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Friday, September 15, 2017

5 Friday Favorites: September 15, 2017

Hi, Friends. We made it through a full week that felt like an eternity, right? It's time for my 5 Friday Favorites for this week. Let's get to it so we can get to the weekend. :-)

1. A Guitar Serenade by a Boy and his Dog


Drew is taking Guitar in 7th grade this year and I am beside myself with excitement. I have dreams of him playing while I sing a soulful, tear-inducing rendition of Dust in the Wind followed by a version of Whiskey River that would make Willie Nelson proud. But for now, I've settled for a very impressive Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star during which our dog, Mack, loses his ever lovin' mind. And last week while I was taking a bubble bath, Drew sat outside the bathroom on an overturned laundry basket and played a few tunes for me. I'm thrilled as I think music is one of the greatest joys in life. I'm crossing my fingers that he'll stick with it.


2. If It Wasn't For Texas



Speaking of music, we watched a bit of the Hand in Hand Benefit for Hurricane Relief the other night and I had to rewind this song with George Strait, Miranda Lambert, Chris Stapleton, Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen three times. I've never heard it, but it made me smile and tear up and also swoon just a bit because MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY.  Dude, you are the coolest guy on the planet and it is so obvious that you are well aware of it. It can kind of make us roll our eyes, but don't go changing, man. We can't quit you and we never will.

PS Don't forget that this recovery is going to take years and years. Please help if you can. I listed some ways to help HERE.

3. Some Whole 30 Approved Recipes That Don't Taste Like Broken Dreams and Despair
Notice: This is not my photo. It's not my recipe. Check Out this IG page for great stuff.

I mentioned last week that I'm kinda, sorta, but not really doing a Whole 30 plan in September. That is to say that I'm eating according to the plan, but I'm laxed on the drinking portion of this plan, so I'm really not doing it right. I didn't stop Diet Coke until September 9th, I'm still having a tablespoon of chemical-laden creamer in my coffee every day and there has been a half glass of wine on occasion. So, I'm not really doing it, but I am doing my version of it because I LIVE IN AMERICA, y'all. . . also known as the land of the free and the home of the International Delight White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Coffee Creamer.

I've been cooking a ton which has my family wondering what in the holy heck is happening around here. In any event, here is one of my favorite recipes from this week. I got it from the Whole 30 Recipes Instagram feed. If you've read here long enough you are well aware that there is no chance I could come up with this myself.

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/3 cup Frank's Red Hot Sauce
2 T Ghee
1 T Coconut Aminos (I know. What the heck? It's some kind of substitute for soy sauce. Another strike for me. I used soy sauce)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne 
4 small baked sweet potatoes
Whole 30 Compliant Ranch Dressing (I used THIS)

Place chicken in slow cooker. In small saucepan combine hot sauce, ghee, coconut aminos, garlic powder, and cayenne. Stir together over medium high heat until ghee melts. Pour sauce over chicken and cook on low for 5-6 hours. Remove chicken and shred with two forks. Return shredded chicken to crockpot and toss with sauce. Leave on low until ready to serve.

My kids and husband ate this on sandwich buns with about a tablespoon of blue cheese dressing like normal people should. I ate it on the potato like an idiot, but it was still good.

4. Fall "Work Out" Clothes


Gratefully, we are still having mostly warm summer weather here, but cooler days are coming and that means it's time for some lightweight sweatshirts and pants to keep us warm when we're working out watching Netflix or composing an inspirational essay weeks before the deadline  watching old Youtube videos of Texas Longhorn Hero Vince Young's touchdown run in the final seconds of the College Football National Championship game ten times in a row.

I think this Gap Hoodie is really cute and I really like the mesh at the bottom. It comes in three color combinations and everything is 40% off at Gap with the code DEAL I feel like I should alert you that when you go the Gap Home Page you will see a huge photo of Cher and some guy I should probably know, but don't recognize. I don't know why, but seeing a big giant Cher at 6:00 am this morning was unexpected and a little alarming to me. Nothing against Cher. I was just a little startled, so I thought I'd let you know.



