Impromptu College Reunion

I am currently experiencing a post-exhausting-week cold.  My throat began itching on the drive home Friday, and now I am in full blown green snot mode.  (You’re welcome.)  Andrew woke me up in the middle of the night and said, “Catherine… roll over.  You’re making funny noises….and you’re right in my face.”  😀  I consider myself to have a strong immune system, but I know I am highly susceptible to getting sick when I am stressed and/or overly tired.  Oy.

I spent most of Saturday recuperating, and on Sunday I met up with with my college housemates for an impromptu reunion.  We met at Kate’s apartment in the Fan and walked to Garnett’s Cafe for lunch.  I’d never been, but it was delicious, and they have gluten-free bread, so I will have to go back with Andrew very soon!  From there we walked to Kuba Kuba for their iced cafes con leche (by the way, I have been far too lax about the amount of dairy I’m eating…)  By the time we arrived back at Kate’s after two hours of talking, eating, talking, and walking, I was exhausted and had a bad case of medicine-head.  I drove home to take a nap, and the girls went to the river, with the plan to come over to our house later for dinner, prepared by Chef Andrew.

The meal included a salad with lots of fresh veggies from our garden, plus spinach and arugula from the store.  I was thrilled to be able to share the harvest with our friends 🙂

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In addition to salad, we had baked chicken with a roasted red pepper and artichoke tapenade (the tapenade was from Trader Joe’s) and a lemon-basil quinoa.

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It was all pretty delicious. 🙂

The girls were concerned that I was taking this picture because they’d come straight from the river/being out in the sun all afternoon, but I think they all look beautiful:

dollhouseI love these people 🙂 

We ate and talked and reminisced about things we did in college.  Andrew informed us that the more he hears about our college experience (mostly the pranks we pulled and the weird things we did that we thought were hilarious), the less he wonders why none of us dated very much 😀

We ended the day with a trip to Ray’s for ice cream and Italian water ice.  As always, it’s so good for my soul to spend time with this crew, even when I’m not feeling well!

What was the highlight of your weekend?

NC Mission Trip Recap- Part 1

I am home from North Carolina and excited to give a full account of the week, but first, I must acknowledge what happened yesterday:  Andrew hijacked the blog.  It was a legitimate hijacking.  Not only did he not tell me he was writing a post, but he didn’t tell me he’d done it afterwards either!  I happened to glance at the stats page on my phone, saw a few notifications, and thought, two people commented on…what post?  Oh…  What a funny guy. 😀  Because the stolen post seemed to be well-received, Andrew has landed himself a contract job as a monthly guest blogger (he’s not getting paid for it.)  I hope those of you that we don’t know in real life enjoyed “meeting” Andrew!

Now the mission trip summary…I’ll do my best to keep in concise without leaving out any juicy details 🙂

The team:
Our team consisted of twelve middle school youth and four adults.  I’ve probably mentioned this on the blog before, but I love middle schoolers.  I think they are absolutely hilarious in that you never know what they will say or do.  In that regard, they did not disappoint this week.  Actually, they did not disappoint in any way this week;  I was impressed by how hard they all worked and the great attitudes they had despite the heat and persistent mosquitoes.

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The people we served:
As I mentioned in my midweek report, we worked with a man named Chuck and his two teenage daughters, Ashley and Haley, who are in a very tough spot in life at the moment.  Chuck is sharp, witty, knowledgeable about many, many subjects, and full of hilarious one-liners.  “She’s as tough as woodpecker lips.”  “At least my report card didn’t stutter;  yours kept saying, “D-D-D-D-D…”  More importantly, he has a deep love for his daughters and a rock-solid faith that was evident to all of us.  Despite losing his wife, job, and being left to raise teenage girls, his devotion to God has not been shaken.

In addition to teaching us some legitimately useful life skills, Chuck showed us how “we rednecks” get strong out of in the country:  using heavy metal bars and sledgehammers:

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And that block of wood they are pounding with the sledgehammer?  After we took turns hitting it all day, Chuck stood it up and split it in two with the sledgehammer, prompting this response from one of our boys:

“If I took a girl out on a date, and you were her dad, I would treat her so well…”  😀

The work:
Half of our team painted the outside of Chuck’s trailer, and half the team replaced the floor in a few rooms inside.  As I mentioned above, everyone worked incredibly hard and finished the tasks we set out to do.

