Archive | March, 2008

My Life is a Mess!

31 Mar

As a mom, do you ever feel like all you do is clean up one mess after another? Lately, I feel like I just move from one disaster zone to another, automatically access the damage and initiate the appropriate clean-up sequence.

In the past few weeks, thanks to my very active and artistic toddler, I’ve had the supreme joy of cleaning up black crayon scribbled on white carpeting, black Sharpie marker scribbled on glass, painted walls, and wood floors, and black mascara dabbed all over white painted door frames.

Here are some more fun messes and substances I’ve had to deal with recently…

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My sister gave some Moon Sand to my 5-year-old son for his birthday. He definitely had a great time playing with it, but I didn’t have such a great time cleaning it up. Even though I tried to confine my son’s play to a shallow plastic container, the Moon Sand ended up all over the kitchen. (Thanks anyway, Darch!) The ad’s claim that “clean up is a snap” is completely false, though the claim that you can “bring the fun of the beach inside” is pretty accurate. There’s nothing quite like the gritty feeling of sand between your toes as you walk across your wood floor. 

So what I want to know is who designs this stuff anyway? Obviously, NOT a mother of five kids…

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Then there’s Floam which has the consistency of Rice-Krispie treats. Our church nursery leaders were using this stuff during play time until I told them it was showing up in my son’s diaper. Yes, I found out the hard way that “floam sticks to almost anything” (like to my child’s intestines) and those “tiny foam microbeads…form to any shape you want.” (Okay, I won’t go there…) Let’s just say it made for some interesting diaper changes. Like my oldest son says, “Floam in, floam out.”

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Last but not least, there’s good ole’ Silly Putty. My younger daughter brought some home from church on Easter Sunday. It has since shown up in sticky teal-blue puddles on two handmade items I made for her–a crocheted baby afghan and a bed quilt. I’m not sure how to go about getting Silly Putty out of fabric so I think I’ll just sit back, scratch my head and go to my “happy place” for awhile. Sigh!!!!

Darling Mr. Darcy

28 Mar

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Oh, how I love Pride and Prejudice! This is my second time reading it and I am enjoying the romp considerably. (See, I’m even beginning to speak “Austenese!”) A friend recently invited me to join her Jane Austen book club and our goal is to read all six of the Jane Austen novels this year and to then have a Girls’ Night Out every other month to watch the accompanying movie for each.

So I am gearing up for our April viewing of Pride and Prejudice. Hopefully, we will watch my favorite 6-hour version (with Colin Firth) and not my least favorite version (with Keira Knightly.)

The thing I love best about Pride and Prejudice is all the subtle nuances inherent in the dialogue. I don’t know how she does it, but Austen skillfully moves the plot forward through the playful banter and expressions of sarcasm, wit, and disdain between the characters.

A great example of this is in chapter 8 when Elizabeth Bennet is staying at Netherfield to care for her sister, Jane, who is ill. While Jane rests, Elizabeth retires to the drawing room where several of the occupants of Netherfield are engaged in a game of cards. Mr. Darcy, who secretly admires Elizabeth, is also present in the room. Elizabeth prefers to read in this situation rather than join the group playing cards and is considered “singular” for her decision.

A discussion then ensues mainly between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth about what constitutes a truly “accomplished” woman. Elizabeth says, “A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages…and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions…” Mr. Darcy adds, “All this she must possess…and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.”

Instead of seeing how Mr. Darcy is trying to flatter her, Elizabeth takes offense and thinks he is suggesting there is no woman good enough for him. The conversation ends abruptly, and she leaves the room further convinced he is the most disagreeable man she ever met. Too bad she missed his thinly-veiled admiration of her brainyness!

Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong era. Many of the things Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy mention–music, singing, drawing, dancing, languages, and improvement of the mind by extensive reading–are things that come naturally to me. They are pursuits that most 21st century women would certainly consider “singular,” but which I take great pleasure in. I’ll take a great book with complex characters over any other entertainment for I agree with Elizabeth that “intricate characters are the most amusing” and that “there is something new to be observed in them for ever.”

“Feeling Good”(and Grumpy) at 40

26 Mar

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I turned 40 on Monday, and I’m feeling rather ambivalent about it. Part of me feels very content with where I’m at in my life and part of me feels restless and in need of a few changes. Sometimes, I’m okay with the way I look and sometimes I’m downright grumpy about my appearance and feel like I could really use a make-over.

Generally, I’m a pretty positive person and I’m trying to carry that attitude over into how I feel about aging. I’ve chosen Michael Buble’s “I’m Feeling Good” as my theme song for the year. I’m working on internalizing the lyrics–It’s a new dawn/It’s a new day/It’s a new life for me/And I’m feeling good–but so far, everything feels pretty status quo around here. I think it’s going to take a lot more than wishful thinking to get this tired, worn-out Mom re-energized…

A good place to start, though would be to do a complete overhaul of my existing wardrobe. I’m tired of being frumpy! So Coldwater Creek, here I come!

And I have started wearing make-up and jewelry again so I guess that’s at least a step in the right direction.

