Monday, May 26, 2014

Lazy Memorial Day

Defrosting and marinating the chicken while the pie cooks in the oven.
The Husband is way smarter than I ever give him credit for.

I hope your Memorial Day was just as genius.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Around The House

I'm a Homie. True dat. I like being home. I like making a home. And all that goes with it. I could stay inside my house and just do "stuff" for days. Often times "stuff" is code word for reading.

I decorate and undecorate. Move and rehang. It's just what I do. A mantel usually lasts a good 3 weeks. Then I'm bored and I pull out my awesome Homie skills and move everything around. Not gonna lie, it takes a full day. If I feel the need to paint something along the way, 2 days.

I have got to find a way to take my Homie skills on the road. Can I come redecorate your house? I would love it. Seriously. You'll have to call me. Or talk to The Husband on Facebook because I'm allergic to social media.

Here's what's happening around here today. You can ooh and awe over my random iphone pics with terrible lighting.

I've mentioned it before, but I'm obsessed with all things book pages. Here's a disclaimer-- Don't look close. I never pay attention to the words. I'm fairly confident in saying that much of my decor is probably covered with inappropriate words. And Daughter #1 made the adorable blue plate for me for Mother's Day.

The suitcases were my dad's when he served his church mission. I love them! And of course my beloved puzzles are stored out in the open, in a place of honor. Actually, these are just the ones I got for my birthday. I'm keeping them here until I finish them all. There is one, way in the back, that is hysterically inappropriate. The Husband claims he "couldn't see it clearly from the tiny picture on Amazon". It's a cartoon drawing of people at the beach. That's all I'm gonna say. (Feel free to come over and look at it. Don't bring small children.)

I get a bit fascinated with certain trends. For a while, I made pinwheels non-stop. Lately I've become obsessed with these circle, fan thingies. What exactly are they called? I dream about making a hundred of them and covering an entire wall. But the thought makes me tired, so I sit on the couch and read. Child #3 made the watercolor.

One of the most fun things I've done in my house is paint a chalkboard wall. Every now and then, out of the blue, one of my kids will draw beauty. Plain and simple.

And last, but not least, I'm giving you a view of underneath my bed. The Favorite Baby Child sleeps on the floor next to me (oh, what a whole other conversation that is). While looking for wrapping paper the other day, which is stored in bins under the bed, I discovered her stock pile.

Why on earth does she need so many cups? Why? Do you like how she's neatly laid out a fruit snack and a stick of gum? Good grief. And before you even wonder, no I haven't asked her about it. Frankly, I don't want to know. Honestly.

Apparently, my Homie skills only apply to anything above bed level.

Find time to decorate this weekend.
Or, just call me and I'll come do it for you :)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Hair-Do's and To-Do Lists

There are few things I'm good at. I could list them on one hand. Seriously. And just so you know, parenting isn't one of them. This isn't a surprise, we've talked about this before. But here's what you might not know-- I am a master at little girl hair-do's. I'm for reals, a master.

I'm guessing I could do a super fine job on big girl hair as well, but my big girls won't let me touch it. Every now and then, on a leap year, they will let me have at it. As soon as it's done, they hate it and undo all my work. It's ridiculous.

So, imagine my surprise when The Favorite Baby Child let me braid her hair. I totally jumped up and down in the bathroom. I may have twirled too.

She was Laura Ingalls Wilder at school for the day. Hence, the braids. I begged for 2 days and she caved under the pressure.
When she stepped off the bus that afternoon, the braids were gone. Of course.

On a brighter note, Child #2 fell down the stairs at school. She thinks she broke her butt. I'm not really sure how to confirm that one. But she did break her phone.
Being the creative child she is, she took colored Sharpie markers and decorated all the cracks.

My, oh my, life feels exhausting today. In all it's ordinary craziness.

Y'all. The list is long. Sooooo long. The list that's on a continual loop in my brain. It repeats all I need to get done. Over and over. And today? I feel the need to ignore the list. I just can't bring myself to care enough about it. All morning I have wasted time. Wasted. It feels so delightfully refreshing.

So I'm giving us all permission to put the To Do's on hold. Just for today. Find a way to waste some time. Preferably on a puzzle. M'kay?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Porch Sitting

I've been sitting on my porch for most of my life. At least, it feels that way. This porch and just one other. Watching my kids board the school bus. It's hard to remember my life before my porch sitting. What was all that time before I became a mother? A warm up? Maybe a test run? The farther away I am from those non-porch days, makes it feel like a different life all together. It probably was.

This morning I'm sitting. Again. Forever and ever. My mother eyes, need, no demand, the final glimpse of my child before she bounds up the steps. Somehow my heart thinks this last look will keep her safe until she returns.

