Friday, December 12, 2014

Paved with good intentions.

I love Christmas.

I'm the dork blaring the Christmas Music at the stoplight on November 2nd.

I'm the one that walks around Hobby Lobby in October wistfully dreaming of snow as I walk up and down the aisles of ribbon and greenery.

I'm the one in Toys-R-Us filling the shopping cart in September (OK, August) for my Christmas Present layaway.

I love it.

I love the tree, the nativity, the garlands, the stockings, the cookies, the advent calenders, the tree lightings, the cards, the parades, the centerpieces, the wreaths, the lights, the snow, the ornaments, the specials, the parties, the food, the wrapping, the Nutcracker Ballet...

But I'm sorry. I have to stop.

I'm tapping out.

I want to do the Random Acts of Kindness calendar, Shepard's Pouches, and yes... even though it's kinda-sorta creepy and we don't do Santa..... I do want to do Elf on the Shelf, but I'd end up doing Wandering Wisemen.

But I can't.

Because it's going to. kill. me.

Well, maybe not kill me. No, I'll most likely live to see the new year in... But it's going to kill my soul. The joy that comes with this special time of year.

You know, that joy our children have when they see a 40 foot Christmas tree light up for the first time that season. Or when they find the perfect tree at the tree farm and pull it out of the forest all on their own. Or when they decorate sugar cookies and "sneak" a few M&Ms between each plop of icing.

They're happy little balls of joy.

And why? Is it the daily advent calendar with it's family activity and/or goodie? Is it the checking off of to-do lists? Is it the shopping on top of the shopping you've already done for things nobody needs?

Nope. It's because they DON'T do any of that stuff. They just coast along enjoying whatever comes their way. Dreaming of goodies and toys and fun.

Now, are any of of these Pinterest-y/ Facebook-y activities bad? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!

If you want to do it, go nutty! Be a Super-Pinterest-Woman. Make that garland! Do your advent calendar! Bake 4 dozen of 12 different cookies!  Do a whole darn gingerbread village! Host a both a family AND friend party... on the same weekend! I've had years like that!

This year, not so much apparently.

This year I've felt the call to slow down. To be present with both my husband and child. To meet their needs (not what I feel they should have, based on glossy magazine covers designed by a team of stylists) when all they really need is me. Sane, relaxed, and providing a peaceful place to be.... and homemade hot chocolate with marshmallows.

I'm not saying we're having PB&J's for Christmas dinner. I'm saying it's gonna be a pre-prepped, shove in the oven, two crockpots running kind of Christmas. It's gonna be a popsicle stick ornament kind of Christmas. It's gonna be use what we already have for decorations kind of Christmas. It's gonna be going under budget kind of Christmas. It's gonna be less doing and more being. And that's OK.

Although my intentions of what Christmas should be is a bit more polished and perfect... It's not what it will be. It's messy and imperfect... and mine. And exactly the way God wanted it to be.

My intentions my be good, but getting to that perfect Southern Living look sure can be hell. On everyone.

credit: Ann VosKamp

Monday, November 24, 2014

Why We Homeschool

About four-five years ago, long before we knew how our child was wired, I came across this little video.... and it floored me. Stopped me in my tracks. Not because of what  Sir Ken Robinson said, not because of the entertaining illustrations.... but what God told me the moment it was over.



"You will be a homeschooling family."



See, I had no choice in the matter. He said it, and even though some days it scares the snot out of me, most of the time it is truly the most rewarding part of being a parent. Watching her learn to read and write and do number sentences and about the world around her is like watching her be born all over again a hundred times a day.



So yes. We homeschool so we can instill our values in our child. We homeschool because of the way our child learns. We homeschool because a 1:1 teacher/child ratio is much better than a 1:25-30. We homeschool because we want to build up her strengths and shore up her weaknesses. We homeschool because we want to educate the whole child, not just the parts that can be measured by standardized testing. We homeschool because she is an amazingly intelligent, creative, articulate, eager to learn child and we did not want to give that gift to anyone who may choose to crush it to fit their mold of what she should be instead of loving her for who she is.



But the number one reason we homeschool is that the system is broken and we can't sit around waiting for it to be fixed.









*- As you can see the problem is with the system, not the teachers. I love me some teachers. Some of my greatest homeschooling resources come from teachers. A good portion of teachers are handcuffed as to what they can do. I see that, we all see that. Please don't send your union rep after me.



**- If you can you should totally watch "Waiting for Superman" and "Class Dismissed". Both are required watching for those who are homeschooling or thinking of homeschooling.



***- If you choose not to homeschool please, please, please don't feel guilty reading this. I very rarely get on my homeschooling soapbox. Mostly because I don't want anyone to feel like they "should" homeschool. It's not for every family. That's fine. It's not a mark of a good mother or a promise of a smarter child.... You do what is best for your family because that's who God gave you.






Sunday, October 26, 2014

So what do you say after that?

"Hey, I walked through fire with Jesus beside me. I danced with depression for longer than I'd like to admit and fooled so many of you as we chatted over coffee. I lost a part of myself that I most likely won't ever be able to get back and I still walk a fine line between anger and acceptance over it.... SO HERE'S HOW I MADE THIS DOILY FROM ALL THE DUSTBUNNIES I FOUND UNDER MY COUCH!"

No.

Just, no.

So what do I say?

I say I'm thankful. Honest to goodness thankful.








Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Enough.

The timing is right for this post*. I've written so many things but without this story, without this base... none of it makes sense. So I delete them and write on crash pads and body wash. I'm going out on a limb here. Gonna put some real stuff out here. Not looking for pity or sympathy or anything.... just giving out some real. -deep breaths-

This is the (lightly edited) testimony I shared with my MOPS group at the very beginning of the year. The one that started all this.... stuff. The real reason I wanted to start this. I mean, yay on the crash pads and body wash... but I'm nothing if not real. And real needs some brave to get it going. -deep breaths-




Hi, I’m Jessica. If we haven’t had a chance to really chat there are three things you need to know about who I am:

1- I have no filters. No, I HAD filters but I think they broke or need to be changed or something and I just don’t have time for that stuff right now… so I have no filters. Someone recently asked me if I listened to the words that come out of my mouth and I responded “NO. Then I’d be really upset with myself most of the time!” So forgive me. No filters.