I've heard so many great things about the Aspire Ankle Pant from Athleta. My friend, Jen, and I went to the store yesterday and they didn't have them there, so I ordered them online and I'm hoping they live up to the hype.


I also bought this Ultimate Side Knot Tee which is described as Beyond Soft and I can assure you that is not false advertising. Yes, it's a bit pricey for a tshirt, but if you're like me you put it on as soon as you walk in the door, wear it all night and end up just leaving it on and sleeping in it. This is how you get your money's worth. You're welcome.

5. Curefest For Childhood Cancer



Curefest for Childhood Cancer is this weekend in Washington DC. You can find the schedule of events HERE which will include a rally, candlelight vigil, walk, entertainment, and opportunities to meet some of the strongest parents and children you will ever meet in your life. On Sunday you can walk along the mall and get acquainted with various organizations who help fight the fight for these brave children by stopping by booths set up all around the area. I am not able to attend this year, but if you make it down there look for my friends at Kyle's Kamp and say Hi. This weekend looks like it will be a gloriously beautiful one here in Washington DC. I assure you that the weather will be far out-shined by the people you will meet downtown that day.

Bonus #6. Shameless Plug

I am so grateful to have had my writing posted on two different sites this week. If you missed them and/or are trying to avoid working today you can find one of my pieces HERE at Arcola Methodist Church's website and another HERE at the Northern Virginia Travel Baseball League's website.

Have a blessed weekend, Friends!


Thursday, September 14, 2017

On Striving and Stillness


For me, September has always felt more like the beginning of a new year than has January. If you want to find me with my nose fully to the grindstone and my mind doggedly determined to make all things new - especially myself - you'll find that version of me in and around the first weeks in September.

The end of summer and the coming of September this year started in the exact same way. And yet, for me, the close of this summer brought bigger changes than summers past. We faced the end of some things in our family life that have been so familiar to me, so routine and so reliably present that while the absence of them was certainly not unexpected, it was still fairly startling. At certain moments in the day, the new reality hits me so abruptly that I forget that I actually did know this was coming.

Acting as my very own over zealous Life Coach, I told myself that all of these changes opened doors for me. I would bear less responsibility in a few areas and our schedule would open up a bit, thus increasing my chances to dream bigger dreams and commit to bolder actions. I wouldn't have to juggle too many sports schedules. I'd not miss a thing. But I found that as I faced the last few days of August, this annual, bright, positive attitude of mine seemed tinged with darkness. Just below the surface of hope was an underlying current of anxiety, urgency, and even fear.

READ THE REST HERE.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Traveling for Fall Baseball?: What to Pack & What to Leave at Home (Pretty Please)


For most people in America, the onset of fall brings the excitement of back-to-school, football games, crisp, cool mornings and the widespread infiltration of pumpkin spice into every darn aspect of our lives. For travel baseball moms, it also brings the beginning of the Fall Baseball Season which wasn't even a thing when my husband, brother or dad played baseball back in the day.

These days baseball - as well as almost every other sport - does not stay in its own lane. Fall Baseball, Winter Workouts, Spring and Summer Baseball are here to stay. This is not the 1970s when you spent your fall Saturdays watching college football, followed by The Love Boat and Fantasy Island and your Sundays watching the NFL, followed by 60 minutes and All in the Family. Those days are long gone, Friend.

Now your family togetherness must consist of traveling up I - 95 on Sunday evening in bumper to bumper traffic while you promise your kid you'll be more than happy to spring for new cleats if he will kindly throw those nasty things out the window.

Most of us moms are gearing up for some traveling with our little knuckleballers for a least a few weekends this fall and that can be cause for a lot of stress. As I cannot even begin to count the number of Hampton/Comfort/Holiday/Days/AnyOtherNameYouCanComeUpWith Inns I have stayed in over lo' my many years (ten and counting . . .) as a travel baseball mom, I thought I might offer you a little help.

READ THE REST HERE.


Friday, September 8, 2017

5 Friday Favorites: September 8, 2017 Edition


Happy Friday, Everyone!

