October 29, 2009

A Christmas Gift

Have I shared with you yet that my boss is a very good and strong Christian man? Have I told you that, since I have joined the company, he has started a volunteer program to be the Hands and Feet in the community?

He wants to give back in a big way. He is rewarding our employees who give back. And he asked me to head up the entire program for our company.


So I was sitting here today printing out some information for our volunteers and I thought about Christmas. I thought about how, here, "Happy Holidays" isn't allowed. "We say Merry CHRISTmas here," he told me. I thought about how, at the end of a meeting last week, he prayed.


So odd and so beautiful at the same time. I've never worked for a company that was 'out of the closet' about Jesus. It's freaking fantastic! I don't have to be afraid of being sued or fired if I stand up and shout praise to God on a Monday afternoon. Or if I ask for prayer on a Friday morning.

Seriously. Where am I? I really continue to find myself so spectacularly surprised that Da Plains is this fruitful to me. I knew, when the tears fell from my eyes every time I visited Lulu out here before we moved - I knew this was the place I needed to live. God is here. He is here and he is present and he is Living OUT LOUD through people like me.

So, back to my volunteer program. Christmas was on my mind this morning and I thought about the two dinners that our company is sponsoring at a local shelter. I'm planning to take the kids with me; the boys can't wait to go. They need to be the Hands and Feet of our Lord. They need to give the best Christmas gift of all and see how blessed they truly are.

Then I thought of our babies and about our Mountain Baby Blankets project. I'd like to see more cold toes covered up on Christmas morning, wouldn't you? I thought of how blessed I am to have the mindset that I do, to have so many online friends who give such beautiful gifts to complete strangers. You people just blow me away. I think we're up to 500 blankets now with more on the way.

THAT is the best Christmas gift. GIVING.

I strongly encourage you to find an organization in your community that will let you to give back to those less fortunate. Go through your garage and donate old-but-good toys for children who don't have any. Give those too-small boots to your Salvation Army or local church. Or, go feed the hungry. Buy presents for random families. Pay for gas for someone at the station.

I don't know what's going to happen when I stand across the table from the hungry in December. When I ladel out the food I've cooked and look into their eyes. I wonder if I'll be able to hold it together, or if all the humble blessings I've had in the past 2 years will crash down around me. Whatever happens, I know it will be worthy and beautiful and full of the Holy Spirit. It will change and strengthen me. I also know I'm packing tissues.

Food for thought today. Consider putting GIVING BACK on your list this year.

October 28, 2009

Let's See Those Cabinets!

Bookcases...whatever they are.

You know, I almost entitled this post, "Yumminess," but I thought that might be over the top. You decide.

These two cabinets were left behind in the basement of the house. The owner told me I could have them. I started slobbering the moment I saw them and haven't stopped since.

At first glance I saw the bright, cheerful yellow and considered leaving them alone. Well, bringing them upstairs and then leaving them alone. Once we moved in I discovered that these were built IN the basement (and only by the grace of God himself actually fit up the stairs!) and weren't painted on both sides. I also found the backs in disrepair.

So, a bigger project than I thought, but they are incredibly worth it. Yumminess, I told you.


I began by cleaning the cabinets inside and out, using soap and hot water. They were a mess, having lived in the basement for a long time. Then I used wood filler (Elmer's brand) to spackle in any large gouges. I also had some masonite cut to fit the backs and the boys helped me nail it on to provide additional support.

I used Behr Paint Plus Primer in Interior Semi-Gloss, Extra White for these bad boys. And it took 4 coats; no lie! I used a mini-roller and a brush for the corners. The cabinets also got brand new hardware - both hinges and glass knobs.

I am SO PROUD OF MYSELF for how they came out.

See. Should have called it "Yumminess."

October 26, 2009

Flikr Help

Does anyone know why freaking Flikr images cannot be just pasted into Blogger anymore? Any help - PLEASE send it my way!

Until I figure this out, I'm on one picture per post! ARGH!

Thank you to those who left comments. I was able to upload into Blogger but the images are TINY. I am very, very unhappy with this. I've been playing around editing the HTML code with the pictures to see if I can improve it. I've figured out a way to make them bigger, but their quality disappears. I really, really wish I knew what Flikr did!!! Why did they change this? This is a hell of a reason not to renew with them.


