Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Saving Money, My Foot!

I like saving money. So I try to save money by doing things myself instead of paying someone else to do it. Specifically hair cuts. Plus, my mom was a hair dresser so I can usually employ her expertise when I need to. 

Until the other day.

Background.... several weeks ago, Alex had decided to give himself a haircut and being the confident and capable young man that he is, he went right to town. The scissors and proper identification of trademark-Alex-hair-color hairs found behind the recliner one afternoon, were a significant indication as to the disaster success that happened just above his forehead.

He had a very original hair style complete with the messy-gelled-look to cover up any possible unevenness. That worked for a few weeks but then he was getting too shaggy overall (sans the section just above his forehead) so I decided to pull out my clippers and go to work.

So there in my kitchen I evenly mowed off his hair until he was a nice looking boy again.

This may seem normal and harmless and not worth blogging about but there's more to the story.

As is the nature of hair that is cut, it falls to the floor. But of course, you already know this -- everybody knows this. To expect anything different would be strange, I know. But the fact that the hair fell to the floor is what makes this post so worth writing about because if it hadn't fallen to the floor, I would not be writing this random post about a hair cut: I'd be writing about my success at defying gravity.

And of course, once the hair cut was over, I swept the floor thoroughly but I was barefoot while cutting his hair and while sweeping the floor so obviously, I walked on a strand or two of hair. But that's okay: it was a free haircut so it's all worth it, right?

Plus, to expect anything different than walking on hair that fell to the floor while you gave your son a free hair cut would be strange, I know. But it all plays into this there's-a-hole-in-the-bucket-dear-'Liza-concept story here folks.

Fast forward to the next day when we left on a weekend trip and spent the day at the zoo walking and walking and standing and walking some more.

That night, after getting to the hotel and kicking off my shoes, I noticed that I kept getting this annoying sliver feeling in my foot. It was so annoying I finally sat down and went on a sliver hunt right then and there in the hotel room.

Bear in mind, I have no sliver hunting tools with me (pin, tweezers, magnifying glass, shovel, knife, chain saw, search light, pitch fork, etc.) and I was almost a little leery finding anything because even if I did find it, I wouldn't be able to dispose of it properly. So if there was a sliver, he'd just sit there and grin at me and make fun of me and say mean words like, "Na-Na-Na-boo-boo, you can't get me!" and I'd have to listen to that all weekend. Which would be highly annoying.

So there I am on this hotel bed with a husband on one side trying to watch TV (television) and 27 small rabid children bouncing on the other side of the bed trying to watch TM (their mom). Like, if mom is interested in something then we are too and heaven forbid we should miss out on anything even as much as a sliver.

Oops... Did I say rabid children? Because I meant to say rapid.... You know, like moving around quickly fastish-like. But they may as well have been 27 rabid children based on the stress inducing situation they were causing. Right there on the bed. While I sat in an advanced yoga pose with the bottom of my foot touching my chin and my knees in an unmentionable position in order to support my torso and keep my hips from dislocating.

Between bounces and earth shattering movements, my eye caught something on my foot. And then I saw it: a hair. A stupid, nasty and probably even rabid, hair. Not like a rabbit hare but like a human hair. Just sitting there, not rapid at all. So yeah. It was probably rabid, come to think of it.

It was a short, Alex-hair-cut-size hair. And it was on my foot in a very stuck way. As if it was coming from inside my foot, it was that stuck.

So I looked closer, moving the sole of my foot up to the tip of my nose where I stared intently at it with crossed eyes (and please don't forget the 27 rabid rapid children that were still on the bed bouncing and staring too) while I expertly advanced my yoga skills even further.

I used my super sonic surgical suction system index finger tip and thumb tip and extracted efficiently with an enormous enigmatic explosion yanked out a very poky Alex hair from the sole of my non-tender, super rough and calloused foot.

And there it was, all 3/8ths-of-an-inch of hair out of my foot. In the palm of my hand. While I did yoga in a bouncing hotel bed. With 27 rabid rapid children surrounding me. On vacation.

As if I couldn't think of anything better to do than an Olympic level yoga performance, right there in a hotel bed with 27 rabid rapid children, all because I seriously needed to begin an immediate rapid hair loss program on the bottom of my foot (this link directly explains that the bottom of the foot is supposed to be hairless) due to the fact I walked bare foot on hair I had cut from my son's head in order to save money.


I'm thinking that next time, I'll save my sanity foot; not money.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Home School Mom's Creed

Today was supposed to be our first day of school for 2012. But a certain child was up a lot last night with a fever of 104 and the rest of the kids are loafing around with head aches and body aches. So we'll start tomorrow, as long as everyone is healthy.

I was geared up to start school but with a little trepidation as I thought over the last year of school and particularly our first day of school last year. While looking through my blog drafts, I found I documented that day but never posted it to my blog. I decided to share it today.

The following blog post was originally written on the first day of school for the year 2011 on September 6. Landon was 7, Janae was 6, Alex was 4 and Korynne was 9 months.

I was all set: it was our first day of school for the year.

The kids were excited. I was excited. And I was confident.

I wasn't worried; even though I've never home schooled two 1st graders, entertained a preschooler and nursed a baby all at the same time, I didn't worry about a thing. This was technically our third year of school since we did kindergarten two years in a row. I was used to the routine of school: I knew what I was doing.


I was naive. And insane. Completely insane.

I really wasn't prepared for what came next: Home School Burnout Syndrome.

Yep. On the first day of school for the year.

