Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Kicked Butt/2013 Kicked Our Butt

Dear 2013,

How could we have ever anticipated that we'd end up here? After ten life-filled, laughter-enjoyed, dirty, wonderful years, you brought me to my knees. You led us to the most courageous decision of our tenure as parents: To sell our family home and seek the new. Our venture has brought us anticipation, hope, sadness, grief, evaluation, loss, new horizons, growth, potential, and peace. You've brought us closer as a family and ever-nearer to our LORD. For all of these things we are thankful.

I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.
O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.

And now for some 2013 Picture awesomeness:


We "enjoyed" art

We kissed bananas


We took a bath in the sink



We enjoyed the simple things

We travelled together

We met our Great-Grandma

We welcomed a hatchling

We celebrated the Risen Lord

And gave thanks for HIS many blessings

We received our First Holy Communion

… and we Grew!

We made new friends

We sold our house.

We ate delicious food,

and went to building school.

We dressed up for Halloween,

and celebrated 40 glorious years at the top of a mountain.

2013 brought us to the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. To 2014, we say, BRING IT!! We have Our Lord, we have each other - we've got this.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Look at This

This here article


Take a look at this, my friends. It takes my breath away that there are still lists like this in circulation. "The 10 Most Hated Celebrities in Hollywood" and if you look closely, you will see, that 9 of the 10 are women.  Read the captions: "hated for her face," "hated for not being able to gain weight," "hated for her money," "hated for being stupid."

So, when we wonder why anorexia still exists; when we wonder why women still hate their nose,  or wish they had thinner thighs just remember this.

Keep your daughter away from the television.  You will be glad you did.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Stream of Consciousness

Today, I heard an advertisement on the radio for a casting call catering to young girls.  They asked if your daughter likes to "sing and dance," and has ever "dreamed of being on their favorite shows such as Wizards of Waverly Place or The Suite Life."  I wondered who falls for this load of bull anymore. Don't we have a collective awareness that turning our kids into commodities is dangerous - if not fatal?

A friend (who I've actually never met, in real life) posted the following video on Facebook.  I have to confess that I loved it.  Miley Cyrus strips down We Can’t Stop! And while I am a huge lover of the party anthem and dance music, if you look at the poor child who is at the literal center of the music, you will see an addicted, broken shell who needed protection about ten years ago.



I've had an uncharacteristically difficult time transitioning from Homeschooling-Mother-of-5-Kids to Public-Schooling-Mother-With-Only-One-At-Home.  You can hate me or think I am a baby when I confess to you in all humility that I don't know what to do with myself. This is not something that I think is cute or humblebragging.  I am wont for a purpose and those are difficult waters to navigate. So, in an effort to get out of the house, Lucy and I went to H&M where I purchased a pair of MC Hammer pants, or what the upstarts like to call harem pants. Here's the thing friends: they are hella fresh.  I am fairly certain that they will be my new uniform until such time that Doc Martins and prairie skirts come back "in" and then I WILL BE ALL OVER IT.

I am contemplating using natural deodorant.

This week, I joined Twitter because, I don't know.  My foray into the Twitter-verse has forced my sweet husband to shut his own account down.  Sometimes I feel like Pepe LePew and the Cat with him on the internet.  Good thing he loves the daylights out of me, IRL.

Sometimes I feel guilty if I don't blog for a long time.  Like, someday when my kids are poring over my writings after I have gone to Jesus, they will wish that I had continued my tribute-journal to our life together.  So, if that is indeed the case, dear children this is my contribution to our posterity.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Figures.

Today I learned the following:


Jon Knight of New Kids on the Block is gay.

I have had exactly 2 (TWO) celebrity crushes in my life. The first, and most meaningful, being Jon Knight. It really burns my ass that I never really had a chance with him in the first place.

I have no idea why I am so pissed about this.  The only thing worse than this would be if Ralph Macchio is gay.  If he is, please don't tell me.  The 11 year old girl within simply cannot take it.

