Thursday, May 31, 2012

Long Weekend

We spent five blissful days in Ohio over Memorial Day weekend. Calvin and Ruby both got the pukes while we were there, and it was still blissful.

I almost feel like I could just stop right there. It seems a fitting summary.

But of course, I've never been one to make a long story short.

Over the years, Cory and I have plotted and planned a way to get my parents to move up here, to Indiana. It came close, a time or two. But it never did pan out. And it always made me sad.

Now, everything has changed and I no longer have a barn of my own to moon over, and I have to say, theirs is a suitable stand-in.

Through all my worries and nerves about our move to the city, it calms me down to remember that we'll always have this, our vacation retreat in an Ohio corn field.

We did it all, while we were there.
And by "all", I mean almost nothing.

During one particularly fortunate stretch of 24 hours, I did the following:

Finished The Language of Flowers.
Started Far From Here (on the hammock).
Ate a slice of raspberry pie.
Ate a slice of peach pie.
Ate a slice of strawberry rhubarb pie.
(Sidenote: I actually prefer to call them "slivers" of pie. It's got a less gluttonous ring.)
Took 3 naps.
Listened to the radio while I showered.
Didn't brush my hair.
Wore a plaid shirt with a flowered skirt.
Ate a slice of peanut butter sheet cake.
Ate sweet peas fresh off the vine.


I'm just saying, it's my favorite vacation destination.

And not just because it comes with built-in childcare assistance.
  The most exciting part of all was Mr. Sweet Cheeks, son of my beloved cousin, Vickie.

They flew in to town and made it all even better.
His lips made it better.
And his blue eyes.
And his baby thighs.

One afternoon, Vickie and I skipped town. We mini-vanned it out of Dodge, like any good moms-on-the-run might do. We headed straight to the Salvation Army. Then JoAnn's. Then Taco Bell. Because we're just that wild.

All the Saints were on our side when we discovered that it was 50% off day at Salvation Army. I tried on eight things in the little dressing room where the entire store can watch your britches drop to the floor. I've never felt so exhibitionary. Let's not even talk about the two padded office chairs lined up for front-row viewing....

But that's not really the point. The point is - I tried stuff on at the SA. Never been done before. There was some kind of magical glow in the air. Everything looked better than right.

In the end, I bought my friend a perfect J Crew sundress for $2.50 and grabbed a white belt for a different friend.

Only upon returning to the Betty Draper rental did I realize that a) the belt isn't exactly white and b) it's actually quite ugly.

I blame the magical glow.

On our last day there, I became convinced that the puke bug had bitten me. I could barely keep my lids open. My stomach felt lop-sided.

So, I took to the hammock and waited it out.

It turns out, I was just extra-lazy and over-pied.

So lay it on me - where's your most relaxing place on earth?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mixed Messages

Without permission or warning, Calvin Lee finished first grade. With flying colors. We're in talks about the best ways to spend the summer. As of right now, we're looking at hefty doses of baseball, chlorine, ice pops, sketching in the shade, and grubby feet. Oh, and "Chapter books. Non-fiction."

All I know is, I'm giddy over having more of him for myself for the next eight weeks. I miss the guy. He's the exactly-right balance of inquisitive and unexpected. He's always wondering things. He's our resident expert on many topics, such as ocean life and space.

Last week, I finally tackled a stack of paperwork on my bedside table that threatened to mount an insurgency while I dreamed about flea markets and random people I haven't thought about in twenty-odd years.

Mid-tackle, I found this:

I got a little glowy. My chest may have puffed just the tiniest bit. I believed, in that moment, that the big work was surely done. We are parenting a child who spontaneously jots scripture from memory. I must at least be in the running for Mom of the Year.

You know what you should do when you find yourself in that moment? You should walk away, sister. You most certainly should not keep digging through the stack. I repeat - put the papers the heck down.

Because reality lurks there in the pile, ever ready to slap you square in the mug.

I have no idea how my precious baby child knows about "masash and tatoo". I had never seen his hand-lettered sign in all my life.

But at least it's only a part-time job.

I'm not afraid to admit it - I'm troubled.

Not Mom of the Year


PS - I'm guest-posting today about at Stuff Christians Like. Holla!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Recent Developments in Ten Words or Less

1) $4. Antique Store. Vintage Happy Meal toys. We're in love.

2) My Dad's handwriting in the mail. Almost made me cry.

