Monday, August 31, 2009

Itty Bitty

Hey Blog. I've got some news.
My little nephew decided to venture out into the big, big world today. My sister-in-law had a routine OB appointment scheduled this morning and it was discovered that Little Nolan was in some distress. It was a long morning of monitoring and testing and serious glances between nurses and they finally decided he needed to come on out somewhere around 2:00 this afternoon.
All things considered, mama and baby are doing pretty well. But please do pray for both of them. He's pretty teeny and is almost 9 weeks early. He'll be in the hospital for quite some time to come. This is their first baby, so all of you other mamas out there know what I'm talking about when I say that Mama needs some prayer too.
I apologize for all the information that's not contained in this post, but the story isn't really mine to share.
Just wanted to let you know.

<3 me

Friday, August 28, 2009


There's nothing like having your girls sitting around your living room, knitting and gabbing to kick off the weekend. I cast on a cute little cardigan for myself. I haven't had anything major on my needles in sort of a while, much less anything for me. I have a super-soft merino wool lace weight yarn in red that has just been begging to be made into something special. It won't be practical or washable, but it should be really cute!
Oh - and I made a chocolate cake for the girls. My friend Denise brought some freshly-ground Starbucks decaf that pair oh-so-nicely with warm chocolate cake topped with melt-y chocolate chips. And yarn. It paired oh-so-nicely with all the yarn. Come to think of it, coffee pairs nicely with just about everything I can think of.
Once everyone cleared out, I did a little bit more work on that owl-y project. I thought I'd give you a sneak peek. Aren't those owls just the cutest?

And orange ric-rack! Sigh.

It's almost finished, but I can only sneak fifteen minutes in here or there on it, so I'm thinking it will probably be a couple more days before it's all done. Especially when you consider that I have homework to do these days!

But finish it, I shall. I really do love finishing things.

Daily Bliss: I did say chocolate cake, didn't I? With melted chocolate chips on top?
Wake-up Playlist: Kings of Leon, Use Somebody

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Photography class.
I finally understand what all those numbers mean when you talk about ISOs and f-stops and lenses!
I came in the door and violently attacked my husband with my new knowledge, jumping up and down and talking so fast that his eyebrows were stuck in the highest possible position until well after I had finished talking.
I keep thinking of all my favorite pictures through the years and how I would have done them a little differently if I'd known this stuff then. And I can't stop thinking about my homework assignment either. I have so many ideas. Too many ideas. Some of them will take more work than others. This will be disappointing news for my husband. I will have to break the news of impending mess and creative disorder to him gently.
I don't know how I will sleep tonight. And I really don't know how I'm going to make it through the day sitting at my desk tomorrow. And the rest of tomorrow evening and Saturday morning are also booked solid. And..well...Saturday afternoon is too. But after that?
I'm takin' some pictures, baby!

Daily Bliss: my hair did what I told it to do today, and I got caught in the rain (which I do rather like) without an umbrella
Wake-up Playlist: Steve Miller Band, The Joker

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


The week is sailing by smoothly. We haven't missed any appointments and nobody's been late for school. I'm a little tired, a little slow-in-the-brain, but that's okay. Things are good.
I love teaching piano. I can't wait for my next photography class (tomorrow) and I finished all my homework from last week's class. The kids are having fun in school.
I wore my cute bluebird dress today with super-tall coral pumps and a baby-blue cardigan. My honey has told me I'm cute no less than four times this evening.
You know, good stuff. Good stuff is happening around here.
I have the most adorable project I'm sewing up in the moments I can grab. It has owls on it. Owls and orange ric-rac, people! It makes me happy.
Oh - and? Figs were buy-one-get-one-free at the grocery store. I really love figs, but they're a little pricey for my everyday budget. But today - today, I had figs for dessert.

