Sunday, September 30, 2012


 Artwork by Emily Wieringa

I have an unusual relationship with eating disorders. I never had one, but people often thought I did.

I was the girl who was always just too thin, the one who couldn't beef up. The doctors thought I was diabetic, or maybe my thyroid wasn't working, something had to be wrong. My parents bought cans of protein shakes - I didn't want to drink it. We Are the World pulsed through boomboxes, my classmates and I sang along, knowing there was a problem somewhere, but too young to grasp it. It scared us sometimes, so we joked. The boys would turn a comb upside down and laugh about the Ethiopians holding the canoe and I would look away and blush. I was sure they were also making fun of me.

Time passed, I was fourteen. Older girls, girls who didn't even know me, whispered that I was anorexic. I made sure to never let them see me sweat it, but their words singed. Sometimes, they burned. I carried the belief that there was something wrong with me, and everyone knew it. On my own, I'd often forget. The problem was, I was never alone for long. And I just didn't blend in a crowd.

So, I learned to fill my plate in public even if I wasn't hungry (I usually was). I felt eyes on me if I walked to the restroom after finishing a meal.

The fashion magazines that made most girls feel not small enough made me feel normal.  I scanned the pages, eyes locking on models with knees that didn't touch and I felt a kinship, a sense of solidarity, like maybe I wasn't all by myself.

At 16 I wasn't picked on much- not to my face. It was a whisper in the room, but I was confident in plenty of other areas, so I let this one thing gloss right over my knobby shoulders and down my bony spine. I'd be fine.

It followed me to college, where the psychologist called me on the phone and point blank asked me if I was anorexic. I laughed and then I fumed. I was sick to death of explaining myself, so tired of being reminded that a girl who felt so typical and boring was seen as everything but.

The 21st Century swept in and I was grown, I had a man who loved me. I was more comfortable in my skinny than I had ever been. But how could I not take it personally when the magazines that had once loved me so well now ran headlines in a 20 point font - "Men Aren't Attracted to Skinny Chicks!"?

I didn't want to be someone else's self-esteem boost. Couldn't we all just stop talking about what was hot and what wasn't? Enough with the categorizing. The comparing. Wasn't there room for all of us?

See, this is what women do, women who aren't careful, women who miss the point. We stack the scales in our favor. We make someone else be the sufferer.

My friend Emily Wierenga wrote a moving, wrenching account of her struggle with anorexia. The wisdom in her words reaches beyond the confines of a particular disorder. It grabs at the core of who we are and wish to be, lassoing all the fall-out of our wanting.

And I began to enjoy those three tiny parts of my day—breakfast, lunch and supper—in which I could prove I was an individual.  -Chasing Silhouettes, Emily Wieringa

I read Chasing Silhouettes through the lens of who I am, all of my experiences, all of my scars. I was surprised by the ways I identified with her words. I think we all have our wounds. We've all felt the sting of hurtful words. We've all wished this or that away, we've wished that we could change something, switch it out with hers or hers.

We're moms now. We look at our babies and things make so much more sense, but the world is even meaner, so we worry.

Having spent years processing body image, I feel safe in saying that it's a struggle for almost every girl. The reality is, around 8 million Americans have an eating disorder – seven million women and one million men. Millions more struggle to fit, to blend, for one reason or another.

If you know a young girl, you need to read this book. If your a mom, please read it. A youth worker? It's important to know the reality. Because maybe you don't know someone suffering with an eating disorder, but odds are you know someone suffering with a roughed up body image.

And let's come together and promise to celebrate health, regardless of waist size. Let's celebrate heart, character, a laugh that shakes the rafters. There's so much to love about being a woman, let's champion every size and shape. We don't need a sufferer.

Buy Chasing Silhouettes here.*

Emily is giving a copy of Chasing Silhouettes to one FPFG reader. Leave a comment to enter! Tell us anything on your mind.