I PROMISE to start blogging again.  My life is gaining some modicum of normalcy these days, and I always find that reflection makes for good story telling.

Way to string me along, Jon Knight.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

On Paintbrushes and Coffee Cups

This morning as I was touching up paint in our house in preparation for it to go on the market, I got a little sentimental.  The brush glided a silky trail of ivory over the sill where Michael used to race his Matchbox cars. A sweet childhood memory is now forever hidden under a gilt of semi-gloss.  I thought about the next mother who will occupy this starter-family home.  It has been a perfect shelter to rock my babies to sleep and prepare nutritious meals for their growing bodies - and it will provide those same comforts to the next family.  I will paint my sills so she doesn't have to do it.


As one thought often gifts another, I then thought about the older mom who might be preparing her house for me. Perhaps her children are grown and out of the house.  Perhaps she and her husband are moving to Florida, or Alexandria, or a houseboat in St. Michaels. Is she painting her sills, too? 

My thoughts drifted to prayers for these imagined, romanticized women, their children, and their new adventures - and then back to thoughts -  and then back to chores.  It was then that I promptly dipped my paintbrush into my coffee cup instead of the paint bucket.

Back to work.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What Is Love?

Some Background Music again (should you choose to listen...)



This afternoon, I was fortunate enough to sit in on the final rehearsals for Fiddler on the Roof.  To be in a room with such a talented group of young people leaves me in awe - but this time I was completely struck by the message of the play.

If you are familiar with Fiddler you'll know that one of the pervasive themes of the play is the interplay between love and marriage.  In the old days, marriage sometimes existed without love - and love sometimes existed without marriage - but progress has borne out: the two are better together.

As Tevye (the Father) and Golde (the Mother) must address all of these issues among their daughters, they are forced to examine their own relationship. The following exchange ensues:



(Tevye) -"Golde, I have decided to give Perchik permission to become engaged to our daughter, Hodel."

(Golde) - "What??? He's poor! He has nothing, absolutely nothing!"

(Tevye) - "He's a good man, Golde. 
I like him. And what's more important, Hodel likes him. Hodel loves him. 
So what can we do? 
It's a new world... A new world. Love. Golde..."

Do you love me?

(Golde) - Do I what?

(Tevye) - Do you love me?

(Golde) - Do I love you?
With our daughters getting married
And this trouble in the town
You're upset, you're worn out
Go inside, go lie down!
Maybe it's indigestion

(Tevye) - "Golde I'm asking you a question..."

Do you love me?

(Golde) -You're a fool

(Tevye) - "I know..."

But do you love me?

(Golde) - Do I love you? 
For twenty-five years I've washed your clothes
Cooked your meals, cleaned your house
Given you children, milked the cow
After twenty-five years, why talk about love right now?

(Tevye) - Golde, The first time I met you 
Was on our wedding day
I was scared

(Golde) - I was shy

(Tevye) - I was nervous

(Golde) - So was I

(Tevye) - But my father and my mother
Said we'd learn to love each other
And now I'm asking, Golde
Do you love me?

(Golde) - I'm your wife

(Tevye) - "I know..."
But do you love me?

(Golde) - Do I love him?
For twenty-five years I've lived with him
Fought him, starved with him
Twenty-five years my bed is his
If that's not love, what is?

(Tevye) - Then you love me?

(Golde) - I suppose I do

(Tevye) - And I suppose I love you too

(Both) - It doesn't change a thing
But even so
After twenty-five years
It's nice to know


Two of the most lovely, fresh faced young actors portray Tevye and Golde.  Their portrayal brought tears to my eyes, but I was most struck by how little these young adults actually know about love.  

A very wise teacher told me once that love is not the feeling that guides two lovers towards one another.  That feeling is infatuation. Infatuation is a very good thing but it is a surface level emotion that will either give way to real love or end.  Fortunate is the person who finds true love on the other side of infatuation.  





Thursday, May 23, 2013

Let's Pretend That we're Dead

First, some background music...