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The funny (part 1):
The man living next door to Chuck owns a bunch of goats and keeps them in a barely charged electric fence.  Think static electricity.  Or a first grade science experiment using a battery and a light bulb (I know this to be true thanks to one of our awesome adults, Robin, who teaches science to elementary school students. :))  One afternoon Chuck showed a few of our youth what that fence feels like, and, because they are twelve years old, that entertained many of them for longer than you might think.  Weird, but harmless.  Well, the phone calls home that night sounded like this:

“Catherine let us electrocute ourselves on an electric fence today!  We kept shocking ourselves over and over!  What?  Why not?  Yeah, I’m okay… No, it didn’t hurt… No, we didn’t do it for very long…”

Oh boy.  Parents, I did not let your kids electrocute themselves.  Again, think static electricity, and please consider that your twelve-year-old may have exaggerated.  I do think, however, that a few of them seemed slightly more balanced afterwards… 😉

I will leave it here for now, but I have plenty more to report tomorrow.  Thanks for reading!

Hijacked!!!!

Finally, what you thousands of fans of this blog have been waiting for:

The namesake is posting!  Because let’s get real for a minute,  I have provided the Storey of ‘A Two Storey Home’.  All Catherine does is manage it, think of posts, write the posts, keep up with the comments,and, most of all, stop me mid-action to take pictures of whatever we are doing to post on the blog.  But without the hilarious pun that my name has provided, who would read?  A name is everything.  If Melville had called it ‘Some Guy Overly Fixated on Catching a Whale’, would he have had a best seller?  Or, would people have called for Clark Kent’s alter ego to save them from burning buildings if he called himself ‘Better-than-Average-Man’?  I think not.  Count It!

Andrew = 1

People who disagree with Andrew = 0

Glad that’s out of the way.  Catherine, you’re welcome 🙂

Now on to more important things.  While I have read exactly 4 sentences of the blog. Side bar: I have lived most of it.  Reading it would just be literary deja vu.  I imagine it could get trippy. Un-Side bar.  I can imagine though that Catherine writes a lot about our house, our garden, what we do, running, etc.  She probably also writes about “feelings” and “emotions”  So with this post, I would like to turn the needle back to the manly side of the dial.  So what is the opposite of “feelings”?  How about ‘sgnileef’…no I guess that’s just ‘feelings’ backwards (Feel free to laugh out loud at that one…I bet Catherine doesn’t make awesome puns like that).  I think I’ll go with numbers.  No emotional significance to numbers.  Well, I guess 7 is lucky, 13 isn’t, 3&5 are prime, π is irrational, and, of course, 1 is lonely, or so they say.  There must be a conspiracy to connect ‘feelings’ everything if numbers haven’t even been able to resist emotional attachment.  So, let’s fight back.  Here’s the week in numbers from my engineer brain with the garden harvest update leading off and a photo of today’s crop:

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1 – yellow squash harvested

109 – cherry tomatoes harvested

4 – green peppers harvested

2 – pimento peppers harvested

2 – cucumbers harvested

18 – tomatillos harvested

24 – green beans harvested

3 – hours spent on the phone trying to get a new water heater delivered and installed…still working on it

2 – episodes of ‘Property Brothers’ watched

1 – yoga class attended

5 – fish fillets fried

5 – fish fillets eaten

4 – days of work so far

1 – Food Network Magazine read

7 – levels of Jewel Mania beaten

2.5 – hours of ultimate frisbee played

6 – mosquito bites 

1 – mouse caught…thought we had that problem fixed. Hmmm.

and evidence for 1 being a sad and lonely number…

1 – pair of athletic shorts thrown away when the elastic gave out and the draw string broke after at least 10 years of good and faithful service….tear 😦

Wait…there are those dang emotions popping back up again.  So for good measure and to honor all who have used graphs excessively before me, I will end with a graph of how my week has gone…

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Yes, my graph goes to 11.

