Chicken Nipples And A Few Introductions

We’ve been hit with quite a learning curve since moving here. It’s one thing to know of something and it’s a whole ‘nother thing to live it. Here’s something that might surprise even you–our chickens have nipples. They’re red and leaky. And a total life saver.

Last month, we added chickens to our little farm here which is incredibly validating because now it’s officially a farm. Before that, the best we could say was that we were farming cats, dogs, and beavers. We bought a mix of five Black Copper Maran hens and eighteen Speckled Sussex along with a rooster from each breed. We’ll probably put most of them in the freezer before winter but for now we’re enjoying the fun of a large flock and trying to guess which hens are laying.

 

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This is a picture of “The King” and a few of his ladies. He got his name after winning enough fights with the other rooster to keep him on his toes. He enjoys NASCAR, cheap beer, and polygamy. We’re probably going to eat him in the next month or so. The hens all stick together and enjoy hiding eggs, listening to old records, and trying out makeup samples.

 

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This is Belle. She mostly hates everyone except Bruce Lee, because she fantasizes about being about to kick the ever-loving daylights out of anyone in her path but settles for snarling and running away. She also bitter because she used to be a city cat and it was much easier to take kung fu lessons at the community center. Her hobbies include, stealing dogfood and running an underground trade on the blackmarket dealing in dogs.

 

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This is Cassie. Cassies loves everyone–even bad guys and Belle. She is a beautiful blue heeler/border collie cross and her official position is Chicken Supervisor. She spends all day herding and sorting them and generally trying to avoid the roosters while getting into staring contests with the hens. In her free time, she enjoys watching re-runs of Friends, her celebrity crush is  Ferris Bueller, and she’s totally addicted to Pinterest

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These are the kittens. They bring unmeasured amounts of joy and entertainment to Violet, Henry, and Oliver. They are (R-L) Ana, Elsa, and Olaf. Yes, we’ve seen Frozen. The kittens spend most of their time begging for food, spending their money on candy, and fighting over watching Dora the Explorer or Go Diego, Go.

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Last but not least, here is Hart. Hart is a large Anatolian shepherd and enjoys keeping the bad guys away–much to Cassie’s chagrin. Her celebrity crush is Jack Bauer, and her favorite TV show is 24 and her favorite actor is Kiefer Sutherland. In her free time, she cleans her guns and practices timing herself while she loads and unloads.  She loves our family and is super sweet but is downright scary when she sees  anyone she doesn’t approve of.

Finally, here are some chicken nipples.

http://www.amazon.com/Threaded-Poultry-Nipples-Sanitary-Chickens/dp/B00846NTRI/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1409433712&sr=8-2&keywords=poultry+nipple

 

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Part Two: A Letter To My Children

Kids, perspective is everything.

How you live your life is directly related to your perspective.

Without perspective, camping in a tent for two weeks with three little kids just outside a construction zone sounds like a pretty shitty deal. As tough as it was, I kept reminding myself what an immense blessing it was that I had a fresh clean well just steps from our tent. Water.org says that 780 million people do not have access to clean water. That’s about two and a half times the population of the US. Remember how we didn’t have a bathroom for two weeks? That doesn’t make us any more special than at least 60% of the world’s population. When life gets comparatively tough, our instinctive reaction is a petulant tantrum along the lines of “Why me? WHHHHYYYYYY?” Maybe you don’t think you’re quite that dramatic, but think about it the next time your personal car, that you drive to your job to make more money than 90 percent of the world, gets a flat tire on the way to a movie theater where you will literally sit for two hours inhaling popcorn and candy while being entertained.

It’s been two and a half months since we moved here and officially became hicks from the sticks. I feel like I vacillate widely between feeling depressed about our living conditions, to a kind of determined contentment that is not without joy. I’ve come to realize that definitely for sure, I’m a pretty materialistic person with materialistic values. I’ll be honest, this house is not pretty. The land is, but the house and the weedy yards surrounding it have only improved slightly with weeks of cleaning and landscaping. We keep telling each other that it’s a marathon and not a sprint because if you try sprinting with children–something usually gets dropped. I think much more than I ever realized, a large part of my identity is not who God says I am, but is instead wrapped up in the perception that I desperately hope others will have of me.

So here’s how I’m seeing this adventure we call (ironically, for now) Hurst Farm.

What Do I Want You To See? I want you to see a beautiful cross between Better Homes and Gardens and The Pioneer Woman with a solid slice of organic living permaculture.
What Do I See? A field of weeds surrounding a run-down house that has good bones but looks uglier than the backside of a fleabitten cat. Seriously.
What Is The Reality? Well kids, the reality is that we still live better than probably 90% of the world’s population. We live in a house that is currently the size that most of our grandparents grew up in, but now we have running water and electricity and internet. Guess who has two thumbs and takes hot showers multiple times a week?

So, are we spoiled? Yep. Do we need a reality check about how our living situation compares to the rest of the world? Every damn day. Are we going to embrace living a lifestyle where we value others and allow them to value us based not on what we wear and how we look but who we are? You bet.

 

 

I know, I owe ya’ll some pictures after that flea-bitten cat description. Here’s the house from the driveway. In the foreground you see the original cabin and in the background–wrapped in more metal than a tinfoil alien hat–is the house.

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You can read part one of this letter in the last blog

 

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A Letter To My Children

Kids, in the spring of 2014 your father and I did something crazy.

We sold everything we owned except what we could pack into an 8X5 UHaul trailer and proceeded to drive nearly 400 miles to a place your father had only seen once. Hopefully most of what you will remember from the two weeks that followed will be mostly the pleasant parts of playing in dirt, exploring the fields, and sharing a giant tent like an epic sleepover every single night. Hopefully all the tough parts will be obscured by the magic that is inextricably linked to childhood. Anyway, here’s a recount of what it was like to move here for when you’re old enough to be reading blogs on the internet for fun. So, pretty old.

The last thing anyone wants to do after driving for nearly two full days with a carload of cranky kids is to set up a campsite and start a two week camping trip with no hot water or toilet. Fortunately the well went in and the pump was installed just a few days before we arrived, so there was no shortage of running water. Remember when I said I wanted to do things the hard way? Pshhh. That was just crazy talk. This “hard way” stuff is no joke. Here’s how a typical day went down.

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We would all be up with the birds around five and spend the next hour or so tossing and turning to catch any last remnants of sleep before someone had to go to the bathroom (and by bathroom, I don’t mean bathroom). The tent was large and comfortable, but uninhabitable between the hours of 9am and 8pm since it sat in the direct sun and proceeded to bake all day long which is ironic considering how cold it was at night. Usually your Dad would make breakfast and I would feed Oliver and hold him since there was no place to put him down. After taking turns holding Oliver while we all sat in our seats in the car eating oatmeal off the hotplate, your Dad would start off on house projects for the day and I would try to keep you all alive and happy till dinner. Unfortunately, since we’re all Pacific North West’ers, our sun tolerance is about 20 minutes a day before you kids started showing signs of overexposure. This meant that I had to keep you safe either playing in a shady patch on the driveway or sitting in the van with the A/C running during a snack time. In between all the many toilet breaks, (so many times…so many times) and feeding you snacks of fruit or PB&J, and drinking water, and washing hands at the well faucet, and more toilet trips because maybe you didn’t quite get the job done the first time since you were distracted by the view, in all of this, I am holding my dear sweet Oliver. Notice I didn’t say my dear LITTLE sweet Oliver, because there is nothing little about you. Weighing in around 25 pounds, holding you can best be compared to wrestling with a short, fat anaconda. By the time the evening started to roll around I would invariably either give up and feed you beef jerky and a banana for dinner or if I was feeling ambitious and your Dad was cleaned up in time to hold Oliver we would heat up some of the chili or chicken soup from the crockpot and once again eat in the car. There was this window of time between 7ish and 8:30 where the campsite would not be in the blazing sun. In this window, we would eat dinner andyou kids would play in the dirt left over from the well drilling process while I worked on the next day’s meal and clean up the campsite.

Night always came on fast though and suddenly. One minute the sky would be a giant whirling dervish of barn swallows during dusk feeding, and the next minute the sun would slink down the treeline taking all the heat with it.  All of a sudden, we’d be bundling up in our nighttime layers and listening to the crickets wake up.  Kids, you won’t ever understand this since you’re probably pretty comfortable sleeping in the great outdoors by now, but i’ll just admit here that your mother hasn’t been camping with so much wildlife around in a very long long long time.  After our dear, sweet, neighbors regaled us with tales of all the wild predators that they had seen around lately, I made your father take some extra precautions to stop the laying-awake-in-the-middle-of-the-night-listening-to-creatures-moving-in-the-tall-grass and in spite of my dry-mouthed fear, planning how I was going to detail this imminent confrontation in a blog post called The Naked Prey. Not that we sleep na–it’s a metaphor, okay?

Part 2: COMING SOON

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Well, well, well…

Today our well was drilled.  All previous owners had relied on the use of several hand-dug wells, but we asked the sellers to drill a well before closing to ensure access to lots of clean water. Besides, it’s not 1800 and we’re not savages.

Anyway, in answer to your questions, we did not use these guys:

And the well does not look like this:

Instead, here’s a picture of a similar well setup to ours. You’re looking at the pressure tank, pump, and power for the pump.

We’re pretty relieved the well process is moving ahead on schedule since we’ll be arriving there in just a few days. When we arrive, we will be camping in a tent for the first week or two while we deal with several house issues. These issues are mostly related to general cleanup and mice eradication. ‘Cause Mamma don’t play that game. That’s right. I’m willing to live in a tent for two weeks before I share a house with mice. And just to be sure you understand me when I say “mice” and not “a mouse”, referring to more than one of these delightful little creatures, I shall use the plural PLURAL form of “meeces” to refer to them.  So the meeces. There’s quite a lot of them. We need to figure out some great trap ideas and bait options because I have no intention of feeding them poison and having them go die in the wall somewhere. If you have any great tips, please send them our way.

 

And now, I shall stop procrastinating and go pack my kitchen. T-minus 7 days and praying for good weather. Also, a super unusually warm early spring.

This post goes out to Elizabeth O. My newest blog stalker. I’m sending you an awesome t-shirt. Not really.

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Easter Musings

“And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly I say to to you, Today you will be with me in Paradise.”” Luke 23: 42-43

Could this be the most significant interaction in the whole of human history? These words, the most rich with meaning and joy? For here lies the perfect picture of humanity’s great need made perfect in the Divine Grace of the cross. In this simple conversation between a thief speaking his last words while dying for his own sins, and the sinless Son of God dying for the sins of all humanity we see Jesus invite with no need for penance, this sorry picture of humanity simply because he asked.

What a richly satisfying moment that must have been for Jesus. As he hung there, borne down more by the crushing weight of sin-separation from The Father than the agony of crucifixion, he turned to the man dying by his side and uttered words that could not have been spoken a day before. In his great mercy and love, he was finally about to vanquish sin and death once and for all and allow the floodgates of his Grace to cover us in our abject need.

