March 31, 2010

It's a Jeans Thing

I have a jeans thing. A holey jeans thing.

And boy oh boy, do I ever LOVE IT.

Two years ago it occured to me that I needed to loosen up about future (love) plans. I used to think that Brooks Brothers suits were attractive and powerful, for example. That's really all I knew for a long time. It was two years ago that I got more realistic and began to realize that those suits were incredibly uptight and fake, and that I'd been ignoring some possibilities. In fact, I specifically decided that I preferred a man who had character instead. Values. Priorities. Maybe punk ass hair, a scruffly face, or clear, piercing eyes. Someone just living life the way God intended him to live it, happy in his own unique skin. Not interested in overwhelming wealth or labels or selfishness. I wanted someone who could carry himself all powerful and confident with holes in his jeans instead of depending on a suit. Am I making sense?

Guess what.

I was so completely right.

Turns out, character abounds with the holey jeans. Values and priorities, too.

Plus, I'm not going to lie. They're also really HOT.

B flipped through the photos on my hard drive the other night and stopped when he saw his knee. He laughed and grinned at me. I tried to explain it to him, but instead he just smiled and let me be silly. I love his knees. I love his holey jeans and his scruffly chin and his hands and his heart. I love his values and priorities. I very much love every ounce of his character.

I didn't really go into this new part of my life looking for any of that; I went into it with an open heart and an open mind - and God did the rest.

March 29, 2010

At Long Last... The Kitchen

Before: creamy yellow walls, oak cabinetry.

During: (cell phone image; sorry) my kitchen and dining room were littered with cabinet doors. Though, this time I remembered to number them so that they could be put back exactly where they belonged.

And, after: pale pink walls and white cabinetry. New hardware. Vintage white ruffle curtains were less than $2. Vintage pyrex was more than $2 but worth every penny.

(Don't mind my model here; she had to show you the toaster in action.)

Still must wet sand the 3 Eames chairs and I most certainly need a new table. However, I love the juxtaposition of the old and the new here. The modern and the traditional. Perfect.

And these two hanging on my fridge? These handsome young men are Kufa (left) and Gemechu (right). They both live in Zeway, Ethiopia and we are sponsoring them through Food For The Hungry. Later this year, I'm going to hug and smooch them in person. Think I'm going to take B with me, too.

Impromptu Dodgeball

After donuts and coffee, my 3 littles went outside. It wasn't even 10 in the morning, but the sun was shining and warm. The air was relatively still. Mabel insisted on her pink boots (again), but otherwise, it was a reason to wear Spring jackets instead of Winter coats.

Five minutes in, B came inside and asked if they could assemble Mabel's tricycle. You betcha. And you bet I grabbed my camera.

After the trike was built and tested (and a helmet added), the boys brought out the dodgeballs.

Balls were flying through the air left and right. Neighbors were commenting on the giggles coming from the front yard. Even Moo got in on the action from her favorite perch.

Impromptu dodgeball on a random weekend morning? That's the big Q right there, Folks.

An answer to prayer. Seriously.

March 25, 2010

Spring Playlist

Super cute iPod case (and photo) by ByrdandBelle on Etsy

Music is a big part of my life. A good beat and meaningful lyrics can heal all types of wounds, can lift you up and rock you out when you're soul is spiffy. Growing up and in high school I always went to sleep listening to something. I fell out of touch with myself for a great many years and forgot how meaningful and healing music can be - until I was on my own again. Now, I carry my iPod everywhere I go and always go to sleep listening to something.

Below is the playlist I have in heavy rotation right now. You'll see some repeats as well as new favorites - each kept for a special reason in my heart.

Must Be Doin' Something Right - Billy Currington
Come A Little Closer - Dierks Bentley
I Wanna Make You Close Your Eyes - Dierks Bentley
Ticks - Brad Paisley
Better Together - Jack Johnson
Every Breath You Take - Sting
What Faith Can Do - Kutless
Love Song - Tesla
Dare - The Gorillaz
Green Eyes - Coldplay
Cradle of Love - Billy Idol
Kiss Me Once - Lita Ford
Little Willy - Sweet
Got You Where I Want You - The Flys
Cecilia - Simon & Garfunkel
I Gotta Feeling - Black Eyed Peas
Mr. Brightside - The Killers
Another Country - Tift Merritt
Open Your Eyes - Snow Patrol
Pour Some Sugar On Me - Def Leppard
Something To Believe In - Poison
Paradise City - Guns N Roses

What songs are moving through you right now? Share in the comments!

