Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The State I'm In Tonight (and it ain't Ohio...)



Well, if last Wednesday was a guacamole day, this one is a Bowl-of-cereal-at 11 p.m. kind of night.

Perish the thought of life without cereal.

I might cry a little if I think about it too hard.

But the point is, I'm up to my eyeballs in paper scraps and my lids are drooping and I have miles to go before I sleep.

And miles to go before I slee-ee-eep.

Also? Have you ever done that thing where you fire off an email so quickly that you don't notice that while you think you're emailing your best gal, you're actually emailing the wife of your husband's ex-boss?

You have?

Well, when you did it, did your email contain a naughty word that you have probably never typed out in all of your days, but you had no choice but to type it out this time because you were quoting Anne Lamotte?

Yep. That's the kind of night I'm having.

But lemme tell you, it was good for a laugh.

Sincereally yours,
Flower Patch Flusteredgirl

Monday, March 28, 2011

Short and Sweet


So, I finished my Africa dress.

I finally got a wild hair and hauled everything out to Get. It. Done.

I declared that I would not rest until that last stitch was stitched.

This would not be my Waterloo.

I sat at the machine with much trepidation, my fingers shaking.

Exactly four stitches in, I ran into a most dire situation.

The bobbin was empty, ya'll.

And I have a legendary fear of threading the bobbin.

Darkness loomed.

I almost called the whole thing off.

But then I remembered my earlier decree.

And I really did hope to rest at some point that night.

I had to find a way to press on.

I decided to call my Mama.

Cory's response? "This will be just as bad as trying to walk your dad through logging on to the internet over the phone."

He had a point.

(He also clearly had a lot of extra time on his hands.)

As it turns out, my Mom is the Bomb-Diggity.

She hooked me UP.

And, I must say, the spirit of Mrs. Blevins was upon me that night.

It all came back to me, minus the 7th grade tote bag and the strange, 8th grade sweatshirt.

And yes, I chose to make a sweatshirt in 8th grade Home Economics.

Whaddya have to say about it??

I believe it was royal blue.

In the end, the dress was finished, by way of many, many run-ins with the seam ripper.

I felt like I could conquer the world!

Or at least another Africa Dress.


* Thank you, CMB, for the dreamy photos, although that last one seems a tinge show-offy. Maybe it's just me.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

What it Really Means to be Free

We have a friend who just got out of jail on Tuesday.

We have a friend who is 55 and just got out of jail on Tuesday.

We have a friend who is 55 and an alcoholic and just got out of jail on Tuesday.

We have a friend who is 55 and homeless and an alcoholic and he just got out of jail on Tuesday.

We didn't know he was getting out on Tuesday.

We thought it would be Friday.

And we were his call.

Just before 5 pm, while I'm rushing around, clapping my hands and snapping my fingers in hopes that some dinner will appear and the whiners will surrender, the phone rings and it's him. Our friend. He's been let out early. He needs a ride.

He needs a ride back to...his tent, on the bank of the river.

I'm so excited that I almost start to cry, because I can hear it in his voice - he's been set free.

Cory drives over to the jail and I tell him to bring him back here, because you can't just take your set-free friend back to his tent with no dinner.

I wring my hands over the meal on the stove: microwaved hot dogs and Kraft Mac & Cheese. It's so...processed. And dumb. I'm thinking my meal is dumb. If only I had known, I would have made a real feast. I'd have done it up right.

But our friend walks in and he says, "Nothing goes together better than hot dogs and macaroni and cheese." He extends his hand and I ignore it and go straight for his shoulders and I hug them and I keep thinking, "You've been set free."

I want to weave an analogy out of captivity and freedom and hot dogs and banana cake. I want to stir them and stir them until they become the picture of redemption, the kind that never goes away, the kind that takes the dirty tents we've pitched in the dark and stretches them tall and strong into a castle.