Easter is such a sweet and heart-rending holiday for me. If I sit too long and think about it, something shorts out in my head because I really can’t comprehend the depth of the sacrifice and Grace that has been made mine. This year I was particularly struck by the interaction between the thief and Jesus. It’s as if all humanity is that one thief. Dying. Sinful. Nothing left to offer. He doesn’t even renounce all his sins. Knowing that there is no time to change and nothing else he can do to even the score in a great balance of the good versus evil in his life. And then Jesus. Even in the act of bearing the punishment for the sins of this man, He turns to him and promises eternal life.

This is the power of the cross. If you grab hold onto anything, hold this. His Grace is made perfect in our weakness and our salvation is only through the completely encompassing Grace of God. I’m pretty sure being a good person is overrated. Sure, life is much easier when we made choices that honor God, but at the end of the day, “good” isn’t what gets us into Heaven. Only Grace.

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What have we just done?

I remember wondering about love when AJ and I were dating . When does it happen? How do you know it when it comes? Do you recognize it, or is it so unlike all other types of love that you are left whirled around and speechless? One morning you just wake up and realize that somehow overnight, everything just changed. Like this morning. We bought a farm. One minute I’m running the vacuum in my 3bed/2.5 bath home in suburbs and the next I’m running as fast as my heartbeat through a wide open field. My field. Our field. Next, I turn sharply down a hill and around a corner into a berm of trees that line the creek. Our creek. The perfect mix of pasture, trees, hills, water, sun and shade.

You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s in rough shape. So it’s a bit of a fixer-upper.  AJ and I are terrified and excited. There’s nothing scarier than watching dreams get buried under the old pages of a calendar though.

My whole horizon just changed. I’m all a jumble of mixed thoughts and I can’t even seem to write a coherent line without either bursting into song lyrics or obsessively hitting the backspace key. I just can’t even.

Our field

 

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Better off yet

I have a complicated relationship with blogging. It’s hard to be so private and yet write  on so public a forum. I enjoyed writing so much more when no one was reading it but I miss writing too much when I stop. Love and hate. Like I said, it’s complicated. Plus, I feel so out of breath trying to catch up in my regular life that I can’t handle the pressure of trying to catch up with my life expressed in blog form. But I’ll stop apologizing now and get down the the messy business of writing.

In a fairly circuitous fashion, we have arrived at the conclusion that we want to live a rural and simple life and that our best bet at finding someplace we can be happy and still afford it will probably be in Eastern Washington. Honestly, I have no idea though. We’ve been considering Montana and Idaho too. I have had it with sidewalks, and neighbor cats, and no yelling policies in the yard. I’m done spending my days just trying to get the house clean and food made and kids loved. I think some people thrive best under pressure and that’s definitely me. I don’t just want a house to manage, I want land and a half-acre garden and raising livestock and little kids weeding long rows in the summertime. I don’t just want to teach my kids to read and write and love God, I want them to learn the satisfaction of hunting garden beetles to feed chickens, and tire swings, and digging the last of the potatoes before the frost hits, and sitting in shocked silence in the corner of a barn while a goat welcomes a set of twins. I know these things because I’ve lived them. Nearly a lifetime of experiences ago, my parents did something brave and crazy that resulted in raising a pack of happy children on a forgotten corner of the world. Literally forgotten even by time in an old house that had no running water or electricity and the carved names on the attic walls were a century old. I’m not saying I want that exactly…running water has it’s perks and there’s nothing like the convenience of a light switch. However, if there’s one hard truth I”m learning, it’s that you have to want a simple life with every ounce of your determination because it’s actually much simpler to live complicated. It’s pretty easy to live in town. Not so hard to go grocery shopping. There’s nothing truly difficult about eating meat you didn’t bottle raise. And, I’ll never be as smart as my smart phone, so why bother.

But maybe crazy is genetic. Maybe we just inherited some of this nonsense from our parents and that’s why we can seem to shake the feeling that we’ll never be happy watching the sun set over our neighbor’s houses. I know not everyone feels the same way we do about this urge to live a simpler lifestyle, but I know way too many people only watch longingly from the sidelines.  That’s where we were until this year. Now our angst has reached a fever pitch of searching for options that result in stepping outside at night and seeing stars with no city lights or street lights to drown them out and enough land to run till you’re out of breath trying to catch a wayward farm animal.

Sometimes I feel like my whole damn generation has gone soft. We’ve spent too much time thinking easier is better, but it isn’t. Easier is weaker and softer and more placid. Easier is letting all the losers go home with a plaque. Easier is fatherless or motherless children because being a parent is hard. Easier is divorce because marriage is hard. Easier is politically correct because we can’t handle someone who disagrees with us. Easier is working all the time to give your children the life they deserve.

Well, let’s try it the hard way then.

 

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Introspect

Wandering through my sleeping mind I found a draconian lair,
selfishness was the only thing I found to be hiding there.

Morbidly fascinated, I stepped inside the room,
and found a mirror on every wall with the power to consume.

Every good and thoughtful thing I thought I’d ever done,
was a battle for my motives, and selfishness had won.

reposted from 01/28/2008

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This Guy

This is how long we’ve been in Oregon. Long enough to make an Oregon baby and see him smile. Growing up the majority of our lives in Washington, it still feels strange to think of Oregon as home. I think that when I sleep, I still dream with my home being a small town on the Puget Sound, but slowly that chapter is being pushed a page back as we write Part Three, Chapter One: Oregon.

Oliver is a gentle reminder that we can (and should) plan out our lives, but God determines our steps. He’s a blessing we didn’t know we adventure timeneeded. As I sit here typing while he naps nearby, I’m reminded of an instagram picture I posted nearly a year ago. I snapped a picture of our fingers wrapped together as AJ and I pulled onto the freeway with two sugar-high kids and the rest of the Halloween stash conveniently between our seats. Let the adventure start!  I thought.  Little did I know that adventure meant moving to a new state and having a baby.

I guess I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. Several times lately, AJ and have looked at each other across a messy room while two of our children play a game of tag between the dining room and the living room, and the third child is attempting to give his father a hickey in his constant search for food. Here we are–being all grownup and starting a new life a whole state away from everything we know. I mean, it’s not like it’s unheard of, and both of our parents have done something similar, but still. Sometimes I feel like there just has to be a Moving to a Place You Don’t Know Anyone For Dummies. But for real, this last year was not a whole lot easier than the year before it, and considering the humdinger of a year that 2012 shaped up to be, that’s saying something.

Anyway. The whole point of this blog was to acknowledge Oliver with more than just a few pictures and also to get a blog down in October. Yeah, I know it’s the 26th, but procrastination is kind of my style. Back to Oliver. This time last year, if you had suggested his imminent arrival, I would have kicked you in the shins. Now, I look at his sweet face and I’m so glad I get to know him and be his Mom.  Yes, there’s a whole new dynamic to having more children than arms, and we pretty much live off of leftovers, and right now the little punk is up every three hours at night, but there’s nothing sweeter than coaxing smiles from his cute face at 3am.

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It’s like I have paparazzi, but not really.

So, I know that this will be the third time in nearly as many posts that I’ve posted a blog with a list of things, but that’s just what I feel like doing today, and what Mama wants, Mama gets.  I mean, that’s the dream anyway.

Today I am 38 weeks pregnant. Otherwise known as eight and a half months or 266 days, but let’s be honest–all we really care about at this point is that I only have two weeks left before this child gets an eviction notice. Also, I’m kind of a tough-love style parent. We won’t be doing any of that well-you-can-stay-as-long-as-you-pay-rent-or-maybe-at-least-keep-the-music-down nonsense. No, it’s time for this kid to get out in the real world and get a job…you know, like making people coo over you when you poop with such gusto that it goes up your back. Normal stuff like that. Non-parent readers; it’s okay, you don’t want to know.

So, what’s it like being me at 38 weeks pregnant?

Almost like a celebrity, but not in a good way.

  1. People take notice when I order that americano. Okay, so maybe I don’t have my picture in people magazine because of my coffee consumption, but I definitely have my coffee choices analyzed by a bevy of bored onlookers.
  2. Shameless staring. I mean shameless. In the beginning, the staring is pretty cautious, since there’s always the risk of it just being a cake and ice cream belly, but by now I’ve reached the stage where baby “bumps” are practically public domain and men and women alike watch with casual, open amusement.
  3. Strangers talk to me like they know me, with–trust me–no provocation on my behalf.  Word of advice: You have nothing to say to a pregnant stranger. Nothing. No advice (Make sure you’re getting plenty of rest now, Mom, because just you wait!). No comments on their appearance (Wow! Must be any day now, right? Yeah, I’ve been getting those for over a month).  No reminiscing (Oh, I remember my pregnancies, such sweet memories. Mazel tov, now please go away).  And definitely, no over-compensating compliments because you feel like you have to say something to prove that you’re not awkward (You’re glowing! No, Crazy, I’m flop-sweating out of every pore because it’s 90 degrees out.)
  4. The touching. Ooooh, the touching. You know how when you’re a celebrity and those crazy fans run up to you and try to hug you or touch you just so they can never wash their left thumb again? I touched Brad Pitts elbow with THIS THUMB! Yeah, I don’t really know either, except that I do get a lot of crazy strangers (WHY is it always the crazy ones?) attempting to touch my belly. I say “attempting” because I have no problem saying “Piss off!” taking a step back out of arms reach and leaving them hanging. What? First let me stroke your belly and then we’ll talk.
  5. People either treat me with bored indifference–which is kind of the way I always imagine I’d act around a real celebrity. Yeah, I’m in an elevator with Sandra Bullock right now. No bigs. She can push her floor button or I can…whatevs. Or, they treat me like a sacred cow. Any and all puns intended. Oh! Were you thinking about going through that door back there? Let me run back and open it for you. Can I carry something?”

Yay pregnancy. My next post will be a very graphic retelling of the downright savagery that is childbirth. Just kidding. It will probably be a couple of adorable newborn and sibling photos serenaded by my emotive writing on new life, new love, and the beauty of family. Because by then, I won’t be pregnant.

 

 

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Dear July

I’ve always felt like July was the longest month of the year.  When I think of summer and sprinklers and watermelon and picnics, I just always picture them in July regardless of the spring perfection of June and the sultry heat of August. Naturally, being pregnant the entire month of July hasn’t helped this perception.

In an attempt to  keep this a family blog, I’ll refrain from speaking too frankly about how strongly I prefer being un-pregnant, how tortuously long the second half of this pregnancy has been and also how sincerely uncomfortable I have felt. But–dear Internet– I’m in a better place now. After all, this is August, and I have less than a month to go. I’m pretty sure if I had blogged in July, it would have been uncomfortable reading since there’s just something a little passe when a pregnant woman whines about an integral part of the human experience that has only been done like a hundred billion times.

