Thursday, September 29, 2011

Slow Pull

I feel like time is pulling away from me right now. My house is a wreck, my baby has not made it out of his jammies for two days running. I walk around outside in golden air and in rain, rain, rain, and I wonder why it never really mattered that much, until now.

I have loved this farm. It's inspired me, brought me untold joy. Still, there was always a tiny sliver of something missing. I could have been content to stay here forever. But I wouldn't have insisted on it.

Knowing all of this, it's confusing to watch my kids run down the barn hill and feel like life will never be the same again.

How many hours did I really love this land? Not that many, really. I loved the idea of it, the quiet of it, but not necessarily it.

What is it in us that makes us believe that it's easier to just stay? Why did I ever decide that my life and my home were one and the same?

I know you'd like some answers. I'm excited to start dishing, trust me. But it's not all settled up quite yet, so I'll wait just a bit longer.

I can hear the orchestra doing that buzzy, jolting, tuning thing they do behind the curtain. None of it makes sense and you wonder why they don't all just pick a note and go with it, give us a little confidence that the rest of the show will be worth it.

A moment later and the curtains part to the kind of silence that forces you to keep looking. And then.

So, I'm playing a C and Cory might be just a bit ahead of me. This house is a G, the one we're hoping to buy is an F#. It all sounds sort of awful together, but we're behind the velvet drapes, so who really cares?

Here in just a second or two it'll come together, a beautiful thing. When it does, you'll be the first to hear.

Because Life's Not Crazy Enough

I came home from St. Louis Sunday night and realized that we are moving in less than a month. I quickly became overwhelmed with everything that had to be done. (Hence, the four birthday candles.)

Suddenly, an idea.
I'll have a giant garage sale! In four days!

I started piling stuff up. And the pile grew. And grew some more.
Will I really be able to pull this off?

What on earth have I gotten myself into?

Garage sale at my place.
(email me if you need my address)
Saturday, October 1, 2011.
9 a.m. - 1 p.m. (or so)

Cider and snacks peddled by the biggest littles.

Paparazzi may be lurking.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Guest Post: Mr. Lee

What was the best thing about your day today?

Be more specific.
Bible. (Editor's note: We are probably the last remaining public school that offers Bible.)

Are you only going to give one-word answers?
Uh, no?

What did you learn in Bible?
David hit down Goliath.

Do you have a favorite Bible story?

Because God split the sea in half like a piece of peanut butter and jelly. (???)

What is the truest and best thing you know about Jesus?
That he died on the cross.

What's the funniest thing you've ever seen?
When Silas did a flip on the trampoline.

What's your favorite subject in school?

What do you like about Mrs. Bontrager the best?
That she's so nice and reads us stories.

What kind of camera do you prefer?

What is your favorite thing to photograph?
The sun behind trees.

Because it looks pretty.

How do you feel about moving?

Be more specific.
Uh, it's fine. Kind of.

What will you miss about this house?
The pond and the sound of the frogs.

What makes you the most excited about moving?
That there's a park right by our house.

What will it be like if you share a room with Silas?
Actually, kind of fun.

Who is your favorite singer?
Toby Mac.

What's your favorite hobby?
Legos! I mean READING!

What's the best thing Mommy cooks for dinner?

What seems like the most exciting job to have?
Lick batter off the bowl.

Lick batter off the bowl.

Oh, sorry. What's the most exciting job to have when you grown up someday?
To work at The Crossing. Or to be an astronaut.

Would you like to visit Korea some day?

Because it's where I lived. I mean, it's where I was.

What do you want to see there?
My Foster Mommy. :)

Anything else?
No. Well, the ocean. And the fish market.

Why does your Mommy call you Poskie?
Because she loves me.

What does it mean?
Oooh...I don't know.

Do you have any questions for me?
Yes, I do. What is your favorite thing?

My family.

Interesting. I like it.

What is something my blog readers should know about you?
That I'm so special.

Well, we're all out of time, Calvin. We hope you'll come back again. (cue applause)

*All photos (with the exception of the first) taken unedited from the lens of Calvin Lee.


In other family-related news, I read this post by my cousin this a.m. and it made me remember every beautiful thing about being a new Mama. (Or an old one. Or a medium.)