March 24, 2010

Blanket Update

Okay, Gals. Our contact at the Christian Appalachian Project has not responded to my most recent inquiry, which I believe means she might have had her baby!

Now I have already double checked and made sure that while she is out on maternity leave, our blankets will be received and logged just as they would be if she were there. So please don't worry about that. And remember that there is no deadline. We sent blankets all summer last year! Please continue to contact me when you're ready to ship.

I tried to contact the office because I wanted a count. I have a guess (which would be about 750) but I wanted something more official. Of course I will continue to try to get this information, but in the meantime,


Thank you for reaching out to these children. Thank you for working with your hands and your hearts and your friends to make something for someone you don't know. I pray that you continue to feel God's reward in your life.

More of an update as soon as I can nail down a total.
**EDITED TO ADD: Our contact, K DID have her baby. She emailed me on March 30 to say that the current count is 748! Amazing!

Spring Cleaning

You know, despite the fact that I'm all gushing about the love and my hunky dunky these days, I do actually still have a full time job and 3 full time kids and a full time house to keep going. [As a side note, I absolutely adore how writing that previous sentence does not intimidate or worry me one iota... because I now have someone lifting me up, caring right along with me. THIS is what a partnering RELATIONSHIP must feel like! God is soooo good.]

Spring cleaning has begun in our lives. I love this time of year so much! But this year, I am happily distracted and behind. For example: laundry will wait for a date or two, but people start running out of socks and undies if you ignore it much past that. This is my way of admitting that I am a bit behind in laundry. I wash and fold laundry every night while chatting with B, but I am still behind.

Recently Moo inherited some hand me downs. I sorted them by size and then stocked up her dresser with the 3's. This prompted a gander through her duds and revealed a LOT of worn out clothing. On Sunday of last week (after church and a drive-by kiss from B), I thinned clothes. Mabel's dresser. Andy's dresser. Trevor's dresser. Boys' closet. My closet and my dressers. In the end I had 2 bags, plus some shoes. I also went through the toys. It felt good to thin out.

This week I've opened several windows to let fresh Spring air blow through the house. It is GLORIOUS.

I need to work on Trevor's quilt. Actually haven't touched it in a few weeks. I intended to sew this past weekend while B was on a golf trip but he stayed back and we spent almost the entire weekend with him. WAY WORTH IT. But I need to work on it some more. Just one block each night would only take 10 minutes and would put me so close to finished with the top in just a week or so.

I'd also very much like to Spring clean the truck. Vacuum it silly. Wash the outside. Might be a good bonding project for B and the boys. And camera-worthy. Hmmm... mental note.

Yesterday I actually wore a skirt to work. It was 50 degrees. So delicious outside. More Spring cleaning to come!

Get A Bucket

Photograph by Joe Elario


I have become one of those people. You know, the kind that gushes about their boyfriend with such fervor that your breakfast starts to backfire on you? Yep, that's me.

On the phone with my mom (who will meet B next week, incidentally), I gush. I gush about his priorities, about how he's considerate and shares his feelings openly, how he washes my dishes and plays with the kids, how he lifts me up and gives me confidence every single day, about his charming and gentle nature, and about his absolutely gorgeous shoulders (you know, just to name a few things).

On the phone with Mindy, I gush some more. We email, trade texts, and even now she - the ultimate in romantic, sweetness, and Queen of Squee - said to me, "The ooey gooey mushiness is overwhelming! But in a seriously sweet way." That was Mindy code for shut the crap up, bigmouth.

Becky is less restrained. She is the level-headed, independent one who doesn't mind telling me (repeatedly), "Dude, you're going to make me vomit for real. Stop."

In the face of all of this barf-speak, I am not deterred. I am so completely in love with this man that I cannot see or speak or hear or breathe sometimes. My most very favorite part is that HE is EVERY BIT as mushy as I am and he is not afraid to tell me exactly what is on his mind or in his heart.

