Tuesday, September 19, 2017

(Tap, tap, tap… is this thing still on?)

It’s been just over 10 months since I checked in to my little corner of the internet. Those 10 months followed a few more that were, let’s just say, less than stellar. Between family ordeals both immediate and extended and friend issues (the kind where you find out who your real friends are), I found myself not finding joy in much of anything. Which meant I found little fun or humorous to write about.

After the first few days of no writing turned to a month, then two, then two more, I figured I was done. “Most blogs don’t last anyway,” I told myself. And I settled in to a comfortable denial of my once-strong urge to get everything down on paper.

And I found myself thinking, “I was a writer.” Totally past-tense.

But then my sweet third-born asked what happened to the blog. “I really miss your posts,” she said. “They were about our life. Like a photo album.” She didn’t just say it once. She said it multiple times. And between her asking me to write again and my dear mother-in-law saying she missed my posts, I decided to try to get back in the game.

Don’t get me wrong; much of the junk that caused me to hang up the keyboard is still there. And more bad stuff will happen. But good stuff is happening, too. Somewhere. Sometimes it’s harder to find than others, but it is out there. And often, it’s a lot closer than I think:

Like the fact that I just took a motorcycle training class with Michael. We’re both endorsed to ride!

Or that Rebecca is honing her teaching skills by teaching science, piano and ballet.

Or that Amy is helping to choreograph a show that Sean, Rebecca and I are working on with two other dear friends.

Or that today is my 25th wedding anniversary!

Or that the sun rose this morning.

Now that I’m waking from my self-imposed stupor, I can see the many, many wonderful things going on that I would happily chronicle in a blog post.

Besides, my baby is graduating from high school this year and I definitely need a place to talk about how totally impossible that is.

It’s not just impossible. It’s downright crazy.

Here’s to a new start on Where I Am. And hopefully where I’ll be will be right here for many years to come.
The first day of 12th grade...who let this happen? I blame her father.

Many thanks to our friends Barry P. and Dr. D for loaning us helmets!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

It's the end of the world as we know it

Well, y’all, I never saw this coming. All these years, living like this day wouldn’t come and yet, here we are. I can only imagine it signals the end. The end of the world surely must be nigh. 

What? Do you think I’m talking about the election? Oh no. Something much more insane than a little election has occurred at our house and I know it must mean the end. Here it is:
Did you see it? Look again:
See it now? Do you see that empty pudding cup with a spoon in it? It’s an empty pudding cup with a spoon in it! It was left on the coffee table overnight. Left out. On the coffee table. All night.

What? That doesn’t seem like a big deal to you? Well, it will seem earth-shattering when I tell you the only person who eats pudding cups at this house is Sean.

That’s right, people. Sean Duffy left a pudding cup and spoon on the coffee table! I'm waiting for the earthquakes, crashes of thunder and bolts of lightning to begin any moment.

Rebecca and I came home from a rehearsal to a quiet house, so we assumed Sean had gone to bed. When we entered the family room and saw the pudding cup (and spoon!), we both gasped. I don’t think either of us has ever – EVER – known him to leave out anything like that. Ever.

We were afraid he’d been abducted because in our minds, that’s the only way this scene made sense.

He’s the one who sweeps through the house, dumping out glasses he finds without hands around them, not aware (or caring) that we might still be using them. He puts things away using the touch-it-once rule: if you handle something, put it where it belongs the first time. He has never left his socks or underwear on the floor. In 24 years of marriage I can honestly say I have never seen him leave anything out of place like this.

(I realize those of you with messy husbands must be jealous right about now, but it makes this person, who's fond of piles, just a little insane. You have no idea the pressure I live under to keep my piles neat and managed. Which doesn't usually happen unless company is coming over and then I sweep all my piles into a laundry basket to be dealt with at a later date. Look, we all have our filing systems...)

Once Rebecca and I recovered from the shock of seeing the trash on the coffee table, we both cracked up and said, “Picture! We must take a picture!” Because Rebecca knew her siblings would not believe this story without photographic evidence.

I guess it’s finally happened. My clear inability to handle-it-once has rubbed off on him. (Notice the barrette, single earring, bracelet and ring on the table.) Goodness. I wonder if tomorrow there will be socks on the bathroom floor or worse – a glass that isn’t whisked away from the family room to the kitchen sink.

My word. It seems I hardly know my husband any more. Maybe the real Sean Duffy WAS abducted and a fake was left in his place... If this were a movie, the pudding cup would be a clue that something was horribly amiss. 

Assuming that the real one is still among us, I must admit nothing will shock me any more. Nothing is as nuts as Sean Duffy leaving out a pudding cup and spoon. Not even an election season as crazy as 2016's.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

My pleasure!

