Thursday, December 19, 2013

To My Micah, On His Birthday...

I have been mulling around this blog post for quite some time.
How would I pay tribute to my best friend and spouse?
The one whom I have affectionately referred to as "My Micah..."
for oh so many years...

You may need to bear with me.
I don't mean to brag or boast.
Rather, I want to point to how all these things
I am about to say... are not because of Micah, alone.

No, he is a truly new creature each day.
Made new by his Savior.
Constantly honed and brought through the refining fire,
and time and time again, he proves...

He is worthy.

I cannot explain what is like to live with a man who truly
realizes and lives out selflessness.
I have no need unmet. No want un-noted.
He goes without, and gives to us.
He will "make do", so we can have "shiny and new".
And I do not mean he provides and meets our needs on a purely material basis.
You should know, we are in the hardest financial season of our marriage.
Yet, we are happy as husband and wife.
Why? Because I don't need a fancy new car, dinners out, or an expensive weekend get away
for my husband to show his love.
(not that we both don't enjoy those things, or that they aren't fun and awesome. We are just doing without those extras right now, and it has shown us they are "bonuses", not "necessity".) 
He shows it when he washes the dishes.
He shows it when he helps me bring in groceries, or wakes up and greets his children with hugs and kisses, or holds me when I am sad or hurt, or encourages me when I feel weak, or even, yes, even when he rebukes me when I am wrong.

He is a true man of integrity, honesty, and justice.
He does not waver for the applause of men.
He is diligent in his pursuit of raising three little boys to be godly men.
He is loyal.
He is willing to tell you the hard things, and walk with you through your battle to face them.
He is beyond intelligent... he can do any job or task you give him. He will have read three books to learn about it before you blink.

I have never met anyone like him.
I never need to.
My Micah is the real deal.
You can't buy that.

 So, with all the It's A Wonderful Life gumption and sentiment I can muster, to my amazing husband, on his birthday I lift my glass and toast,
"To Micah, the richest man in town..."

"Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow.
The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing."
                                                   ~ Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Off to a Rocky Advent start...

One of my least favorite qualities in people is the fake.
I like that balance between "keepin' it real" and "Your Facebook status is NOT a diary."

Every woman has her Holiday Breaking Point and this is the story of mine. 
Maybe yours will be in the post office while mailing packages.
Or decorating the tree with rowdy children.
Or burning cookies.
Whenever and whatever yours is, take heart.
You are not alone.
Oh, and be kind to your fellow females when their meltdown comes.

My HBP 2o13.
(It came early, lucky me.)
You see, I was totally into getting our Advent countdowns started.
I have a system of three things so that each boy gets to do one a day until Christmas.

We wrap up 24 books, like so:

And we have our homemade Advent calendar, like so: 

And this year, we added in these cute little bags, like so:

Only the story of how the bags got their home is a tad, um, not so Martha Stewart.
Maybe cigarette trading-jail Martha, but not "It's a good thing" Martha.

You see, I stamped/painted the numbers on the bags. Easy, done, looked good.
I placed a "Ticket" that I made (yes, made! I am tech challenged so I was kind of proud
of this part. No computer was crashed during the making of this card! Yeah!) and a
chocolate goes inside each bag. (the tickets are for various home perks, like skipping a chore, extra lunch cookies, etc.)

Then I got the bright idea to hang them from the ever adorable red baker's twine.
This would've been fine except for I also decided to use cute holiday Washi Tape to hang them on the wall.
Yeah, so Washi Tape... not so strong. I started to have my doubts about the sustainability
of my Advent Wall Art.

So that night, as I lay in bed, every few hours, I would hear a distinctive thud, knowing it was my cute little bags hitting the floor. And yep, I admit it.
I was so mad about getting woken up, repeatedly,
that I thought some not so nice thoughts about those cute little bags.
HBP had arrived at my door and I was not ready for it.
At one point when Micah leaned up upon hearing one of the thuds, I just muttered, "It's just my stupid, freaking Advent bags falling down." 
What kind of a heathen mom makes Advent bags and then curses their existence?!

So the next day, I set about making things right.
This old crib spring was supposed to be hung for a photo display a long time ago.
Someone couldn't decide what color to paint it though, so it sat.

But it works just right for my vile, adorable little Advent bags.

The moral of the story is...
Um, there is no moral. Just keep it real and be on the look out for other women in your life going through HBP. I have seen it on the baking aisle at the grocery store, the class Christmas party, and even, the Christmas tree farm. Encourage one another, and offer soy, I think that helps with the hot flashes, oh wait, wrong woman disease.  Offer wine... 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hey, Target... it's not too late.