2- You must understand that I don’t judge anyone’s mothering. No, Really. I have no time to judge you. I’m too busy judging myself.  Every day. Every moment.

3- In the end I truly believe that every mother who is at least trying to be a mother, is doing the very best THEY can do for THEIR child.  Because HE gave us our children knowing who WE are to our core.

I say all this so that you know nothing that follows comes from a place of judgment (not even for my own parents) but from a place that God has brought me to.

So back to my story....I was a happy surprise: the first child to a couple living in the mountains of Virginia.

Like most couples my parents wanted more than just one child. They wanted a real family. My parents made no secret of it and although I knew they loved me my little child mind took their endless “trying to conceive”, fertility treatments and in vitro fertilization appointments as “Jessica, you are not enough.”

It continued. The words that came from my parent’s actions were:

I wasn’t pretty enough.

I wasn’t skinny enough.

I wasn’t quiet enough.

I wasn’t creative enough.

I wasn’t athletic enough.

I wasn’t a good enough student.

I wasn’t a good enough friend.

I wasn’t a good enough daughter.

Not enough.

After 10 years of  failed attempts and a couple of lost babies my parents finally had my brother in 1991……in the midst of my father’s infidelity.

And when my father finally decided to leave my Mom for another woman during Christmas of 1992 and I tearfully asked him to stay...If only for me...

His leaving said more than any words he could ever say: I wasn’t enough.

My parents divorced and My mother moved 11 year old me and my 1 year old brother up to Upstate New York to be closer to her family. A strange land of snow, cold and salt. I had never seen more than 3 inches of snow at one time and we had arrived the summer before the famed “Winter of ‘93”. It was a new world to say the least.

Even though we had a new life the record was the same:

I wasn’t enough.

And I believed it, whole heartedly.

Even after I accepted Christ and found my future husband (all in one summer. Woot-woot!) I still believed the track my parents gave me. Their actions continued to prove that I wasn’t enough.

I went on with life; graduated High School, got married. Got a job or two. Bought a house. And enjoyed life with just me and my husband  for 7 whole years.

Then five years ago I had a child. My beautiful little girl. I tell her every day she is my gift from God because she is.

I prayed for a beautiful, smart, outgoing, fearless (believing it would be easier to reign in fearless-ness than teach confidence. HA!), compassionate, helpful, Jesus-loving little girl. I wanted her to be adventurous and receive whatever God had planned for her with open arms and a joyful heart. To have my eye color and lashes and Cor’s height and smile. And He gave it to me. All of it.
       





And in the weeks that followed I found I was finally enough.

I was post-baby glowing; I was pretty enough.

I snapped back to pre-pregnancy weight -10 pounds; I was skinny enough.

I could help my itty bitty one off to sleep with just a boob and a rocking chair; I was quiet enough.

I went from a 40 hour a week job to staying home with an infant who slept all. The. Time. I finally had time to craft to my heart’s content; I was creative enough.

And Athletic? Well, you can’t have it all..

I was a good enough Wife

I was a good enough Mother.

Finally I was enough. Motherhood made me enough.

So why just one? Why wouldn’t I do it all again?

In October of 2012 I lost a 6(ish) week pregnancy. It was hard, I cried but I was really OK. I named him October. I loved him (or her) and the little man (or lady) he (or she) would have been. I mourned for the thought of the child more than the child itself and found it easier to deal with at the time.

The second time we were so close to being “safe”. She was so much like her sister I knew she was a girl. It was love at first morning sickness all over again. I had named this one Sparrow. Her name came from my favorite hymn.

“I don’t know about tomorrow
it may bring me poverty
but the one who feeds the sparrow
is the one who stands by me”

I knew THIS time Jesus was standing by me. THIS time would be it.  That He knew I was enough to be a Mommy again. But nearly 12 weeks in I had lost her; 3 days before my 31st birthday.

And there I was, alone in the exam room, sobbing as I was losing my sweet fragile little Sparrow. Not enough all over again.

Not even for God… not enough to give me another child. Just one more little one, I wasn’t being greedy.

But the song continues:

“And the path that be my portion
May be through the flame or flood
But his presence goes before me
And I’m covered with His blood.

Many things about tomorrow
I don't seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand”

I am enough for Him. Enough for Him to go through all the rage and resentment and anger and sorrow and hate and everything I felt towards Him and every single pregnant woman around me popping out babies like gumball machines.

He was with me as I wept, as I slept away my afternoons because it was easier than functioning as an adult.

As I parked in the “expectant mother” parking spot at Wegman’s because passive aggression is a great release sometimes.

As I tried to live a Christian life while ignoring Him as being a part of it.

But even more precious than  Him waiting though all of that is that he waited for me to get to the other side.

To where I know my mothering isn’t based on how full my quiver is. That I’m just as good of a mother with one little girl as Michelle Dugger is with her 18? 19? 31? Kids.

To knowing I am not less blessed with my one child than those with more babies than bedrooms.

To the point where I know I’m enough for Him, and that’s all that matters.

And slowly I’m getting to the point where He is enough for me. Some days are better than others. And some days I’m thankful for unanswered prayers (Did I mention that my child was fearless?). But I’m getting there. To enough.



A few weeks ago my sweet daughter and I were sitting on the couch chatting.

“Mommy, you have one little girl.”

Yep, one sweet little girl.

“Some Mommies have girls and some Mommies have boys.”

That’s the way God planned it out.

“Some Mommies have lotsa little boys and girls.”

Yep.

“But you have just one Me.”

Yep.

“Is that enough?”

And here was my moment of truth.

Here was God looking at me through her little child eyes and saying: “Here’s what you prayed for. Every little detail in one little package that I made for you, just for you, before YOU were even born. Is it enough?”

My sweet human. You are enough for me. Every day. Every minute. Every second. You are more than enough and a little extra on the side.












*I had originally planned to post this on October 15th: National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day....but things didn't work out as I had planned. As they rarely do. Since 1988 the whole month has been dedicated to remembering our nation's lost children. I felt it was only right to stop in the middle of my daily madness and remember our two lost children, even if it wasn't on the 15th.