Home School Burnout Syndrome was something that I thought happened when tried to cram too many subjects into one kid at once. Or when you pushed your kid too fast. Or held them back, resulting in a complete disinterest for learning. Or when you got mad and yelled at your kid because they wouldn't grasp a concept. Or when you couldn't figure out how to motivate yourself or your kids with school. Or when school just wasn't fun. Or after a twelve hour day of sitting at the dining room table slowly inching along through a single page of math.

I honestly expected HSBS to hit at least months into the school year, if it was going to hit at all. Like I was thinking maybe years down the road when my over academic 15-year-old decides to take on college level calculus. Or something really extracurricular that is totally out of my league.

Okay. So basically, I thought HSBS was something that happened in a unique set of circumstances. And since I had been home schooled for my entire education and my husband had been home schooled for the last half of his education and since I had been going to home school seminars since my own children were too young to start school and since I had been prepared ahead of time for becoming overwhelmed by curriculum and scheduling and lesson planning and slow learners and ADHD and, and, and... I was NOT prepared for our first day of school.

I thought I was years away from HSBS. Yes. Before today, I was THAT naive.

So, then there's me. The day after Labor Day, jumping belly first into the pool of home schooling. And what a belly flop it was.

It started out with... well.... it didn't start out good.

Somebody kept biting the tip out of their pencil. Yes, out of their pencil.

Somebody else chased a cricket through our schoolroom which absolutely traumatized the Pencil Biting Pupil since crickets are pretty much the epitome of all evilness.

That same Somebody dropped their handful of school stuff in the dirty floor drain off to the side of our schoolroom.

Somebody else argued with the teacher on the math DVD. Yes, the teacher in the TV screen.

A little Somebody got bumped in her johnny-jump-up and didn't appreciate it.

Another Somebody got bumped in the process of the little Somebody getting bumped. They didn't appreciate it either.

Somebody couldn't remember how to count to 20.

Somebody else forgot how to write their numbers correctly.

Somebody tried using fifty million thousand crayons on one little "egg" in their "E is for Egg" page in their phonics.

Somebody broke their pencil. Again. (Lead deficiency anyone?)

Somebody wrinkled their math page up because they didn't want to do it.

Somebody kept trying to slip off to watch a movie.

The little Somebody needed to eat. Really bad.

Somebody totally forgot their numbers places and couldn't say what number "67" was. "Oh I know! Seventy!" was the answer.

Somebody hit their younger sibling.

And I was ready to throw in the towel and say, "Forget it! Grow up and be stupid: I really don't care if you never learn anything."

But I couldn't say that yet; NOT on the first day of school. The first day of FIRST grade! What a way to start out the year and the first of the next twelve years of school.

This whole situation made me sit down and ask myself, "Why in the world are you home schooling your kids, of all the crazy things to do with your life? I mean really, why not take up Driving Off Cliffs or some other completely fatal hobby?" In the moment of frustration and anxiety, I frankly had no answer.

I think I'm just crazy, and that's why I home school, was the only Home School Mother's Creed I could assign to myself.

Or is it because everything in life that's worth having, is something you have to fight for? Is it because things you spend your life, blood, sweat and tears on, are always worth it in the end? Is it because that just because it may be hard now, doesn't make it a bad thing. How many good things in life come on a silver platter with no effort?

Honestly, I didn't have a quick and easy answer to this question. Is it worth it? Is it really worth it? How many people do I know that were raised in public school and turned out to be amazing individuals who are impacting the world? I know a lot. How many home schooled adults do I know that aren't doing anything valuable with their lives? I know a lot of those too.

The answer isn't home schooling or not home schooling. It's simpler than that. The answer is: what is my purpose in life? Is it to have this big agenda called "home schooling" and I surround myself and my kids with people who think about education the same way we do? NO! My purpose in life is to teach my kids to be loving, wise and hardworking people who love to learn. 

The bottom line is: the kind of person I am, I would not be capable of teaching those qualities to my kids if they were going to school away from me everyday. I would slough off in my responsibilities. I would be complacent.

Quite honestly, another person could probably teach my kids their academics far better than I can. I know there are educated people who understand the concepts in my kids curriculum far better than I do. And they'd be able to explain it better too. But are they going to instill the qualities I want my kids to take into their adult life that they would need to learn now? No, probably not.

And not because they don't want to instill those qualities or don't have those qualities themselves. It's because as a school teacher working in a school building teaching dozens of children, they're not my child's parents. They don't live with my child. They don't deal with teaching them gratitude and respectfulness and responsibility and joyfulness and other necessary character qualities on a day in and day out basis. They teach them academics in education because that's their job. That's all they're contracted to do.

And if they were to individually meet the learning needs apart from academics of every child in their classroom, they would never get their school work done for the day. It's that simple because there's not enough time in the day to get all that done with dozens of kids in your classroom. Even the most zealous teacher who wanted to instill extracurricular character training in her students, would be limited by time and resources and uncooperative parents, not to mention the kids who acted like mine random naughty students.

My kids are basically normal kids but in a lot of ways, they need to learn so many things apart from academics. And if they never learn these qualities, they will be nightmare people as adults. They'll be the kind of adults that nobody will want to hire or be around or befriend.

I've met several sweet children who are not home schooled and I highly admired the quality of attitude and perspective these kids have. And then when I watch all the work their parents put into them (even though they send them to school every morning), I know I would not have that self motivation. If I sent my kids off to school everyday, I would be a slacker parent because I would just expect the teacher to fill in the gaps of my parenting.

But by dealing with a Pencil Biting Pupil and a Cricket Chasing Child and a I Will Destroy My Math Page student on a day-to-day basis, I work my butt off to get them to realize that being a bully or a baby or an obnoxious person, is really not in their best interest.

Plus, with as much chaos that ensued from just one of my kids on this particular today (not to mention all 3 kids), the local school principal in our school district would thank me for not sending this child to his school. Really, he would. And all the parents of the other students would be relieved to know their kids are not being influenced by mine. Seriously.