I am not going to address this as a "Dear Target" letter...
I am highly doubting the CEO will be reading the rantings of
a crazy redheaded mom of three wild boys.
But they should.
Because this crap matters.

I was slightly aghast when I saw this story:

Really Target?
8 pm on Thanksgiving?
Wow, I guess you really are striving to be the Walmart of the middle class.
I am disappointed.
Why couldn't you just wait a few more hours?

Costco did.
I commend them.
And I gotta tell ya'... I plan on buying as many of my Christmas gifts there now instead.
I said it.
Target, you're out this holiday season.

But it's not too late!
Target... you CAN still back up and punt!
Pay those employees anyway, the ones assigned to work on that day.
Run TV ads with the change to close instead on Thanksgiving.
Do you realize what a GOLDMINE of good advertising you have here???
If you will just do the right thing.
I for one would show up (um, admittedly in the afternoon) and spend MORE if you did.
And eh... isn't that kind of the point? 

So I implore you dear, dear, dear, Target... please.
Close on Thanksgiving.

And Mr. and Mrs. Shopper... you DO have a choice where you spend your dollars.
What are you saying with yours? 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Google and Shallots

I bought shallots last week.
I am not sure why.
If I have ever eaten a shallot, I didn't know it.

I have never cooked with a shallot.
I don't have a recipe that requires a shallot.
I don't even own real "cookbooks" that would tell me what to do with a shallot.

So that is how I ended up awake at 3am one night,
Googling, "What can I make with a shallot?"

And apparently they are like an onion, but not an onion.
Mostly people like to caramelize them, which I am all for.
I learned how to properly caramelize onions this summer. (it is a long process, but oh so worth it.)
I may or may not have eaten two ginormous onions that I caramelized.
I have no regrets.

But now, now my Google search has that embarrassing fact forever etched in my
digital footprint. I am sure someone at Google or the NSA is going,
"HA! What a bonehead! She bought a shallot and doesn't even know what to do with it."

I am disturbed by the Google Search History.
It's like a diary of all the stupid things we are too embarrassed to ask our fellow humans.

Google Search: Are sheep and lambs the same thing?
Google Search: What is the difference between a disease and a disorder?
Google Search: How do I read my cholesterol test results?
Google Search:  Amanda Bynes (oh yes! I did! I had to see her freakish new face!)
Google Search: Calories in a Costco Hot Dog? (don't do it, just don't.)
Google Search: Are Sequoias and Redwoods the same?
Google Search: How to zoom in on firefox? (shut up, I forgot, ok?) 
Google Search: Where does dew come from? (my kids are no longer satisfied with, 'God made it')
Google Search: How old is Pat Sajak? 
Google Search: Pee Smell in Bathroom
Google Search: Football Girdle
Google Search:  Substitute for______. There are literally tons of these in my search history. I think the sheer volume of pumpkin spice substitutes I have googled should be a clear indicator that I need to just buy some dang pumpkin spice.

And worst of all, I am too scared to search the one most helpful thing...
"How do I clear my Google Search History?"

So, I am off to search "Nancy O'Dell's plastic surgery."
I figure at this point, its go big or go home...

Thursday, October 10, 2013


~ Written 10-9-13

If you are reading this, it means I have had to post it.
If I had to post it, it means that we have had to say goodbye to
one very special young lady.

Our dear Corban Grace.
She was born 14 years ago in a flurry of first grandchild excitement,
though we all knew, her arrival was coming too soon.
She was born at 30 weeks, and doctors did not expect her to make it
through the first night... boy did she prove them wrong.

Corban had genetic issues, and other birth defects that
challenged virtually every system and organ in her little body...
yet she fought.
She lived. She grew. She made it.

Until today.

I could write pages about her, and the funny things she did.
Like the time period when her middle finger stayed extended
in a stiff manner that made it look like she was flipping you off...
and I swear, that girl had PERFECT timing with that finger.

But today, I want to write about Corban's mom and dad.
Chris and Joy, my amazing sister in law, and her husband have given
Corban virtually round the clock care for every day of her fourteen years.

She had a feeding tube, and had to be kept on a strict schedule of when, how much,
and how fast she gets her food.
Medicines were given via the feeding tube multiple times a day. There were many medications
to keep up with, and dosages for each varied.
She had a diaper, and had to be changed or given a catheter throughout the day.
She needed to be bathed, dressed, held, played with, and watched constantly.

And did I mention? Corban can be a night owl... imagine doing all these things for your
child throughout the day AND still getting up with them at night?

With each passing year, as Corban grew, I watched my petite sister-in-law still pick her up, carry her, hold her. I could barely make it through an hour. My arms got tired, I got hot, Corban would want to bang her head against me. But I could give her back... Chris and Joy could not.