The Beauty of Low Expectations

Silas turned 3 today.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow that I thought ahead and got his gift a few weeks ago. That never happens.

I returned last night from St. Louis after being gone for 5 days. The house was, well, you can imagine. On top of that, the conclusion of my trip somehow made it all the more real that we are moving in one month. I think my brain had to clear out some space first.

Today was spent clearing junk out, taking Calvin for his third blood-draw in 5 days, looking at a house and remembering, every now and then, that it was Siley's big day.

My big birthday plans included spaghetti with jar-sauce for dinner and Betty Crocker cupcakes. That's just the way we roll with birthdays. You should try it.

But then I took a wrecking ball to my kitchen and the showing lasted longer than we thought. The moment we walked in to the vacant house, Silas ran to the kitchen and screamed "I a hungy bo!" Then he said it a dozen or so times after that. He was really trying to drive his point home.

So we went with Plan B. He wanted "taco" for dinner.

Since this was all unplanned, we had no cameras with us.

No worries, though. Calvin had his.

Homeboy can't get enough of spicy food. Just after Calvin took this picture he lifted the salsa bowl and drank what was left. Then he licked it. Then he cried a little for some water.

Love that kid.

After dinner I ran to Meijer and picked up store-bought cupcakes, pre-sprinkled and everything.

I wrapped his gift (Alphi! Remember him?) moments before he unwrapped it.

A grand day was had by all. So my advice for a new mom? Keep birthday expectations extremely low. You never know when it might come in handy.

I love you so much, Silas. I liked pretending to go ni-night with you earlier today. It was just as exciting the 18th time as it was the 1st time when you screamed "wake up!" in my face. You're talking more every day and it seems to make you happier, which is a relief to everyone. But I kind of hope you'll still say "schlimmin' soup" next summer for swimming suit, and Aunt Jamie would really appreciate if you continue (for reasons no one understands) to call her Aunt Bonnie. I can't imagine my life without you in it, Funny Boy. You teach me stuff every day.


ps - I'm not a big video watcher myself, so I understand if you'd rather not watch this one. But if you did decide to watch it, you'd see all kinds of evidence that my day was more haphazard than usual...

pss - Big, exciting guest post happening here tomorrow! Word up.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

St. Louie Was Good To Me

This was the view from our hotel room.

I feel like I could just stop right there and it would be enough.

Of all of the views I've ever had, this may be the prize winner.

And if I scrunched way up against the wall, this was the view.

I think you see my point here, but I'll continue on anyway, because, as you know, I'm prosey to begin with. Send me off to a writer's conference for four days and you can imagine what it does to me.

And if you're wondering what sorts of things happen at writer's conferences (I'm sure you're all burning with interest...), it's this: "You have five minutes to write eight lines of dialogue between two people at the fair. Go!"

"Kenny's doing tattoos tonight after shut-down in the whack-a-mole truck."

Nick pulled up his shirt sleeve and inspected his right bicep. "Who's he doin' 'em for?"

"I guess whoever. His girl got locked up last night for battery. He's gotta make her bail."

"Becky got locked up?" He shoved his hands back into his pockets.

"Yeah. She bit Crystal out by the kiddie rides."

"Why'd she do that?"

"Crystal told that new girl at corn dogs that Kenny's a good kisser."

"Huh. Guess I didn't know she cared so much." Nick spit on the dirt and ground the toe of his boot into it.

"So, wanna go over with me? Get some ink?"

"Naw. I think Becky's just fine sittin' in jail."

Pretty sure my award is in the mail for that inspired piece of art. What do you think? Should I scrap everything and start fresh with Nick??

This was the view out the window of the holding cell for writer's waiting to go into agent/editor appointments. I was pretty twitchy when I took this shot. My pits were flaring up a little.

And now, a word on Courtney. She kept me up until all ungodly hours of the night talking about Robert Downey Jr. and church. She helped me brainstorm for my book and listened when I wanted to re-count an awkward encounter for the eleventh time in two hours.