Well, I hope your Friday started off happier than mine because I just got home from the dentist which is always a joy. According to the hygienist my mouth is really small which probably explains why I could never cover my teeth with one of those quartered orange rinds like all my friends on the 2nd grade soccer team could during halftime. It also means my mouth hurts. Luckily, my dentist seems to fancy A LOT of easy listening and often takes to humming along to Lionel Ritchie, Kenny Rogers and Air Supply.

So there was that.

We had a busy week around here getting into the swing of things with the new school year. I made my 7th appearance at a Middle School Back to School Night on Wednesday which always lends itself to some deep thoughts and reflections about my middle school self. And I'll have you know that the Middle School is all about self-esteem and affirming a kid's feelings because after seven years, I found that they still have mirrors lining all of the stairwells with encouraging messages like "You are important." and "You are a good person." and encouraging stuff like that.

It poured down rain all day the day we went to B2S night and we had to park practically in the next county, so by the time I hit the stairwell I was pretty sure my mirror should have said, "You are having an super bad hair day and your mascara is smudged, but go get 'em, kid!"

Anyway, let's suffice it to say that although I loved all my kid's teachers and admire them profusely, #b2s17 did not make the cut for my favorite things this week.

Here's a look at what did:

This Kid. Can you even?


This kid from some where in Massachusetts made the front page of The Washington Post for an article about Back to School. Wouldn't you agree that all of America would be much less filled with angst and hand-wringing if we could see this little man on the cover page of every single news outlet every single day? I immediately cut his photo out of the paper and put it on my fridge where it will stay for all of eternity because this guy makes me want to seize the day and learn all the things and just basically PARTICIPATE IN LIFE. Look at that face. Maybe he has just come to realize that Sam I Am should stop asking if that guy likes green eggs and ham because he has made it very clear that he DOES NOT. Or maybe he has decided that 2 plus 2 actually equals 5 and he is going to prove it. Or maybe he just realized that he is going to need to ask for the bathroom pass. Oh, that face.  Your day is better already, yes? You're quite welcome.

Nichole Nordeman's 
Sound of Surviving



I downloaded Nichole Nordeman's entire album, Every Mile Mattered, last week and it is UH-MAY-ZING. As we are in the midst of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, this song made me think of so many of my friends who have lost their children to cancer. It made me think of a woman who this very day is marking the crapiversary of the loss of her son in a terrible accident. I have friends who are grieving the loss of a husband or a parent. Some who are grieving the loss of a dream or a marriage. Some are grieving the end of a season of life, a job or a friendship. But they are getting up every day, breathing in and out, caring for their families, going to work and some are even using their pain to spread grace and hope and comfort to others. I am stunned by the strength of women who survive. I am stunned by women who find purpose in every stage of life. Listen today. YOU'RE STILL HERE.

Whole 30 Cashew "Alfredo" with Shrimp & Broccoli



Earlier this week I started doing a (Some Percentage of a) Whole 30 for the month of September. I hesitate to even write about it because I know that the Whole 30 people will come at me because you can't do it half way. You can't have a smidge of anything that is not compliant or you're not doing it. So, I'm not doing Whole 30. Let's just say I'm changing some things in my diet. And let's also say that I can't really imagine a world in which I could pull off even the changes I've made for a whole 30 days anyway, even though Luke 1:37 and all that stuff.

Anyway, I followed Jen Hatmaker's month of doing Whole 30 on Facebook in the spring. If you're a Jen Hatmaker fan you know she is straight-up one of the most hilarious people on the planet, so it was quite entertaining to read her updates. I stole this recipe from her facebook page and I have never in my life been in more shock and awe.  First, that I even was able to pull it off and second, because it is CRAZY STUPID good. Just ridiculous. It makes no sense at all.  Here's the recipe basically.

For Cashew "Alfredo" Sauce
12 oz raw cashews (soak in water for 6 hours before using.)
1 can full fat coconut milk
1 can veggie stock
3 T lemon juice
A lot of salt
2 garlic cloves
3-4 dashes cayenne pepper
1-2 dashes nutmeg
Blend it all up in a blender for five minutes.

