Tag Archives: questions

What Do You Want to Start?

Question Collection a New Random Question Every Week StairStories.com

On the second Monday of each month, I post and answer a selection from my collection of good questions. This month’s question is “What’s one thing you want to start doing in the next twelve months?”

 April 09, 2015 at 0109PM

I want to start playing the piano again. Many people do not know that I can even play because it does not come up in normal conversations and because I have not played in public in years. Actually, I have not even played in private in years. When Brian and I got married two years ago, I packed up my keyboard in its protective case, moved to a new town, and never took it out. We still do not really have room for it in our house because I have not made room for it. One of my goals for summer is to clean up and clean out our garage and our second guest room (fondly called “The Abyss”) so that I can set up the keyboard in the guest room.

(c) Carlos Eduardo Sotelo Ibarra, used with permission

As an adult, I have often not taken the time to play the piano because it does not do or produce anything other than to make me happy. I lack the talent and desire to be a professional pianist and playing for worship or accompaniment is not fun or worshipful for me. It does not help anyone except for me and that has not always been enough motivation for me to make time to play.  Starting this summer, I am going to play anyway. The emotional health and enjoyment it gives me is a good enough reason to do it.

Now It’s Your Turn to Ask & Answer

Take the questions and ask your friends or family. I would love to hear your answers in the comments (seriously. that’s why I ask, after all)! If you have suggestions of questions for me to include, let me know.

*Piano image (c) Carlos Eduardo Sotelo Ibarra, used with permission


Leave a comment

Filed under Question Collection, something to try

Tradition, Tradition!

Question Collection a New Random Question Every Week StairStories.com

Every Monday, I post and answer a selection from my collection of good questions. This week’s question is “What tradition do you wish more people would follow?”

What Tradition Do You Wish More People Would Follow?

The Thanksgiving/Christmas Divide

Does this question make anyone else think of the song “Tradition” from “Fiddler on the Roof” or is that just me? Speaking of music, I wish more people would save Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. As a kid, I eagerly awaited the start of Christmas music on the drive home from Thanksgiving at our grandparents’ house. Along with my parents and siblings, we blasted Mannheim Steamroller from the van speakers and sang the instrumental parts or drummed along on our seats until Dad’s ears got tired or he got a headache. It was a fun, simple way to start the Christmas season with music we loved and anticipated. These days, it seems like stores begin playing Christmas music as soon as Halloween is over, which is far too soon in my opinion.

Now It’s Your Turn

Take the questions and ask your friends or family. I would love to hear your answers in the comments (seriously. that’s why I ask, after all)! If you have suggestions of questions for me to include, let me know.

1 Comment

Filed under life, Question Collection

Lows & Highs: The Best Day Possible


Grandpa enjoyed dinner, even though Grandma couldn’t come.

Low: Unmet Expectations

This week, my low was not getting the celebration I had hoped and planned. My family had been planning for at least a month to have our traditional “Early Thanksgiving & Fall Birthdays” gathering last Saturday. While we did get to celebrate over dinner, my grandma was admitted to the hospital the day before and could not come to my aunt & uncle’s house with us. Most, if not all of us visited Grandma at the hospital and the day was good but not what I had hoped.

On the way home, I had a Twitter conversation with a new friend and was reminded of what my mom says about her patients (she’s a nurse): I can’t fix them but I can make today the best day possible. In the same way, as much as I would like to just fix everything to be perfect for everyone I love, it is never going to happen. I can make today the best day possible, though.

Highs: Sweet Memories

My highs are small snippets of memories from Saturday. Brian and I found out it is possible to adjust the driver’s seat of “his” car so it is comfortable for me to drive on road trips, too.

Brian & I

My sister and dad worked together to make the oyster casserole that Grandpa has always made at Christmas and Thanksgiving. I have never developed a taste for the casserole, but it is an important holiday food for several family members.


Sara, Josh, & Eli (& his new Olaf, of course!)