I'm not a big snorter, but if I were, I would have snorted myself into a sinus infection because she's so dang funny. She's the one who bossed me into going to this conference in the first place. She has encouraged me every step of the way in my writing, and that's a big gift, because she's a published writer. She doesn't hoard her talent, she shares it.

She's also a fibber, because she told me she knew "five" people who would be there then proceeded to get mobbed and hugged to death by droves of people who also know how rad she is.

She lugged a quart jug of coffee creamer around in her purse every day so her coffee would be just right and she spilled sun-dried tomatoes on the buffet counter then scooped them up and back on to her plate. Swoony, right? I thought so.

She didn't ask questions when I put this exact same pair of socks on every. single. night. She didn't begrudge my bedtime beauty.

This is her friend (my new friend) Deb Raney, another accomplished author.

It warmed me right up to sit and listen to other writers talk about things that spoke to my soul. What a privilege, to learn from them. They were encouraging beyond everything I could have hoped. This girl in particular, who looked me straight in the heart and settled me down when I really needed it. Also? She won a big fat award last night and gave a most charming acceptance speech.

It's official: I want to be an author when I grow up.

I've got my work cut out for me with my book. It's time to buckle down and bring it all home. Thanks a mil, Louie. You gave me just the inspiration I needed.

Thanks for helping me give Summer her due. It was fun to be reminded of her very best qualities.

The winner is:

Sarah said...

Camping-- sitting by the lake, bicycling on paths through the woods, campfires...

Email me, Sarah!

I'm also sending columbine seeds to three grand finalists, though I can't promise what variety they'll be.

lauren said...

one of my favorite things about summer??? right.. like i can just go and pick. like the minute i say one out loud the thousand other things won't remind me of their goodness and i'll call a take back. if you forced me down the decisive path.. i would have to say it's the sun. the deep, turns me inside out sun that melts me into a puddle. the kind of sun that warms your bones and leaves you mellow and good straight through. summer can't be over... except fall is pretty good too. it's possible my favorite part of every season is the very first day it arrives. :)

Micah Jamie said...

Fantastic giveaway! So generous & kind. I love floating down the river on our boat with friends the most :).

Kim said...

What is not to love about summer? For me it is the sloooow mornings - no rushing for breakfast, searching for homework or running for the bus. It doesn't get much better than that. Thanks for the giveaway!!

Holla, Ladies!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Measure of Summer (This Is the Giveaway)

A maple tree sown in plastic cup in late Spring. The measure of Summer.

Here we are, at Summer's end.

You thought that was a month ago, right?

I was confused myself, a time or two.

But in true fashion, I'll white-knuckle this thing until there's nothing left to hold on to.

I'm sitting in my hotel room, in between sessions. The drive down yesterday was all eyeshadow-blue skies and tiny flowers that glowed like butterscotch candies in a sun that lazed down around the horizon. It was gorgeous and bright and serene, miles upon miles of flat earth, and I sat back and took it all in. Summer's end.

Seven hours is plenty of time for some honest contemplation and I was in need of a little sort-through time.

What I found was a little clarity and even more hope than I already held. I found hundreds of miles of small gratitudes that stacked up to one very big truth: This is the end of a season, the beginning of another.

Because my love for you is somewhere near the top of that stack, I want to send one of you a present; some of my favorite Summer things, boxed up and shipped.

It's all random, but I hope by now that you know to expect nothing less.

One of my favorite Summer things is my family.

Specifically, my sister, Keisha.
(My mom would probably like me to point out that those are not my bra straps showing under my brown shirt. All day long she fretted that people thought my unmentionables were on display. Alas, a tank top.)

Keisha does missions work in Zambia, Africa. She's in the States right now. And no, I'm not going to box her up and send her to your door, although you'd thank me if I did because she'd probably clean your tub and spin your kiddos until they're falling-over dizzy in a heap of giggles.

When she came back from Zambia this last time, she brought a bunch of African bags, made by Zambian widows using traditional African fabric. I sorted through the stack for about 75 minutes straight until I found my favorite.

This is it. And even though I love it and kind of want to keep it for myself, and even though it matches my shirt, I'm giving it away. It will totally bring out the blue of your eyes. Or the gold of your highlights. Or the brown of your skin. Or something. The point is, it was meant for you.