IMG_1307e, originally uploaded by racheljcox.

We had a mighty busy weekend.

I was successful at my last push to unpack some important boxes, finish up the cabinets, hang some artwork, and ready the house for Nana's visit last week. I plum tuckered myself out.

This past weekend was so nice with Nana at the house. I was able to nap on Saturday and Sunday. That hasn't happened in a very long time. We cooked, we crocheted, we played with the kids and watched lots of The Golden Girls - all of us together.

On Saturday we took the kids to the town Halloween carnival. It wasn't until we were inside the auditorium with the kids in their costumes that I realized Mabel's Elmo... was a boy. Oh well. She loved it.

Saturday night I went to a double birthday party; the entire town was invited and it was a blast. It was delicious to leave Nana with the kids and head out for some fun - no worries at all. And I can walk to and from!

I found fun, all right. Fun with friends (such good, good people), fun dancing... and fun with Frank Sinatra and the 6'6" viking who dipped me. YOWZA.

So, we're all recuperating. I'll upload the photos from the weekend this evening, K?


October 23, 2009

She Dropped The Bomb On Me

IMG_1191e, originally uploaded by racheljcox.

This one is NOT child-friendly. Please remove the baby from your breast before you read this post.

Okay, I know I'm promising pictures of the house and I have two good reasons why I don't have them for you yet:

1. Judy is in Da Plains and spending time with her has a higher priority
2. I have to tell you about this first. I have to purge it from my soul.

So, after we picked up Nana from the airport, we all went to Cracker Barrel for dinner. It was good times. Judy shared The Spinach Story. Each of the boys took turns telling Nana about school and football and the sitter's house. Mabel colored.

Somewhere during dinner, Mabel decided to color again. She was finished with her plate and lifted it up over her head. "Mama, I all done," she said, and grabbed up the little box of crayons after I rescued the plate.

First, blue. "Dis one GWEEN!" she exclaimed.

Then, yellow. "WED, Mama!"

Clearly we have work to do. I mean, the child already knows her left from her right, but she is sadly behind when it comes to colors. It's true.

She colored some on the paper, some on the table, and I wondered why - after 8 years - Cracker Barrel STILL had non-washable crayons. I mean, seriously. I digress...

The funny is coming, I swear.

Mabel was quiet for a while and when I looked over, I noticed her struggling to get the crayons in the box. Or out of the box, or something. I don't know but her face was red and she was getting upset. Things weren't working out right.

"Are they stuck?" I asked her.

"F*ck," she said.

Both of the boys dropped their forks. Their eyes were wide as saucers. **blink-blink** **blink-blink** Silence.

I was not alarmed. In fact, I remained entirely calm. Third child and all. "No, Sweetie. Stuck. SSSSSSSSSSSTUCK. Say 'stuck'," I tried.

"F*ck." She grew more agitated as she tried to get those crayons to go where she wanted them to go. "F*CK, Mama! Help me, help me! Mama, they f*ck!"

People started to stare. My mom FINALLY looked up from her chicken to hear her darling granddaughter say it again.

She waved the crayon box over her head and raised her voice. "THEY F*CK, MOMMY! HELP ME!"

The look on my mother's face was beyond priceless. It was if all things holy came to an end at that very moment. She had absolutely no idea what to say or do except stare in disbelief.

I'm not sure Judy knows that word. I mean, she does... she knows it's like the dirtiest dirty word.

Judy lowered her head as far as she could, craned her neck over her plate, and whispered, "Did she say-"


The boys laughed. Loudly.

Yep. She did.

"Mom, Mabel is saying -"


"Sssssssss-f*ck," she tried.

In fact, Mabel tried for more than 30 minutes. We'd be ignoring her and get a forkful of food in our mouths and she'd say it again. I tried so hard not to laugh. I mean, seriously. This is not something I say in front of my children. This is not a story to be proud of. I get it. The more the boys laughed, the more Mabel thought this new word was fun to say.

We tried to ignore her but the damn crayons were still stuck. She was only trying to tell us about it and here we were, laughing at her. Poor thing.

