Dear Reader – (day 23) Someone Slap Me

Dear Reader

Friends, if I ever say to any of you again that I’m going to do ANYTHING every day for thirty days, SLAP ME.

Hard.

I should know this by now.

Obviously, this writing every single day challenge is not exactly going well.

(Hello yesterday, and a few days before that, and several other days along the way. . . . )

I’m failing at it partly because I’m just too busy and partly because some days, I couldn’t come up with a cohesive paragraph if you told me you’d pay me with a lifetime supply of jellybeans. (Some of you think that sounds like one giant gag and a stomach ache. I don’t. It sounds weirdly heavenly to me. It might make me TRY to write, at least, with all the gusto of a girl who’s never met a jellybean she doesn’t like – which actually I have, but that wouldn’t stop me from writing like I never had.)

I have some ideas, it’s just a matter of finding the time to sit and pound them out.

Plus, I’m so SO far behind on real life things right now. Things like cleaning my house and making doctor’s appointments, making curtains for the bookshelf (yes, the bookshelf. . . ), science projects, a 32 page fiction book writing assignment for my KINDERGARTENER (Lord, help me! – I really mean writing, like she has to write and illustrate ONE. WHOLE. BOOK.), and (hopefully!) wrapping up Christmas shopping for anyone who doesn’t live under this little roof.

I’ll tell you something else I’ve learned (again) through this challenge. There’s really only time (and not even really enough time, at that) in my life for one extra thing. I haven’t been able to do any art as I’ve been writing this last month, and that, my friends, leaves a sad and empty hole in my heart.

So, I’m going to sign off now – because although the little people have been good-naturedly playing Battleship up till now, I hear the winds shifting.

Now is not my time to be clicking away at the computer keyboard. Most likely it’s my time to school Short Stuff in my supreme maritime board game ways (one hundred percent joking).

Dear Reader (day 15): A continuation of the letter to the mother I used to be (part 2)

Dear Reader

In continuation from the other day:

Dear fresh, young me,

I’m telling you now – 15 years later – appreciate it fully. Notice the peace of life as a newlywed couple with only one Little Nugget running around. Breathe in deeply the simplicity of one schedule, ONE SCHEDULE, by which you abide. Savor those long naps with your babe and the 7pm bedtimes that leave your nights free to be a grown up couple, because you’ll have more kids and you’ll have roughly 26 more years to go of raising people, and there will be times you’ll have to work to remember this same brand of joy.

You’ll get buried under laundry, you’ll do endless loads of dishes, you’ll do grades kindergarten through fourth four more times besides your own, until you release these kids to do the whole school thing alone. You’ll hope you can stop repeating elementary around 4th grade, but be careful how much you let go, because letting go too much is not good either. Of course, there is a book about exactly how to do this in exactly the right way and you will never make a mistake ever.

That’s a lie. You won’t know exactly how to do any of it. There is no book with step-by-step instructions, and the best you can do is your best. Try your darndest and don’t ever quit. Throwing in the towel is the only 100% wrong thing you can do here.

There will be times when it all feels so pointless. You’ll feel like your entire existence is picking up other people’s’ socks and dishes and broken things. You’ll feel sometimes like your life doesn’t even belong to you. And you’ll get upset about it.

You’ll have to do some work when this funk starts to pull you under. You’ll have to look at what is sucking you down and do your best to alleviate it. You might have to ask for help, or you might need to take an overnight trip with your husband, or you might need to study or create or build something new that goes hand in hand with your big picture, because you need to know you’re growing too. You need to feel yourself BECOMING as a mother and as an individual.

You’ll need friends. Good, solid friends who stick with you through thick and thin. Don’t ever shirk this piece of advice. You need them, and they’ll need you, and together you hold each other up. There is nothing like the soul deep friendship of a best friend to pull you out from under the garbage heap and pep-talk you back into loving the life you lead.

Eventually, you’ll realize your life does belong to you and it matters immensely. Even though you don’t always see it, your work is the most important (listen to your husband here. He tells you this but you don’t always take it to heart. He is right, Dear. Let it sink in.)

It is. IT IS.

I can’t say this to you enough. Your work matters. And one day, you’ll see this and you’ll actually feel it deep down in the very purest part of you. You’ll know it’s true.

