~my thoughts about life~

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Happs

I'm back into sourdough bread again.  The friend who introduced me to sourdough vacationed in California for two weeks.  My cousin house sat for them and watched their dog; I babysat the sourdough.  Because I HAD to take care of it for someone else's sake, I did a good job.  It was during my "busy time" (see any of my last couple posts) so I didn't have time to make anything.  I just fed the starter and kept it going.  It ended up getting so enormous that it busted open the lid of the container.  I realized at that time that I needed to remove some for myself and keep it.  Since then, I've made bread twice and sourdough cinnamon rolls once (yesterday for Hubby's birthday).  I've decided I must keep doing this...it's simply amazing!  I eat sourdough toast for breakfast each morning and love it so much!  This starter is much thicker than those I've dealt with in the past.  It just amazes me that bread can rise like that without any yeast in it!


I'm really having  a difficult time with the templates here on Blogger.  It won't let me do anything I want, hence the very boring look right now.  I just couldn't take the snowy theme any longer...not when it's in the 90s around here!  Whenever I try to add a photo for the background, it automatically tiles it.  When I deselect the tile option, it makes my photo the size of a thumbnail.  See, you might be able to find it up there in the corner.  I just gave up one day and left it.  Grrr....


Baby Girl is watching Annie today, which makes me very happy.  My little brother and I had that movie recorded off of TV when we were little and watched the VHS tape all the time.  I still have all the songs and many of the lines memorized.  It brings back lots of memories of my childhood with my brother.


I've had a couple photo shoots lately and have bookings for two more!  I still underestimate myself and worry that I'm just not as good as I think I am.  It stresses me out that the client won't be happy with the photos they paid good money for.  I feel like doing it for free for everyone because I'm not worthy to charge money.  THEN, I see a Senior picture sent to me from an expensive local studio.  They cut off the girl's feet!  It's a lovely picture of her leaning up against a wall and half of her feet are cut off!  Things like that really boost my confidence, as I know they paid multiple hundreds of dollars for those photos!

A friend of mine went to the same studio and just wasn't satisfied with her pictures.  She said they came out nice but were exactly the same as everyone else's.  That's the problem you experience when dealing with a studio.  They only have a handful of ideas.  I'll do anything.  The girl asked me if I would take some more shots that were creative. Here are a couple examples:

She definitely considered them to be creative and loved them!  (Do you kind of think she looks like a ghost in the right photo?  Ha ha!  She actually has this set as her Facebook profile pic.)
I also took my cousin's engagement pictures!  I was so excited about that...they were my very first engagement pics!  She was thrilled and I was happy with them.  I took over 500 shots that day (because of another assignment at church) and my thighs were killing me the next day from squatting so much!  I'm ridiculously out of shape!
Which brings me to the fact that I've really procrastinated training for my marathon!  Turns out, the marathon is bright and early the morning after my cousin's evening wedding.  Lovely.  I ran a mile Tuesday and punked out.  I've got to get my big, flabby rear in gear soon! 
I have been biking some.  Hubby bought me a bike for my birthday (which isn't until this Saturday) and I've been enjoying it. I think I was 14 or 15 the last time I got a bike!

I'm cleaning out closets, basements, bedrooms, and every nook & cranny in this house.  Yard sale fever has hit me!  I'm sick of all this junk I've been hanging onto.  It's come down to the point of calling the show Hoarders or selling my stuff in a yard sale.  It will probably take me until the end of summer to get it all together but I will feel so great afterward!  Now I just worry about having a yard big enough!  The amount of stuffed animals alone is enough to make me shake my head.  

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Funeral Etiquitte

I came across this blog post from March.  I wrote it days after my grandmother's funeral.  I didn't post it at that time but felt that it still might be an interesting read for some.  As I read back through it, I remembered some of the events of that week and how overwhelmed I felt.  This list is still relevant and I'm actually glad I got it written down while in the moment.


I'm thankful this past week is over.  It was tough, but not as bad as the last week Grandma was alive.  Seeing my grandfather break down and cry was the worst part of it all.

During the past week, I've discovered some things you should never do when faced with a grieving family.  I'm going to share them with you.  You think most of them would be common sense, but apparently, they aren't.

1.  It's not about you.
There are people who seem to think that my grandmother's passing is all about them.  I can't quite figure that one out.  First of all, it's actually all about my grandmother.  Secondly, the next in line would be the widow, not Aunt Betty's second husband's third child.  My husband was standing beside the casket with my grandfather as friends passed through to offer their sympathies.  He said that the first words out of one woman's mouth were, "Did you hear about Bill?"  No condolences, no warm wishes, only thoughts about what was going on in her life.  So, to refresh, it's not about you.

2.  The line at calling hours does not signify the beginning of story hour.
Our family only scheduled viewing for one hour prior to the service.  That was done on purpose because my grandfather couldn't handle any more than that.  An estimated 700-800 people came through that line.  It is not appropriate to stop and tell a ten-minute long story about the time you wore the same shoes as the deceased.  My aunt said a friend from the past started a story like this:  "I hope you don't take offense to this..."  If you're concerned that your story may be offensive, don't tell it.

