

Good List:

1. Jon. This may sound crazy, but I love that I miss him on busy
weeks. I definitely wish that we could spend more time together, but I
am awed & excited to find that when we don't get to spend a lot of
time together I crave his presence... his steadfastness... his
reasoning & his kindness... even after all these years :) I think
that's how true love should be.
2. Girlfriends. I spent this past weekend with Jenny, and had a lovely
dinner with Kaitie on Monday... and if that wasn't good enough, I
talked with bff Saundra for an hour on Tuesday night. ... And then
there are my running girls. I find that I am surrounded by strong,
compassionate, inspiring women. What a blessing.
3. Coffeeeeeee.
4. My little sister got a job!!! I'm so excited for her!
5. Watching Jon snuggle babies. Ladies, is there anything sweeter than
watching your man love on little ones?... It makes my ovaries hurt, in
a good way :) (We got some Lucas-snuggling time in the weekend, at our
nephew's 2nd birthday party. Lucas, at 6 mos, is at that deliciously
round & huggable stage in his babyhood... I just can't get enough!)
6. Baron has been super "talkative" this week, which is absolutely
hilarious delightful (#catlady)
7. Our new vacuum cleaner. I'm still absolutely enamored.
8. Popsicles
9. The scent of a charcoal fire.... yummm...
“Do the things you used to talk about doing but never did. Know
when to let go and when to hold on tight. Stop rushing. Don't be
intimidated to say it like it is. Stop apologizing all the time. Learn
to say no, so your yes has some oomph. Spend time with the friends who
lift you up, and cut loose the ones who bring you down. Stop giving
your power away. Be more concerned with being interested than being
interesting. Be old enough to appreciate your freedom, and young
enough to enjoy it. Finally know who you are. ”
- Kristin Armstrong

Your Turn: What tops your list of good things this week?

Happy Friday, friends!

Friday, July 8, 2011

I believe (part IV)

Summer Fair

I believe ...

I believe in iced tea.

I believe in flip-flops.

I believe in the stunning power of a sudden afternoon thunderstorm.

I believe in the sweet, coconutty scent of sunscreen.

I believe in corn on the cob.

... and melty ice cream cones that you can't quite keep up with.

I believe in late nights, spent lying awake, talking, relishing the sweet coolness of the cotton sheets.

I believe in late night laughter.

I believe in BBQs with good friends and plenty of beer.

I believe I will never be too old to run through the sprinkler.

I believe in rolling down the windows and cranking up the classic rock.

I believe in fireworks.

I believe in summer.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


(Clearly, Gracie has spent the past few weeks catching up on her classics...)

June caught me by surprise this year.
I am always prepared (if cautiously apprehensive) going into May, because May has always been a crazy-busy-good month for our family. Birthdays, Mother's Day, Memorial Day, Prom, Graduations ... May is a whirlwind that leaves us, on June 1 sitting with our feet up and smiling at the wild ride of life we've just been a part of. May is good like that, and the June that follows is typically a welcome respite.

This year, though, the ride hasn't stopped yet. I think God is looking down and smiling on my tenderly, "My child how little you know... and how deeply I love you."

I was certain that this year would be a year of settling in for us. A year of homemaking and quietly undeniable growth; a year for nurturing and putting down roots.

Instead, we've been blessed with opportunities. Opportunities for growth-- upward movement, for sure, but perhaps more importantly growing into ourselves. ...Maybe I could even say "settling" a little deeper and becoming a bit more comfortable with who we have always been.

All good. But tiring :)

I guess all this is to say: I feel like I've been walking around in a bit of a fog since the last time I posted. Scootching along from A to B, & making time... but I feel that my responses have been muted in both intensity and response time. And I celebrate this, because I know it's just a phase, and that I will adapt to become present and cognizant once again. ... You know, fog can be stunningly beautiful; softening & blurring sharp edges with a water color precision ... but we still celebrate the sharp visual clarity that comes as the sun burns through.

