Poor Mocha….

Packing will be my life for the next three weeks, but I can’t complain because all of the trips will have great highlights. I leave today for New Jersey (assuming the airports are back to normal). The job is a pretty fun one. I’m auditing the Company’s 401(k) plan, but the company makes eye liners for various cosmetic companies. Last year, I got to go on the plant tour to see how it works, and you would NEVER imagine how many pieces and machines it takes to create an eyeliner pencil. CRAZY! The other fun time is that I am going to be in Jon’s hometown of Piscataway. I will get to see his Grandma, aunts, and even our parents and sister. I am so excited to see some family. It makes the travel so much better when I can spend the evenings with family.

Work has been crazy busy with taxes recently. We have a corporate filing deadline in less than three weeks, so the stress level has definitely risen. Somehow, I got put on a lot of very difficult returns this year, but once they get turned in, it’s SO refreshing. Here’s to hoping the next three weeks fly by for more reasons than this one. Jon and I have had an unusual amount of free time, and I am SO thankful for it. We had been so busy that we actually scheduled a weekend where we weren’t allowed to schedule anything. So this weekend, Jon and I spent extra time together. On Friday, we were able to see the new Captain America movie. My credit card has a Buy One Get One each month if you buy your ticket on Friday, so we snagged up that deal. After we got home, Jon was cleaning out his closet of some clothes that he is going to get rid of…as you can see, we had a little too much fun. I don’t think Mocha agreed…I mean look at the picture where she gave us the stink eye.

On Saturday, Jon had to work since he’s in his second busy season. It gave me time to get the house cleaned again which we know from last week is much easier now. Thankfully, we were able to meet up for my nephew’s first competitive soccer game. It’s the first time he played in a game where they kept score and had to follow the rules of soccer. He did great, and I was so proud of him. I don’t know how he made it since it was so hot!. That evening, we used one of our Living Social deals to eat a local establishment called the Peddler. Our favorite features about the Peddler are the salad bar and the atmosphere. It’s set in this old stone building which feels like a dungeon when you walk in. If you want prime rib, they will bring it out to your table to cut it right in front of you. We were told the wait was 45 minutes, which we were fine with since I have been practicing patience. Well, the wait turned into an hour and fifteen minutes, but all was well, because we found a checkers board. Too bad for Jon, his losing streak continued, and he forfeited just in time for them to call our name. *As I write this, Jon is telling me that I must put that he would have beaten me if we had continued playing…however, I had more kings than Jon, so this statement is VERY questionable.

After supper, we took a late night stroll downtown. It reminded me of when we were dating. We would walk on the bridge and hang out in the park. I was experimenting with my camera while down there. I am not very good yet, but I do enjoy taking pictures where the shutter stays open longer grasping as much natural light as possible. They are a bit blurry, because it is a suspension bridge so even though I was still and the camera itself was still, the bridge was moving. I’ve been trying to learn the terminology and features of my camera a bit more before our big trip. Here are some pictures of what I was able to capture. I’m super excited too because I bought some photography books and a new lens this week with some money I have been saving, so I am hoping to learn a lot. Maybe I’ll share with you my practice pictures along the journey of learning…or maybe I won’t. Oh, and the house you see, Jon and I like to drive around looking at houses sometimes, and this one caught our eye…..we think it’s far out of even our dream’s price range, but we found it beautiful and unique. Hopefully, you enjoy.

Enjoying the “slow” times….

Our week started slow and surprisingly relaxing…then, it just sped up. It was so slow that I had time to keep the house clean during the week. As I was cleaning on Saturday (i.e. vacuuming, washing the sheets, dusting, etc.), and a crazy revolution… that it’s crazy how easy those tasks are when you are able to keep the house picked up during the week. Don’t get me wrong though, this week was filled with its stresses. As most of our readers know, Jon and I travel a lot, and we use our cars for most of that travel. Well, this week turned out to be car repair week, and I mean car REPAIR week…like they had to replace a tow bar on my car whatever that is, Jon got new brakes, my rotors got rotated, and other small repairs. It’s so sad to throw money into huge pieces of metal, but to counteract it, I decided to price out our insurance and it saved us about 60% of our car costs. It might sound weird to you, but I was SO thankful to recover some of the costs.  We still have to buy Jon some new tires…I was so excited to save money that I tried to win them during a raffle at a United Way even that we went to this weekend. Sadly, we lost.

