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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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

DIY Bath Toys (foam bath “stickers”)

DIY Bath Decor - Craft Foam Bath Stickers

My friend read this post the other day and said, “Uh oh. You’re becoming one of those bloggers I hate!”

???

“One of those ones with the perfect life,” she growled.

Uh oh.

Maybe we need some clarification here.

My life is not perfect.

There.

My kids fight. I scream. They whine and complain. Sometimes I whine and complain right back at them.

More often than I’d like to admit, a dark cloud descends on our day around 4:30, when I know a stress storm is going to open up a deluge on our house.

Something will boil over on the stove, someone will throw a massive fit (not excluding me), homework will make me want to gouge my eyes out, I start praying for my husband, please God, to come home early – even though he hasn’t in like, 8 years. (Ok, that’s kind of an exaggeration. But only kind of. Once in a blue moon he comes home early. Which kind of makes me like a tortured rat. Praying for him to magically appear works sometimes, but mostly not, and I drive myself insane trying to make it happen again).

And some days in the midst of said storm, we still have someone to carpool, or a sport to do, or my feet make a suction sound every time I take a step on the kitchen floor and then I step on crushed cereal, and therefore, I feel like something inside me might explode like Mt. Vesuvius.

Some days my head starts to feel all bloaty and pressurized and I think it might feel really, really good to go outside and scream four letter words at the top of my lungs until my throat hurts and the neighbors wonder if I have a real “problem”. . . .

Which I might. I believe it’s called: homework.

I’ve been living in a constant state of fatigue, where it feels like no matter where I am at 3:30 PM, like the produce aisle or outside the kids’ school talking to the principal,  I could curl up in a ball and take a deep, deep power nap. Ten minutes. If I could just have ten minutes. . . .

This may be because our Littlest has relapsed in her sleeping patterns and has, for the last six weeks or so, been waking up a minimum of once a night. A minimum.

Sometimes, my kids run out of shampoo in their shower, so they steal mine out of my shower. Then, when I go to bathe, I’m left standing in the steaming hot water, dripping wet, trying to decide which I best wash my hair with: Olay Regenerist Daily Facial Mask, or Dove body bar. This usually does nothing to assuage the Mt. Vesuvius situation..

My husband brought me a bottle of wine the other night.

He didn’t really need to.

Earlier in the day, I may have been an eensy weensy bit harried when I realized his upcoming trip puts him out of town for 9 days straight and for the majority of two weekends.

I’m OK with it now.

Really. I am.

The wine actually helped.

The same friend who hates bloggers-with-perfect-lives came to visit us a little over a year ago.

She went home after four days and slept for two. She has said to me over and over again she doesn’t know how we run the schedule we run. She understands why my carpet crackles when you vacuum it – I don’t clean every day, and she gets why.

She gets why I’m “too pooped to pop”, as my mom says.

And, she said she can’t believe I do this life without a vice.

Sugar is my vice.

And carbs – as in: grains and potatoes – either topped with frosting or deep-fried in the evilest of oils. . . .

And now healthy people are creeping up out of the woodwork, telling me I’m slowly killing myself with both.

This is where I jump head-long down the double tunneled rabbit-hole of “life is a crap-shoot”, and, my dad’s favorite: “we’re all going to die anyway”.

Another friend, who managed to stop by one afternoon mid homework/snack-time/beginning-dinner-prep/screaming-running-playtime, looked at me with big saucer eyes and said, “How are you not an alcoholic?”

If nothing else, at least these comments make me feel validated.

I’m not being a wus thinking that this is a sometimes-crazy life, it actually IS, in fact, sometimes crazy.

Some people thrive in this kind of raucous environment. They live for it and it makes them feel alive to have all these little people running a LOUD dervish-y circle around them.

Sometimes I feel that way too, but other times you might find me huddled in the closet, thumping my head against the wall, wishing for quiet peace.

I like silence. I like quiet conversation. I like to read and sit. . . quietly.

Many days, and for at least part of each day, that is precisely what I get. Thank you!

But for those other times – if God could grace me with a smidge of love for high-decibel chaos, it would totally behoove my blood pressure. (Let us bow our heads in a moment of silence and pray for said gift: joy and personal peace amidst chaos.)

My father-in-law, in a conversation about fender-benders, looked at me and said, “Wouldn’t you agree that it’s one of the worst feelings in the world?”

A fender bender? No. No, I wouldn’t.

I have felt much worse things. And a fender bender does not compare.