3.  Don't stop by the family's home unannounced.
Two hours prior to the funeral, I was at the house alone to drop off food.  Two people I hadn't seen in many years pulled up the driveway and began walking into the garage.  "We can come in the side entrance because we're family," they said.  Oh, really?  I can't even recall your name so how close of family are you?  "He's not home," I answered.  "Oh no!"  they exclaimed.  Did they really think my grandfather wanted to sit down for a visit and hour and a half before he had to be at the church?  This rule can also be tied in with Rule #1- it's not about you.

4.  Do offer to help the family.
We had so many people cook, bake, and help our family in so many ways.  It was greatly appreciated.  With such a large church, we assigned a woman to organize who brought food and when.  It was a fabulous idea because we weren't bombarded with too much at once.  People dropped off their food at the church's fellowship hall when it was convenient for them.  I picked it up and took it to the house when it was convenient for us.  It worked out perfectly.  Of course, there are always people who don't abide by the rules.  For example, we had a huge (and I mean huge) bowl of banana pudding that was specially requested by my grandfather.  He knows that one woman in the church makes it just how he likes it.  The same day, a rule breaker dropped off another huge dish of banana pudding.  We couldn't eat it or even fit it in the fridge. We asked people to go through this family friend for a reason.  If possible, use disposable dishes.  It makes things a lot easier on the family after the funeral is over.

5.  Think outside the box.
If you want to be like everyone else, make a lasagna.  That's what everyone does.  If you want to do something special or different, think of that family's particular needs.  Offer to pick up their kids from school.  Offer to babysit during the service.  Ask for a grocery list and purchase things they need.  Ask a family friend what their favorite restaurant is and offer to pick up food from that place.  Bring paper plates, plastic cups and silverware, napkins and toilet paper.  Depending on the situation, offer to do some cleaning.  Avoid saying, "Let me know if there's anything you need."  They won't.  Offer something specific, then follow through.  The worst is when someone says that they're going to bring a meal and then never show up.  I'm still waiting on two lasagnas from friends that never actually made it.  See, there's more to funerals than frozen lasagna.

6.  If at all possible, don't call.
The family is busier than you think.  They're not sitting around, looking for something to do.  They are planning services, picking out burial clothes, arranging photographs, writing the obituary, calling family, and so many other things.  If you want to help, send a text message.  They can answer it when they have time.

7.  Obey "In lieu of flowers..." requests.
I've always viewed the last line of obituaries with slight skepticism.  Often, the family will ask for donations to a local bank in lieu of flowers.  People, this is because they need it!  Thankfully, my grandfather has always been very good with money.  He's not struggling and he had burial plots purchased years in advance.  Even still, his out-of-pocket cost this week blew my mind!  The commercials on television that say an average funeral costs $5000 is total bullcrap.  Try multiplying that by five.  When a family asks for donations, it's because they cannot afford the funeral.  To quote my grandfather this week:  "You can't afford to die."  It's sad, but true.

8.  Do send cards of sympathy.
It's nice to hear that people are thinking of you.  But please, sign your full name.  On a card that had no return address, it was simply signed, "Mr. & Mrs. Jones."  Really?  Let's try to work in some first names, guys.

9.  At the funeral, look your best.
I understand that not everyone owns a suit.  It today's age, people don't wear suits to church any more and rarely have the need to own one.  If you don't have a suit, wear your best outfit.  A cousin of ours (who own suits, I know for a fact) showed up in jeans and an untucked flannel shirt.  His hair was a mess and his giant beard was unkempt.  Perhaps he was trying to convey the message that he really didn't care.  If so, he succeeded.

10.  Don't make a scene.
The last thing the family wants is for you to throw yourself on them at the funeral and wail uncontrollably.  It makes them uncomfortable and only adds to their grief.  Wail on your own time.  When presented with the immediate family member of the deceased, offer a short and tasteful condolence.  Remember, less is more.  If the person wants to talk, they'll send you signals.  Maybe they want to remenisce about better days.  If so, they'll start the stories.  When in doubt, say, "I'm so sorry.  Praying for you."  That may be all they can handle.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Hiatus of She

Ever since my grandma passed away in March, life has been a whirlwind.  I normally start on my April and May obligations much earlier, but my late start was the major cause of my stress.  My April event was, to put it nicely, not so good.  I kind of dropped the ball and felt horribly guilty.  At the last minute, I had to confess that I wasn't able to pull it off and requested help.  Another person had to totally fill in for me and do a lot of work because of my failures.  She assured me that she understood and reasoned that everything turned out great.  She's kind.

