Back to the Blog – Part I

sunrise

Ohmygoshitsbeen4months!! (PLUS!!)

I’m telling you, I’ve popped over here a few times just to check in and see what’s happening. I’ve fiddled around on the “new post” page, as though I were going to write something.

Ha! As though.

The thing is, I had no idea where to (re)start.

Summer? It was long, and really – honestly! – wonderful. We traveled more than usual, we barely did anything when we were home, and I was nowhere near ready for the kids to go back to school when they did. In fact, I suffered a minor emotional breakdown at 11pm on the eve of the first day, I was so not ready for school to start yet. It felt like we barely had any time off, and I said so much (and much, much more) to my husband, who found me to be an odd and unpredictable creature in that moment. He had no idea who I was. It’s not unlike me to happily participate in a champagne toast with my girlfriends to celebrate the first day send-off. Not this year folks. I’m slowly figuring out what is causing this emotional unrest, and I’m pretty sure it has to do with the fact that I’ve been in full-time mommy mode for 17 years and counting, and I’m itching to be a “grown up” and do grown-uppy kinds of things (basically: hone skills beyond wiping bottoms and policing homework). At the same time, I’m hyper aware that this is the last year of all six of us under this one small and precious roof. In a few fragile months, our biggest will be off in the real world living his own grown-up life, and that’s crazy scary/exciting/sad/amazing. It’s the first year of not having a little-ish wing man (or girl) with me everywhere I go, every second of the day, which is liberating/sad/exciting. . . . As a family, we’re playing with the idea of moving to a house that works better for our family in as many ways as possible. But have I ever told you how I feel about change? I don’t like it. I like predictability. I like what I know. I don’t like having to put on big girl pants and do the stressful grown up things like – oh, I dunno – find a house and a community where we can best raise our family/grow into old, wrinkled grandparents together (maybe), weighing pros and cons of schools, commute times, old neighborhoods vs. sprawling suburbia, distance from friends and established relationships, plus honor All The Feelings regarding necessity vs. overindulgence? That’s a lot of pressure. You know what happened to me last time we moved – 13 years ago?? Migraines. Lots of migraines. Do you sense the trouble I’m having with my emotions at the moment? Grown-up vs. not-grown-up? #reallife

Books? I read like it was my (part-time) job this summer.

Orphan Train (can I just say yes? Go get it, and read it. Lose yourself and feel all the feelings. It’s beautiful.)

Dancing on Broken Glass (I wanted to love it, I really did. I’d give it a solid 7 out of 10. The writing style was engaging, and the light shed on bi-polar disorder was eye-opening, but, I dunno. It just wasn’t all there for me to feel emotionally attached to it from now until forevermore – like The Help, and Kitchen House, and Me Before You.

Wearing God – oh my. It’s on my “must read again” list because – well: 1) big words and 2) so much to think about 3)it’s so poetically composed I’m certain I missed a few big points purely because I was simply swept along by her writing. This one gets a permanent spot on my bookshelf where I’ll go back to the oldies but goodies over and over again.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up – ummm, yes. Let me just say: You’re supposed to work start to finish on one particular category and finish in one day. My closet took me three between all the snack-getting and child-shuttling and play dates. It was a disaster during all those middle hours, and I was fairly ruthless with my discarding. Out of just my own closet and drawers (and I don’t have much storage space!) I eliminated nearly eight kitchen garbage bags full of clothing and shoes I wasn’t using because of the way they made me feel. And I don’t miss them. This was the state of things mid-project:

tidying in action

Don’t be jealous. . . .

I moved on to the kids’ closets the next week, and accumulated another 4 bags. I’m not finished yet – the next phase is books, and I know I’m going to need to be ruthless all over again. I just know being ruthless with books is going to be much more of an emotional challenge for me. . . .

For the Love –  I’m such a fan girl of Jen Hatmaker, it’s almost embarrassing. Along with thousands of other women, I secretly wish she could be my new best friend.  I snort-laughed my way through her chapters on turning 40 and the atrocious fashions these days, and I felt real knots of tension and guilt unravel through her chapters on calling and motherhood. Oh! And I made the Beef Bourgiunon on page 40. I might still be dreaming about it. . . .

Bittersweet, by Shauna Niequist. I want Shauna on my BFF list too. Her writing is just so genuine and true. I found this book at the library after reading Bread and Wine (which I also LOVED) and once I finished it, I promptly ordered two more for dear women in my life.

Currently, I’m in the middle of Show Your Work, Simply Tuesday, and Tattoos on the Heart.

There’s so much more to catch up on, friends – but this post is getting too, too long.

Check back soon, because we’re catching up in installments. Part II will be coming shortly – and in that one, there will be cake!!

xoxo!

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).

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Driving Blindfolded

Simply say yes; Driving blindfolded

This is a never-posted oldie, but it was the start of the story that’s currently underway. I didn’t want to post in real-time, because what if it went nowhere? What if I failed? What if, what if, what if?? But I don’t care anymore. I’ll catch you up, and then we can watch it unravel together. We’re going back to June 2013 here. It’s similar to some of the posts I’ve published before, but for some reason I felt much more wary of posting this one in particular. Since it’s the true beginning I didn’t want to leave it out, so I do apologize if it feels repetitive. . . but so began the journey.

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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.

Gimme Some Messy

Guys – I feel like I’m all jammed up inside. Like there’s all kinds of stuff circulating around in the soul part of me, and I can’t quite identify what it is that’s trying to bust free.

Desires tease me by staying just out of reach and not making much sense.

Dreams thump me between my shoulder blades, sort of rap-tapping to remind me they’re still there, but when I look them square in the face, some part of me tells me now is not the time.

That dream has to wait.

I’m knee-deep in gimmies right now, and my heart is tied to a little boy in Africa, a young mama in Indiana, and a tweenager outside the grocery store (story to be told another day). Continue reading

Snickerdoodle Cupcake Cookies

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Snickerdoodle cupcake cookies, bite size cookies in cupcake form, filled with delicious spiced buttercream frosting.Urgh.

I keep writing, deleting. Writing, deleting.

Writing.

Deleting.

I just can’t seem to pull something together.

Mostly, I think, it’s because there is an ongoing skirmish simmering low inside me.

It’s all about Christmas, and no matter how much I want to ignore it, I can’t deny that there are two sides to this story – and they both are hunting down prime real estate in my heart. Continue reading

Embracing Our Traditional Thanksgiving Menu

Traditional Thanksgiving

It’s dripping rain outside.

Still dark at 6 a.m., the drops are coming down rhythmic and thick.

It’s the day before Thanksgiving, and each time this reality settles deep inside me I feel like a kid on Christmas eve.

Excitement tickles my belly, a happy jumpiness threatens to throw me off-balance, and I hope, (but wonder IF), I will be able to maintain my cheer beyond the morning hustle.

Today I will make classic sweet potatoes. SWEET. Potatoes. We’re talking the real deal topped with an avalanche of mini marshmallows.

I’ll corral Yukon Golds into make ahead mashed potatoes, rich with butter and sour cream, and I’ll throw together a good ol’ green bean casserole topped with french fried onions from a can.

I thought about making the casserole from scratch this year, because, you know – healthy.

But our family is full of staunch traditionalists who balk at the new when it comes to holiday fare. Continue reading