Thursday was the first night of our new study. I was very humbled by what God did that night. We had 15 ladies crammed into my living room, yes, FIFTEEN. I had been joking with the ladies before this study that I had no problem buying some pews and bringing them in, so they all found it a bit humorous that I had a “back row” set up behind my couch. The first tour of the Truth Project helped us determine what is Truth and encouraged us to ask ourselves the question, “Do I really believe that what I believe is really true?” After the video we had great discussion that ultimately led into us throwing out some practical ways of learning truth. One woman mentioned that in the secret service, the men study the real money so that when they see the fake stuff, it’s obvious. The same should be the case in life. We need to study the Word so much that when a lie of the world is presented we will instantly be able to spot the Truth.

Unfortunately, Jon had to work most of the weekend, but thankfully we spent Saturday afternoon together. A few months back, we purchased a Living Social deal to rent two bikes for half a day. We finally had a moderate weather day, so we rode all the way to Travelers Rest which is 11 miles away from downtown. Man, my legs hurt! Round trip was 22 miles, but it was a great time together. Jon and I had a great time together and added some great memories to our marriage. Here are some pictures until next week….

Date night, birthdays and work…

What a week. Do they ever slow down? On Friday, Jon and I had plans to attend another United Way event, but somehow Jon and I both misread the invitation so we unexpectedly had an evening free. We had both recently heard about something called Foodie Fest. Some really fancy restaurants in Greenville are were offering an appetizer, entrée, and dessert for $30. We decided to take advantage of a restaurant that Jon has wanted to go to for three years! American Grocery…our meal included Rabbit Sausage, Tomato Salad, Duck, Steak, and fresh fruit cobbler. The neat thing about the restaurant is that absolutely everything is locally grown. It was all really good. Due to the high volume of patrons, our reservation was not until 8:30 (which is basically past any accountant’s bedtime). We did not end up getting seated until 9:15, so you can imagine that I was basically a zombie.  Before our reservation though, Jon and I played some card games downtown. Jon put up a valiant fight, but in the end, I was the master of Phase 10.

This was a Bible Study week, and we had a great group of ladies sharing about what they learned at Ladies Retreat. We are so excited to be starting our next study this week. It’s Focus on the Family’s Truth Project. I have been so blessed by our group.

Saturday brought a bunch of yard work. My mom was so gracious to come help me weed and plant some bushes. I have been trying hard to re-use items to save on our yard, so I spent the early morning digging up some monkey grass and that afternoon, my mom helped replant it around my larger flower garden. It’s really hard to see in the picture, but she re-planted them as a border to my big flower garden (doesn’t have too many flowers) since the Hostas that I planted 4 years ago never grew…well, one lonesome one did, but I did learn my lesson about buying from bulbs…sometimes instant gratification is a good thing. We also got some grass patch stuff that we are experimenting with to get our grass up to snuff. Jon has been faithfully watering and tending to it, and if it works, he’s going to fill the rest of the patches in the front yard and then move to the back which is still basically a construction zone due to last year’s patio project. Mom and I also installed some borders to the flower beds in the front yard. It’s amazing what work can get done when you aren’t at the office. 🙂

 

Well, Sunday just brought more of the same. We were able to celebrate my sister-in-law’s birthday. Dan and Isabelle came over for lunch, and we had a great time catching up with them. Somehow they live in the same city, but it’s sometimes so crazy that we don’t get to see each other for months at a time. Anyway, Isabelle has been running faithfully, and she and her sister are going to be running a half marathon this fall, so Jon and I thought we would help her stay hydrated with a new water belt. Beyond that I went to help a lady in our Bible Study unpack since she recently moved and has three little ones occupying her time. I love organizing things so it was right up my alley. My girlfriend and I were able to get the kitchen unpacked while the mom ran some errands, so I consider it a success. I came home and just did more laundry…what’s to be expected, right? Speaking of that laundry…I must get back to it. Until next week!

