Sunday, February 28, 2010

I've been hosting an internal debate for the past couple of hours over whether or not to post about this. Well, here I am.

I had a great Friday and Saturday. The grey clouds were parting and I was ready to shove those pesky loiterers right outta the way. I was ready for a fresh start. Ready to tackle things that needed tackling. Ready to return to my snappy self.

Early this morning a call came in. My cousin and her 5 children were in a car accident and one of her precious babies, her 5 year-old daughter, did not make it.

It has been a heart-breaking day. It has put my silly last-week woes right into perspective.

Friends, you lifted me up through my blue-around-the-edges week. I'm asking you now, please pray for my cousin Trisha, her husband Ben, and the rest of our family.

In the flood of encouragement I received last week was this verse:

"This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him."
-Psalm 91:2

I've read this verse and recited it in my head over and over today. I am praying it for Trisha and Ben. They love Jesus and I'm praying that right now they feel peace that is beyond our human comprehension. It seems so impossible to me. So impossible. But I know One who is able.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Weekend Happy

Weekend Happy
1. Dinner at the Amish place with Grandma

2. A book that I can't put down*

3. Mazatlan with fun ladies

4. Flattering bridesmaid dresses that we will, quite possibly, wear again

5. Cory cooking P-Dub's mac&cheese so that I could keep reading

6. Hair that mostly cooperated

7. New Anthro catalog
- Bright Button Trousers, be mine!
8. Willie Nelson

*Why is it though, that I can read a book so well-written, so inspired, so transportive, yet as soon as the girl pukes, I immediately know she's pregnant and the last third of the book no longer holds the precise allure that the first two thirds did? Does every author eventually fall victim to this woefully predictable game-changer? Foreshadowing via Sharpie. Ugh.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Partly Cloudy

We can't always be oven-safe, pristine porcelain.

Some days, we crack from the heat, or we're a little on the dingy side. Heck, some days we're throwback Tupperware.

As for me, I've graduated from the lidless Ziploc Snap 'n Seal with the funky, remnant Spaghettio haze to a brand new, plastic cereal bowl.

I'm getting there.

Thank you, my friends, for the notes of encouragement. Thank you for taking the time to reach back.

I'm a lucky girl.

Even when it isn't, life is still a bowl of cherries.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mostly Cloudy

I planned to show you round II of my Junk Evolution loot today, but I'm just not feeling it. It's been another bad day.** I've been emotional and jittery and stressed out to the max. I fear a cold sore may be coming on, and that's no big surprise.

The trials of the week are not notable. They are regular life stuff that happens to all of us every now and then. Problem is, our problems didn't confer with one another...they didn't bother checking to see if we were already booked. They all showed up together and just when we think we've gotten them all situated, another one arrives, fashionably late.

On top of my new-found anxiety, I've been walking around feeling very perplexed by how I feel. I'm not used to feeling this kind of stress and worry. I'm not used to crying multiple times a day without warning. It's foreign to me, and I'd just as soon keep it that way. This is not a chair I want to get comfy in, you know?

What I've come to realize is that while we have had our fair share in the past, these recent years have been pretty smooth sailing. And I know God wants to just walk me through this. He wants to remind me that it's not on my own strength that I am generally happy and carefree.

I think it's ok to feel the sting of mundane life. It's ok to acknowledge that bad days come, and that sometimes they stretch out on the couch and stay for a week. Or longer.

I knew that I could very easily show you the loot and no one would be the wiser. But I'm not good at pretending. And much as I panic about people worrying too much about me, or thinking that I'm not as strong as I may seem, the truth is, sometimes I'm not as strong as I may seem. I'm not sure when I decided that people shouldn't know that, but I'm ready to lay that one down.

Years ago, when we found out Calvin was sick, I learned the value of asking for and accepting help. I learned first-hand about God's provision and the ways in which He wants to use those around me to show me His love. I learned that though celebration may be a kind of relational super glue, despair is cement.

In sharing all of this, I want to encourage those of you wandering through grey days. I want you to feel not alone, not weak.

And when my clouds break, as they are certain to do, I want to share that with you, too.

For now, I want to share the blog post I wrote those three years ago.

The truth remains.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

We are back home and Calvin is his same, cute self. He’s been such a trooper over the last week or so! Cory and I marveled at the fact that he must have wondered what in the world we were thinking to up and move the 3 of us to a hospital, leaving Ruby behind, confining him to a cage/crib, and turning him over again and again to the nurse’s relentless needles, all while he was feeling fine. If I were him, I would have been angry! In his ever-even-tempered-ness, he went with the flow and made the most of having Mommy and Daddy at his side 24-7. We are so proud of him and our hearts stretched just a little bit more to allow for the kind of love that you find when you feel like you could lose the most important thing.