Eli knows my name! …or at least to call my phone “Abby phone” but I’ll take what I can get. I let him play with the camera and take photos of his forehead, the ceiling, the fan, and his fingers. (Side note: Guided Access on iPhone is a marvelous tool to lock a user into a single app and they can’t get out without a passcode.)

After lunch, I offered to let him play with my phone again. He looked at me, “Game.”

“Do you want to play with the camera?”

He looked at it and back at me expectantly, “Game.”

“Um, try this one. Touch here to shoot the tower and then it falls down.”

“Fall down?”

Away he went, playing the game and figuring out how to switch levels. Occasionally, he would say to himself or others, “Abby phone. Fall down.”


We gathered at my aunt and uncle’s house.


Eli “crashed” Gramps & Gram’s (a.k.a. my parents’) photo, but I don’t think they cared.


Luke & Christine


My youngest brother, Ben

What are your lows and highs this week?


1 Comment

Filed under celebrations, sadness, stories, Travel

An Essential Ingredient to Relationships

Question Collection a New Random Question Every Week StairStories.com

Here is the second installment of Question Collection. Every Monday, I post and answer a selection from my collection of good questions.


This week’s question is “What’s one essential ingredient found in all healthy relationships?”

Question Collection | StairStories.com

My Answer

I think healthy relationships have several ingredients in common. One of the most essential is forgiveness. As humans, we are inherently flawed and occasionally step on each other’s toes (literally and figuratively, in my slightly clumsy case).


My relationship with my sister is one of the longest friendships I have had. She has [as far as I know] forgiven me for trying to force my tidy habits on her when we shared a room, for shoving her off our play set, for being bossy, for being excessively noisy in early mornings, for snoring, and so on. I have forgiven her for things too. Forgiveness lets us keep on loving each other and being close without the burden of grudges.

She said something hilarious that wouldn't be funny to others, but had us in stitches!

She said something hilarious that wouldn’t be funny to others, but had us in stitches!


What is your answer to this week’s question? It is never too late to answer!

Leave a comment

Filed under Question Collection, something to try

Question Collection: Energy

Question Collection a New Random Question Every Week StairStories.com

Series Introduction

Two years after my 31 Days of Random Questions series, it is still my most popular series and my list of good questions keeps growing. In an effort to blog more consistently, I decided to start another question series. Come back every Monday for the latest installment of Question Collection!

In my mind, good conversational questions don’t have yes or no answers, make people think, start conversations, and invite stories.

This week’s question is…

 Question Collection: What people & activities energize you?

My Answer

I regain energy from spending time with one to three people who know me completely and love me deeply. The ones who first come to mind are my husband, my parents, and my siblings. Being around them all at once is not always energizing but can be tons of fun because we are a lively family!

Of course sipping coffee and eating a snack energize me because of caffeine and glucose levels. Beyond those, I gain energy from a brisk walk – especially outdoors – when I listen to nothing but the ambient noises. I am also energized by reading home decor magazines or websites. Seriously, my creative and physical energy builds and churns out ideas and suddenly it is three a.m. and I am still rearranging my living room! I warned Brian about that particular tendency before we were married and now he hides my magazines if I start to read them late at night.


Now It’s Your Turn

Take the questions and ask your friends or family. I would love to hear your answers in the comments (seriously. that’s why I ask, after all)! If you have suggestions of questions for me to include, let me know.


Filed under Question Collection, something to try

Pinterest 101

Abby Explains


Do you use Pinterest?

Pinterest has been widely adopted by individuals, businesses, and bloggers. If you were an early adopter, you may still get asked to explain it to people who have heard about it.


I thought my verbal explanations were a bit lacking, so I made a short explanatory video (less than four minutes): Pinterest 101*.


*This was a grad school project for my Computer-Aided Language Learning (CALL) class.