Here is what I want you to catch...
In all her 14 years of life.
All the diapers,
All the surgeries,
All the late nights,
All the feedings,
Do you know how many times I heard Joy complain?

Never. Not once.

Not an eye roll.
Not a sigh.
Not an angry word.
Not a "Why did God allow this?"

She was totally entitled to be frustrated, tired, on edge, grumpy, bitter, and angry.
Instead, she chose, quite ironically... Joy. Her very name embodied the way she parented.
I am not suggesting there was never a time she didn't struggle, what I am saying is, she chose to walk this life with the circumstances she was given, and did so with grace, confidence, and faith, as did Chris.

I am proud to call these two tireless servants my family.
They showed unconditional love, and taught us much by their example.
They truly know what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus...

Do we?
Is there a special child in your life you could serve?
A parent who might need a hand?
Find one. Love them. Help them. Encourage them. Walk along side them.

** Thank you to all the friends and family who came to be with us today. Chris stood up and shared, sang, and praised God in the midst of his sorrow. He and Joy are a testimony to the peace the Lord can give in the midst of the most trying of times. What a blessing they are to those who know and love them.** 

Monday, October 07, 2013

Thank You Amy...

If you have looked at Facebook in the last week, you have likely seen
links about the government shut-down, quotes from famous people,
and cute pictures of fall activities.

This morning, I saw something that made me profoundly thankful.
This was my friend Amy's status:

As a mom of three boys... Thank you.

Thank you for being willing to be the "bad guy" and make sure your daughter is dressed modestly.
Thank you for wanting to her mom, rather than her pal.
Thank you for helping me, by keeping your girls modest.

In return, I promise...
To make sure my boys know how to treat a girl with respect.
To not let them think young girls are there for them to ogle and cat call.
To teach them to keep their hands off.
To not let them watch TV, Internet, or any other visual media that makes women nothing more than sexual objects.
To not let them listen to music that demeans or talks about women and their bodies.
To teach them it is NOT just about keeping someone from getting pregnant, but rather it is about keeping someone pure and respectable.

So, to all the moms out there willing to do battle to keep their girls covered up, thank you.
I promise to do my part as a mom of boys as well.
After all, we are all in this together.

So, to Amy, and all the other moms in the trenches ... thank you.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions...

"I am not sure what I am going to do yet!"

 In an odd twist of irony, this fall, I sent the youngest off to school, and brought the oldest home.
This means I missed my chance for that glorious oddity called, an empty house.
Yes, this could've been my year for WHOLE days of a quiet house, time alone, and, if you read the last post, the ability to pee without interruption.

However, thanks to the miracle that is football practice, three nights a week, there are times it happens.
Micah will take all three boys and all of the sudden,


I don't really know how to handle this.
I feel like Chicken Little, running around going, "What do I do? What do I do? WHAT DO I DO?!?!?!"
It's akin to that TV moment when that character gets hysterical and can't calm down and ends up getting slapped in the face.
"Just do something woman!" the slapper would say to me.

Do I fold laundry? (the responsible mama's choice)
Do I take a nap? (the tired mama's choice)
Do I read a book? (the bibliophile mama's choice)
Do I scrapbook? (the crafty mama's choice)
Do I read some of the 500+ blogs clogging my feedly? (the informed mama's choice)
Do I dye my own felt to make into miniature acorns? (the pinterest mama's choice)
Do I have a glass of wine and watch Entertainment Tonight? (the honest mama's choice)

I walked around for a solid 15 minutes trying to decide WHAT TO DO?
It was too much pressure.
In the end, a truly calm and well thought out choice was never made.
I lost it all in a moment of sheer freak out crying, "THE HOUSE WILL BE MINE FOR THE NEXT THREE HOURS AND I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT TO DO?!?!" 
I needed that slap in the face.

Maybe I just need MORE practice at having time like this so I will be better prepared at how to handle the choices and options. Yes, that is it.
I need to do this MORE often.

Honey, are you reading this? :) 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Remembering Tea Time

The weather turned decidedly more fall like last week.
I love it.
The cooler temps mean I am back to my morning cup of tea.

There is nothing like hearing the kettle whistle
and pouring that steaming water into a cup.
Last week, I got out my grandmother's tea cups.
They are dainty, and flowered, and pretty, and...
So full of memories.

My Gramma, whom I wrote about here. used to serve us tea in them a good bit.
Hot tea, sugar, and milk.
Homemade cookies, or if we were lucky, apple k├╝chen.
Watching her move about a kitchen was neat.
She did things "just so" and was usually humming or singing in German.
We loved using the "fancy cups", and despite the fact that I was a tom-boy who
broke things at a furious rate, she would let me use these.
I was always cautioned to "be gentle!"
And then she would often utter "Nicht Noch Einmal!"