And maybe someday, we'll be at a place in our lives where another form of school besides "home school" will be necessary and acceptable for our family. Until then though, I will home educate my children in all aspects of learning... including the character qualities that teach people not to bite pencil tips off, not to harass other students with crickets and that wrinkling their math pages up in a fury of anger doesn't help anything.

And that is my creed as a home school mom.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Everything You Never Wanted To Know About Moms And Toilets

Wireless technology is a completely phenomenal invention. It's revamped the entire world of technology and brought it to a whole new level. Bottom line, it hasn't just revamped the world of technology; its changed the entire world. Like, the actually globe/earth/universe thingy.

It keeps improving with time too. Connections are getting stronger, information and data is transferring faster and gadgets and machines are getting smaller and more accessible.

And all without wires. It's like a if-you-can-imagine-it-it-already-happened miracle taking place all over your home, your car, your work place, your world, the world, everywhere, etc.

But unlike cellphones and computers and iPods and other such electronic devices, there's another superb wireless invention far exceeding every contemporary invention accommodating wireless technology known to mankind.

The wireless signals it sends out are similar to a blazing SOS signal off the east coast that's directly sent to the New York Police Department office building, but no one can see it with a naked eye. It's like a silent fire alarm that's just as effective as any ear piercing alarm. It's like an alarm clock that goes off in your ear and hitting snooze only makes it louder. It's like a loud cry for help, right outside your bedroom window at 3 o'clock in the morning. It's like an annoying telephone that rings constantly with no voice mail. It's like a school bell going off but it doesn't stop so you can enjoy recess without a screaming alarm blasting your playground. It's like the panic button on your key pad for your car but there's no way to trace the sound because it's all between your ears.

This special wireless signal is set at the highest form of intricate communication and is more lock tight than the CIA's codes. The Secret Service has nothing on this. It's password protected with an unlock able code and all of mankind could not break the code and reroute the signal even if every ounce of gold and energy was put into the research for this development. This is stealth to a whole new level.

If you doubt my analysis here, just try being a mom who uses the bathroom for 27 seconds. You'll become very familiar with this amazing Super-Micro Wireless Signal system connected to your toilet.

As soon as your fanny hits the seat, a loud and obnoxious alarm will go off somewhere inside your children's heads. Then, the entire household is put on "Disengage and Destroy Now" mode.

 Problems, kids, injuries, questions, phone calls. bored kids and fights will come out of no where as soon as you sit down on what you think is just a boring white toilet. When nature calls, so does the wireless system on your toilet.

It screams, "Quick kids! Run to the bathroom door! Pound on it like you're locked in a cage! Fight with your brother and annoy your sister! Push the baby over and start shoving stuff under the door! Quick! Before your mom comes out! Be louder! Fight meaner! You're starving; beg for food! You're going to die if you don't get your mom out of that bathroom now!"

And so the kids come running and pounding and screaming in a panic. "MOM! What are you doing in there? How long will you be? What's taking so long? Is it number one or number two or number one and number two? Are you done yet? Seriously, what are you doing in there?"

Really. You'd think I just booked a ticket to the North Pole and told everyone I was going to wear my bathing suit the whole time. "No need to panic folks; I'm just in the bathroom doing what normal people do in the bathroom. It's called "peeing." Ever heard of peeing? In privacy? Which is why I'm here and you're out there because this is just what normal people do, right? Please, for 27 seconds, I'll be in here and when I'm done, there's only one way out of here which will be right out to where you guys are. It's not like I'm sneaking out of the house in here or anything. So let me pee and I'll be right out."

To answer all their questions takes longer than 27 seconds to answer. They have yet to know that if they'd just leave their mom alone, she could be out faster. In say, like, 26 seconds.

Never underestimate what will appear under the bathroom door in the midst of their interrogation. Notes, wrapped candy, pictures, locked iPads, markers, mail, money, food, fingers and toes, just to name a few, are liable to make their way under the bathroom door. Secret passage ways open up when this wireless connection is activated and things that normally couldn't fit in such a small area, will easily fit under the bathroom door as long as a mother is on the toilet.

And oh. my. gosh. if you ever wondered if your kids could sit still in one spot for very long, just go to the bathroom. They will plant themselves on the other side of the door and just sit there. And sit there. Quietly. Except when they're injecting notes of complaints involving how bored they are, how  mean their brother is, how sad the baby is in the other room, how they're pretty sure the phone is ringing and could they please go to the park now.

And then after they've given you a run down of everything happening in your 27 second absence, they continue to sit there. And all you hear is them breathing, and you wish they'd just stop breathing but then you realize that wouldn't be good either so you don't say anything about them breathing and you keep hearing dramatic exhales and inhales which is really annoying because you wonder why they're just sitting there, of all places in the universe to be sitting. Like really? You think I'm going to perform this whole bathroom process faster if you're sitting by the bathroom door making sure I can hear you breathing while you just sit there for the sake of sitting there? Go play with a toy like a normal kid or lay in your bed or sit on the couch or do something but forcryingoutloud get away from the bathroom door for 27 seconds and for Pete's sakes, STOP BREATHING!

Corresponding peaceable with your children on the other side of the bathroom door will not relieve the situation either. Simply put, the longer you stay on the toilet side of the bathroom door, the worse it gets on the other side of the bathroom door. The distress signal just gets louder over the wireless connection and prompts your kids to propel into a higher form of disaster. The only thing that will calm the situation and stop the signal is to complete a simple 3 step process. Which is as follows:

1 -- Flush the toilet (it sends another signal to your kids that you have just began The 3 Step Process Of Leaving The Bathroom. Usually, they get really quiet at this point.)
2 -- Open the door (be cautious of an impending stampede, depending on how many of your kids are leaning on the door.)
3 -- Leave the bathroom (basically, as fast as you can. Without stepping on small children or tripping over objects that were shoved under the bathroom door in your 27 second visit to the toilet.)