Through all of this we have found the peace that I have only heard about from others. After a terrifying initial shock, we felt our Heavenly Father holding our heads up for us and helping us focus on Calvin, rather than all of the what-ifs and it’s-not-fairs. I am so humbled by this love. We have been supported on every side and I want to thank all of you for that. We reached out and all of you reached back and grabbed on to us.

I want to leave you with a couple of the thoughts that have been pulsing through my mind since That Day. First of all, God has surprised me over and over with the security that comes from realizing that these kids are not our own. I think this is a thought that has obviously been more on the forefront of our minds than on the minds of other parents, for the simple reason that our children were loaned to us through adoption…we have had the privilege of getting to know Ruby’s amazing birth mom and have witnessed the kind of love that wants only the best for her daughter. We have a tangible reminder that Calvin and Ruby have been entrusted to us by their Creator. So, in the midst of trying to ignore thoughts that I didn’t want to hear myself think, an overwhelming feeling would come over me…Calvin is not yours. He’s Mine. It’s not ultimately our fight. And as much as we wanted to take Calvin’s pain and shield him from everything and hold onto him at all times…how much more does Jesus feel those things for Calvin? And for us?

On the second night of our stay, I did the old “flip open the Bible to a random page and hope for something” devotion and this is where I landed: “I waited patiently for the Lord to help me and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.” Psalm 40:1-3

Looking over the past six months, my family has lived a lot. From Ruby’s arrival and subsequent stay in the NICU, the sudden loss of Cory’s job, my dad’s MS diagnosis, and now this perplexing condition of Calvin’s….I didn’t realize how chaotic things have been until I took the time to take stock. And truly, things have not been chaotic. There have been blessings beyond measure, far out-weighing all else. Just one day prior to Calvin’s stuff I looked in the mirror and thought “Can things get any better than this?”

This is love. This is the kind of love that holds us and gives us clear eyes in the midst of turmoil. This is the kind of love that gives us little surprises and laughs and moments of quiet every day, so that we can fall asleep smiling. This is LOVE. This kind of love will find you, just the way it found me.

Pink headband


For more of the story, go here.

** As with yesterday, your hilarious confessions regarding The Glasses have given me countless belly laughs today. Thank you for understanding (and maybe appreciating?) my humor. I certainly did not set out to cause such a ruckus, but it sure has been fun!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

My Newest (Partial) Cure for the Blues

I knew it was a risk, choosing the glasses.

I mean, I'm very fashion forward, what with my sweatpants in four exciting (i.e. grey, navy, dark green, brown) shades and my fleece robe, but even I knew that the glasses may be perplexing to some.

I knew not everyone would understand.
He would understand.
Eh- she might.

It takes a person with a certain vein of avant-garde panache to so effortlessly toe the line that separates uncool from so-uncool-that-it's-cool.

Clearly, I am she.

Still, I was not expecting the positive response.

I was so riled up, I dashed out and bought some for the kids.

For obvious reasons, I don't typically get the "they look so much like you!" thing. But these may very well change that. If you saw the three of us walking your way, wouldn't you be inspired by such a cutting-edge family?

And we don't even have vision problems!

It's purely cosmetic, baby.

I especially love the exaggerated prescription on the lens of the left eye. It adds a little pizazz. It highlights my premature crows-feet spectacularly well.

Suffice it to say - I've had a rough day. I've cried in the bathroom thrice, which is more than I usually cry in a solid month, PMS days included.

But I'll tell ya, I laughed out loud so many times at your comments about my glasses. The whole experience was alternately hilarious and mortifying. I cringed at the thought that you might actually think I was wearing that windshield around. But it had me in giggle fits all day, and that always outweighs mortification. I considered just letting it ride. I've always been of the belief that if you wear something like you mean it, people may just assume you know something that they don't.

Alas, it is time to hang it up. I'm tired of living this charade. I just want to be me again. It's been exhausting, living this lie.

So, I implore you - if you're having a bad day, if you worry that you've let yourself go beyond the point of no return, if you find yourself spending quality thinking-time minutes pondering the possibility of an entire wardrobe constructed of fur-lined fleece - dig your husband's Junior High School eyeglasses out, slap them on, and take a pic. Nevermind the doublish chin or the bad hair or the wrinkles upon wrinkles upon wrinkles.

