Monday, October 01, 2012

So long to my sunscreen skill set.

Anyone that knows me knows that I am sunscreen challenged.

I want you to promise NOT to e-mail or otherwise rebuke me when you read the following.... promise?

I don't use sunscreen with SPF.

I feel like I just admitted to hitting old women at the grocery store. People are very passionate about sunscreen. VERY. I knew I needed to step up my game when I as pregnant with Alden and we took the big 2 to Disneyland. In July. IN FLORIDA. IN JULY.  As the Disney boat pulled into shore, there was an audible click as every good mom opened her sunscreen and proceeded to slather her children up. Micah looked at me and I just gave an embarrassed shrug, and said, "um... I got nothing."
I had a momentary lapse of mommynotgoodenoughitis and thought of patting my pockets down to pretend I was looking for sunscreen, as if I actually had remembered this "essential" item and just couldn't find it. Then I just decided my boys were of hardy stock, like their mama. If I have never had a sunburn neither would they!  It was not a proud moment of justification.

So, over the years I have gotten much more consistent in my SPF duties with my children. ( note I said "with my children." I still slather myself with no SPF hawaiian tropics. sorry.)  I thought I was doing so good. Take that world! I have mastered one area of motherhood! I properly SPF my kids! I even remember to reapply at times. Yeah, don't hate. It is my skill set.

Until this summer... when I read some articles about how deadly, yes DEADLY slathering my kids with SPF is. WAIT! WHAT??!!? BUT THIS WAS GOING TO BE MY SKILL SET!  Apparently, the chemicals in the sunscreen are evil, bad for kids, maybe even worse than (gasp!)  no sunscreen at all. How can this be? Not when I just bought three of the mega packs at Costco. There was a coupon in the flyer. It came with a free "face stick". How could I not stock up? Stocking up proves I take my skill set seriously. Crud.

So, now I am supposed to pay $40 for a 1.2oz micro-tube  of organic sunscreen, made from herbs grown by monks in the hills of some idyllic country, where the only fertilizer used is earthworm guts, hand blended with mountain spring water by the aforementioned monks. It is a lot of pressure to pick the right sunscreen. A LOT.
 So, I cringed every time I sprayed and/or slathered the boys down, asking them afterwards "Can you still see me? What is 4+4? Are your toes tingling? Do you know my name?" I am not sure, are these the correct questions for a neurological battery check?

It's just too much pressure. I can't handle this. I am just one mediocre mom who lost her one and only skill set. It was a hard season for me.
 So, I was ready for summer to end. Ready to put away the swim trunks, and goggles. Ready to pack up the deadly sunscreen. Next year, I think we will just swim at 6pm...

Welcome Fall, welcome. Pumpkins are safe right? RIGHT? 


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

tuesday ten

I promised my friend Chrissy I would do this, and she has a bun in the oven, so I will oblige her wishes. And I will also give her my bacon at any meal we eat together. If you are not willing to give your pregnant friends your bacon, well, I'm just not sure you know what real friendship is.

1. Fall is here. Finally. I was about done with shoving myself into a damp swimsuit. I was ready for summer to end. The very idea of greasing up another kid with sunscreen was giving me a tic. or is it tick? Don't believe me? Wait a few days and come back, there is a WHOLE post dedicated to sunscreen. Yep, exciting times on the blog folks...

2. I think pinterest is slowly killing my desire to make anything. Oh, there are great ideas, but there are Not to mention, do we really need to knit our own washing machine cozies?  Why can't we just be happy with chocolate chip cookies? Who really bedazzles their envelopes?

3. Breakfast for Dinner has become my go to-oops-I-forgot-to-thaw-the-chicken-AGAIN-dinner. I added in some turkey sausage, and these boys are happy campers.

4. Painting. If I ever tell you we have decided to paint our home again, and utter the phrase "We are just going to do it ourselves!" Tie me down, call a professional painter, and intervene. INTERVENE my friends.

5. Why am I so down on the painting? Our house is old, which = crooked = lots of patchwork=lots of sanding=lots of vacuuming =lots of time and by the time all that crap is done, you still have to prime, paint, switch colors because you didn't like the grey you picked, and then tape and do the trim.

6. Did you catch that part about the switching paint colors. Yeah, that happened. Poor Micah. You all should really add him to your prayer lists. He started rolling and got 1½ rooms done when I walked in and just said, "oh". He knew. He knew that he knew that he knew that I was never going to get over the blue-purple hue our grey had become. I am not a purple gal. Sorry.