I have felt deep and tormenting emotions that did two things: paralyzed me and made me throw up.

I’ve cried for days on end, lost ridiculous amounts of weight, carried baggage way beyond its expiration date.

Yet I’m well aware (and deeply grateful) that I’ve been graciously spared a whole slew of painful emotions I cannot even begin to imagine but that so many others have endured.

No.

Poking out someone’s tail light with my front bumper is not one of the worst feelings in the world.

My point friends, is that my life isn’t perfect. It’s full of ups and downs just like so many others’.

It’s all one big package though.

If I didn’t have those bad days mixed in with the good, it would mean I didn’t have this life at all, and this life is the one I love – the one I don’t want to be without.

So I’ll take it. Storm force homework days, stolen shampoo bottles, trauma, drama, and all.

I’ll accept it like a kid scooping up a new puppy on Christmas morning.

And, if I write about some splendid days indeed, know that there are less splendid ones tucked in with those too.

So how, you must be wondering, DIY bath decor 2can this possibly relate to bath toys?

It only does because these silly little cut-outs were peace-producers.

They bought me minutes and minutes – maybe even an hour, of happy, tranquil, quiet play time.

And they were easy and cheap.

My husband poked his head in the bathroom door while the little miss was having her bath, making a scene with her shapes, and singing a little whispery song to go along with the story. He looked at me and said, “Wow. That’s cool! You should blog about that.”

And that, my friends, he does not say often.

So here it is.

DIY bath decor 3

DIY Craft Foam Bath Stickers

Supplies:

Craft foam

Scissors

A few minutes for cutting.

Directions:

Cut desired shapes. Wet the backs of shapes with water and stick them to the bath wall.

There you have it.

My little gal spotted this in the latest volume of High Five Highlights Magazine, and just would. not. forget it. I actually don’t even know how this magazine ended up in our mailbox. But. . . lucky us! See? Sweet little gifts. . . . 

And I just happened to have craft foam around. Voila!

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

Our Pic Party!

Guys, we have an actual party on our hands!

Thank you, to all (Jennifer) who responded voluntarily.

And thank you to all (everyone else) who submitted to my guilt trip.

I have the best guilt-ridden (and one not) friends EVAR.

Dive in to the pics – and thanks again guys, for turning our two person party into a six person shindig! Continue reading

Brave

BRAVE

Brave is something I am not.

At least, not voluntarily.

Brave is something I have to force onto myself, like forcing a bath on a 5-year-old boy.

You must do it. You have to do it to keep yourself healthy and strong and growing.

But, after all my 30+ years, and plenty of opportunities to practice at it, I still stink at “brave”.

I wear cowardice like an old comfortable sweatshirt. It’s my habit, and it’s way easier.

Keeping the pot smooth and unstirred?  Shrinking from conflict? Ahhh. My specialties. Those are my secret hiding places. They are where I can breathe. How deep, exactly? Hmm. Good question. Continue reading

Right now. . .

butternut squash

Right now, I’m thinking this squash ought to be paired up with some baguette slices, goat cheese, and pecans. . . somehow.

I also can’t wait to get back to this book.

I’m totally craving this soup. And people, it’s PAH/stah eh fah/DJOH/lee. Pasta e Fagioli, not fag-ee-oh-lee. Not fazool. Not fajool. At least – I think so. Any genuine Italian readers out there that can clear this up for us?

I still have dreams about how amazingly amazing these scones were – even when I subbed in gluten free flower. Man, oh man. . . . Seriously. Click over and check. You won’t regret it. Think Saturday morning, coffee, a book. . . .

I need to clean. Like, really clean. Like de-clutter the shiznit out of every-freakin-where. Maybe this list will help me?

If I don’t get my holiday-self organized pronto, I’m going to need to start carrying a paper bag in my back pocket to thwart hyperventilization. I think I might need one of these binders. . . .

Speaking of hyperventilating. . . I need to go find myself a bag.

When the Painting Bug Bites

sometimes I paintSometimes I get a painting bug.

Norah Jones, Adele, and Sarah McLachlan are usually involved. Sometimes we invite Jack Johnson, Cat Stephens, or The Samples to the party. Every now and then things get whacky and Miles Davis or Dizzy Gillespie might show up.

Male singers are only sometimes guests.

I’m a mostly-mellow, female-background-music type painter.

And, if we’re admitting to habits here, almost always some kind of chewy fruit candy is part of the situation.