I know we are not alone in this. That we live life with many hurting Mommies and Daddies. It doesn't make it easier... It doesn't make it better... But maybe we can all heal a little stronger with each other's support. Or at least know we're not alone. Nothing is worse than suffering loss all on your own. Don't. Reach out. Find someone. Share your story.

And most importantly, if you're a Momma of a lost child and hear nothing else in what I've said hear this: It's. Not. Your. Fault. You ARE enough. 


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Romans 12:15

I've been considering closing my Facebook account. It's just too emotionally draining.

No, not the whole comparison thing. I'm kinda in a good place with all that. I mean, there will always be someone more __________ than me. Have more ____________ than me. And that's OK. Because I am where I am because He wants me there... with Him. Sittin' right here. And if He's sittin' with me who am I to complain?

No, not that. There's just a lot. (And bear with me 'cuz you're gonna need tissues if you're gonna click on these links.) 

There's the public stuff found on my newsfeed.... 

A beautiful 29 year old woman choosing to end her life before cancer does

(and the be story of another woman, a mother of four young children, also dying of cancer pleading with her about her choice.)


.... and the private stuff of those around me. Friends of friends, family of family... dealing with things that we were never designed in mind to deal with.

I find myself with no words...

....and all I can think is Romans 12:15

(Let's all pretend this is a self portrait, OK?)

I used to struggle with the first half SO MUCH. So very much. But the longer I experience adult life the more I can see His blessings. (more in hindsight than I'd like to admit) I've learned to rejoice with those who rejoice. Truly. Some days may be harder than others... I'm 95% of the way there. 

So I rejoice with those who rejoice. Which we all can agree is fun, once you get there. Sharing in their new jobs and new vehicles and new pets and new babies. 

We bounce around through life, accumulating children and homes and vehicles and stuff.....And adulthood rolls on... 

...and the children get older, 

...and our parents get older,

...and we get older. 

Things happen. Real things. 

And what do we do then? What do we do when we're not enough to help our kids, or our parents, or ourselves?

We weep.

We sit with, eat with, cry with, pray with those around us. We either weep because they're happening to us or weeping at the helplessness that comes with watching our friends suffer. The real face-to-face friends and the ones that we've adopted in our hearts.

When we really weep with those who weep, it doesn't stop when they've walked away from the dining room table. It's so much more and so much harder than that. It's hard to see those we love, those we've rejoiced with only what seems like moments before, suffer. To see the unsaid question of "Why would God, who says He loves me, do this?" in their eyes. To know we have no answers. We take that burden and wear it ourselves. For them and, because of our human nature, for us. Snuggling with our children a little longer. Calling our parents "just because". Making that appointment for the long postponed "yearly" physical. Looking at our spouse simply to see the person we fell in love with years ago.

So you know what? I'll stay on facebook. I'll post the silly things of my day (Because if I get a laugh out of it, you should too!) and the fun things and the awareness things....

...and I'll like the photo of your sweet goofy kids. 

...and I'll commiserate with you as you share your struggles through yet another school day.

...and I'll "Wooo-hoo" your trip to Trader Joe's. ('cuz it's about stinkin' time we got one!!)

...and I'll tear up at the announcement of your pet passing.

... and I'll smile at the family fun you are having on a random Tuesday.

... and I'll sit with and pray for you as you face something you never thought would happen to you and yours. 

I'll rejoice with those of your rejoicing.
I'll weep with those of you weeping. 
Even when it's hard. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Make It Monday: PT Edition

It's Monday. I made something. Make it Monday is back, Boy-eeeeee!!!!


So, yeah, we pretty much have the best PT office on the face of the planet. They're just MADE to do what they do. The whole place rocks. Need a reference? Let me know. I'll point you in their direction. Anyway, we've been on a "crash pad wait-list" for months. MONTHS. Which is fine. We're not the only family that needs a crash pad. And our turn came up! 

What's a crash pad? Oh, honey, a crash pad is God's perfect gift to sensory seeking kiddos. It's basically a giant pillowcase filled with foam chunks. Nothing fancy there. Just all kinds of foam chunks in all kinds of sizes. Their office has one that HAS to be 8'x5' big. Huge. The little one has to earn her crash-pad time because she loves it so much and would do nothing else for the whole half hour if we let her. All that beautiful sensory input crashing all over her little body. Mmmm-mmmmm good! 

Apparently our PT has connections with local furniture shops that send their leftover foam over to the PT office instead of trashing it. They called me this morning with the good news and the conversation went a little something like this:

"Hey, just wanted to let you know the foam is in for your crash pad. Are you still interested?"

YESSSSSSS!

"Can you pick it up today?"

YESSSSSSSSSSSS!

"Would you be coming by this morning?"

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!

Want one of your very own? Well, here's what you need for your very own Crash Pad:

Foam (Cost- Free. Well, not FREE. PT ain't cheap, people, and we have just about a year under our belt. Ohhh.... THAT'S where all our vacation money went. -sigh-)

I can only tell you how we got the foam, all 5 trashbags full. I've seen the stuff at JoAnn's but never priced it before. Ideally you'd have chunks of all different densities and sizes. You're gonna be cutting up chunks of foam into smaller, more manageable chunks. Be sure they're all different sizes; no smaller than your hand, no bigger than your head. (if you're me you'll be chucking them into a big ol' box that a tub came home in....Long story). Lots of therapeutic ripping and cutting for you Mommies.

(Then you child might woke up and see the box-o-foam and be in heaven.)


Fabric (Cost- Free.)

I went into her linen stash and took out a flat sheet. See, she doesn't use flat sheets. I've tried to get her to use them but after tucking her in she'll sneak out of bed, rip the bed apart and then cries that she's not tucked in again. She sleeps on a fitted sheet and then a blanket on top. A thick one for cool nights, a thin one for warm nights.... So I have this pile-o-flats that I can use for whatever. Like Crash Pads. You could run out and buy a flat sheet. That can't cost more than $10, right?

You simply sew it up. I took the sheet and folded the top to the bottom and sewed two sides leaving one whole end open, like a pillowcase. Then stuff ALL THE FOAM into the "pillowcase". Be sure to mix up the sizes at this point. Little pieces, big pieces, squishy pieces, dense pieces. All mixed up. Shake it up. A lot. Get the foam in it however you can. 

Then sew. it. shut. 



