Tag Archives: Spin Cycle

What If I Had Never Moved? {Spin Cycle}

When I was twelve years old, my parents announced that we were moving. Dad had a new job, and so we were packing up and moving to the ‘burbs. Just as you would expect a moody sixth grader to react, I instantly resented my father for taking a new job. He was ruining my life!

It took a long time to adjust our new town. Junior high school was horrible, and I cried at my eighth grade graduation because I felt like I had no friends. High school was a little better, but not much. Going off to college, however, was great. I loved being a college student!

As the years go by, however, I realize how much I gained from this move from a small town to the city. If I hadn’t moved, I wouldn’t have attended high school with such a great academic reputation. Maybe I wouldn’t have been accepted into the university I wanted to attend, the university I ended up loving. Without such a good education, maybe I wouldn’t have been able to get my Master’s degree at another university while I was working full time.

When I was in high school, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Unlucky, huh? But now we lived in the city where my mom could see the best doctors and get the best care. So when I was diagnosed with cancer 13 years later, I was referred to amazing doctors who gave me the best care as well.

Back when I was twelve, there was a boy who was much older than I was. He was sixteen. When I went to high school, he went to college. I knew of him, but I didn’t know him. He knew of me, but he didn’t know me. Both of us went to the same church on and off through the years. Finally, when we were both in our 30’s and still unmarried, we went out for breakfast after church.

Now we’ve been married for twelve years and have two children. What if we hadn’t moved when I was twelve years old? Would Ed and I have met?

It turns out my Dad didn’t ruin my life after all.

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He kept a secret from me.

I wanted to get married so badly, but I did NOT want to plan a wedding. Ed and I were engaged at the beginning of April, and we wanted to get married in October. Only six months to plan one of the biggest events of our lives, and I was not the least bit interested in getting it done.

As a Lutheran pastor’s family in a small town,  we were at every wedding that took place in that town. I watched the wedding ceremonies from the balcony as my father was up front officiating. I listened to my mother singing, most likely Malotte’s “The Lord’s Prayer.” Hearing it sung so many times unfortunately has me automatically rolling my eyes whenever someone else sings it. I know every note of that song by heart! After the service, everyone headed over to the Parish Hall, known as the school gymnasium during the week, for cold cuts and butter mints. The dance was at the American Legion Hut, where the adults stood around listening to the band and the kids ran around the Hut, the cool evening grass tickling our bare feet. My sister and I collected the wedding napkins. You know, the ones with the bride and groom’s names embossed on them. We had a large box full of just napkins from all the weddings we attended.

These memories are good memories, yes. However, after attending dozens and dozens of weddings as a child, I grew to dislike weddings. And so when it was my turn to get married, I wanted a church wedding and dancing at our reception, but I didn’t have any interest in actually planning the event. My parents had just moved to Colorado, so my mom was too far away to help me with the details. I missed her so much and wanted her to live close to me again. My sisters also lived out-of-town, and my mother-in-law to be was not in the best of health. It was up to Ed and me to plan our wedding together. Since I was teaching at the time, we figured I would have plenty of time to plan during my summer vacation.

We survived the whole planning process pretty well, although once we set the date, we discovered that October is the second most popular month for weddings. Finding a reception hall was more challenging than we thought it would be. There were a few panicky days as we tried to secure a location before our trip to Yellowstone. By the time school resumed, Ed and I felt like everything was under control.


At Yellowstone, relieved that we had a hall for our wedding reception!

There was one thing I had resigned myself to; I would not be getting a bridal shower or bachelorette party. My maids of honor, my sisters, were out of town. One of my bridesmaids had basically told me she wasn’t planning a shower for me, even though I had thrown a nice bachelorette party for her a couple of years before. I didn’t have the energy to organize my own party; plus, that felt just weird. I was feeling a lot of stress in planning the wedding in just six months as it was. So while I felt sorry for myself, I tried to focus on the big day itself instead of a shower.

One Sunday afternoon, Ed and I were driving to the northern suburbs to meet his family for dinner, which was a weekly event. I remember feeling particularly crabby that day. I don’t remember why. But when Ed’s sister called to ask us to stop by the grocery store on the way to the restaurant, I lost it. I ranted and raved. Why did we have to stop to get bread, of all things, for his sister?