It’s all about relaxation and peace within.

sometimes I paint

This time around the idea was about flowers and what they symbolize, (inspired by this book). It was a gift of prayer. An underlayer of words and an overlayer of wishes painted in botanicals.

Often something will come out ↑, then get painted over:
sometimes I paint And over:

sometimes I paint

(A little drastic, hmmm? The blue just wasn’t doin’ it for me.)

Then I decide I like the layers underneath. I like the layers on top, I’ve made myself sick on candied fruit slices, and I want to punch Norah Jones in the face.

It’s a sure sign this painting’s done.

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P.S. Just for the record – I never really want to punch Norah Jones in the face – but I do listen to her ad nauseam when I paint. Although, the nausea might be from the candy. . . .

and P.P.S. I know I’m off topic here. Painting? No food, or odd-ball crafty how-to? But NaBloPoMo, dudes. The challenge of posting every. single. day. has got me scratching my brain and digging deep into cob-webbed territory.

Honestly though, you don’t need me to tell you how to do it. Find some music, getchesself a canvas and some cheap acrylic paint, and slap it around. Oh, and keep a steady supply of sugar at your side.

Inspired? I get most of my art supplies here, but Michaels and Joanne’s have everything you need. Walmart and Oriental Trading do too, and they’re easier on the wallet.

The Book Stack

The book stack: a reading list for November

 

For the sake of full disclosure, let me say this:

This is not the actual stack of books that lives on my nightstand.

That stack on my nightstand has dust buildup on it. (Heh, heh. Dust again. . . )

It’s a tower of books that I’ve already read, loved and keep close by, or they’re books that I’ve been meaning to read – I really have – but I just can’t get into them. I still fully intend to make it through them though. . . sometime. And, there might be a trashy, brainless novel wedged in there somewhere too. . . and maybe some self-help.

Maybe.

This stack though. This stack I am actually reading.

From the top:

One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp. I’ve read it before, but this is one I keep nearby anyway – for beautiful words and healthy reminders to be grateful every day.

A Long Way Gone, Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, by Ishmael Beah. Wow. This is a tough one. I can only read it in little bits. It’s heartbreaking – but I’ve heard there is a happy ending.

Knowing God, by J.I.Packer. I’ve actually owned this one for almost twelve years, and never read it. I’m still in the first chapter. I’ll let you know. . . .

Wonder, By R.J. Palacio – Two words: Read. It. And have your kids read it too. It takes you into the heart of a fifth grade boy who has severe cosmetic deformation as he enters middle school. I ♥ this book and the empathy + consideration it evokes in the reader.

The Story, forward by Max Lucado and Randy Frazee. I’ve never read the Bible from beginning to end. This book is just that – the Bible as one continuous story. I’m still firmly in the midst of the Old Testament. I’ll admit at times it’s a little snooze-a-rooze, but other times I’m perplexed, curious, and totally intrigued. I just finished the chapters on Ruth (daughter-in-law of all daughter-in-laws) and Naomi, then Samuel, Saul (rebel as he was), and I’m now just starting in on David – he’s just gearing up to face Goliath. Now things are getting interesting.

Half Broke Horses: A True Life Novel, by Jeanette Walls. This story too, has a character (albeit a supporting role only), with a handicap – a speech impediment that has no effect his intelligence, but it sorely affects the way he is viewed by others. It makes me think there is a theme evolving in my book choices.

So begins the story of Lily Casey Smith, Jeannette Walls’s no-nonsense, resourceful, and spectacularly compelling grandmother. . . .Lily survived tornadoes, droughts, floods, the Great Depression, and the most heartbreaking personal tragedy. She bristled at prejudice of all kinds—against women, Native Americans, and anyone else who didn’t fit the mold.

Teach Your Children Well: Why Values and Coping Skills Matter More Than Grades, Trophies, and “Fat Envelopes”, By Madeline Levine, PhD. Just. . . YES. I firmly support her opinion.

What are you reading right now?

Speaking of which, do you know anything about these books?

Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table, With Recipes, by Shauna Niequist

The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from A Delicious Revolution

Let me know if you have – I’m itching to get my hands on them myself!

And if you have any books you ♥? Lay ’em on me.

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Coffee; Fresh and Clear

Pumpkin Pie spiced coffee

Don’t you worry.

I’m not going to brush off all the wonders of fall flavors by shoving spiced coffee in your face.

There’s some baked apple goodness coming your way in a couple of days, and I will shove that in your face,  but this. . . .

This coffee thing just happened yesterday. Continue reading