But there's no time for analogies, and he's not really the analogy kind of guy. So instead, I rub my hand across his back as I say goodbye and I send him on his way with a belly full of odds-and-ends.

At night, I toss and turn over the thought of me under a blanket that heats up, inside a house that heats up, when all the while, he's in his tent with a bottle of something to keep him warm. I want more for him, but the truth is, this is what he knows, and he probably feels like he's Home.

I know this first-hand, from all of the nights I chose to take up residence in my own kind of dingy tent, drunk as a skunk on lies and shame. There was only ever one way out.

So, how do we show him that Home is something greater than he's imagined?

Would knowing that change anything?

It's not my job, to make his heart see. I couldn't do it. It's just not possible.

But we can bring him into our home. We can bake him a cake and buy him shoes. We can show him love, love, love, and maybe his glasses will start to turn all love-tinted and maybe then he'll look out and see truth and he'll begin to listen for the only voice that can tell him anything at all.

We can celebrate this small freedom with him, for now. And when he finally sees the real kind of freedom, we'll celebrate that with him, too. Big time.

We've been told that the heart is just too far gone to save
But grace tells us another story
Where glory sends hopelessness away
Oh grace tells us another story
-Mercy Me Grace Tells Another Story

Saturday, March 26, 2011

I'm in Print



Some weekend fun: I wrote a little article and it was published in a super-fun local bridal magazine, Veils and Vows.

You can find my article here.

Sarah's wedding was featured in this issue, too!

Jackpot.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Amen and Pass the Guacamole

If there's one thing I've learned in my wizened years of motherhood, it's that some days just aren't worth re-hashing.

And when those days happen? Good lunch helps.

Girls, find thyself an avocado and mash it up with a little garlic and a whole lot of lemon. Spread it on health-nut bread, twice as thick as the turkey. Throw on some greens - I promise it'll perk you up.

Sing a hymn of Thanksgiving, if you think you should. At the very least, sing some old-school Phil Collins or Elton John.

Tomorrow is a new day.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

From Calvin's Lens


Calvin wants to be like his Daddy when he grows up.

Scratch that, he wants to be like him right now.

(He's pretty smart like that.)

One of the things he said that he would like for Christmas is a "real" camera.

As luck would have it, we happened to have a "real" camera burning a hole in Cory's unmentionables drawer! It was our old point-and-shoot from several years ago and it needed a little tweak and a little shine, but we boxed that baby up, but quick. (Shhh!)

Fast forward.

A couple of weeks ago we had some friends over for an impromptu lunch on a Sunday afternoon.

I had no idea Calvin was going all rogue-paparazzo on us, but then again, I'm a bit immune to that sort of thing.

He had two fetching muses.


He didn't dare inhibit their freedom of expression.

I cannot adequately express how it pleased this Mama to see that he attempted a close-up of an inanimate object. The fact that it relates to fashion is really just the frosting on the cake.

Homeboy busted out some tutu-action shots.

And I don't know about you, but I totally appreciate the artistic juxtaposition of the two Bridal Barbies with the muses. It's so...so...alive. It makes me feel something, man.

Later, he took the party outdoors, for a little posed Senior Picture photography.

(I cannot believe they went along with this!)

In the end, it was his lone self-portrait that had my heart all busted up.

I could be wrong, but I think my boy may be smitten...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Here and There

My time at home was good to me in a way that left me hiking across introspective and pensive terrain when I should have been sleeping.

I've been in Indiana now since I was 17, so I've spent an equal number of years Here vs. There. If life were as exact and compartmentalized and scientific as I am apt to wish, everything would be even now, and I would feel precisely the same way about both.

But roots are different from branches, aren't they?

My roots reach all the way back down, winding across long stretches of road I could drive with my eyes closed.

I go back to my roots and I just know things. I'm not the out-of-towner, there. People ask me about my Dad. The neighbor guy delivers dinner to the door. I spy an old classmate walking right past the bicycle shop that has always been there, in all of its mysterious, dusty, bike-ishness.