Please comment on my post using a scale of 1-10.

 

NC Mission Trip- Midweek Report

The week so far…

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This week we have been working with a man named Chuck and his two teenage daughters, Ashley and Haley.  Chuck’s wife passed away in April, and around the same time he lost his job.  Due to the tough financial situation,  the three were forced to move into a broken down trailer.  One of the girls told us that life has been so crazy that they haven’t even had time to mourn the loss of their mother.  Our crew has been replacing an old, rotted floor this week, as well as putting a fresh coat of paint on the outside of the house.  It’s been a joy for us to spend time with Chuck and the girls too!

In addition to sweating like crazy from 8:30-3, here are some other notables of the last few days:

Highs:

-beach time

-awesome food

-a surprise ice cream delivery by Mr. Oguich

-goats at the worksite (yes, everyone else is just as excited as I am about this ;-))

-worship on beach blankets in the sand

 

Lows:

-broken AC in the girls’ room the first night (which has been fixed! We are nice and cool :))

-Mosquitos that laugh at our Off! Deep Woods bug spray…

-noisy neighbors (I laid the smack down last night 😀

All around, it has been an awesome week… And we have over 3 days left!  I will give a full report when I return… Blogging via smart phone is a painful task.

Have a great week!

Gone to Carolina [in the Church Van]

In a few hours I will be on my way to North Carolina with a group of our middle school youth for a mission trip.  We are spending the week repairing homes near the coast (low-income areas… not people’s beach houses, as my mom suspected :)), and I am so looking forward to it.  Missions and local service projects are a key piece of our youth ministry, and here’s why:

In the book of James, chapter 2, James poses the question, “What good is it, brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith, but has no deeds?  Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace;  keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead.”

In other words, if all we ever do is sit around reading the Bible, then go about our lives and ignore those who are hurting in the world, what’s the point?  That type of faith is not sincere.  In light of that, I am humbled and thrilled to have opportunities like this trip as part of my job.  Plus, I get to hang out with all our crazy middle schoolers, whom I love dearly. 😀

I am not sure how much I will be able to blog while I’m there–maybe a few brief posts–but I plan to give it a try.  If not, I’ll be back next weekend!  In the meantime, please pray for our team, those we are helping, and Andrew, who has to hold down the fort by himself this week.

As the very talented James Taylor put it:  “Yes, I’m gone to Carolina in [the church van.]” (Or something like that. ;-))

Independence Day, Yoga, and Laughter

Thanks to everyone–in real life and the blog world–for your kind words about my grandmother the last few days.  It’s been great to have what I know reaffirmed through so many: Grandma Tudor was a hell of a woman.  For those who didn’t know her, you’ll get to hear more about her in the coming weeks; don’t worry. 🙂

It has been a stressful week.  I leave tomorrow for a mission trip with the middle school youth at church, which I am so looking forward to, but there has been a lot to do related to the trip this week.  On Wednesday morning, hospice let us know that my grandmother was in her final 24-48 hours.  I think the anticipation of her death was, in some ways, worse than her actual passing.  I felt like, I am sad, but I can’t start grieving yet because I have too many other things that I need to do that will be much harder to do when I am actually grieving!

As Andrew walked through the door Wednesday evening, he made a playful jab about an email I’d sent him earlier in the day.  I immediately burst into tears and said, “I’m stressed, and I’m sad… can you not pick on me??”  (What can I say?  I am good at articulating how I feel and what I need… even if I word it the way a 6-year old might.  ;-))

After dinner that night we went to our yoga class.  I’d been looking forward to it as a stress reliever, but I didn’t anticipate all the ways in which it would help.  We set up our mats in the middle of the room; some people were already sitting or lying down, meditating.  The instructor entered the room and began setting up at the front of the class, but had not started the music yet, so the room was very quiet.  As I walked to the closet in the back of the room to get straps and blocks for Andrew and me, I heard a strange noise through the quiet of the room:

fsshh fsshh fsshh fsshh…

I turned around to scan the room.  Everyone was perfectly still… except my dear husband, who looked like he was trying to make snow angels on the floor, his socks making the fsshh noise as they moved back and forth.  I think from his position, he couldn’t tell how loud or obvious the motion was.