I look around me at 7:26 am and see all that is familiar this time of year. I also realize that I'm sitting in my pajamas. Years, maybe eons? ago, I was up early. Showered and ready for the day. I hit the morning ready to roll with a load of laundry already done before we stepped to the porch for the bus waiting.

Now I sit in my pajamas and wonder where, oh where, I'll find enough energy for the day. I lounge on the couch while The Favorite Baby Child makes her own lunch and gets ready. We walk together to the door. We wait at the porch. The older two were up and out before the sun. They drive away in their own car that's filled with trash and smells disturbingly like men's cologne. They're too old for the bus. No more porch sitting with them.

So much of what we do is silent and unseen. It's a culmination of all the little things, like porch sitting. Like knowing this girl of mine will stop right at the very edge of the bus doors to turn back and wave at me. It's right there, that brief moment that seems so ordinary. But my eyes catch it and my soul breathes it in.

These are the days. The porch sitting ones. In all their no-frills glory. There is no thanks and rarely any acknowledgement. There are days, even years, that suck the life right from us. But this, this, is what we do. It is what we were made to create. A life. One filled with magical, daily moments.

My days are numbered. I realized that this morning. Only a few more years of waving as the bus speeds by. And I am caught in an understanding of what it means to be a parent. To mother with your whole entire being. It is never perfect. Most often it's messy. But, it's offered with your heart and soul. And that makes everything just right. In an ordinary, extraordinary kind of way.

Whether it be the porch or standing at the window, or even sitting exhausted on the couch, this is where you're supposed to be. In this moment, surrounded by a To Do list that is not manageable. You are living the good life. The one saved just for you.

Today, let's savor that knowledge. That we are here, in the space and family all our own. That porch sitting, laundry folding, dish washing is all done because of the people we love. Somehow that offers beauty into what we do. And gives light at just the perfect angle.

May we sit on the porch and breathe in our goodness.
Find joy today.

Friday, May 16, 2014

A Day To Celebrate

Happy Birthday

To the bravest mother.
The most courageous spirit.
The loveliest sister.
The most wonderful friend.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

My All-Star Motivational Skills

Within 5.4 seconds of your first child entering high school, you quickly learn that everything, ev-re-thing!, has a fee and fundraiser that's required. College funds (if you're the kind of good parents that actually have those) evaporate into the endless checks you write for your teenagers and their high school activities. Someone should have warned me that I would need a part-time job just to cover it all.

After Child #1 was welcomed (cheers, balloons, excitement!) into the National Honors Society, the students were told about the mandatory fundraiser and monetary fees. So clearly, if you're a smart and hard working student, you have to pay for that right. Am I reading that clearly? (I'm no where near NHS material, so maybe I'm looking at it all wrong. It's highly possible.)

And can we note, just for fun, that's it's the end of the school year. Asking a parent for money at this point in the game is a dangerous thing to do. Oh yes, yes it is.

Yesterday, #1 comes stomping in the door and exclaims:
"If NHS didn't look good on a college resume, I would quit!!!!!!"

She stands and stares at me, while I'm folding HER laundry, so I exclaim:
"If motherhood didn't look good on a heaven resume, I would quit!!!!"

{pause for effect....I open my eyes even wider and really stare her down....}

"Now suck it up and stop complaining."

Amen. End of story.
Feel free to take notes on my teenager mothering skills.

Oh, and my pantry is stocked with fruit snacks now. You know, the fundraiser fruit snacks she was supposed to sell to other people. I bought 24. Again, take notes on the awesomeness (which is sometimes interchangeable with stupidity).

Monday, May 12, 2014

My Belated Thoughts On Mothering

On Saturday night, they sang. Choir concert, of course. One even sang a solo with that powerhouse voice of hers. Listening to them offer up their talents is one of my favorite things to do. Even more than puzzling. Which is saying somethin'.

Whenever they sing in a group, I feel myself leaning in to pick out their voices. Certain notes, particular bends in the music tend to single out the voice that I know as well as my own heartbeat. I'm drawn to it. In a natural sort of way. My eyes follow them on stage and it feels as if they carry a piece of my soul wherever they go. Mothers and their hearts.

When I first started mothering, I read countless books. I picked apart magazine articles for anything to give me a hint at what I should be doing. Did you do the same? That endless kind of searching and asking? I still do it now. Not so much the reading, but the asking. Simply because I'm curious, insanely so, on what makes other families tick.

How irritating is the random head at the top of this picture?

In my early mothering years, I was fervent about finding the "right" way to parent. I would literally sit in the isle at Barnes and Noble hunting through books. I wanted some kind of answer for why I felt like I was doing it all wrong. There just had to be a book that would tell me why my 2 year old chewed on the wall during time out.

Guess what? The answers are never found in books. Sure, they offer great insight and lots of ideas. But not often the answers. The ones tailored just to you and the people you mother. Those answers are located in the same place they've always been.

Inside you.