July was a beautiful month though. Due to some strange time-warp, we celebrated Violet’s fifth birthday. The little girl born with her eyes wide-open has changed from a tiny person who wore preemie clothes at birth, to a tall, athletic, charmer who fills up our house and any drawable surface with art, laughter, and silly faces. Between Violet’s height, coordination, and strength, and Henry’s fearless winner-takes-all attitude, the one-time whimsically sweet games of tackle time with Daddy, have changed to intensely focused challenges where cunning and self-preservation trump any idyllic picture of sprawling on your back in the grass while your sweet children gently tickle you.

July also marked our ten-year anniversary of holding hands. What? It’s a thing, okay? We had gone out on our first date in February of that year but we decided not to start dating until after summer. I’d like to say that our mature reason was so that we could really just get to know each other as friends, but the honest truth is that we wanted to work in the same department as daycamp counselors at Warm Beach Camp, and there was a pretty solid rule about not allowing couples to work in the same department. Fortunately, both of those things happened, and after a summer of working in ministry side-by-side in a truly platonic–okay, and this is the part where no one believes me, but honestly, when we started dating at the end of July, I remember hearing the rumor mill go in overdrive at the sight of us holding hands in public. “Did anyone else see AJ and Pearl HOLDING HANDS?!!” 

Anyway, by the time we actually stated dating, we both knew we would be married. 14 months later, we were. Deciding to marry was a determined leap of faith made up of thoughtful consideration, and disregarding fear by replacing it with trust in God and relying on Him for wisdom.  It sounds very unromantic to say that, but just as love is forged in sacrifice, late nights with sick kids, and seeing someone at their worst and best, so romance in its purest form is simply the soundtrack of two devoted hearts–not whirlwind infatuation and blinding passions.  Pretty sure I’ll never get hired to be a producer on the Bachelor franchise.

Watching the curious shape of our two hands linking together ten years ago, I could never have hoped for or understood the beauty of marriage that I was to discover, or the providence of God’s choice for my spouse. I’ve found marriage to be a race of gratitude, where we strive to be swift to “overpay” a debt of love, and my husband, a joyful discovery.

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ISO: friends who text dirty pictures.

I suppose I should clarify. One of my dearest friends just texted me a picture of her dirty kitchen. I responded with a few of my own pictures and a lump in my throat made up of missing old friends and appreciation for the reminder that my job is taking care of people–not stuff.

True story: I just stopped typing to tell my son to put the shorts that got caught in a potty-break misfire in the laundry basket and then watched him drag them the entire length of my leather couch before placing them on top of the clean laundry piled on the dryer that has been sitting there for three days. I’m sitting here now, because I had too many Braxton Hicks in a row after cleaning the kitchen for the first time since Saturday as well as the fridge that had been the recipient of an unfortunate soy sauce accident about a week ago. The soy sauce had hardened into salty, stubborn, crystals that took a decent amount of elbow grease to remove. Unfortunately, I can’t relax because I know that my kitchen counters are still covered with a devious layer of watermelon juice that has dried into a commercial grade stickiness since it made its debut on Saturday. Of course, this all pales in comparison to the rest of the house I still have to clean so that when the new babysitter shows up tomorrow evening to let AJ and I go out to dinner for the first time since probably September, she’ll think we are a nice, normal, family.

We cannot afford to scare this girl off.

There’s been a surprising number of discontented mothers writing things that make waves on the internet lately. Notably, there was the mom in the UK somewhere who wrote eloquently about her strong aversion to motherhood several months ago, and more recently, a former professional wrote about how much smaller her world has gotten since becoming a mother. Her article was littered with words of regret and angst linked together. However, for every discontented woman who became a mother without counting the costs involved, there’s so many more who live for the validation they can get in the contest to be the perfect mother while only allowing themselves to be judged by the carefully selected things they post on Facebook or their Pinterest-worthy blogs. I hope to fall somewhere in the middle.

The truth is, nothing worth having comes easy. While I have yet to actually look it up to verify, Pinterest says that there’s a quote by Winnie the Pooh about how sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart. He was right; not only do they take over your heart, but also your house, your budget, your car, your clothing choices, your friends, and your early morning coffee time. In a perfunctory glance, your world does seem to get smaller. There’s so much less time for what you want to dream and live and accomplish, when someone is literally always asking for a snack. Nothing good comes without a sacrifice though. It’s like this law of nature written into the genetic code of all creation. There is no birth without pain, no life without inevitable death, and no spring without fall. If becoming a mother makes your world smaller, then I would contend that it becomes deeper. Where once was a rainbow of panorama to explore, now becomes a small pinhole of light like a laser that only travels far because of its intense focus.

If you’re a mother, or if you have one, this applies. Narrowing your focus onto the people in your life will necessitate that you lose the things that distract from these people, and somewhere in the journey you will discover that they were worth it.

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redux

You are reading the wrong blog post. Right now, there are at least three blog posts sitting in my unpublished drafts and I wish you were reading one of those instead of this one. But, they’re boring. Like dictionary boring. The ideas were good but the thoughts came out stagnant and stilted.

You see, there’s this thing that happens when words become real and lift off that screen or page and mix with a part of you that you didn’t know needed stirring. Unfortunately, it’s not something you can just summon. We can’t all pull a Taylor Swift and date people just for the breakup songs they’ll inspire but it’s still important to find ways to pour your heart into something with recklessness. That’s where life is born. Creativity isn’t just an ability that some people have and others don’t–it’s an unbidden freshness that steals through your soul when you let yourself go. It takes many forms. Any act, monotonous schedule, or choice can become creative and transformed from a rut in your mind that you can’t seem to pull the tires out of, to a flat beach and bare feet. I’m not talking about cutting and pasting inspirational words and images into a journal to visualize a better future, I’m talking about pouring the deep parts of your soul into life. There’s no safety in saving yourself for something that draws you out and inspires you. Instead, you’ll find that the well in your heart sinks deeper into a stoney void that less and less can reach.

Today I pour myself into slicing apples. I pour myself into finding flip-flops and turning on bathroom sinks for people that can’t yet reach, and reading that Mo Willems book about the flying pig…again. I pour myself into being the banner bearer for good attitudes, playing nice and not hitting when someone takes your car (unless it’s a real car, and even then…maybe not such a good idea). I don’t just pour myself into being a Mom, but also just like you; I dream of the future, mistakenly hoarding my hopes for tomorrow and forgetting that yesterday, today was one of my tomorrows.

Inspiration exists but it has to find you working. –Pablo Picasso

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Not that you asked, but…

AJ and I watched a tv episode last night where one of the main characters has a baby.Can we all just stop and agree here that Hollywood consistently misinforms us about pretty much everything?

I mean really.

With that in mind,

The Top Ten Hollywood Lies About Childbirth

  1. Everyone screams their heads off. Okay, so it’s not a silent process by any means, but open-mouth screaming? Hollywood: lots of screaming/swear words/calling random people horrible names. Reality: mostly just lots of strange noises you normally wouldn’t be caught dead making.
  2. Labor starts with your water breaking all over the floor. Hollywood: your water breaks in the middle of the mall or during a conversation that is pivotal to the plot. Reality: you’re in your hospital bed in the throes of active labor when you discover to your shock and horror that you are suddenly peeing all over your doctor. Fewer than 15% of women have their water break before labor.
  3. Labor starts suddenly.  Hollywood: one minute you’re carrying on a conversation and the next minute you’re grabbing your belly and yelling in pain and surprise. Reality: You start feeling funny which progresses to uncomfortable cramping and finally to actual labor.
  4. As soon as the baby is born everything is finished. Hollywood: after a perfunctory glance from the doctor, they hand you your smiling newborn and you all just look at the baby and stroke their cheek while the room floods with family and friends. Reality: Au contraire my friends. First, you still have to deliver the placenta, which can be surprisingly unfun. Then, there’s usually a brusque nurse with the forearms of a body-builder kneading your abdomen to help your uterus contract and slow down bleeding while you whimper in pain, someone has their arm inside you up to the elbow while they check to make sure everything came out okay, and there may or may not be stitches involved. Next comes your giant mesh underwear and a bag of ice to…ice things.
  5. Newborns always look perfect. Hollywood: the doctor hands you a snuggly little dolly-faced baby approximately two months old. Reality: This is only slightly true if you have a baby delivered via c-section. Otherwise, expect your baby to look as bad as you would expect someone who just spent several very uncomfortable hours being squished and forcibly pushed out of something that is technically a billion percent too small.  “Honey, you just gave birth to…a lizard”.
  6. Your baby-daddy becomes more baby than daddy. Hollywood: He runs around panicking because he can’t remember where the keys are or if you even own a car to begin with. Reality: most men are pretty nervous and excited, but since beginning labor can take a while, they usually have a solid chance to stay calm and get everything taken care of.
  7. Labor is excruciating. Hollywood: you go to the hospital expecting to deliver naturally in a zen mood and end up bribing someone to get you an epidural sooner. Reality: Labor really does hurt a lot. It will probably hurt more than you expected it to, but it definitely won’t be as bad as you can imagine it could be.  What, was that not comforting? Sorry.
  8. Labor is short. Hollywood: you rush to the hospital and after a few dramatic moments of orderlies running down the halls and doctors saying things like “Stat!” you are done. Reality: You get checked in and spend several hours at least, just trying to focus through contractions while your husband watches a fishing show and lovingly tries to distract you with random facts about boats.
  9. Recovery is fast and easy. Hollywood: usually this part gets skipped altogether. That doesn’t mean it isn’t hard. Reality: Sometimes, especially in the case of a c-section or a difficult birth, the recovery can be nearly as hard as the actual delivery. Oh, and do yourself a favor and eat some prunes. It’s just for fun.
  10. Storks do not deliver babies. Hollywood: They float down from a cloud with your perfect baby in a well-ventilated bag. Reality: Not only do you have to go through the process of building a person from scratch…inside your body, you also have the esteemed privilege of then pushing said baby out of the closest exit.

 

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In which I realize that I am in fact, a crazy cat lady.

But let me be clear; when I say “crazy” i am referring to the cats and not myself, and when I say “cats” I mean children.

Ways In Which Small Children and Cats are the Same

1. Feeding time. Both cats and small children insist on getting right underfoot and making lots of noise right before you have the food ready/can opened.

2. They both have the tendency to get wild and hyper and chase each other around the house and over furniture, knocking over lamps or anything else that’s fragile.

3. You don’t want to see either of them standing on the kitchen counters.

4. If you’re carrying something large or heavy, both cats and children will use that chance to walk slowly, directly in front of you.

5. While normally gentle, they both have been known to bite and scratch

6. Litterboxes and diapers are both disgusting.

7. Cats and small children are both well known for their ability to damage/destroy furniture.

8. They like to wake you up too early…usually by sitting on your face.

9. If there is soft dirt outside, they will find it and dig in it.

10. If they get sick the chances that they will actually vomit in in the toilet are slim to none.

 

 

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in which i become a hypochondriac with self-diagnosed narcolepsy.

So, sometime around the beginning of the year, when everyone was either making grand resolutions for the New Year or trying to be all original by saying something smart like “I don’t make New Year’s resolutions because that’s just for losers,” I decided to start blogging regularly again. Six posts. That’s as far as I got.