3) Neighbor's sweet-pea tree. I heart spring.

4) Some mistakes are happy.

5) My heart is made of peony. Perhaps.

6) Mushrooms, artichokes, tomatoes, basil, capers, yellow peppers, feta = Lunch.

7) A lunch date with my favorite twirly girl.

8) More salsa, por favor.

9) Cutest garden helpers in the County (and then some).

 10) I swear he isn't peeing.

11) It turns out there is a difference.

Your turn!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Anything - A Review and a Giveaway

"We will do anything, God. Anything."

That could have been my quote, but it isn't.

Like Jennie Allen and her husband, Cory and I held hands in bed in the dark, breathing life past the rumble of fear in our gut, and prayed something like that. I think our paraphrase was, "We'll do whatever you want, God. Whatever."

All we knew was, God was moving. And it felt like the very first time. We didn't know what we didn't know, back then. We had no idea what it might mean and it scared us sideways to wonder too hard.

Those words we prayed out loud. These, we kept hidden on the inside, "Please be merciful. You might not know this, but we're both introverts, so nothing too crazy or outlandish. Also? We're accustomed to living a certain way. We aren't flashy people, so maybe we could keep what we have. Maybe it's not too much." We pulled out the famous, "Giving time can be more sacrificial than giving money". True, just like eating the chocolate with the strange orange cream filling can be more satisfying than the caramel. "Anything is possible. Sign us up for time, God! But please remember, we have small children and Cory works long hours. Keep that in mind, please and Amen."

The only exercise that works 100 percent of the time to draw one close to the real God is risk. - Jennie Allen, Anything

The months that followed were uncertain and stomach-churning. We moved and stalled. We never knew more than the very next step. We were scared and insecure. We battled selfishness and pride. We mourned for the things we had loved more than God. We felt a new kind of loneliness. We watched tender shoots of brand-new courage stake their claim.
I cried on the bed, the floor, the couch and in the shower. And just standing there, in a room. Oh, and in the car.

Suffering affects my life for eternity in a positive way. I've never lived that way. I've lived trying to fix everything hurting in me with counseling and a good latte. And while none of that is bad, it never fully worked. I still hurt. What I wasn't told is that it is supposed to hurt. War isn't supposed to feel easy and comfortable and happy. - Jennie Allen, Anything

And with every single tear, God became more of a Father. Scratch that. I saw more of who He already was. I felt it first-hand, for once.

The ironic thing about believing in God and supernatural things is that the invisible stuff is actually the most trustworthy, the most stable. So the concrete things we can see and touch, they become the wind, they become the things we try to catch, and over and over they pass through our fingers and souls, keeping us empty. But when I take my empty self to God, he feels familiar and stable and more like concrete than wind. - Jennie Allen, Anything

Reading Anything, by Jennie Allen, was like reliving all of those moments in slow motion and with the bonus feature of a very well-spoken and entertaining narrator. Through her words, I processed things I was too numb to notice at the time.

I originally thought we were going to have to be such martyrs, to suffer for Christ and pour out our lives unto death. I was wrong. He was desperately pouring himself into us, his joy and passion, sustaining us each day with peace  that he was real and we were exactly where he wanted us. God had wanted our hearts, not any dramatic sacrifice. These weren't radical sacrifices, just simple obedience. We were just following an all-knowing God whom we completely trusted. And it was all turning out to be fun and full of life and joy. - Jennie Allen, Anything

It's immensely encouraging to know that we aren't the only ones being tossed overboard. It's comforting to see that maybe we aren't complete weirdos for loving the ride, even the plunge-down parts.

Maybe it's already obvious, but I loved every word of Jennie's book. Her writing is clear and engaging. Her tone is humble. Her words are raw. Her heart is Christ. Several hours and my purple pen have sealed our fate - she's one of my people now, and she doesn't even know my name.

If you are anywhere close to the edge of this journey, Anything is a must read. As such, I would like to personally bestow upon one of you my very own copy, much dog-eared loved and broken-in, so very ready to fall straight down into your soul.

Everyone else can buy it right here.

Leave me a comment and I'll draw a winner...sometime....soon. Don't fence me in.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Soul Food

 I skipped town yesterday. I crossed state lines like the bandit that I am.

