Sunday, September 29, 2013





Party bus.
Jell-o shots.
Three pubs.

All this is why I didn't post last night.

Still recovering, actually. Today's lesson: I am no longer 21. This wasn't a surprise, I just wish I'd have remembered that last night.

Friday, September 27, 2013



We promised Zo she could invite four friends to have a sleepover for her birthday. Well, school started and one thing led to another and last weekend she reminded us that we hadn't made that happen yet.

So Sunday night I took a deep breath and emailed four moms, praying that one or two could make it on such short notice. Friday night was it. Piano lesson canceled this week and no Saturday soccer game. Who knew when the planets would align like this again?

They all said yes!

Two girls walked home from school with us this afternoon, and the other two went home briefly to pick up stuff and have a little parent time. They came shortly after and that's when the real fun started. Dress-up parades. Sidewalk chalk. Bikes and scooters and a big wheel. Spying on Mr. and Mrs. Z. We built tacos for dinner (crunchy and soft), and twisted then baked soft pretzels for dessert. They plowed through three bags of microwave popcorn and two movies (Brave and Monsters Inc.). We made "mocktails" of cranberry juice and Sprite. They attacked Mr. Z more than once with pillows and high-pitched squeals. (He was a good man and succumbed to their beatings, but relished sneaking up on them and scaring the tar out of them in return.) They doted on both cats (doting being a completely subjective description for I'm sure the cats saw it differently) and gave yogurt drops to the guinea pig.

Now we've made sure teeth are brushed and lovies secured and night lights set. They are tucked into their sleeping bags and all is dark.

It is not, however, quiet.

Good grief. These five girls spent ALL DAY together...what else do they have to talk about?!

Tomorrow is homemade pancakes. Then possibly a run to the glass store and maybe a stop in at Homecoming where I work.

Life is good. I'm so tired, but so happy. My heart is full tonight.

Thursday, September 26, 2013



Even though I have been there over a year, I still can't believe I am there. Talk about the grace of God.

I still love seeing monks hurrying across campus. I like that I can identify each one now, and that I know much about most of them. It just makes me feel better. They remind me that there is a higher power, and that I don't have to do everything by myself.

Plus it's nice to know that they are praying for me (and you) every single day. Six times a day, as a matter of fact.

I love the monks. All of them. Even the ones that show their faults and foibles. Maybe them the most, because they remind me that even the most saintly among us are still innately human, struggling with their weaknesses just like me.

I am so tired from the work load, and yet, I am so grateful and happy to be there. Even with the hours, I'm still receiving far more from this place than I'm giving. Or could ever give.

How do you repay peace and grace?



Zozo's 30-minute piano lesson was just about my only idle time today. And I spent part of it responding to work emails on my phone.

I'm tired. Tired of too much work. Tired of too many expectations. Tired of other people's lack of planning constituting emergencies and late nights on my part. Tired of worrying about teaching important life lessons to my daughter. (Am I doing this right? Am I teaching guilt or fear instead of love and learning as I'm trying so desperately hard to do?) Tired of second grade homework I do not understand, despite earning a bachelor of journalism and a master of business administration. ("Everyday Math" can suck it.) I'm tired of having to medicate the cat, or rather reminding my husband to medicate the cat because I hate doing it. I'm tired of doing laundry 2-3x per week only because we have one (ONE!) pair of soccer socks. I'm tired of waiting for my new employee to start because ohmygod the workload is killing me. I'm tired of making dinner, and I'm tired of cleaning it up.

Most people hate Mondays. I like Mondays. Fresh new start, bright week ahead. Lots of potential time to get things done. Wednesdays kill me though. Wednesdays are my Mondays. I f*cking hate Wednesdays. I'm hoping this will be at least partly remedied by my new marketing specialist, because my shitty Thursday deadline will become his shitty Thursday deadline. Although I'm fairly certain that he won't see it as shitty as I do because this will be part of his regular weekly job, not one more thing on top of the 3.5 jobs I'm currently doing. Man, it'll be nice to downshift into doing only 2.5 jobs. Maybe 2 if this guy is a real to-getter and takes on more than his fair share. I think he is. I can only hope. It would be nice seeing as how my last employee (whom I inherited...I'd like to make it clear I did not hire her) did approximately .25 of her job.