You're gonna need a lot of space to place this giant mound of foam. Clear off the dining room table. The WHOLE table. Clear it off. 

I can also suggest that an extra pair of strong hands might have been worth the wait. Just someone holding it closed while you run the machine. Not required... just the peace of mind knowing you're not going to break a needle and send the sharp tip into a hunk of foam for your sweet child to impale themselves on........or something.

Then you just let them go buck-nutty. Because they will.







So there you go. Therapy tools can be as cheap as free instead of hundreds of dollars. Don't spend hundreds of dollars. Please. We'll make it together. Promise. Just bring over the supplies and a cup of coffee. 


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Fakin' it.

So I feel like a fraud. This blog thing makes me feel like a fraud.

I've taken a break from the blogging because of it. I am no great speaker or writer or conduit from God. I don't have daily epiphanies that bring me closer to Him. I will freely admit that some days I read the Bible on autopilot. I have no great wisdom, I can't share what "works for me" because I haven't found what works for me yet.

I'm a plain ol' mom, who is just struggling to survive the days. Some days that takes less effort than others.

 Some days I can bring myself to spend the entire day in crafty/outsidey/happy/smiley/adventures mode and others I just pray the iPad battery lasts until naptime.

Some days I have great patience and others I send the wild beast outside where she belongs.

Some days I accomplish everything on the to-do list and other days are considered a success if I even make a list.

Some days we have green smoothies for lunch and others I roll through a Wendy's.

Some days I rock and others I just plain suck.

Some days there just is no Joy in the day.

So there it is. The truth.

I see the pins on Pinterest. The pretty little signs to hang on our walls. To remind us.






And some days I can't. There's no joy to be found.  Just survival. Then guilt from not finding joy.

Why should I be joyless? I'm blessed beyond measure: our little house and our little family. But these reminders of what I should feel make me feel guilty, once again less than, because I don't feel joy.

Behind these signs and the blogs I follow I see women, mamas, who seem to have it together. That plaster a perfectly veneered smile on their faces and sing-song-ily say "Choose Joy."

I fake it 'till I make it..... but what if I never make it?


Then this.

And I felt joy. This spoke to me more than the pretty pastel, chevron, chalkboard signs guilting me into joy. This statement makes me want to move mountains. 

Not because it takes the power from God. Not that it puts the power in my hands.... but it allows me to be me; a little ball of fury taking down whatever is in my way. With Him by my side. Coaching me through the day. Not just making a choice but actually DOING something.

Child trying to corner me into a corn syrup filled breakfast? Bob and Weave.

Blowing though both Language Arts and Math lessons in less than 45 minutes WITH comprehension? One-Two-Punch

Facebook friend backdoor bragging about their child's ahead-a-grade-level-reading in their beautiful home remodel on the heels of their warm-weather vacation? Blocking

Attacking the laundry pile? Jab

Toys sorted? Uppercut

Cooking a meal that everyone will eat without any complaints at the dinner table? Footwork

Ending the day with the house a little cleaner, child a little smarter, husband a little more comforted? Punchout

At the end of the day I may be tired out. I may be bruised and battered and swollen. But I hit back. Yes, I do choose joy. Forget "'till I make it".... I'll be faking it 'till I die. But I am gonna punch today in the face. Everyday.... and that makes me a little happy. Even joyful.






Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Quiz Show

My favorite part of all those teen magazines in middle school was the quizzes. Stuff like "Stressed or Tressed: Your Perfect Yearbook Look" and "How Many BFFs Should YOU Have?" and "What Kind Of Mini-Backpack Are You? Cute 'n' Cuddly OR Slick Transparent Glitter?"  I held on to those answers like gospel. I mean, it was obvious I should have a teddy bear backpack as a Freshman, right?!

I kept taking those glossy tests throughout my adolescence and into my wedding planning year. (Yes, that's right.... year. Approximately 14 months from engagement to wedding date. Do not recommend.) 

And now they've come back with a vengeance on Facebook.


According to these quizzes today I should:

Have raven black hair. Have green eyes. Play the guitar. Be A Creative Master.  Be named Serena. Live in Maine (or Vermont or Washington State depending on the quiz). 

If I was a dessert I would be Pie. If I was a color I would be pink. If I was an animal I would be a tiger. If I was a Disney Princess I would be Tiana. If I was a president I would be John Adams. If I was a '30 Rock" character I would be Jack Donaghy. If I was a TV mother I would be Clair Huxtable OR Lorelai Gilmore (once again, depending on the quiz). 

My ideal dream job, apparently, is a lifeguard at a nude beach AND my most favorite quiz says that I am a Poopstar. Yes, you read that right. Poop. Star. I know a lot about poop.

I think taking all these quizzes say one thing about me.... I need someone else to make choices for me. 

I have about a million things I need to make decisions on and I just can't. 

I look at the mountain of "I need to"s. I start at the bottom and my eyes travel up and up and up. I'm now looking 45 degrees from the horizon and this Everest keeps going up, shadowing any progress I may have made in the day. I don't stop, keep looking for the peak and now the back of my head has touched my neck and my balance is thrown off enough for me to take a step back but I have no view of the snowy summit curving over my head. I'm no longer looking up, but now looking behind me and there it is. The end of what needs to be done. And it crashes down behind me, swallowing me up and spitting me out onto the sweet sanctuary of my bed. 

And nothing gets done it seems. I need someone else to make these decisions for me so I can just go do them. 

What I really need is these quizzes:

"The Perfect Curriculum For Your Homeschooler Years K-12." - Answer three yes or no questions and you'll be linked to the perfect curriculum that are guaranteed board approved and guaranteed to work with your child. Complete with IEPs and weekly lesson plans. 

"What To Make For Dinner: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Clean Eating, Kid AND Husband Friendly Edition"- Use the simple multiple choice test format to tell the quiz what you have in your pantry/freezer and you'll have the perfect instagrammable meal your whole family will happily eat in 30 minutes or less.

"How Should YOU Say 'NO'?"- With a simple apology or with a plate of cookies BONUS RESULTS: how many 'guilt points' you'll acquire with each refusal. Use them wisely. Accumulate too many and you'll crash on the couch browsing nothing on your phone instead of spending time with your husband for an entire evening.

