Challenge 33 – Play the ponies…or this is the hardest I’ve ever worked to give away $50.

4 May

It’s Derby Day. Which in my house growing up, Derby Day just meant that it was a Saturday.

I mean, I’m all for watching 3 minutes of the Derby every year.  But I don’t really even think about horse racing the other 525946 minutes during the year. (OK, fact check – so now that I’m married, I do get to watch the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes – so I don’t think about horse racing the other 525,940 minutes a year…)

But my husband’s family didn’t feel the same.  Weddings, family gatherings and special occasions surround Derby Day…so for the past few years I’ve gotten to see a little into this Kentucky mania.

And I have to admit, it’s fun. It’s fun to research the horses, hear their stories, hear the stories of the jockeys, and figure out who to cheer for.

This year, we took it up a notch.  We decided to actually put some money on the line.

Which isn’t as easy as it sounds. You have to play online, obviously, unless you’re going to pay a crazy amount of money to drive to Louisville and attend the event…

And the betting site of Churchill Downs, obviously, has some rules. And our banks have rules.  So we couldn’t use our debit or credit cards to actually fund the bet.  The site was asking far too many personal questions for us trust them with our actual bank info.

So we drove to Kroger to buy a $50 card (plus a $4.99 service fee) that we had to pay for in cash…then drive home, put in a crazy amount of information…and start playing…

While everything we read said that California Chrome would win – what fun is that?  Plus, with 2 to 1 odds, what fun is that?  So we read and researched and picked.. C went for Medal Count (I don’t know why) – I decided on Intense Holiday (because I like the colors and the big yellow star on the Jockey’s silk), and Danza (because, of course, he’s named after Tony Danza. Duh.)

This afternoon we had a commitment to go to a concert so we snuck out a bit early to cheer on our ponies…and 2 minutes later, we were out $54.99.

That’s it?

Danza did come in third, but that doesn’t matter in horse racing. And all I could think about was that $50 could have been new shoes or an awesome dinner out….But that $50 was a fun adventure of trying to figure out just how this whole betting thing happens, and was something we got to do together.  And talk about. And laugh about.

So there ya go. We didn’t lose $50. We spent $50 – and I imagine that won’t be the last time.

Oh well – it was a fun experience. And we’ll do it again next year, I’m sure.

BTW – I don’t plan to bet on Saturday’s Belmont Stakes.  I so want California Chrome to win the triple, but holy crap! Ride on Curlin was picking up speed there at the end – might make for an interesting race…



Challenge 32 – Deep Sea Fishing or How much does this rod and reel cost again?

5 Dec

We were staying at a house in Gulf Shores, AL where the ocean sand started just out the back door.  Our niece was getting married, and Friday was the day that all of the girls were going to be pampered with mani-pedis, hair appointments, etc…

Instead of a rare delicious day of champagne and being spoiled, I found myself up at the crack of dawn to catch a boat – to try my hand at deep sea fishing.  We drove about 20 minutes from the house to meet up with a family friend.  As soon as I saw the small boat, I realized immediately that we didn’t even need to catch any fish…the sun and the sea and the slight warm breeze would make for a perfect few hours, no matter what bounty the ocean gives us.

Things I didn’t think about.  You need bait to catch small fish which are bait to catch big fish.  Some big fish are more picky than other big fish…so before you ca have your great sea fishing experience, you have to spend some time catching poor little fish who probably didn’t realize what a bad day they were going to have when they left home that morning.

A couple of the guys caught many minis along the docks, we set out for some oil rigs where a few larger bait fish were brought in.  My husband and I got to basically sit back and watch this process, as when you’re on a boat with 4 seasoned fishermen, they just get irritated if you’re not quick on the bait fish…

I should add that, as the sole woman on the boat, I was given a lesson by our fearless leader on how his wife is able to pee off the side of the boat…and after a few hours and a large cup of coffee, I realized something.  Ladies – if you’ve ever resisted going out on a boat because there is no where to potty…you need to get those fears out of your mind…it’s actually WAY easier than navigating your typical gas station bathroom.   (maybe not during a big storm…but that’s an aside..)

One thing I was warned about – the rods and reels that we were using were exceptionally expensive.  “When it’s in your hands, it’s yours” I was I resided to the fact that my tennis elbow and manicure were both going to be scarified, if needed.  That fishing pole was not going to be dropped into the ocean.