Having Lots of Fun,

Daily Bliss: Good conversation in my living room, with good friends, over coffee and cookies
Wake-up Playlist: That Chopin Valse again

Monday, August 24, 2009

Full Steam Ahead

Drew started 7th grade today. He confidently got ready for school and gathered all his stuff. He’s very self-sufficient at this point. It hardly felt like a big deal. He even wore a pair of his old jeans instead of one of the brand new pairs of shorts I bought him (but he did wear his brand new, shiny sneakers).
One of the things I love about his school is that the same team of teachers takes a group of kids through sixth, seventh and eighth grade. Going back to the same teachers and classrooms this year really brought home the beauty of this set-up to me. Seventh grade is a tough year. I haven’t met anyone yet who has said otherwise. But something about having already been where he is going this year, knowing what to expect from his teachers and knowing exactly where the band room is and how the lunch room works seems to take a small bit of the sting out of seventh grade. I hope that holds true for the rest of the year as well.
I did take a First Day of School photo. It is obvious that I should not take photos before I have had my coffee. What the heck? Now that I’m going taking a photography class, I seem to have lost my photo mojo. I will try again tomorrow, I promise.
We had a little bit of a rush to get out the door on time, but nothing too bad. He has a great schedule – all the electives he wanted and his academics are advanced classes, which is better than what happened last year (he got stuck in remedial classes because they didn't have his test scores yet - on his first day at a new school where he didn't know was bad)! And, aside from a 40-minute stint in car line (I don’t know what was going on! It’s a good thing I didn’t have to get Emma until much later, due to an after-school club!), things went smoothly.
But I am a little tired. It’s tough re-adjusting my body to an early-rise schedule. I’m cutting a few corners here and there, some of which I maybe shouldn’t cut.
It came down to time for making dinner this evening and I realized that, due to an unforeseen quesadilla event yesterday, we did not have enough tortillas left for what I’d planned. And, let’s just say, I didn’t have a lot of other options for a quick-fix meal. Crap. That meant I had to go to the grocery store before I could make dinner. So, I set the kids to their afternoon tasks, shed my cardigan in light of the horrifically hot afternoon, thinking that my strappy sundress would be okay on its own, decided against touching up my melted makeup, and pulled out of the driveway. Only after I got to the store did I realize that the corner I’d cut today was shaving the pits.
I tried my best to bend delicately at the knees and stretch up high on my tippy toes to reach my items at the store so nobody would know my predicament (isn't it weird how, once we are going to the store, the list of necessary items magically grows?). I smiled awkwardly at people and sincerely hoped I wouldn’t run into anyone I knew. And for once, I didn’t.
By the time I’d reached the checkout, I was devoid of all self-confidence and decided that I needed a candy bar. You know, Mr. Nestle Crunch and I haven’t hung out for a while, and sometimes, crunchy chocolate is just the kind of friend a girl needs. Mr. Crunch didn’t care about my grooming habits and glamour-less visage. He was such a sweetie and I enjoyed his company.

You may have seen a girl driving an old, green Cadillac, licking crunchy chocolate crumbs out of a candy wrapper.
That wasn’t me.

You may also have seen a girl realize that a little bit of chocolate had jumped ship and landed on her dress, melting instantly. She might have licked the chocolate off her dress.
That also wasn’t me.

No, no. I’m sure that by the time you saw that girl, I was already at home, making a decidedly non-chocolate dinner.


Daily Bliss: finishing everything on today's to-do list (even the items I wrote on my hand)
Wake-up Playlist: Wheat, I Met a Girl

Sunday, August 23, 2009


I must thank Mary today. She suggested a recipe for sweet potato biscuits earlier this week. I knew I'd be making sweet potatoes (in the crock pot! so easy!) this weekend, so I planned ahead to have leftovers just to try out these biscuits and, wow. We all loved them, but Chris sang the praises of Mary all morning long. He lifted his eyes and declared his thanks for Mary to the heavens.
I briefly considered reminding him who, exactly, had cut the butter into the flour and mashed up them taters, but I thought better of it. I was rather thankful to Mary for the recipe too. Plus? We ate them with honey from our neighbor's bees. Oh my. Sunday morning breakfast indeed.
Emma came into the kitchen, still sleepy, and happily joined in the breakfast preparation. I love that she is big enough now to actually be a help to me when we're cooking. I asked her to get out my biscuit cutter and started explaining to her what it looked like. She stopped me and told me she knew already. My biscuit cutter is pretty special. I mean, it isn't beautiful or anything like that. It's yellow and plastic, but it's the same one my mom used when I was a little girl. She had two, I guess, and she gave one to me.