"Exact Color Coordinating Swatches For Your Home" - Using information like your favorite song, yout top 10 pins and name of your first pet this quiz will give you the perfect color swatches for every room in your home. This simple coat of paint will transform your 1200 square foot home into the next HGTV Dream Giveaway Home.

"What Netflix Show Should You Binge On Next?"....... Actually, I'm good. I got this one down.

"Can You Wear Yoga Pants There?" This quiz reads more like a flow chart letting you know when yoga pants can be used in each social situation. Did you know that if they're black you can wear them to a funeral? The more you know!

"Should You Even Try?"- Enter all your past failures and then this quiz will tell you the likelihood of success for your next venture. (Much like those "Mostly A's/Mostly B's/Mostly C's" quizzes you already know the answer before you finish the third question.)


Bottom line is this. The answers to my life questions are not gonna be on Facebook. Ever. My life is not going to be enriched by finding out what 80's Cartoon Show I am... Even if it is "The Snorks".

I need to shut down my phone and walk away. And just do stuff. And not turning on the computer stuff.....

I need to make a list and start knocking stuff off of it. I need to set realistic time tables to get stuff done. I need to put some stuff that I want to do just because I want to do it on there. I need to lay off pinterest because I have 2,500+ pins and there is no way I'll be able to even do a quarter of the stuff on it. I need to do that thing that I want to do and buy the stuff for it... because what's one more failure on the list? This could be the thing! It could be MY thing!

..... Oh, but I don't know what Oscar Winning Movie I am! I gotta go do this one and then I'll get stuff done.





Thursday, June 5, 2014

To be heard.

Things don't roll off my daughter's back so well. When a hurt is tossed her way she grabs in with velcro gloves and holds it close to her chest, curling up into a fetal position, wrapped around the small ball of ugly... letting it weigh her down and refusing to let it go.

This past week in church the topic was Emotional Health and my husband and I gave each other a knowing look when Pastor said "Some of us have small emotions and some of us have big emotions" (paraphrased). Our daughter has big emotions....BIG emotions.

If that's her SPD or her personality, I don't know. All I know is that she needs to get a light coat of teflon if she's gonna get through this world in one piece. So we work on it. So very hard. We have social stories, role playing, games, you tube videos... you name it, we do it. (We got our own mini PT/OT office in our living room... dining room... school room....Ok let's be honest. HOUSE!)

Yesterday was gonna be a big one. Out the door at 8:30, home at 5 kinda day. No nap. Lots of activity. I was ready for it. I wanted to make sure she was. As we drove we had one of our many "Mommy Talks".

Me: "OK, babe. Now if you're having a rough time with someone what do you do?"

Her: "Talk to them first and then go get an adult to help if it doesn't work."

Me: "Good! Now what do you say?"

Her: " 'That's OK. I don't care.' and then walk away."

The floor fell out from under me. "It's OK."?! Why was it OK? It's OK for one's feelings to be hurt? It's OK for someone to say or do something mean to you personally and just walk away? This wasn't new advice. This was the advice I was given as a child. "Just walk away." but how many hurts from my own childhood am I still carrying with me today? Too many to count. No. For some reason I knew this was another one of those moments that would make or break the woman my little one was meant to be.

Me "NO. That's NOT what you say."

Her: -stunned silence-

Me: "No. Your feelings are important and matter. You should be able to share with someone when they hurt your feelings in a kind way: '_______, I want to be friends with you but when you do that it hurts my feelings. Can you please stop?' Let's practice it."

And we did. Once we were done and the script was in her brain she popped her thumb in her mouth and started tearing up.

Me: "Baby, what's wrong?"

Her: "You listened to me. You heard me."

Then I started tearing up. She just needed someone to hear her. To tell her her feelings matter. To help her express her feelings in a calm, safe way. That she was important. That her feelings were valid and deserved to be heard and accounted for.

We're still working on it but now we have a better starting point.

________________

The last few weeks I've been dealing with horrid migraines. They usually hit right before dinner time and have me going to bed as soon as the plates are cleared up leaving my husband and daughter to fend for themselves all evening long. I try everything. I drink tons of water throughout the day, make sure I wear my glasses all. the. time, getting massages from my husband (the kind that don't go anywhere), I've been eating better, organizing my life a little better, setting more boundaries so I don't get overwhelmed and making sure I get bible time in every day.

Nothing was working.

So last night, after my busy day, when I got hit with a doozy of a migraine I just laid in the dark of my bedroom and prayed. "God, please take this away. Take away the strobing pain, the nausea, the everything."

He said, "Why are you getting migraines all of a sudden?"

"I doesn't matter, just make them go away."

And in all His infinite fatherly wisdom He spoke "It DOES matter."

It was clear as day now. My migraines have been appearing every 2-3 days since I received an email One laced with guilt and accusations and passive aggression. I had grabbed onto a ball of pain, curled up around it and held it close to my chest, curling up into a fetal position, wrapped around the small ball of ugly... letting it weigh me down and refusing to let it go.

I was saying "That's OK. I don't care." and trying to walk away.

As only He can, He spoke gently to me using my own words that I spoke to my daughter only hours earlier "No. Your feelings are important and matter. You should be able to share with someone when they hurt your feelings in a kind way: '_______, I want to be friends with you but when you do that it hurts my feelings. Can you please stop?' Let's practice it."

And I wept. Because I needed someone to listen to me. To hear me. He did. The one who holds every atom on Earth together stopped everything to not only listen to me... but hear me.


__________

I sat down this morning to deal with the email. I wrote something kind but making sure my feelings were clear and would not be lost in translation. I'm hoping for a migraine free-day, we shall see... but at least I know I was heard. Maybe not by the recipient of the email but at least by the God of the universe.

Along with this sweet little five year old, 30-something me is learning my feelings matter. They are important and valid and deserved to be heard and accounted for.






And because I am the Queen of Quantifying (according to my husband):

-I am completely aware of when my child does a wrong. She is not some tragic victim in the world. She can be just as snarky and mean as the next kid. I know.

-I am not a PT or an OT... There are years of training and practice going into those fields of which I have none. Please don't think I claim to be one. I -heart- PTs and OTs!

-Some migraines need medical attention. This is not medical advice. I am not a doctor.... I may go see one soon if this new development doesn't make mine stop.