The more space you put between yourself and the toilet, the quieter the signal will become which in turn creates quieter kids. Suddenly, all will be at peace in your world and just as fast as the drama began, it stops. All at once. Right then. At that exact moment. That you walk out the bathroom door.

It's like blowing a candle out. Poof. The chaos is gone. Completely.

No one's starving anymore. No one got hit by their brother. The baby is fine. No body is dying. And absolutely not one person is bored.

They're all happy and playful and enjoying the day and doing normal kid stuff. Like playing with toys and breathing normal again.

But if you were to turn around and go back in and sit on the toilet, all the problems will come back, like, right now. So stay out of the bathroom. Control that urge to go! Keep your hands off the bathroom lock. Avoid the temptation of solitude. And just learn to stop peeing already.

Statistics show that it's more common for women to get UTI's than it is for men. Clearly, we all understand why that is now. The truth is, if this wireless connection could be disabled, Moms everywhere would be relieved (in more ways than one).

If moms could pee in peace, universally we'd see health care costs would go down, health in general would go up, and all would be well in the world, like the actually world/earth thingy. Peece on earth has to start somewhere and by golly, I think it starts in the bathroom because legend has it research shows that, "If Mom ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!"

Seriously, you try going to the bathroom for 27 seconds while listening to a small person breathing and fighting and starving right outside your bathroom door and let's see how happy you'd be. And if you don't want to go through all that, just get a bladder infection instead.

It's a lose lose situation, no matter how you look at it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Super Easy Faux Roman Shade Curtain

 So I had this window in our new master bathroom. All 24" x 20" of it was just there. With nothing on it. Poor, cute little window.

One day, I collected a rod, clip-on curtain hooks, fabric and my imagination.

And I went to work.

If you were going to make this curtain and also had a 24"x20" window, you would need:

One rod
Clip on curtain hooks
One yard of fabric
One yard of another fabric
Ribbon (not pictured, yet)

 Then, I figured out which fabric I wanted to be the most predominate and folded that as pictured above. The other fabric that would be in the back of the curtain, I left as it had come off the bolt at the fabric store. (pictured above)
 Then I cut off the excess of the top fabric so it was even on both ends, as pictured above. All four layers at the top edge are lined up. The yellow fabric is never cut and the only salvage I had from this project was about 8" off the end of the printed gray fabric.
 Hem the edges on the ends of both fabrics. As shown above and below.
 After taking 27 hours way too long to figure out how to use my rolled hem foot, I finally gave up and just stuck the fabric in and started sewing. Voila. It just did what it was supposed to, as shown above.
 Then I found some complimenting ribbon and pinned it to the top fabric, 8" over from the hemmed edge.
 Repeat on the other side. Cut ribbon length to hang approximately 8" longer than the hem of the printed gray fabric.
Sew two gather stitches down the ribbon.
 Gather fabric to 12" on both sides, as shown above. The shorter you gather, the more the back fabric will show in the end result. Gather more or less, according to preference.
 Sew gathers in place, once down the middle (right between the gather stitches) and then one seam on each side of the gather stitches.
 When you finish, there should be three rows of stitches down the center of the ribbon. Pull gather stitches out.

 Cut two more lengths of ribbon approximately the same length as the first ribbon you sewed on. These strands will attach to the curtain as shown above but will hang down the back of the curtain when finished, or will hang down the front and tie into a bow/knot with the ends of the gathered ribbon. (depending on how you use the curtain... I'll show you what I mean in a second.)
 Turn bottom (yellow) fabric inside out and match hemmed edges. Lay printed gray fabric inside the yellow fabric, matching hemmed edges on both sides and lining up the raw edge on top. Right sides should be together. Sew across the top edge of entire curtain, creating a tube with a fold on bottom edge, seam on top edge and opened on both ends.
 Like this.
 A peak inside before turning right sides out.
The raw edge is sewn inside the top seam on the curtain and the curtain is now finished.
 Place curtain hooks evenly apart and clip on to curtain.
 Put the hooks onto the rod and then hang rod and curtain. Above shows the curtain with the loose ribbon pulled to the front and tied in a knot, allowing the back fabric to hang down and cover entire window.
 Here, the curtain is tied up, allowing light in. The loose ribbon was hung over the back of the curtain and then I tied the ends of the ribbons up into a bow, gathering the curtain up to whatever length I wanted.

 Please note, a piece of card board is covering the window so I could take this picture without having an explosion of light. The entire sunset on the west coast was blazing into the window creating what looked like an inferno in my bathroom. Thus the make shift cardboard.
Close up.

Super easy curtain that doubles as a complete window covering by offering privacy and an attractive window treatment all-in-one. Just untie the ribbon to drop the back layer down for privacy and then tie it up when you want the sunlight to come in. It's all in how you use the ribbon. :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


No. I haven't been blogging.

I've been changing. Deep, inner change. That hurts. And grows you. And transforms a person into something bigger than they ever thought they could be or would be.

Change that no one else will probably ever notice. Or even understand. Change that makes you realize how older people become wiser. Why young people are often seen as immature. And why arrogant people are really annoying.

Change that makes you look at yourself a year ago and marvel that life was ever that easy. That calm. That carefree. That in all honesty, you were once that young, immature, arrogant person. Change that impacts you so deeply that you don't hesitate to admit that there are still so many areas of your life that could still be seen as young, immature and arrogant. And you're okay with that because you know you have so much left to change and improve.