(There are just a few more left for purchase here.)

I also loved-loved-loved my Summer days at my mom and dad's house, in good ol' Pleasant Hill, Ohio. This grain sack is for you. It's not a fabric-y one that you can make into a pillow. It's more of the nylon variety. But you can totally frame it or something.

This is mine and Siley's favorite Summer cd. I bought one for you. Think of us when you're singing along at the top of your lungs. (I promise, you will.)

And these? Well, they are roasted and salted green peas. Calvin loves them and I do, too. We discovered them this Summer at a favorite local haunt, Grandma's Pantry. They're nutty and crunchy and revolutionary.

I'm also tossing in some of my pink columbine seeds. I have no idea how receptive they are to being grown from seed, so let us know when you find out. It's a small piece of our farm, and I'd love to know that it lived on. But no pressure.

To enter, leave a comment telling me one of your favorite things about Summer.

I'll announce the lucky winner sometime on the flip-side of this trip.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

This Isn't the Giveaway

My plans for today's giveaway were just derailed by the absence of a critical picture. As in, I just can't do it without it. As in, it's a no-go, Joe. (At least until tomorrow.)

Also, I'm kinda tired.

Also, I'm leaving tomorrow for St. Louie for the ACFW conference. I haven't packed or printed off any of the necessary documents, but I did make these caramel apple cheesecake bars (sans caramel). True to form, I spent my time baking a frivolous dessert when I had a million other things to do. And I won't even be here to eat it. And Cory doesn't have a sweet tooth. So, if you're in the area, please show up at my back door and demand a slab. You think I'm joking? It'd be criminal if it went to waste.

The bulk of my day was spent hauling Robert off to the dentist. No cavities! But do not act happy or surprised, because he takes great offense to the assumption that he might have had some cavities. On the way to take him back, he detailed the significance of something known as "mean mug" to the "ghetto fabulous" (his words) survival of a guy such as himself. I've got to say, I found the whole thing a little depressing and defeating, but I walked away with a sliver of new understanding. And a greater appreciation that the Robert we love is all smiles and hugs and dumb jokes.

Dinner was way, way late, but Calvin proclaimed my addition of elbow macaroni to the chili "better than beef-a-roni!", and those words just don't lie.

After dinner, Haven rolled in unexpectedly in her Subway uniform and flopped down in a chair like the good ol' days. She hasn't been with us now for about six weeks and it was fun to see her sitting across the island while I chopped my apples.

I stood there chopping and talking about important things and it struck me - I never would have pictured my life like this. I never would have known these blessings. It was the best kind of epiphany and it made me more excited than ever to roll out Phase II.

(FYI, I just ate a slice of caramel-less apple cheesecake Heaven. God bless Pinterest.)

I may be scarce over the next few days. I'll be all conferency with my fancy pants and my bookish jitters.

I'll be back soon with a full report. But I imagine you already gathered as much.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Scattered Things

I had French Toast for breakfast, chips and salsa and an extreme amount of watermelon for lunch and McDonalds for dinner.

Thank you for listening and understanding. I feel better already.

(Only really, I feel rather disgusting having rehashed all of that, but at least my conscience is cleansed.)

It's high time you all met Baby Miley. I assume that's how her Daddy spells it - Miley. I don't know. All I can say is that my baby girl and my baby boy spend roughly 25 hours a day arguing over her. She's popular, this one. At least as of two weeks ago. Sure, she looks all cute and well-mannered there, but I've come close to chucking her out with the garbage scraps a time or two. Sister friend causes a whole lot of mayhem up in here.

Remember when I said I needed more color in my life? :)

This one wrote the book on color. And she learned how to whistle this week. She practices all the time. I, on the other hand, have never learned to whistle. Or roller-skate. Or do a proper cartwheel. True story.

If it seems like I'm purposely changing the subject from our impending move and uncertain future, I promise, I'm not. I just have a thing about not talking about something big before I know it's a done deal. There are things maybe-kinda-sorta in the works. But none of them are done deals. When they are, you'll be the first to know. Heck, I may even spill the beans when the deals are only half-done. It could happen.