I was so excited about my plans to show you a picture of me using that same biscuit cutter with my mom. I had the picture in my mind...I knew just where to find it. Only, it turns out we weren't actually using the biscuit cutter in this picture. I didn't have a Plan B, though, so this picture is all you get. It's still me and my little brother cooking with my Mama.

Chris and I took the kids on a walk this morning, too. We headed through our neighborhood toward the lake where all the ducks and swans congregate. Emma decided to carry a parasol. Chris was, maybe, a little hesitant about allowing this, but I assured him it would be fine. She sure got smiles from all the ladies driving by in their minivans. I tend to think they were all wishing they could carry parasols too.

We walked through my favorite neighborhood - it's the nice historic district. Our neighborhood is historic, too, but it's posh. I just love the big, old houses, though, and I love to dream about having coffee on their porches, waving at my neighbors (who all adore their historic homes as much as I do, obviously). Lots of them are for sale right now.
I'd walk out on that second-story balcony in my red polka-dotted satin robe to greet the mornings, if I ever finished sewing my red polka-dotted satin robe, that is. Well, I'm sure I would finish sewing it if I lived in that house. Don't you think so too? A house like that just begs for satin-robed mornings.

Ah, well. I do love my own little cottage to bits.

So we strolled down the cracked sidewalks and just noticed things.

And we talked to the ducks and the swans once we got to the lake. This swan was such a rock star. She looks like a professional model in almost all of the pictures. I think she's seen a camera before.

We have worked very hard to schedule a Sabbath into our weeks. It will require tons of discipline to keep Sunday a day of rest, to be sure. But if the reward is the kind of renewal we found today, I'm sure that will help us keep our word.

Friday, August 21, 2009


We punched through our first week of school and new schedule stuff!
And now we are all very tired.
Emma pretty much fell asleep in the car at 8:15 this evening, Chris is snoring in his recliner and I am struggling to hold my head up long enough to post something here.
Sleeping in will definitely happen tomorrow.

So, I've got buckets of new music, thanks to a birthday iTunes card. That's always an energizing thing. I spend weeks and weeks picking and choosing and narrowing it down and asking for suggestions (which rather un-narrows the list) and then I finally just spend it all in one fell swoop.
Then I get to listen to it all.
Inevitably, the cream rises to the top within one or two listens. There will be a handful of songs, and sometimes just one, that were worth the whole purchase - the one or two that will get stuck in my head.
I thought I'd share one with you, but I can't find a decent video because this dude is pretty much unheard-of as far as I can tell. There's a music blog that I like to check out now and again - that's where I heard of him. So, if you want to have a little listen, click on that there link and scroll down (because I am so not gonna try and embed some kind of player in my blog while I'm this sleepy). You're looking for a track by The Wheel, the song is Just For Me (But I Thought Of You).
It's just dreamy and singable (who doesn't love to sing "doo doo doos?") and there's an upright bass and marimba and drum brushes...and...and...all sorts of good stuff. Sigh. It helped me stay mellow today.
Hopefully, I can capitalize on that and get right to sleep now, before my head hits the keyboard anzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.....

Daily Bliss: meeting my old friend's new sweetie - such a fun guy!
Wake-up Playlist: Malajube, Luna

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I had the day off today, which was thoroughly enjoyable. I don't often have a weekday, or maybe I should just say I don't often have a day, that I get to sleep in a bit and sip on my coffee for a good, long time. It wasn't a purposeless day, though. Andrew had 7th grade orientation today. That, in itself, is a frightening statement. We shouldered our way to his homeroom class amid the throngs of adolescents. My senses were assaulted and I was reminded that middle school stairwells always smell like sweaty armpits. I filled out all sorts of paperwork and set up his lunch account and then...that's it. He's a seventh grader now.
It felt so official. It was a moment of great import. So we went out to lunch. Steak N Shake is always a good idea when you are taking a boy out to lunch. Cheese fries and a heart attack burger with bacon please? Okay. Comin' right up!