So, taking out a cup, just one, was hard.
It made me miss my Gramma terribly.
It brought back the painful reality of death.
The things my boys will never hear from directly from her.
But if we put away these tangible memories,
we miss out on passing along the bits and pieces of the past
that make us, well... us.

So despite the pain, I choose to remember.
And today, I will have tea, in fancy tea cups, with my 11 year old son.
I made cookies and muffins for us yesterday.
I will caution him to be gentle.
I will rebuke him in German, and hopefully,
create a memory for him to share with his own children someday.

One of my very favorite quotes...

“It is often said that something may survive of a person after his death if that person was an artist and put a little of himself into his work. It is perhaps in the same way that a sort of cutting taken from one person and grafted onto the heart of another continues to carry on its existence even when the person from whom it had been detached has perished.” 
                                                                                                             -Marcel Proust

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I'm selling my buttocks...

That title may sound like a think a lot of my own booty.
However, it is not appearances that I am speaking about, rather ability.

You see, I apparently have a magic butt.

The moment, yes, the very moment my derriere hovers near the seat of the commode,
my children magically appear.

I have stopped summoning them via normal methods.
Why call for them?
I can simply go to the bathroom
and before you can say, "Thomas Crapper"... there are my beloved offspring.

In this crooked old house we live in, there is but one bathroom for all of us.
One potty.
Four boys.
One girl.

Can you see what I am up against?!?!

I admit, I routinely covet when people have multiple toilets.
When my friend bought a new house this spring, I stopped counting at three.
I asked her "just how many toilets are in this house?"
"Um... five." She replied sheepishly. "But one doesn't work right now!"
"Five?" I practically fell over. "I don't know if we can even be friends anymore, I
am coveting so much!" I moaned.

I mean, with five toilets... we could each have our own!
Can you imagine, the glorious luxury of you very own commode?
Well I can't.

Back to the sale of my gluts. I began to realize that I shouldn't keep this amazing new discovery to myself.
I mean, the general masses might just want need what I can offer.
So, I am thinking of testing the marketability of my magical rumpus... as a tracking device.
Lost kid? Hand me that 32oz slushy, and they will be home before dusk.
Need to call a family meeting? Give me a hot tea and 20 minutes, they will all be assembled.
Gramps wandered off? Hand over the venti size cappuccino. He'll be here for bedtime.
Maybe the NSA would even be interested?

So, lest you think I wrote all this because I love my own tush, I don't.
It's no longer the rump of my youth, and if I wore those track suits with labels across the booty,
mine would read "Pinot" and "Grigio". But, um I would never wear those, because they should
technically be illegal. Like skinny jeans for men. I digress. Sorry.

Send your patent lawyers my way asap, and don't judge me too harshly... 
I am just a mom looking for a way to market her (apparently) best skill set.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Glutton of Grace

As I shared last week, we have had some stuff going on.
Hard stuff.
In the midst of all of that, there have been times of peace, and times of tears.
One night, at a hotel in West Virginia, I had a knock down drag out with Jesus.
I think there is a country song in there somewhere, especially since we ate dinner
at, no joke, Bob Evans.

The boys and I were driving a long distance, and had stopped to spend the night.
After subjecting them to countless hours of HGTV on the hotel cable, we went to bed.
What? We don't have cable, and I think my boy TV quota has been fully met.
I mean, I have seen "Food Boy"... more than once.

Well, I couldn't sleep.
So I went to the one place I could turn on the light and read.
The bathroom.

That is where my battle ensued.
I started to pray, and seek answers to things I didn't understand.
I was asking all kinds of "why's".
But then, it was as if the Lord grabbed me by the nape of the neck,
pulled up a curtain, shoved me toward a bright and painful light,
and for a brief second I glimpsed what I am...

I am a glutton of grace.
And gluttony benefits one person... me.
I want to sit at the table of grace and have more and more and more.
I want to empty the cup, scrape the bowl, and then lick the plate clean.
I don't want to leave a single crumb or speck of grace...
I want it all.
For me.
Table for one.

And that last part was what He wanted me to see.
If I love grace, but only when it is served to me,
I have no idea what grace really is.

And that was when He softly whispered...
"What about grace for others?"
"No, Lord."  I begged.
It's too soon.
It's too hard.
Not them.
Please, just for me...

I was asking God to play favorites, and pick me first.
Only, God doesn't play favorites when He gives out grace.

God's grace is not for my happiness. It is for His glory, and the moment we
ask him to only extend it to us... it's not really His grace. 