I return Here to my family and my home and the guy who loves me best. I'm a proud Indiana girl. I'm happy to raise little Hoosiers. The branches here are full, and they're lovely. With every year, they reach out a little farther.

There's no big point here, no tidy ends to twist into a smart bow, surprising even myself with the way it all came together.

Or, maybe that is the point - that this just never does come together.

Maybe I'll live my life caught square between the door-frames of two different Homes, and that's not at all a bad thing. Maybe I'll be the only person who really distinguishes one flat, beautiful land from the other. Maybe the There will always contrast the Here in a way that makes them both a little more captivating and bright.

I loved my time with my Sister. I loved seeing old friends under the rafters of old, old Truths.

I'm not gonna lie - I loved the food.

Last night, I found myself in that too-familiar condition of grasping for sleep. My body wanted it so badly but my mind is tougher. It has always been this way.

So, I faced one wall and remembered all over again that there's a reason I'm Here instead of There. It goes far beyond this life that I hold by the hand.

I flipped around to face the other wall and did my best to look into the eyes of some exciting things trudging across the soggy, Indiana soil. They're headed my way. Our way. With everything around me dark and sleeping, I heard them coming nearer. In the wide open space of quiet, I listened to the Truth that gives everything I have its breath and its motion, its soul: This life is not my own.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

What A Girl Has To Do



I've skipped town.

Oh yes, I have.

I am currently hunkered down in the childhood room of my big brother.

(My old room was turned into the sewing room.)

(And yes, I am the middle child. Why do you ask?)

I have a cooler of my favorite snacks beside me, courtesy of my Mom and my sister.

I have a flurry of scribbled-down notes fanned out around me, notes I finally had the presence of mind to jot down.

My sister took me out on the town this morning for my favorite food (I don't really have to say what it is at this point, do I?) and an on-the-house massage.

I have been tapping at this keyboard for the past four hours and 22 minutes and I have something to show for it.

Hallelujah.

It's amazing how getting away can clear the noggin.

This Ohio air, it always does something to me. I could swear that it has a bit of a different sheen to it. It pushes against my heart in a different sort of way.

And, as it turns out, it inspires me.

Double Hallelujah What-What.

Buckeye-Statishly Yours,
FPFG

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Kiss Him. He's 6.

I think it's funny that Calvin will probably always wear green on his birthday. (At least from the ages of 5 to 11 and then again around 32, when he has kids of his own.)

He's my Irish-Korean-American-Jabber-Jaws.

He melts my heart faster'n a stick of butter on a windowsill.

We surprised him with dinner out at Red Lobster, on account of his recently discovered, deep and abiding love for shrimp.

It all started about a year ago, with these. Shrimp snacks.

Think shrimp flavored Cheetos.

(Though wouldn't we all rather not think shrimp flavored Cheetos?)

In an endearing display of brotherly love, Calvin was introduced to Shrimp Snacks via his brand new brother, fresh off a plane with nothing but empty bottles and 2 bags of Shrimp Snacks.

Oh, they smell so bad.

Suffice it to say, Calvin was pumped for his own plateful of shrimp.


Exhibit A: The Before Shot

Exhibit Be: The After

Homeboy really packed away some shrimp, along with half of Daddy's plate of assorted fried sea delicacies.

(Incidentally, this is what he looked like when he was in full-blown ALPS mode, with a spleen 3 times its normal size.)

I gotta tell you, I'll be fine if I don't dine at RL for a long, long while.

It was greasy and expensive.

And Cory kept chatting up the locals. (He worked there 15 years ago and several of his old co-workers still! work there.)

But again, and again, ad nauseum, it wasn't about me. Our birthday boy slurped up the grease like it was his job in life.

It's such a gift, living life with these amazing small people.

All day long I found myself thinking of his birth Mama, a world away. We talked about her tonight at bedtime and I knew I was treading on thin ice, bringing up such a potentially emotional topic with the lights already turned out, just two ticks away from a dream. But it's not my place to sweep this sort of thing under the rug then dig it back out at a more convenient time.