7. Sometimes you have to just tell someone, "I don't know the answer here, I don't know why this is happening to you." I hate that. I want to say "Here, do this and this and this and the situation will be fixed!" But life, and people, are not like that all. Faith is not a fix-it-all. It's the willingness to keep the faith when something isn't fixed.

8. Did I mention I hate painting?

9. There was a cow in my backyard somewhere last night. I could hear it mooing for hours, but was too scared to go out and check. Oft times bad guys stand in fields mooing just to lure women outside, I'm sure I read that somewhere.

10. chicken. thaw the chicken. sorry, this last one was just a personal reminder.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Burger of the Week

In my last post I mentioned that one of our family's summer "things" was going to be a new/different burger each week. Some folks have asked if I would write down the burgers we made, so here they are... at least the ones I remembered to photograph before scarfing them down!

It started with this burger, that my friend Derek snapped a photo of when we were all cooking out together.

Traditional Cheeseburgers
I know, this isn't exactly exciting, but I didn't want to go too extreme right off the bat.

Next up: Bacon and Guacamole Burgers.
Oh.My.Word. These were easily our favorites, and I made them more than once!

And next... The Mushroom Swiss Burger.
 My least favorite. Micah and Emerson loved it.

We also tried: The Bleu Cheese Burger.
I wish I had mixed some of the bleu cheese in with the burgers, and even melted some a bit more to put on top. Live and learn I guess.

And if course, last week's: Onion Ring and Special Sauce Burgers.

Now we had a few others in there that I forgot to photo, or were repeats (like the bacon and guac ones!) or that we ate in a restaurant.  The boys loved this new tradition and I plan on doing it again next year too :)  My biggest lesson learned was that the best meat is the 80/20 beef. I NEVER normally but this kind, I get the extra lean that doesn't even need to be drained of oil when you brown it. I tried that in one of our first attempts... um... did you know that burgers need some fat? Those things were so dense it was like chewing a giant meatball. Yuck.  So, over the winter I will search for some new burger recipes to try next summer... YUM!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Back to School kick off...

 Happy First Day of School 2012

Sunday night we celebrated the start of school with our last "Burger of the Week" for summer.
Yep, all summer long we have made a different hamburger each week. The boys in this family love them some red meat... and this mama eats some occasionally to combat exceptionally low iron. Except steak. I cannot do it. It makes me gag to even think of eating steak.  The best I can muster is tacos, chili, or an extremely well done burger here at home.
So here is our last burger of the week:
It was an onion ring topped burger with "special sauce"... think bloomin' onion at outback. I even made the onion rings, and they were delicious! Just dipped them in flour and then buttermilk to coat. Yum.
Poor Alden said, "Mom, does this mean you are never going to make burgers again?"
Not exactly bud... :)

Then we sent off some paper lanterns in the sky. I told the boys to write down (on the lantern) a favorite memory from summer, a prayer for the upcoming year, or just draw a picture if they wanted. I saw this on a wedding photographer's blog, and loved the idea, so I found some lanterns online and knew I wanted to use them for our last night before school.
The wild boys absolutely loved this, and I was pleasantly surprised at how big the lanterns were, and how high they flew. Micah said, as we launched the second one, "These better not start a forest fire." Oops, I never thought of that... but no worries, they did not!

It was a super fun night to get us in the mood to start school. As we watched the boys chase after the last lantern in the shot above, I leaned back into my Micah's arms, and he said, "Look, those are our boys. Aren't they amazing?"  Yes, yes they are...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Back at it...

Wow, last post was June 6th, and here it is the end of August.
My hiatus was intentional.
I wanted to be more here for my boys this summer.  Yes, HERE

Not looking down at my phone.
Not sitting at the computer editing photos for hours.
Not reading blogs, or facebook.

I wanted to be here.

Here reading books.
Here playing games.
Here watching goofy movies.

I did ok.
Yep, just ok.
I like to play draw something on my phone. (don't judge)
I like to read blogs about home renovations, and crafts and such.
I like to search for vintage goodies online.
I like to look at photos and read book reviews and put things on my "to read" list.

So, I wasn't perfect. I didn't go for the ever trendy "unplugged" because I knew that wouldn't work for me. There were some mornings when I just let the boys watch Phineas and Ferb whilst I drooled over home projects I'll never be talented enough to pull off.   It really wasn't until this week that bickering started in a fashion that made me cringe and say, "when does school start???" So I would say it was a success.