Poor, sweet, innocent thing.

I threatened the boys within an inch of their skins if they made her say it at the sitter's today.

So, yes. October 21 will forever be the day that Nana came to Da Plains for a visit. It will be the day that we shared a lovely dinner together at Cracker Barrel.

It will also be the day my daughter dropped the F-Bomb for the first time.


October 22, 2009

The Spinach Story

It's been a while since Judy's shared a whopper with me. You're in for a classic, old-lady comedy here, Folks.

We picked up Nana from the airport last night and went straight to Cracker Barrel for dinner. She proceeded to tell me that she had been waiting since Monday to tell me The Spinach Story. First she pushed back all of the items on the table - the lantern, the game, the salt and pepper. She cleared her path to tell her story.

As she spoke she illustrated with her hands and described her dinner on Monday.

She was home that evening, not working, and made herself a real fancy dinner. She started with her tray. "You know the tray Nana uses with the lighthouse on it? That one," she says to the boys.

"I laid it out," she said. "First, over here, I put my bowl of spinach. You know, the small can size? I warmed it up and then put a dab of white vinegar on it." She rolled her eyes back in her head. Judy must really like spinach. With her hands, Judy fixes the imaginary bowl of spinach in the corner of her imaginary tray.

"Then over here I put a little glass bowl of tartar sauce," she continued, illustrating a swirl in the little tartar sauce bowl. "Then on this side, I sliced up a nice tomato like this (slice, slice, slice) and put in on a pretty plate and sat it on my tray."

We all listened courteously.

"Then down here, I put my plate of six fish sticks, all lined up (line, line, line). My mouth was watering and I already had Molly in her kennel so I could eat in peace, so now I was ready to eat," she said.

"So I picked up my tray and walked from the kitchen to the living room, see. Except Molly had left the knot of her bone right in between the kitchen and the living room. And I was only looking at my beautiful tray and my belly was so hungry. So I stepped right on that ole' knot."

"Oh no!" we all gasped.

"Yes!" she said. "I lost my balance and went down like a ton of bricks," she said, as she flug herself across the table in demonstration. "But I never did let go of that tray! I fell straight on my knees and somehow kept my balance."

Judy was so proud she'd avoided really hurting herself a good one and also that she'd preserved her beautiful dinner. Except, she noticed that her tray didn't look the same as it did when she left the kitchen.

"I looked down and the tray didn't look right." Just then, a glop of spinach landed flat on the top of Judy's head. She looked up and another glop got her in the eye. My poor mother. A bigger glob of tartar sauce had shot straight up from the little glass dish and then came down on her back. I think a fish stick stuck her in the rump. All around her, little pieces of her dinner slopped and flopped on her.

Judy was pissed.

"Well how did you clean it up?" I asked. "I mean, does spinach stain?"

"You're darn right it stains," she said, "especially when you leave it sit there while you eat your dinner!"

We started to laugh.

"I was so pissed I couldn't see straight. First I had to pick all of my tomato slices up (pick, pick, pick) off the carpet. There wasn't too much fuzz," she said. "Then, I had to find all of my fish sticks. So I sat down on the couch and I used what was left of the tartar sauce (dab, dab, dab - which looked more like blonk! blonk! blonk! because she was mad) and... my poor spinach. I didn't get very much of my spinach."

Pretty much all of Judy's spinach was hanging... on her person.

"Then I started laughing and haven't quit since," she said.

Can you imagine my mother sitting on the couch, partially-disturbed and rearranged tray in her lap, very pissed look on her face, and slamming fish sticks into an empty glass bowl? All the while a tremendous glop of spinach sat in her hair and tartar sauce hung from her reading glasses?

Poor Judy.

October 20, 2009

Two Sets of Joneses

As I was making pizza last night, we had our iTunes playing in the background. Andy sang along with He Reigns (Newsboys), while Trevor shouted out to God You Reign (Lincoln Brewster). Even Mabel loves the little voices at the end of God You Reign (Lincoln's son, by the way).

After those two requests were granted, I put it on shuffle and went back to my pepperoni.