I think I was still complaining about one thing or another to Ed as we walked into the restaurant and suddenly people yelled, “SURPRISE!” I would hate to see the look on my face if anyone took a picture! Ed and his sister had pulled together a surprise shower for me, and I hadn’t suspected a thing!

That surprise party was so sweet and thoughtful, and I’m sure I didn’t appreciate it as much as I should have. It also makes me wonder…

…what others secrets has Ed been keeping?

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If I Were Queen {Spin Cycle}

Oh, my. Usually when Gretchen and I come up with ideas for our Spin Cycle prompts, I don’t have this much trouble with an idea. I’ve been thinking about this prompt all week, and my head is blank. To make matters worse, last night I spent two hours at Lily and Emmy’s school for their Open House and was left with not much time to write. That’s what I get for procrastinating. If I were Queen of the World, there would be more hours in the day. And no deadlines. (Although as a procrastinator, deadlines are what make me actually get work done…)


Right now, I am like the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland. I just want to yell “Off with their heads!” to all the troublemakers and stupid people of the world. But that really wouldn’t solve any problems, would it?

It would also be very frustrating to just be a figurehead queen; to be royal but without any power. If I were Queen, I’d want to be able to solve the world’s problems, not just wave royally from my horse-drawn carriage.

I agree with Queen VandyJ and am very happy being the Queen of my own Castle, although I have plenty of girls in my castle. Unlike Vandy, my kids WOULD borrow my raspberry crocs.

The First Decree of Queen Janice is brilliant! She is also a better poet than I’ll ever be! You NEED to go read her proclamations!

And no one is more Queenly than Queen Gretchen. She even has a crown to prove it! She also speaks with authority about belly fat, which I can really get behind. (You may all groan now.)

As for me, Queen Ginny, perhaps I should fix what really bothered me this week. Way back in March, I bought OneRepublic’s album Native because I couldn’t get enough of their song “Counting Stars.” I even wrote a Spin Cycle post about that song! This summer, radio stations have been playing a new song, “Love Runs Out,” that is on the same album I bought, only I couldn’t find it ANYWHERE on my CD. I found out why this week…they rereleased the album and added the song! As Queen, I declare this is just unfair!

On Monday, I’ll be back in my true kingdom: the preschool classroom. My little four-year old subjects will be putting on beautiful princess gowns and will be clonking around in dress-up shoes. Or they will be driving trucks without a license and ramming them into dinosaurs. Or they will be building castles of their own in the sand table, while I will royally remind them to keep the sand IN the sand box and please don’t throw the sand in the air! Instead of royal waves, I will be giving out royal stickers, royal hugs and high-fives, and royal reminders to go potty. This vlog I made a while ago pretty much sums up my role as Queen of the Preschoolers:


What would you do if YOU were Queen of the World?

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Suddenly in Death Valley… {Spin Cycle}

Our stay at Furnace Creek Ranch in Death Valley did not start off well. Our hotel room was in a separate building from the office, quite a long walk away. The key was not opening the door, even though the light was flashing green. It was 124 degrees Fahrenheit, and there was no cell phone service. I flagged down a golf cart that an employee was driving and asked for help. The girl opened the door by pulling the door handle UP instead of down. That door gave us trouble for the rest of our stay!

Death Valley Natl Park

Do you really need proof that it was stinkin’ hot in Death Valley?

Our room was nice and cool, but the phone didn’t work. There was no way to contact the front desk when we needed more towels. (Hotels always put only three towels in the room. We are a family of four. Why do they do that?)

Another strange thing about that room was that the water coming out of the faucet was always warm. We brushed our teeth with warm water and filled up water bottles with warm water. At a place called Furnace Creek, I guess that was to be expected. Fortunately, the little refrigerator in the room worked very well, and the ice machine in the next building did made ice.

We ate a decent dinner, although it was overpriced, at the Forty-Niner Cafe. There weren’t many dining choices, and I imagine food is expensive to transport into the valley. The server was extremely nice and accommodating; I asked him if soft drinks were included in the kids’ meals. He didn’t know, so he threw them in for free.

Dinner had been early, so we decided to drive down to Badwater Basin. Badwater is the lowest elevation in North America, at 282 feet below sea level. It was hot.

