June 28, 2010

A few of my favorite things

The Ardent Sparrow is one of my favorite girly-girl blogs. One of the things I enjoy is the way Rebecca scouts around for fresh and beautiful things to share with her readers. She recently began offering a weekly giveaway in cooperation with some of her Etsy friends. This week's giveaway is from A Alicia Accessories in London -- I love her Burnt Umber Corsage Brooch. Visit Rebecca's blog and let me know what you think!

June 23, 2010

Fellowship of the Burger

We are an In-N-Out Burger family. Some of you have no idea what I'm talking about, some of you are shaking your head in pity, but a few  of you -- and you know who you are -- are part of an In-N-Out Burger family, too!

In-N-Outers are a unique group, a fraternity of sorts. Most lived in California, Nevada, or Arizona for at least a short time. All of us miss the uniqueness of our favorite burger joint. Chick-Fil-A gives us the service quality, but not the beef or fresh cut fries. And Five Guys may have similarities, but it's just not the same.

One of my favorite things about In-N-Out is that I have to make very few decisions when I eat there. I mean, their menu is limited (which allows them to excel at what they do offer). Our family can order there in record time! The food is consistently fresh, hot, good...

When we wear our In-N-Out paraphernalia  in public, we are often approached by fellow In-N-Outers. And we've done the same. Just the other day, we were approached in Lowe's in our little Georgia town by a former Orange County resident who almost drooled when he saw the shirt. "Oh, how 'bout an animal style!" he said longingly. "Just had one last week," I shot back. We're a sympathetic lot, we In-N-Outers!

And if you're an In-N-Outer, too, you'll understand the look on this guy's face:

Chow, baby!

June 20, 2010

On Discovering the Ultimate Father's Day

On Father's Day, I find myself thinking about my father, Jim Wheelis, who passed away in March. I love this picture of my father, taken in front of our rented RV. From my 'tween years until at least college, our family vacationed in San Diego each August to escape the worst of Arizona's heat. For several years, a group of families from our church would caravan with RVs to spend a week or two at De Anza Trailer Harbor in Mission Bay. I'd never do this with my kids now, but our parents would basically turn us loose to play on the little bay beach, ride bikes, play shuffleboard, and just generally have a great time. One day of our trip would be spent at Sea World, the San Diego Zoo, or something like that. And if we were there on a Sunday, the whole crew trekked over to worship at a local church. It wasn't a huge church -- I wonder if it was common for them to have 30 visitors on a summer Sunday!

The last few years that we vacationed in San Diego, we rented a condo down on Imperial Beach -- just our family. It always intrigued me that the homeowner would find another place to live during the summer so that total strangers could invade her space for one to two weeks at a time! Now that I'm older, I realize that she made a tidy little profit for her inconvenience, and I appreciate the homeyness we enjoyed (as well as the great view of the beach).

As a young father, Daddy worked as a farmer from sun up to sun down. By the time we began the San Diego tradition, he had transitioned into insurance, then real estate sales, but still worked very hard. These vacations helped us see a different side of Daddy over a period of days. He knew how to relax and have fun! One reason I love the picture above is the natural smile on Daddy's face, as well as the look of adoration on Mama's.

I miss my dad today. This is the first time since I've left home that I've not called him on Father's Day. As I helped my children get cards for their dad, I was reminded that I didn't need to get a card for Daddy. But I know that he is not even thinking about Father's Day, he's so taken with worshiping the ultimate Father in heaven. And that's the ultimate Father's Day, isn't it.

June 18, 2010

A lesson in perseverance

The past eighteen months has been full of firsts for our family. Some good, some not so good. But one recent first that is good has been the planting of a family garden. Jeff had helped his grandparents with large garden plots in his younger days, but those gardens were so big they were planted with a tractor! I've helped him with our flower beds and had dabbled with some herbs in pots, but this was a much bigger endeavor.

We planted some things from seed (which I jump-started by soaking in some damp paper towels overnight) -- three varieties of peas, some green beans, summer squash, zucchini, and corn. We also purchased some plants for our garden -- three varieties of tomatoes, some pepper plants, and our favorite herbs. Once everything was in the ground, we impatiently waited to see some green pop through the soil. It only took a few days for our seeds to sprout. Of course, this just made us want the harvest that much more! I commented that vegetable gardening was the antidote to instant gratification. With that said, it's only been a few weeks but we have already enjoyed three cherry tomatoes (those pictured were delicious when ripe!), basil, parsley, oregano, mint, and cilantro.

The Lord has blessed us with rain so that we've not had to do much watering. Did you know that corn lays down in heavy rain, wind, and hail, but that it does stand up again? I didn't! With the rain came weeds, but Jeff was good to take care of those. Our dog, Bella, has been faithful to keep the critters out. If we can just keep the squash and zucchini from taking over the world, we'll be okay!

A garden provides a good picture of perseverance -- both in the plants and in the gardeners!

June 14, 2010

Home is where the heart is...

Last week, our family went all different directions. Jeff attended an all-day class for three days, the younger kids were at camp for a few days, the oldest was working even more than usual, and I took a quick trip to Arizona. We were finally all back together on Monday, spending a fun day together.

Although I had a good time visiting with family (the one I was born into) in Arizona and taking care of some necessary things, I really missed sharing many special moments with my hubby and kids. It was a good exercise for me. For several days, I basically lived as a single woman on vacation might live -- I was able to get in some pampering, go to the movies, shop, and eat out (including In-N-Out Burger and some good Mexican). I shared funny and touching moments with my family there, but something was missing. I missed being able to say things with a look instead of words. I missed the impromptu hugs and humor from my kids. I missed the security of having my husband sleeping next to me. I missed my family -- my husband and kids; I missed my everyday life.

So now I'm back at home and we are all catching up. And I'm loving it.