Eleven years. Eleven long years. More than 4000 days. That’s how long I’ve lived without quick access to Chick-fil-A’s chickeny goodness. But as of 6 am this morning, that has all changed.

Lansing’s first Chick-fil-A opened for business.
(Photo by RHD)
(I’m just letting that sink in…)

The new CFA is 8 miles from my house. Takes about 15 minutes to get there. A 2 ½ hour trek to the closest original chicken sandwich was my reality yesterday. But today. Today! A 15-minute drive is but a hop, skip and a jump!

I saw several friends as Rebecca and I had breakfast there this morning. I may have to go back for lunch. And if we weren’t having company for dinner, I’d be tempted to make it a three-fer kind of day…

I’m going to have to make a new budget category.

Chick-fil-A, thank you for coming to Lansing! This Georgia girl is thankful for the taste of home.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

This will be hard to beat

We’ll celebrate our 25th anniversary next September. We’ve thought lots about what we’ll do – but after our celebration of #24 two weeks ago, I’m thinking we should just hang up the celebration shoes and count it good for the rest of our anniversaries.

Yes. It was that good.

We went to the Big Apple and saw all the major sites – The Statue of Liberty, the Freedom Tower, 9/11 Museum, Rockefeller Center, The Empire State Building. We walked the Chelsea High Line and miles and miles and miles of the city’s sidewalks. We rode the subway from north to south and back again. We packed in so much in three days that we needed a break from our break.

And did I mention we saw this show – maybe you’ve heard of it:

Okay, y’all. I am not one to jump on bandwagons. Usually, if I know something is popular I will be less inclined to like it. When my mom took me shopping as a kid, the kiss of death to whatever clothing she was trying to get me to buy was saying, “This is so in!” Back to the rack.

I say that because there is nothing so popular, so hot, so on-freaking-fire right now as Hamilton. This does bother me a little, but I console myself by remembering that I fell in love with the show long before tickets cost a kidney.

Thankfully, Sean got our tickets months ago, before they were as obscenely expensive as they are today. But you know what: that show is worth whatever pretty penny you pay. The choreography, the score, the costumes, the staging – this show is going to revolutionize musicals. Revolutionize. Don’t want to take my word for it? How about Andrew Lloyd Webber’s – you know, the guy who did this little show called Phantom of the Opera:

Just seen #Hamilton; it raises & changes the bar for musicals. Brilliant lyrics, staging, cast. Creator/lead @Lin_Manuel is special. ALW.*

Oh, y’all. So, so good. And I got to see two of my favorites from the Broadway cast recording, Okieriete "Oak" Onaodowan (Hercules Mulligan/James Madison) and Thayne Jasperson (Samuel Seabury/ Ensemble).

It’s been two weeks and I can’t stop thinking about how amazing that show was…

So that was three hours of our three days. Here’s a look at what we did the rest of the time;

What would a Duffy vacation be without a visit with some shiny sheet metal? Cadillac recently moved their marketing headquarters to Manhattan. Sean has a friend there so we visited the offices and got a look at the cars on display in the lobby.

A trip to Trinity Church was a must for this Hamilton devotee (the man this time). Right next to Hamilton's grave was this one, which Sean thought was wonderful:
Robert Fulton. His memorial was erected by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

And here's Hamilton's and his wife Eliza's:

We had a celebrity sighting - Steve Higgins of Jimmy Fallon's The Tonight Show fame:

We visited NYC's first Chick-fil-A!

We struggled to get this selfie. We are not good at the selfie.
I got to catch up with my first college friend, Scott!

The Empire State Building at dusk - gorgeous! (We did better with this selfie.)

At the Grange, the house Hamilton built for his wife.

Our step-counter for Day Three:

A few final shots of the stage at the Richard Rodgers Theater:


*The grammatical mistake in this tweet makes me a little crazy, but I guess even the best of writers can be grammatically challenged after seeing Hamilton. It is that good. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

This Hilary I want to see

There are so many people in New York City. So. Many. People. Running into anyone you know is a one in a million shot. Running into the person who gave you tickets you used on your first date, which led to you being in NYC to celebrate your 24th anniversary – now, that’s got to be one in a bazillion.

My first date with Sean was June 21, 1989. (Yes, I’m aware that’s a long time ago.) And that date was made possible by Sean’s brand-new boss, Scott, who gave Sean tickets to a symphony pops concert that Scott and several other co-workers were attending with their spouses. Sean had just graduated from GMI (now Kettering) and had hired on with GM full-time. I’m the lucky girl who got to go along as his plus 1 for the outdoor concert. In Atlanta. In June. Did I mention it was outdoors?