But in other news, there's Silas. He's still slaying me hourly with his "Keen I?" It's my newest very favorite. He has also started the "Why, Mom?" over the past week. It's cute, too. For now. But its days are numbered.

We found a praying mantis. Ruby eagle-eyed it, as usual. She calls it a Prain Mantis. I refused to go near it because it's super creepy. But then I saw it sitting there in its yellow cage, looking all forlorn, praying for freedom, so I carted it outside and flung it into my flower bed.

Now who's the animal lover? Huh??????

Speaking of random, I'm unveiling another giveaway sometime tomorrow. It's all FPFG and it's all random, baby. Be warned/scared.

In the meantime, check out this post. My friend Danielle and her husband are raising money to fund an adoption. There is some major swag being tossed around over at her place, and you can enter for just a $10 contribution. It ends in just two days. You all know I'm passionate about adoption, so I won't bother rehashing all of that. But what I will say is this: Just because you might not be "called" to adopt doesn't meant that you're not "called" to contribute to those who are. Adoption is priceless but it's also pretty dang pricey. And there are millions of children waiting for their Mama. So go help a sister out. And hey, maybe you'll even win some loot!

(Did I just get a little soap-boxy there? I did??)

And speaking of supporting others, this post stepped on my toes a bit last night, in the very best way. We're all in this life together and I needed the reminder that "together" means the good and the bad and the fun and the work. I dare you to read it and not make a mental list of people in your world that might really need you in some small way. It's twenty-four hours later and my wheels are still turning.

I'll stop now. G'nighty, Peachy Pies.

Sleep tighty.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My Bathroom Grew Up (Finally)

Well, now that we're moving, I might as well show you our bathroom.

For almost four years, we lived with it exactly like this:

The day we moved in, we stripped the wallpaper and then...well, that's it.

I thought the walls looked sort of like venetian plaster.

Okay, that's a lie.

Honestly, I didn't give it a whole lot of thought. (Oh, you noticed?) We were busy working one room at a time on the rest of the house and for some reason, the bathroom drew the short straw.

Plus, I've always been a fan of 1980's pastel-brushed linoleum.

You might not believe me, but that shell sink is not real marble.

Dear Heavens, we could have at least done something about that.

We had people over all the time. We have overnight guests routinely. And this is our main bathroom. It just never fazed me, I guess.

Once we put our house on the market, we knew we needed to spruce the place up a bit. Of course we did this on a budget, especially since we were doing it with the intention of the house selling.

We used the left-over paint from our upstairs bathroom re-do.

Cory tore out the tile on the walls and replaced it with inexpensive tongue-and-groove pine paneling from Lowes and painted it white.

I am in life-long amor with the paneling, by the way.

I found the cabinet for $20 at a garage sale.

The shutter was out in the garage, so I hauled it in.

I told you about the Beauty Full art a while back.

We strategically screwed some hooks in the walls for towels.

(Shower curtain is from Anthro, circa 2005-ish.)

The sink cabinet and closet doors were painted white. Hardware was on clearance at Lowes.

We replaced the sink-top with a new laminate counter top in the perfect shade of gray.

The Kohler sink basin was found for a song at a Habitat ReStore.

Faucet on clearance at Lowes.

Light fixture found on clearance at Lowes.

New linoleum flooring.

My windmill came from my friend Glenda's antiques store.

It is one of my favorite things.

The art was found at a thrift store on our vacation for a buck.

I popped it into a previously thrifted frame.

I mistreated another curtain. It's really the only way to go, if you ask me.

I dug out a remnant piece of Lowes drop-cloth. It already has seams, so I cut around them.

I found a lace tablecloth for $0.25 at a thrift store and cut the edge of it off.

Then I stitched it on, ya'll. With my own two claws. That was the only sewing involved in these curtains. Two straight lines. I didn't even cry or cuss in the process!

I could have hemmed and sewed the top, but why? I just folded them to the right length and clipped them up. I adore them. They let in the perfect amount of light and they are unfussy and fresh looking.

It will be ever-so-slightly difficult to not replicate the whole darned thing when we move.

I just really dig it, is all.

And speaking of the big move, things are heating up!

Thank you all so, so much for your kind words and prayers.

I'll have an update to share before you know it.

More re-dos here.