Post that baby up, for all the world to see.

Then bask in the knowledge that you have reached the age where you just don't give a dern if you look your best all the time. And soak up the truth that you are loved, just the same.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Happy Is As Happy Does

Sixty-Fifth Avenue was kind enough to pass along to me the Happiness 101 award.

I love finding things to be happy about.

It makes me happy.

Here are 10 things that put a spring in my step today.

It smells like a Dreamsicle. And it's really lathery.

Knee socks, you are an ever-present bright spot during this grey, dreary Winter.

My white, wicker $1 Salvation Army jewelry container thingy.

Surprise tulips from a friend.

Rhubarb Reign, all of its affiliates and the ideas/confessions/proddings of said affiliates.

Cheap supermarket bouquets - in yellow.

Clementines with Sweet Cheeks.
You heard me.

My new glasses. What do you think?

This is linked up at Unwrapped at Chatting at the Sky.

Day Trip to Sunny California

Outside my window, it looks like this. Yet again.

I'm fed up to here with it.

My solution? I'm heading West - to spend the day guest posting in sunny Cali with my sweet and sassy friend, Tara.

Come on over and join us! Her fun, vintagey blog is the perfect place to while away the day and forget your snowy blues.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mama's Got a Brand New Kitchen

This is the kitchen I grew up in, with the notable editions of new flooring (circa 2004 ish) and a dishwasher. Raise your hand if your parents didn't spring for the dishwasher until you were long gone!

I'll be honest though, by no means did I slave away washing dishes. Sorry, Mama.

I'm going to just state the obvious here - the kitchen was in need of some...modifications. Quaint as they were, the circa 19whoknowswhen cabinets were ready to give up the ghost.

Plus, the house is officially up for sale and the dingy, dungeoun-like quarters weren't doing anyone any favors.

You know what they say, sometimes it's gotta get worse before it gets better...

Have I ever told you about this guy? He's my Dad. He rocks a power tool like no body's business. Honest to goodness, I can't think of anything handy that my Dad can't do in his sleep.

For most of my childhood he was a supervisor on a crew that built bridges. I can't entirely put my finger on why, but I always felt immense pride over the fact that my Dad knew how to build a bridge.

He would rise before the crack of dawn each morning and come up to kiss me goodbye before he left for work. Light sleeper that I am, it always woke me up, and I loved it. Except for the time it didn't wake me up and I didn't love it. That time he inexplicably and irrationally decided to arrange my outfit for the day into the shape of an actual person, on my floor. Imagine waking at daybreak to see that. And I had only recently overcome my crippling fear of vampires, thanks to an unfortunate lapse in judgment in an older cousin...

I have no explanation for the manner in which my mind changes course on every whim and whimsy. It is a wonder that I made it through high school.

So tell me, what do you think? Pretty impressive. Pretty gosh darn sad that my mom has her dream kitchen at the precise time that a For Sale sign is stationed in her front lawn.

But I'm more of a glass-half-full girl, so let's just stick with impressive.

My Papa did 90% of the work on his own. I acted as the design consultant. We're still in retroactive contractual negotiations regarding my compensation...

It was fun helping with a kitchen that is a departure from my personal style. Plus - they went with the full-overlay cabinets that I drooled over. And granite.

A word on full overlay cabinets. If you happen to not know what this means, do me a favor and don't bother learning. Because once you do, you will start to notice full overlays everywhere. Your mind's eye will being to agree that they are just a tad superior. You will start to view yourself not as a Republican or a Democrat, not a Catholic or a Protestant, but as a Full Overlay Girl Living in a Partial Overlay world.

It's just one of those classic cases of What We Don't Know Can't Hurt Us.

I'm trying to talk them into letting me paint that table and chairs.... Baby steps.

Gratuitous focus/blur.

And that Ironstone collection is officially on my "list". You know the list I'm talking about. It's not spiteful or greedy to ask one's mother to put an item on a theoretical list of this nature. I like to think it's responsible. Forward-thinking.


My Mama made P-Dub's rolls last time I was home. And the Marlboro Man sandwich. And a peach pie. We were so carbed up and blissful.

My favorite feature of the kitchen is the tile back-splash. I originally found it here and fell in love. Lord have Mercy, it was a pain in the rear to track down, but so worth it. The beveled edges and crackle glaze beckon me. They may very well be my newest love language.