Then saute some broccoli in coconut oil over high heat for a few minutes. Turn down the heat and add a spoonful of ghee (which is clarified butter. I'd never heard of it. Why don't they just call it clarified butter? That's annoying) and then add 1 lb. of raw shrimp, 4 minced garlic cloves, 5-6 shakes of red pepper flakes, one squeeze of lemon and salt and pepper. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Pour as much cashew sauce as you want over the top and heat through until shrimp is cooked.

I served it over a spaghetti squash that I roasted for 45 minutes at 375 degrees just like Jen said to do.  I had never bought a spaghetti squash in my entire life. I had no idea what it looked like. The hardest part of this 75%ish Whole 30 thing this entire week was cutting that bad boy in half. I tried every knife I owned and employed a 16 year old kid to help me. It was practically impossible and I was sweating by the time it was done.

Y'all. I can't tell you enough how good this stuff was. I was laughing the whole time which is exactly what Hatmaker basically said would happen. It's hilarious.

Of Mess and Moxie
Jen Hatmaker



Speaking of Jen Hatmaker, I just started her new book Of Mess and Moxie and so far it is just as fun and thought provoking and delightful as her previous books. I'm only a few chapters in, but one of my favorite chapters was titled Beauty, Food, Fun and Naps. She mentions the "ministry of a new haircut" which has long been a ministry that God has used to speak love and joy into my life, perhaps more than any other. ;-) Her contention is that the notion that "winning" Christians enjoy the least number of good and fun things is a lie. 

"The thing is, God absolutely created us and His world with tastes and sights and sounds and connections designed to thrill. He thought up humor and laughter and delicious flavors coaxed from the earth. He gave us beautiful colors and dance and music and the gift of language. He invented apples and sex and baby lambs . . .In other words, God is into beauty, food, fun and naps.

Amen.


The Kyle's Kamp Gavin Rupp Open
October 2, 2017


I mentioned last week in 5 Friday Favorites that I would write about some ways you could help children fighting cancer and their families during September which is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. If you've read here for awhile you know of my involvement with Kyle's Kamp, an organization which raises funds for pediatric cancer research and patient care at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, DC. On Monday, October 2, 2017 Kyle's Kamp will host the 5th Annual Gavin Rupp Open -  a golf tournament to honor the memory of an incredible kid who passed away from brain cancer in 2013 and whose story has had a profound effect on my life.

If you are in the Northern Virginia/DC/Maryland area and love to golf, please come join us  by registering here. If you are in our area and have a product or business service you would like to donate for our Silent Auction, please email me at kyleskamp.jennifer@gmail.com and I can get you in touch with the right people. If you'd like to read about Gavin, you will find that if you enter his name in the "Search this Blog" box on the right, there are about a gazillion posts in which I mention him. That is how much he has impacted not only my writing, but my every darn day.  If you read just one today, maybe go here to read about our first Gavin Rupp Open.

Blessings, Friends! Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

September's Stitch Fix Summary

Good morning, Friends!

It's Stitch Fix Review Day here at The View From Behind Home Plate. I received a box a couple of weeks ago and unfortunately I wasn't able to keep any of the items.

Actually, "unfortunately" is a relative term because I feel like a certain someone in my house would pull that prefix off that word right quick. This box came right on the heels of the Nordstrom Sale of Summer 2017, otherwise known as the period of time where my husband asked me "You need boots? I didn't realized we were out of boots. We're out of jeans? That's weird. I thought we had jeans."

The problem with this box was not necessarily the style of each item, but  the fit. I was really surprised by that since it has been very, very rare that all of the items I've received haven't fit perfectly. What was even more surprising was that two of the items were too small and two of them were too big.

Life is a mystery, y'all. These are the types of questions we will likely not know the answer to on this side of heaven.