Every time you look into those little people eyes, every time you hug, every time you sit and harass about homework, every meal you prepare, every time you put down your thing to pick up theirs, you are showing them they are loved. They are valuable, they matter. You are forming people who understand love and respect. You are growing, cultivating, training good and loving people to send out into the world.

*****

To be continued (again). . . .

Dear Reader – (day 9) Guerrilla Love

Dear Reader

I wasn’t sure if I would write about this here, but I went to our small group this morning and it’s the only thing on my mind right now. If I don’t write about this, I’m going to end up writing about my messy house or how I don’t feel like working out or how I ate too much junkfood this weekend – and we’ve already done all those things too many times.

So here it is. You’re going to get what’s on my mind.

As a group, we are supposed to decide on a project we can do to reach out to the community. We’re supposed to dream big and expect large and seemingly impossible results. We are supposed to decide and move forward and watch God go to work as we move to intentionally love the world around us.

This is the thing though.

I don’t know if I can dream big and impossible right now. I don’t know if that is really what God is asking of me at the moment.

I don’t know if I’m really supposed to focus my efforts on something that feels so big I can barely wrap my brain around it, and it makes me feel like I’m being sucked down a vortex as I puff a brown paper bag.

I understand what the author is trying to do. I get it, and I don’t totally disagree.

I just partly disagree, for me, right now.

Because I just came to understand that it’s OK to look at my life in the context of seasons. My season is not the same as your season, or my pastor’s season, or my group leader’s season, or my bff’s season. It’s ok if I can’t do it all. God loves me anyway. I don’t have to perform. My season is one with four school aged kids, nighttime activities, trying to provide home cooked meals, and civil homework time. I’m trying to keep Loving Mama in the house instead of Mama Grizzly.

It’s a season where I consciously chose not to go back to the shelter this school year because I felt I needed to be available to help out in the kids’ elementary and because I felt a stirring in my heart to make art with an abandon I’ve never afforded myself. These are all things I chose carefully and prayerfully.

Less. More focused. Reign in my orbit and do smaller but more genuine things.

So why now, am I in this group whose purpose is to focus out and big?

I don’t know if I can go big or go home. If they make me chose, I might have to go home.

And this is where guerrilla love occurred to me.

Why not stay right here in my community. duh.

And know these people well. duh.

And find out how I can best love them? duh.

Why don’t I: JUST. DO. THAT?

I don’t know if this defeats the purpose of the study. We are all supposed to do a project together.

But what if we all chose to Guerrilla Love?

What would that look like?

15 people loving ferociously and on the sly.

It might look like showing up unexpectedly to stock the freezer of a recently widowed friend with 3 homemade soups, 12 burritos, 2 roast chickens, 3 lasagnas and 3 batches of Picadillo.

It might look like muffins for the security guards at school, who keep our children safe.

It might look like hand-written notes to the people in our lives who changed us at our core.

It might look like a phone call to a friend who’s battling depression.

It might look like taking a few extra minutes after class to hug the friend who just lost her sister in a car crash.

It might look like donating funds for a sick mama.

It might look like making a CD crammed full of inspiring music for a friend whose spirits need lifting.

It might look like babysitting for a mom who’s been pent-up with her sick kids for 2 weeks.

It might look like showing up with a take-home dinner for your little one’s teacher who you just learned leaves her house at 6:30 AM with her two littles and doesn’t return home again till 8:30PM, then turns around and does it all again the next day.

It might mean sending an encouraging note to someone who’s doing a hard thing right now.

It might mean having meaningful conversation with the grocery store clerk and learning that she’s having surgery in a week, and maybe she could use a help picking her kids up from school.

It might mean taking several minutes to put away your phone and focus here and now on these people under your roof. To look them in the eyes, touch their cheeks and really hear how their day went.

And if that’s all from one person in one week – all those lives touched, about 20 – if each of our 15 people chose to consciously Guerilla Love –  that’s 300 people whose hearts have been touched.

Those are some staggering numbers. And this is how God speaks. Through us.

At first glance, it might seem small fry. . . But I don’t think it is. These are things that matter. They’re things that people will feel, genuinely. These things require us to connect, to invest, to care.  And whatever we choose to do now, for this project – it’s supposed to be something sustainable.

Isn’t this how we want to live, truly? With our eyes open, appreciating, loving, aware?

While I’m in this season, I think I can actually do this. This doesn’t feel like a vortex suck, this feels like an exhale.

I can manage this. I want to do this. I already believe in this, but now is the time to DO it instead of just think it.