This is his story, and I want him to know it deep in his heart.

My eyeballs throbbed while we talked about how pretty she must be and how she is definitely thinking of him today. He was surprised that she would know that this was his birthday. This is why we talk about these things. We told him that she would never forget his birthday, that she probably thinks about him every day. We told him how lucky he is to have so many people in the world who love him so much.

I cranked up my will as loud as it would go and prayed that it echoed all the way over to his Own Special Habitat. Look at our boy! He's so happy. So loved. He's the most amazing six year old in the entire Universe, and you gave him that life. Be proud of him, Mama. Know that he's well and smart, with a kind heart and an intuitive soul. Know that he loves Jesus. Know that he loves you.

Calvin Lee drifted off to sleep in new Star Wars Lego pjs with a belly full of shrimp, a smile on his 6-year-old face and a heart topped off with the kind of love that never goes away.

I'm calling this birthday a success.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Life - Kitchen View

I've realized that the whole of my life, at least this week, can be summarized entirely by glimpses of just one room in my home - my kitchen.

We talk more and more about the unnecessary space we have, about the simple truth that most of our living happens in just a couple of rooms.

It's not that everything's eternally rosy in the kitchen. It's got its Dark Chocolate moments along with some soggy broccoli moments, to be sure.

Look to your left and you'll probably see this.

Look to your right, and the scene doesn't improve a single bit.

But the trick is, keep looking. Don't stop for too long on the dirty dishes or the box of diapers worth its weight in gold. Look past it, because there's more.

If grocery day means that my kitchen is a wreck? Well, I'll take a messy kitchen every single week, thankyouverymuch. I'll not complain about $1 pineapples and the limitless virtues of the ordinary lemon.

And it may be true that my table is so covered with paint and marker that I long ago gave up trying to remove it...


But I'll celebrate these people every chance I get, so pass me the blue, along with the widest brush you can find. Heck, get the glitter out.


Show me a cooped-up afternoon and I'll show you Pig Patrol, on display now for six days running.

In case you hadn't noticed, I'm having a bit of a moment around here. Maybe it's the birthdays or maybe it's the coming-nearer flutter of Spring. Maybe it's the memory of where I was exactly one year ago. Maybe it's my Girl saying the Lord's Prayer all on her own while I tucked her into bed. Maybe it's Truth raining down on all sides.

I think it's a little bit of everything, boxed up and tied with baker's twine.

It's the best dinner ever, with left-overs for tomorrow.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Creating Your Masterpiece


Although I haven't necessarily witnessed it for myself, word on the street is that Spring is presently making its slow slink back into town. And you know what that means, right? Well, yes, it does, in fact, mean tulips and rain boots and the return of green grass, but that's not what I was thinking of at the moment. I was thinking more along these lines:

Flea Markets!

Garage Sales!

The great treasure hunt of 2011 is about to commence.

At the top of my list this year? A smallish dresser for housing all of the kiddos' art supplies. I'm thinking waist-high. I'm thinking green. With some groovy hardware. History has prepared me for the fact that I will probably not find my Dreamboat Item in picture perfect condition. It will undoubtedly require a little elbow grease and a trip to Lowes. But that's part of the fun...or so they say.