This evening, I attended my first photography class. I was a little bit nervous, to be honest. I haven't been in a class for kind of a long time. But by the time I left, I was mostly just excited. I really like my professor - he seems to really love what he's doing and that counts for so much in my book. I can listen to and learn from anyone who genuinely loves what they're talking about. And if it's something I genuinely love, too? Well, that's just icing on the cake. I mean, it's definitely going to be a challenge. This will stretch my creative muscles. This will be all coming from me, you know. It's not like knitting or sewing, where you follow someone else's instructions. Hm. I don't always do that, I guess. But the instructions and the final idea are provided. Here, the final idea will come from me, with a few instructions provided to help me get there. Subtle difference, but a big one to me.
We were let go a little early, since this is the first night. After an intensely hot afternoon, with no rain at all, the evening was dry and almost pleasant. The sun was setting and I decided not to go home. I headed to Starbucks (where else!) and took myself out for some coffee.

My coffee and I pulled out my big notebook and we wrote a little bit. A friend has asked me to contribute an essay to a project she's working on. It's an essay that requires some alone-time for thought and introspection, and alone-time can be a bit hard to come by. So we seized the moment, my coffee and me. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset, a pleasant breeze and a big notebook that still has lots of empty pages.

Wake-up Playlist: Gwen Stefani, Keep On Dancin'

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Something Finished

It's been a while since I showed you guys anything I've made, huh? I suppose that might be due to the fact that I haven't made much. OK, fine. I made almost nothing all summer long. But I did whip up a birthday present for a friend of mine who lives up in more northerly parts of the country. She knows I made her something, but she doesn't know what it is, and I guess she will after she reads this post. I thought about waiting until I've sent it to post pictures, but I am terrible about getting to the post office, so I got impatient.
Here's a hat, based on one that Emma Watson wore as Hermione in The Half Blood Prince (Harry Potter) movie - this pattern is named Hermione's Cable & Eyelet Hat. I actually knitted on it while we stood in line to see the movie. For this particular friend, that will mean a lot.

In the movie, the hat is gray (or grey? I never know which spelling to use!), but the kids were with me and we all agreed that this blue color was the way to go for our version of the hat.

Here's a close-up of that yummy yarn. It's Malabrigo wool, which is delicious to look at and to knit with. The colors are just so rich.

It didn't take me long to knit up a coffee cup cozy or two out of the leftovers. I just had to keep knitting with it!

There won't be much knitting or sewing going on this fall, I'm afraid. But I am working on a little blog that will be solely my spot for posting about stuff I make. I hope it'll be ready to go soon, but that will largely depend on how much HTML I can learn by Googling and how long it takes me to learn how to make it look like what's in my head. I suspect that could take some time...

Daily Bliss: plowing through my to-do list
Wake-Up Playlist: Chopin, Valse Brilliante (Opus 34, No. 1)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I had my first piano students today! What's more - it was really fun!
I don't suppose there's a whole lot more to say about that, but I just wanted you to know. I have a couple more students on Friday and my photography class starts Thursday.
It's a big week for starting things around here.

Daily Bliss: decaf vanilla soy latte - yum
Wake-up Playlist: Michael Franti & Spearhead, Say Hey (I Love You)

Monday, August 17, 2009

On With the Show

I've had a few people ask, so I'll tell you all a little bit about our Saturday night. My brother and his wife gave me tickets (for my birthday) to see Counting Crows at Hard Rock Live in Orlando. They're out on tour right now with Augustana and Michael Franti & Spearhead. They're calling this tour the "Traveling Circus and Medicine Show" and that's pretty much what it is! It's a crazy, circus-y show with accordions and marching bass drums and Real Pianos (That alone made my heart pitty-pat. I'm kind of an acoustic, real-instrument gal), but it was crazy good too. Is it okay to admit that I've never been a fan of Counting Crows or anything? I mean, it isn't that I don't like them, it's just that in the 90s, I was into other stuff. That said, I was really bowled over by the quality of musicianship and the camaraderie.
Yep, you heard me.
Camaraderie - as in good fellowship (look it up). The thing I loved most about this show was that the supporting bands and the headlining act all played together. At different times. In each other's sets. Unexpectedly popping in and out of songs and with random instruments.
That was great.
It gives some of the lesser-known guys a chance to be heard. Too often, people show up late to a show in order to skip the openers and catch who they really bought tickets to see. I think that's such a shame. Experience and friends-and-relations-in-bands all tell me that lots of really amazing bands never get that big break, but they're so worth finding and their songs are probably better than the stuff you hear on the radio anyway. Not that I have an opinion. Wink.
So, it was nearly four hours of raucous fun and incredible live music. The close of the show was this huge jam session - an on-the-spot mish-mosh of all the musicians, putting out some great tunes that everybody knows and loves. Three lead singers. Multiple lead guitarists. Zero visible ego. Sure, it's possible somebody up there was a diva, but they sure kept it to themselves, and every one of them looked like they were having such a great time.
Now, that's incredible!