We have been crossing things off our summer list "like a boss"... isn't that a new cool saying? "Like a boss"? I have seen it places and been confused. I mean, you can peel an orange "like a boss" and workout "like a boss". The two hardly seem comparable, but maybe the boss is SO trendy and cross over, it applies to everything. I am a nerdy mom, so I would say something lame like "we did it with gusto".

So, welcome back to the world little blog o' mine...

and I love this... it was on pinterest... like everything else in the world.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Summer List, Do-Over

So last year I wrote, and never published a post about our summer lists. We made a list of things we wanted to do, I printed them off, we attached them into cute little notebooks that I let the boys pick out, and then we got busy doing, crossing off, etc.

See, here they are, they were great... in theory.

There was a problem with my plan. By the time I got the photos off my phone or camera, printed them the correct size for their books, and had them sit down to write, the boys felt more like it was homework than documenting the fun we'd had. (photos printed the day of, that would've worked.)  We only got about half of our activities documented in the books. Boo.

 It was a mom-planning fail. I think I made it more about what I wanted, rather than what my boys would enjoy and be able to keep up with.

So, this year, I have a new plan, and I already told the wild boys about it, and they were all equally excited. (Now, if you are like my crazy talented friend Sarah, you will paint a chalkboard wall in your home for your list, pen it in lovely shades of chalk, and use that. I am not Sarah, and I am not painting a wall. Sorry boys.)

Here is what our list/scrapbook/summer memories will involve.

8½ x 11 cardstock
One binder & page protectors
One fuji instax camera and film
Markers, Pens, Gluestick, etc.
and let's be honest, I will throw in some of my beloved washi tape too :) 

 I am planning on taking the fuji instax, getting a photo of the activity/adventure WHEN WE DO IT and then that SAME DAY having each boy write down a little something for the opposite page. I know Alden will need help with this, but he can dictate to me or one of the older boys. I think they will love having this book, but it won't be as time consuming to put together. Honestly, if the Instax film weren't so expensive, I might have still stuck with individual books.  I also think using individual, 8 ½ x 11 cardstock will allow more freedom for more photos of certain things if need be, and being able to use regular old 4x6 photos.

So here is to 2012... The year of the DO-OVER :) 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

If I am still alive...

Yesterday I had a lovely conversation with my youngest son, Alden. It is the second time one of my children has mentioned my death in the last few weeks. Either they are prophetic, or wishfully thinking... 

Alden: "Ma, when I am a adult, I'm gonna take my sons camping."
Me: "Aw, that will be so much fun buddy." 
A: "But I'm NOT giving them my bear or blanky!" 
Me: "Well, that's ok, you know why? Because Mommy will be 
        your sons' gramma and I will get them their own blanky and bear."
A: "Ok. That's good. Thanks Mom, you are the best mom ever." 
Me: "Can Daddy and I come camping with you and your sons?"
A:  "No. You'll be dead by then"

Um, Ok. I am off to reflect on Psalm 90 and eat some vitamins. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

I used to be a Girl Scout...

One of the things on my proverbial "bucket list"  is  was to go camping with my Micah and our boys. I mean tent camping, not some wimpy-cabin-with-AC-and-cable-type of "camping". When I told Micah this, his first question was, "How long has it been since you went camping? In a tent?"  Well... it had been a while. A long while.  There was the time in Girl Scouts when I was in 4th grade, and then with my youth group one time, and then as a camp counselor we were forced to take our campers on a tentless overnight campout where some group of dorky guys was sure to scare you.
So, needless to say, it had been a while. "Come on..." I said. "I am a mom of three boys, I got this." My Micah gave me a skeptical look that seemed to say, "Yep. You are a mom of three boys who likes AC and her blow-dryer."  True enough, true enough. Somewhere inside though, I conjured up my outdoorsy gal, we borrowed a tent and some equipment and officially became...

A Family That Loves Camping.

From the minute we got there, I loved it. Ok, maybe not the first minutes when Alden had to poop SO bad we just grabbed some wipes and went to the woods. I think all that outdoorsy gal junk went to my head, and let me just say... it is a sad moment to realize how close you were to a real commode, when THIS is the result of your 4 year old's first outdoor defecation attempt.