It was a long night.
Lots of tears.
I think I even uttered the line "Pick me. Choose me. Love me."
Which, is technically a line from Grey's Anatomy.
I have never been good at flowery prayers, and the fact that
I quoted a show that we all know is ER's poor reincarnation, proves it.

So, by all means, pull up to the table of grace, and have your fill.
but please,
leave room at the seat next to you for others...

 "We should give as we would receive,
cheerfully, quickly, and without hesitation;
for there is no grace in a benefit that sticks to the fingers"
~ L.A. Seneca

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Pumpkin Freedom... Embrace It.

So, I am perplexed.
I know everybody and their neighbor likes to Pin cute, crafty, and inventive things on Pinterest. (myself included) I am all for this harkening back to general homemade cuteness.
What I don't get is why we, as a people group, have felt the need to turn everything into a DIY craft project?

Do we really need to make our own brooms?
Do we realize suckers are still for sale? We don't have to melt jolly ranchers on a cookie sheet.
Did you know that you can still buy skirts? We don't have to make them out of shorts, old t-shirts, or even duct tape. I'm just sayin' that given the choice between spending $15 and countless hours on a DIY skirt made out of rubberbands, and a $15 skirt from Target... I am going with Target. Every.Single.Time.

I  got an e-mail with 15, yes FIFTEEN ways one can create, embellish and DIY the crap out of pumpkins.

People... they.are.pumpkins.
They are a decoration all on their own because...
They are round, and orange, and come in various sizes and shapes.
No two are exactly alike. They are like the snowflake of fall.

So stop...
stop covering them in glitter
stop sticking gold thumbtacks in them
stop decoupaging them
stop gluing yarn to them in yellow and blue
stop making them out of cardboard, old books, and yes... DRYER VENT HOSES

Just enjoy them for what they are.

They are one thing you can and should be able to just walk into the grocery store, plunk down your $5 for, stick on your porch and say... "DONE".

Embrace this freedom friends.
Take back the organic beauty of the unadorned pumpkin.
Stop exploiting them for your DIY addictions. ( exploiting... a tad over dramatic, but you get the point)

I want to give everyone permission to be free and simply enjoy fall

So put down the bedazzlers, sit back, watch some leaves turn colors, and leave the poor pumpkins alone.

Well, until October 31st when we gut the junk out of them and stick candles in their innards.
Survival of the fittest you know ;)
(I should note that having small children paint pumpkins rather than giving them a knife to carve, this I am all for. Intact appendages are a good thing.) 

Feel free to leave photo links in the comments of your pumpkins. I will add them to my new pinterest board entitled "Pumpkin Freedom"

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Why we is homeskooling are kid...

Sorry, I couldn't resist the title...
So, I am homeschooling my oldest son, Lincoln, this year. He is in the sixth grade. This plan was put in place waaaaay back when we got married. The one thing we did actually do from the marriage counseling book we read was to talk about our future children. How many we wanted, what our educational goals were for them, etc. We decided then and there that public elementary school, homeschool for middle school, and then back to public school for high school was our plan. Amazingly we arrived at the homeschool phase of that plan this year... Lots of people ask, "Why just for middle school?" So, here are some of our not so scientific reasons to homeschool at this juncture...

1. Time alone with my son. Lincoln gets me all to himself again. That ended for him at age two when his first little brother arrived. I am very excited about two years of just him and I. We need this time to "re-connect", and bond again.
2. Middle school is THE hardest time to deal with peer pressure. I remember feeling so so so much more insecure, and unsure of how to be me, in middle school. By the time I was in high school, I think we all got more comfortable in our own skin. It was ok to be different.
3. Boobs.
4. Did you need more explanation for #3? Boys think about girls, which is normal. Little middle school girls readily putting their pre-pubescent racks on display, that is not normal. It is like showing a cave man meat, then telling him to enjoy a salad.
5. I want to teach him about some classics of literature that I'm afraid he won't get to read. There is so much pressure on teachers to meet ridiculous standardized test scores that they no longer get to be creative, and really teach.
Watch this woman's story. She says it well. Then, get your kid's teacher a little gift or a note of encouragement. Their job is becoming impossible, and its sad.