Here’s why. Eight months ago we were settling into our fall routine of preschool, church stuff, and a great job for AJ. As soon as I had filled in the fall calendar we found out that AJ’s job as a contracted RN was not going to be renewed with several maternity leave staff returning, and since we wanted to keep working on a contract basis to pay off all those home renovation bills faster, we decided to see if there was anything else available nearby. And then the whirlwind. We moved to Portland, discovered that we wanted to live here permanently, went house hunting, church hunting, people hunting (not that kind of hunting), neighborhood hunting, and of course new-favorite-mexican-restaraunt hunting. Next, we went back to that small Scandinavian town we grew up in to haul all our earthly possessions here and start life as we know it from scratch. Oh, but I forgot the biggest part.

This happened.

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I KNOW. On Christmas Eve Eve, in a joking attempt to put my hypochondriac tendencies to rest, we discovered a pretty big surprise.

*please observe a moment of silence here for the shock and awe we experienced.

So yes, now that I’m just past the halfway point in this pregnancy, most of that shock and awe has morphed into just regular shock and of course a mind-numbing fog of exhaustion and raging hormones.

Anyway, if the thought counts, plenty of interesting things to blog about have occurred to me since January. Unfortunately, I have either shortly forgotten them or just fallen asleep before blogging. I mean really. The reason I took that ding dang test in the first place was because suddenly I was sending AJ out the door for work in the morning and promptly falling back to sleep till noon while my children found new ways to decorate with cocoa powder and mayonnaise.  Like two weeks before this whole whirlwind hit, I took my brother’s wedding pictures. Eight months later I delivered them. I’m not even sure if that’s legal, guys. At least to my credit, I take incredible pictures so it worked out okay. I’m also highly intelligent and super humble.

And that’s where I’ve been. Old readers will notice that I changed the name of this blog from Every Day of the Year. It was time. Let’s not kid ourselves anymore.

Hopefully I’ll post again in 2013. Maybe.

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Tip of the Day

This post brought to you by the makers of Quinoa. And yes, this is a paying sponsor, because God made Quinoa and all my treasures are in Heaven. So yeah, I’m set.

Source: http://www.prevention.com/whats-healthier-quinoa-or-brown-rice

Apparently 2013 is the international year of quinoa. Why? Because some genius in the Andes decided to cash in on this nutrient-packed seed and make sure that everyone knows that this superfood darling is going to be a win-win. People in Peru make more money, and we eat healthier.

My favorite way to use quinoa? Throwing a handful into soups or stews at the last minute in place of pasta or rice. It cooks in just a few minutes and doesn’t get super soggy like rice if overcooked. Other favorite ways? Cook quinoa plain and not in chicken broth, so that if you have leftovers, you can add it to quick and yeast breads, pancakes, salads, or even smoothies.

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How not to save the world/educate the internet

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls; I have an important announcement. Thanks to the careless overuse of the “share” button on Facebook, I will now be forced by my active imagination to lift up every public toilet seat before I use it.

True confession time: Even though I’ll admit it isn’t likely, I like to keep the bathroom shower curtain open so that ax murders can’t hide there. I also prefer not to dangle my feet or hands off the bed at night for obvious reasons, I am pretty certain you can’t get STD’s from public toilets but I use all the necessary precautions just the same, and I am ever mindful that my computer webcam could double as a spy scope for a computer hacker at any moment. Just to be clear, the last one is the most likely of the four. Now that you’re convinced I’m a paranoid cat lady, I’ll share my latest irrational fear. Some genius friend-of-a-friend shared on Facebook a link about this poisonous new spider that hides under public toilet seats so it can bite your butt and kill you. Fortunately, our mutual friend posted a link to a snopes.com article discrediting this “fact”. However, the damage to my delicate psyche was already done.

Enter: My Soapbox Moment, brought to you by anyone who shares something on facebook without fact-checking it first. But first, a little history. When I was fifteen, I got my first email account. This virtual connection to friends and family and the ability to send a letter at the touch of a button was truly amazing. Then, the forwards. At first, there weren’t really a whole lot of email forwards to circulate to educate and encourage and challenge your friends, but just like the flu, it started to catch on. Not only was I learning tons of new things via my email forwards, I was also daily challenged in my walk as a christian to show my boldness and share the love with others. You know, the forwards say something like, “Now, if you really love Jesus, you’ll forward this to ten of your friends right now! Still not sure? 98% of you are too ashamed of our Lord’s sacrifice to send this to your friends. What are you waiting for? Ever moment of hesitation is the same as adding another thorn to His crown of suffering!” So yes, of course I sent it out. Fortunately for me, my parents staged a “just say no to forwards” intervention after my youth pastor made a joke to them about being on my forwards list and after lengthy rehabilitation that consisted of daily reminders that hitting that forward button is not a sign of your devotion to God but simply a good way to be super annoying, I was done for good. Plus, with the unsettling revelation from my dad that not everything pretty much nothing you find in an email forward is true (mind.blown.) I was even more determined than ever not to involve myself with the propagation of unproven facts and needless information.

And then Facebook happened. Also, apparently a lot of you people never learned the whole just-because-it’s-on-the-internet-doesn’t-mean-it’s-true lesson. Because trust me, that lesson can be multiplied when it comes to anything you found first on facebook. For some reason, unquestionable verity is given to a “fact” once it is shared by a real person and not just some faceless source known as the internet. I think the general rule of thumb here is, if you found it on facebook, it probably isn’t true.

Here as an example, I have included two of the most popular “forwards” I have found on Facebook. The first one is of course the high school commencement speech given by Bill Gates. Sorry guys, not true. I’m not going to list the entire speech since I’m certain most of you either shared it or read it, but I’ll include everyone’s favorite part of the speech, “Be nice to nerds. Chances are, you’ll end up working for one.” Source? Not Bill Gates, but an excerpt from a book by Charles Sykes. Second most popular forward? This one gets a whole new batch of people every couple of months.

“I would like to keep my FB private except to those I am friends with. So if you all would do the following, I’d appreciate it. With the new FB timeline on its way this week for EVERYONE. . . please do both of us a favor: Hover over my name above. In a few seconds you’ll see a box that says “Subscribed”. Hover over that, then go to “Comments and Likes” and games, unclick them. That will stop my posts and yours to me from showing up on the side bar for everyone to see, but most importantly it limits hackers from invading our profiles. If you repost this I will do the same for you.”

So basically, good news and bad news. The good news is that your facebook privacy is not in the hands of your lazy friends, but completely accessible to you through your settings. The bad news is that you got taken to town by a facebook sharing scam.

Last but not least of the soapbox points? Resharing “facts” relating to issues/causes/politics without fact-checking them first. Everyone likes to whine about how much they can’t stand facebook during election season because of how aggressively their friends can push their voting preferences, but personally? The sheer amount of inaccuracies and “facts” shared are a much bigger problem. If you feel strongly about something, do your credibility a favor and fact-check before you share.

Oh, and if you suspect foul play while at an atm, entering your PIN backwards doesn’t call the police.

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Oh the irony…

So we live in Portland, right? I mean, not in Portland, but pretty much. One of the interesting things about cities is that everyone is a little bit stranger. Now, I know most of you are thinking, “Yeah, you live in Portland!” But really, there’s something about urban living anywhere; the anonymity of being alone in a crowd that makes people act and dress in certain ways that you just can’t do in a small town without attracting attention. However, Portland does have it’s own special…flair…for the unusual.

I’m not sure how long this has been the case, but right now all the cool kids are hipsters. Except that it’s not cool to want to fit in to a mold or stereotype, so they won’t admit to all dressing alike because they just really feel like they naturally fit in their own personal style–which of course, is ironically similar to everyone else. Speaking of ironic–and i didn’t come up with this–apparently being a hipster is about…irony? I know. Kids these days. I didn’t really get it either until I noticed an advertisement for an iPad case. It was this mass produced look-alike of some old beat up leather bag with plaid accents–just like old timey loggers used. So let me get this straight. You want the most care-worn beat up old leather bag custom fitted to hold your iPad in. That, my friends, is irony.

Picture a man. He has a full beard, his hair is shaggy and mid-length, and he wears ill-fitting jeans that are rolled up at the ankles. Those hairy ankles are encased in a pair of clunky work boots that are dark brown with plenty of scuffs and look slightly old-country immigrant. His shirt is plaid (of course) and looks well made, although a little past it’s prime. Who is he? What is his story? Well, he doesn’t live in the sticks in montana running a sawmill. He’s your new barista. That’s right, this man makes lattes for a living.

But just wait. Before you go laughing at this strange little love-child of a hippie and a yuppie, don’t forget to look for the plank in your own eye. Got cowboy boots? Ever worn a cowboy hat? You better hope you’re a real live cowboy…on a ranch…driving cattle. What about jeans with store-bought holes or perfectly worn baseball caps? Yep. You too.

*I have no problem with men who make lattes for a living. I just find humor in ironic situations, and lucky me–i have a whole city of them.

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What Little Boys Are Made Of

The jury is still out on slugs, snail, puppy dog tails, or anything else of that nature, but one thing is certain–every little boy is a future man. Each day I see new traits of my son’s masculinity begin to express itself. Lately, he’s decided that he must tangle. He absolutely must fight someone head to head with no holds barred in a battle that renders one the victor and the other–a scheming loser. As you may have deduced, the scheming loser is Henry because his only allowed target is his father and the weight-difference alone is clearly not in his favor.

Of course, both my children love to inflict physical pain on their dear old Dad, and few things bring them greater joy than a well-aimed punch or body slam to their old man’s ribs. However, it wasn’t really till the other day when AJ was home in time for dinner, and all Henry wanted to do was fight over anything that I realized how much he craves and needs that daily challenge of measuring his strength and violent force against the mannest man of them all–Dad. After all, there’s no satisfaction in wrestling with Violet–she’s still stronger and definitely more coordinated so the fights end quick and usually result in tearful apologies from both of them. Wrestling with Mom just isn’t done, but mostly because he resorts to making baby animal noises and we all end up snuggling. Super manly. Things are different with dads and little boys though. It’s almost primal–like watching a wild animal play with their cubs; the huge restraint on the part of the parent and the all-in war cries and throat head-butts of the cub-boy, both fostering a safe place to test and measure and aim high.

Of course, being a man isn’t about your ability to be physically violent, but lets not forget that fostering that appropriate aggression is integral in shaping the man he will become. A protector of women, children, and the needy. A provider who is confident in his abilities. A loving father and spouse who knows the importance of being fully engaged on every level with his family. And so in the meantime, the boy measures his strength against his father. He’s two. I worry about AJ’s health by the time Henry reaches highschool…

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For All I Know

2013 broke this morning with crisp cold air and bright blue skies in the great state of Oregon. That’s right. Oregon.