Leave a comment

Filed under advice, something to try

Fashion Advice for a Stranger

Figuring out how to style my wig like Progressive Flo's hair for Halloween

I am not a fashion-savvy person at all and do not dress very fashionably. My everyday style is somewhere around the intersection of classic, casual, and boring. When we were in college, my sister asked to borrow a few of my summer tops to take on a trip abroad. I agreed and bemusedly commented that it was the first time i could remember her borrowing my clothes. “Well,” she replied, “I need boring clothes that aren’t very noticeable.”

Imagine my surprise when I was recently asked for fashion advice. I was browsing through the scarves at a local store when a lady came up to me. “I have a question for you.” I’m sure I looked surprised and confused as she continued, “I know you don’t know me, but I have no girly genes at all.”

Understanding began to dawn on me, “Oh, okay.”

She held out a peacock blue, peasant-style blouse on a hanger and her phone that showed a photo of printed fabric in shades of brown and blue. “I’m wearing this skirt to a wedding this weekend. Do you think this shirt will go with it?”

“Is the skirt kind of a flowing, full style?”


“In that case, you may not like this style of shirt with it. Every time I try two flowy pieces together, I think it makes me look like I’m wearing someone else’s clothes. I would try a more fitted or tailored top with the skirt.”

“Oh, that makes sense. I wondered about that. I have a cream-colored shirt I was going to wear, but wanted a scarf or something to add color. They don’t have the right color here, though.”

I suggested a couple other nearby stores that also carry colorful scarves and she thanked me for my help.

Leave a comment

Filed under advice, stories

Wedding Rehearsal Adventures

The day before our wedding was hot but cooled off a little in the late afternoon when thunderstorms rolled in. As we gathered for the rehearsal, my dad warned everyone we may have to take shelter because the storms were likely to produce tornados. My response was something like, “Okay, let us know if we have to move.”

We ended up having to take shelter twice in two of the church bathrooms (there were two consecutive storms or one big one with two parts). The second storm was the biggest and Dad had us take cover in the shelters right before the city tornado sirens sounded. (A storm-wary dad with a smart phone is better than a weather radio and faster than tornado sirens!)

While we were in the shelters/bathrooms the second time, the power went out. Eventually, the worst of the storm passed and we emerged to a dark church and flooded parking lot (as far as I know, no vehicles were damaged).

Taking shelter with friends & family

Taking shelter with friends & family


Tornado buddies Gram & Eli (a.k.a. my mom & nephew)

Conveniently, we had planned to have the rehearsal dinner in the fellowship hall and the lasagna stayed warm in the ovens. There was still no power, though, so the hall was very dark. I saw someone start lighting tea lights on the tables and realized I had better candles. I recruited my brother-in-law, an usher, and a friend to help me get most of the pillar candles decorating the sanctuary and put them around the dinner tables.

One of the guests seemed surprised, “These are your wedding candles! Are you sure you want to use them?”

“Oh, sure! They won’t burn down much. At my sister’s wedding, we burned the pillar candles all day and barely made a dent.”

Before dinner was over, the power came back on. As people finished eating, Brian stood up to thank everyone. His speech began something like, “Abby and I would like to thank everyone for being a part and – oh, we have a fire!” By the time his sentence registered in my brain, he was already at a nearby table, snatching a burning paper napkin and dropping it on the floor to put it out. Everyone was fine and I found out later that one of the kids had been playing with a tea light. Poking a candle with a paper napkin is not advisable!

Brian finished his thank-you speech and we wrapped up the rest of the evening without further incidents. As Brian drove me to my apartment, I told him, “After what happened today, I think there’s something we need to discuss that most couples don’t think about.”

“What’s that?”

“If we have to take shelter during our wedding tomorrow, I’m not waiting anymore, I’d want Jon to marry us in the shelter.”

“I don’t think there are any storms forecasted for tomorrow.”

“I don’t care. If there’s another tornado, will you marry me in the shelter?”

He laughed, “Yes. Maybe we could stand with Jon between the two bathrooms and finish the ceremony there so people could see from both sides!”

What’s your funniest or most memorable rehearsal story? Ours is a tornado, a flood, a power outage, and a fire!