6. Sleeping In. Yep, this nap loving mama said it. The middle school system starts on a crazy rooster type schedule around here. The bus still tries to stop for Lincoln. At SIX FIFTEEN AM! That is like, the middle of the night! He needs sleep. Kids need sleep. For the love of all that is holy, PARENTS NEED SLEEP!
7. There is a teacher inside me. I used to teach pre-K. I loved it. I am starting to remember the joy of seeing someone have that "light bulb" moment. When it is your own offspring, it is pretty amazing.
8. Talk time. Wow... I knew I was looking forward to talks that might naturally take place in our little one on one school set-up. Um... wow. I was not prepared for what they would be about! In our vast two weeks of school we've chatted about divorce, sex, and "Mom what is a transgender?". So much for those "sheltered" homeschool kids eh?
9. Lockers. Expecting a sixth grade boy to manage unlocking a locker, keeping it neat, remembering his homework and getting to his next class while staring at all those boobs? That is just an unrealistic expectation folks. Our young men cannot do all this at once. This is why detention was invented.
10. Miley Cyrus. We can blame everything on her now right? Put this in her column too... In reality it is the lack of knowledge about these things that is the reason. Once you are in high school I think its safer to say things like, "I don't have time to watch crap like the VMAS" and you sound cool and of higher intellect. In middle school, you get a wedgie and called a baby.
11. I really wanted a denim jumper and red turtle-neck. Standard Issue for we crazy homeschool moms :) 
12. Did I mention boobs?

So, there you have it... Some sound and not so sound reasons we are homeschooling for middle school.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Oh, that post...

I have been gone a while.
For good reason.
We have been through some hard personal times here at the casa.
I am betting some people who know me "in real life" are waiting for a blog of great detail on what happened...

Sorry to disappoint, but this is not that blog.
I cannot write that yet. I don't know that I ever will.
I couldn't post anything anywhere that was remotely thought provoking without being asked, "Was that about...". So I put up photos. Photos are pretty safe. But to write a whole blog post? After that May camping trip one, I sunk... and sunk low. So rather than BS everyone like I was with my cheery FB and Instagram photos, I left the blog alone. 

Because when you have your world turned upside down... it tears you apart.
When people believe lies about you and your spouse... it tears you apart.
When you lose your community, your church, and even some friends... it tears you apart.
When your children ask you tearfully, "Why?"... it tears you apart.
When you see others hurting... it tears you apart.

And I am not where I need to be with everything just yet.
I don't know when I will be.

I do know that I would have lost it completely if it wasn't for:
~ one amazing husband
~ three brave and tough little boys
~ grace filled family members
~ courageous friends
~ and the simple truth of God's word.

"A bruised reed He will not break,
and a faintly burning wick He will not quench;
He will faithfully bring forth justice."
~Isaiah 42:3

I don't want to neglect writing about my boys and their adventures though. In the midst of all this they have lost first teeth, finished elementary school, started playing football, said funny things, gone to yoga classes, and made great memories... and I cannot wallow so much that I forget to document these things.

"Enjoy the little things in life, for one day,
you will look back and realize,
 they were the big things."
~Robert Brault

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Twinkle Lights, Popcorn, and Camping...

 So, if you remember this post  you remember we have become avid campers. However, we became such with borrowed equipment from a sweet friend. It was time to get our own. Borrowing from a camping guru like we did was great though... we knew exactly what we needed!
So, we scoured sales, thrift shops, and online sources and compared prices and tried to really keep it simple (read: not expensive) to go on our first camping trip of the year. We did it, and it was a smashing success if I do say so myself. Here are some highlights in my favorite blog form... the list.

1. was not even close to right about the weather for the weekend. "Highs in the 70s" were no where to be seen, but hey, we DID see our breathe in the tent!

2. Wet Wood = lots of smokey fires. I felt so, um... robust smelling by the time we left.

3. When the rude college age kids in the next site over wake you up at 2am with their loud yapping, just roll over and let it go... and take solace in the fact that your kids will be up at the butt crack of dawn and you won't be shushing them. at.all. Glorious street justice :)

4. Popcorn made over the campfire may give your arm a cramp, but it tastes SO good. (this was one of the supply "splurges" that I used some of my birthday money on. SO worth it!)

5. Get the Ikea french press so your husband can have his coffee. Caffeinated spouses = happy spouses.

6. Two words. Twinkle Lights. ( we had many people stopping to look at these. they were SO festive. I plan on adding more for the next trip!)

7. The best part of camping? No internet or wireless. Ahhhhh... :)

8. Reading The Hardy Boys by the fire was almost so stinking picturesque, I wanted to pinch myself. I mean, here we were, reading, sipping hot chocolate, sitting by a fire, while the wind whipped through the air. If one of my kids hadn't farted and brought me back to reality, I might've thought I was dreaming.

9. If your husband doesn't smoke a pipe, I am sorry. Camping just isn't camping until that pipe tobacco scent is wafting through the air.

10. Oh, those twinkle lights? They light up the camp site a lot more than you realize... or maybe you do realize it as you tinkle in the woods before bed... the ever so twinkle lighted woods. Ooops.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Day I Stopped Clicking

If you know me, you know I am a pretty consistent picture snapping Mama. Ok, maybe consistent is putting it mildly... maybe I am more like a...


