Wednesday, May 22, 2013

for Alex, part two

Almost two years ago, I posted about Alex and her three beautiful children. I was able to visit her last week while at my parents'. Of course, we had to take a picture so I could share with all of you how much they've grown. (If you didn't, you really should check out the other post, this one will make more sense if you do.)

Courtney commented that I looked different. Maybe it was because last time I had pink hair! Could she possibly have remembered that? Alex, show her the picture and tell me if she did remember that?!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

our world was a flood

I don't expect most of you to know that is a modified line from a Jars of Clay song. But now you do. See? You learn something new everyday!

Back to the flood.

On Monday, I was at First Place, our church's administrative building. We have our offices on the second floor. The first floor is The Vine, where the Jr. and Sr. High meet. There is a game room (where the youth choir practices), a kitchen, a cafe room and restrooms.

The third floor is made up of a couple Sunday school/meeting rooms, JfON (Justice for Our Neighbors), part of Lutheran Social Services Ministry (LSSM) offices, and another non-profit whose name is escaping me at the moment.

The fourth floor is exclusively rented out by LSSM.

This will be important in a few minutes.

As I said, on Monday, I was working. We had a staff lunch. Then, the Coordinating team had their regular meeting. It was getting close to three o'clock and the sky was getting dark. I had finished up my work and had stopped to chat with Sharon, our treasurer. A few minutes into our chat and the skies opened up.

At one point, it looked like a hurricane. The rain was coming down so hard and the wind was blowing so hard, that you couldn't see the cars in the parking lot from her window (which you can usually see our parking lot, the neighboring parking lot as well as the park a few streets away). She had to go pick up her granddaughter at the bus stop and couldn't wait any longer.

I decided to give it a few minutes and went to make a pit stop before heading out.

I walked into the women's restroom to see water streaming out from under the janitor's closet, which is accessible through the women's restroom. I walked back into the office and said to no one (they were all in a meeting upstairs on the third floor) there's water in the bathroom.

Fortunately, there was a receptionist and Liz (who works for JfON) was making copies. Liz followed me back into the restroom at which point the water was flowing out from under the restroom door. No need to open it, it was clear we had an issue.

Liz asked, where's Emil (our facilities manager)? He's upstairs, I'll go get him, I said. I ran up, busted into the room where the entire office staff were meeting and said, we have water. Everyone looked at Emil. He stood up and asked where? I told him in the women's bathroom. He followed me out of the room and checked the restrooms on that floor.

I said, no it's downstairs.

By the time we got down there the water had reached halfway across the office and was an inch deep. Emil gave me the keys to his car and told me to go get the water barrier things in his trunk.

I ran outside. I took two steps before I realized my sandals were pointless. I pulled them off and grabbed the water things out of his car. I took them back inside, but couldn't find Emil.

After a few minutes of running around, I finally found him. By this point, everyone from the meeting was back in the office and they were picking up everything from the floor and unplugging everything. Somebody asked what needed to be done and Emil said go down to The Vine.

I went down there and, I think, Tish and Laure were the ones who had asked what to do so they followed me.

Water was pouring in from the ceiling. Sami was down there, unplugging and moving all the electronics. The game room, with the most electronics, was getting the worst of it.

Eventually we got everything unplugged and moved. We went back upstairs. By then Emil had shut off the main water. Water was everywhere. The decision was made to evacuate the building, because the lights were still on.

We spread the word, and I decided it was time to go home because I still had to pee. I picked up my shoes and grabbed my bags.

Apparently a pipe burst. I'm not saying I saved the building, but if it hadn't been for me, the water wouldn't have been discovered until it reached the copy room where Liz was.

It was the First Place flood of epic proportions.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Pi-day delayed...

I'm making this pie. It's to die for yummy.

I thought I blogged about Pi-day (March 14 aka 3.14)... but I did not.

Oh the posts I've written in my head... I wish they had made it into my blog.

Anyway, I'm making that pie. If you didn't click the link, you must.

And, just so you know, you can "reverse" it and use nutella instead of peanut butter and nutter butters instead of oreos. It is equally amazing. Bill prefers the latter. I actually prefer the original. But put a piece of both in front of me and I will devour them equally.

Go forth and share the pie.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

It. Could. Go. All. The. Way.