The fact that I said yes to another date was a miracle. Thankfully date #2 was indoors…

Scott and Sean
Since that first date we've had many opportunities to interact with Scott and his lovely wife, Hilary. They hosted numerous work parties at their beautiful home and Sean worked for Scott for many years in Atlanta. He’s the boss I remember hearing the most about, the boss who helped shepherd Sean through his early years at GM. And he’s the man I always think of with great fondness for giving Sean the tickets that led to our first date.

So when we saw Scott and Hilary in NYC last week as we were celebrating anniversary #24, it just felt amazingly, wonderfully right.

Unfortunately, we ran into them as we were leaving the city and they were coming. But we had 30 minutes to catch up before our car picked us up to take us to the airport. And in those 30 minutes, Sean and Scott got caught up on their friends from Doraville and Hilary filled me in on the many volunteer projects she’s working on. And we had a few good laughs remembering that concert at Chastain Park Amphitheatre when we were all babies, 27 years ago.

Thanks for giving Sean those tickets, Scott!
Me with Hilary (yep - just one "l").

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Starting early with the last

Just to clear up any confusion: Rebecca is not a senior. She just started her junior year. She has two more years at home before she flies the coop like her brother and sister before her.

Why do I feel the need to make this pronouncement? Because there’s been a slight misunderstanding about her age. Several people have asked about any impending college plans. Others have asked her how it feels to be a senior. These questions caught her off-guard, understandably so. And when she asked me why so many people thought she should be shopping for dorm room decorations, I had to admit that it was all my fault. 

My darn watery eyes got me good.

There was no clue it was coming. I was telling the parents at our church’s homeschool co-op meeting about a new year-end celebration. It will be a special night where we’ll see student artwork, selected readers’ theater scenes, hear kids perform memorized passages, hand out yearbooks. In addition, I said, it will be a great opportunity for us to recognize any seniors. That, my friends, is all it took. Caught me completely off-guard. In front of all those parents (friends, thankfully) I teared up. And I couldn’t get it together. I had to stop talking before I’d finished telling the parents the particulars of the new night, tossing out, “I’ll send y’all an email,” as I left the front of the room.

Normally I cry at the beginning of the senior year. Which makes sense – I’m gearing up for the fact that one of my children will be leaving. Getting used to the new normal and all that. (For what it’s worth, I must say, the new normal never feels normal. Do you get used to cooking for one less or the quiet house? Yes. Does it ever feel normal? Well, not yet.) Crying at the beginning of the junior year… that does not bode well for dear Rebecca or my tear ducts.

Sorry, Rebecca. I’ll do my best to keep it together. At least until your senior year, when the tears will make just a bit more sense. 

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

My new best lunch buddies

Who knew the key to gaining entry to the lives of college students was a crock pot full of pulled pork?

Well, actually, everyone knows free food will get college kids’ attention. And I used that knowledge to my advantage this summer to get to know the college students performing with Amy in the summer theater program in Mt. Pleasant.

Not knowing my college-kid’s friends is a bummer. One of my favorite parts of being a mom has been knowing my kids’ friends. So when my oldest two unceremoniously up and left for college, I realized how much I hated not knowing who they would talk about when we’d chat.

Well, thankfully, Amy’s school is only an hour from us and I have been able to get to know a few of her friends as we've visited or seen shows, but I don’t know them well. So when Amy told us she would be staying at school and working with 11 of her friends this summer I realized this was my chance to really get to know some of her people. All I had to do was show up armed with a crock pot, chips and cookies.

Now, cooking for college kids once a week this summer was not on my to-do list. (Cooking for my own family once a week isn't exactly on my to-do list.) But once Amy and I talked about me bringing dinner to the CMU Summer Theater students once a week, I realized the upside to getting to know her friends far outweighed the downside of grocery shopping. And cooking. Man, I am over cooking…

Anyway, once a week for five weeks this summer, I hauled up food from DeWitt to Mt. Pleasant. The first week I did a sandwich platter. Not. Enough. Food. It was crock pot city after that.

Five lunches. In hindsight, it’s really not that much. But during those five lunches I got to know each of the students by name and a little about them. Once I saw a little too much of Zach G., because he came to lunch in his costume, which was boxer shorts, but I was in the green room so what did I expect?

It seemed only fitting that we’d spend the last day of summer with our favorite group of new friends. Sean, Rebecca and I took up pulled pork, chips, carrots, grapes, cupcakes and brownies. We had dinner with them this time and it was really fun to see them again. We’d spent time with them in Mt. Pleasant, on Beaver Island, and in Whitehall. But we finished like we started, in the green room on CMU’s campus.

To Amy, Katie, Tyler, Zach, Allie, Anthony, Will, Emily, Dani, Claire, Zach and Lainey, thanks for sharing part of your lunch breaks with me. You are totally worth cooking for. Love y’all! 

We love because He first loved us. I John 4:19