(First let me say that I am so thankful that the trend of embedding music into your blog has died away. Nothing irritated me more than clicking on someone's blog and hearing their crappy Nickelback song accompany their crappy blog post. 2007 blog vent - over.)

Nowthen, I am working on my interpretation of Fruma Sarah and completely scrapped the other headpiece. Because, what dead bride wears fresh magnolias?  I think that dead brides should wear.....

DEAD FLOWERS!!
More like it, yes?

If I were a dead bride, I would totally wear this flower crown.

Next up, the veil.  Squeeee.  I think dead brides are totally more interesting than live ones.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Shadow Box

Tonight is about me.  I finished Josh's shadow box for his bridging over to Boy Scouts.  If you don't speak Scout, let me give you the translation, this is a big deal.  So, tomorrow's post (if I get around to it) will be about how proud I am of Josh and of his accomplishments, but tonight I want to tell you about me and how proud I am of my accomplishment. Wanna see?


I copied the one that was lovingly made for Ben when he bridged over. I didn't do it - but knowing now the work and sweat effort that went into making it? That den mom should receive a pre-death canonization. (I only half-kid.)

Shadow box - Michael's Craft Store
Backdrop Fabric - JoAnn Fabrics (I don't know the name but I took a swatch of the cub scout uniform and matched it almost exactly.)
Brass Engraved Nameplate (Not pictured) - Things Remembered

I ironed everything carefully, went over and over it with a lint roller, and hot glued the awards into place. 

Ok.  Now it's time to mug on Josh.

Monday, May 20, 2013

My Volunteer Career


That little cartoon up there would be funny - if only it weren't so true.  And while I relish being a trophy wife and all, sometimes I wish there was a little incentive/compensation for my efforts.

While writing this blog is my most favorite unpaid job of all, I have had my attentions diverted to my third favorite unpaid job of all - Costume Designer.  I am the designer for the Fiddler on the Roof this year and I have the most excellent responsibility for creating Fruma Sarah's head piece.


And at first I was going to go all traditional "Bride of Frankenstein" on her head, I saw this picture:
And I thought, that is kinda gorgeous. Which got me thinking, Why can't our Fruma Sarah be kinda gorgeous?

And then I thought, Who are the brides that are so decadent that they are almost hideous?
I present you my list:

#1 - Laura Spencer
Sooooo bad it's delicious.
#2 - Melania Knauss Trump
I love every ounce of this confection. That crap on her head? Genius.

#3 - Lady Diana
The dress was a wrinkled mess.  There.  I said it.

#4 - Lana Del Rey
Do you know how bad I want to hate Lana Del Rey? So bad. She bugs me with her weird, nightmarish face. But, damn it, she's pretty. And her flower crowns? They make me want to weep, I love them so much. So while technically not a bride, Lana Del Rey makes #4 with her hideous beauty.

So I got to cracking on my Sara/Spencer/Trump/Spencer/Del Rey creation.  I tried on the framework just to see what you think.  It needs some Spencerfying (of the Laura-type):


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Saturday, May 11, 2013

5 Quick Takes

1. The Inevitable
 I got up this morning, late - as per the usual, and stumbled down stairs to start my coffee intravenous. Something caught my eye on the way to the Keurig....



That's right, the darn swimming pools are about to open in 2 weekends and that means that I will need to be in a bathing suit almost daily.
Son of a..........
So I decided to rekindle my friendship with Nahesi Crawford and his band of cohorts. You don't know Nahesi? Well he is the personal trainer on the X-Factor ST workout DVDs.  It is a knockoff of P90x and Grant and I did the whole series last year and got in pretty good shape.  Since then my workout routine has consisted of walking up and down our stairs and walking out to get the mail. This isn't going to be pretty.

2.  Shorts Season


I hit the Talbot's annual sale in Springfield and it was a bonanza!! I got the above featured shorts for $10 (10 + Bucks!!) in a faded tomato color. They are a petite size (which I am) and they fit like they were made for me. Now to keep from ruining them by wearing them every day......... hmmmmm.