I hate Wednesdays.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013



We were both really tired tonight, and didn't feel like cooking. However, we didn't want to go out and we didn't want to eat junk food, either.

So we had a fresh tapas-style meal.

String cheese
Babybel rounds
Peanut butter (for the apples, natch)
Freshly made guacamole
Reduced fat wheat thins (simply for use as guacamole carrier devices)
Leftover homemade pretzels

For being a "light" meal we stuffed ourselves silly. So delicious. Zozo loved it. We ate healthy, no one had to do a lot of work, and we ate fruit that would be past ripe if it went another day or two. Win on all counts.

Tomorrow: forgotten roast. Perfect meal for a crazy, hectic day.

Monday, September 23, 2013



And then there are days where I take only one photograph, a grab shot in the drop-off line at school.

Sunday, September 22, 2013



Made us some homemade soft pretzels tonight.

Holy crap.

We could eat all 12, right now. At one sitting. Pass the mustard.

Awesome Soft Pretzel Recipe:

4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup baking soda
4 cups hot water
1/4 cup kosher salt, for topping

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center; add the oil and yeast mixture. Mix and form into a dough. If the mixture is dry, add one or tablespoons of water. Knead the dough until smooth, about 7 to 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough int he bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). In a large bowl, dissolve baking soda in hot water.
  4. When risen, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and twist into a pretzel shape. Once all the dough is shaped, dip each pretzel into the baking soda solution and place on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with kosher salt (if desired).
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes, until browned.
Why is the baking soda bath necessary? Old World Germans used to dip their brezels (pretzels) in a solution of sodium hydroxide (lye) and water before baking. Lye is a very strong and caustic alkaline. Because most people aren't comfortable mixing lye and water to make pretzels, baking soda - a much weaker alkaline - is now used in most pretzel recipes. Once the pretzels begin baking, a 'Maillard reaction' occurs. This is a chemical reaction sort of like carmelization, which allows the exterior crust to become a deep, rich brown color. The reaction accelerates in an alkaline environment which is provided by the baking soda bath. The baking soda, and the resulting reaction, is also responsible for the unique taste of the pretzel. Without the baking soda, the pretzel exterior ends up pale/white, and tastes more like bread. This baking soda/lye step is paramount in making a pretzel a pretzel.

(Many thanks to some stranger on for the baking soda explanation, and to for the recipe.)

Also, in case it wasn't obvious: I love pretzels.



A win-by-forfeit soccer game that turned into kids vs. parents.

A clean house.

Mass outside in a park.

Surprise birthday party for someone we love.

Oktoberfest party with many from our awesome parish family.

Yep. Good day. Indeed.

Saturday, September 21, 2013



Having trouble falling asleep tonight.

And yet, so, so tired.

Thursday, September 19, 2013



Seeing the beautiful harvest moon tonight prompted Zoe to ask us why is the moon sometimes a crescent. I deferred to M, and he started with an explanation involving the word "orbit," which only led to more questions.

When we got home we busted out two balls and the flashlight. Viola! She now understands why the moon changes shapes. And what "orbit" means.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013



This stained glass thing is addictive.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013



Max came through his surgery okay, but he's not himself. I can't wait until he's back to normal because it's freakin' me out that he's so tame. He does purr when I hold and pet him, so he must not be feeling too bad. Poor kitty.

Monday, September 16, 2013



Another full day in bed, until I dragged myself out in time to eat some dinner and take Zoe to a Girl Scout event at the local park. Each troop sang a song before roasting marshmallows and eating s'mores. It was awesome and she had a blast. Girl Scouts rock!

Sunday, September 15, 2013



M is hard at work on Christmas, which makes us both happy.

I am still recovering from this stupid cold. It's just irritating at this point. Ain't nobody got time for that!