As the process of change impacts every aspect of your life, you realize that the filter between your heart and your mouth must be very thick in order to maintain dignity and a decent reputation. Not much can be said while a person is changing unless they want to take back or re correct premature decisions or misapplied passion. Your survival depends on how clamped tight your mouth is. And so are your fingers, as in the case of this long neglected blog.

During gut wrenching change, you trust no one. Not even yourself. All your thoughts and energy pool together in a deep place and you're forced to shut everything out so you can get to the core of who you are and what you're made of. And you ask yourself hard questions. Lots of hard questions. Like, "Can I even trust God?"

And then there's relationships. Humans are very people oriented so anywhere we are in life, there are relationships connected to us. They effect us more than we think and we unconsciously derive a source of confidence and assurance from each individual healthy relationship we have, to one degree or another. Relationships either encourage us or discourage us. They either replenish our energy or waste it.

When you have an encouraging relationship that suddenly turns discouraging, it is shocking to see how the unconditional understanding that used to be present in their involvement with you quickly changes to a level of disappointment in you that is far greater than you ever imagined. It hurts to be crushed by someone who you thought knew your heart and supported you as a person. When what they really think is revealed, it comes as a blow to your life because the one source of strength you thought you had, is gone. When this happens, it makes you step back and simply stop. Stop everything. Don't say anything. Don't do anything. Except think and think and think and try to rationalize the imagined care behind the scrutiny and assumption.

And then, because having had the layers of your heart ripped off to such a degree, you can only move on which means you can only change.

And not that you move on away from that person but you move on in your heart. You accept the differences and you move on with that relationship still existing in your life. Of course the relationship changes but in the process, you change because there's no way to face all that without becoming a changed person. The choice is to either grow bitter (which is a type of change if you're not naturally a bitter person) or to grow wiser (which is a type of change if you're not naturally the smartest person on earth.)

This incident works in your favor as an opportunity of revealing your heart, your intentions and who you really are. Accepting what you find is followed with healing from the hurt which brings another step in the process of change. Change that makes you look back over the last several months and realize that if you would've known you'd be where you're at today, you would've never agreed to go along the journey. You would've canceled the trip and given your ticket to someone else. Someone bigger and stronger than you. Someone that could handle it better than you.

In truth, you realize that sometimes the biggest battle you face is yourself. The loudest voice you hear all day is your heart screaming, "Stop! You can't do this! Give up." But with giving up comes no relief. Only deeper misery. And you know that so you trudge on.

And you trudge. And you trudge. And you keep trudging. Right in circles gaining nothing but more problems.

Health issues, unexpected surgery, a young loved one fighting cancer and other Visible To The Public trials come into your life. People look on and sympathize and care for the obvious-to-them heartache you face, never realizing that the pain in your heart is much bigger than the incision in your abdomen where a malfunctioning organ was pulled through just days earlier. That the details of the loved one facing cancer only adds to the heavy ache that is already on your heart. 

Change that is necessary for growth often does not feel healthy at the moment. Like a fruit tree being mutilated by a pruning tool, so does a heart appear in the midst of change. To result in a productive yield, a branch must be relieved of any nutrient-sucking bud that will provide no lasting positive impact on the tree or the yield of fruit.

And so is a person who is changing and growing. All the energy and nutrition meant for growth, must absorb deeply into the soul where the roots are finding deeper knowledge and understanding.

Discouragement and depression are constant companions threatening to take over your heart. And not just "oh I sure had a bad day" depression but deep, numbing, exhausting, caves of depression that you can't find the light of day to crawl out of.

Until one day, you look in the mirror and say, "I'm bigger than this. I have what it takes to fight this. I'm not a quitter. I'm not letting go. I am the change I want to see in my life." And you start right there. With the first person you see, as your eyes connect with themselves in the mirror. And at that moment, the change is complete.

Each challenge that comes after accepting change, is only a foothold that puts you on a higher level. And you embrace the fact that going higher only means it gets harder. But you plunge yourself into the trek, reaching and climbing and grasping for the next level. The next height. The next proof that you're changed.

Your mantra is "I can do this" even if by "doing this" you're simply setting the goal to get through today. To wake up to a tomorrow. To feel comfort in the fog because you know to think clearly would be too harsh of a reality to accept.

And slowly you start to notice the impact the change has made on you as a person. You realize that you're a bigger person. That you believe God not just because you were told to but because at the end of yourself you found He was there. He was the inner Guide and safe Wall encasing your purpose in living. That faith is not just a nice word. That hope is not just an illusion. That trust is not just an idea.

God, faith, hope and trust have become who you are. And you can choose joy because you know that to wait for a blissful happiness, will take an eternity and life is too short to wait for good things to come.

And then you find that you can and will enJOY life fully.

Because Jesus said He brings life, which in and of itself is more than enough, but He goes beyond the necessary and brings abundant life.

To know this is one thing; to live it is another. And trust me: there's a huge difference.

The bottom line is life is confusing, change is hard, growth is painful but people who impact their world do not do it while having an easy life. And the hardships in life do not reflect the proof that you've arrived at a destination; they're only the manifestation that life is a journey. The pain, the suffering, the hurt, the confusion are part of the journey. You don't stay in all that; you move on. You move up. You move forward. You move backward sometimes, yes, but the point is: you don't stay... you MOVE.

You change. You grow. And it's a good thing.  

Monday, August 20, 2012


It's after 11pm. Dishes from supper still wait to be put in the dishwasher. A pot of spaghetti sauce cools on the stove waiting to be put into jars, tomorrow. The house is littered with stuff. Toys, books, laundryshoesjacketsmoretoys..... it all starts to run together into what feels like one. big. huge. disaster. "I'm gonna clean this place up, tomorrow," I tell myself.