And the dang song came on. The song that makes me stop every. single. time. I heard this song for the first time earlier this year. I'd never even heard of the band before. The song was part of our church service. It made me stop on that day, too.

Two Sets of Joneses, by Big Tent Revival

This here's a song about two sets of Joneses:
Rothchild and Evelyn, Rueben and Sue
Just for discussion, thru random selection,
We've chosen two couples who haven't a clue

Rothchild was lucky to marry so wealthy,
Evelyn bought him a house on the beach
Rueben and Sue they had nothing but Jesus
and at night they would pray that He cared for them each

And the rain came down,
and it blew the four walls down
And the clouds they rolled away,
One set of Joneses was standing that day

Evelyn's Daddy was proud of young Rothchild
He worked the late hours to be number one
Just newlyweds and their marriage got rocky,
He's flying to Dallas, she's having a son

Rueben was holding a Gideon's Bible
When He screamed "it's a Boy" so that everyone heard
And the guys at the factory took a collection
Again God provided for bills he incurred

And the rain came down,
and it blew the four walls down
And the clouds they rolled away,
One set of Joneses was standing that day

So what is the point of this story,
What am I trying to say?
Is your Life built on the Rock of Christ Jesus,
Or a sandy foundation you've managed to lay?

Well, needless to say Evelyn left her husband,
Sued him for every penny he had
And I truly wish that those two would find Jesus
Before things get worse then they already have

And the rain came down,
and it blew the four walls down
And the clouds they rolled away,
One set of Joneses was standing that day

Yes the rain came down,
and it blew the four walls down
And the clouds they rolled away,
There's two set's of Joneses... which ones will you be?

This song makes me grateful for how far I've come in the past few years. It also drags up feelings of guilt over my not dragging my ex-husband to the cross, not forcing the issue of church. But we can't do that, see. It sucks, but we're not allowed to drag people like that. And you know, my walk with Christ wasn't nearly as close back then as it is now anyway. I feel guilty about that, too.

I know I'm not supposed to feel guilty.

So instead I'm going to post this song here and make you promise to watch it. Watch it with your spouse. Be sure your priorities are straight. Quit fibbing to yourself and saying that you're working those long hours for your family when you're really working for the love of money (is that you?). Be sure you are leaving work at work and spending time at home with your spouse and children (is that you?). I beg you to make your time count, and then give EVERYTHING TO GOD. If you don't do these things, you will end up in dark place.

You might end up like lonely Rothchild, and lonely Evelyn. You might end up like me, starting over. I am grateful for the journey, though. Every step. It's bittersweet knowing my life had to change the way it did in order to be what it is now.

Please believe me when I tell you that money... money is NOTHING. Money is a WASTE. That big house isn't important. Being the best or the brightest or the weathiest for your age isn't where it's at. Your treasure isn't in this world, unless you count your family. That's the treasure we get to have here on Earth. Our treasure awaits us in Heaven.

Blog Award

Kheli at RememberYourKarma has awarded me the Honest Scrap Award! I'd love to tell you that I'm all cool and collected and can talk about this with much dignity and grace. While that is all true, my tail is wagging so hard I can't keep up with it! My first blog award. Thanks, Kheli!

The first part of the award requirements are that I share 10 honest things about myself. Easy enough.

  1. I had coffee and a blueberry PopTart for breakfast this morning.

  2. I love looking down at Mabel's chubby feet when I get her into her jammies every night. I hate it at the same time because I'm reminded how fast time flies and that her piggies will not always be so delicious.

  3. When Trevor was born, I could not get through one verse of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" without crying.

  4. I feel like a rockstar mom when my children tell me they ADORE fresh asparagus. Who knew?!

  5. Granny Smiths used to be my apples-of-choice. But not since Mindy introduced me to the glorious Honey Crisp. Mmmmmmm... Honey Crisp.

  6. I can hear the Lutheran church bells from home, striking every hour.

  7. I have mentioned before that I love to paint. It makes me feel good to rinse my brushes in the kitchen sink and leave behind a smear that says: "someone creative lives here."

  8. I organize my closet by type (jackets, sweaters, long-sleeves, short-sleeves, etc.) and then by color.

  9. Last night I put labels on my storage bins. My label maker had been packed away for 2 years. I squealed with glee when I found it. SQUEALED OUT LOUD WITH GLEE, I tell you.