Zoe had her first soccer game of the season. They won 2-1, but not without a fair amount of excitement. Half our players went to the wrong field, so we played part of the first quarter with 6 girls against their 8, plus they had 4 or 5 on the bench as subs. Then, in the fourth quarter, my girl took a kick to the leg, right above her shin guard. I watched her crumple through my lens and waited for the whistle. It didn't come. Across the field, I heard M yelling, "Ref! Blow the whistle! Blow the whistle!" Then I heard myself screaming, "She's hurt! She's hurt! Stop the game!" Play continued, and Zoe gamely struggled to her feet, which is when the damn refs finally turned around to see what was going on. At this point, even the other team's coaches were screaming for play to stop. Since the refs saw Zoe on her feet, they wouldn't blow the whistle. I threw the camera into my chair and ran onto the field, rules be damned, hearing M now yelling, "Zoe! Sit down! Sit down! Sit down!" We got to her at the same time and checked her leg together. Then he scooped her up, carried her off the field, and the game went on.

Other parents later told me that I dropped an expletive as I ran out to her, which I don't remember, and they said I was in full "mama bear" mode. Well, yeah. Who wouldn't be?

She's fine, and had a huge grin on her face as she ran through the parent tunnel at the end and got her snack. It's amazing what a cookie can do.

Time for NyQuil and my pillow. Here's hoping I can breathe through my nose tomorrow and not ache all over.

Saturday, September 14, 2013



Sick day.

This was my view most of the day. Although after the sun rose the pretty light and great shadows went away.



My lectio group had a luncheon today in honor of our monk's feast day. A feast for a feast, you might say.

After, our monk played the piano for us. It was lovely.

He's quite good. As well he ought to be since be still takes lessons...from the teacher he's seen since the age of 6. He's no spring chicken, so I can't imagine how old she must be!

Thursday, September 12, 2013



Some days, when I have to deal with an arrogant bastard (or rather, when I'm on the receiving end of one of his condescending, rude, unprofessional emails) I escape across the way for a few quiet moments. Today I extended mid-day prayer with the monks and stayed by myself, trying to figure out how to respond.

I finally came to the conclusion that there simply is no response. That the best thing is to file it away and let it lie. Which is nearly as infuriating as receiving the damn thing in the first place.

I struggled mightily today. This man makes it hard to stay on the high road, when I am so tempted to march into his office and simply ask, "What the f*ck is wrong with you?"

Then "Forgiveness" by Matthew West came on the radio and it was like a weight had been lifted. Powerful stuff, that song. Just incredible. Google it if you don't know it, or even just read the lyrics.

Then tonight, a photography contact on Facebook posted these words:

Forgiveness doesn't excuse their behavior. Forgiveness prevents their behavior from destroying your heart.


Pretty sure God answered my prayers by sending me those two things, 'cause I feel much better now.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013



Success! The day was awesome. Way better than expected.

I'm not saying I didn't run around like a chicken with its head cut off, because I surely did. But I was also able to enjoy it. All of it. That was the surprising part.

Turns out planning ahead works. Who knew?!

Zozo was so proud to wear her new sash today, and I was so proud of her. The girls, by and large, did great. That they're maturing is clear. We had a great meeting, and agreed that we weren't nearly as exhausted after this one as last year's meetings. I think we're going to have a good year.

I ran (literally ran) from cleaning up the Girl Scout meeting to deliver the pugg goals and balls for soccer practice. I got Zo going and came home to unload the car and get ready for dinner.

Which is when I found the fang on the floor.

Yeah, you read that right. A fang. One of the cats lost a tooth. I checked Max first and sure enough he's now dentally lopsided. A quick google search shows two options:

1. He's gravely ill and I should rush him to the vet and spend hundreds of dollars on blood tests and dental work.

2. He's an old cat and old cats lose teeth. Indoor cats don't need fangs, for obvious reasons, so as long as he's eating and drinking, behaving normally, and shows no sign of discomfort, he's fine.

His gums look healthy and he chowed on food tonight right before getting a case of the zoomies and then camping on my lap and purring.

So I'm going with Option 2.

It was a good day. But I sure am glad it's over.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013



Today was good. Better than yesterday.