Full disclosure - it pains me a little that we didn't remove the lone article of fridge art before taking these pics. Ah well, live and let live.

Also - my dad took some serious talkin' into on the issue of using two different finishes and door-styles for the island and cabinetry.

It sure seems like he should know by now not to doubt me... Perhaps this sealed the deal?

The finishing touch - Mom's favorite verse, in one of those rub-on wall transfers.

And now, as fortune would have it, I am on the phone with Mr. Handy Fixit himself. Let's see if he has any closing remarks on this project...

In fact, let's go whole hog and do a mini interview.

FPFG: What was the most challenging aspect of planning the kitchen re-do?
*Very long pause.*
FPFG: Hello? Is this thing on?
Dad: I don't know....Oh...One of the challenging things was using a 33" sink base so that I could get the 12" cabinet into the corner there. I knew it would be a tight fit to try to squeeze that cabinet with the full-overlay into that small space.
FPFG: What is your favorite part of the final product?
Dad: It would either be the tile or the under cabinet lighting.
FPFG: Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
Dad: Uh yes. There was only one thing that was not picked out ahead of time. I did not know the dimensions, sizes, thicknesses of the tile. Had I known that we were going to use the 3x6 inch tile, I would have raised all of the outlets by 3/4 of an inch, so that they would have been centered in the tile. That's the only thing that kind of bugs me.
(FPFG sidenote: We'll save the discussion on my Dad's legendary OCD tendencies for another day...)
FPFG: What was it like working with your design consultant?
Dad:Like one word? Like challenging?
FPFG: Um, no...
Dad: Well, she was very helpful. (laughing...) In all aspects. (still laughing...)
FPFG: Thanks, Pops.
(Editorial note: It has been 15 minutes and Dad is still explaining why he feels that he deserves most of the credit for the overall design...Hold the phone - he just conceded credit for the island. Whew.)

I'm linking this up on Metamorphosis Monday. Go have a look!

Friday, February 19, 2010

My Loot

Here's what I found at Junk Evolution's French Market Valentine Bash.

Well, here's most of it.

I'm saving part of it for later...a grand finale of sorts. Something for all of us to look forward to, seeing as how it's the Dreaded Friday and we have an entire weekend to slog through.

I very nearly passed up this pumpkin pie of a pillow.
Shut up! I know.
And there was only one. It had my name on it! (practically) And geez Louise, it's round! What was I (almost) thinking?

Alas, she came home with me. My kids immediately clamored to lay their weary heads upon it. I tossed them their Elmo doll and told them to knock themselves out. Theoretically speaking.

Let's allow these blooms to stay pretty for at least a week, shall we?

I found this, too.
Dreamy, no?
(At this exact moment I'm remembering that I used to have a white picnic basket. Where are you, white picnic basket? Why am I only now remembering you?)

And now, a word on lunch.

I think I have posted roughly 27 variations of this recipe over the ages. I think it might be my favorite meal. Every time I eat it, I vow to never eat out again. This here is healthy, simple Simon, won't break the pocketbook, and...yellow.

I've learned that yellow is good.

It looks like the coloring of the photo is off, but no, it's just really quite yellow. But so good. Oh, so very good.

I made it a few nights ago while my babies were still partying it out in Ohio and my honey was working late. I had no car. I was stranded for 2 days straight. I was ravenously hungry. My cupboards were bare.

On a lark, I boiled up some rotini, then dug the odds-and-ends veggies out of the crisper. The remnant green beans were no longer green, nor beanlike, but I did find broccoli, one slightly wrinkled-at-the-ends yellow pepper, spinach that needed usin' - but quick, and a pint of orange grape tomatoes.

I smashed up a generous clove of garlic and sauteed it in a little olive oil and a tablespoon of butta. Then I tossed in my chopped veggies (except for the spinach), poured in a splash of white cooking wine and sprinkled the whole mess with salt, pepper and dried basil. I cooked it just until the tomatoes started to break down but the veggies were all bright and crisp. I removed it from heat, stirred in the spinach until it wilted up, poured it over my pasta, and topped it with feta.



Happy weekending, friends. Stay tuned for round 2 of my loot.

ps- More photos of the bash posted here.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tee Vee

It is 7:57 pm. I have been alone all day long. I have not once turned on the tv or any musical device.

I painted trim for countless hours, I baked brownies, I cleaned, I worked, all in blessed, mind-numbing silence. Does this strike you as strange?

Might my condition be diagnosable on the DSM-IV?