Anyway, I do continue to be a Stitch Fix devotee and have no plans to cancel my subscription. I thought most of the things were super cute, and even better I thought they did a great job of choosing pieces that could easily transition from summer to fall, so I thought they were worth sharing.

Here's a look at the pieces I received paired with some of the stuff in my closet.


Spade & Heart
Cally Tie Front Top


This navy top was really cute with a great little tie at the top. I am totally down with a flowy top especially at the end of a season in which I spent a lot of time with Ben and Jerry, but this was really too flowy. There was too much fabric so that it bordered on maternity-ish.

Jeans/Clutch from Stitch Fix Two Years Ago/Sandals From Target Many Years Ago/Similar Here


Kaileigh
Katina Knit Dress


I thought this dress would be a really versatile piece for fall when in a 24 hour period, you're not really sure if you are going to be sweating or freezing. Unfortunately, it was way, way, way too tight. And for emphasis: "WAAAYYY". (Thanks, Ben and Jerry.)



Colette
Chavez Pop Color Cuff Knit Top


This top has my name written all over it. I love the stripes. I love the neckline. I love the colored cuffs.

What's the problem, lady?

The problem here is that I have a top incredibly similar that Stitch Fix sent me a couple of years ago that is in my very own closet right this minute.

And also, the aforementioned "WAAAAYYY too tight." Ugh.

Similar Black Denim Here/Flats from WAY long ago/Similar Flats Here
Y'all: The black bag is from SteinMart 10 years ago. I am not kidding.
Do what you will with that info. I have loved it forever.


Crescent
Amparo Tie Neck Tunic



I do love a tunic top, but for a short girl, it can be tricky. There can't be too much extra fabric or you look like you just threw on your jeans under your nightgown. I don't wear red very often, but I liked this and the fringe on the hem was a bonus. Unfortunately, this was just too big all over. Too long and too wide, just a lot of TOO. Insert sad face.



Octavia
Charlotte Striped & Floral Print Scarf


This scarf was fine. Apparently, all the ice cream I ate this summer didn't make it to my neck, so this actually fit. It's just that I went through a scarf addiction phase not too long ago and my closet has more scarves in it than is logical right now. I do want to point out that this Old Navy dress is practically zero dollars, is flowy in all the right ways, and can be worn year round depending on how you style it. I'm not the boss of you, but if I were you, I'd snag one today.


Y'all have a great Tuesday  that feels like a Monday!!

If you want to try Stitch Fix for yourself, I'd love it if you'd use my referral code HERE

GO

Friday, September 1, 2017

5 Favorite Things on a Friday: It's September Edition!



Happy Friday, everyone! It's Friday Favorites today and I'm wordy, so grab your coffee or your diet coke or your water with lemon - if you must - and check out some of my favorite things from the week!

1. Texas Showing the World that Light Shines in the Darkness

Here's a little thing I've noticed recently. It's going to catch you by complete surprise. Social Media can be dark and ugly and judgmental and nasty and full of pee-drinking crap faces. 

DUH. (And thank you to the movie, The Sandlot, for supplying me with that colorful vocabulary.)

During this tragedy in my home state though, Social Media has been a blessing to me for the most part. I have been able to check in on friends in the Houston area. I've witnessed numerous organizations and regular ol' folks responding to the pleas for help. Ironically, the tweets, facebook and instagram posts have often been a source of hope and even of much needed humor this week. These are some of my favorite moments from this week on the "socials".



This video showed Texans lined up for miles to get to Houston and surrounding towns to rescue folks from their flooded homes. Oh, how I love a random average dude with a boat.


I followed along as Beth Moore journeyed from Nashville to Houston over a few harrowing days to get to her family. She kept her sense of humor and stepped right in to be the hands of Jesus - if, in fact, Jesus's hands held some full-fat tortilla chips, a hunk of Velveeta and a can of Rotel. Which I'm fairly certain they would.

Because of the fact that the great majority of people in this wide world are not pee-drinking crap faces, but actually really, really good, there are a huge number of places where you can donate which I have found through social media. These are just a few:



One of my favorite bloggers is Melanie Shankle at The Big Mama Blog. She is partnering with Milk and Honey Tees which I have mentioned here before. The God Bless Texas Tee sporting graphic art by August Joffe is being sold with proceeds going to Hurricane Harvey relief. Go HERE to order.