In other on-with-the-show news, today was Emma's first day back to school. Andrew still has another week of summer, which is a little odd, so I sort of feel like we're limping into fall at this point. We got up early, but not early enough. We'd had something of a miscommunication about what time we needed to be out of bed - as in, I might not have actually told Chris when to wake us all up. He gets up early and I. Do. Not.
So, Emma donned her shiny new pink backpack and pink Nikes and her P.E. uniform, since they always have to wear those on Mondays, and Third Grade began.
(sorry this is so dark!)

She has the same teacher Andrew had for Third Grade, so we kind of know what to expect, which is good. For the first time ever, I didn't sob buckets of tears as I pulled out of the school. Maybe there are just too many good things in our lives right now for me to be bothered with my usual sentimentality. Maybe I'm too busy for tears.
Whichever one it is, I'm okay with it. For better or for worse, my wish for 2009 seems to have come true.

Daily Bliss: A phone call from my bestie - 15 minutes of laughing 'till I had tears over the most serious things in life. I know that doesn't sound quite right, but it works for us.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Weekend

Ah, summer. It's nearly over in our household.
The kids both had one final sleepover last night. Emma went to a friend's house that she hasn't seen in a long time - she's been so excited that she's hardly slept for two nights! And we ended up with one of Drew's friends over here.
I like ending up with the boys. I always know how to keep them happy - food and video games. Maybe it's because I had brothers, but maybe it's just because boys are that simple. I gave them stuff to make miniature s'mores, which was a big hit! You use a candle to roast mini marshmallows and stack them on graham cracker flavored Goldfish with bits of a snack-sized Hershey's bar. Drew's friend brought over his Wii guitar and they played Guitar Hero forever, taking frequent breaks to make another s'more. I'm sure it was guy heaven.
I had a busy week prepping for the busy season that starts on Monday. Emma's school starts this Monday and Drew's starts a week from Monday. Whew. I've been having no small amount of anxiety, wondering how I'm going to balance everything on my plate now. The thing is, though, I think a lot of it will be stuff I really love to do. So I'm counting on that to keep me sane.
I crashed last night. Somewhere around 11, I sat down to do something, laid my head down for a minute, and that was it. I was gone.
So today, I'm a little refreshed after all that sleep. I'm going to eat my cinnamon toast, drink my coffee and head out shopping with some of my favorite girlfriends to my favorite store on earth (Anthropologie!), where I'm going to spend my birthday money and a very thoughtful birthday gift card. I'm going to get something super-nice to wear because I have a date tonight with my honey. We're going to a concert (Counting Crows), which was another birthday gift.
Hey! It's like another birthday or something around here, except without getting any older. Sweet!

I heart weekends.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Tutorial For You

If you are just dying to run into five families you haven't seen in ten years, plus parishioners of the church where you work, here's how it's done:

1) Make sure that you are helping your mom run a few errands and your feet hurt from your ever-so-pretty shoes that lied to your feet (they said they'd be soft as flower petals - ha!).
2) Trade out your pretty shoes for a pair of your mom's Crocs - you know, the flip flop kind. Do not even consider changing out of your work clothes. What we are going for here is flip flop Crocs with black dress pants and a flowy shirt.
3) Forget brushing your daughter's hair. Your children shouldn't be seen as a reflection of you anyway.
4) Also, little mascara flakes on the dark circles under your otherwise un-made-up eyes will help.
5) Prance through the doors of Target at 8:00 PM like you haven't a care in the world.

Results guaranteed!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Door

My life's path has narrowed quite a bit these past few months, as I've previously (over)shared. We were having dinner with some friends last night and talking about, you know, The Big Stuff, and the way I put it was that, as things squeeze down on a person, you start looking for a door - an exit onto a new path. Everyone has those times in life and in the past, as those times have come my way, God has always


opened a door for me.
I think that what has been frustrating for me this time around is that nothing has opened. I have been desperately looking for that open door and have even decided I'd jump through a window if that's all that came my way. Metaphorically speaking, of course. I know some of you have been worried about me (as is evidenced by the arm pats and furrowed brows and how-are-you-doing-honeys). I'm not really going to jump out of a window.
So I have felt like I was fumbling around in the dark, with no inkling of what to do next - of how to make things better. And it's been a pretty long fumbling season.