The site, the area, the tents, all of it was just what I had imagined. I kept pinching myself, thinking, surely someone will get sprayed by a skunk like a Brady Bunch episode, or there will be a thunderstorm, or gross bugs, or... or... or...
Nope. Nada. Zip.

We had the best time EVER. I know some bloggers write crap like that all the time, but I think since my lead in story was about someone pooping -again- you can trust I am not blowing smoke. I surprised myself how much I liked it. I thought I would have to endure it, one of those "take one for the team as I am a mom of boys" type activity. At one point, Micah asked, "Are you sure you want to sit that close to the fire? You ARE going to smell like smoke you know. "I KNOW! I LIKE IT!! WHO AM I?!?!" I replied.

So, we cooked on a cute little grill... hamburgers and hot dogs, and even (yuck!) steak.
We hiked... some ridiculously straight up trail that I swore was never going to end. But the view was worth it.
We made fires... well, mostly Micah and the boys did. The last morning though, I pulled my weight and started quite the lovely fire from SCRATCH.
We roasted marshmallows, told ghost stories, ate by the fire, read books, played cards, talked about God, threw rocks, laughed and had 
At one point, I told my boys, "You know what we are doing right now?"
Em looked at me and said, "Um... camping?"
"Well, that... and making a memory..."

Oh, and when my Micah commended me on my fire starting skills, I may have said boastfully, "I was a girl scout yo!" I think all that mountain air also brought out my inner nerd too.

We saw this guy on our hike... he was NOT invited back for lunch despite my boys longing to catch him and keep him. I have my limits folks.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

My sister, the Survivor...

I wrote this post well over a year ago, but never published it. I made the trip detailed below to see my sister on May 10th, 2010. What a difference two years have made. I am beyond thankful that she is alive... 

Have you ever received a call that changed your life? If you have, chances are you are able to remember it right now without much effort. April 4th, 2010 was such a day for me, and one word, in one phone call, brought that change. The caller? My sister, Sharon. The word? Cancer.

I cannot lie, my initial reaction was "NO! God, what are you thinking?" I know, such a faithless response, but at least I am honest, and you should also know, I did not stay in that state. (I did revisit it from time to time though... )

Micah and I made plans for me to take, what would prove to be an emotionally difficult trip home to see her. I was not prepared for the sister who normally has a hot meal waiting for me, along with "just because" gifts, to be laying in a bed in the middle of the day. I was not prepared for the way she looked. I was not prepared for the frailty of life to be a palpable cloud hanging overhead. I climbed into bed with her and as we hugged and wept, she simply said, "I know, I look like sh*t. Its ok, I know." I told her she looked beautiful. It is hard to describe the mix of emotions you feel at that point. The way happy, old memories clash with fearful visions of the future.

We stayed up all night as Sharon was in constant pain, vomiting violently, and unable to keep even water down. I can't describe it with words, it was unbelievable, and I was just witnessing it, trying to help, not having to actually endure it like Sharon. She was amazing. All that pain, and not a cross word, not a bit of impatience with us, no anger at all.

When she felt (a little) better and we were talking, I asked her, was she afraid?  "Yes," was her simple reply. "I don't want to die, but it is ok. God is in control, and whether I live or die, He is in control. I have to believe that." WOW. I even told her I was surprised, that I had a whole encouraging speech to give her when she declared that God was not fair. She told me to give my presentation anyway... haha. What Sharon had, and has... is that "peace that passes all understanding." That is not something you can buy, earn, or get from others. As she even said just the other day, "Grace is always enough".

So while she endured the last few months, the highs "you can be cured!" to the lows, "scratch that, there is still a cloudy area, let's give you say, a 50% chance of survival." Sharon has continued to be strong, determined, and faithful. She is human, and has had her moments, she will admit. BUT... she has not dwelt there. That is the key.

I am elated, excited, and super happy to report... her final biopsy came back last week. NO ACTIVE CANCER CELLS AT THIS TIME. I cannot lie, I had prepared for the worst... was already planning a more extended visit since her next chemo rounds would be even more aggressive. I was looking into donating the bone marrow she would have to have, etc. It was like God said, "Hello? Remember ME? The Great Physician?" I didn't even let myself believe it was possible, yet He did it. Why guard my heart from the one who holds it? Oh me of little faith...

(this is Sharon and her family, and friend Rhonda this past summer. She kept the short hair, but not the bald... go figure?!?!)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

living the first day...