All of Friday went something like this:

Calvin: I'm going to play with Chris ALL DAY on Saturday!
Me: I'm going to play with Kristin and Timi.
Calvin: Awwww! No! I want you to just stay here.
Me: But I thought you were planning to play with Chris all day?
Calvin: I am.
Me: Well, Mommy gets to play with her friends sometimes, too.
Ruby: No. Mommies don't play.

Oh really, Ruby? Well, this felafel sandwich begs to differ. As does Dr. P.
Have you ever been to Saugatuck or Douglas, Michigan? Put down your computer and go there. It's gorgeous and quaint and vibrant and coastal. Here are some observations/musings:

 I really like these large, purple alliums. Alliae?

Well, I like them. Their spherical nature speaks to my heart. They offset the stripes of my soul.

Sometimes when we are driving, Silas will randomly yell, "Piggy Punch!" He has no idea what it means. He only knows that the cool kids yell it in the van. I always ask him what color it is. It is always, always green.

Furthermore, just as I was taking this photo, a black SUV almost backed into a lady in the cross walk. Homegirl went all kinds of maniacal. She ended her tirade with, "Why don't you get a DRIVER'S LICENSE!" It was really quite a scene. A good 20 seconds in length, which is an eternity in the world of Being Screamed at Publicly by A Woman in Capri Pants.

I wanted to intervene, like the time my sister and I were sitting at a red light and a man on a bike started screaming at another driver and I felt compelled to scream back at him, "Be Nice! Be Nice! Be NICE!"

Admitedly, I started getting nervous just as the light turned blessedly green. He had a flinty look in his eyes.

I don't know what came over me. All I'm asking is, Be nice, people. 

It shouldn't be hard to be nice when you live 3 minutes from this.

Where was I?

That's right. I was at tilapia tacos with pico and purple cabbage on the patio.  I was at Michigan berry cobbler, split three ways.

Dinner could have only been more perfect if I had passed on the chilled gazpacho. But now I know. I don't dig it. It's salsa eaten with a spoon. It's salsa without its Santita. It's just. not. right.
  We shut the night down with 60 minutes on a beach with a cold drink and sandy toes. We watched the sun set and the world seemed just as it should be, with the exception of my pasty finger-toes. Why do I keep painting them Clean Machine? Why?

We bunked down at The Pines Motor Lodge. It had quaintness coming out it's floorboards. I didn't accidentally cuddle Timi during the night. Unless I did and she was too embarrassed to tell me. Did I?

Behold: Pretty Ladies.
Pretty Ladies who like rusty junk.

If I told you I left a tiny piece of my heart at this place, would you understand? 

I wanted to bring home eight new sets of old hotel dishes.

I threatened to break up with the Ladies if they didn't buy something. And they didn't buy something.

I'm thinking they took an out where they found one.

For spite, I refused to break up.

 And the yellow office chairs. And ten or twelve cabinets. And the 15-layer vintage school  map.
It broke my heart to leave this behind at Anderson's Schoolhouse Gallery. $29. I tried to foist it upon Kristin and Timi but they would not be moved. 

Two days of fantastic junk and I came home with the following: 
8 old faucet handle thingies. You know, the roundish things. 7 black. 1 green.
3 greeting cards.
1 book to be given as a gift.
1 biscuit cutter.
1 box of tablets that you drop in water to make faux grape "pop".

I also found a back-issue of House Beautiful with a gorgeous cover along with the text, "Living Large in Small Spaces." I couldn't find a price, but I knew it wouldn't be much.

Then the guy refused to sell it to me because it didn't have a price on it. He didn't want to upset the owner of the booth, who had an entire box of back-issues and didn't price a single one. Let me repeat, he wouldn't sell it to me.

Sweeping into the scene as if an angel, a wise woman appeared and said, "Sell it to her. Two dollars."

I'd like to raise a toast to Common Sense!


The drive home was flower-laden and circuitous.

I understand that we can't always skip town for the night. But if you have the opportunity to high-tail it? Promise me that you will. Even if it's not usually your thing. Even if the thought of it makes you nervous. Even if you're the new girl. Even if you have to mostly just window shop. Even if your kids beg you to stay.

Talk to some ladies and eat chick food. Or maybe you're a burger kind of girl, and that's allowed, too. Gab into the night even thought one of the ladies took a unisom and is trying to sleep. Eat an ice cream cone. Shoot the breeze. Live it up.

Then come home and see all over again why home is your very favorite place on earth.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Roof Update (Because I'm sure you care...) (not)

Pewter Gray.