The kids have noticed a difference in me as well. More quality time with them. Quality time with them with B. Just the other day I told B that being with him has made me a better mom. Allowed me to look at my kidlets from another perspective, to appreciate them more. And of course me being happier than I think I've ever been in my life doesn't hamper the ability to parent so much either. A smile on mom's face goes a long way.

So. There really wasn't a point to this post, except to wonder out loud if I could make the internet grab a bucket, too.

March 19, 2010

Green Eyes

There is a story behind this one. And we all know how I go on and on, so put your feet up.

After I filed for divorce and dealt with the dark and murky drama of that ordeal, I knew that I would find true love. You know, in the form of a HEALTHY, lasting relationship. God designed me to love someone and to be loved by someone. I felt better knowing that there was someone out there looking for me, too. (Talked about that here, as a matter of fact.) It was hard to keep believing, but I managed to do it. Worshipped while I waited... tried so hard to be patient.

Somewhere along my path back toward love, I was cataloging photography one night in my mom's den and I came across Jessica Claire photography. I fell in love with her style and focus on engagement sessions. I thought about how to apply some of her technique into my everyday photography. I watched one session play and listened to the song Jessica had chosen to accompany her images. It was called "Green Eyes" by Coldplay. I'd never heard it before. I watched each image tick by, saw how Jessica captured the exact moment that the guy proposed and the look on the girl's face when she flung herself into his arms. It was perfect. That song planted itself in my soul, I think.

Days later I couldn't stop thinking about it. So I downloaded it onto my iPod. And I can tell you without a doubt that I have listened to that song almost every single day since. I sang that song to myself in the dark with tears streaming down my face. I sang that song driving through Minnesota on my way to visit Lulu. And again to haul our UHaul here because God was telling me to move. And again back and forth to deal with the drama with Shoes. That song has lasted years now. Its lyrics have lived inside of me.

Even now I listen to it every night before I go to sleep. It's exactly what I've needed for so long.

Green Eyes
by Coldplay

Honey you are a rock
upon which I stand.
And I came here to talk;
I hope you understand.
That, Green eyes..
yeah the spotlight
shines upon you.
And how could
deny you?

I came here with a load,
and it feels so much lighter now I met you.
And, Honey you should know
that I could never go on without you,
Green eyes.

Honey, you are the sea
upon which I float.
And I came here to talk;
I think you should know.
That, Green eyes,
you're the one that I wanted to find.
And anyone who tries to deny you,
must be out of their mind.

Because I came here with a load,
and it feels so much lighter since I met you.
Honey, you should know
that I could never go on without you.
Green eyes,
Green eyes.

Honey, you are a rock
upon which I stand.

B* has green eyes. And I no longer have a load, of any kind.

*B = Tomato Soup

This Week

  • I tagged dozens of images online... the subject? Couples photography. I'm DYING to have a session done with my hunky dunky. (That's Joe Elario up there... isn't it amazing?)

  • Mabel is officially potty trained. Poops, too! Her overnight diaper will come in time, but I'm calling it a success!

  • The boys both had their parent/teacher conferences. No surprises or concerns. Trevor is reading I don't know, something like 8th grade level (he's in 3rd) and Andy is up around 6th (2nd grade). Andy busted through his math clog when we realized that he does better doing the problems in his head than on paper. Both honor roll students and well-behaved. I am incredibly proud.

  • I am finally tearing down the walls around my heart. I didn't realize that I'd put any up, but now that things with Tomato Soup are boiling (seriously - time for a new code name for Soup*, Guys), I can feel them coming down. I feel vulnerable again, but its exactly right.

  • Mabel wore ponytails twice this week. Her hair is so long. Funny how last year, it was almost non-existent.

  • I realized this week that Trevor is enormously tall. Like a giant, even. He's about 4 inches below my shoulders and he's 9. NINE.

  • I still have not filled out my Census report.

  • I added a few new blogs to my favorites list: John Canlas Photography, Mmm Crafts, Cheyenne Schultz Photography, and Joe Elario Photography (not new, but definitely a favorite).

  • Soup* spent time in my arms and in my kitchen. He did dishes in my sink. We made plans to go to a lake cabin this summer and ride jetskis. Fish with the boys and let the girls (I totally DID just say "girlS"!) build sandcastles on the beach. Bonfire, s'mores, guitar... the enormously fantastic and God-filled starry sky of Da Plains. Ahhhhh.... can't wait.