Sometimes I am  perplexed by the things my children say to me.
 "Mom can I have chocolate on my beans?"
"Mom, why can't you go pee outside?" and
"Mom, do lightbulbs make fire?"
Yeah, we have some lively conversations here at the ol' casa.

Today was no exception. I stopped Em and told him I needed a hug and some "schmootsies".  He obliged and when I told him "I love you." He said, "I love you too, and my heart remembers you."
I stopped, "What do you mean by that?"
"Well," he explained, "When you die, in about a few decades, I will remember you in my heart."
While I was not quite happy with his math estimate, we started a talk about the fact that death could come ANY day, at ANY time. I was thinking I was making some profound impressions on my middle child. I ended with the ever popular, "That's why we should live each day as if its our last."  BAM! Mom pat on the back. Good talk.

He paused and replied, "No Mom. That's why we should live each day like its our first..." 

Think of how excitedly you approach "firsts" in life.
First days of school, first day as a parent,
first day at a new job, on vacation, etc. 
We get ramped up and ready for those first days.
Em is on to something here.

As for his reaction to my shock and awe... 
He just sauntered out of the kitchen with his grapes
and a grin.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Hunger Games...

I found a bandwagon and jumped on. It was the Hunger Games one. I feel a bit superior in that, I have never even looked in the general direction of the Twilight wagon... oy vey. But the Hunger Games, I went for.
Of course, I read the book first, because...

I firmly believe you should always read the book first.

And I am glad I did. One of my pals, who also believes the above policy, we planned on hitting the movie once I finished her copy. It didn't take long, three days. I give the book 5 stars, and A+. It was a really good read. You were drawn into the characters, sometimes without knowing it. The heroine, Katniss, is not portrayed as some sexpot 16 year old. In fact, her looks are made little of, and her brain much. I like that. It made her beautiful in my mind's eye. Then there is Gale, whom we just like from the word go, because he is Katniss' friend and hunting partner. That leaves poor Peeta... what to say about Peeta. You come to love him in the book. The author does so with the proper weaving of her words, and as if she is knitting a blanket around you without you knowing it, but you like it, and appreciate it when she is done. That's Peeta. You don't even know you are rooting for him until the end.
This is a book for middle school mature kids or above. Its low on the teen angst, high on adventure. It is violent, but if you are a mom of boys like me, you will take bombs over boobies any day of the week. (That is not a widely spoken of motto, more of a silent rule, round the casa.)  The movie makers thankfully, saw fit to leave this as it was in the book, and not add in gratuitous and unnecessary sexual scenes. Thank you Hollywood. I hope all your box office dollars are speaking to you loud and clear on this count.

Now that is all I want to tell you about the book, because, well... I think you should read it.  I am purposefully leaving out lots of details.

The movie... was... eh. I liked it. It was ok. I would not like it AT ALL if I hadn't read the book. Without the book you miss so much of the thoughts that a character had that made you like/hate them to begin with. The casting was the first issue. Katniss and Gale were cast splendidly. Perfect even. But Peeta??? NO NO NO. Hollywood got him ALL kinds of wrong. First off, he was shorter than Katniss. I will just leave that there. Second, without all the detail of home life in district 12, you miss out on who he really is. In the book, he comes off as a bit cocky at first. You aren't rooting for him, he keeps you guessing... does he really love Katniss, or is he this smart about the games? The way he was cast, makes him more of a "lovable loser" type. In the book, you are hoping the teen crush angle is real, in the movie, you are like, "Go home to Gale!".  No chemistry. Boo Boo Boo. I felt like when I was watching The Help and kept asking if someone mixed up Mary Steenburgen and Allison Janey's scripts! Not the right guy for the part.

The highlights of the movie is Stanley Tucci. I've always liked him, and he does not disappoint in this role at all. In fact, the movie people should give him a bonus. Dear Stanley, please come to dinner at my house sometime. Ok? Ok. Thanks. 
You should also go prepared for cinematography that makes you a bit nauseous. Oh.My.Word. Blurry shots, shaking like an 92 year old with a camcorder. on a caffeine high. in a moving vehicle. Maybe I am not hip enough to get this new filming mode, and that's ok, I'm a nerd.  I was really glad I knew the final outcome, because the last scene was so poorly shot I had no idea who was who, who was winning, and gave up trying.