We took the little boat 30 miles out to sea.  Our captain was a jovial man who expressed his love of retirement, the sea and copious amounts of Budweiser.   The sea was fairly calm so the ride was a lot of fun.  We kept an eye on one dark cloud that loomed overhead.  Apparently waterspouts have a tendency to show up every now and again, no matter how sunny the day.  We saw dolphins, sea turtles, lots of jellyfish…and our captain educated us on the fish-finder that showed a rainbow of activity below our little boat.

Being that I was the new kid on the boat, I got to drop the first line, and quickly I felt a tug…and then another tug…and then the trip went from a leisurely voyage to work.  The pull on the rod was incredible…and more than worth the challenge when I realized that I had caught a large Red Snapper.

As a sushi lover, this made me very happy.

During our 2 hours or so at sea, I caught 6 red snapper (2 were not 15 inches long so they got to head back home), a trigger fish and some sort of a mackerel.2013 Lori 2 fishsm

I’m sort of hooked.  I am not sure I’m man-ish enough to start reading Hemingway novels and dedicate my life to be at sea, day after day.  But to share an afternoon with the wind and the ocean brought a peace that I haven’t felt in a long time. And when I considered just how much life was living below my feet, it sort of put everything in its place…creation became a more apparent, and I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed at the understanding that none of this is an accident, a mistake or a phenomenon…

One problem is, this could get expensive.  It was obvious that I was having a really good time, so the captain offered to let me drive the boat back to land.  30 something miles at full speed.  I probably terrified our crew, (I was pretty terrified myself) but what a fun adrenaline rush…we might need to do some boat shopping one of these days.

Challenge 28f – Garden fail, or how to get really discouraged…

30 Jun

Garden fail.

I should have taken a picture first…

This whole garden thing is a true picture of biting off more than I could chew.  Grass was growing everywhere.  Plants were being smothered my said grass.  We discovered that at some point people who lived here before lined things with brick.  Lots of brick.  Including the giant garden area, which makes just simply mowing all of the non-vegetabled landscape a bad idea (or so I thought.)

I got overwhelmed.  Partially because of the amount of really healthy and thriving grass that was growing and partially because I think my subconscious was playing tricks on me…. ‘You can’t even keep a garden alive…how will you ever survive with kids?’  ‘The garden looks like your closet…a mess!’  ‘Maybe your business looks like these weeds…’

I’ve never really dealt with a lot of negativity in my mind — but lately stuff like that has been creeping in – and it needs to stop.  It’s not fair.  To me.  To my faith.  And especially not to my husband.

I realized that I was comparing myself to others…not taking into account a lot of the people I was comparing myself to don’t have full time jobs.  Don’t have commitments to friends. Aren’t trying to expand a business…

So I need to cut myself some slack.  Accept that sometimes you just need to weed-eat some plants to get them under control.  That I need to enjoy a sunny Sunday and not spend it fretting over the fact that perhaps I won’t be able to feed all of our friends this year with our garden.  So be it.

So we’ll see.  The healthiest plant we have is a giant tomato plant that, ironically, is planted in a pot.  Not in our garden.  Sigh.

This should be the time that I apologize to my husband who has endured me stressing out over out of control plants.  I took my frustration out on him.  He’s my rock, and an amazing man who works tirelessly to make our house a home.  And so, here, I say, I’m sorry baby.  You mean way more to me than a silly plot of land.

Challenge 30 – Get Hooked on Auctions or It’s Saturday! Let’s go bid on a chainsaw!

23 May

I’m not sure how this even happened.  We saw a sign for houses being auctioned off close by our home. It was a sunny morning, we had coffee, so why not?

And within 15 minutes I had bid on a house.2013 cabin in the woods

This could get dangerous.

Then we drove and looked at a cabin and some land, about an hour south of Nashville.  This little place was off a one lane gravel road (that probably floods) that was full of potholes.  It was glorious.

Two weeks later we went to that auction.

Granted, this little cabin and the land next to it went for far more money than it should have (the tax records suggest the winner payeth too much!) but a girl can dream right?

The next week we drove into a region with no cell coverage to see what was going on with a farm auctioning off all of their stuff and 100 or so acres.  There was a mass of people out here in the backwoods of Tennessee, but again, we walked away without land…but this time we did walk away with a chainsaw!