I've painted a piece of furniture or two over the years, but I've always done it in a rather slap-dash fashion. I knew it was probably all wrong, but I was intimidated by the thought of doing it "right". I simply did not know where to start, and I most certainly didn't know where to stop.
Look at a piece and picture it dressed in what inspires you. Picture that little side as the seaside escape. Let that favorite red scarf inspire an exotic transformation on the Bombay chest...That's when real magic happens...when you find your vision. -Shaunna West
Creating Your Masterpiece
In a wild stroke of good fortune, my friend Shaunna just wrote the most fantastic book of eye-candy-laden, pep-rally-cheerin', inspiration-abounding e-book on this very topic - Creating Your Masterpiece. Over the course of 200 pages, she lays out every tip of the trade we'll ever need to know in order to turn out our own little piece of Spectacular. She shows before-and-afters and pages of gorgeous, unique, finished products. The book includes several short video clips for the moments when it's just easier to watch someone do it. Total bonus: In watching the videos you'll be privy to Shaunna's enviable Southern drawl and, if you're anything like me, you'll be overcome with the urge to drive down to her drop-down gorgeous Alabama home and hug her neck.
Once you've transformed something with paint, your eye will open up to a whole new world. You may want to paint your dog. You'll be able to walk into a thrift store and pay pennies, for not only value, but real worth.
-Shaunna West Creating Your Masterpiece

To purchase your copy of the book for just $11.99, click the button on my sidebar.

It looks like this:

A final note on e-books: They are the bomb diggity. They're relatively new to me, but they are so easy to maneuver and once you buy this one, you'll have it at your fingertips forever - the perfect resource when that $20 hunk of burnin' love calls your name at the town yard sale. (You may need to download software in order to view your book (I had to), but the software is FREE and it's a piece of cake to download it.)

So, what say we get to work? Shaunna believes we can do it. And I believe Shaunna.

*All double-dreamy interior photos belong to Shaunna.
(The measly flea market shot is my own.)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Do Not Try This At Home. No, really. Don't.

It's March Madness, ya'll'uns. (As my friend Benny likes to say.)

And in my world March Madness does not involve a bracket, or a "spreadsheet", as some might say.

It involves 2 birthdays.
1 Gotcha Day.
2 Weddings.
1 Church Pictorial Directory.
1 exciting out-of-town-visitor.
And the general mayhem of my everyday life.

As I'm prone to do, just when I can't handle any more Madness, I create some, out of thin air.

Or, out of a Funfetti cake mix, as the situation were.

Behold, the Lego Head Cake Pop.



Have Mercy, Marvin.

These cake pops were very nearly the death of me.

Dumb Legos.


Even worse? I wasn't planning to make them.

I went browsing for a hum-drum Lego cupcake topper and stumbled upon the idea, quite accidentally, quite tragically.

(I just attempted to link back to the original site, and it seems the site is down. You'll thank me for that.)



I wrestled these wily dudes until 2:30 in the ayem.

The following morning Calvin ran into my room and said, "I love them! Are they snowmen?"

Sigh.

The melted candy was gloppy.

The cake was mushy.

The sticks were unruly.

The painted faces were rage-inducing.


But homeboy loved them.

Especially when he figured out what they actually were.

We took them into his class and they were a hit.

There was a moment where it seemed that they may crack a few kindergarten baby-teeth, but in the end, everyone made it out unscathed.

I love that my boy loved them.

I also love the outfit he chose for his Big Day.

But I do not love these yella fellas.

And neither should you.

Luv,
Not Bakerella

Friday, March 11, 2011

On Home

Today I am guest posting for my friend Melissa at A Familiar Path.

Melissa is actually a new friend of mine - we met just a couple of months ago at Blissdom. Without thinking twice, I knew she was like kin. She's funny and genuine and wore the coolest outfits EVER. And, this is her birthday week!

******************************************************************


Historically, I have been the girl who secretly wasn’t itching to ascend into the clouds on a vapor.

Did I just say that out loud?

Well, it’s the truth.


To continue reading, click here.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Silas Park



This picture has taken a real toll on me today.

I am powerless against it.

He's looking so big and it seems that he might be sprouting some "kid" under all of that "baby".

So, because I'm totally smitten and because I'm also totally lame when it comes to my negligence in keeping a little notebook of cuteness like I did for numbers 1 and 2, I need to jot some Silas notes down, before I forget them.

*Homeboy gave himself the inaugural hair-notching on Saturday, while Calvin and Ruby were wrapping a birthday gift for their cousin. Can you tell? I actually think he wears it quite well.