In conclusion, if you like Stanley Tucci, see this film. 


Birth of a Book from Glen Milner on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


I seriously do not know how to start or continue or end a post or series of posts on my trip to Africa.  I know the words "it was life changing" sounds so cliche, but...

I went to visit our church's carepoint, that we sponsor through Children's Hope Chest. This is truly a GREAT organization to work with. If you want more information on sponsoring a child, or getting your church involved with HopeChest check out their website. They are the real deal folks.

Here is a copy of the post I wrote for our church's blog after our first day... I think it is a good place to start.

“It will change how you think,” I was warned. A visit to Africa will in fact, do just that. It happened to me today. We went to the CarePoint and enjoyed playing with the kids, singing, doing crafts, and taking photos (and if you know me, you know there were LOTS of photos.)
But what got me the most today was the home visit. We each paired-up with a member of the Discipleship Team and each took food to a home of child who visits the CarePoint. We got to meet the family member/caregiver and sometimes even the parent of a child who we sponsor.
I grabbed a bag of cornmeal and hit the dirt road with Deli. We didn’t go far before we met a woman and she opened the gate to her home. “This is not bad at all!” I thought. The house seemed large and nice. I was genuinely surprised. I even commented to Linda, the little boy who lived there how nice his house was. But then, we kept walking. Right past the house, toward what I really thought was a barn or shed of some sort. Surely this is not where they live. Well, it wasn’t. Only HALF of the “shed” was their home. This space could not have been more than 4-6 feet wide and 10-12 feet long.
We met Linda’s mother and she sat to chat with us. In addition to providing for Linda, she also feeds her two nephews. After we gave her the food staples, she beamed and simply said, “I prayed for this and I KNEW God would provide. Praise God.” She was happy and thankful, but she was not surprised.
I was moved beyond what I can convey with the written word. If my boys were hungry and the cupboard was bare, I would probably cry out, “Lord, why have you forgotten us?” This woman had no doubt that the Lord would take care of her needs. How easily I doubt him over little matters. I was convicted, encouraged, and embarrassed all at the same time.
On the walk back, I asked Deli, “Is it hard for the people of Swaziland to have faith because they have so little and are often hungry?”
Deli’s response, “No. The people of Swaziland are very faithful. They HAVE faith, BECAUSE they have so little.”

 This is Linda and his mother. The photo at the beginning of this post is him as well. He was quite the character really. Kept all of us laughing, and he was always smiling... despite his circumstances. I think Linda has a better grasp on the joy of the Lord more than anyone I know...

Saturday, March 03, 2012


this is a miracle you are looking at. a carry on only stuffed for 10 days in Africa.
I was pretty proud of myself until my Micah noted how "fat" it is and said, "they may make you check that at the gate".
That is wrong, just wrong. I've rolled and re-rolled and repackaged, and taken out.
Dear airline, if you are reading this please let me stuff my groovy carry in the overhead bin.

pack rat Jude :) 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Suitcase Revelations...

So this week I was packing for an upcoming trip to Africa. (I am going with a team to volunteer at an "orphan care point" that our church works with through Hopechest.)  I was excitedly packing away until I realized that I was the ONLY person who was checking a bag. Huh? What? How in the heck are these others gals packing for 10 days in a foreign country with ONLY A CARRY ON??!?!
I soon realized that because we were taking lots of bins, bins full of supplies for orphans,the full time workers, etc. we needed every checked bag "credit" we could get. Basically, me taking a suitcase was going to cost my church $200 extra baggage dollars. Were my creature comforts worth that?  I thought, "YES!"... but after thinking and thinking, and yes, feeling like a real heel for being the sole taker of a checked bag, I decided to give the carry-on only a go.

I never thought of myself as "high maintenance" until that day.

I like my hairspray, my gels, my lotions, oh, and let's not forget pocket size lysol, and handi-wipes etc. What about my perfume? My shoe spray (no one likes stinky feet!) and my blow dryer, my blow dryer HAD to fit.
Suddenly I realized... I really like my "stuff" that makes me look like "me."

I didn't want frizzy hair.
I wanted to rub my special lotion into my heels at night.
I wanted to smell nice.
I wanted sparkly teeth.
I wanted my feet to not stink...

I had a realization. It happened when someone said, "It will be ok Jude, the kids at the carepoint don't care what we look like."