In looking back, I can describe 2012 as no less than a whirlwind of tension. Not tension in an angry, uncertain way, but tension in a tightly-wound-ready-for-something-to-begin way. There were many great parts to this last year, but it was also a tough year for many reasons. I struggled to become the mother I thought I should be, dealing with banks and home loans is not for the faint of heart, we had to put more effort into our marriage than ever before, and we also renovated a house. By the fall, we were done. Just ready to settle into a routine and relax and start stepping into an easy rhythm. However, God, in His great goodness, had other plans in mind. Our job situation changed suddenly and we decided to take another out-of-state travel job to help us rectify our financial state post-home renovation. All of a sudden, we were swept back up in a whirlwind of uncertainty and decisions on locations, housing, how our children would handle a move and many other factors. Randomly, we decided to spend the assignment in Portland since we wouldn’t have to buy a car on location or fly down and only arrive with carry-on baggage. So that’s what we did. We worked like crazy people, finalized the home renovation details, packed our van up to the brim and drove to hippie-opolis where we settled into a short-term rental in one of the Portland suburbs–Beaverton.

And then something weird happened. God told us to move here. One day, we were praying and fasting and the heavens opened and a light–no, that didn’t happen. All I can say is, by the time we dared to broach the topic to each other, we were both becoming increasingly aware of the Holy Spirit awakening in us not only a desire to move here, but also a sense of urgency and conviction over His timing.

I have no idea why. We are content in the assurance that this seems like a pretty interesting idea, and that it certainly wasn’t ours. So far, 2013 is shaping up to be a great adventure.

“….Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

-Robert Frost

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Online Privacy Etiquette.

Alright kids, I have a soapbox. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s important and bears repeating. Today we’re going to talk about online privacy etiquette. Not your privacy–your children’s.

No one old enough to be on a social network site today really has any idea of what it will be like for the children of today to grow up with every picture and detail of their lives chronicled on a public forum. Don’t assume that just because your facebook profile is private that everything you post online with always be private. I’d also like to point out that The Golden Rule does not apply here. Everyone is different. Just because you think something is fine to post online doesn’t mean your child will agree with you when they are thirteen. I think the issue here is about respecting your silly kid for the complex adult they will become sooner than you think.

Of course, I’m not remotely innocent in this matter, but the longer I have an online identity, the more I realize the wide-reaching implications and potential for violating the privacy of my children.

If you’ve never thought about this before, I encourage you to give it serious thought. In the meantime, here’s some guidelines I think everyone should remember before posting online.

Never ever post naked pictures. This seems like an obvious one, but unfortunately not everyone feels that way. Naked baby (less than one year) butts are cute, but genitals are never okay.

Raising kids is tough. Don’t vent on facebook just because you’re tired. Someday your child will read that post.

Don’t post stories with private/personal information about your child. Besides the possible stolen identity threat, your child might have preferences about what they want the whole world to know about them. No one should ever be able to go online and find out when your child started puberty or how the circumcision went. In the same manner, keep embarrassing stories to a minimum and be sensitive with the subject matter. Stories about bed-wetting, things your child is scared of or mistakes they made, might make for entertaining facebook fodder for you and your friends, but they are still inappropriate as common knowledge. Just because they might be an infant now and you feel like you hold copyright over every detail of their lives, doesn’t mean it will always be that way.

And last but not least: the other other Golden Rule: if you’re not sure if you should, then don’t.

 

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sitting in a rainy car

be warned. sometimes writing in italics, indicates impending boring-ness.

it’s 4:07 on Thursday afternoon and I’m sitting in a car. the raindrops are drumming gently on the roof and the people walking past scuttle through puddles, trying to avoid them. I’m supposed to be making a grocery shopping list but I think it’s safe to say that I have no idea what to make for dinner and so I sit here quietly waiting… hoping that perhaps if I sit here long enough,  inspiration will knock on my door and I’ll open it up to find a bag full of groceries with instructions and clean dishes afterwards. believe me when I say if I livef by myself I would never ever ever cook. it’s not that I don’t enjoy cooking in itself it’s just the Monday North headedness of such a task force me to tears. And the second half of that last sentence was brought to you by auto correct. right now I’m using a talk to text feature on my phone to write this blog, and I’m finding it not quite inspirational as I hoped. it isnt as though I don’t enjoy seeing what random words my phone will insert for me, that lets be honest-that’s not really the point of writing in the first place.

alright, new topic. thanks very much for your lease Thanksgiving we are looking forward to the long this holiday season ever. ohh my word. this talk to text feature is making me sound really stupid.
that’s it. I’m done, I’m going home. this blog is done.
why on earth I would publish this I have no idea, but I’m partly tempted to, just to help me start writing again. 2012 has been a pretty tough year for me, and I’ve always felt that while quiet waters run deep, sometimes mine just run dry. wow, now I sound like I’m totally obsessed with how deep my waters run. but hey, at least I’m humble about it. this is the most pathetic blog post ever. this talk to text feature is super super lame. also, as an added bonus, I look like a crazy sitting in my car talking to my phone.

And that, my friends was the end of my illustrious career as a phone blogger. I didn’t even have the heart to publish it without coming home and making an honest blog post out of it, but then i remembered that once I said I would make this a blog with no back-spacing and plenty of thinks that I thought. So, i guess the best i can do is include the above section with a small disclaimer about italics. In truth though, italics are usually quite important and should be minded most fastidiously.

I saw some blog post linked on facebook today about words that need to be stricken from common use–mostly because they are overused incorrectly. Now I feel that the occasional use of a word that you don’t actually understand is nothing more than the ramifications of a generation of spell-check children seeing the synonym option and selecting it based on a vague guess involving the context. Such misuse is simply a sign of degrading quality in culture, much the same way that few politicians are actually public servants, or that a 2000 Ford Taurus could even hope to be the restored classic that a 1940 Ford Coupe attains easily. At any rate, my point is that you must accept the following assignment with great brevity. Pick a new word to use today and make sure that you know what it means first. That means you look up the dictionary definition. Guessing is a sin.

Your first word should be fastidiously. Not because I feel that its unique meaning gives it a special value, but simply because the extreme levels of enunciation this word commands, make you stand a little straighter and raise your eyebrows just a bit. The overall effect is one of earnestness, and everyone knows that a little bit of earnest interest in pretty much anything decent can make your world a little bigger. Let’s say you express your appreciation at the fastidious attention to detail that went into your white chocolate cappuccino by the barista at Starbucks. You leave, and the barista smiles to herself because she knows you really meant it–after all, you did look pretty earnest. When she gets off work, the barista puts a little bit more earnestness into her term paper on water transportation methods in third-world countries. Later that week in a study group, a classmate reads that paper just before heading off on a missions trip to Nigeria, and they’re inspired to find a new way to implement the prevention of malaria. Finding a better way to soak the nets in the bug repellent is just the ticket to prevent Akin from getting malaria and continue his education at the local school. Twenty-five years later, Akin is just finishing up his residency in a hospital in Michigan. He’s your new doctor. And just like that, your world got bigger. Did you get chills? Yeah, I thought so.

 

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Pinterest-worthy

Warning: the only reason I am making this post is so that I can pin something I’ve done onto Pinterest. I’m just going to assume that if you’re on the internet in the first place, you probably already know what Pinterest is.
Anyway, without having spent an extensive amount of time looking for it, I’m pretty sure this is something I came up with on my own, and not a distant Pinterest memory I’ve forgotten.

Without further ado, I give you: DIY Holiday Spice Candle.
Am I the only one who has a hard time finding realistic spice smells in candles? I thought of this idea after seeing a pillar candle wrapped in cinnamon sticks because the cinnamon sticks release their scent when the candle warms them.
Of course, being the tightwad that I am, I went cheap method and just dumped cinnamon on a candle. Way cheaper, easier, and more spice smells. This is a picture of a vanilla candle from Ikea with cinnamon on top. Smells like fresh snickerdoodles in my house. The other one I tried was ground cloves over a red velvet candle from target. Those red velvet candles smell edibly delicious anyway, but adding your spice of choice makes them fill the house with holiday baking. Minus the mess.

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Epic Before/After of an Entire House

Hello Internet. So, long story short–just like the trip to cape cod two years ago, we’re off for a few months to travel the world, namely–Portland. And by Portland i mean Beaverton, which is pretty close to Portland. Anyway, so remember that house that we bought and renovated last spring? Since it’s officially now reached that auspicious age of being a century, decade, year, month, day, old, i figured it was time i showed ya’ll some pictures. Of course, being the classic procrastinators that we are, AJ and I left all the little detail parts of the home renovation until the last month before we left. Suffice to say, October was a pretty insane month for us with moving, getting housing lined up here, packing, and checking all the final renovation projects off the list. I don’t care to ever repeat that month again.

When I took these pictures, we were on at least a week straight of putting the kids to bed and staying up till the wee hours of the next day working on projects. Anyone who doesn’t have young kids will recognize that they never sleep in…a truly unfortunate trait that I intend to remind them of when they’re teenagers. With that in mind, please don’t judge my pictures too harshly. In looking back at them, I realized I seemed to have a strange fascination with ceilings and avoiding taking pictures of entire rooms–just details. So irritating, but I’ll let myself off the hook because I had just gotten to the house for the night of work after falling asleep in a guest bedroom during a Halloween party. Yes, in the middle of a Halloween party I went upstairs and promptly fell asleep. Oh, and it wasn’t in my house. So basically, think nice thoughts about my pictures.

Front of the house.

Side of the house. You’ll be happy to know that “garden box” is no longer there.

Back of the house. The changes we made on the exterior were relatively small, new windows, fixed roof issues, new trim, painted, removed the chimney, new gutters, new patio, new front door.

You can just see the tip of the old, broken patio in the “before” picture.

This is the backdoor entrance/laundry room. The burlap curtain and the stacked appliances really changed this room. Burlap has tons of texture and visual weight while still allowing tons of natural light through from the window behind.

I know, right? I think it’s safe to say that If you can see it, it’s new. I wish I had included some of the floor in this picture. Suffice to say, as you will see in later pictures, underneath all the nasty carpet and linoleum were the original wood floors. They were not pretty, but a couple coats of black porch and floor oil paint made them glossy and full of character. For the countertops, we used polished porcelain tile with black grout.

After a very preliminary glance we though we would be able to use everything in this room. As it turns out, we ended up gutting most of it and replacing with new. Well, all of cupboards and cabinets in the whole kitchen were reclaimed from various local building salvage stores. Great way to go if you are trying to cut costs, and especially if you like white cabinets since anything paints. We were intentional about making sure the cabinets were solid wood, and not particle board or some other wood composite because that would have been a complete waste of time.

These lovelies are now on the left side of the sink in the photo above. I really wanted some open shelving that would provide some contrast to the nearly all-white look i was going for.

I love this collection of wall-rail from Ikea.

I know this is an odd before/after shot. The turquoise door replaced the one in the “before” shot with a cat door and plexi-glass window.

More pretty kitchen.

This is the dining room. The wood floors in this room were badly warped so we replaced the subfloor and put in a layer of nice plywood and painted it. The verdict? Definitely. Also, how much do you love the light fixture? I know.

