I Am Not a Blogger

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Here’s a little bit of everything to catch you up, people.

2014 has been pretty great so far. We’ve been able to have some fun as a family in the unpredictable Florida weather, we’ve eaten a ghastly amount of cookies. I’ve learned-slash-admitted a few more things about myself. It’s been like having tiny lightbulbs flicker on while I do laundry or take a shower or talk to someone (I’m an external processor all.the.way.). It’s been a month of mini-epiphanies. Nothing huge or world-rocking, more just “hmmm, ya, I think that’s true/good/ok”.

Some of my gleanings:

-I am horrible at waking up.

-I am a professional guilt-carrier.

-The shared freedom in both of the above reminders is the realization that sleep is SUPER important to me (this is one of those “duh” kind of ideas, but my stubborn brain has tried to convince me that I can still run on four hours of sleep–a la college days–and happily take care of a family the next morning) aaaand that guilt sucks. It’s just stupid. And I tend to feel it most about things that truly don’t matter, like whether or not I woke up early in January. Fugget about it.

-Cookies made with oatmeal and applesauce–never mind what else is in them–are completely acceptable for breakfast. And your children will love you.

-People are walking miracles. Cue the sappy music, but c’mon! Good grief. Tons of miracles walking around. Seeing this truth is slowly growing a longer pause in my unthinking and graceless words.

-I complain. Even if it isn’t always out loud. It’s grody. The seeing miracles and living in and living out grace thing, though, gives me far fewer reasons to whine.

-I’ve been reading more and writing a little less. Not on purpose, it’s just worked out that way.

-I really love reading and I really love writing.

This podcast, listened to in three parts–while cooking dinner, cleaning up, and after kids were tucked in for the night–was so well timed that I goofy-grinned while shredding cheese that evening. I’m not a blogger. I love reading blogs and I love writing them, but I’m not a blogger. I am a writer. Even saying those words, thinking them, typing them out, makes me feel arrogant (or like I’m setting myself up for embarrassment), but I think it’s true. No matter what weird phases I’ve gone through, those two things, reading and writing, have been my constants.

-Blogs with tips, projects, and daily posts are amazing. I love visiting them and have learned some wonderful things from them, but I can’t do it. I’m far too flighty and forgetful to write something worth reading every day. Aaaand exhale…I did it. I admitted that I am not “good” at blogging. I don’t have a writing schedule or tons of helpful advice. And, when I have time to write in the evenings, all I really want to do is read, sleep, talk or watch The West Wing (we’re on Season 3 in case you’re wondering–pleated pants and shoulder pads for days).

-I don’t know what this blog will become or if it will fizzle out entirely. I never say never anymore. For now, I’ll keep reading, talking, and writing. I don’t know what about, but if I think it’s worth sharing, you’ll hear about it. Promise. Just as soon as I finish ooone more episode of West Wing.

Oh, and the “goal” for February is to be extra aware of and picky about what’s going on our calendar. Making space for that Philippians 4:8 stuff.

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7in7: Day One

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Today is the first day of the 7in7 challenge. The goal is to stretch participants’ creativity through word, song, film, photography or design. Last year I joined the songwriters; this year I’m with the bloggers. Collaboration is encouraged, so no excuses…join us!

7 new and complete pieces in 7 days. Get ready for my semi-complete thoughts, some of which have been scribbled on napkins, paper scraps and the sides of my brain for months. Here goes! 

This idea was a doozy for me. That’s probably because I’m an extrovert who, as a child, cried overwhelmed sad tears when I realized that there was no possible way for me to meet everyone on the planet. I’m a people person. If you are breathing, I want to know you. If you can blink, we can have a full conversation. I’ll make you cookies.

Do I sound crazy yet? Ya, about that…

You see, with this people-loving personality comes a gigantic dose of spreading myself too thin, overcommitting and, eventually, burning out. It’s happened a million and one times. I used to thrive on the energy of jumping from place to place, shaking hands and kissing babies, hearing everyones‘ stories over leisurely coffee dates. Then I went and had me some babies. Two precious little lights of human beings…with short adorable legs, who need naps, who are learning to use the potty (whose mamma forgets to pack extra clothes), who remind me that the “energy” of life as I once knew it is kind of a myth.

There is an indescribable feeling that wells up inside of us when we experience moments of connection to the people around us. That sounds a little trippy, but do you know what I mean? I feel it when I’m with my family, when I see my husband across a room, when I look at our girls discovering something new. Why, I’ve been known to cry sitting in traffic, thinking about all of the unique unknowable stories being lived out around me. It all has a certain “rush” to it.

Since having our first daughter, four years ago, I’ve been slowly learning to distinguish that “energy” I talked about from the “rush”. They are completely different. I get, what my husband calls, a “people high” from going to a big party, but there is something so much greater that I’ve found in a shared passion with a handful of folks; in knowing someone well enough to see when they don’t have the words to describe their pain; in taking the time to be God’s hands and feet for those I love and those I may never see again. Energy is a hormone. The Rush is a rhythm that plants itself deep in our hearts.

If this seems like my attempt to bow out of the Extroverts United club, just get that thought out of your crazy head right now. I don’t think I could turn off my people switch if my survival depended on it. Consider this more of an open letter to myself and anyone else who’s found the Energy of life to be exciting, but a little lacking.