Chasing Silhouettes

*Purchase Emily Wierenga's new book Chasing Silhouettes: How to help a loved one battling an eating disorder within the first four weeks after its September 25, 2012 release date and receive a special invitation to watch an online forum on eating disorders with bestselling author Dr. Gregory L. Jantz, FindingBalance CEO Constance Rhodes and author Emily Wierenga.

Readers must email a scanned receipt, a picture of them with the book or tell us when and where they purchased the book to, and they will be logged in to receive a special invitation to watch the event. They may also submit questions for the panel to answer, some of which will be selected and answered during the forum.

    Thursday, September 27, 2012

    A Million Miles in A Year. Just One.

    I blinked for just a second yesterday and my baby turned four. Well, fine, it was more than a one-second blink. It may have been more like a teeny, tiny cat nap, because blinking too long leads to that sort of thing these days.

    Regardless, I didn't see it coming.

    He was greeted by this when he came downstairs. He called it a car wash. He told every single person he encountered, "Today's my birthday. I'm foe. I get a car wash."

    Yeah, it was hard to explain.

    What's this, you ask? And what does it have to do with four-year old birthdays? Well, it's individual cups of homemade mac & cheese. For his pre-school party. It's just how homeboy rolls. It was that or kimchi, okay? We opted not to put our money on fire-hot cabbage.

    No one wants to incite birthday treat anarchy.
    This was our insurance policy against said potential revolts.

    And now, a word on mini Milky Way race cars:

    The candy bars crack. I just want to warn you of that in case you're a fellow only-partially-recovering Type-A. Our cars were all busted up in the rear. Every one of them had been rear-ended by an unseen force. It's almost as if Cory was behind the wheel of all of them.

    Also, you may not have noticed (I hadn't) but Teddy Grahams are divided (unevenly) among cheery, "arms up!" teddies and stodgy, grumbly, pouty, stomp-around, arms-down bears. I didn't figure it out until I was a good 6 cars in. The arms-downs looked all wonky and mean. So I had to excise them from their vehicles and call in replacements.

    Another thing? Brown M&Ms. You just can't put a brown tire on a brown car. Trust me on this.

    You can, however, put 3 blue tires and 1 orange tire on a car, in honor of your brother's high school Chevrolet with the single orange door. It's your call.

    As you can see, the day was already almost too much to handle.

    We loaded up all three boys (see Charles and Baby Nolan above) for a special dinner out. As fate would have it, they all share a birthday, though Baby Nolan reportedly turned six.

    His only request was that we all wear our boots.

    We had to wake them up for dinner. They were all a bit sullen at first.

    But chopsticks and kimchi cukes have a way of changing things.

    He plowed through an entire plate, double-fisting his chopsticks (which he uses more like skewers.)
    They brought out a massive bowl of ice cream covered in caramel and scraped the caramel off and ate it, then pushed the ice cream aside, saying he was full, only to eat more kimchi by the fistful.

    Cory and I had such a blast on our Siley date. He was so much fun, so charming, so alive, so fully Silas. All day long, my heart was pinched up with that I'm so lucky feeling. I look at those eyes and see a whole world, an entire volume. I know it hasn't all been written yet. I know we've only known him for two-and-a-half years, but we've lived a lifetime together. All of the pain and the sorrow, all of the tears (ours and his), have slowly begun to give way to hearts that are mostly stitched back together. We have suffered with him and it has made us a family, for real and forever. He's finally able to let go of some of his anger, making space for things like learning and growing and yes, (hallelujah) sitting quietly now and then for an episode of SuperWhy!

    We love you so much, Silas Park. You really are four now. You really are big.

    Some of Siley's favorite things at 4:
    potty humor (totally tops the list)
    Baby Nolan
    mommy shirt
    chocolate milk
    spicy cucumbers
    cell phone ring tones
    pretty lights
    sprinklers, hoses, and general water
    The Carrot Seed
    This cd (aka "Bible schools")

    Monday, September 24, 2012

    Money Shot Monday - Link Or Bust

    We've been so busy around here that it's been hard to find a second for the best kind of mundane.

    Today was the day.