It's after 11pm. Oh wait. I already said that. Worse yet, when I went to type "11" just now, I started with "aleven" because you know, of course, that the "uh" sound is made by "A" at least some of the time.

So I've made it clear that it's after 11pm. Not even an hour before a new day starts. An hour before the whole cycle just picks up and starts all over again.... sleep, wake up, feed small children, cleanwashcookchaseteachwatch..... it all starts to run together into what feels like one. big. huge. disaster exhausting existence.

Each day cycles into another tomorrow. And it feels so meaningless, really.

I'm still working in the kitchen and I grab a clean dish from the dishwasher to put it away and notice it has what has to be paint on it. Dried on, bright pink, undefeated by the dishwasher, paint.

It's only logical to go on a paint hunt when you find paint in your dishwasher that you did not intentionally put there yourself. Especially with a budding artist in the house. So off I went, armed with hesitancy and nervous trepidation.

I'm tired of messes. Of disasters. Of chaos. But, all I found were small fragments of our day (which happened to be a real-winner-of-a Monday) all over the house.

Sitting on the desk was the iPod that Alex has so desperately tried to unlock. The password must be extra complicated because he's always been able to figure out his brother's passwords in the past. Earlier today, Alex sighed and said, "Mom, why can't you give me my own password?" Which was his 5-year-old way of saying, "Seriously Mom, I just want my own electronic gadget that nobody can take from me." Seeing the iPod made me smile. But probably mostly because I didn't take time to smile about it earlier today. I was tired of fighting. And arguing. And picking. It's just a stupid 3x5 piece of metal with a cracked screen. And a password.

I found Janae's paint brush sitting dry and still on the table in the school room. Her book of paper dolls lay silent next to it.

Landon's "iPhone" (ear buds that go into his iPod) lay in a tangled heap on the floor.

A Thomas the Tank Engine back-pack sat face down on the living room floor. Next to it, sat a Husker baseball cap. In an attempt to at least try to tidy up the house before tomorrow, I picked up the back-pack to set it on the couch and a painted rock fell out.

Noodles from supper still cling to the high chair. Korynne's doll and teddy bear lay neglected on the floor. The little air compressor for airing up flat bike tires still sits right outside the front door waiting to be tripped over  for Landon to put it away tomorrow.

Ironman and Spiderman costumes are still stashed back behind the stairway in a heap (where no one thinks Mom will find them) (because Mom, you know, never finds stuff back there) (but hey! at least it bought That Boy Who Stashed Them There some time to, well, NOT have to go out of his way to put something away! SCORE!). I make a mental note to remind the boys to put them away. And by away, I mean, The Real Away. As in, not stashed back behind the stairway.

(Do they not realize that I always find their I'm-not-going-to-put-my-stuff-all-the-way-away-right-now piles that they put there? In the same spot? Back behind the stairway?)

Tomorrow I'm going have to caution tape off that area back behind the stairway explain that I know it's super hard to tell but there's actually a big difference between a toy box and An Empty Area Back Behind The Stairway.

Huge difference.

For starters, one has 4 sides and is in the family room and has the color "blue" all over it.  

Tomorrow I'll lay out consequences for any piles of treasures I find in that stashing area by the stairs. from. now. on. Tomorrow. I'm going to work all these little kinks out and no more Toy Stashing will happen in that spot. These kids aren't going to get away with pulling the wool over their  mother's eyes anymore not putting their toys away.

And then I realize: I always count on tomorrow. Tomorrow will always come and today's endless cycle of existence can transition into tomorrow's endless cycle of existence and some day, some how one of these tomorrows will bring tidy kids who pick up their stuff. And put their stuff away. And get it done. Before tomorrow. Without stashing it behind the stairway.

But when that tomorrow comes, it won't include the little feet. The simple life of kids. The innocence of childhood. It will be a tomorrow that holds no painted rocks. No Thomas the Train backpacks left on the living room floor. No broken iPod to fight over. No plastic paint brush with uneven bristles. No sticky noodles to walk on.

Someday, a tomorrow will come and if adulthood doesn't get these kids of mine, tragedy will. The harsh reality of tomorrow is someday THIS that I have right now, will be over. And nothing will bring it back.

I'm promising myself to make better use of all the today's I have. And tomorrow will be one of those days that makes a difference in it's very own today.

Bring it, Tomorrow! 'Cuz, we're gonna have a good day.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

When Life Takes A Twist

In the middle of January, our world as we knew it, changed. Our 12-year-old nephew was diagnosed with cancer: Stage 2 Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

I am keeping a Facebook page up-to-date on his progress. You are welcome to join the page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Pray-for-Braxton-Nelson/170543456383627

Monday, October 17, 2011

Beetles, Locks, Mondays and Alex

It had been an uneventful day. Which is saying a lot, considering it was a Monday. Yeah, one of the kids had committed graffiti-type behavior on a closet door but that had been corrected. And every toy (it seemed) had been scattered throughout the house but that had been corrected as well. Overall, it had been a peaceful morning.

Which is saying a lot, considering it was a Monday.

And then, I used the bathroom. Which is always a phenomenal moment. Because no matter what is going on in our house, the minute the bathroom lock is activated, something happens. And that "something" that happens is usually different every time.

But today takes the cake.

I heard a polite knock on the door and then the raspy voice of my 4-year-old Alex.

"Mom? When you come out, can you make some meat for my pet beetle?"

Pet beetle? Meat for a beetle? What's going on?

The pet beetle that didn't even exist before I went into the bathroom. The pet beetle now living in the "tarantula's cave" (as Alex calls our deceased tarantula's aquarium.) The pet beetle that's hungry for meat.