  • 99% of the 4 feet of snow in front of our house is melted. Of course we have 2" predicted for tomorrow, but it will melt quickly. Spring has sprung!

* With respect to Tomato Soup: let's just call him B from now on. Okay?

March 16, 2010

My Girl Is A Rockstar

She's so big. Only 29 months old but already such a big girl. Look at those ponytails! And she's a pro at cereal and soup eating. I'm not sure why that screams 'big girl' to me, but it does. She is remarkably eloquent and chirps and chatters constantly. She says her abc's (with the required "eminemo p") and can count to 14 (missing the number 4 every single time). She sings "I Love Rock And Roll" (the original Joan Jett version, please) while playing blocks. She loves on her friends at the babysitter's house, and loves on her brothers and I at home.

Saturday night, she rode on Tomato Soup's back around the dining room, chasing Andy Roo. So. Many. Giggles. And then she hugged and kissed him goodnight (Soup, not Roo). It was... touching.

It's been 11 days now that she's been on the potty training bus and, with exception to her overnight diaper, she has had ONE accident.

My girl is a ROCKSTAR. I am so proud.

March 15, 2010

We Are 6 Peeps

Happy Monday, Everyone. Lord, I love me a Monday.

This past weekend was wonderful. On Saturday, Tomato Soup +1 joined us. Four kids bounced all over my house, shouting and being sweet. We gals played Barbies and the boys played Wii until almost midnight. And when I say "shouting" - Dude, words cannot express the decibel level achieved in my living room. Tomato Soup and I glanced at each other a number of times with smiles on our faces. There are FOUR of them. Four of them and two of us and it is AWESOME. We are 6 peeps.

It feels exactly right.

God is so good. All the time.

I am looking forward to all sorts of good things this week including more ponytails for the almost-entirely-potty-trained Moo and working on Trevor's quilt this weekend!

PS: Christy, thanks for the prod! :)

March 9, 2010


Yo, Readers!

My update will be super quick today. It stands thus:

  • I took a dozen photos for you all (swear I did - had you in mind when I shot them), but I haven't put them on my EHD yet.
  • I met the gentleman that will get my hiner to Ethiopia this year - along with a half dozen coworkers. Our family is sponsoring two boys there, Gemetchu and Kufa. To think that I can hug them in just a few months in unreal.
  • Found out Trevor is allergic to any detergent that is not Seventh Generation, Free & Clear, Super Hyperallergenic blah blah blah. Good times and tons of laundry.
  • Mabel is potty training. We're on day 2, officially. Yesterday she held it all day until she was in the comfort of her own dining room. The deluge was extraordinary.
  • Tomato Soup met the kids last week. Oh yes. Officially. They adore him (it's mutual).
  • Was informed that Andrew now has a thing for turtles. "Particularly tortoises," he said.
  • I am now wearing clothes that haven't seen the light of day in 6 years. Thank God I buy classics! I actually took a picture of my own behind and sent it to Becky. Sad, but true.
  • Tomato Soup danced with Mabel in the kitchen while I cooked dinner. I had to take a moment and deliberately NOT cry. It was incredibly touching. Then she picked a booger and tried to eat it.
  • Work has kicked into high gear. I assisted with a plant tour last week. Was a contributor to about a dozen meetings, presented at a few, and attended a corporate dinner. ME! I love what I do. And even when I have a rough day (3 of them last week come to mind - oh the miles on my purple pumps), I am still grateful that I work for the company I work for.
  • And yo.... I can see GREEN GRASS in my yard. Granted, there is a 3 foot heap of snow beside it, but it's there!

March 5, 2010

Broken Hearts Become Brand New

Tomato Soup and I were talking last night about how we got to the spot we're sitting in. Months of best-friending, learning to rely on one another - yes, absolutely. Months of attraction that we (mostly I) accidentally ignored. Clear, constant communication - openness, honesty and humor. But that's not really what got us to where we are.

Faith did. God's fate. His plan. He knew. He knew there was a man in South Dakota with his own puzzle pieces that fit precisely with mine. He knew that my life (and the little people in it) would be understood by this man. He knew that his life (ditto) would be understood by me. We just needed time to find the path toward each other.