We don’t all have to be best friends. Even if we’re in the same mom’s group, or the same church, or find our hipster duds at the same thrift store, or all dream of backyard chickens. I don’t have to feel overwhelmed at the thought of never meeting you! This isn’t an excuse for me to stay at home in my pajamas all day, waiting for just the right people to come knock on my door. That would just be weird. This is rhythm by which I can follow my Hope through this life, slowing down, stopping, and then speeding back up again when, where and with the ones He leads me near. It’s not a chase, it’s a funny-kind-of-lovely walk.

We can each know this Rush that seems to make time stop for a moment. That displays how very not-alone we are and makes us long for something outside of ourselves. Something that feeds our souls. Let’s walk together. Our paths might cross. They might not. We’ll all look a little funny, but it will be lovely.

P.S. If you’re an introvert reading this right now and finding yourself feeling a little scared, don’t worry. I won’t bite. One of your kind even married me. This can work.

Advent and Abby the Elf

Ho! Ho! Ho-my-gosh, it’s December. Really and truly, it’s here! As promised, here is a little peak into our Advent/Christmas/Holiday celebration this year. First on the list is our little friend, “Abby”, who’s come to visit us this month! The idea came from here and Abby came from Target for three buckeroos.

Of course if the girls ask whether or not Abby is real, we’ll tell them the truth, but so far they just think she’s a super fun, very kind, full of joy nocturnal elf. Walk with me, friends, as I tell you the ever-developing story of Abby: the Joyful Elf.
Fresh from the store, she was outfitted for a sport that we here in Florida can only dream of.
Abby before
A little tugging of her skis and a few snips with the fingernail clippers and she was ready to meet the girls!
Abby after
She greeted her expectant hosts with a note explaining her name, which means “the Father’s joy”. She went on to say that God wants each of us to experience His joy and that we know it the best when we spend time with Him and when we serve the other precious people He has made! Abby is “a joyful servant (or a happy helper)” and is “excited to help others to know and share God’s love”. She’ll be helping the girls around the house and the neighborhood and discovering new ways to learn about God’s heart for ourselves and others!
Abby arrival
We love her already.
So far, she’s helped us set up our advent wreath, invited the girls to play with play-doh, taken a fun ride on one of the Christmas rocking horses, and, this morning, played hide-n-seek in the garland at the top of the chalkboard! The girls are having fun looking for what Abby has done in the night and, c’mon, who doesn’t like a little make believe?
Abby playdoh
Abby horse
Abby hiding
Next time, I’ll show you our very simple, very cheap (some are even free!) decorations…enjoy the rest of your Wednesday, peeps and keep an ear out for small wonder-hacked Target ornaments in your kitchen!
P.S. Ignore the mountain scene (well, you can look at it all you want, actually. It’s kind of nice. Imagine you’re floating on the gentle waves. It will be replaced soon, so live it up while you can!)

Passive Aggressive Shoe Solution

I like our new place. I really do! It’s just that it has wall-to-wall white-ish-beige carpet. I only had a minor panic attack when I thought about scrubbing for hours on my hands and knees. *shudder*
It seemed a nice sign/basket combo would do the trick, so to work I went. $3 later (I haggled the Hobby Lobby manager for a deal on a used bushel basket), we were ready for guests and I didn’t have to feel like a crazy person running around un-shoeing people and handing them coasters.
Here’s the how:
1) Slapped a coat of my favorite homemade chalk paint on an old canvas
2) Painted the edge of the canvas frame Seafoam Blue
3) Realized that “Seafoam Blue” looked like “1980’s Nike High Tops” next to the black chalkboard paint
4) Realized I didn’t have any more chalkboard paint to cover the high tops
5) Hot-glued some scrap fabric around the edge
6) Called it a day.
Here you go. The pictures are nothing to write home about. I have an iPod and two photobombing kids, so you get what you get. Have a great evening all my fellow Passive Aggressive Cleaning Ladies (and Gents)!
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Finished Project! It is SO finished!

If you’ve kept up with this blog, you’ll find that I have loads of good intentions when it comes to recipes and projects. If you know me (and my three and two year olds), you know that many of these intentions get lost in a pile of dirty dishes or on the way to the library…or Costco.

With that said, today’s reveal is made that much more exciting for me. I’m a third-generation dumpster diver/side-of-the-road-rescuer. I’ve found some gems. Some have been put back out by the road or given away because I hadn’t touched them and it was time to move again or I just lost my vision for them.

This one, though; this memo board found beside a dog groomer, foam panels warped and swelled with moisture and neglect, every. single. strip. of. hot. glue. matted with dog hair (had I been allergic, I would have turned back then), this was special. It was a sight and it smelled a little, but doggone it! I have a minivan with folding seats and a hereditary stubbornness destined to create trash-to-treasure greatness! At least that was how I felt when I picked it up. In February. Or was is January? Whatever. Here she is:

BEFORE:

photo-2(I had already kicked out the panels at this point. I felt like a Law and Order: SVU star kicking in a door to save the innocent beauty trapped behind layers of soggy fur)

AFTER: (the picture sucks, but you get the idea)

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HOW:

1) I headed to home depot for this:

Screen shot 2013-05-28 at 8.31.05 AM2) and painted it with a few layers of homemade chalk paint

3) then nailed those bad boys into place.

4) covered the top four panels in cork and burlap (thanks for helping, Mom!)

5) got Hubby, Dad and Mom to help screw it into the wall…this thing is here to stay!

It’s done. Now onto the next one! Consider this post an encouragement to finish those projects if it’s something you really see potential in. Lawd knows if I can do it, you can do it!