Long awaited….

Were you expecting me to say something else. Well, sorry to disappoint, but I finally snagged some time to upload some pictures. I have been trying lately to take better pictures rather than taking lots of pictures if that makes sense. I can’t take credit for too many of the pictures from the Bible Study Ice Cream social, but can I just say I love kids. They are so uninhibited…is that a word? I think catching candid photos of kids is too funny. Like the picture where the sweet girl got in the back of the bike. She did it all on her own, and it was so precious. Or watching the kids run through the sprinkler. The one little girl asked me to run through it with her since there was a ring of adults around the outside of the sprinkler….I couldn’t resist.

I also loved watching the kids with the dogs. Look at the pic in the upper left corner. It looks like the boy is terrified, but I wish you could have heard the squeals of excitement when he saw the dogs. His mom said he didn’t really want to walk from the car to the house, but when she told him there were dogs, he began almost running to the house. So cute. I think my favorite picture though is the little girl in the middle trying to give Lexi a pretzel M&M. So cute. Would you believe we had adults at the social too? All of the ladies were from the Bible Study, and they brought their hubbies and obviously their kiddos too. Such a fun time of fellowship.

And back two weeks now…my pics from camping with Ethan. I can’t remember if I mentioned it in the original post, but Ethan helped me put up the tent. We didn’t even need Jon’s help! I was SO proud of him. It still makes my heart swell just thinking of how much fun he had. Even yesterday, he asked me if he could go back with us for Labor Day! Love him!

Falling behind….

I’m falling behind! I figure getting the memories down right now is more important than the pictures, but I PROMISE I will get back to the pictures. I do have a lot of great ones.

This week was a bit busy since I was in Atlanta for a few days, but the weekend was packed with many activities. Friday night we had all of the families over from the Bible Study that I host at our house. We had an ice cream social on the patio, and the kids got to play in the sprinkler. They were soaked, but had a great time, and I do believe that everyone enjoyed ice cream. Jon and I supplied the ice cream and everyone else brought the toppings. My chocolate ice cream with oreos, hot fudge, and gummy bears was delicious in case you were wondering. 🙂 The dogs even had a great time. The kids kept them on their toes, and they got a lot of exercise in.

Saturday morning, Jon had signed us up to serve for United Way. Originally, it was supposed to be a mile from the house and we were supposed to be gardening. If I were to be honest, I would have to tell you that I wasn’t really that interested in serving on a Saturday morning by weeding someone else’s garden when my own beds need to be weeded, but I begrudgingly went. Turns out the event was 25 miles from our house, and we would be gleaning. Yes, gleaning…like Ruth did. It was actually pretty awesome. We gleaned zucchini and squash that would be donated to local charities. In a little over an hour, we collected 1,000 pounds of vegetables that were donated to places like the Greer Soup Kitchen, Greenville Rescue Mission, Miracle Hill Children’s Home, and Shepherd’s Gate women’s shelter.

We attended a wedding of a girl that I used to play soccer with which was pretty fun. I always love weddings, because assuming it’s a Christian wedding, I take the charge to the bride and groom as a reminder for Jon and me. Satruday evening brought some much needed rest and relaxation with my awesome husband. He surprised me by making crab dip from scratch with no recipe. It was SO good.

Sunday was relatively normal with church, small group and of course, our spaghetti lunch. I left to go to Switcharoos which is a big children’s consignment sale. As usual, I had so much fun and got lots of great deals! I can’t wait to send the stuff off to the respective parents. I think buying the stuff is probably more fun than them getting it. Not sure if that’s fair to them or not, but it makes me happy. 🙂

I promise to get some pictures up this week from the last two. I know you must be faithful readers to read with no pictures. It will get better!

Camping…

Due to my long delay of not getting the pictures up with this post, I decided to post without pictures. I know blogging cardinal sin numero uno. I will catch them up next week, but I still wanted to share what we did this weekend even if I can’t show you in pictures yet. This was written in time for last Monday’s post, so don’t be confused that it talks of the week being over. J

 Another week of travel is behind me! Wouldn’t you know…I leave again Tuesday. Will it ever end?