I guess my Monday has taken a twist, now that I have to make meat for my son's beetle.

Why does stuff like this only happen on Monday?

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Effects Of Combining History and Math

After finishing math today, we immediately went to our history lesson. The timeline included the country of "Mesopotamia." At the beginning of the lesson, I told the kids I was going to teach them the biggest word they've ever known. But first I asked, "What is the biggest word you know right now?"
To which Janae replied, "Thousand."

Monday, September 12, 2011

On Husbands, Trash Cans And How To Handle Both

I used to read all the time. But I don't anymore. Something about getting married and having kids just kind of effected the book reading area of my life.

Unless it's a stop-you-dead-in-your-tracks kind of book. Those kinds of books are scary though. They cause my children to go hungry, my husband to be lonely and my house to fall apart. As if I don't have enough reasons not to do laundry, reading a stop-you-dead-in-your-tracks kind of book makes my wash machine go completely dry. And my dryer to not produce lint. I end up having to run to Walmart to buy another hamper just so my dirty laundry is at least contained.

Yeah. It's pathetic.

But now you see why I never read anymore.

Except for stop-you-dead-in-your-tracks kind of books. Did I mention the staying-up-till-3-in-the-morning-because-I-can't-put-the-book-down weakness I have? So not only does my husband feel lonely and my children starve and my laundry starts growing mold, but I also end up losing precious hours of sleep over the kinds of books I read.

Which is exactly what happened several weeks ago.

You see, I'm the kind of person who is human. I make mistakes. I have regrets. And I get irritated by things. The worst part about that is I get irritated the most by those closest to me.

Bottom line: I get irritated by my husband.


For instance, if the trash can is full in the kitchen, and there's a pile of trash bags by the front door waiting to go out. And the garage is full of trash. And all our trash cans are overflowing with trash, and The Qualified Person intended for the trash job is not doing his job, I get really irritated.

I get so irritated that I threaten to sign up for normal garbage service. (Having our own business gives us the luxury of "free" garbage pick up but unfortunately, the garbage "pick up" doesn't happen according to my schedule. I guess you pay for what you get.)

I will admit, I did slightly exaggerate the above trash topic but only because I'm ashamed to say that I get irritated over garbage. GARBAGE!

Okay. I'll say it like it really is: I get irritated at my husband because he doesn't take out the trash.

I know. Silly, right?

And then I read the book, Why I Stayed and it stopped me right in my tracks.

I'm a wife so obviously, I know how irritating men can be. And I know how irritated wives can get at their irritating husbands. And then I think of all the irritating things husbands do (or don't do) that really irritate their irritated wives.

What about an insensitive husband who doesn't pick up on his wife's latest mood. Or the husband who plays computer games in all his spare time. Or the husband who spends too much money. Or spends time with his buddies. Or has time consuming hobbies. Or is a workaholic. Or the husband who doesn't meet his wife's "needs"... whatever those might be.

The list goes on and on. We all have our "My Husband Is A Jerk Because..." blank to fill.

Or do we really?

After reading this book, I began asking myself if I would stand behind my husband if he was caught in a horrible act of adultery with another man. Having an affair with a woman would be bad enough, but a man?

Would I respect and honor him despite the shame and reproach he brought on not only himself but myself and our children as well?

Would I hold it against him that he put my health at risk by involving himself sexually with another person which posed a huge threat to not only himself but to me as well?

Would I love my husband if what he did forced me out of my home, our entire circle of friends and everything I had known for 22 years?

Would I trust my husband if what he did violated God's law?

Would I be angry if everything I had helped my husband work for was washed down the drain in a split second because of a stupid, stupid choice he made?

Would I look up to a man who blatantly lied to cover his sin?

Would I share a bed with a man like this?

Would I stay with a man like this?

And would I be the only anchor, the only ally and the only friend to a man who's actions made me the greatest victim?

Back in 2006 when Ted Haggard's actions were revealed and the atrocious acts of scandalous homosexual adultery was broad casted to the whole world, I wondered how his wife, Gayle, was handling it. You know, really handling it. This was news to her as much as it was to everyone else. We were shocked. But as shocked as we were, she had to be even more shocked.

I kept up to date as their story unfolded. The immediate Sunday following the disclosure of her husband's actions with a male prostitute, she wrote a sweet, perfect, well written letter to their church of 14,000 people. It spelled out the most concise, heartfelt support of a very idealistic wife. I knew either someone else wrote the letter and she signed her name to it or she wrote it because it was how she wanted to feel but wasn't actually what she really felt at the time. I knew she'd come to her senses and leave the man who hurt her so bad. Seriously: he had sex with a male prostitute. What wife stays with a man who does that?!

The next few years, I tried to follow their story. But there was nothing; the Haggards were completely gone. Nothing on the internet indicated how they were doing, if Gayle stayed and if Ted repented. For all the publicity at the beginning of all this, it seemed strange they were gone.

Eventually, I quit looking them up. Until this last June when I found Gayle's book. And I knew it was my kind of book. I had to read it.

Why I Stayed is summed up in a quote from the book:

"So how did I get through those darkest hours in my marriage and family? I made a simple choice--to love. To cling rather than separate. To bring everything out into the open, as opposed to remaining sheltered. And I remembered something I'd learned long before: Love isn't a feeling, it's a choice--a choice we make every day, sometimes every hour." Excerpt from the book ~Why I Stayed~ by Gayle Haggard

If I get irritated at my husband over the fact he doesn't take the garbage out and feel I'm justified by belittling his actions in not handling the trash the way I'd like him to, how could I ever handle anything worse than that in my marriage?