Tuesday, May 27, 2014

T-shirt Dress

I know today was Tuesday... but it was really a Monday. You can't get any more Monday-ier than the day after a three day weekend.

The Man goes off to work leaving me with a very sad child (she loves her some daddy-time) and we cuddle. A lot. So with all that one-on-one, "play-with-me", constant-skin-on-skin-touching time we needed today I was very thankful for naptime.

And then I remembered it was "Monday".... and I needed to make something.

And I knew what needed to be done.

See, little girl had a batman phase. I don't think it's 100% over, but it's not as pronounced as it used to be. So when she got a batman shirt for Christmas she was excited. Now, it's passed over every morning for skirts and dresses. So I thought a batman-dress would be a perfect solution to keep the item in circulation.

This past weekend I found the perfect "batman yellow" shirt at the thrifty shopper to use for this project.

It was time... to make the shirt-dress.


You will need: 


A t-shirt that fits your child. 
(It's OK if this shirt is a little too short like the one used here. 
You're gonna make it much longer soon.)

An adult size shirt (basically, a ton of fabric for a little bit of money)

*optional- Computer with Netflix subscription playing Season 2 of Parenthood (So Jasmine can go all the way to Europe for work but Crosby has to be "on duty" 24/7? Oh, and Julia wants another kid so we should just do it? Fine... whatever. Dude, don't even get me started on Adam. He's gonna burst. I just know it. Dude's gonna blow. a. gasket.... Sarah? I like Sarah in a "cheer for the underdog" sort of way but I'm glad she's not my sister. Girl's got iss-ues. )

Annnnnyway.

You're gonna wanna cut the sleeves and the collar of the big shirt off. 


ah-like so

Then, using your serger (or your friend's serger) or your sewing machine (or your friend's sewing machine) or a needle and thread (I'm pretty sure you're on your own on that one) sew from the top of the shirt all the way down to the bottom.


See, when you use a serger you get a nice, "professional", edge which is why I suggest bringing that serged edge all the way to the bottom.If you're using a sewing machine there isn't much reason to go all the way to the bottom save having a "store bought" look. So if you wanna save yourself 10 minutes you totally could just sew a line where the sleeves were in order to make a tube.
At least in my opinion. 
(For goodness sakes, it's 10:30 and I'm exhausted just re-reading this! Do whatever you want.)



Once you've got yourself a large fabric tube you attach that to the smaller shirt, right sides together. You can baste the skirt to the top to give it a ruffled look. You can pleat it and pin it so you have little darts where you want it.... do whatever you want. I'm betting that if you're still reading you have a basic grasp of sewing on a machine. Most everyone else has checked out right now. 


A serger really comes in handy for projects like this one. 
If you don't want to invest in a serger, invest in a friend with a serger. 


Now this is where you stop. You make a loosey-goosey simple dress for a girl in your life. Don't complicate it. Move on. Don't try to be fancy. You'll save yourself an hour + of your life.

If you do decide to be fancy you're gonna wanna take the sleeves off, attach new sleeves made from the sleeves of the "skirt material" shirt, attach one perfect and spend at least 30 minutes trying to make lightning strike twice. You'll also decide to shorten the skirt part, forgo going upstairs to get your mat and circular blade, just "eyeballing" it and taking it up 5 inches too short, deciding that you want to try to give it a "cabbage leaf" edging causing you to adjust every. stinking. dial on the serger. All while sweating profusely because who turned the summer on?!

Then naptime will be over. You will not have done dishes, put away laundry or even showered. But you will have a gift for your sweet child. 

And this is how it will look. 


Her face says it all.
Her words? 
"Can you try again? This is for a boy."






Rating: 7/10. Would do again. Would stop before trying to be fancy. Would get the circular blade out. Would measure... would choose pink or the color du jour: "Elsa-blue".






Thursday, May 15, 2014

one

So, I just got this email from snapfish.... shutterfly.... whatever. It's an email:
Jessica,
Please accept our most sincere apologies. We mistakenly sent an email that was intended only for new parents who recently made baby-related purchases at Shutterfly. We’re truly sorry if you received this email in error. We realize this is a very sensitive issue and we did not mean to upset you in any way.
We care about our customers above all else and have taken measures to ensure this will not happen again. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to us atcustomerservice@cs.shutterfly.com and we’ll get back to you.
Sincerely,
John Boris
Chief Marketing Officer
Shutterfly, Inc.



And I was all.... Dude, chill. You sent me an offer targeted to those with babies. I don't have one. No biggie. I get all kinds of spam for "performance enhancing" drugs and I don't have anything to... ummm..... enhance.

People are having babies. It's expected.

I'm not. That's life.

No matter if I had 1 more, 5 more or 10 more.... my baby-makin' days were bound to come to an end. And for the foreseeable future, they have.

Am I sad about it? Yes.

Am I happy about it? Yes.


(Please, please, please let ONE person named Mary read this post!!)

It is what it is. Feeling those tip-toeing around the fact that my boobs are purely decorative at this point of my life is worse than knowing that when my daughter grows out of her clothes I truly have no reason to keep them. (Not that it stops me from keeping a few items here and there.) I'm aware of the position I'm in. I'm aware what I'm missing out on... but this is what I have. 

The fact is I love my little family. I love being a mother to one. I could give you a list but here is my number one reason. Everytime, anytime; THIS is why I love having only one child.

When the ball of dirt, hair and smiles comes running to me with a dandy lion clenched in her fist, kisses it and gives it to me.

"I picked it and kissed it for you because I love you. It's a flower-kiss."

I can bundle her up in my arms, look into her (my) grey-blue eyes hiding behind the wisps of her dishwater blonde hair and tell her, without a doubt, without guilt, without a second thought.

"You are my favorite."

And it's the truth.



Tuesday, May 13, 2014

1 1/2 Ingredient Body Wash

So it's a Make-it Monday..... with a Try-it Tuesday.

Yesterday I made some body wash. This is a project I've wanted to do for some time but I've had some epic fails in the past. With a little bit of research I found it's all in the soap you start out with.


You gotta use Dove. Not Irish Spring, not Dial, not Yardley....Dove. No I don't have any product endorsements in this blog (yet) but I'm telling you for this recipe you want Dove.