Jon and I got home yesterday from another great camping trip. This one was very special because we took my nephew Ethan with us. It was his first time camping or fishing, and he says he had a great time! Ethan was REALLY good at casting his fishing rod which really surprised me since it was an adult rod, and he had never fished before. I was also surprised at how much he enjoyed fishing even though no one caught any fish. I would like to say the fish just weren’t biting, but in fact, they were…they were just biting people. Jon got nice little fish bite on his back.

We spent most of yesterday in the water, and Ethan’s little red cheeks would prove it. I wouldn’t trade anything for this past weekend. Jon got to go exploring and fishing, and of course we had our fair share of smores.

We came home exhausted and hot and found our upstairs air conditioning out of commission. The thermometer read 93 degrees. It looks like we may be sleeping on our air mattress a little longer. Hopefully, the home warranty company can get here early this week. Is it bad that I’m praying the unit is broken? The whole reason we have had the warranty was banking on the old units going bad, so yes, I’m crossing my fingers and toes.

 *Update: Air conditioning has a mind of its own…it keeps working, then not. We can’t have the warranty come if it happens to start working because then we have to pay, so we’re waiting it out until it dies. Last night was our first night not on the air mattress.

**Update 2: Here are some pictures on facebook. You do NOT have to have facebook to view them.

HOLD FAST

This week was a blessing and a curse. A blessing…God allowed my work schedule to get adjusted, so I would not be in Atlanta. On Tuesday, I helped my sister prepare for Switcharoos, AND I got to see my nephew and niece which made the work well worth it. Switcharoos is a huge consignment sale in Greenville that I go to each year in search of clothes for friends and family. It’s so much fun, because you get a lot of stuff for a really good price.

 This past weekend, I took eight women from my Bible Study to Charlotte, North Carolina to see the amazing Beth Moore. After you see the pictures, you will think they were all crazy.  We recently finished her Living Beyond Yourself study, so seeing her was a great finale to an amazing study. Leading up to the trip, I was getting more and more discouraged in the details of the trip. It felt as though everyone had an opinion how things should be done, when we should leave, what we should do, etc. Most were supposed to be helpful comments, but my sleep deprivation, attitude, and the devil were winning at stealing my joy.

 We left Greenville at 3:30. The event did not start until 7, and we hoped to arrive by 6 since it was general admission seating. As you can imagine, the trip was going great…well, until the 7 mile backup on 85 due to the tractor trailer accident. So, since we are brilliant women, we started navigating an alternate route. Well, as you are probably guessing right now, we were stuck in another traffic jam due to construction and the other drivers who had the same idea. We arrived at the Time Warner Center at 7:15, and we sat in the worst possible seats. Imagine the nosebleed section way up high, and then imagine like three stories above that, but we could still hear! God had a great message for us for the weekend. But another awesome thing was I didn’t want to have to pay for three cars in Charlotte for the conference since our original plan was to drop one car at the apartment that we were using, but alas we didn’t have time. Would you believe, some lady was standing at the parking garage and gave one of our cars a free parking pass. It was a small gesture that meant a lot! I had never worshipped with so many women before. They said we were about 9400 strong, but it was AMAZING! We actually all kept joking about our first ever Bible Study, because we felt like it was the same kind of force against us that was there that night…but we are still going strong a year later.

I wish I could say that I quickly grew up and got over my irritations, but sadly, that wasn’t the end of the devil working on me. My girlfriend and I were together on the trip, and it has just seemed the last few weeks that we were drifting apart for some reason. I couldn’t necessarily pinpoint the reason, but it kept escalating and finally boiled over. I struggled the entire conference to listen to the messages. I was emotional as all get out with no real reason why. Somehow I got all of the notes down and still learned a lot looking back over them, but it was weird how that happened. I had to apologize to our group for being so stressed and allowing my attitude to get the best of me. They were gracious and the apology led into a great time of testimony about what this conference did for each of us. What a reward to hear that each woman needed to be at that retreat including myself. My girlfriend and I got to talk and make EVERYTHING wonderful. Restoration and growth were achieved this weekend which to me means the retreat was a success in spite of all of the trials. I also was able to deepen some relationships and build new ones with some amazing women. It still amazing how God has brought people back into my life from high school that I never hung out with previously.