3.  Homeschool
School is almost out and my thinker is thinkin' about all the ways that I can improve our experience next year.  One idea I have been kicking around is the 6 week on/2 week off schedule.  Read: No real summer break. I am super torn by this idea - but if I saw it for the opportunity to travel some (in the off-season. Read: Better rates) and get some projects done around the house - not to mention getting papers graded and submitted on time... worth it? I am a self-avowed summer junkie and can't quite seem to wrap my mind around not having 2 1/2 months of pure freedom.  But if you read this blog:
and see how they use the French schedule to support their travel, you might arrive at the same crossroads I have.  What do you think? Is the American system superior or do the French have it right?

Telephone booth in Oslo, Norway from http://www.designmom.com
4. Chickens.
Where do I start? I am going to write down my experience with raising hatchlings so that if you want to do it, you don't have to start from the beginning as I have. Basically, without the knowledge of the women at Southern States Farm Supply, I'd have drown by now. We have 7 big, burly, robust chickens in our basement just a-waiting to get out and do their chicken thang. They eat bugs like they are truffles and they fertilize the garden. Plus, (PLUS!) in a couple of weeks we'll have eggs. Brown eggs, to boot. Because nothing is more quaint than brown eggs, right?
ablestock.com/thinkstock

Plus, I am coveting this hen house. 

With the veggies on the top? Am I right?
5. The Great Gatsby
I liked it very much. Very much.
Let me tell you what I liked:
The hair.

The short bobbed hair with the finger waved details was over the top. It was gorgeous and perfect and the hair team deserve their very own Academy Award.

The Parties.

Courtesy of Warner Bros.
Because in the words of the unsinkable Liz Lemon, "I want to go to there."

The Carey Mulligan.

She is a fashion idol of mine and I am fairly certain that there was no singular shot where she didn't look flawless.

It was eye candy from beginning to end. I don't know if it lived up to the book or if it did Fitzgerald justice or any of that gobbledygook.  It was beautiful and I liked it. The end.


I linked it up at www.camppatton.com.  I just discovered her via www.moxiewife.com and I think I love her very much.




Thursday, May 9, 2013

Overprocessed

Confession:
In as much as I know what beautiful photography is, I have been sucked down the hole of the trendy over-processed picture. I love them - and when I say love - I mean I can't get enough of them.  I was fiddling around with Picasa tonight and over processed some pictures for your viewing pleasure.  For more of my photo-diddling, go check out my Instagram blog. There is a link over there in the right sidebar.
Taken at Great Falls on the Maryland side. With my iPhone. Boom!

Taken at the Hirshorn. If you're looking for a good time, take Grant Steele to a museum of modern art, then sit back and enjoy the rolling commentary. I peed my pants and that's no lie.

Taken during a tour of the US Capitol. Lucy vomited all over me and herself.
Good times.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Beauty in the Others

Yesterday, one of my very closest friends gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. We waited and watched and crowded around my phone when the first texts came through that this long beloved, long prayed for child took his first breaths of this life. He is the fifth child in a sequence of nearly spaced children of a Catholic family. When many other families may have stopped, my sweet friends greeted this unexpected new life - no less glorious than their first.

I have observed in my own life that while "4 is the new 2," five is officially crazy. For some reason, five children makes a statement: We are trying to prove something. Because nobody, nobody in their right mind would have five children, unless they were under some kind of mandate.


Here is where I come clean: we are under a mandate. My husband and I, of our own free will, decided to join a Church where we cannot limit the size of our families by unnatural means.  What does that mean to us? That means that by living as a normal man and wife, we will welcome the children that come as the fruit of this union. As I have witnessed in my everyday life, this comes as an assault to the public at large.

I don't want to tell you about how I am questioned in the library or even in the parking lot of my own church. I want to tell you about the intimate moments that reinforce the relevance of God's almighty plan for our family. Allow me to tell you about the good.