For this recipe you will need:

Dove Soap (2 4 oz. bars)
Water



Yup. That's it...... two ingredients. Not even. Let's be real, here.  Water shouldn't really even count.
One and a half....


Snnnnniiiiiifffffffff! Ahhh,  smell that fresh soapy smell. It's awesome!

You COULD use any of the Dove soaps you wanted. The Pinky stuff, the Man-smell stuff. Whatever. It just needs to be -say it with me- Dove soap.


Here's the hardest part- Grate the two bars of soap.
As fine as you can, as much of it as you can.
You want this puppy to melt up fast so no big chunks-o-soap.




Put 4 cups of water and your two grated bars of soap in a BIG pot and put it on Med-Hi heat.

Like last week, you don't want this to boil over so stay in the kitchen and stir it up every so often until all your soapy chunks are gone and you have a big pot of clean smelling white stuff.

Once it's boiled down transfer the soap liquid to a bowl. I used my kitchenaid mixer bowl but if you don't have one, any ol' bowl will do.

And let it sit. For a long time. A couple of hours, until the liquid cools down and thickens a bit. 
I waited until the metal bowl was warm enough for me to touch it with both hands.


Side Note:
Hand wash the pot you used to boil down the soap stuff. Or you'll have four inches of bubbles in your dishwasher and an overflow of bubble water all over your kitchen floor.
Bonus: I have clean kitchen floors now.


Mix the soap in your kitchenaid or with a handheld mixer for a few minutes. Nothing magical about it. Just enough for the cool stuff on the top and sides mixes with the molten hot stuff in the middle. 


Funnel into bottles. I used condiment bottles I found at the grocery store for $1.50 each. 


That's it. Really.... Body wash for a couple bucks.

Now, although I made it yesterday I didn't USE it until today.

Do I like it? I LOVE IT!
It smells happy, it's thick,it cost me about $1.75 to make and I don't have to hide it from my family like I usually do!  I can make more for next to nothing. 



This was out of the bottle yesterday afternoon. A little runny. A little "meh".
I mean, it smelled good... but meh.



24 hours later.... look at that high quality body wash! 
That ain't no Suave body wash!
It's DOVE Body Wash!!!

Rating: Another win!!! If you like body wash and don't wanna dole it out in little paper cups to the family like I've contemplated, this is for you! Like I said, the hardest part is grating the soap. You can do this!!!

Extra bonus win: Your kitchen will smell nice and soapy clean for at least 24 hours..... I'll let you know when it fades!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Garage Sale-ing (or Teaching Your Child How Not to go in Debt)

The trees are budding, the tulips blooming and dandelions are plentiful.... Spring has sprung in our corner of the world! People are cleaning out their homes and it's Garage Sale season!

This morning I took my little girl to her first real neighborhood Garage Sale, not as a spectator but as a shopper! To make math real I doled out five one dollar bills. We talked about how each dollar was equal to four quarters OR 10 dimes OR 20 nickels. Honestly, I had no idea that $5 would buy so much! (Or that so many senior citizens would just give things to her for being so cute with her little purse. So much for the math lesson.)

She got one of every garage sale category; stuffed animal- check,  books- check, craft kits- check, outdoor toys- check, ziplock bag filled with odds and ends from a bigger, more elaborate play set- check...... she was having. a. ball!

Her last and most expensive purchase, for a whole dollar, was a Polly Pocket car that was obviously broken. Even though I pointed that out to her she insisted that she wanted it more than anything in the world and paid with her very last dollar. Within 5 minutes she looked at me and sobbed "It's not a great toy. It doesn't work at all." tears starting down her face.

I felt for her. I truly did. How many times have I bought something and was immediately hit with buyer's remorse. From little things like the fruity gum at the checkout that went waxy once the flavor ran out or a shirt on clearance that seemed OK but looks kinda meh now I have it at home... To big purchases like the SLR camera I bought under pressure when that electronics store went out of business at the mall that really isn't user friendly and now, two years later, I could have bought a Canon or Nikon for the same price... or my very first car that I bought on my very own: A '92 Chevy Lumina that was a BOAT but burst into flame less than 2 months into ownership. (After spending the same amount of money I paid for it to fix the alternator, starter and head gasket.)

But what did I want to teach her in this lesson in money and choices and frugality? I mean, I had a few dollar bills in my pocket. I could have just handed one over to her and it wouldn't have made a dent in my shopping plans. If I really wanted to I could have walked back to that house and told the seller that they sold a bum toy to a little girl and, I don't know, gotten her dollar back or exchanged it for another toy.( I mean, what kind of person sells a BROKEN toy at a garage sale?!?!? Ok, breathe in- breathe out. I'm OK. I'm OK...)  Either way the tears would stop and I could go on with the happy morning.

For some reason this seemed like a big lesson to her broken heart. (One I wish I had learned waaaaay before I bought that Lumina.)

I sat on some random person's front lawn with her little head on my shoulder and broken toy in her lap. She wailed for a bit and I just held her in her broken moment as people walked by and stared at the sweaty woman with the weeping child on her lap. The sweaty woman whose shirt exclaimed "Stay At Home ROCKSTAR".... I was not feeling like a Rockstar at the moment. I wanted to crawl up into a ball and die.

Once her breaths evened out I smoothed back the hairs plastered with sweat to her forehead. I explained that she made a bad purchase. How I gave her advice on what to do and she made her own choice and sometimes they come with their own consequences. That we need to not buy what our heart wants in the moment but to "stop, think and cho-o-oose". (Credit: Daniel Tiger)

"Momma, I should have listened to you."

"Yeah, I know you feel that way."

"I was foolish."

"It's OK. It happens. To everyone, even grownups."

"Mom, I'm never going to make a bad purchase again. I'm gonna stop, think and cho-o-oose next time."

Can I have that in writing?

We continued shopping, finding the motherlode of scholastic books. I went SHOPPING for our home library! At that same sale they had TONS of little girl toys, priced to sell. Little girl looked them over, played with a few and remarked to me as we left that house. "Momma, I ran out of money. I couldn't buy anything there, my heart wanted stuff but I knew I had no more money."

"Was it hard?"

"A little bit."

"I'm proud of you for making good choices."

.... and we literally skipped back to the car.







All this started as a Facebook Post but the story went on and on and on. I don't know what led me to share this slice of our day. But there it is. A moment of our real.