Oh. They don't? That was when I realized the fatal flaw in my totally me centered packing. Those kids want to be loved. They thrive, THRIVE off playing with us, hugging us, sitting in our laps, and sharing a smile.  They come to us in dirty clothes. They often haven't bathed in days or longer. Their heads are mostly shaved, even the girls, for health reasons. They don't have mouth wash, or loofahs for exfoliating, or special lotions. They are not trying to match the right shirt to their skirt to look more flattering. Yet... they are often full of joy and happiness. I found myself wondering... how?

Because they get it.
 They know happiness is NOT found in the outer person we see.

It made me question, how much of my outward appearance is there to overshadow and cover up the real me?  Do I hide behind uncracked heels, sanitized hands, and coiffed hair? Is my perfume trying to cover up the stank that would be my raw humanity? I am speaking metaphorically of course, but really... are these kids happier because they live in such a bold "here is what I am" way, that it allows them the freedom to be more honest and real with their creator and hence, with other humans?

What if I was stripped bare, would you still love me?
With frizzy hair, unshaved legs, and smelly armpits?
Stinky feet, dingy teeth, and dirty clothes?
Do you know what my eyes look like with no mascara? 

Christ lives in our hearts, not our gel bottles.
If the outer Jude is altered, or uncomfortable, can I still find joy and strength?

Or am I dressing up the temple in order to hide its corruption?

Just some random, and albeit "waxing eloquent" thoughts on this impending trip. I am trying to not let the outer appearance rob me of my inward happiness... and I freely admit, that is hard. Very hard.  Especially hard when you are packing all your beauty needs in "One quart size ziploc bag."

Your High Maintenance Friend,

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sweethearts Dinner

For Valentine's Day we always stay in. ALWAYS. It started when we were living in NY, back in 1997, and despite Micah being sick, we felt compelled to go out for dinner, simply because the calendar read "February 14th." After a long wait, and an intensely crowded restaurant, I vowed, "never again."... and we haven't.
We stay in and as the boys have gotten older, I try to make the day special for us as a family. A "fancy" meal, special dessert, and little gifts at the table for all. I like doing this for my boys. Here is this year's set up...

I have been hoarding these little jars and candle holders for about 2 years... that's right, 2 years. But, now that I've used them, I can officially be taken off the line up for that show "Hoarders".

This year I also decided to make a heart garland out of old book pages and cardstock. I punched hearts whilst watching Downton Abbey, and then sewed them together. I may or may not also have been saying, "I'm sewing! I'm a seamstress!". (if you don't know the happiness that is "What About Bob" you will not think that is funny. Ok, even if you know that movie, you may still not be laughing. Whatever.)
Twinkle lights were strung as well, which made Alden ooh and ahh and proclaim, "Oh mama, that is bootiful! Good job!" Worth.Every.Penny.

We set the table and had a little gift bag for each boy containing goodies, and fun things. The toppers are just doilies and my beloved washi tape. I washi tape anything I can these days. Its sad what thrills your soul once you admit to being a nerdy mom. Which I am.

One of the gifts for each boy were a set of these photo books. (They are tiny, 2.75x 3.75.) But they weren't really for them... Remember when I told you all about writing letters to my future daughter in laws?  Well, I explained to the boys that they could keep one of these, but the other two would be set aside for their future wives. (Alden led the way with giving back all three saying, "No, I want you to keep all of 'dem for my wife, OK?" 

We had a lovely dinner with some of our favorite foods, and laughed and enjoyed just being together. Of course, we hauled out some new desserts for the occasion as well. This cake forced me to go where I have never gone before... the world of home made frosting. My mom makes amazing frosting, but I have always gone the duncan hines route. Well... no more. This frosting was really easy and really good. As was the cake. Believe me, if I can make this, anyone can! The boys LOVED it.  (PS I just looked for the site where this recipe was. I can't find it. Maybe it was my one hit wonder. Dang.)

Since Alden couldn't have the cake, and I am not a huge chocolate gal' I also made these. My friend Corey made it look so easy. It wasn't. The dough was really hard to roll out, and I am in awe of her perfectly made ones. They were good, but not as easy as your good ole' chocolate chip cookie ya' know?  (PS I will be making them again though, can you imagine how AMAZING they would be with my beloved trader joe's lemon curd!?!?!)

And that is that. Another Valentine's Day is in the books. I love these wild boys and am glad that at least for one day of the year I get to insist of flowers, hearts, pink and lovey dovey stuff.