Hear me - I'm not one of those anti-tv people. I'm just not a girl who enjoys background noise. In fact, I am very nearly illiterate when music is playing. I appreciate the time and effort that goes into producing a playlist on one's blog, but half the time it startles me when it cues up and I end up typing "swooooobt!@%$" instead of "swoony", or something equally egregious. Just to be safe, I always keep my speaker-thingy turned all the way down. And it's not that I don't enjoy your music - I love your music! Youn's could teach me a thing or two about cool music. Some of you have. I just cannot make sense of words on a page when any form of a tune is involved. Back in college, the cool people would take their Discmans to the library to study, while I sad idly by, in conspicuous, uncool silence.

I am well aware that I am outside the norm here.

I wish it weren't so.

But I didn't come here to talk about my right brain/left brain dilemma du jour.

I've got bigger fish to fry. I've got burdens to cast asunder.

While you now know that I am not really not a tv person, what you do not know is that I am most definitely a show girl.

Wait, that didn't come out right...

Take 2.

Although I do not enjoy television broadcasting as a broad, generalized entity, I am profoundly drawn to and transfixed by a small handful of shows.

And tonight, I'm ready to dish.
Friday Night Lights, baby.
I am dying, Dying! for this season to premier on regular tv. FYI, once it does, I'll be booked solid for the next 10 or 12 Friday nights. I could wax poetic all night long about FNL. But I'll save that for another day.
30 Rock
Jack makes the show. Liz comes in a veryclose second.
The Bachelor/Bachelorette
Don't judge. It's a great show for people watching.
(Marty - Meet Reid. Best Bachelor ever. Strong nerdy/quirky streak. Enough said.)
Dateline Mystery
My heart skips a beat when I hear the theme song. I hung on every word of the Amanda Knox case and trial. I had bad dreams the night the verdict came in. I believe she is innocent.

Honorable Mention:
Various PBS documentaries via Frontline and Independent Lens. Of particular note:
I was wholly and thoroughly engrossed for 5 nights straight. I was spellbound -emotionally invested. I cried. I considered purchasing the dvd series.
Frontier House
For reasons I cannot fully articulate, I loved this show. Blame my Amish proximities. It harkened me back to Walnut Grove. It was so tragic when they finally re-entered normal society and some of them went right back to their self-serving ways...

So lay it on me, what are your favorite non-cable tv shows?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I Love Junk So Much, I Want to Marry it

I got to do something so fun last Friday. My new friends, Char and Linda of Junk Evolution invited a friend and I to come early to their French Market Valentine Bash and take some photos for them.

When their email came through, it cracked me right up. Moi? Take pictures?

But hey - I'll give anything a shot for some good "junk".

A word on my pictures: Cory recently showed me how to use the Beast. When I say he showed me "how to use" it, well, here's how it went down:

Me: Honey, I can't ever take decent pictures inside the house!
Him: I know. It's impossible with your camera.
Me: Could you show me how to use your camera, pretty please?
Him: Sure. The aperture...blah blah blah...ISO...blah blah blah...shutter speed...
Me: Just show me how to take a picture! Pretty please. (Batting my wimpy, mascara-less lashes for effect.)

So, he showed me the most fundamental way to take an indoor photo. And I was hooked. When I run into new questions, he happily answers them, in as non-technical a way as possible.

I still use my little ol' point-and-shoot when I'm outdoors or generally out and about. It does a fantastic job, it fits in my bag, and it doesn't weigh the equivalent of a small child.

OK, thanks for tuning in! Have a great evening!

Oh wait, I do believe I have veered off course, yet again.

So, last Friday night, armed with the Beast I walked into the most amazing space evah.

Ya'lls, it was heaven. You woulda swooned right off your rockers.

I did.

These fabulous ladies have *the* knack for knowing what is cooler than barefoot toes in the snow.

I snapped and snapped. I took blurry shot after blurry shot. I panicked and panicked.

Then, you know, I did a little shopping.

I ate some fine chocolates. I internally chastised myself for not liking wine. (It seemed so Parisian to have a glass along with my sweets! Alas - I'm a tea girl.)

Then I rushed home and with butterflies in my stomach, viewed the pics.

Good news - some of 'em turned out. And I learned a thing or two in the process.

The gals will be posting some shots over the next couple of days. Be sure to hop over and check out their mad, freaky (in the best way ever) junkin' skills.

Thanks, ladies, for giving me a reason to ditch my sweats for an evening! I had the best time.