A moment of perspiration, tear, and snot soaked ugly turned into a learning moment for my little one. Reminded that if we can pray in the moment for the strength to stay cool we can turn it around. We can get back to that happy moment we had just left and all be a little better for it.


Monday, May 5, 2014

Liquid Dish Detergent (Borax free, no weird ingredients)

I spent a good hour pouring over recipes and grocery store websites. Picking and choosing meals everyone in the family would eat that were a little bit more nutritious than pasta and canned marinara sauce. Planning meals that could stretch from dinner to lunch and hopefully a bit to go in the freezer for later, too. I searched multiple grocery stores for the best choices in produce. I cleaned, cut up and divvied up veggies and fruits, putting them in individual packets for grab and go snacks. I had breakfasts, lunches AND dinners planned for a full 5 days.

I was feelin' pretty good about myself. I was all struttin' around the kitchen: "Who's that Proverbs 31 wife? Yup, you know it! Don't be hatin'. I'm just followin' scripture, boyyyeee!"

Then it was time to do dishes. With no dishwasher detergent.

-Pffffffffftttttttt-
(That's the air escaping my personal Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon.)

THEN I remembered that someone on Facebook had recently posted a recipe for dishwasher detergent. Scrambling, I looked it up but one of the ingredients was citric acid which I didn't have and Borax which is..... -sigh- in my opinion it's good for some things but not for others: Laundry soap? yeah. Tub scrub? sure. Dish soap that may, theoretically, end up in my, and my family's, digestive tract? can we find something else?

So a little Google search found me a recipe with ingredients I had on hand and no borax... and off I went making some dish detergent.


You will need:

1 1/2c Water
1/2c Vinegar
1/4c Dish Soap
2 Tbsp Salt
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
 1 Tbsp Washing Soda


Combine all ingredients in a saucepan.
Stir on stove over medium heat until dissolved.

(NOTE: You do not need to boil this mixture. 
From previous experiences with liquid laundry soap I knew 
it does not take long for things of this nature to boil over. 
Take a few minutes, stand at the stove and stir 
until you feel the granules of the salt and washing soda "disappear".)



Let the soap cool and store in a glass container.
(or in the empty dish soap container you threw into the recycling yesterday. Not pictured.)


Happy Bubbles!

The bubbles look happy. The soap smells heavenly.... but does it work? Let's find out!


Today is Cinco De Mayo and I happen to have had a ham hock in the freezer from our Easter Ham. 
You know what that means! Beans and rice!!! MMMmmmmmmmmMMMM!

On my (nearly licked clean) plate is the aforementioned beans and rice. Some salsa, sour cream and cheese melted from the warmth of the beans straight 
from the dutch oven. MMMMmmmMMMM!
This was sitting in my sink for a good 45 minutes as I ran around after dinner doing other "wifey-mothery-facebooky" things.

I'm a slacker and generally don't rise off my dishes prior to going into the dishwasher. 
In fact when we went dishwasher shopping (11 years ago?) the only feature I wanted 
was to not have to pre-rinse my dishes... 
we got that dishwasher. 

Long story short, the dish was not pre-rinsed. Just popped in the dishwasher as is. 

Did it wash?









You tell me.



That be a clean plate.


A bit blurry but look at that shine!

So we got a win here! This is my new go-to dishwasher detergent! No borax (which really isn't good for washing dishes what with the fact that it's usually a main ingredient in ant bait), no citric acid, no other weird "I gotta go back to Wegman's.... again!" ingredients. 


Rating: You should totally do this! Today! Go turn of your computer/mobile device and make it, you'll be happier for it! (Happy bubbles, remember?!)

Monday, April 28, 2014

Make-it Monday

Although the blog has been quiet it doesn't mean our lives have been. The girl and I have just come back from 6 day trip to Virginia to visit family. Which, for me, means a week of planning for the trip and a week of getting back into the swing of things. Right now I'm just processing the trip and the extra baggage that came back with me (both physically and emotionally).

So instead of putting all that on paper, or screen rather, I decided to start something new that makes me happy! Make-it Monday!!

I'll be featuring a weekly craft or recipe or something made by my freakishly tiny hands. Whether it's a win or a fail I'll share every step of the process so that you can either try it on your own or laugh along with the mess I've made of myself.

This week is fairly simple: Tote Bag Marble Mazes.



Simple stitched "mazes" with a marble inside that you push through, using your fingers


If you have a child that needs extra work on their fine motor skills or you're a parent that would like to have your child keep quiet for a bit, this is a great craft for you to put together. You can find similar items on Etsy for about $10 + shipping but with a little time and minimal effort you can have three for about $1.50-...... So you're saving $25.50 + shipping. Just sayin'.



What you will need:

Mini-Tote Bags (I found these cute little tote bags at the Dollar Tree.) 2/$1

Marble (I already had some from another project. But you can buy a bag at the dollar store and have enough to make one for every niece, nephew, and friend's kids on your Christmas list.... for the next 3 years)

Pencil (Dude, you have a pencil somewhere. Right?)

Sewing machine. (Not pictured. Don't have one? I'm sure you can arrange a playdate with a friend who does have one.)




First, make pencil lines for the "walls" of your maze. You want to make them about an inch to an inch and a quarter wide, depending on how difficult you would like the maze to travel. A tighter fit means more work for those tiny finger muscles, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. But too tight and the marble won't move and you'll have a frustrated child. So keep it around the one inch mark.

(No I don't have a ruler handy. I'll just use this metal decorative sign from my mudroom wall...)


On this particular maze I did long diagonal stripes. 


Follow the lines you marked out on your sewing machine.
Make sure you don't sew completely across, the marble needs to be able to travel across the bag. 


Yaaaay! You have a maze.... almost.


Slip your marble into the maze through the top opening of the bag.


Sew it across, clip your threads and NOW you have a marble maze!
Yaaaaaay!


Was this an earth-shattering-game-changer that afforded me a hour of silence in the van? No.

Was it worth the 10 minutes of my life making them? Yes. 

She's played with them more in the 36 hours we've been home than in the hours long trip I intended them for. But the silence that it brings is much appreciated. Even as I write this post right now she's playing with them.  

Sooooo. There you go. Make-it Monday. Episode 1. Considering it a win!