Here’s another picture of the built-in hutch. It’s amazing what paint and new hardware will do.

Changing the configuration of the bathroom was a must-have for me. Totally worth it. Also, how much do you love the subway tile?

Also, I love love love beadboard, and using it in the bathrooms really took them up a notch.

This one is the family room. The downstairs is a classic foursquare floor plan, with a square house separated into four nearly equal rooms. I think the bathroom, sink room, and laundryroom were later additions after the advent of running water. Even though all four rooms are separate and not open-concept, the result combined with the high ceilings in three of the rooms, was a functional flow that allowed interaction between rooms while still maintaining the function of having separate rooms for separate functions.

Here’s a picture of the painted wood floors.

Turns out, I completely neglected to take a picture of the living room. Here at least you get to see the changed out door.

I’m a pretty big fan these stairs. The wood underneath was original and with a little scraping and painting, this was the result. The entire bannister had to be replace though since it was just high enough to hit your knees. Knowing Violet and Henry, they would have made my heart stop every time they went up and down. Well, the handrail is original and the posts were lengthened to fit the new reclaimed spindles.

Looking down the stairs. All of the drywall in the house is new as well.

Looking up the stairs.

One of the three bedrooms upstairs. As you can see, we never got around to painting the trim. At least the wood is pretty though. When we paint it, it will be white.

Upstairs, a closet had been changed into a half bath once running water came inside. It was by far the nastiest room in the house, but once we replaced everything including the toilet, and gave it a fresh coat of velvety gray paint, it was adorable.

New toilet, beadboard, paint. For the floors I used a nice grade of those individual stick-on linoleum-ish tiles. They’re a little tougher than linoleum and resemble ceramic tile.

Alright. that’s it. I’m done. I have children to feed.

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I went turquoise

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This post goes out to the doubters, the haters, the happiers with grey’ers. How much fun is this color? I’ll post another picture when the entire house is painted, but in the meantime…here’s proof that I did it.*

*and when i say “I did it”, I very much mean that I didn’t do anything at all, unless you count watching and taking pictures.

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This time, last year

I have exactly fifty minutes to write this post. I’m sitting at starbucks, listening to music choices diverse enough to keep anyone in their seat for at least fifteen minutes. They’re always changing it up; keeping you waiting to see if the next song is better or worse than the last.

All of a sudden, September disappeared. I have no idea how that happened. Seriously no clue. We’re anticipating a dramatic fall and winter, with plenty of interesting things for our family on the horizon. Also, we are painting our house turquoise and getting all the funny looks that come along with an announcement like that. Since most people here are dyed-in-the-wool northwesterners, any exterior house color outside of the blue/gray family is usually met with mild surprise and polite comments about how interesting it could be. Fortunately for us, our house is quickly approaching that auspicious age of being one century, one decade, one year, one month, and one day old, and being an old house, it can get away with stuff younger houses can’t. Just like people I suppose. Who knows, we haven’t officially bought the paint yet, so I could post pictures next week and show ya’ll a gray house.

We’re going to a funeral on saturday. Another one. I’ll have been to three too many funerals this year. I feel like I’ve been to a lot of funerals in general for not being quite thirty; super young and super old people and everything in between. The funny thing is, I feel like no matter the age or circumstances of the person who has died, at least someone feels like they died too soon. Too young, too early, too much life left to live. And sometimes it really does feel that way. Sometimes when someone dies, the most striking shock of it all is that you feel like they were really just on the cusp of something great. Like it was some crazy mistake for them to leave right when they were ramping up into the best years of their life, or at least some really great ones.

This time last year, three people I knew had no indication that was going to be their last fall. No one did. Not even the tiniest indication. When someone so full of life leaves, it begs the question “Why?” The only conclusion I can draw from this is that there is so much life left to live after our life on earth is over. I don’t say this merely as a comfort in a confusing world, but as a reflection of who I believe God to be. One thing I know for certain of God is that He is consistent. His unique sameness doesn’t just span yesterday, today, and forever, but also the principles of His nature and the creation with His divine stamp of likeness.

I believe Heaven is a new beginning. I believe it’s a continuation of our us-ness with a whole new drastic perspective on life. It would appear to me that God doesn’t create us so full of dreams and hopes only to squelch them out right when we leave our earthly lives behind. It would seem consistent with His nature for those hopes and dreams to take on a whole new radiance of meaning in the light of eternity in his presence.

I literally have no idea what Heaven is like, but I do have a tiny idea of what God is like. I expect someday I’ll realize I knew only one glint off of one facet of His nature, but it is enough for me be to be assured of my role in His eternity. In knowing only a little of Him, I am certain that life really begins when we think it ends. Our faint attempts to live and love and dream, will one day know their realness.

Here’s something I wrote a while ago that’s been cycling through my mind lately.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

pixelated

 

“rubbing sleep out of bleary eyes…
frustrated with squinting.
wishing for more than just clouds in the skies,
and hoping for more than just hinting.

now i see in the mirror but dimly…
then i shall see face to face;
now i know Him only partly,
but at the end of a long and arduous race
I will know Him as He knows me…fully”

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I just figured out why I cry

Alright, women–especially moms–cry. It’s such a total stereotype too, which doesn’t help the whole problem of crying at the drop of a hat. Who has two thumbs and doesn’t like being a stereotype? This mom. Crying was a pretty unpleasant discovery for me after I had kids. I’ve never been a fan of crying in general. You make funny noises, bad faces, and snot and tears get everywhere. Not appealing. Plus, let’s just be realistic–what on earth is crying really accomplishing besides a puffy face? Pretty much nothing. Have you ever looked in the mirror while crying? Not your best look. In fact, if you’re anything like me, I bet you were so horrified that you cried even harder.

Here’s the kicker about the whole crying thing though. Sometimes the toughest part about crying isn’t the emotion that accompanies it, but simply not being able to define or understand that emotion. Granted, lots of times you cry because you are genuinely happy or sad, but the other 75% of the time you cry simply because you relate. No, there was nothing explicitly sad about that bedtime story, but you relate so deeply to the idea of loving your baby as long as you’re living; your baby they’ll be, that you just cry.

The other day I was watching a commercial for detergent. This was while the Olympic games were still on TV and the commercial showed all these little kids with their game faces on participating in Olympic sports. Of course, I’m exasperated because everyone knows little kids shouldn’t be doing the high dive and so far this is a lame commercial, so I’m watching with equal amounts of irritation and annoyance while a little boy bounces gently at the top of the diving board before preparing for his backwards dive. All of a sudden the camera cuts to a woman in the stands watching with tense eyes and white-knuckled hands. And then the words: Because to you, they’ll always be kids.* And then in one giant woosh of emotion I saw every Olympic athlete with a mother in the stands watching her baby on the parallel bars or running their heart out in a footrace and then of course I thought of my own two little babies as adults someday doing who knows what and doing it well, and like a crazy time warp, all of a sudden I was that mother in the stands with tense eyes and white knuckles. So yes. As you may have now deduced, of course I cried.

I didn’t cry because I was happy, and I didn’t cry because I was sad. I simply cried because I related so deeply. Someone once compared having children to letting your heart walk around outside of your body for the rest of your life. That’s true. A common side effect of letting such a fragile organ jump off of couches and cry over the mean boys in Sunday school, or getting scared of the thunder, is that your heart is always a little bit raw and broken and exposed when it comes to your children. There’s nothing wrong with this. In fact, it’s a gift that allows all parents a unique and earth-shattering look into the Father heart of God for his children. And the strange uptick in crying? That’s simply what happens when you relate to everything in the deepest part of your exposed heart.

I’m trying not to let it bother me though because I’m pretty sure I prefer it this way. I’d rather live like that trembling fall leaf, than the bud that was always hidden deep inside the branch.

Speaking of which, the trees in my town are starting to turn their leaves. What is up with that anyway!?

*or something to that general effect. It’s not like I sat down and wrote out the commercial verbatim.

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Like trying to fill a bathtub with no drain plug…

Is that title too gross? Some words just gross me out but I couldn’t think of a clearer way to communicate how i felt. “Drain” is a nasty word like oozing and sloughing. And “Plug”? I have no idea, but gag me with a spoon already! I have no idea why i’m still writing this paragraph. I should really just delete it and start over, but in my experience, my creativity is based on 25% inappropriate topics, 30% things i would normally filter into the do-not-mention category, 20% no small children fighting over the same toy in a room full of similar toys, and 70% good old Holy Spirit. I realize that’s more than 100% but let’s keep in mind that that’s how the Holy Spirit rolls sometimes.

Anyway, before I started espousing the characteristics of words most commonly used in a wound clinic, the point of this whole blog was to assure you–dear reader–that I haven’t forgotten you this last month. Nothing saps my creativity faster than being constantly needed by people that don’t have a “Hey, let’s go play by ourselves and not fight or pull the dog’s tail!” button. I would even take a “regular naptime” button, but neither of my children have that one either. I’m pretty sure theirs was a factory recall but they are cute little buggers so i decided to keep them–dysfunctional nap button and all.

One of the tough things about being a creative person is that my creativity is a lifeline to God and one of the ways we intrinsically communicate. I am in his presence most when I’m sitting at the piano–even if it’s in a dirty house and in my bathrobe while my children get into the fruitsnacks. Even busting out the old glue gun can bring me into His presence, because it isn’t merely the aspect of occupying my hands and sitting still to think but simply tapping into an aspect of my nature that was divinely inspired. Most of the time that I write, I feel the introspective heart of God probing my own. It’s important to know yourself–even as cliche as that sounds. Just because you tick when everyone else tocks, doesn’t mean your tick is wrong. Although usually a tick isn’t a good thing. But you get what I’m saying, though…right?

You know, I really had a point I was trying to make with that whole blog title and now it doesn’t seem to apply quite as much. I was trying to use a word picture to show how being a mother to two “lively” children affects my creativity. Aaaanyway. That’s the other thing about kids–they take away your short-term memory.

Hi, what are we doing here again?…oh right, i was blogging.

Squirrel!

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This post goes out to HGTV

Alright, for those of you that want an “after” picture–I was talking to Martha the other day on the way to my HGTV shoot and we decided that I should probably clean my kitchen and put on those darn drawer pulls before we make the official “after” post. I mean, in my experience, Martha Stewart is occasionally right about that sort of thing, so I decided to go with it.

I do have a tiny sort of deadline in my head. Apparently (according to county records) on November 2nd 2012, my house will be one century, one decade, one year, one month, and one day old. I would love to have it mostly finished for pictures by then. For those of you mathematically challenged people–and since most of my readers did not grow up in China, I’ll assume that this applies to about 78% of you–my house was built in 1901 and i believe it was finished on October 1st.

In the meantime, I would love to see before-and-after pictures of YOUR houses. I don’t care if the before is messy and the after is clean, or vice-versa, but feel free to send them to me so i can feature them on my blog and talk about your interior decorating choices and whether or not myself and the rest of the internet think kindly of them. I kid, we will only say nice things. But seriously, send me some pictures.