However, in spite of all of my attitude problems, traffic jams, and melted cupcakes (Sorry again Carissa), we got to have a great time together. Did you know grown women like to stay up until 2am to talk? Yes, we had our own version of a slumber party. I would also be awful if I didn’t thank Courtney’s sister-in-law for coordinating free lodging for us. Who says you can’t cram 9 women into a one bedroom apartment….what you can’t do though is use only one bathroom…now, that was a challenge. I also need to thank Courtney’s brother and sister-in-law for hosting us for breakfast on Sunday. Take a look at the pictures…Keith made an amazing spread for us, and we were incredibly grateful.

Some of you may be wondering what Jon does all the time while I’m away. He suffers let me tell you. If you noticed yesterday’s post, that was him wake boarding. He went out on the lake for five hours on Friday with his co-worker, and he went jet skiing on Tuesday while I helped Becki with the Switcharoos stuff. On Sunday after church, he even went golfing in 104 degree weather with some of his friends. His life hasn’t been too bad, but according to him, he missed me, so I’m fine if he fills his time with fun things until I return.

This is getting longer than I intended, but I wanted to share with you what Beth shared with us. She based most of her message around Deuteronomy, but she created an acrostic for us to remember why we should HOLD FAST to God.
His affection is set upon me.
Only He is my praise.
Loving Him awakens my true heart.
Doing His will does me good.
Fleeing to Him means fleeing with Him.
Any tighter embrace will also replace.
Satan wants what we have.
The Lord is my life.

H.O.L.D.F.A.S.T. God has sent His love upon me.

HOLD FAST….it’s coming

Due to the amazing ladies retreat I was on this weekend, our weekly update will be a day late. Please come back tomorrow for a full-write up on the Sutters of the south and to hear a bit about the wonderful and tiring weekend.

To wet your appetite, here’s a picture of Jon after work one day last week.

Beautiful smiles, long toes, and a lonely heart

This week had Jon and I departing from our home on Tuesday and going in separate directions. Jon headed to Raleigh, NC for his annual training for work, and I headed to Bridgewater, NJ to audit a 401(k) plan for one of our clients. Somehow, when booking the flights for my co-workers and me, I mis-booked my flight which allowed me to get into Newark about six hours before my co-workers. This mistake allowed me to spend the afternoon with Grandma Sutter. I really enjoy listening to Grandma, because she tells me stories of days in the past. I think my favorite was when I asked her how she met Grandpa. She told me that she went to this book club that an “interesting man” was leading, and how a lady in the group who was a faithful believer shared with Grandma that she knew it was God’s will that she marry that man. Thankfully for all of us Sutters, that woman did not marry Grandpa. I already miss my time with Grandma. Now I just need to find a client in Colon, MI or Syracuse, NY so I can visit with my other grandmas. We even got to see some does, a fox, a bunny, and birds while on the backporch chatting. It was really peaceful.

Jon had an interesting time at training. Some events happened back at the office in Greenville that Jon’s boss was insistent that Jon take some leadership in the field in Raleigh to rally the troops. He insisted that this was a time for Jon to step up to the plate. Hopefully, this time is remembered when the promotions come out next month. If nothing else, I am sure all of the attendees at training will remember Jon’s rendition of Billy Joel’s Piano Man on his harmonica.

On Friday, I made the trip out to Long Island to visit with Sam, Ashley, and our new niece Colette. Let’s just say, I now understand why all of our family does not like driving to Long Island. It took me three hours to travel 45 miles. I met my goals of not killing any pedestrians and not getting honked at, but I was very tired when I arrived at Sam and Ashley’s. We had a marvelous visit which included my first crepe experience, smoothies, a newborn baby (Ashley’s new niece Charlotte), the beach, a lighthouse, a GREAT seafood dinner, a GREAT Italian dinner, and of course lots of snuggles with our new niece. I got to enjoy some beautiful smiles from her, and her long tiny toes are so precious.