I wasn't even there for the night of the performance.  We had our vacation scheduled that week and Hubby wasn't willing to end it early.  I don't blame him at all.  We had a super fabulous time in the mountains and I spent so much time relaxing!  I can't even remember if I highlighted my trip on my blog.  I drank hot tea on the deck in the mornings and soaked in the hot tub in the evenings. Afternoons were spent reading, shopping, and eating!  I started and finished The Help, which now joins my favorite books list.  McAlister's Deli is my favorite vacation lunch spot, as we don't have them here.  We also found an awesome pizza joint and a superb Japanese steakhouse.  That's my kind of eating, people!

Next, we move on to May, when things became extremely hectic.  The last two weeks, I figured out I was working an average of 7 hours a day on my banquet!  Whose great idea was it to hand make all the dainty crafts and favors???  (This lady!)  Our theme was From Paris with Love.  It was so easy to go overboard with decorations!  Now, you all know that I'm an aspiring photographer and I snap pictures of anything and everything.  How many photos do you think I got of all the beautiful decor?  Zero.  What an idiot!  I was way too busy to enjoy my camera that day.  One of my assistants was photographing everything with her phone, so I'll ask her to forward those to me.  The displays were definitely Pinterest worthy.

I wrote the play and all the songs for the banquet.  I made crafts, favors, decorations, and costumes.  I organized the seating chart, fought with the banquet coordinator of the restaurant, and took the reservations.  It turned out to be fabulous, but there were some quiet moments of the play when I expected laughter.  Oh well, not everyone gets my goofy sense of humor.  My great friend, who sat all the way on the side of the room, was actually disturbing the actors with her laughter.  That's why we're such close friends.  When I finally get the video edited, I might try to upload a snippet here.

At one point of the production, I stood in front of the microphone (which I hate doing) and said, "Twenty-five years ago, my mother welcomed me to my first Mother Daughter Banquet and said she was so proud to have me there.  This year, I'm going to do the same thing as I welcome my little (her full name) to her first banquet.  I'm so glad to have her here with me!"  Having Big Sis at the Banquet for the first time was a great blessing for my mother, the former coordinator of 30 years, who lost her mother a couple months ago.

So, that's basically what I've been up to in my absence.  I went on a pontoon boat, celebrated another year of marriage, gained a teenager, and washed A LOT of loads of laundry.  I spent Memorial Day with my entire extended family, really missing my grandmother.  I helped out with Field Day at Big Sis's school and even got my house clean.  I am so ready to enjoy the upcoming Summer!  Hubby was off two days last week and we really enjoyed spending time together and getting things done.  I'd love to spruce up my patio this summer...anyone handy with bricks or willing to donate a built-in grill?  I love my backyard and can't wait to spend countless hours out there.

AND- we started another business recently.  We now own a photo booth.  It's something portable that we can transport to fabulous events.  We had our first gig Saturday, which went incredibly well.  It's actually a lot of fun to see people ham it up in the booth.  My next chore is to finish the website and host it.  It's a little over my head but I'm getting it.  Managing this blog has definitely helped there.

OK, now I realize I'm babbling.  I guess it's been too long.  So for now, I bid you adieu- from Paris with love.  (Yeah, that was our closing line.  Hee hee!)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I'm Back & WWTK

My busiest time of the year has finally concluded! I can't tell you how anxious I am to get my life back! I'll tell you about my big banquet later.  I'm totally out of the habit of blogging so it might take me a while to get back into the swing of things.

I'll start back with something easy: We Want To Know sponsored by Mamarazzi and Crazymama. All the content has been provided for me and I just have to fill in the blanks. If you want to join in the fun, feel free to link up!

This week's questions are all about friends.

{1}I have found myself jealous/envious of this friend because...
This isn't really a good question for me because, lately, I've tried to make a conscious effort not to be jealous of others or wish my life away. It's so easy to want the things that others have but we must realize that not everyone has everything. I'm jealous of all my friends who are skinnier than I am. I'm jealous of the ones who have a nicer home or a knack for decorating. I'm jealous that those without kids seem to have so much time. I'm jealous of my friends who don't have to worry about money. BUT, my lack of decorating skills, my frugality, and my plethora of children makes me who I am. I bet you didn't want an answer quite that detailed, did ya?

{2}I admire this one for her _________ (insert admirable quality) and tell us about them.
My friend, Sandy, is such a talented artist and can turn anything into a work of beauty in just a few moments. I can barely hang a picture on the wall. In fact, I have her coming over this summer to do just that! I will watch her kids and cook her dinner while she spruces up my home a bit!

{3}I really love this blog friend because...
I admire a lot of bloggers, who are listed in my blog roll. I haven't updated that list (or my wallpaper) in quite some time. (Yes, I know it's no longer snowing!)

{4}I was stuck on a desert island I would want to be with this friend...
If I can get away with this, I'm going to say my hubby. He's truly my best friend and the person who gets on my nerves less often than anyone else!

{5}I think the best qualities in a friend are...
Being themselves. My friends and I all have a lot in common. I don't want them to try to be something they're not to impress me. I won't do that either. I enjoy being with people who are like me. Bad traits in a friend are self-centered people who don't know how to pay a compliment. Be there for me and I'll be there for you.