I've talked about baseball before. You can go here, to read, then follow the link on that post to read even more.

I haven't mentioned (or can't find where I did) that watching baseball is a newer phenomenon in our house.

When Bill and I were first married, we lived in Detroit. Bill detested baseball. I was (and still am, sigh) a Cubs fan. Living in Detroit the odds of catching a Cubs game were as good as the Cubs winning the pennant.

Then we moved to Georgia. They have never heard of baseball. While we could afford to upgrade our cable, baseball was still not televised in the Uebbing house. There were better things to watch. Football. Formula 1 races. Trading Spaces.

I miss that show.

Then we left the south and headed into New Jersey. That meant only one thing: the Yankees.

As you all know by now, we moved back to Michigan. America's high five. We lived here for a few years and very little baseball was viewed on our tv.

I can't say I was disappointed or frustrated that Bill wasn't a baseball fan, but maybe confused. Everyone loves baseball. Even if you don't, you can pretend you do while you eat hot dogs and drink beer.

Then, when Bill was traveling to Cleveland and had his apartment in Detroit, I started watching the Cubs. I had the remote to myself, it was the middle of summer and I remembered why I liked baseball so much.

We went to a Cubs game with my cousin and his family.

Baseball was creeping into the Uebbing house.

Last year, Bill had several opportunities to go to Tigers games. For business.

The next thing I knew, we were watching baseball games at home. We were yelling at the tv. I realized I could like the Tigers (and stop explaining to everyone I met in Michigan why I was a Cubs fan).

Now, while I am not an avid fan, I do recognize more Tigers players than Cubs. But Bill... Bill has had a complete turn around. He knows stats. He knows stats! It's like he's Greg, channeling all that love for baseball. Bill asked me if there was a game on tonight, and when I said yes, he smiled.

He found the reason why this is America's favorite pastime.

While we were watching the game last night, we were discussing how neither of us has ever seen a grand slam. Granted, they don't happen that often, but they always seem to happen when it's a game we're not watching.

And then, the bases were loaded. Dirks was up-to-bat. He swung, and the crack was the perfect pitch (pun intended). It was launched into the air.

It was going...



Welcome to our home baseball. Welcome.

Monday, May 13, 2013

We're not Motel 6

They're ba-aaaack.

The spiders. They've moved in. They're everywhere. I don't like it.

It's that time of year where it's rainy, and now a little cooler again, outside. So the spiders get together and decide that the best place to relocate to is inside. My house. Your house. They don't discriminate.

Last week there was one in the shower.

Of course if you had heard me scream, you would have thought there was an ax murderer. That's the type of scream that came from within me. Fortunately, Bill knows better. That, and our house is not made for sneaking around. The stairs squeak, the floors creak, the faucets leak, and the doors finally close like normal.

I had you going there, didn't I? Now that the layers of paint have been removed from the doors, they actually close. No sticking, forcing or not-closing-all-the-way. It's grand.

But the spiders don't care.

They can sneak up on you. In the shower, in the hall, in the kitchen, on the wall.

Did I mention that one of my students was in Seussical Jr.?

Because of the spiders, I have to repaint my ceilings. Maybe I should try cleaning the spider guts off first.

Anyway, it's that time of year. The windows are open. And to spiders, that's like leaving the light on.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

spring catch-up

I am just now catching up on the blogs I like to read.

Bill and I are getting a lot done around the house these days.

Well, I'm not today. I'm not home. I'm at church playing Wedding Coordinator (I'm not really playing, it's my job).

I have been working on the hallway. I have as much paint removed as I can reach. Tomorrow, I will create some sort of ladder/scaffolding across the landing so that I can reach up near the ceiling.

Once that's finished, we'll move on to priming, then painting the hall.

Bill has been finishing the doors. He has one left, the door to his office. He may have it ready to hang tomorrow.

All of the outdoor furniture is out and ready to be used. And it has been used as nice as it's been here.