I hurried back over  to our mats and whispered,

Andrew!  Stop!  What are you doing?

The floor is so slippery!  They just redid it, and it’s SO slippery!

That’s great… but stop…you’re being a lot louder than you think!

Then we did our best to stifle our laughter.  What is it about laughing when you aren’t supposed to that makes it so hard to stop laughing?  The harder we tried to stop, the harder we laughed, and laughing is great stress relief. 🙂

(But seriously, we are the worst yogis.  Let me apologize now if you ever happen to be in the same class as us.)

On Thursday, after the news about my grandmother arrived and I spent some time crying and talking to family, we decided it would be nice to get out of the house rather than spend the day moping.

We harvested some veggies:

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…ate lunch at Burger Bach, by which neither of us were wildly impressed.  We were lured in by the gluten-free bun option and grass-fed beef.  The burgers come with side salads, which is nice, and you purchase fries and dipping sauces separately.  We were turned off by the fact that a small fry comes with one sauce, and if you wanted to try multiple sauces, you have to pay extra–that includes ketchup.  Come on… just put the bottle of ketchup on the table; people will still try the other kinds.  Also, the cooking options were “pink or no pink.”  Well, I don’t want it to be pink, but I also don’t want it charred, which is how my burger arrived.  To be fair, I was having a bad day, but don’t be lazy;  a “medium-well” option won’t kill you.

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After lunch we went to Maymont to see the goats (I’ve mentioned this before, but I really love goats.  I regularly petition Andrew to let us get one as a pet.)

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Because it was so hot, they had all the animals inside, so unfortunately, I didn’t get to pet them.  Still cute. 🙂

That night we had dinner on the river and watched fireworks with our good friends Amanda and Diron.

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We love these guys. 🙂

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While waiting for fireworks, we laughed about the insane flash on the iphone camera:

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😀

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It was a great end to a tough day. 🙂

What did you do for Independence Day?

Heaven’s Gain

On July 4, I awoke around 8:00 AM.  I made breakfast, poured my cup of coffee, and sat down at the computer to write a blog entry that I never posted (or finished.)  Around 8:20 AM my phone rang.  When I saw that it was my dad, I knew it was the call that I had been expecting and dreading.

My sweet grandmother passed away in the early hours of this Fourth of July.  She was 90, and lived the fullest life a person could dream of living.

At some point in the coming weeks I will write a tribute that hopefully conveys, in some small way, the greatness of this woman, but this morning I am not emotionally ready to do so (and writing such a piece is a task that will take weeks, not minutes or hours.)  For this morning, I will simply share what I posted to Facebook yesterday:

Heaven gained an incredible lady early this morning. Words cannot do Grandma Tudor justice, and those of you who knew her (or have heard my infinite stories about her) know what I mean by that. She always loved and served wholeheartedly, putting herself before no one–family, friends, or complete strangers. After battling Alzheimer’s in her final years, today is truly a day of freedom for her. We miss her tremendously, but we know that she is (probably line-dancing) with God today.

If you had the pleasure of knowing my grandmother, please feel free to share your favorite memories here. ❤

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What followed was an unbelievable outpouring of love, memories, and testimonies of how this tiny lady had touched so many lives.  My friend Katie wrote:

“I don’t think I have ever told you this but Grandma Tudor is who I envision when I think of Mother Theresa…everything I have read about her was embodied in your grandma: loving, always busy taking care of the poor, full of wisdom, but delightfully humorous and full of spunk! I hope they are in heaven swapping stories right now!”

(Katie: thanks for bringing me to tears when I read this as well as ever time that I’ve reread it. ;-))

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 I know there will be plenty more tears shed in the coming weeks, but as my sister said yesterday, we are the only ones crying… not Grandma.

Thanks to everyone for the love, encouragement, and kind words on what was a very tough day yesterday.  We take comfort in knowing that Grandma Tudor is finally free from the darkness that is Alzheimer’s and dancing with her Heavenly Father!