My youngest daughter likes to sleep. This comes as quite a thrill to my system because she takes after me in this affection. If there is an addiction to sleep, I am a willing participant. This morning as the older children and I were finishing breakfast and snuggling in to read a chapter of Redwall, my three-year old daughter toddled down, heavy with sleep. Her hair was a jumble with the lateness of the hour. I greeted her with open arms, and she smiled at me through her heavily sucked fingers, and turned towards her beloved sister. Annie, my daughter, wise and kind beyond her mere 6 years of age, silently allowed her sister into her arms. They held eachother as I read.


I look at these two some times and marvel, if I would have had only the two children that I had allowed in my mind, this miracle would have never happened. 

God's infinite plan never ceases to amaze me.

We have five children - 3 older boys and 2 younger girls. That means that there is an inevitable "middle" child. My almost-nine-year-old son is a marvel of in-betweenness. He is not quite as mature as my older boys but not quite a baby like the girls. My mom said that when he was born, I made the declaration that he was, "mine." While I can't specifically remember this proclamation, his soul and mine are most certainly made of the same material. He has my heart.



Tonight as  my youngest daughter climbed the stairs for bedtime, I heard the most blood-curdling scream, Miiiiiiiii-Chaeeeeeeeeeel!!!!" The little one wanted her brother. I ran up the stairs to find the two, locked in embrace, staring at the first nasty Stink Bug of the year. Michael had a plan to scoop up the stink bug with a dust pan and escort it outside to safety. He's like that, Michael. He's both protective and gentle. He figured out a way to both protect his sister and harm not the stink bug.  

Lucky little stink bug.  That sucker would have been dead, had I been in charge.

Here's the thing: I am not in charge. Since we surrendered our lives to the will of God, we have had to choke back the images of how we'd seen our lives in our mind's eye. I would have never expected that I would have ended up with 5 children - one of whom has chronic health problems. I would never have expected to have  3 boys in a row - when I so desperately longed for daughters. I would never have expected that I would leave my heart so vulnerable to the triumphs and heartbreaks of parenthood - but I am a better person for it. I am a more sympathetic, empathetic, humble person than I was before. I like to think that God Almighty had this life in His mind's eye when he planned it for me.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

I'm Mad More than Sad


Read The Story Here


I don't claim to know how much other families shelter their children from the ills of the world. I can only tell you that I remember how it felt to be a kid and to be afraid of the dangers that seemed to lurk. When I was in Kindergarten a young, blonde girl was kidnapped from her own block in Northern California (where I lived at the time) when walking to school. My grandfather escorted me to and from school to ease my fears that something similar could happen to me.

When my brother was born and I was 5 years old, there was a rash of SIDS deaths. I remember being afraid to go in and greet my beloved baby brother in the morning in case he might have been claimed a victim of his slumbering. My parents explained to me the improbability of SIDS in a non-smoking household and made sure there was an open line of communication for when I became afraid.

This morning as I was drinking my coffee and checking my email, I came across an alert from the County Police Department regarding the elementary school where our neighborhood children attend. Someone had called in a bomb threat and the school wanted to alert everyone that the kids were being held in a "safe location," while they scoured the school for explosive devices and to "not come to the school to pick up your children."

Wait, WHAT?!

Not come to the school to pick up the children? That was some kind of joke, right? Where is a more safe location than with their mama? And while I understand that it would be a logistical nightmare to release the children to their parents en masse, I am certain that there could have been some sort of compromise worked out where once the "All Clear" was given, they could have checked the children out the way they would on a Half-Day.

If I wanted to come and pick up my children from a place where I sensed even the most remote possibility of danger, and was denied that right? I am pretty sure they would have more to worry about than some measly, improbable bomb threat.

Today I am thanking God that I have been afforded the privilege of homeschooling. While the children at the local school were being herded into a "safe location" without access to their families, we were eating breakfast together and thanking God for his bounty.




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