Today isn't very nice though. It's cold (maybe it's in the 50's) and rainy. Here's a picture from a few weeks ago to help cheer you up. It's our Sand Cherry tree in bloom.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

the rest of the 2013 DC spring break trip (sans photos)

Truthfully, I’ve been waiting for pictures before I finish writing about our DC trip. But I’ve found some time here and there, so without pictures and further ado:

Tuesday in DC:

We had a late morning, which was nice after the early morning on Monday. We had breakfast and devotions. Then we split into two groups. Sami had Clarence, Shawn, Cait, and Brenna. I had Mike, Nick, Precious and Jen. We had divided into two groups for the “urban plunge”, a hands-on experience of what it’s like to be homeless in the city. Each person had been given $2.00. As a group, we were given an area to “explore”. We were to use the money to buy lunch and share it with someone. This was to be done by pooling our money together or not (both groups chose to combine their funds). Each group had questions to answer. The questions were things like; where is the closest shelter in the designated area, where is the closest soup kitchen, etc. Sami’s group was given bus tickets, my group had a closer area and we walked. We were to meet back at the housing site by 1pm.

My group had the area around Union Station. Since we had already eaten dinner there Saturday night, we were familiar with the food court. We had an added task of finding a coffee shop (whose name I have forgotten) and finding out why it was special. After asking several people in Union Station, we finally found someone who could give us directions to the coffee shop. We found it about a block and a half away from Union Station. The group asked the barista a few questions and discovered that a church started the coffee shop. The church doesn’t use any of the shops proceeds to pay for the supplies, wages, etc. All of the money made goes back into the neighborhood and the missions that the church provides.

From there, the group decided to find a store where we could buy supplies to make sandwiches for lunch. We headed across our rectangular area in search of a store. We quickly found a convenience store. Bread was $3,49. We only had $10. Could we afford lunchmeat or peanut butter on top of the cost of the bread? We decided to keep searching for a grocery store. Precious asked the person at the counter where was the closest grocery store? A customer told us that is was only a few miles away. We explained that we were walking and that was probably outside of our “area”. We left the store and kept walking. We found a police officer and asked him where could we find a soup kitchen/shelter. He told us about one, on the very edge of our map. We found a church and asked them if they had any food or program where we could get food. They did not. We headed toward the shelter the policeman recommended. When we got there, I realized we were on the front side of DC Central Kitchen, which is a shelter. Actually the building houses a couple of shelters as well as the kitchen. We walked into the shelter and found two women who worked there who were willing to talk to us. Jen, Nick, Mike and Precious all asked good questions. The main shelter, which is the biggest with several hundred beds, allowed people to stay, no questions asked. The only restriction is that after seven nights if you weren’t there, your bed was given to someone else. But those did not have to be consecutive nights. The shelter has showers, laundry facilities, and no “check-out” time.

I’ll admit, it was pretty rough outside. The two women suggested we go back outside to talk to residents to get better answers to our questions. We did. We had one young gentleman who came over to us asking for money. He was high (Precious had seen him smoking a joint before we went in to the shelter) and wanted money for food. Since we had a limited budget, and hadn’t yet decided what we would do for lunch, we told him we didn’t have money to spare. We talked with him for several minutes. I noticed several people who walked by and (to me) appeared to be making sure this man wasn’t harassing us. I checked my watch and told the group we needed to go figure out what we were going to do for lunch. We ended up going back to Union Station. We found the best deal at Burger King. However, as we were walking around checking prices on meals, we were offered samples. It seemed like it could be a pretty nice place to hang out if you were homeless. It had a public bathroom and plenty of food.

While we were walking around accepting free samples, Nick and Jen thought they had found a good deal; 12 pieces of chicken for $8. It sounded good, so as the rest of us were walking over to that counter I asked Precious if she was okay with chicken. Point blank, she looked at me and said, “Emily, I’m black. Of course chicken is okay.” We busted out laughing. I had been concerned because her acid reflux had been pretty bad. I wanted to make sure it wouldn’t upset her stomach/throat. Clearly I was not paying attention to the color of her skin. That may have been the best line of the trip.

The chicken counter turned out to be false advertising so that was when we decided Burger King was the way to go.

While Mike and Precious were waiting for the chicken sandwiches and cheeseburgers, Jen found a man she had met at SOME the day before. She asked if we could join him, and he said sure. We sat down to eat and to listen to him share what he knew about organic farming. It turns out, he knew a lot about organic farming. I glanced at my watch and realized it was 12:45pm. We had fifteen minutes to get back and it was going to take us longer than that to walk the two + miles. I gave Jen & Precious the “we-have-to-go” look. We thanked the guy for sharing time with us, excused ourselves and left him with the extra burgers.