I think the Lord probably placed them there around the same time each child was gifted to you. The answers wait for us at the ready. Sometimes they're easy to reach. And other times, the answers feel exquisitely painful to discover. That search and find is all part of the plan as well, I'm sure.

Child #3's homemade gift. My favorite kind.

The world is of His grand design. There is order. There is placement. There is a plan to it all. So, we must believe this: You are where you're supposed to be and so are the children you mother. They were given to you for a reason. Not so you could mother them the way your neighbor does. Not so you can follow book solutions. You are the mother they need. With all your flaws and shortcomings, they need you. With the answers you hold in your heart.

Not because your perfect. But simply because of who you are. You, today, as you are in this moment, are the mother they need. Not the mothers you glimpse in their Sunday best or the kinds featured in articles. Just you. Plain and simple.

For you are grand. As mothers we always, always feel we are lacking. Sometimes the truth of what we face is heavy to hold. But hold it, we do. In our own unique way, we do this mothering thing on a constant spin cycle. Day after day. With no applause. That right there makes you extraordinary.

So, let's stop searching outward and start looking inward. You are the gift your children need. Right there. Surrounded by laundry and whining toddlers. You are their gift.

Let us treat ourselves accordingly.

Happy day late Mother's Day.
Celebrate what makes us each extraordinary. (Just a tip: The celebrating is so much sweeter when you listen to your daughters sing.)

Friday, May 9, 2014

What To Do

I'm giving you an assignment.
To be creative.
Today or tomorrow. Be crafty. Create something. Anything.

I have a branch. From The Husband's most favorite tree. He pruned it off one day. And I of course snatched it away to decorate with. I originally put leaves on the ends that were made from book pages. A couple of weeks ago, I decided to change it up. I'm fairly certain I was trying to avoid my To Do list, so I crafted instead.

I simply folded over the washi tape, right onto the branch. Then cut it into a leaf shape. Then I scientifically squished it around the edges. After I finished those, it still felt a little bare. So I added the black chevron. It only took about an hour, and it was free.

Guess what else was free? The wrapping paper that covered my birthday puzzle. I couldn't throw it away. It just felt too sacred.

I cut out scads of hearts and made flowers. I got the idea from Flower Patch Farmgirl. She used magazine pages and made a garland. Either option is lovely. But, let's be honest. My paper once held a puzzle {whispered with reverence}. Just sayin'.

So. That's you're assignment.
Drink a Coke and eat candy all along the way.
Best weekend ever.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

What Odd Looks Like

Guess what?
I'm odd.

Well, let me specify. I'm odd (as a person) and I'm odd (in birth years).

If you've known me long, you know of my aversion to odd numbers. They're almost as hateful as vegetables, but not quite.

So, as life would have it, every other year, I wake up to an odd number on my birthday. I feel dread as soon as I open my eyes. Odd is a hard number to carry around for an entire year.

For reasons I can't really wrap my words around, yesterday (my birthday) didn't feel so dreadful. It was actually awesome. In an ordinary sort of way. I can't figure out why that is. Maybe my subconscious has decided to embrace my inner odd and go with it. I mean, why not?

I played with sand. I know it looks like cookie dough, but it's not. It's magnetic sand. It's all sorts of mesmerizing and fantastic. So I shaped my age. Rather odd, yes?

And as promised, I puzzled. Oh, how I puzzled. I'm not even going to tell you how many hours. But I will mention this: I finished it. Yes, I'm a rock star. I told the Favorite Baby Child that I would autograph her arm.

I also have something to tell you. It leaves me breathless, so I'll have to go slow.



Just thinking about it makes me hyperventilate.
I might need some kind of support group. Or a championship title match. With a big, honkin' trophy at the end. That would be superb.

My kids, oh my sweet kids, bought me this acorn charm (with help from my sister). Every bad thing I've ever said about them was forgotten. For like, 3 whole hours. I was that stunned and that delighted.

You know I collect random, off the road, acorns, right? Odd enough?
This is going to be my fave.
For like, ever.

And because The Husband knows no bounds to his awesomeness. He ordered the prettiest cake in the history of cakes.

Odd has never felt so even.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

You Need To Pick Up What I'm Puttin' Down

You need to buy this book:
You can check out all the deets here. Basically, this woman is my fave, fave, fave decorating blogger ever. Of all time. And now she's a writer. I'll also mention that her sister is my fave, fave, fave life-writer of all time, ever, as well.

I have never, not once, pre-ordered a book from Amazon. This one I did. When it arrived, I gave it to The Husband and asked him to hide it away for my birthday. I really, really hope he remembers where all this stuff I've bought is located.

I've been meaning to write a lengthy, poignant post about The Nester's catch phrase, "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful." But really, my imperfect life just hasn't slowed down long enough for me to gather all the words together.