Badwater Basin

By now, you are probably wondering why we went to Death Valley. Everyone knows it’s hot; why in world were we in Death Valley on a summer vacation to California, when we could visit the beach or the mountains or wine country?

Simply put, Death Valley is amazing. Death Valley’s heat is incredible. We carried a water bottle every time we left the car. We didn’t go on hikes. We couldn’t. But the places we explored were beautiful, amazing, awesome places…awesome in the true sense of the word.

I wanted to take the Artist’s Drive on the way back to the hotel. It is a 9 mile twisting road that goes back among the foothills, and it is most beautiful at sunset.

Death Valley

We thought that the range ahead of us shone brilliantly. The rocks were gleaming in the last rays of the sun shining into the valley. We thought we were already seeing the beauty of Death Valley.

Suddenly, we drove around the curve and an explosion of color was before us. It. was. awesome.

These colorful hills were already in the shadows by the time we arrived, so my pictures just don’t do it justice. This turn in the road is called Artist’s Palette, and it was easy to see why.

Death Valley National Park

The temperature, the hot wind pummeling us, and the gorgeous view all combined to make us literally breathless.

Artist's Drive

We arrived at our hotel room in a much better mood. The best part of the day was yet to come, according to Lily and Emmy. While the night air cooled down to 110 degrees, we swam in the huge, warm spring-fed pool, surrounded by palm trees. It was the place to be, and even with all the other tourists swimming with us, there was plenty of room to swim.

I took this picture of the pool the next morning from our hotel room porch.

I took this picture of the pool the next morning from our hotel room porch.

SUDDENLY! Link up your Spin Cycle posts here, and be sure to visit my Spin Cycle partner, Gretchen!

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More posts about our California trip:

Meeting Gretchen from Second Blooming in Los Angeles
Hiking the Lemon Grove Loop Trail in San Luis Obispo
Yosemite, Day One
Yosemite, Day Two


I Admit It; I’m Happy {Spin Cycle}

Yesterday, I was going to go outside and take pictures of my garden to show you how happiness happens. Remember that huge, old willow tree in our backyard? The tree I loved but had to be cut down? Now there is just a big pile of mulch where the tree guys ground up the stump. It would have cost extra for them to haul it away, so we have been slowly loading our wheelbarrow with the mulch and spreading it in all our gardens and under trees. On Wednesday, I shoveled mulch so vigorously that my stomach muscles have actively been complaining. I’m still sore! Since I waited until the last minute to take pictures, however, I wasn’t actually able to take any. It rained all day, and so you will have to be happy with the picture I took a couple of month ago. (I’m hoping to sneak out early this morning and take one if the weather cooperates!)

spring garden

My raised vegetable garden and the big pile of mulch from the willow tree, along with the beginnings of our butterfly garden, in the spring.

On Wednesday, I was outside all afternoon, happily gardening. I love seeing how my plants are growing. In the vegetable garden, the hot peppers are turning red and the mild peppers are turning orange. The tomatoes are big and fat, just waiting for a touch of sun to make them blush red. The bees were buzzing around the new tomato blossoms, and I could just imagine them pollinating all my lovely green plants as they flew from flower to flower. Happy.

The girls had a half day of school that morning, and they wanted to go to the pool. But the pool is now on limited hours because the lifeguard are also going back to school. Lily and Emmy still got on their swim suits, and I turned on the sprinkler. “Look, Mama, I’m a water fairy!” Emmy shrieked as she sprayed me. “I’m controlling the water!” Even though I was getting wet, I was happy.

The news stories during the past few weeks have been so full of sadness; riots and suicide, a gruesome beheading, death. Some days I don’t even know why I read the news. Maybe that’s why the ice bucket challenge to benefit ALS research has exploded on Facebook; it’s something simple, something funny, and also something that does some good in the world. It adds a little bit of happy to my newsfeed. (I just watched Jude dump a bucket on Gretchen!)

I’m sneaking in the ice bucket challenge to my garden post, because Lily was nominated last night by her best friend, and rumor has it that I will be nominated to take the challenge later today. Does this make me happy? Yes!

I also was able to put on my rain boots this morning, and take a current picture of my garden.

My garden now, with some perennials I bought on sale that still need to be planted!

My garden now, with some perennials I bought on sale that still need to be planted!

Where are you finding happiness this week? Join Gretchen and me with your Spin and link up your post below!

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