  10. I have more friends in my life now than I ever have before. I thank God for bringing me each and every one of them.

Also as part of receiving this award, I present this same award to the brilliant bloggers below. Each of them inspire me daily in their own ways.

  1. Jordan Ferney at OhHappyDay. A daily read for all things cooking, creating, clothing, color, art & JCrew (to be specific).

  2. Amy Hanson at SweetSweetLife. Another daily read. Amaaaaaazzziiinng art and creative candy - she really does a fantastic job of scouring the internet for goodness and sharing it with me.

  3. Mindy at Isn'tThisFun? Lulu is inspirational to me in so many different ways. As a PK (that's pastor's kid, if you didn't know), she can kick my ass at scripture. Fo' sho'. I ask her all kinds of questions. She's also a master juggler. It's just that her balls are shaped more like children.

  4. Mr.Monkeysuit. Oh holy business do I ever blog stalk this one. LOVE her liberal use of Liberty prints, her superhero abilities to sew children's clothing, and knit as well.

  5. Nathalie Bearden of Kennedy&Friends. I am crazy about her colorful photography skills, her honestly wonderful embroidery, and her beautiful home.

  6. Hillary Lang at WeeWonderfuls. Hillary reminded me that all of the older ladies of yore (and trendy ladies of now) embroider to be cool. She is seriously so dang talented, I can barely stand it.

  7. Alicia Paulson of PosieGetsCozy. If you don't read her blog, you should. She cooks, she sews, she creates, she shares. She is AMAZING. Love her.

  8. Jenny at LittleGreenNotebook. An interior designer, Jenny is wonderful at describing how she transforms things to make them beautiful. I love reading her blog every day.

Seriously, there are so many more people out there who inspire me every day online. Stephmodo, SouleMama, PioneerWoman, Elsie Flannigan, Nate & Jaclyn... of course, NieNie - just to name a few more. I love them all.

Thanks again to all of these bloggers for your inspiration and friendship, thanks to Kheli for the award, and thanks to all who read this blog!

I know this is similar to one of those memes, but I appreciate the opportunity to say thank you to those who inspire me. Please pass this on and encourage each other.

We's Be Busy, Y'All

Okay, seriously. How much can I pack into a last-minute push before Nana hits Da Plains for a visit? Wanna know what I did this weekend?

Here, straight from my To Do list on Saturday:

Second coat of paint on cabinets
Remove and replace hinges after paint
Add masonite backing to both cabinets
Remove and discard wood towel racks
Put up 2 metal towel racks in bathroom
Replace toilet seat in bathroom
Install new shower head
Caster covers under my bed
Pick up supplies to make king headboard
Felt covers under all furniture upstairs and in dining room
Change switchplates in my room
Hang coats on rod downstairs
Water plants
Organize garage & arrange for cardboard pickup
Hang pictures in boys room
Hang pictures in mabel's room
Hang Favor in dining room
Touch up basement celing with semigloss from cabinets
Touch up stair railing
Replace bulbs in basement
Fold laundry & put away (five loads - YIKES)
Make labels for downstairs bins
Refill salt in water softener (5 bags)
Unpack 6 boxes of scrap & sew into cabinets
Halloween costume shopping & assembly

Add to that church and a trip to the clinic for a couple of sickies on Sunday, and there you have my weekend.

If I hadn't had the unexpected trip to the clinic, I would have cleaned my front gutters and mowed my lawn. Drat! I need to do that!

Pictures are coming!

October 12, 2009

My Little ChickenHawk

He's #10.

He played Defensive End, Safety, and Offensive End.

While Trevor plays, Andy builds. In Spiderman gloves.

Still building.

I used to think Trevor was big, or at least average-sized. Here here is standing next to a child just one year older. The red ring around the other kid's helmet indicates he weighed more than 100 lbs at weigh-in and therefore, cannot run with the ball. Doesn't Trevor look tiny?

He still holds his own.

Yep, definitely holds his own. See that little helmet on the bottom of the pile in the lower right corner of the heap? That's him.