However, no matter how great the week and weekend were, I MISSED JON! I’m so thankful the Lord allowed my travel schedule to be altered to allow me to be home with Jon this week. Praying that travel season passes quickly over the next few months.

Birthdays, Haircuts, and Hiking

Last Monday, I mentioned that we were taking our dogs and my mom hiking at one of our favorite spots in Carolinas. Pisgah National Forest. It’s the easiest trails with the most beautiful scenery. When we went camping last, we learned that the girls like swimming, so we thought it would be fun to let them do it again. In the pictures, it looks like they may not feel the same excitement, but I contend it was because of the powerful waterfalls. If anything, we did succeed at filing their nails. My mom even enjoyed it too. Getting from the bank to the middle of the river was a little tricky since the rocks were so slippery, so Jon wanted to throw in some added difficulty by trying to photograph her while she did it. Out of respect, I only posted a couple of pictures of that adventure.

The week was filled with appointments which isn’t rather exciting, but the week ended with a highlight. My sister from Virginia came into town because she missed us so much. Well, that’s what I tell myself. She came into town because she had a dentist appointment, and she happened to get to see us too. While she was here, we decided to celebrate Dallas’ 36th birthday (My brother-in-law). It also happened to be haircut night. We have a pair of hair clippers that we were given, and my sister is trying to save cash, so Dallas and Ethan both got haircuts. Jon didn’t think he was up to cutting his hair like the other guys. I didn’t complain (see pictures). As you can also see from the picture, Ethan wasn’t too excited about his haircut either, but thankfully, Madelyn was happy with the new dress I bought her for her “potty present.” She has needed much encouragement, but she has finally mastered the art of using the restroom in a “big girl potty.” I also got to paint her nails which she just LOVES doing. Girls are so much fun! I also must mention that my sister from Virginia was promoted last month to the District Area Rental Manager for Penske Truck Leasing. This means nothing to you, I’m sure, but it means a lot to all of us, and to put the icing on the cake, her district was #1 her first month in charge. Nothing like setting expectations a little high, eh?

I continue to be an addict of pinterest.com. I have been gathering so many ideas. Just wish I had time to implement even half of them. If you haven’t heard of Pinterest, then you must get with the program. Just kidding. I actually just learned of it a few weeks ago, but it saves me from having to have a thousand favorites on my browser. There are so many neat ideas that I would love to remember, but sadly depreciation schedules and tax rules are what fill my mind at the present moment. It’s either that or blogs. I have come across so many inspiring blogs recently. One the couple had their baby, and he passed away 10 days after birth due to a congenital heart defect. They knew early on in the pregnancy that the baby had these defects, but since they were believers they carried him to term knowing the outcome. Well, she’s pregnant again, but this time with TWINS! Can you imagine? I’ve realized I might have to start weeding out some of the blogs I read, but there are far too many good ones. I don’t even know where I would begin to cut. AND, they give me a nice little break during the workday or on my lunch break.

I don’t usually mention when I am taking a break from the blog, but since my house won’t be empty, I’m not too concerned. I’m headed to New Jersey for work on Tuesday. Lately, travel just burns me out, but thankfully, I will get to see Jon’s Grandma, hopefully, some aunts and uncles, and then I will end the trip with a visit to Long Island to see my beautiful new niece, and my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. The only downside is that I won’t get to see Jon again until Sunday evening. What makes it even sadder is that I will leave again the following Tuesday for work and again will be gone through the weekend. Ugh. SO looking forward to the day when I don’t have to travel, BUT I am very thankful for technology. Jon and I are able to e-mail most of the day, and I can usually snag a 15 minute phone call in the evening with him. Not sure how people did it in the olden days when their husbands were off to war with only letters to look forward to.

In honor of my absence, I will leave you some beautiful sites from our hike last week. I will definitely be checking them out this week while I’m away and missing my little family.