Fortunately, I’m in great physical health and according to my dentist and his assistants, I look incredibly young in spite of having 5 kids. However, I couldn’t resist taking the ultralongevity quiz I came across on the internet the other day. I scored a 68 which according to the test results means I am “aging like a giant tortoise.” So is that supposed to be a compliment? (After a dry Colorado winter, my skin certainly resembles that of a giant tortoise and I have about as much energy as one, too.)

Then there’s the whole “vintage” cereal box thing. Have you seen the General Mills cereal boxes for Honey Nut Cheerios and Lucky Charms lately? If you can remember when they had those old designs then I guess you are considered “vintage.” NOT! Well, that is if you’re talking about the definition of vintage that means “dated” or “antique.” If you’re talking about the definition that means “recognized as being of high quality and lasting appeal” than that’s different…

Okay, maybe I am obsessing just a little too much about aging and getting a little too defensive about it…

I think I need a time out. A good friend recommended that I take better care of myself so I’ve decided that this is the year to figure out how to do that. Chocolate is always a good option…

Another friend recommended that I buy myself something totally impractical like a pair of shoes that only goes with one outfit. Hmmm…not as easy as it sounds, though. Twenty years of ingrained frugality and deferment is a hard habit to break. This same friend sent me a birthday card that reads: “On the road of life, 40 is nature’s way of saying…You’ve arrived!” Then she adds, “I do believe that not only have you arrived but that this is just the beginning of great things!”

Yes, 40 is just the beginning of great things and I plan to “live well, laugh often, love much” (and keep on coloring those graying sideburns!)

On Expectation and Hope

24 Mar

“All the best transformations are accompanied by pain. That’s the point of them.”

–Fay Weldon

As Easter draws to a close, I’m thinking about the message of one of my new favorite children’s books, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo. It is the story of a toy rabbit named Edward who goes on a journey and in the process learns about the joy of loving and of being loved as well as the exquisite pain that accompanies loss.

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In one of the closing scenes of the book, Edward is in a doll shop waiting to be purchased. He is filled with despair and apathy because he doesn’t believe anyone will come for him. He doesn’t want to open himself up again to experience the vulnerability of caring deeply for someone else. He says, “I’m done with being loved…I’m done with loving. It’s too painful.” 

An older and wiser doll tells him, “There’s no point in going on if you feel that way…You must be filled with expectancy. You must be awash in hope. You must wonder who will love you, whom you will love next…If you have no intention of loving or being loved, then the whole journey is pointless.”

Truly, loving and being loved and experiencing the expectation of hope is what gives my life meaning and purpose. And today is a day to celebrate the fact that “God is love” (1 John 4:8) and that He “sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9).

I am fortunate to have many people whom I love and who love me. Like Edward, I have experienced both the joy and pain of opening up my heart to love. A little over a year ago, our family had a very painful parting with another family we dearly cared about. The ache in our hearts gaped like an open wound and persisted for the longest time. Then just the other day, I realized that the pain of that ache was no longer with me. I was healed.

When Moses and the children of Israel were out wandering in the wilderness, they came to a place called Marah where they could not drink the water because of its bitterness. The Lord showed Moses how to make the waters sweet and said,”I am the Lord that healeth thee” (Exodus 15:27). In our current state of imperfectness, loving others will always have elements of bitterness and sweetness.  However, I’ve learned that it’s always worth it to take the path of love and to trust that God will heal me from any bitter experiences and grant me the sweetness of His peace in His own time and in His own way.

How grateful I am for a Savior who makes this expectancy, hope,and transformation possible.

The Little Quilter That Could

21 Mar

Okay…It’s time to get going again, now that I’m back from my blogging haitus. I’ve been a bit distracted lately, but I think I’m ready to refocus. I found a new blogging partner to keep me motivated–my youngest sister. We’ve challenged each other to write at least 3 posts a week and we’ve promised to check up on each other. So here goes, Beeb.

I’m also going to try to not be so uptight about my posts. Hopefully, I can learn to be a little less perfectionistic when it comes to presentation and a little more down to earth when it comes to content. (Yea, right…Good luck with that! My husband just pointed out that I’ve spent all afternoon just trying to figure out how to post the two pictures below. AARRRRGGGGHH!)

Since I’ve been away from my blog, I’ve been working on several quilt tops. My other sister, a professional long-arm quilter, just finished quilting the first of six quilts I am planning to make this year. I have the goal of completing one for each child and one for my husband.

This quilt is a fence rail pattern that I started over two years ago before my youngest son was born. It started out as a crib quilt, but had to be taken apart and expanded into a twin-size quilt since my youngest son is now 2 and has moved into a big boy bunkbed with his 5-year-old brother. It’s taken a very long time to complete (a lot of stopping and starting), but as you can see, it looks fabulous! My 5-year-old is begging me to get his quilt done next, so I better get to work while I’m still feeling motivated. 

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Here’s Sammie posing by his bunkbed. See how nice the quilt goes with the oak bed frame?

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Yesterday, I completed a butterfly quilt top for my 9-year-old daughter and handed it over to my sister to work her creative genius on.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…