Two days and 368 pages later, this book changed the way I view my marriage.

And my kitchen trash can.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

It Starts With a Kiss

A conversation heard at our house this morning...

Mom to Landon: "Hey Landon, did you know that you are the first person to make me turn into a mom?"

Landon: "Yeah, I know. But Daddy actually had a little bit to do with that too."

Mom: "Oh really? What did he have to do with it?"

Landon: "Well, because he kissed you."

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Few Of My Favorite Things

I'm gonna start this blog out just like a good day starts out: with coffee. So with that, the

Keurig Coffee Maker

is the most awesome coffee maker ever BUT you will have to spend your life savings, non-existent retirement fund and your children's savings accounts on the K-cups that go with these spiffy coffee machines. Don't despair. Some smart soul came up with a solution that puts all that money right back into your pocket: The

Solofill coffee filter

And because of

This Awesome Place

that lets you use outdated and expired coupons (one coupon per item, no matter how many items you purchase in one transaction), I was able to save lots of money to invest (yes, INVEST. If it involves a good cup of coffee, it IS an investment) in this important addition to our home of both the Keurig AND the reusable filter.

But without

Starbucks Coffee

the amazing coffee maker and money saving reusable filter weren't really doing me any good just sitting in my house all new and shiny. You can't go wrong with Starbucks coffee, except in the price. BUT, of course this vital ingredient to a good day was made much cheaper because of my all time favorite store:

TJ Maxx

which is never the same store twice so don't go running to your nearest TJ Maxx in hopes of finding Starbucks coffee today. They might be plum out because the truck that came in had

This Special Item

instead which is also pretty sweet, no pun intended.

Now I'm totally going to change gears here and run down another rabbit trail. Bear in mind, this is The Most Random Blog Post you will ever read in your life so don't hurt yourself trying to connect how each item I talk about is remotely connected. Because they're not connected. These are just my favorite things. And since I'm a random person, my favorite things are random too.

I love gardening and canning. (Did I just say that? Yes I did. I say it because every single jar of food I've canned this year, has sealed. And stayed sealed. Unlike the first year of marriage when most of my efforts were dumped out due to not sealing. Just so you know, I blame that failure on the elevation difference between here and where I used to successfully can food. I didn't process the jars long enough.)

(I've been sitting here debating over whether or not the above paragraph should have that much of its contents in parenthesis. And then here I go putting another paragraph into parenthesis. Grammar is not my strong point. But now that I'm a home school mom, maybe I can learn grammar all over again.)

I love


because it's made teaching (for me) and learning (for my kids) so fun.

(Now to find a good grammar curriculum so I can learn when and how to use parenthesis...)

Oh my word, I just love


One reason I love Swagbucks is because of $175 of Amazon gift cards. Free. I kid you not. That Husband complains when a random pop-up will announce I just won ONE SWAGBUCK and it'll delay his arrival to a web page he's trying to get to or interrupt a movie online. But $175 that did NOT come from our checking, savings, retirement or children's fund? I'd say that's pretty good.

You can get everything on


by the way. I love Amazon. And

Amazon Mom. Free, 2-day shipping because of free Amazon prime? Bring it on.

I love, love, love

My New Stroller.

I can push it with one hand while an over 20# baby reclines in it's multi-positional seat and a load of shopping merchandise and heavy diaper bag hang on the back of the stroller and sits in the basket underneath. It's everything you love about a heavy-duty jogging stroller packed into an easy-to-store-in-your-crowded-van umbrella stroller. You can even change your baby's diaper in it because it lays back so well. Think of it as buying a stroller AND a travel changing table. It also functions as a convenient toy for a 2-year-old since it pushes so easy. Let me explain... if you have a kind, sweet and gentle 2-year-old nephew who's height is above average, he can easily and safely push your baby in the stroller which makes the baby content and keeps the 2-year-old busy.

On a side note, because of signing up for Amazonmom AND using Swagbucks, I got that stroller for a steal of a deal.

I couldn't say enough of how I love

Our Church.

Being inspired, challenged, fed and impacted by Jesus-loving people on a consistent basis, has been an uplifting and ongoing part of my life for almost 2 years. It makes me wonder how I went so long without having a continual feeding of God's Word from a pastor who preaches from a Bible and not tradition. My least favorite part of the service is when the pastor says it's time to wrap up his message. Sometimes I hate that part so much, I'll go home and listen to the sermon again online. The closing song is my second least favorite part. Basically, I hate it when Church ends but console myself with the fact that we get to do it all over again next week.

Because of a dear lady in our Church, I was blessed with

This Devotional.

Short clips of inspiring encouragement that are easy to read no matter how busy you are or how little time you have to sit down and read a book. Or where you're at in life. Or what's on your agenda for the day. Simple yet deep, each page hits home.

Back to the first topic on my list, I need to wrap this up and brew myself a fresh cup. One Of My Other Favorite Things which is recognized as a little bundle of twenty-pounds of sublime fatness and sweetness, still hasn't figured out that most Americans sleep solidly between 12am and 6am. Instead, she sleeps solidly from 8pm to 2am and then is up every few hours. And since I don't go to bed until after 12am because I lack discipline and routine and love the heightened insanity that takes over the creative part of my brain between 10pm and 2am, allowing me to produce tons of evidence that I can be productive with my projects, I basically spend my nights napping when I do finally go to bed.

Napping and nursing, that is.

Oh, nursing is another of my favorite things. That sweet little muffinhead refuses to consume anything from a bottle or a spoon. Basically that leaves one food option: me. But she's happy, content, fat and healthy so I'm okay with this arrangement. Actually, I'm not just okay with it: I think it's great... even if we have to do it all night.

But my coffee shall redeem me.