After a divorce so many people recoil; they shrink back and are too afraid of the hurt to try again. It makes sense, after all. You've already had the shit kicked out of you by love once. Except that I never really found that a very pleasant way to live - a shell of a person, resigned to be lonely forever. I am an ALL IN person. I knew that I wasn't done... knew that God made me to love and be loved - in a healthy and wholesome way. I knew that God wanted better for me than I had. I just had to be patient and have faith.

Man it's freaking awesome when you feel faith's reward! I can't NOT feel it right now. Every moment is sunlight. Green. New.

Some lyrics come to mind - Kutless, of course. Tears fill my eyes every single time I hear this. Every single time.

I've seen dreams that move the mountains,
Hope that doesn't ever end
Even when the sky is falling.
And I've seen miracles just happen,
Silent prayers get answered,
Broken hearts become brand new.
That's what faith can do

That's the best way to say how I'm feeling today. My broken heart hasn't healed. Nope. It's completely brand new.

March 2, 2010

03 06 09

I was thinking about my grandmother this morning. I miss her a lot. She would have been 101 in four days, but I lost her a few years back. 101. Wow.

When I was little, I went to Grandma's house almost every weekend. Sometimes she would cook soup and let me make my own "something" soup from the scrap bin (oh my parents loved the potato peel soup!). I was a bit... hyperactive, but Grandma tolerated it well. Well, sometimes she tolerated it with a wooden spoon on my behind, but she understood me.

I remember that she used to fill up 2 or 3 tubs with soapy water and carry them outside. Then she would move the picnic table under the clothesline and drape quilts over the lines to make a fort. Then the soapy tubs and I would sit on top of the picnic table and I washed dishes. For HOURS.

When I was loud and full of energy she sent me outside with a hammer and a box of nails. Her wooden fenceposts were full of nails from me. I wonder now how it must have looked, my 80 yr old grandmother at Ace Hardware in town, buying boxes of nails like she was hanging sheet rock in her house. HA!

She would stand over the stove and make me potato soup every single time I asked for it. While I played in the living room, she'd be cutting patterns and making clothes for my baby dolls (or me). She fussed and fiddled with those patterns, pins between her lips. Soon enough - and gosh, I must have only been about seven - I wanted to sew, too. She set me up with a needle and thread and some scraps of fabric. And then one day, while she was fussing (and I swear I remember her saying 'shit') at the kitchen table over a pattern and some fabric, I presented her with my stuffed elephant, dressed in a brand new pair of pants.

She took the pins out of her mouth. "How did you make these pants?" she asked me.

"I just... made them. I laid him down and traced around and then... made them." I hadn't used a pattern. I still don't use them most of the time. I'm an eyeballer. Ohhhh, Grandma was a bit irritated at that, but it tickled her just the same. So we sat and sewed together often.

She went to church with us every Sunday morning. I stood on the wooden pew between Grandma and my mom and we sang all the hymns. Once when I was 5 or 6 I asked Grandma why she sang so bad. (Oh yes, I did.) Another time, I told her she should shave her mustache before church. (Yep. Did.) I'm not sure how she tolerated me, I only know that she did. I was a wise-cracker... but she was, too. Maybe that's why she loved me so much.

I remember sleeping in her bed when I'd spend the night. She'd wrap up her hair in yellow toilet paper and a nightcap every night. The round clock at the bedside had green glow-in-the-dark numbers on it, and there were industrial thread spools on top of the cabinet in her bedroom. I used to stare at them as I fell asleep.

The last time I saw Grandma was at my family reunion in 2000. I was 23 and she was 91. My dad had died 3 years earlier. I was barely pregnant and couldn't wait to tell her. She was sitting at the dining room table at my Aunt Anna's house, wearing a beautiful day dress. I remember her delicate, but strong hands in her lap. She took one look at me from across the room and smiled. "You're pregnant," she said. My heart smiled.

I take after my grandmother a lot. She is definitely where I get a lot of my strength. Man oh man, do I ever miss her. Her and her Charlie perfume.

I also always thought she had the luckiest birthdate ever... 03 06 09. So cool.