It's tomorrow I dread. Morning will be hectic with ensuring we have everything we need for the day: lunch for Zo, snack,Girl Scout stuff for us both, soccer gear, etc. Full day of work and meetings, but I must run out at 2:30 to co-lead the first Brownie troop meeting of the year. Then it's a quick-change act to get Zoe ready for soccer practice, where I'm responsible for dropping off the pugg goals and balls as M is out of town. Quick quick dinner because we'll have little time to eat and bathe before bedtime, and somewhere in there we need to review spelling words for her test Thursday. After Zoe is in bed I get to assemble the weekly newsletter for work that goes out Thursday, although I'm hoping to not be too late as I have tried to work well in advance this week.

I hate Wednesdays, but I hate them with a special fervor when Girl Scout week coincides with M out of town.

I've done everything I can to prepare in advance. Now I just wait for the dawn and try to breathe in the moments instead of just flying through the day.



We meet Donut every day on the walk to school. It's hard to tell who is more excited: Zoe or Donut. It's a nice way to start the day.

It's not nice to end the day by working an additional 5.5 hours after Zozo goes to sleep. However, it's necessary at this point, and especially this week. My new hire had to push off his start date by a week. It's killing me. I should be good and comatose by the time he starts. I considered myself short-staffed before, when I had the graphic designer on staff. Now, though, I have all my old stuff and most of the design stuff. Nothing too complicated, but it all takes time.

And time, this week, is in extremely short supply.

Sunday, September 08, 2013



She loves this game. Loves it. To me, it's excruciating. It's completely a game of chance. There is absolutely no strategy, no risk, no thought. You can't partner with another player to take down a third player. You can't speculate what your opponent might be holding, or take a calculated risk based on current score.

You roll the die. Six gets you a leg. That's pretty much all there is to it.

She loves it, though, and so we play.

And I was so glad when we outgrew Candy Land.


Hand me some eyes, please.



Friday, September 06, 2013



Thursday, September 05, 2013



She loves walking to school, and we do, too. Every morning, we walk and we talk. We see friends on the sidewalk and wave to others in cars. We see the penny embedded in the concrete and a little white dog named Donut. We say goodbye before the crosswalk, with hugs and smoochies, and off she goes for her school day, while we walk back to the house for our drive into work.

Her commute is much better than ours, I'd say.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013



Tuesday, September 03, 2013



It is very nice to have our normal crazy life back. As opposed to our "building a house insane" life.

I got to attend my Lectio Divina group again...this makes two weeks in a row! This, along with my reinstated mid-day prayer with the monks, has been extremely beneficial.

Tonight we went to our Corvette club meeting and had a lovely time. This is due to the fact that neither of us serve on the board any more. We watched from a safe distance and left stress-free.

Then I farted around on my iMac in my project room, working around my little furry photo editor. He fancies himself that, anyway.

Last night I got to play with photos and glass.

Tomorrow Zozo has soccer practice and then M has a coaches meeting and I will have work to do because I am a man short at the office...but not for long! Made an offer today to a stellar candidate and he accepted! I will finally get some much-needed help come October 1. Just have to gut it out until then.

Life is good. Laus tibi domine!



Remember that time your stained glass project - about an hour away from completion - inexplicably fell from the shelf in the studio and you had to pry the whole damn thing apart with pliers, cutting the shit out of your hands and blistering one finger?


The salvageable pieces are unfoiled and clean, and re-laid on the pattern. I had enough scrap for the colors to re-glue those pattern pieces tonight. The studio manager is going to replace the clear glass and the shattered rondel (I was lucky in that only one was destroyed). Once the new glass is in, I'll get to cut and grind (again), foil (again), and solder (again). I'm estimating that my setback will cost 8-10 hours, at least. Not including the 2.5 hours I spent disassembling it today.

This damn thing better look good when I'm finished!

Monday, September 02, 2013

Waiting for the Train

Each year, we spend part of Zoe's birthday at the Zoo. It's our little tradition. This year, we figured she might have her own ideas of how to spend her birthday, since she turned 8 and all. Big girls have big ideas, after all, and we didn't want her to feel obligated to do something we started before she could talk. So we asked her what she wanted to do. "Go to the Zoo!" The "duh!" was implied.

So we went.

And we captured, for the 8th year in a row, our "Waiting for the Train" picture at Red Rocks station.

I love this girl.

Sunday, September 01, 2013



I made her Brownie sash today. I'm not sure who was more or her. We are both Girl Scout geeks.