Sign me up for Guerrilla Love.

Dear Reader (day 5) – It was that kind of morning.

Dear Reader

Dear Reader –

We had a “trenches” kind of morning earlier this week.

This is where it gets tricky for me, because I want to tell you all the details of the ridiculous drama that took place  in our house as we prepared for school, because here, truly, you’d be able to nod your head (especially mammas of little people) and say, “Oh heck yes, I know (or remember) those days.”

But out of respect for all the people under my roof who never chose to have a blog, some things must remain rather vague.

Let’s just say, there were over-tired people (hello. . . ME TOO) and there was an overabundance of stooooopid, yet normal and age appropriate, FREAKING OUT happening at too high a decibel. (I don’t know how much freaking out is apropos at my age, but I’m sure I hit the nail on the head as well. . . . )

And I lost my cool.  I lost my noodle. I lost my *!@%.

I might have, in a very loud and not very nice voice, threatened to carry someone into school, crying or not, and still wearing pajamas, plop them in front of the teacher, and walk away.

I’m not proud of this, but I don’t feel particularly remorseful either. The offender was wrong, and I was right. (Of course.)

But this is the reality of having kids. I don’t like when we have mornings like this, and I usually walk away from them feeling a little heart-sick. Sometimes it’s just how it goes though.

Thankfully these types of shenanigans don’t happen every day. If  they did, you might find me in a straight jacket instead of comfy old sweat pants every morning.

We laughed our keisters off when our brother and sister-in-law shared this video with us.

Whether you have kids or not, (They don’t, and – obvs – we do) it’s for sure worth the 7 or so minutes. (It’s very clean, as far as modern comic acts go.  There are a couple itty bitty bad words in there; the s-word, and on more mild one I think – but no F-bombs. Use your own judgement if kids are within earshot.)

It’s appropriately called, “What People With No Kids Don’t Know”.

“Ah yes. People who don’t have kids. There is so much you never even knew you didn’t know,” I thought that morning as I dropped my little nuggets off at school – no one crying, red eyes gone, giggling, climbing rocks, small-talking about the scary animal dreams they have on occasion. . . . No one would ever have guessed the chaos that blew through our house 20 minutes before.

These are the times where I’m so thankful for Grace – from up above and from all these people I get to call my own.

After the Absence

Heart shaped leaf

I took an unintentional leave of absence. (Leaf of absence? Heh, heh. . . . )

It wasn’t pre-planned or meditated, it just happened as I sunk into life and let myself figure a few things out by mostly unplugging. (Instagram has been my tether to the Internets).

Continue reading

A Turkey Day Doodle

Thanksgiving doodle 2014

For you, Lovelies. A Thanksgiving day doodle for the kids to color while the bird roasts and you sweat your booty off in the kitchen. . . .

Oh, wait, I mean. . . for you to color with your kids while you all enjoy Hallmark quality family time around a cozy fireplace with hot chocolates in hand.

Or, you could print ’em up, roll ’em up, tie ’em with a ribbon, and tuck them in with each place setting. Then you all can talk about what you’re thankful for. Examples included in the doodle:

  • Mr. Worm, “I’m thankful for hot dogs!!”
  • Mr. Turkey, “I’m thankful for steaks!”
  • Mr. Giraffe, “I’m thankful for polka dots!”

I’m thankful for cool Southern winter days, warm little fingers that still hold mine, squeezy husband hugs, shiny new friendships and those that are weathered and worn, fresh journeys, and answered prayers. And you! I’m thankful for you crazy peeps who keep coming around these parts for better or for worse. ♥♥♥

What are you thankful for??

Easy Little Zombie Ghost Craft

spooky zombie ghosts

Don’t be freaked out, now.

It’s only a little zombie ghost.

These have names, actually. Alvin is on the far left, Simon is that bean pole in the middle, and that thick boned little guy on the right is Theodore.

As a girl who’s got luke-warm emotions about Halloween in general, I must admit I’m somewhat of a sucker for cutesy pumpkins and pillowcase ghosts. AndLetsNotForgetTheCandy.

Remember how I said I love my kids’ teachers?

Alvin was the creation of my little guy under the direction of his second grade teacher, and he’s one of my most favorite ever decorations for the end of October.