So instead, I'm just going to tell you (like I have before) to follow her. Her ideas about living perfectly while surrounded by all our imperfect, resonate through all areas of my life. And no, I've never met her. I'm going to write to her someday. Because she's had that much of an impact on my life.

And because I want to impact your life today, I'm giving you something to smile about. The cutest picture of The Angel Baby. Sitting in the corridor of the hospital after enduring endless medical tests.
There are times, in the midst of all the imperfect that surrounds me, that I get a true glimpse of the spirit inside this girl. And there is nothing, nothing, that is more perfectly beautiful. She's like a slice of Heaven. That giggles uncontrollably.

May you look around at all your own imperfectness today, and smile.
Take Riley's joy and make it your own.

Oh, and buy a book.
It's almost as good as a new puzzle :)

Monday, May 5, 2014


It's that time of year where high school schedules get all wacky. Testing days vary based on grade level. And for reasons really oblivious to me, there are days with "late arrival". This morning, my oldest was circling the house and begging me to straighten her hair while she watched TV.

I starred her down and told her that during school hours, her voice is like pterodactyl claws on my soul. I maybe, sorta told her she was only allowed to speak to me during the traditional non-school hours. In case you're wondering, that's 4:00-4:15 pm. And 15 minutes is plenty generous. She completely ignored me and kept. talking.

To add even more goodness on top of the awesomeness, as soon as Child #1 walked out the door, Child #3 called from school. She has strep. For the 4th time. Oh, raise your hands high and sing praises to heaven. It's like the universe actually wants me to spend more time with my children. Someone needs to let the universe know that summer arrives in a matter of weeks. Geez.

So, here's something to think about: the other day, the child of mine that was just inducted into the National Honor Society (which generally indicates you've got your act together) decided to make brownies. A double batch. She stood at the sink and asked me, "What's 1/4th plus 1/4th?" I thought she was kidding, so I didn't answer her. After a few minutes, she said, "No seriously, I'm not good at fractions."

Oh, snap.

And as an FYI, because I know you're just waiting on the edge of your seat, my birthday is in 2 days. Guess what that means?

I get a new puzzle.

It's all I'm living for.
What a sad, pathetic truth.

But, when I think about that puzzle (I bought for myself, but made The Husband hide away for my birthday because I'm a puzzle junkie), my heart rate picks up. I'm super, over the moon, excited.

That just might be a whole different level of the generic pathetic.
Maybe my DNA is responsible for my 17 year old, AP student not knowing how to add 1/4th and 1/4th.

Oh snap, indeed.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

April Was Curious

At the end of every month, my favorite writer (in the whole wide world!) has a link-up for "What You Learned This Month". I've never joined the link-up, because frankly, the things I learn are usually embarrassing or inappropriate. This month is no exception. April was a month of curious learning. It was also a month that put my soul through the wringer. Heavy stuff. Stuff I can't talk about without crying. So, I'm giving you all the lighter things:

1. Teenagers and cell phones. {pause for a heavy sigh..................}
We can have a lengthy discussion on the pros and cons, but it would be pointless. For heaven sakes, my teenagers sleep with their phones resting right next to their pillow! Phones are the new baby blanket.

I have a love/hate relationship with cell phones. But truly, it's the best way to communicate with your child. Or harass them, whichever you prefer. Sometimes, when they're out with their friends, I'll text them over and over and over. Like, 20 different times, all with ridiculous questions. "Do you want to come home and we can make matching skirts for church?" I crack myself up. It makes them crazy. Mission accomplished.

But, here's the flip side-- they have no idea how to function without a phone. So, guess what they do? They use mine.

The Favorite Baby Child decided it was a good idea to hold her phone while riding a bike. Of course she dropped it and the screen exploded. She got so tired of trying to look through all the cracks in her screen, so she just started using mine. And why do they take so many pictures of themselves?

Child #2 got her phone confiscated by her parents. Oh, the wailing! But again, she just used mine. Can't a mother ever have anything her children don't touch?

2. And on the subject of cell phones, can we talk about those stupid little picture graphics you can send with a text? Yes? I know they have a name, I just don't care enough to know what it is or how to spell it. I think they're weird. Really. But teenagers are weird, so I'm not surprised when they use them. Adults? Ya, that surprises me.

Can we discuss (or not) this one right here:
Who felt the need to create this little guy?

Because, here's the deal. I'll text my offspring and ask what they're doing. Because, I know they're in the house, I just don't want to put forth the effort of physically finding them, so I use my phone. 86% of the time that I ask this question, they respond with the little guy. Gives me the shivers.

And guess what I text back? Wait for it....."You're eating chocolate frosting in the bathroom? That's SO weird!"

It irritates the teenagers. Which makes me very, very happy.

I can't even tell you what else I learned in April. Because, how can you proceed after talking about a poop icon with eyes?

Um, you can't.

Let's enjoy May.
My goal is not to cry.
I hope I make it.