Here is proof, this is a book I recently got. (Which is super cute by the way.)

But recently, if you look into my computer files, you will see a sharp decrease in the number of photos I've been taking. It wasn't on purpose, but I thought more and more about the why, and the how, and the purpose behind all that clicking. Ok, and truth be told, my computer is almost out of memory. I have a reeeeaalllly hard time deleting photos off and trusting they are on the hard drive. What was I to do? Stop taking pictures? I am a firm believer in documenting life with photos, but was I really doing that?

As I began to be honest with myself I saw some issues with the constant clickage.

I had forgotten how to simply experience the memories I was trying so very hard to capture. 

I realized this when I was SO busy clicking away on a hiking trip, that when Micah asked what I thought of the view, I realized, if I didn't have the photo to look at, I would have no clue. I had only glimpsed it through my iPhone and my Canon view finder.  I was more concerned with filters and the proper shutter speed than actually seeing the view!

 I started to realize, I need to let my mind's eye have the first click sometimes.

I need to experience the moment more and stop worrying about having the perfect shot of the moment.
I know I want photos to show my kids as they get older, their spouses, and someday, hopefully my own grandchildren. But when I think back to what my Gramma shared with me about her life, I don't remember it because she had a shutterfly photo book, or showed me her instagram feed. I remember because her memories were so powerful, and she was able to share them in such detail, that you felt transported to that place where your mind makes its own images of what it all may have looked like. I have a perfect photo in my head of her first apartment in the US, and what arriving there was like after sailing into Ellis Island.  Oh, to be sure, I would love... LOVE a photo of some of these things, but her words and memories were powerful too, in their own way.

So, back to me and my chain-smoker-esque photo ways. What am I going to do differently? I have promised myself to...

Experience first. Photograph Second.
Live first. Snap Second.
Write the memory in my mind, and then say cheese. 

That next hiking trip... I can vividly describe to you the way the sky looked that day, the many shades of blues we saw. How a storm rolled in and the cloud front was like a dark curtain over the valley. I can show you a photo too, because I did take one... but not until I had lived the moment with each of my boys first, and that my friends is why those photos are special.

The memories and the documentation of life just got a little sweeter again...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

We Heart Valentine's Day.

I love Valentine's Day.
I really do.
I didn't used to.
I hated the stress of it, the thinking of a perfect gift,
the overpriced cards, the going to the pricey romantic dinner out,
etc etc etc.
We decided oh, about 15 years ago, to
forgo the pricey meals and gifts... and I couldn't be happier!

Now we always do what we call a "Sweetheart's Dinner" to let 
our little knuckleheads know we love them lots too.
( and I don't want them to think Valentine's Day is only for two people
in love, but rather a time to tell/show others we care about them!)
The boys really look forward to this every year.
I stink in a lot of parenting areas, so I am glad I (try to) make up
for it a bit with this groovy dinner and the countdown before hand :)

We had our felt chair envelopes like last year, which we put little gifts and coupons in each day,
 but this year we added in these sweet mailboxes.
I found them in the Target dollar spot, and put our names on each.
The boys LOVED getting our notes to them, and they even got in
on writing notes to each other too. (I adored them writing these to each other more than anything!)

I decorated with an aqua and red bunting banner.
I wanted it to be fabric.
I had paper already though, and paper,
I know how to handle paper.

Here it is:
Alden was my confidence booster as always, ooohing and ahhhing over it.

On the 14th we added this lights and twig display. It looked much cooler in person. (I think.)
Maybe I just enjoyed using a hacksaw in my Valentine's preparations...

Then there was the cake... oh my heart. I saw this idea on this BLOG The author is SUPER and she even wrote me back right away to help me with some questions I had about her recipe. It is a chocolate chip cookie dough cake. If you go look at the original, she made her cake from scratch. Um... no thanks. I am too scared lazy. I used a box. (she said that was ok. see? I told you she was super.) You make the cake, you make some chocolate chip cookies. You save some dough, and roll them into little balls. (we threw raw egg caution to the wind and used the same dough. Everyone is still alive.) Then you pack the dough balls and some frosting into the middle, frost the outside, smoosh (professional chef term) the cookies around the edge and BAM... Your kids and husband will think you are amazing. (and PS I did make my own frosting, and if I can do it, you can do it too.)  So, go... go make this cake for them soon. 

Everyone also got a little place setting with some cute little gifts, and the boys all had steak (YUCK.) I feasted on asparagus and brussel sprouts.

All in all, the evening was a huge success, and the highlight for me was this...
My three little men had each written Micah and I the SWEETEST Valentine Cards.
I love that.
and them...