We made it back by ten after one and beat the other group by several minutes since they were dependent on the bus.

Once everyone was back, we piled into the van and headed to our afternoon site. It was “The People’s Church”. This church had left the downtown and moved out to the Maryland suburbs. They had been aiming to purchase property in a strip mall, but after a year of praying and waiting, their offer was turned down. However, God had bigger plans and they found a property that seemed to be a better offer. Not only did it have a church but it also had a parsonage and a former Christian school. This was way more then the congregation wanted but decided God was telling them to do more. The pastor, Mike, and his wife Terri met us at the school. Through CSM they had been able to strip the school of it’s molding interior (it’s not old, maybe c. 1990’s, but it had been neglected), and begin the organization process. The church had been renovated by their sweat equity and has just been open since the autumn of ’12. They still aren’t sure what they will do with the school, but in order to pass inspections and keep their construction loans, they have to stage the classrooms. We set to work organizing and moving stuff. A few people headed over to the parsonage and ripped out the carpet. It was just a few hours that we were there, but we made significant headway.

From there we went to eat dinner at Thai Orchid. They served us family style. After the first two plates were served and our plates were piled high, they brought out another dish. I was sitting across from Nick. His eyes got really big; more food? I laughed and told him don’t forget about dessert. The dishes were all delicious. Dessert was an egg roll-type phyllo dough with honey. It was also delicious.

We stopped at the Jefferson Memorial and held our debriefing in the basement/museum. It was a little loud since many of the monuments are open twenty-four hours.

We tried going to Pinkberry for dessert #2 (because that’s how we roll), but we got there just after 9pm and they were closed. There was a milkshake & burger joint across the street, so we went over there instead. Dessert #2 was also delicious.

Wednesday in DC:

Wednesday morning, we woke up to snow and news that the city was basically shut down. Our morning site was not an option (it was Seabury Age-in-Place, but I don’t know what that is, perhaps a home for seniors?) so Sami let the City Coordinator know that we were willing to go back to “The People’s Church” and by 10am we were headed back there. They were so grateful for our help that Mike’s mom offered to buy us a “hot lunch” because our sack lunches weren’t good enough. She bought us Popeye’s chicken.

By the afternoon the snow had melted so we headed to the originally scheduled site: St. Thomas More. This was a residential facility for low-income persons with disabilities or medical trauma. We split up into the same groups from the day before and went from room to room to see if anyone wanted/needed company. Sami’s group started at the top (which housed the patients who had the most severe injuries) and my group started on the second floor (this first floor consisted of the dining room, offices and other public spaces). We split up into two groups. I was with Nick. Precious, Mike and Cait went off together.

Nick and I met a man who was waiting on a nurse to take him away for some tests, but we briefly discussed sports. He was watching an old football game, and even though we were in DC and he was from New York, he was a Dallas fan. We met up with the other three and they had quickly burned through the floor. Doors were closed or people just weren’t in the mood to talk. We moved on. The next person Nick and I talked to was a nice woman who was probably in her fifties, Maria. It became clear that she had some head trauma. Her memory seemed to be good, but she had no idea why she was there. She used to drive the bus for a University (I have now forgotten which one). She liked flowers, and she liked to draw. One of the things we were instructed to do was to ask if we could pray for or with the people we spoke to. Nick and I prayed with her. Then we moved on to meet someone else. We couldn’t find any more open doors, or people who were awake, so we found Mike, Cait and Precious. They were talking with a nice woman who was 98 years old, Ann. We spent forty-five minutes with her. She shared that travel is very important along with stories and much laughter. It was about ninety degrees in her room, so I was making sure no one was about to pass out (including myself). By the time we finished praying with her, we decided to go find the other group. Instead, they found us! We put in our dinner orders, (Jamaican) and on the way to the restaurant we stopped by the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

I was amazed. It reminded me of the cathedrals we saw in Europe. Every inch of space was covered in mosaics! Kelsey gave us ten minutes. We took forty-five. I didn’t even make it to the basement! It was more than breathtaking. Words and pictures will not do it justice. If you are ever in DC and you appreciate churches/architecture/art, please go see this. You will not be sorry. Just allow yourself plenty of time to take it all in.