JJ Watt of the Houston Texans has raised over $10 million already. You can donate to his effort HERE

UMCOR - The United Methodist Committee on Relief - is coordinating with early response teams to offer relief both in Texas and Louisiana. You can donate HERE

Samaritan's Purse is one of my favorite charities. They are sending disaster relief trucks to the area. Donate HERE

As I'm quite the fan of the baseball community, I was touched to see that the University of Houston's baseball coach followed the lead of the university's basketball coach by tweeting out a plea for baseball teams across the nation to send twenty of their program's jerseys and ten pairs of shoes to help the relief efforts. For more information see THIS ARTICLE.

And finally, let's talk undies. My Texas people need under garments. I saw a plea for this the other day on Instagram where the poster pointed out that no one donates their old underwear when they clean out their closets and for that I would say THANK YOU, DONATERS. Still this is a big need. Go HERE to donate.

To donate to the Red Cross, text 90999 to make a $10 donation.

There are so many more ways to donate and they aren't hard to find. So please, find one. Keep spreading the light, friends. The darkness will not overcome it.


2. Bandana Scarves


Did you know that bandanas are the new scarves? 

Actually, I've no idea if that's true. I made that up myself, but if someone who knows what they're talking about will say that, I'm down. I love infinity scarves, but especially on a short gal, they can become overwhelming and can even make me feel claustrophobic. I'm seeing bandanas every where and since my heart is in Texas, I've made my neck that way, too. 




I snagged this pretty green one from Madewell last weekend. They have lots of them priced from $12.00 - $24.00.


This one is on sale at Nordstrom. PS You can get the Madewell one from Nordstrom, too.



This one from Target is $5.99. I dare you to go to Target and just buy the scarf.


3. Ellie Holcomb's Find You Here




This is my new favorite song on Christian radio.

The only thing we can see is darkness up ahead, 
But you're asking us to lay our worry down and sing a song instead. 
And I didn't know I'd find You here 
In the middle of my deepest fear, 
But You were drawing near. 
You were overwhelming me with peace, 
So I lift my voice and sing.  
You're gonna carry us through everything.

Amen, Amen, and Amen.


4. Books, Books, Books



I made a day trip on my own to our home at Lake Anna this week. I intended to spend most of the time there sitting in the quiet house near the window to write. The day was so beautiful and I panicked at the thought of the summer slipping away from me, so I changed course and went out to sit by the water with my truckload of books. I ended up reading for three hours straight before I headed back home. I finished A Man Called Ove and I cannot recommend it more highly. This book had been recommended to me a zillion times and I am so late to this party. It was laugh-out-loud funny,  terribly sad and terrifically hopeful, all at the same time. A perfectly beautiful story about a perfectly imperfect man and a testament to the way a community can literally save a person's life without even knowing it. Here are a few of my favorite quotes.

“Ove glares out of the window. The poser is jogging. Not that Ove is provoked by jogging. Not at all. Ove couldn’t give a damn about people jogging. What he can’t understand is why they have to make such a big thing of it. With those smug smiles on their faces, as if they were out there curing pulmonary emphysema. Either they walk fast or they run slowly, that’s what joggers do. It’s a forty-year-old man’s way of telling the world that he can’t do anything right. Is it really necessary to dress up as a fourteen-year-old Romanian gymnast in order to be able to do it? Or the Olympic tobogganing team? Just because one shuffles aimlessly around the block for three quarters of an hour?” 


“Men like Ove and Rune were from a generation in which one was what one did, not what one talked about.” 