But today, I think that door has finally opened up. My piano teacher called me.
She and her husband run the music studio where my kids take all their lessons and I love the philosophy of teaching and the welcoming environment that they provide for kids of all abilities and ages.
I had my first piano lesson last week and she called me today to offer me a few classes - not to take, but to teach! I would like to state, for the record, that when I hung up the phone, I bawled like a baby girl. I mean, I can't quit my day job or anything like that, and it will add an incredible amount of extra busy-ness to our already incredibly insane schedule, but I'm stickin' my foot through that open door so that it can't close back up.

And I'm so stinkin' excited about it!

Sunday, August 9, 2009


We have spent most of this weekend discussing our budget. Bleah.
I mean, everybody has to do it, but it's not very much fun, right? School is starting up and there are expenses to be considered, grocery prices are rising and gas ain't gettin' any cheaper, blah, blah, blah.
But we have found that we need to budget our time as well. We are definitely a busy family. People ask me often how we "do it all" and I have to just shake my head and reply that really, we don't. We do lots of things, but there are other things that we don't do, and for the most part, it works out to make us about as busy as the average family-of-four-with-a-dog-and-a-mortgage.
The schedule (and the budget, honestly) look a little scary on paper. When it came down to buying groceries this week, I really felt pinched. It was mostly psychological, I guess, but with dollar signs on the brain, you start looking for ways to be even more frugal than before.
And with recovery from last week on the brain as well (the car's problem is the transmission - as in, it needs one - and we all had some sort of flu which we are not quite over yet), I was looking for comfort.
Comfort and frugality.
Peaches are in season.
"In season" means super-cheap.
So, tonight, we are having peach pie.
For dinner.
It was so soothing to stand barefoot in the kitchen, wearing a cheery apron, peeling peach fuzz and rolling out pie crust.
It's soothing to smell it baking in the oven, cinnamon wafting through the air, hinting at the change of season that will be upon us sooner than we can fathom.
Maybe it was not so soothing, though, to be stuck with that Presidents of the United States of America song looping through my head...millions of peaches, peaches for me; millions of peaches, peaches for free...
As it is, though, peaches make me pretty happy - songs or no songs.

Know what else makes me happy? This picture:

This is Emma and Winnipeg. My friend Allison sent me a few pictures in the mail this week (along with my makeup bag that I left at her house - we can all understand that, with the flu and a broken car and no makeup, I looked rather a mess last week, can't we?) that she took during our Artists' Retreat.
Those two are both wearing The Face of Pure Joy.

I'll probably be wearing that same face when I get to eat my piece of pie.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


I've hemmed and hawed about this post because I haven't been sure of how honest I really want to be. I mean, if I were bold and honest and told the whole tale, there would be so many words that your attention would likely be lost. And I really like your attention. If we were having coffee and just talking, there would be so much more to say, and if you want to have coffee and just talk, let me know. I'm happy to share more.
I had planned to have some sort of triumphant comeback post - you know, "I took some time off and beat the blues and now I'm back! Roar!" But it just isn't happening that way yet and I miss you, so this is more of a "I'm still not sure what's next and I'm not functioning at 100% yet, but I'm mostly back" post. There will be some changes, in my life and in my blog. I'm not sure yet what all of them will be, but here's how things have gone this summer and where things seem to be going:

I have been in a long season, during which it seems the things that I hold in my hands are just crumbling* - our church, friendships, my job, my home expansion hopes, and now my sweet little free car. Some of this has gone on for a while, some of it has been more recent. I am kind of a scrappy little thing. When something doesn't go the way I think it should, I tend to fight it. So, I have found myself scuffling with all facets of my life this summer. And at some point, the smart girl in me spoke up and wisely suggested that I should just lay low for a bit.
For a while now, in our late-night, glass-of-wine, let's-get-serious conversations, I have been saying to Chris that something needs to give. Those conversations usually end with a plan to tackle the "something" that seems to be the most pressing problem and beat it into submission. My success rate has been abysmal. In the end, it appears that the "something" needing to give is me. And it doesn't matter how many Personal Programs for Greatness I may devise and chart on paper, it comes down to some bigger change than can be accomplished with schedules and budgets. And that bigger change is the thing I haven't quite grasped yet. But maybe it's good that I don't hold the solution in my hands just yet (see previous paragraph).
I have been in similar spots before - times when I was sure something new needed to happen. That's how I've acquired most of my hobbies, honestly. When plagued with itchy dissatisfaction, I have always soothed myself by conquering something new. And I have been awfully proud of the fact that I have chosen to conquer things that fit neatly into my Nice Mommy paradigm. Nice mommies knit and sew and cook and throw fantastic birthday parties. Nice mommies know how to feed their family gourmet meals on a serious budget with home-grown vegetables. Nice mommies...well, you know. So, the things I take up always multi-task. They fill my need for creativity, but also serve a purpose in the lives of my family and friends. Things that feed others and fulfill me in the process. Don't get me wrong - I think it's a good thing to find ways to give to others and fulfill yourself at the same time.

I just mean that I think it's time for me to try a new sort of "something new" as I'm fumbling around and seeking a change.

This time, I'm going to try a couple of things that are just for me. They don't provide for anyone else - at least, not directly.
I'm going to do some things because I want to do them.
Not because they fit into my Nice Mommy paradigm.
Not because it will save me money if I learn how to make it myself.
Not because it will show other people how much I like them.
But just because.

There are things I secretly wish I was brave enough to do.
Things I've always wished I could conquer, but have been desperately afraid to attempt, because not winning - not being the best - would be so unbearably devastating.

This fall, I'm taking a photography class. I registered for college, which cost me a lot of cool points. I have fought really hard against being so cliche, but I got over my silly self and joined up with all the other moms who go back to school when their kids get a little bigger. I don't really have a desire to earn a degree or anything crazy like that (wink), I just want to explore something new - something I like. I might not be very good. But I need to learn to be okay with that. I also need to learn to be okay with taking classes from a not-quite-prestigious school. I have lots of smart friends with impressive degrees from astounding places. And I won't be one of them. Did you hear that gulping noise? That was me swallowing my pride.

I'm also taking piano lessons. That's a big one for me. It's something I have always loved. It's the one thing I loved so much that I let it go because I was afraid I couldn't be the best, even though I look back and realize that I was very good. And I've decided that I'm ready to let it back into my life. I may never be a concert pianist and I may never conquer that dang Revolutionary Etude (Ah, Chopin! You have long been a source of vexation!), but I want to play again just because I love it. Because I want to. I'm going to do it for me this time. Even if I suck at it.

Which is possible.

There will be changes in my blogging habits, too. I'm going to try a split-personality thing and maintain two very different blogs. I will write a bit more about that soon - when I have the other one ready to go.

I don't want to subject you to too much of my self-analysis and inner dialogue. I'm sure you can read between the lines above and see where I have been and what's been on my mind. It doesn't take much effort to see that many doors in my life have closed at once, so I am cutting open a new one myself. Lest you mistake me for an intrepid soul, hacking my own way through the jungle of life armed only with a pair of knitting needles and my keen intellect, know I am not actually a brave girl. I'm tired of getting smacked every time I take a step along the path I thought I was supposed to follow, so finding a new direction is the only thing left for me to do. It takes all the bravery I can muster to simply be open about things that really matter to me. Nothing is more frightening to me than messing up in front of people and I have found that, as long as I keep to things that don't matter much to me, making mistakes isn't as painful.
So, maybe (but I'm not really sure) the bigger change that needs to happen in me is that I need to be brave.

I hope that all makes sense without making anyone worry! Daily life continues around here - school is about to begin and we are settling our schedule of music lessons and chess and tech club and band concerts and crazy family life. I'm adding lessons and school for myself on top of what we already do.
My house will not be clean.
The dishes will probably not be washed every day.
We might even have to eat at McDonald's sometimes.
I will have to knit less.
I will have to sew less.
I will have to let go of more.

But I think it will be good.

*I want to make it clear that not all of these things are crumbling in a bad way, just that the things as I know them are all up in the air...all changing at once, some for better and some for worse.