Strutting. Probably because the cheerleaders were there.

Whoop - bottom of the pile again.

I love my little CHawk.

The Dining Room

The dining room is next on my list. The walls were already painted a nice, creamy white. I'll get around to whitening it up with Pure White (which is actually NOT pure white) from Sherwin Williams eventually.

Like all of the windows in the house, it has lovely mahogany casings and woodwork all over the place.

I found these lovely, old cafe curtains in the thrift store for less than $1 each and got just enough to do the 4 windows in the dining room. Meant to be, I guess.

Moo would like for you to stop looking at her piggy tails and notice that the Favor poster behind her will eventually be hung up on the North wall in the dining room.

Our book collection, my sewing goodies, and my scrapbooking supplies will be stored in two cabinets that were left behind when we moved in. For now each of those things still lives in boxes. See, Mom, I'm not entirely unpacked yet. More to come on that below...

Presenting below the Antebellum gateleg, drop-leaf table, alongside 4 darling chairs I bought for a total of $22 (the chairs, NOT the table). Love.

The dining room came with a wallpaper border in emerald green and burgundy (another least-favorite color of mine). The wallpaper border had to go because it's not my style, but also because it chopped the 10' ceilings off at only 8'. I removed it last weekend.

What's that yellow, yummy-looking organizer thing there?

One of the previous pastors (or someone he commissioned, I imagine) made two bookcases in the basement who-knows-how-many years ago. The solid wood pair were brought upstairs on moving day (thank you, Move Friends!) and will hold all of my creative supplies in the dining room, as well as most of our book collection. I cannot wait.

I argued with myself and consulted Mindy and Becky, and eventually decided to paint these white. Shocking, I know. I thought of leaving them yellow, but it really draws too much attention that way and doesn't allow the eye to float through the house equally. Because the house is so wide open, you can see them from the kitchen and the living room. Last night I put the first coat on them. Once they're done, they will be loaded up and I can start working on the two quilts rolling around in my head!

They also need new glass knobs, I think. Don't you?

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Our first snow flurries of 2009 came last Friday. The two Bigs were in the Homecoming parade and it was warm enough during the day - in the 50's - but by evening, I was thankful we didn't go to the game. We got almost an inch of the white stuff. It did stick, but it melted by Sunday afternoon.

Sunday night the snow started again. There were 2" on the ground by Monday morning, with another 4" promised by Thursday. How glad am I that I now live less than 2 miles from my work? WORD.

Don't feel sorry for us. It's not like we're the only ones with predicted (or actualized, as it were) snow. Judy said it's supposed to snow in her neck of the woods this week as well.

Good times here in Da Plains. Good times.

The Living Room

I think the best way to document the new house is room by room. I hate busting this out so early because I am FAR from done decorating, but Mindy and my mother are ready to chew my ass for not having posted any new pics of our palace, so here I am.

I aim to please you know.

A little prep first: our home was built around 1900. I say "around" because there is no actual date on record. One year it was not there and then a few years later, it was. During most of its life our home has been used by the local church as a parsonage. Literally God's house. I love that. All of the important updates have been made, but the rest has been left charmingly original. It has plenty of character and only a few things that need updating. There are things in every room that tickle my fancy.

A logical place to start is the living room, I think. The only room in our home that has carpeting. Prior to moving in, the living room was a dark emerald green, which is NOT a favorite color of mine. Perhaps it stems from me painting my bedroom that color when I was in high school (remember, Mom?). Blech.

The blurriness of the pictures should give you an idea just how dark this room was. I couldn't get a crisp picture no matter what I did. This room was primed and painted before we even moved in. I chose Fleur de Sel from Sherwin Williams, to be exact.

These are the lovely mahogany window casings that separate the enclosed (sleeping) porch and the living room.

And, here is after. Notice the difference in lighting? The crispness of Roo's messy mop?

The stairs and entry are off of the living room. The entry is the only wallpaper in the house that I am keeping, though if I find some yummy vintage stuff, it could come down. But, no rush there.

And because Roo and Moo so courteously showed off the living room, here is a picture of Trev. Please note the chopped bangs there above his right eyebrow, which he did in school "for fun," he said.