Not charcoal. Not black.

Not Fox Hound or whatever the other one was called.

Not Weathered Wood. (Confession: I used to pick nail polish and lipstick based solely on the name.)

Not tan.

Although while I'm thinking about it, a bunch'a ya'll'ns owe Tan a big, sloppy apology. What's so wrong with Tan, yo?

This is the original object of my tan fascination, as seen on the cover of one of my four inspiration binders. (I love you, Pinterest, but these binders have been with me for 12 years now. I'll not abandon them.)

True, we had already decided against tan for various reasons, but what can I say? I feel protective of her. She may be a little quirky, but that's usually not a bad thing.

A friend of mine sent me this link and referred to my situation as "your tan/light grey discernment process". It spoke to my soul, and not just because my soul always longs for the truth to be told in as wordy a way as possible.

And now, a word from my main girl, Tan (and her muse, Jeremy):

  haters gonna hate 

But back to you. I love you, man. I might get all in a wad over the roof venom you're prone to spewing, but in the end, you help me make sense of the earth-toned voices in my head.

You made valid points about the lighter shingles potentially staining.

You're probably right about having a little more contrast.

Staci? You're an angel, sent from above, where there's nary a mauve roof to be seen.

What I'm trying to say is, thank you for blatantly disobeying my orders. Thank you for not agreeing just to agree.

For those of you who did agree, thank you. You are my favorites.

Just kidding. I don't play favorites.

Except when it comes to salsa.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Help Me Rhondas, Part II

 My week thus far can be duly summed up by the following conversation:

Me: So, are we gonna go tan?
Cory: (aghast) NO!
Me:  I thought you said you wanted to!?
Cory: I have no idea what would have ever made you think that.
Me: I like it!
Cory: Well, I do not.
Me: (perplexed) (speechless)
Cory: Ohhhhh! You mean the shingles for the new house!
Me: Uh, yeah. That's what we've been talking about all day.
Cory: I thought you wanted me to go to a tanning bed before vacation.


For the record, neither of us will be going to a tanning bed. And yes, we are going on a 3-day whistle-stop vacation next month. And we are deep in the throes of choosing shingles and siding and door knobs and faucets for the new house.

I have discovered that I'm just not cut out for the big picture selections. Quite regrettably, it appears that I simply don't have it in me.

Our first choice for shingles was tan, like we had on our farm house. Granted, it was never a popular choice. Little Jerry Martin (not to be confused with Cory's Dad, Big Jerry Martin) (No, they are not related) tried to steer us away from it. We stayed the course.

(Memory jog)

After the roof was on and LJM retrieved his microwave, we got a call from the previous owner, asking if we planned to put a different color of siding on the house "since you put a tan roof on it".

The house was white, people. Since when do white and tan not match?

When we mentioned tan shingles to the builder on Tuesday, he avoided eye contact and muttered, "I don't think that's what you want to do...." and hauled us off to see a larger sample. I still liked it. Haters gonna hate.

Then my mom confessed (again) two days ago that she was never wild about the tan roof.


So after 12 solid hours of waffling and seeking then rejecting the advice of near-experts, we decided on Fox Hollow Gray. The clock was ticking. The builder needed a decision.

We emailed him, "We're going to go with Fox Hollow Gray. Thanks!"

He emailed back, "Okay. I do think you should stop by and look at a panel of Fox Hollow Gray since it is a very light gray shingle."

Cue instantaneous second-guessing and self-loathing.

Now it's your turn, friends and countrymen. The house will be all white. Not a single whip-stitch of accent color. Should the roof be Fox Hollow Gray (lighter than charcoal, but not the lightest) or Weathered Wood (a medium brown)?

Don't even say Charcoal or Black. Do not even dare to say it.

Hold the phone. I just found this pin and while our house won't really look anything like it, it is white. And I do like the slate gray roof.

Help me.


In other news, the neighbors' peonies have bloomed and they generously allow me to pretend that they are partly mine.

And my kids continue to be so dang cute that I can arrange them on a pile of junk in the garage and still believe that they could collectively sweep every Gap Kids model clean off their feet.

And I am officially infatuated with chicken lo mein. Never underestimate the commoner.

And I wrote about the blues over at Beautifully Rooted

And I am nose-deep in The Language of Flowers, so I'll catch up with you again in, oh, three days?

But enough of my life. We're got a roof to pick.