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The Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf

Once upon a time, there were three little pigs who left home to seek their fortunes.

Since they were siblings and fought like cats anyways, they all decided to live in their own houses. The first little pig built a house of straw.

She found it to be quite to her liking since she was going for a modern minimalistic look. However, she didn’t count on The Big Bad Wolf.

He wasn’t all bad; he liked long walk on the beach, country music, hugs (obviously) and anything with barbecue sauce. By anything, i mean little chickens pigs.

The little pig watched and terror as the wolf approached her “door”.

“Little Pig, Little Pig, Let me come in!”

“Not by the hair on my chinny chin chin!”

The Wolf, who was used to getting his way, became very angry and shouted at the tippy top of his voice,

“THEN I’LL HUFF! AND I’LL PUFF! AND I’LL BLOOOOOOOW YOUR HOUSE DOWN!!”

And that is exactly what he did. The first little pig ran as fast as she could to her sister’s house. Now the second little pig had built a house of sticks. It was boring though, so she moved next door into the flower pot.

The two little pigs huddled close together, hoping to disguise themselves as rocks. However, the wolf who was close behind wasn’t fooled.

“Little Pigs, Little Pigs, let down a ladder because I am very bad at climbing!”

The little pigs weren’t buying this. After all, the Big Bad Wolf had the muscle definition of someone who lives off of protein drinks and climbs for fun when bored.

“Not by the hair of our chinny chin chins!!”

At this, the wolf was furious. Although he did subsist on mainly lean proteins and worked out all the time to catch said lean protein, he was bad at climbing because of an old football injury. However, he wasn’t bad at huffing and puffing.

“Well then I’ll HUFF! and I’ll PUFF! AND I’LL BLOOOOOOOOW YOUR FLOWER POT DOWN!”

And that’s exactly what he did. He blew so hard that when he was done there was nothing left but some dirt and shredded grass. As he stood surveying the ruins, working on his best evil villain laugh, he was honestly a little disappointed the two little pigs had gotten away.

The two little pigs ran as fast as they could to their brother’s house. Being the smart one in the bunch, he had decided to live as an illegal squatter in a little girl’s playhouse instead of building a house without hands or power tools. The three little pigs huddled inside after locking the door with a very large plastic key that took all three of them to turn it.

“LITTLE PIGS! OPEN THE DOOOOOR!!!”

By this time, the wolf was getting cranky since now he had missed nap time and lunch.

“Uhhh…not by the hair of our chinny chin–NO! WE WILL NOT OPEN THE DOOR!!”

The three little pigs were also getting cranky, but that was mostly from trying not to get eaten.

“THEN I’LL HUFF! AND I’LL PUFF! AND I’LL BLOOOOOW YOUR HOUSE DOWN!!!

So he huffed.

And he puffed.

And he huffed.

But nothing…

The playhouse was as solid as ever.

At this the wolf was so embarrassed that he left forever.

The three little pigs were okay with that and they decided to live together and play games instead of fighting like cats. Here they are playing tag.

This is during a rather intense game of sardines.

Anyway, the point is: they lived happily ever after.

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Like a Lawnchair on a Mountain

Alright Kids, here’s your deep thought for the day:
Unforgiveness causes us to lose perspective.”
Now, before you go all Pinterest on me and turn this into a wall plaque with distressed edges, a crackle finish, and my name on the bottom, I didn’t make this up. I actually heard it during a sermon on Sunday.

Whether I’m conscious of it or not, I keep an epically complex scorecard of carefully ledgered minutia somewhere in the back of my mind. Left unchecked, frustration turns to bitterness, and bitterness turns into a loss of perspective–unmoored in an open sea of mirage paradigms.

 

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Daddles and Neckties

I know what you’re thinking; “Neckties, i’ve heard of, but what is this Daddle of which you speak?”

Before I explain, let me clarify what I am about to explain. I realize that sounds a lot like a double positive. In my experience, parents are the world’s most difficult people to shop for.           As a relatively new member of this club, I’ve been taking notes to do my best to keep that stereotype alive. Here’s how it works:

“Hey Dad, what do you want for your birthday?”

“Whaaaat? My birthday? All I want is my wonderful family!”

“Yeah, no but like what STUFF can I get that you want?”

Or this:

“Mom, what do you want for Christmas?”

“You know, I don’t need anything! I already have YOU! Just let me see the size on the tag of your shirt real quick…”

Of course, everyone knows this is the worst answer a parent can give to that question:

“Oh, I don’t need a PRESENT, but since you’re asking; the only thing I want is for you to [insert one of the following: clean your room more/be nice to your brother/get better grades/be more obedient/ etc. ]”

Really, all you want for Christmas is my room to be clean? Alright, well then in a last-minute, desperation-born shopping frenzy, I will now have to spend twice as much as I originally intended on something that is at best, a memento.

Enter: The Daddle. You may now proceed to Amazon.com to complete your purchase.

So I realize this post was a pretty pathetic homage to all the great dads in my life. I just sat here for a full three minutes after reading this blog wondering how to make a segue between making fun of parents in general and sending out some serious Hallmark moment props to dads.

To my dad: Thanks for modeling for me the qualities of a Godly man. Your devotion to God and to your family have shaped the lives of your children for generations.

To my husband’s dad: Thank you for raising up an unflinchingly Godly man for me to marry, and choosing to father him like God fathered you.

To my husband: You’re amazing. Lucky for you, Father’s Day only comes once a year, because I would wear myself out every day trying to get you breakfast in bed of cinnamon rolls and chicken fried steak, all while maintaining a perfect home, happy children, and a swimmers physique. Unfortunately, we both know none of that happened today except the part with the cinnamon rolls. All the super cheesy movie proposals involve a line where someone says that they will spend the rest of their lives trying to make the other person feel as happy as they do right now. As much of an eye-roller as that line is, I have to admit it’s how you make me feel. I’ve discovered marriage to be race of gratitude, where we strive to be swift to “overpay” a debt of love.

I have throughly enjoyed watching your imperfections highlighted and gradually worn smooth by our wonderful, sweet children, as you discover and model daily the Father heart of God for His children. You challenge my perception of how much I can love you when I see you getting the wind knocked out of you courtesy of the two small punks jumping on your back, or when your “good cop” routine goes south and I watch you in an epic standoff between a boy, his dinner, and you, and especially in those moments where you laugh/cough into your sleeve in the middle of correcting your daughter. “Violet, *choking cough* did you just huck a baby chick in the air to see if it could fly? *cough cough cough*”.

I love you Baby, Happy Father’s Day.

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things i tell myself.

So hello world,

I haven’t been here a while. that doesn’t mean i haven’t been anywhere. I certainly didn’t cease to exist the moment i stopped writing every day. I stopped for several reasons. The first being that we bought a house through the worst lender in the world *cough bankofamerica cough cough*, which was a headache all of it’s own, and then we proceeded to transform it from this:

into something that can best be described if you picture Costo and Pintrest having a baby, that baby being a fairy, and me catching that fairy and shaking it’s dust all over my house. Of course, we had a lot of help–not just Costco and Pintrest, but also our awesome contractor and my amazing dad (Happy Father’s Day, Dad!) and plenty of visits to home depot and building salvage yards.

I just realized all of that has been one paragraph. Sorry. So yeah, we bought a house, we changed just about everything you can possibly change short of building a new house, and now we’re almost done. Someday i’ll blog more about it. I need to stop now though because this house has taken over my life like a giant disgusting termite in one of those nasty Terminix commercials.

The other reason is that I got bored of reading the stuff i was writing. That’s a pretty legitimate reason as far as i am concerned. I felt like I didn’t just fall into a rut with my writing; i felt like I became the very rut I was trying to stay out of. So i stopped. I remembered how much I liked to write about thinks and thoughts and prayers and poems, but it felt strange to put a dangerously emoting piece of prose next to a blog post about carving cannibalistic pumpkins. So then I did neither and missed both. That was just depressing.

Here’s the truth about me. There’s no way I could be a character on a sitcom. I’m just way too complicated. I’m nerdy, quiet, silly, sad, passionate, opinionated, lazy, freakin’ hilarious, sweet, jaded, and a million other facets. Just like anyone else, I am a nautilus of a person. There’s always another side of me around the bend. That sounded really Jekyll and Hyde. You know what I mean though, right? Of course you do.

Here’s your nautilus note for the day. I wrote this on my other other blog back in December of 2006.

why the world is round

i discovered you yesterday
lying under that tree. you were happy and you were foolish with that lovely apple in your hand.
i saw the bite you took out of that fresh perfect fruit
i also saw that you shared it with your lover, and now your sorrow shall be doubled.
your redemption comes in death and pain and sacrifice now.
gone are the idyllic days of your never-ending youth, and gone is your naked purity.

you saw me and you cried as you hid in the shade of your tree…i cried too, and my tears were a mist in the garden.
i gave you a gift and you still asked for more, but not from me.
yesterday’s yesterday found us side by side and hand in hand as we walked together at then end of each day…you would bring the sweetest smile to my face, and you in turn, would find yourself alive more than life itself.

the door here will be ever blocked by my anger and righteousness, because you have fallen, and you can’t hide that from me. i have seen it and now i cannot allow you to continue in this harmony. cover yourself so that no one can see your nakedness as you leave this place.

now you know the power and mystery of your free will. now you understand what i meant when i told you to use it wisely. now you have the chance to choose me.

choose me, and someday i will bring you back to my garden.

thanks for reading–this goes out especially to the few, the proud, the subscribers to my blog who will read this post first. Get ready for this blog to get a lot more weird. In a good way.
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First Christmas–again

Today we are going to go cut down a christmas tree. We are going to find a tree farm, pile out of the car, purposefully step in something muddy, and wander around a tiny forest until we find a tree we can all agree on. We will pay the tree farmer something that is at once exorbitant and a pittance for a lush tree that has grown from a tiny seed just to grace my living room for a month.

I have no idea what we did for a christmas tree last year. I think I bought one of those three-foot ones outside a grocery store so that I could put it up out of Henry’s reach. Either way, Violet doesn’t seem to remember it or many other details about christmas in general. Partly because she’s three this year and we’re having many firsts anyway, and partly because it’s fully been a third of her life since we last experienced christmas. Henry of course, has no recollection either so this is another first christmas. When children are super little, these annual experiences and traditions grow in comprehension like the tiers on a cake every year that they happen. This year Violet is pretty interested in Santa. Last year she didn’t really understand what a Santa was, but this year is definitely the year of Santa. I don’t expect to ever have a christmas like this again with a smarty-pants like Violet. Already she is questioning certain discrepancies in the Santa story like the flying reindeer, how he gets to everyone, how he gets into our house, how he knows exactly what to get, and many other minute details about elves, and sleighs, and gravity.

The day after Thanksgiving when I was busy wasting time on the internet in an attempt to find deals (there were none) I found one where you pay a month’s wage in a third-world country so that an “Elf” will call your house and talk to your child. Not show up, call. Scoff all you want, but I know for certain that people were buying it because the deal showed how many purchases had already been made. It looks like I’m not the only parent with smart kids trying desperately to unravel the mystery of the Santa Claus.