“Loving someone is like moving into a house," Sonja used to say. "At first you fall in love with all the new things, amazed every morning that all this belongs to you, as if fearing that someone would suddenly come rushing in through the door to explain that a terrible mistake had been made, you weren't actually supposed to live in a wonderful place like this. Then over the years the walls become weathered, the wood splinters here and there, and you start to love that house not so much because of all its perfection, but rather for its imperfections. You get to know all the nooks and crannies. How to avoid getting the key caught in the lock when it's cold outside. Which of the floorboards flex slightly when one steps on them or exactly how to open the wardrobe doors without them creaking. These are the little secrets that make it your home.” 



5. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Gavin Rupp

Mathias Giordano

Kate Rhoades

Alex Green
I hesitate to put this on a list of favorites because I wish with all my heart that having an awareness month for children stricken with this awful disease was unnecessary.

These photos are of just some of the children from my area who have died in the past four years. And there are so many more. It's an unbearable number. In August I ugly-cried all the way from my son's new dorm room to the car after I dropped him off for his future. The mamas of these children will not get to cry at college drop-off. They will not get to watch their kids make mistakes and have successes. I imagine that any "grief" I have at the knowledge that my son is 3 and 1/2 hours away from me is quite laughable to them. And I try hard every single day to remember that.

This week we had some great news in the Pediatric Cancer community. I heard about T-Cells and immunotherapy four years ago when I joined my Kyle's Kamp colleagues for a tour of Children's National Medical Center. I had to use all of my brain cells to understand what they were saying, but I got the gist. (I wrote about that day here: Where the Yellow Brick Road Should Have Led)

In September, I ask you to do something for these children. I'll be posting various ways you can get involved throughout the month.

Have a great weekend, friends!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

What's Up Wednesday: August 2017 Edition


I'm linking up with Sheaffer Told Me To The Larson Lingo and Mix and Match Mama for What's Up Wednesday today.

What We're Eating This Week:

It's Back-to-School time around here so this is when I determine that I will suddenly become a meal planner. New Jenn had this plan for the week. (Please notice there are no tacos. This is an indication that New Jenn is bringing her A Game because we generally have tacos twice a week)

Monday: Salmon and Asparagus (recipe: here)
Tuesday: Steak Sandwiches, potato wedges
Wednesday: Cashew Chicken in the Crockpot (recipe: here)
Thursday: Chicken Chipotle Pitas and roasted carrots
Friday: Figure it out all by yourself

If every other year in the history of my life is an indication, Old Jenn will show up sometime around 6:00 pm next Thursday and stare blankly into the fridge wondering why children insist on eating dinner every single night.

What I'm Reminiscing About:



Of course, I'm reminiscing about all the Back to School photos over all the years. Everyone tells you not to blink and you nod your head and never believe you'll actually be taking your kid to college. I remember the first day of kindergarten for Joe like it was yesterday. I remember the blue backpack that I got from Lands End. I remember the tag around his neck. I remember it was raining. I remember I was about 432 months pregnant with Drew. I remember how he walked straight up to the teacher at the door and told her where he was headed. I remember he had no fear. I remember that I sat in my bathroom and cried for an hour. We left Joe at Penn State University on a rainy day thirteen days ago. I was not pregnant, but likely pre-menopausal which in terms of emotions seems to be close to the same thing. Joe walked straight into his future. He had no fear. I cried all the way down the stairwell until I got to the car to drive home. They tell you not to blink, but you do. And when you open your eyes it is startling and scary and stunningly beautiful.



What I'm Loving:



Boys in Da House. When you are the only girl in a house of boys and one of them leaves, you would think that you might welcome the reduction in the mess, the smell, or the grocery bill. 

No, thank you. 

I'm loving that the day we returned home from dropping Joe at college, a bunch of extra teenagers slept over at my house and stumbled up the stairs the next morning sporting some serious bedhead to eat pounds of bacon and pancakes. I am loving that when I woke up Sunday morning feeling Joe's absence acutely I was able to send an alarm text to the moms of Drew's baseball buds that basically said, "BRING ME ALL YOUR BOYS." A mess of them were promptly delivered to my door later that day to do dangerous flips off the diving board, play football, watch the Little League World Series and leave candy wrappers all over my basement. I am loving how having a gaggle of boys tearing through my house can help fill up the Joe-sized hole in my heart.