Friday, February 08, 2013

I missed the birds...

I failed this morning.
Lest you think the title is related to
my using the "bird", it is not.
(though as a youngster I was constantly flipping off other
drivers in defense of my mom... this was unbeknownst to her. She could never figure out
all those blowing horns or nasty glares. Hey, if you drive so bad an 8 year old
has to shoot you the bird, you are the problem.)

Back to this morning.
The boys went out to wait for the bus.
Em calls in "Mom, come look, there's BIRDS!"

I sighed.
I was reading an article on xanthun gum.
What is xanthun gum, and why is it in our food?

I looked at Micah, who is only home at bus time on Fridays,
and said, "Can you go look at the birds?" It was definitely said with
an air of  "I get to 'go look' at everything, every morning, when you are not
here. Your turn." I didn't say that, but that was the spirit of my keeping my arse firmly
planted in front of the computer.

I am reading about food additives, I justified.
To make THEM healthier.

Micah, who knew not my inner mommy debate, came back in and said, "You should've
seen him. Emerson was out there watching those birds with a sketch pad in his hand,
 drawing them as fast as he could. It was awesome."

I grabbed my camera, eager to capture the moment.
"Oh, sorry bud, he is already done."

So whilst I read an article, that will be available online forever, or until the internet blows
up from too many photos of Kim Kardashian's backside, I missed it.


I missed watching Emerson in a moment where he was
showing us a glimpse of himself, one of his passions.
For an article on xanthun gum.

Mamas, don't miss the birds.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Indoor snow!

Oh my word Mamas... Go to Amazon now and buy this : ( I hope that link works, I'm texting this blog post in. )
I got some for the boys for using over Christmas break but we never got to it, so I busted it out today... a COLD teacher workday, hence, no school, and not a lot of desire to go play outside in the cold,wet,mud.

This snow is AMAZING! It starts like this:

Then you add water...


We set up some towels on the table, broke out these little German houses and the boys got busy building villages. As I'm typing this, Alden is entering hour two of playing with it!

The best part is... It dries out and you can use it again. Yes, in our day and age of cheapo-made-in-china-junk-that-breaks-on-the-way-home-from-the-store this concept is unheard of, but it is true.

So, if you want some fun whilst stuck inside this winter, and don't mind vacuuming up a few snow bits off the floor...
GO! Go buy some now! Let me know if you love it as much as we did :)

(Ps you know how some bloggers have to make disclaimers about product opinions? Well, rest assured NO ONE ever sends me free stuff, and usually people probably wish I kept my opinions to myself, so this is 100% bonafide truth. (And if you happen to work for playtex, I will sell out in a skinny minute for free tampons. ) what? I think tampons is the financially smart endorsement... Those suckers are expensive.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Martha Fern

There is a set of stories I have told more times than I can count about my arrival and culture shock upon  moving below the Mason-Dixon Line. The tales involve my (now) husband, and his grandmother. I met Martha Fern in June of 1992. I arrived at her house with boxes and boxes of my things to store in her basement... not exactly how one wants to impress her boyfriend's grandmother. She gave me a hug, and offered me sweet tea.
Over the years, as we spent more and more time with Maw Maw, who never would've let me call her Mrs.Anything, I came to appreciate her so very much.

She was lively, full of spunk, style, and humor. At age 70 something, she was line dancing at a town festival.
She was ALWAYS impeccably dressed. Matching shoes, handbags, and of course, hair done, and make up on.
She loved UNC basketball like none other. If you invited her out on game day, expect a no in reply.
She made the BEST chess pie. Ever.
She always had chocolate on her cupboard.
She kept her house spotless.
She taught me how to paint pecan shell Santa Clauses.
She was even there when I picked out my wedding dress...

and on December 11, 2012, she died.

I can't really put into words what it was like to have a "Maw Maw" in my life. My own grandmother was so far away, and having one here, that made me feel loved, was something I didn't even realize I cherished so much until she was gone.
She always gave me a Christmas envelope and birthday card like all the grandkids got... even before I was married to Micah. She knew my favorite color, and that I liked pottery, books, and vintage goodies. She was an amazing women for SO MANY reasons, but for now, I want to note one that meant so much to me...
In all the years we have been married, she never once introduced or referred to me as her "granddaughter in law". Not once. She would say, "This is my granddaughter, Judi. Micah's wife." I know it may seem like a small thing, I don't know if she even did it with intention. But I noticed it, and it touched my heart...

I have shed more tears than she would ever have wanted me to over her passing.
She was a great lady, and I know I will see her again someday, but for today, I want to be sad that I will never again be introduced as Martha Fern's granddaughter...

I love you Maw Maw. Thank you for being you and loving this Yankee so well.