Monday, August 3, 2009


This weekend...oh, this weekend! I took my girl on an Artists' Retreat. Now, this is not an official thing, it's just something we made up. My friend Allison has some property way out in the sticks in south Florida and she's a creative soul too. So, Emma and I packed up our supplies and headed down to Allison's for a weekend getaway filled with creativity and rest. This was a weekend to remember - adventure waited for us around every corner!
When we arrived, we discovered we were all wearing the Artists' Uniform - black. Perfect. We loaded into Alli's car and drove to a coffeehouse for open mic night. Emma felt very grown-up ordering her coffee drink from the barista and we enjoyed listening to another girl named Emma singing songs and strumming on her guitar.

It was getting late, though, and we hadn't eaten yet, so we slid out the door between performers and went to La Casita, one of Allison's favorite little Mexican restaurants. Isn't it the cutest?

I love all the colors! The food was fantastic too - muy autentico!
On the way home, in the dark, we happened upon a bull in the road. He was unconcerned about how in-the-way he was, and simply continued munching on the tasty weeds that had presumably lured him out of his own territory. Did I mention that she lives away from normal, civilized life? No matter. I really like funny critters.
In the morning, we feasted on blueberry muffins and drove straightaway to Fort Myers beach, seeking some inspiration. We brought watercolors with us and accomplished a bit of indigenous art - we used the ocean water to bring all the paint to life.

Certainly, beautiful colors and eye-catching objects were found everywhere.
Much to our delight, a pair of dolphins glided by, so close to the shore that we were able to enjoy them fully. Once we started getting a little sweaty, though, we packed up and headed back inland.

There was a tourist-trap mini-golf course that looked interesting. Upon discovering the (choke) price (cough) of admission (sputter), we opted for their cheaper form of entertainment - feeding the baby gators for $3! Basically, we loaded dog treats onto fishing poles and dangled them over the edge of the dock while the little chompers snapped away.

We wiled away Saturday afternoon drawing, writing, reading and relaxing, then struck out for another beach to picnic and paint until the sun went down. We drove the length of Sanibel Island and arrived at Captiva, one of the most beautiful beaches I think I've ever seen. We unpacked our dinner and realized with amusement that we were eating a "C" dinner by the sea - cherries, currants, crackers and cookies.
But the rain that had been threatening decided to come on down. We hemmed and hawed and eventually decided to head south, hoping to still catch the setting sun on a less rainy beach.

As we drove south, our hopes were realized. The rain was clearing and Allison knew just where to go. Bonita Springs. As soon as we parked and saw the canopy of sea grapes leading us up over the walkway, it was obvious that we were exactly where we were supposed to be.

Alli and I set up Emma's easel, and she set shells all along its ledge. Then she set to work.

She was so beautiful, lost in thought, soaking in the moment.

I had completely forgotten to bring some canvas for her, so we improvised and she painted on the back of a watercolor paper tablet.

But it was no matter. The moment too important to miss for lack of proper supplies.

Sunday morning found us rested and happy, but already feeling a little sad that the weekend was coming to an end. Once we had breakfasted and dressed, we explored Allison's property a little bit.
Emma and Winnipeg, the Great Dane, were fast friends by this time and they enjoyed a romp in the tall grasses.

And I found lots of green places and trees that seemed to invite me in and ask me to stay.

Of course, I couldn't stay.

But the weekend did build up my emotional reserves. I have found myself easily exhausted and unable to draw from my own deep well because it has rather emptied itself. I suppose I will follow up soon with a bit more information.
When I can.
Because I immediately had to draw on the reserves this weekend provided.
I started getting sick on Saturday night and found, as I drove home, that I began to feel worse. And just as I was feeling worse, my car died - about an hour from home.
It's bad - I don't think the car is coming back to life.
And I borrowed a back-up car this morning to get to work. This was a day that both kids would be coming with me to work. I sweated and sniffled and packed lunches and got dressed, got everyone buckled in and ready to go.
And the back-up car didn't work either.
The good news is that I should have stayed in bed anyway, and now I don't have a choice but to do just that.
I don't really understand what's going on right now, but I know it's not good. I know it hasn't been good for a bit. But I know it won't last either.
I'll check in again soon - when I am feeling a bit better.