Dinner was actually my least favorite. I had the curry chicken, which was the blandest choice. Actually, I split my dinner with Jen and Brenna. Jen had the jerk chicken (the spiciest) and Brenna had the third (the sweetest). However, after the lunch we’d had earlier, how can you beat fried chicken?

After dinner, we headed back over to the Lincoln Memorial to retake our group photo. On the way, we stopped at the White House, which we had not yet seen up close. Half of the group decided to walk around to the other side (the East Lawn) but the rest were too cold so we went back to the van. Sami was with the group walking around and decided to test the security when they almost cut through the lawn. Security is tight, and they were told to turn around and go back the other way.

From there we were able to find street parking to see the Lincoln and Vietnam War memorials. Sami snapped a picture of the Nurses Vietnam memorial (for Judy). On our way to the Lincoln Memorial, we ran into another group from CSM. Their host wasn’t sure how to get back and his phone had died. They did not have a gps either. He asked if he could call Kelsey, using Sami’s cell phone. He decided to play a prank on her and pretended to be a security guard. He had Sami and me laughing, apparently he did not fake-out Kelsey. We all headed back to the site, with the other van following ours. At a stop light in Chinatown, Kelsey and I held a Chinese fire drill. Up until that point I didn’t know that had been on my bucket list, but I decided it should have been and has now been crossed off.

We had our debriefing and did our part to clean up. Thursday morning we were on the road by 8:25am. We stopped at the Capitol and took a “re-do” group photo there. We made it back to GR by 8:35pm.

That was our 2013 spring break trip. Hopefully there will be photos to add... they're out there somewhere!

Friday, May 3, 2013

my "drinking" problem

Five years ago my aunt called my dad to tell him that she had colon cancer. Their mom passed away from colon cancer. (My aunt had surgery and, as far as I know, is doing just fine.)

I talked to my doctor and scheduled my first colonoscopy. Everything went fine.

Then five years passed.

I got my reminder about two months ago, that I needed to schedule another one.

I just had it this morning.

Five years ago, they found three polyps. They were removed and biopsied and all came back negative for cancer.

This morning I had zero! Yay!

If you've had a colonoscopy, or know someone who has, you've heard the stories about the prep. I really don't find it all that bad, although I wish I'd bought some popsicles because it was warm enough.

Instead, I maintained a diet of clear liquids yesterday.

And I kept track of how much I drank.

Give or take a few ounces, at the end of the day I had drank 168 ounces of liquids.

That equals ten and a half pounds.

10.5 lbs


That is a LOT of liquid.

I'm back to solid food again, thank goodness.

But now you know why I had so much time to blog!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

four and a half hours

Here's what happens in that time frame:

 These are the tulips in the front yard at 2pm yesterday. Just that morning they had no color whatsoever.

When I got home from the HPC meeting, this is what they looked like (6:40pm):

On the other hand, in just an hour and a half our friend Amy can have baby #2, affectionately called H2, now known as Amaura. Congratulations Amy, Adam and big brother Wes! We can't wait to meet her.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

I finally did it...

 ... I really did. I took the pictures off the camera, loaded them on my computer and have actually posted them on my blog! Try not to fall off your chair.

Here is the before:
well, I had already removed the border, this is the closet and the front window
here's the doorway into the hall (minus the door, it's still in progress)
 here's the interior wall (the bedroom door is behind you)
 same view with the left portion of the wall sanded
 this is where my desk used to sit
the door to the hall is to the left... this is showing the plaster pulling away in the corner
and here's an example of how Bill filled the corners
the above photo and the previous show the walls primed, ready for paint
and here it is with paint

we are both very happy with it
we moved the desk to the opposite wall to allow for more electronic outlet space
the bed has moved from it's original location when we first moved in almost seven years ago
I can access the closet again, which still houses my scrapbook stuff
here's the desk from the opposite side of the room...
and here's where all the furniture was "stored" during this process
here's from the other side of the room, as much as I could fit in the frame anyway
Did you know we own a lot of books?
and there's this pile, don't forget this pile

There you have it. What we did for the month of March and half of April; between working, the stomach flu and whatever else happened.

If you would like to come see it in person, let us know! We're ready for visitors. Just remember to call ahead to make your reservation.