When we made Simon and Theodore, it took us roughly 10.2 seconds once the jars were clean. And the project drained my pocket-book of around $13.50 ($6 for the tealights, $3.50 for the bandage (at Wal-Mart), and $3.00 for the googley eyes) and we have enough supplies left over to make at least 4 more chipmunks zombie ghosts (I’m just guessing a number here, because we still have leftover tealights, wrap, and oodles of googley eyes).

All it takes is this:

spooky zombie ghost suppliesI can neither confirm nor deny the effectiveness of the sports tape. We haven’t used it yet. I can confirm however, the effectiveness of pudgy little pre-school fingers organizing the supplies. They’re excellent for the job. Also excellent? Self adhering sports wrap. Life. Saver. Don’t skimp.

And the Wiggle Eyes . . . fun, yes. But not absolutely necessary. I say a good ‘ol pair of black construction paper lookin’ balls would do just swell here. Use a single hole punch to let the pupils’ glow come through.

So here’s the deal:

1. Clean your jar. We’ve got one spaghetti sauce jar, one olive jar, and one salsa jar.

Soak them in water for a few hours to wet the labels, then scrape them off. Wash ’em one last time to remove any residual goo. Let them dry completely.

2. This is going to be a tricky 4 seconds. Starting at the bottom edge of the side of the jar, start winding the self adhesive wrap around the jar and work your way to the top, layering the wrap slightly as you go. When you reach the top, snip it and stick it. Phew. Thank goodness that’s done.

3. Glue on your oculus of choice.

4. Insert tiny little battery operated tealight.

5. Watch your adorable little Zombie Chipmunks flicker in the night.

If they were real zombies? They might look creepier – like this:

spooky zombie ghosts

I just thought of something – these guys could star in “The Not Walking Dead”.

Get it? Because they don’t have legs. So they can’t walk. Plus, they’re not alive. Which, I guess technically, neither are zombies. But whatever. I’m confusing myself.

The kids nixed the creepy version though. They like these guys friendly and cute. Bonus if you spy them hanging out in broad daylight:

spooky zombie ghosts

Another Man’s Treasure. . . .

Another man's treasure Collage 1 1000

So you might remember I got a bee in my bonnet and claimed all chill-like that I wanted to decorate.

Bees in my bonnet, indeed.

I went a little bit crazy-town.

I chanted to myself for three hours each morning, “You can’t ruin it if you don’t like it to begin with”, thank you, Nester.

That one statement led me to chop off 2 inches of the yoga pants I never wear because they are too long and then don them happily to the grocery store.

I went to Marshall’s and bought an autumn scented candle and – get this – burned it.

I let that warm little flame dance and twinkle, then I went and bought 5 more, I loved it so much.

I got so amped up about the whole decorating binge that I tucked a measuring tape into my purse and scoured the isles of home decorating stores for fabric and furniture pieces.

I actually found the perfect “piece”.

And then, I froze.

Because I realized something.

In order to decorate, one needs to pare down a bit (and paint, but that’s a whole separate issue. . . . )

Like totally declutter.

Which brings me to many things, but some of the many, are books.

I love books.

But if I’m serious about doing this thang – the sprucing up, decorating thang – then I best be clearing away some of the excess.

So, I’ve piled a stash of extras.

Actually, I’ve made two piles. One for charity, and one for friends – and by friends I mean you.

Is this weird? Tacky?

Maybe. But nothing’s ever really stopped me from being weird and tacky before. . . .

So this is the deal.

I’ve got some loot. It’s all still totally good, it’s just that I’ve got extra.

And who doesn’t like, good, free stuff? (Don’t tell me if you don’t.)

So I’m going to give some to you. It’ll be like web-shopping a yard sale, picking the thing you like, and having the seller tell you it’s free and she’ll send it to you, her treat. All you have to do is put your feet up and wait for the nice USPS worker to drop it on your porch.

I’m going to post a few things here and there. Odd ball bits and pieces, and you’re going to leave a comment in the Rafflecopter telling me which thing you’d like. The Rafflecopter will pick the winner, and I’ll send you your fave thing!

It’s that easy.

And we could do this for a while.

I’ve got lots of extras.

I’m sort of thinking that now and then I’ll might go Sesame Street on you all.

You know, four things, and one not like the other – just to keep it interesting.

Aaand, maybe not. That’s sort of sounds like a pain.

We’ll see.

The first weird and tacky giveaway starts today!

Next time, I’ll be back with food.