What We've Been Up To:




We watched just about every minute of the Little League World Series and as usual, I picked at least 3-4 players that I want to kidnap. Although we were cheering hard for Texas here, I loved this little spitfire from North Carolina. I would rather watch Little League baseball than the MLB any darn day of the week and twice on Sundays. These kids could not have had more fun. It's like a big ol' ballpark full of joy.

What I'm Dreading:

For the most part, I feel like Joe is simply away at camp right now. Except for a brief moment at church when I thought I was going to ugly-cry on Sunday morning, I'm not sure it has really sunk in yet. I'm dreading when it does. I would imagine that timing will line up with whenever something goes wrong with my phone and I can't figure out how to fix it without him.

What I'm  Working On:

Lots of writing. I received a Stitch Fix box this weekend, so I'll post on that soon. We're having a screened in porch built and a new chair delivered next week, so, I plan to post some of  the remodeling we've done to our new-ish house in the past year. As you can imagine, all the feelings that came with endings and new beginnings this summer has me itching to figure out what God is teaching me in this season, so I anticipate lots of words about hard lessons. I'll be writing some devotionals along with some other members of my church to go with our pastor's Fall Sermon Series. And finally, I have an essay due to go up in September at the Northern Virginia Travel Baseball League site. If you're a fellow baseball family, go here to check out my previous posts there.

What I'm Excited About:


The start of college football season. I am cautiously optimistic that the new coach for the Texas Longhorns will allow this excitement to last past the first game or two. Last year, after we beat Notre Dame in the first game of the season, I went from 0 to 60 pretty fast, certain that we had a National Championship and a Heisman winner on our hands. It wasn't long after that I was crying in my chips and queso. I'm hoping for fewer tears in my game day snacks this year.

What I'm Watching:

I plan to watch the documentary The Tower on Netflix this week which is the story of the 1966 school shooting at the University of Texas. It was recommended to me by my cousin, a fellow Texas graduate, who is a friend of the filmmaker. It has fabulous reviews.

What I'm Reading:



Right now, I'm reading A Man Called Ove, which is the 3rd book I've read by this author this summer. It is delightful. I might have aimed a little high this summer when I went on an Amazon rampage and ordered a ton of books. Here are a few that I am working through slowly or that are sitting on my nightstand waiting.

Elizabeth Foss's Consider the Lilies
Sophie Hudson's All in All
Jen Hatmaker's Of Mess and Moxie
Chrystal Evans Hurst's She's Still There: Rescuing the Girl in You
Shauna Shanks's A Fierce Love

What I'm Listening To:

I've listened to Episode 208: The Nos of Birthdays from The Popcast With Knox and Jamie twice already. These people are a treasure. If you need a laugh - and really who doesn't? - go now.

What I'm Wearing:







I've been representing for my Texas peeps all week. I wore this earlier in the week. I bought the Texas Forever shirt from Magnolia Market last summer and just read that 100% of the proceeds from sales for this shirt through the end of September will go toward helping to restore South Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Chip and Joanna are good people which is no surprise as my state is busting at the seams with good. Please pray for Houston.

What I'm Doing This Weekend:



This guy starts his fall baseball season this weekend. This photo is from last year's first fall tournament. You can tell he doesn't have a lot of fun on the baseball diamond.

What I'm Looking Forward To Next Month:


Fall baseball tournaments, Friday Night Lights at the High School football games, a new women's Bible study, long stretches of time to write, routines, and the spectacular beauty of September days in Northern Virginia

What Else Is New

Getting giddy with happiness when I get a text from Joe. If you're counting, there were exactly three unsolicited texts from Joe in the first week. 2 about laundry and 1 requesting that I send him a Hawaiin shirt from his closet. Sounds like a college boy to me. :-)

Bonus Question this Month:
What are your best back to school lunch ideas/tips?

I have no answer to this question. Zero answers. Zero ideas. Zero tips. Making creative school lunches is not one of my spiritual gifts.

Have a great Wednesday!!!

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