Do we need a chainsaw?  No.

This could be getting dangerous…

Challenge 31 Adopt a dog or…hello Louis!

17 May

2012 louisWe had tossed around getting a new friend for Ozzie.  Someone he could hang out with.  Granted, the Oz is a bit aloof at times, but it seemed that he was needing a bit of socialization.  Chris had mentioned before how he had looked in to adopting a Havanese in the past, but the cost was too high.

Then, we went to the park and Ozzie got to play with 3 Havanese dogs.  They were playful and fuzy and a really cool peach color.  We were hooked.  Chris went on the hunt and found a National Rescue group — and a dog in Georgia.  He wrote up an amazing (and truthful) essay and we held our breath.

He got a wonderful reply from Joyce, a rescuer…but sadly the dog we were looking for was already adopted.

But then…a few weeks later…we heard back about a 2 year old all black pup who was just surrendered by his owners.  He needed a little work and a little love..but we were in the running.

Then we got a safety check.  And a house check. And another safety check. And filled out more paperwork. And waited.

3 months later, Louis was ours.2013 oz and louis on the blanket

And he’s wonderful.  Ozzie has a best friend. We still have some training to do – but he’s a part of our family.  Turns out, this had been his second time at the rescue, which completely blows my mind.  Dogs are a commitment. A long term commitment. They take work, and time, and money, and love.  But the rewards far outweigh the costs…

I suppose the bad decisions of the previous owners only were our gain.  Welcome to our family Louis.  We love you.

(If you want a great dog, please check out the pound or animal rescues in your area…or check out

Challenge 29 – Burn up a truck (didn’t intend to do this one…) or Hello, I need to make an insurance claim

17 May

(these posts are not necessarily in order, by the way…)

We needed to move some cars around in our driveway.  My husband wanted to take his truck to work the next day, which meant shifting the order of cars.  My parents were over, so we had an abundance of vehicles. It was cold, I was in flip flops, not thinking we would spend an extended time outside.2012 truck fire 1

“Do you smell gas?” he asked as he got out of the truck at the end of the driveway?

I got in the truck – yes, yes I did smell gas.  When I got out of the truck Chris realized that gas was streaming out from under the truck, like a faucet just turned on.

Thinking that it was better to get the truck off the street, Chris drove it into the driveway to call our mechanic when it happened…it went up in flames.

Funny thing occurred much too wordy for this blog – but let me just say, it feel like forever when you’re waiting for the fire department and the wind is blowing just hard enough that if it changes directions any way, either your house, your fence or the woods next to your house will become an inferno…

There would be a small explosion. A tire.  An airbag.  Then the flames get larger.  You could see the siding on the house starting to melt.  And all you can do it just stand and watch it happen.

The fire department made it in time, and the house, fence and woods were saved.  The blacktop under the truck was buckled and an incredible stench of melted plastic and paint filled the air.

The next morning, on the phone with State Farm:

“Could you drive the truck to our shop?”2012 truck burn drivers side
“No ma’am, the tires are melted.”

“Can you leave the keys in the glove compartment for our adjuster?
“There is no glove compartment left ma’am.”

“Could you make sure the doors are unlocked?””No ma’am, there is no lock. Or windows. And I can’t really close the door.  You’re going to need to send someone out.”

When we burn up a truck, we do it right.

(In case you were wondering, apparently black squirrels are known for chewing through gas lines…so if you get in your car and smell gas, just step away from the car and call the fire department…)

A big thank you to the city of Smyrna Fire Department for responding so quickly.  And a big thank you to my Heavenly Father for keeping everyone safe…these short bursts of reality do make you think about just what is important…and I am grateful for God’s mercy in protecting what is really important.)

Challenge 28d – Plant a garden, or, where are my strawberry plants?

15 May

Excitedly, I decided to go out and check on my garden.  We’ve had a little bit of rain, and I’m trusting that my hard work has paid off…

And I walk out to the garden and low and behold –

The strawberries are no where to be found.  It’s like they were never planted.

In the words of my wonderful husband when he’s really really mad…”God bless the child…” which I think it a southern-ism for censoring oneself.

It is at this point when I walk the 2 blocks to the little farmers stand that is now on the side of the street.  I bought a fresh tomato.  For fifteen cents.

Fifteen cents?!  Why the heck am I doing this garden anyway?!