1 Comment

Filed under celebrations, milestones, stories, weddings

Ping-Pong Proposal

If you noticed that my last two Lows & Highs posts left out a day, you may have wondered about my counting skills. The omission was intentional because, as someone wise told me, “That day deserves its own post.”

Brian proposed on December 11.

The Disclaimer
If you don’t like proposal stories, it’s cool if you want to stop reading now and join in on the next post. If you have not already read Ping-Pong Ball Sweetness, please do because it gives some context.

The Set-up

On Tuesday, December 11, I was on my way to work when I received a text message from Brian that he sent me an email and the link inside would explain. When I got to work and read the text, I opened the email to read, “Abby, Here’s the start of a little something to celebrate your graduation. Love, Brian.” When I followed the link inside, it took me to a YouTube video that was set as private and I could not view it. I sent off a text of my own and Brian had the video fixed a short time later.

The Videos
The video was of Brian explaining that he wanted to do something special for my upcoming graduation, so he made me several videos. Every couple hours, he emailed the link to another video. The six videos featured him in different locations that are meaningful to me around my hometown: The campus building where we have weekly college student Bible study, the adult ed center where I volunteer, my parents’ house, and so on. In each place, he told me something he notices and admires about me.

Mid-afternoon, Brian sent the fifth video and texted me, “I just hit send on the next one. Hopefully these have made u smile all day.”

I replied, “Oh, they have definitely made me smile! If I didn’t already want to spend forever with u, the videos would have convinced me.”

“That reaction makes me smile. I’m glad I’m sending them all in one day instead of piecemeal.”

Around 3:30 p.m., he sent the last video where he sat in his office over four hours away and said even though I said I did not want graduation gifts, he had some help and a present was waiting for me at home.

I worked the next hour in suspense until I could leave for the day. Since I was sure Brian was waiting by his phone to hear my reaction to his gift, I sent him a text that I was on my way home but had to stop at the store for a few things first and would let him know when I got home.

The Question
At home, I entered through the back door and saw a path lined with ping-pong balls, leading through the kitchen to the living room. I shed my bags and coat and followed the path to where Brian stood waiting in a ping-pong-ball heart.
Surprised, I asked, “What are you doing here?” as I walked over to greet him. Yes, it was a silly question. As Brian pointed out later, I should have known as soon as I saw the ping-pong-ball path but I was surprised to the point of being flabbergasted because I came home expecting a nice bouquet of flowers or something similar. My memories are blissful and a bit hazy after this point. He got down on one knee to propose, and then pulled out a ring box and opened it but I could not take my eyes off his face. After I said, “Yes, of course” and we were hugging, he said something about putting on the ring. “Oh, yeah, I didn’t actually see it before.”

He showed it to me again and helped me put it on. Then he told me my plans for the evening had changed and our parents were meeting us for dinner at six. What he did not tell me was that his sister and my sister, brother-in-law, and baby nephew were also meeting us! It was a sweet surprise and we had a terrific time celebrating with our families.

After Brian and I recounted the story of how he proposed, my mom looked over and told Brian he did a good job, “You gave her a story.”

Brian made this video to announce our engagement.


Filed under celebrations, milestones, stories

Top 5 Favorite Movies

I do not have one favorite movie but here are my top five. My taste in movies may be a tad eclectic.

Phantom of the Opera – beautifully dramatic music, a love triangle, and rich symbolism. Be careful who you let control your mind.
Mamma Mia – upbeat Abba music, cheesy plot and dialogue, and Pierce Brosnan trying to act suave while singing terribly. It makes me laugh hard every time.
Sahara – Africa, action and adventure, and bantering buddies. Adventures like these are where inside jokes come from.
IQ – Eccentric physicists, math and science jokes, and matchmaking. With Walter Matthau as Albert Einstein how can you go wrong?
Live Free or Die Hard – the witty and tough John McClane, a sarcastic and clueless hacker, and an evil bad guy out to cause chaos. Hollywood seems to think duos can only have one sane member at a time.

 What are your favorite movies?


Filed under life, lists