I didn’t buy it. The best part about the mystery of Santa Claus is discovering that the spirit of Christmas lives on not just on one old man and a bunch of elves, but in mothers and fathers and friends and family. Someday Violet and Henry will be let in on an even better story about Christmas. The story where we are inspired to give gifts by the generosity of Nicholas of Myrna–a fourth-century bishop from Greece who was known for secret gift-giving–who in turn was inspired by the generosity of Grace of Jesus Christ.

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a day in lines

7 am wake-up alarm

a shower

to scour

and then sleepy baby charms.

Breakfast is eggs

with sausage and greens

and the kids both chow down

like eating machines.

Running and dressing

upstairs and down

musn’t be late

and live up to our renown.

Church and then back

to get packed in the car

drive fifty-two miles

they’ve behaved themselves–so far

Parking is free

but the walking is cold

the Aquarium beckons

with magic untold.

Big fish, touch tanks,

the Octopus eats!

Then hungry stomachs lead us

to Red Robin’s treats.

Can’t go home yet

with bellies full of starbucks

now on the search

for a clean bathroom deluxe.

We waste over a hour

in a nicknack store

it’s a good thing our kids are cute

or they’d kick us out the door.

Finally we leave

and reflect in the car,

“Yes, they’re fighting over a balloon, crying for lack of a nap, and indisposed to negotiating the confines of a car-seat now, but their behavior today was totally above par!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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an homage to “Earth, Wind & Fire”

Not really. I’m not sure it’s possible to write an homage to a band that has lyrics like “…Computers on the rise, our feelings are synthesized, makes it hard to feel the touch of your love that’s real.”

Puh-leeeeez

How about an homage to wind, sun, earth, rain, silence?

The wind; a mighty herald
bringing a thunderclap of flurried emotions through the gold-leafed trees.
The sun; waxes eloquent
in his journey across the sky, hidden by clouds to write summertime prose.
The earth; succombing to the stealthy spread of frost,
trembles with the pulse-racing stammers of new love
The rain rushing; downward bound.
Dashing, splashing the first steps of the snowflake dance.
The silence, broken by footsteps crunching frozen grass
and the crackle of fall leaves chasing each other in a merry game of tag.
I let out an audible sigh.
Dear Winter, I know you’re coming. I’m a little bit sad about it but I’m also undone by my childish anticipation of the promise of snow.

 

 

 

 
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When Pumpkins Go Bad

Once upon a time, there were two little pumpkins.

Baby Pumpkin,

and Girl Pumpkin.

Girl Pumpkin and Baby Pumpkin were just like regular kids; they played at the park, they rode bikes, and Girl Pumpkin even went to preschool. There was just one difference–Mommy and Daddy Pumpkin were cannibals. They had a fondness for pumpkin pre-pie. Girl Pumpkin and Baby Pumpkin weren’t cannibals yet because sometimes the tiny pumpkins were dangerous.

One day, one of the tiny pumpkins came after Daddy Pumpkin with a switchblade. Luckily, Mommy Pumpkin scared the tiny pumpkin away.

And then she ate him.

Daddy Pumpkin was so relieved, he ate a snack as well.

They were so relieved that the crisis of the attacking tiny pumpkin was over, the whole family went out to dinner.

and they all lived happily ever after.

 

What? I didn’t say it was a bedtime story for your kids or anything…

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The Difference Between Boys and Girls, Part 46

Today as we headed out the door, there were three boys walking past our house on their way home from school. All three of them had only one shoe on, while the other foot was wet-socked and bare. They were having a contest to see who could kick the other shoe down the street the furthest. My children tumbled out the front door and watched them in gape-mouthed amazement. The difference?
Violet: “Why are they doing that? Why are they kicking their shoe? Why don’t they walk with their shoes on their feet?”
Henry: “Whoa…”

The other difference is that girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice.

Boys are made of slugs and snails and puppy dog tails. Note the dirt mustache.

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A word about Boobs

In case you live under a rock, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Someone said that one in eight women get breast cancer. I don’t know who that someone is, but there’s pretty good chance they’re right. It also means that statistically speaking, one of my readers will most likely get the boob bug or already have it.
Ignoring things doesn’t make them go away. It only makes them worse. Like a dirty kitchen. You can pretend only so long that your counters are spotless and free of dirty dishes before you have to face the music and deal with it. Breast cancer doesn’t discriminate against age, busyness, or risk factors. It will most likely affect someone in your circle of life sometime in your life. If that person turns out to be you, I hope you congratulate yourself for finding it soon through early detection.
Since I don’t plan on blogging every day, here’s my October blog assignment for you:
1. Feel yourself up and go to the doc if you think you should. Don’t guess, know.
2. Either way, life is short. My hallmark card tendency is to say something like “live to the fullest” here, but really…that’s pretty much right.

I drew this. Turns out–i have some skills in MS Paint.

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Jukebox Blogger

Apparently, I take requests now. When I logged into my facebook today someone asked me to blog. I should, right? Whenever people ask me what they should blog about, i just tell to write about what they think about. Sounds easy, right? What if your thoughts have digressed from chapters, pages and paragraphs to five word sentences?
“stop biting the table.”
“Go to the potty now.”
“Let’s sit down and read books”
“We don’t pick people’s noses.”
“Go back to bed, now.”
“Let’s all go play outside.”
“Stop shaking the sippy cup.”

I do have thoughts though.
lots and lots.
They just look like spidery rivers that
dry into dots.

Right now, I’ve been waiting forever for the season of Fall. Autumn is my middle name. For real. I’ve really been anxious to see the last of the hornets that have plagued my last yard this past month or so (did i mention i’m allergic?). But I’ve mostly been waiting to see many-tiered clouds fight for space on the horizon, and for purple-orange leaves to curl up on the ground like the tangible phalanges of summer trying to hold on to the heat rising from the ground. I love Fall for the way it makes the tips of tiny noses feel when pressed on warm cheeks, and the for the way it heralds change. I get antsy. I don’t handle sameness very well. I like to move and travel and quit and start and end and begin all the time. Maybe that’s why I like fall. Speaking of changes, that’s why I didn’t blog for a while. I think i needed a break or something. Besides, it was kind of getting to be more of the same. The internet certainly doesn’t need another blog about what cute thing my kids did today.

I’m listening to an Adele channel on pandora.com right now. Corinne Bailey Rae is crooning at me in her baby-voice. Aaaaand next. I can only make it through about half of one of her songs before I have to skip it. Please, I get enough baby talk without turning on the radio to listen to it. Regina Spektor is on now. Better. I like writing to Regina Spektor because her melencholy muse makes me introspective. I remember, I reflect.

Here’s a poem i wrote several years ago while listening to music.

travel

I heard the midnight train go by
while lying in my bed.
Long and low came the whistle cry
and I awoke as if I was led.

Quietly I slipped outside,
and headed down the hill.
The pale moon was trying to hide
and the song of the crickets was shrill.

The tracks are cold and my feet are wet
the dew on the grass has fallen.
Cold and splinters wont stop me yet
’cause around the bend is callin’.

8/26/07

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best money spent

today I bought a bubble machine for $6.49. You push a button, and it blows out bubbles. Like magic. I KNOW.

I would like to go on record and say that a bubble machine may be the greatest child entertainer i’ve found all summer, which is saying a lot since they seem to want to spend hours fighting over toys, swapping said toys and then fighting again. Even this favorite pastime was forsaken in favor of running around the yard and shrieking in glee over translucent globes that filled our yard and floated gently into the neighborhood like beacons of childhood laughter.

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Blogging by way of Facebook status updates

Here are a few of my status updates on Facebook lately.

i have had the worst songs stuck in my head lately. Monday: “I saw Momma kissing Santa” Tuesday: “Santa Baby” Today: “The hills are alive….with the sound of music….la lalala….”

Seriously. It would be a little better if it was december or something. I was fully catching myself mid-verse belting out “I….saw Momma kissin’ Saaanta Claus, un-der-neath the $%*(&#w)($*&)(*&#$!!!!!”

I was relieved to see that Violet has refrained from picking the pretty little flowers on the tomato plants until Henry discovered today that they have little balls on them. balls = toys.

When I was growing up, I loved fried green tomatoes and I’ve always wanted to make a green tomato pie, so since I am growing some tomatoes this summer (Thanks Eileen!) I was fully planning on picking a bunch green. You can buy red tomatoes any day of the week, but green? However, I was kind of hoping to pick them at larger than a pingpong ball size. Thank you Henry. I now have a collection of tiny tomatoes on my counter.

just pulled a dead fly out of the boy’s mouth. then i screamed.

True story. I was in a foul mood to begin with since my teeth and the gaping hole in my jaw are still bugging me. We were climbing the stairs and I noticed a dead fly in one of the corners. The next thing I knew, the fly was gone and Henry was chewing something with a “Hmmm…” expression on his face. I was okay getting the fly out, but when I swiped his mouth with my shirt and it came back with a tiny fly leg, I fully looked up at the ceiling and screamed.

went to the wrong kind of espresso stand today. when i realized my mistake i told the girl i was new in town and needed directions to the library.

I have seriously been dreading that I would make this mistake for years. In Washington, we have espresso stands where the baristas wear bikinis or less. I have no idea why these are legal, especially since you can’t tell if they’re a bikini espresso stand all the time. Sometimes the stand has a sign that says so, but most of the time you can guess by the innuendos in the name on the stand or the giant picture windows. Needless to say, I didn’t buy a coffee.

went to the zoo with a little girl who wore her brother’s stripped pj pants and a too small cardigan because she got car sick on the way down. awesome.

Of course. Of course the girl gets car sick two minutes from the zoo with no clothes to change into. Of course. The pants were in the car of a friend who was coming too, but they were woefully short and everything was very mismatched.

Last but not least, Violet entered a drawing in the local fair this year. She won a blue ribbon and a special merit ribbon. Adorable.

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brace face

i just scored a billion in nerd points. not only do i now have braces, but i also had one of my front teeth pulled. unfortunately, since nerd points are practically worthless in the economy of a mom with two kids….it looks like i’m stuck with a bunch of worthless nerd points.
I want a t-shirt.
I JUST SCORED A BILLION NERD POINTS AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS LOUSY T-SHIRT

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misnomer

Yesterday the field behind my house was mowed by a tractor. My children stood on the steps watching in rapt attention. The grass had been growing all summer long and now towered over their heads in endless waves of a grassy tide. There are a few cats that hunt out in that field every evening, so I could only imagine what a “hay” day they would have once all the tall grass was gone. Sure enough, last night the four of us watched them casually stroll through the field that had become a buffet line of mice nests.

“What are the cats doing Mom?”

“They’re hunting.”

“Why?”

“Because they’re hungry.”

“Why?”

“Because they like to eat.”

“What are ‘dey eating?”

“Mice.”

“No, (with a chuckle) cat’s don’t eat mice, ‘dey eat catfood!”

 

 

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