I can feel the fog lifting all ready.

A few standout thoughts from the fog:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
On marathon training with MiT:

I'll just get right out there and say it: I love this.

I am continually blown away by the kindness of my running group, as well as my own drive to keep at it. A happy discovery was made on our June 18 group run-- I live in the same neighborhood as our pace leader, and within a 5 minute drive of another woman from our group. We've been meeting up on Monday & Tuesday mornings at 5:30 am (which is NOT easy yet, but I'm going to keep trying!) to do our runs together. This morning we added Stacey to our group, so now we are a lovely little group of 4.

Most heartwarming & impressive to me: 2 weekends ago I ran my long run (8 miles) on Friday, because I knew I couldn't get in a long run before all the wedding festivities. Dana & Heather each ran 3+ miles with me, so I didn't have to do the whole thing alone.

How did I get so lucky?! I can officially say that I am head-over-heels in love with running again.

...Who knew that all it would take was signing up for a marathon?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

*beer margaritas*

Okay, so the real reason I've been afk for over two weeks? My best friend's wedding. ...And the month of crazy fun & stress leading up to it :) (Absolutely weighted more heavily on the "fun" side ... but if anyone ever tells you that a wedding is completely stress-free, they are delusional. Simple as that.) Anyhoo...

On June 18, my partner-in-crime Kaitie & I hosted Saun's bachelorette party. We planned meticulously. Menu? (Beer margaritas, hot dogs on the grill, pasta salad, chips & funfetti cupcakes) -- check! Decorations? --check!

giggling our way through pictionary ;)

Lessons learned along the way included: running to your sister-in-law's house to get cookie cutters & fulfill MiT milage at the same time sounds like a great idea ... until you have to run 1.5 miles clutching said cookie cutters and hoping nobody actually sees what your holding & calls the cops on the "creepy running girl". Lesson Learned: plastic bags are not nearly opaque enough for comfort. Also note: when you light the grill, just step away. Do not close it or the fire will go out. *Eh hem* True story. (Insert obligatory engineer joke here. Sigh.)

Kaitie, Saundra & me

But it was all so, SO worth it. It's a night I'll never forget, and I hope Saundra feels the same. We drank out of "man-shaped" straws and ate naughty-shaped brownies. We played pictionary & laughed until we had tears streaming down our faces. We dressed up & went out dancing, and didn't get home until 3am.

All the ladies

In short, a good time was had by all.
(Thanks, Kaitie, for the pictures!)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

...And then two Saturdays ago, we gathered once again, this time to celebrate the union of Saundra and her beloved, Mike.

Just married!

It was a beautiful day, down to the tiniest details.

mimosas at the hair salon (doesn't that seem so movie chic?!)

More wedding thoughts and reflections coming your way this week, in a new 'Love Letters' post.

We clean up nicely, eh? (Amy & Jon, 6/25/11)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This weekend's joyful chaos centered around 4th of July celebrations, with family & friends alike. We laughed and cheered and oohed and ahhed over breathtaking fireworks displays; and there were also moments of quiet meditation and thanks for the men and women who have fought and continue to fight so hard for us.

Jon & I hosted the family celebration this year (is there anything cuter than chubby babies in red & white stripes? I think not.), and so a majority of our weekend was spent preparing the house & yard for our guests. There were multiple moments when I caught myself standing back and watching Jon, thinking, "I may never love this man more than when we are working side-by-side." I think it's a perfect symbol of what marriage is all about. Even as we sweated and swore under our breath, it felt good to have a companion.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And so there you have it: a little summary of where I've been & what I've been up to. July is looking busy but significantly more manageable for me (knock on wood), so I plan on being around quite a bit more. (As I mentioned above, stay alert for a "Love Letters" post later in the week!)

Your turn: Was your June a busy one? What have you been up to? How did you spend your 4th of July?