Thing no. 1:

Halloween books

Books for October – this creepy time of year. Scoob Doobs glows in the dark, and No More Monsters For Me was always one of my faves – just not one of my kids’. . . . All are in excellent condition. There might be a name inside one of the covers, but I’ll just block that out with sharpie if need be, and maybe add a little, “I Love You, Dear Reader, xoxo!!”

hemingwayI said to my dad one time that I thought he ought to stop reading such depressing literature, and then sent him a collection of Hemingway stories. Uhhhhh. . . . What?

If you’re into fancy things like classic authors, then you’ll enjoy this book way more than my dad. It’s in great condition too. You’d never know no-one ever read it.

Polo dress

Oh yessss. Time for baby prep. It’s a Ralph Lauren size 3/3T. My gal only wore it about 2 times because she’s more of a hippie than a jockey –  so it’s pretty much brand new. I didn’t iron for the picture (because I’m pretty much allergic to ironing), but I’d do it for you.

That’s all for now. I need to go dig through more closets.

Tell me what you want, and the Rafflecopter will tell me who to mail to. We’ll close this shindig on Friday, friends!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Mid Vacation Muse

Morning Beach So we’ve been on vacation for a while.

One solid week of it spent at the beach.

Filled with high tides and low tides, mudslides, and triple cherry virgin daiquiries.

Appearances were made under moonlight by “Hey Hey Crabs” – as named by the shorties in our crew while they hunted the side-skipping rascals by headlamp and plastic cocktail cup. Hey Hey Crab Once in while, we’d find one little feller who’d missed the boat and hung out till sunrise.

It’s OK, Little Feller. The moon’ll be back tonight. . . . Just hang out for, like. . . 15 hours. Surf Lessons We made friends with surf bums and poolside waitresses, slathered ourselves in pints of coconut sunscreen, and some of us braved pre and post storm waves. morning beach Some of us – *ahem* – attempted to brave them.

Then, after choking on bucket-loads of salt water, returned to shore weak kneed and shakey-elbowed.Done for the day of rough-wave jumping with minimal confidence in the skilled-swimming department.

Blended iced lemonades are more my speed. Under an umbrella. With a book.

Mama’s a watcher, not a swimmer.

And books there were. A thinker. A dreamer. A heart breaking sad-story turned good. And magazines with summer food.

And a 1000 piece puzzle in which I would not partake. Puzzles, in this lady’s book, are crazy making. Stick me in the kitchen instead. I’d rather make tacos, and fry beer-battered fish, and chop tomatoes for bruschetta. A cocktail just to the top right of the cutting board is a nice touch too. Beach People Now we’re here, in our home.

Coming home is so sad and still so nice at the end of sunny, surfy, carefree days.

It’s time to swing ourselves back into routine. Sort of. Maybe.

OK, maybe not yet. morning beach Time to plan meals and tidy up.

Seize days and live by the moment. Love by the second.

Remembering that it’s all fleeting. Life, really, is not under our control. Waves I wish it was, but I’m reminded over and over again that I’m not the driver of this train.

Somehow though, it goes where I need it to go, whether I actually want to go there or not.

Summers, I’ve learned, always hold a mixed bag for me.

Some lovely, some ugly, but always something that needs doing.

And that’s the way life goes.

So far, the hubs and I have tackled roughly 24 combined vertical inches of stacked paper on the kitchen counter.

His has been lingering for about 6 months.

Mine has been lingering since Easter of 2013.

I’m not proud of this.

It’s just who I am.

A stack-of-paper hater/procrastinator.

But it’s gone now.

Don’t you dare come back, Paper Stacks. With your smug little faces. I’m a changed woman.

My counter space is MINE.

We’ve been cooking too. Tasty things that will eventually show up here.

But my camera has been tucked away, snug in the cupboard, while I hoard this family time to myself.

I’ll break it out and dust it off soon.

We made a version of this pesto rigatoni.

I recommend it. It was a hit all around – and that’s saying something given the kale content, which is: ANY.

Because my family doesn’t like kale – when they know about it.

Also? We made these. Again.

I fiddled with the flour content a little because they came out so thin, but just add a little more and: swoon.

Oh! And this for flashy dinner dessert with friends.

We fell back on these burritos and this sauce. Because staples are staples for good reason.

Aaaaand, I’m pretty sure my summer will not be complete until I try this cocktail.

I can’t. even. think.

Next? I don’t know. I’m ready for the beach again.

XOXO until next time, friends.