Lemon-Thyme Chicken & Vacation

I may have reached my threshold for squash.  With the zucchini and yellow squash growing so quickly in the garden, we have cooked a meal with them about once a week and eaten the leftovers for at least one other meal.  Don’t get me wrong:  we are growing some delicious squash…I just might need to encourage the bell peppers and broccoli to grow a bit faster for the sake of my taste buds. 😀

I used this recipe to cook dinner last night, and taste-tester Andrew gave it two thumbs up.  Our modifications: instead of couscous, we cooked brown rice in the rice cooker, we used chicken tenderloins because they were on sale, and we added minced garlic to the squash saute.  

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The chicken was really good.  We will most definitely make this again… perhaps with another veggie. 🙂  Andrew loved the squash, and I certainly didn’t have any complaints about the taste.  As I said earlier though, I think I have reached my limit, so I just wasn’t thrilled about it.  Luckily, we have lots of leftovers to eat tonight. 😉

After dinner we headed to the gym.  I sweated for 40 minutes on the Elliptical–including 10 minutes of intervals–while Andrew lifted weights.   We booked our summer vacation on Sunday night (we are going to Jamaica in August!!) and I think as a result we are both feeling motivated to put in some tougher workouts. 😀  An evening stroll around the neighborhood, a Sunday afternoon leisurely bike ride are great for general health and basic fitness, but we are upping the intensity for the next month or so in order to get ourselves in fantastic shape for the Caribbean. 😀  I am SO excited.

What are your vacation plans for the summer?
Is anyone else tired of squash yet? 😉

Beach Day and Crazy Tomatoes

Life is about to be busy–a good busy–for a season.  Next weekend I leave for a mission trip with the youth group, will be home for a week, then leave for another mission trip (more on this later this week!), so this past weekend was somewhat of a “calm before the storm.”  Saturday we drove to Virginia Beach and met my college roomie Leah for a day of fun in the partly cloudy sun.  Other than a couple of brief rain showers, it was a wonderful beach day!

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Andrew and I are not exactly “beach compatible.”  My ideal day on the beach includes lying on my back, taking a long walk, lying on my stomach, dipping my toes in the water, and repeating.  Andrew, on the other hand, turns into a giant 9-year-old as soon as his toes hit the sand.

“What do you want to do first??  Build a sand castle??  Dig a hole??  Body surf??  Throw the frisbee??  Dig a bigger hole??”

I say that with all the love in the world. 🙂  Because marriage involves many compromises, we did a little of both beach methods.  We sat, Andrew built a carefully measured, structurally-sound castle (you can’t turn off “engineer”), we threw the football and Waboba in the water, and we relaxed.

Before Leah arrived, Andrew was in the zone building his castle.  I thought it would be funny to turn on the self-timer on the camera, sneak up behind Andrew, and take a funny picture without him noticing.  Well, as I was walking over, raising our sand-diggers (yes, we bring toys to the beach), I noticed the woman on the blanket next to us looking at me like I was nuts.  I lost my nerve, and camera took the photo mid-sneak.  It’s not what I had in mind, but I look so awkward that it makes me laugh:

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😀

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We had a great time catching up with Leah just enjoying the beach!  On the way home, we met our friend Allison for dinner.  We miss her so much in Richmond, and was so, so good to share a meal and chat for a bit. 🙂

Things were productive on the garden-front this weekend as well.  Between the heat and the afternoon rain we’ve been having for the last few weeks, our tomato plants have grown out of control.  Part of the problem is that we planted too many too close together;  it’s hard to tell which branches belong to which plant now!  They’ve long surpassed their 4-ft cages and started flopping over on top of each other.  This weekend we had to stake them:

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Most of them are taller than their 6-ft stakes, and a few are even taller than Andrew now.  Despite the craziness, they are producing lots of beautiful fruit:

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We are approaching an exciting point in which we are harvesting a lot of veggies.  I know it’s all relative, but we were thrilled to bring these beauties inside yesterday:

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They were (we ate them all) the best cherry tomatoes I’ve tasted!  Thankfully, there are dozens more ripening at this very moment. 🙂

What did you do this weekend?
What activities do you like to do at the beach?