* The ever-maddening, secretly (or not so secretly - depends on my mood) funny "Bolly Bobo" is still in full force.

* In a similar vein, I've been trying to teach him to say "No thank you" rather than barking "No!" nine thousand times a day. Yesterday I heard him hollering at Calvin about something but I couldn't figure out what he was saying. Turns out, he now barks a very angry "No Thank You!" when something - anything - displeases him. Only it sounds more like, "No! Deek! OO!" And he gives his nastiest glare when he says it.

* Until recently, he called kitties "tiggies". I miss the tiggies.

* He also called my mom "Gee" (as in green, nix the "r" and "n"). When pressed, "Say Grand!-Ma!", he would concentrate and then say "Gingle". A couple of weeks ago, he saw her in a photo and said "Gammaw". So proud! But I do miss Gee.

* He's still rocking his nap jammies every day. Two days ago I couldn't find his nappies so I put him in regular pants-and-shirt jammies in a pinch. The first time I checked on him, all was well. When I went to retrieve him 30 minutes later, he had thrown his pants overboard, removed his wet diaper and shoved it up his shirt.

* He remains the best-smelling child I have ever layed my nose on.

* A highlight of my day is getting him from his crib in the morning. He always says, "Meening, Mama! De pitty light!"

*His inexplicable preoccupation with lights of all varieties persists.

*He adds countless exasperations to my every day.

*I can't imagine my life without his little monkey body.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Our 60 Minute Vacay

I've had a load of clean laundry in the dryer for two days.

Something is awry.

And it's not even whites.

It's the "fun colors". You know exactly what I mean, right? It's the polka-dotted little girl leggings and the 2T feet-pajams covered in blue and orange dogs. It's snowflake knee socks and panda bear boxers. It's a basketful of smell-good nostalgia. I love that load!

But this week sucker-punched me with a surprise, 1-day-only head cold and a husband who's been MIA. And then there was last night's project...but I'm just not ready to talk about that yet. I completely spaced a deadline and I'm up to my pits in church goings-on. I just don't know what else to say: I've gone all willy-nilly, as a result.

I've lost my will to enforce order.

The natives are a quarter past restless.

Yesterday I found myself hankering for a doughnut. Normally, I would appease myself with PB&J or something similarly carby and sweet and free, but being a Mama means knowing thyself.

Amen.

You gotta know when to scold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away from the doughnut and know when to RUN.

So we loaded up the van and we hightailed it. We raced the shy sun and we drove until we saw the sign.

There was a sketchy posse of about 12 Seniors holding down the fort, only these Seniors weren't daydreaming about Prom. They were more of the loud-talking, coffee-drinking, baby-staring, clackitty-teeth variety.

It wasn't exactly The Ritz...

But we were in the Impromptu Vacation frame of mind.

So, We.


Rocked.

It.

After our snack, Siley made eyes at a much older woman and she randomly opted to tell me how much her children loved to drink water when they were young'uns.

As if on cue, Silas spilled his cup of water.

Then, she told me how having 3 kids in 4 years "tore her insides up" and it felt very rude to walk away in the middle of that conversation, but I had no choice, because Ruby screamed, "Thilath ith leaving!"

Yup. He sure was.
(This is actually a picture of him arriving, but you get the point.)

We made it safely back to the van and drove around town for a while, even though it was already 4:30 and dinner was supposedly just around the corner.


Right around here, Ruby conked out.


Silas started slow-blinking near the cows.

We pulled in the lane just in time for me to scrape something together for dinner before rushing off to Mother's Night at Ruby's pre-school.

Honoring our loosey-goosey attitude, I let them watch Wild Kratts during dinner.

What's become of us??

************************************************

One last thing: I have loved, Loved! hearing about your style sense. I cannot possibly communicate to you how happy youn's make me. You're a funny bunch. I love hearing from you.