    So we grocery shopped in sweats and a ball cap (me) and sweats and cowboy boots (Silas). We stripped sheets and Leeland sang us through a double batch of Mac & Cheese and Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies. We got flour in our hair and my knuckle fell victim to the grater - yet again.

    We took naps.

    I sought refuge in the bathroom to read jailhouse mail and smiled through most of it.

    The afternoon got wild and wooly, but this is my life. (All the rest, too.) But this, this dirty-kitchen Monday is the very best of me, the very best for me. It holds me together on the days I haul around different kinds of burdens.

    In summary: dirty kitchens are underrated.

    So, this is it, party people. Link on up! I might get fancy sometime soon with a button and a photo link up widget, but for now? We embrace simplicity. Enter your post with your name or that which you celebrate today. Surprise us. (And yes, I tend to blog late. So MSM will often really become MST, but I'm okay with it if you are.)


    Sunday, September 23, 2012

    Why We Have to Go

    I stitched up some curtains for the dining room on Friday, but opted not to drive to Target for curtain clips because it was "too far away" (i.e. 3 miles). Today, my little sister Keisha snapped this photo in Singapore (stuck there for a day en route to India) and uploaded it to facebook, where I immediately hawked it without permission.

    I've never seen anything like it. (Meg, I hope you're reading today, because this has your name all over it.)

    I'm sorry to always be the girl conjuring life lessons from a fluff of culumus and extracting metaphor from Southeast Asian architecture, but this photo perfectly summarizes my day. There's so much beauty out there - but we'll never see it unless we go. Seeing it second-hand just isn't the same. And true, the journey might be unexpected and painful, we might have to leave some things behind (or be left behind), but in the end, there we are - we're arm's length away from a rainbow. It's just for you, just for me, just exactly what we need. It's a gift, and the fact that it's all so haphazard, so confusing, so impossible to summarize or capture only makes it more so.

    So go there, okay? Wherever it is. You know where it is. Yeah, it's scary and I promise, people will say you're crazy. But not me. Nope. I'm right here screaming like mad for you. I'm at the curb with orange slices and Gatorade. I'm at the airport with your name on the sign. I'm writing you on the ballot. I'm brewing the tea extra strong because I want every single detail. It's not dumb. You're not foolish. I don't think you have some kind of a God complex or that your dreams are too hot to handle.

    I think you're brave. I think you're revolutionary. I think you're just the kind of ordinary that changes things - really changes things.

    You might as well know, there's a good chance you'll end up with tension headaches and the odd cold sore, but push through, because there's also the heartbeat of real people - different people - who shake up every thing you ever knew. They bring the sun with their rain. They bring the rainbow.

    ~Graceful Winners~
    -Rebecca Beurrista
    -Dear Emmaline

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

    One Thing I've Learned in a Month

    I grew up two miles from a tiny town, over the river, through the holler. There were no neighbor kids to play with, just my blue banana bike and that familiar curve of road, that slow "S" to the stop sign, then back again. My world was as small as our 13" black and white TV, as thin as the pages of a paperback dream.

    My Dad used to crow that this was why his kids were so good (we weren't so good) - because we didn't gallivant around with the riff-raff. We didn't run the town. We were stuck at home pining for the Schwan man to bring more of those little pizzas or Push Up pops. We were making local calls on the rotary phone, crafting Slip'nSlides from the giant roll of plastic we found up in the hay mow.

    It became critical to find a townie best friend, where we could escape for a day of biking on sidewalks and plunking quarters into the pop machine.

    Eventually, life circled back around and I ached to give my kids the very same tied-down, forced-boredom life. We didn't turn out so bad, after all, and I trusted my dad. He was probably right about living in the country. I surveyed the collective mistakes of us three kids and had to wonder, how bad might it have been if we'd spent our early years "out gallivanting around"?

    It felt safer to stick to the formula. I couldn't really picture life differently, life on a city block. I had no frame of reference. I didn't know what I didn't know.

    But now I do, or I'm starting to.

    Living on this city block means teenagers everywhere. All the time. They shriek from the park and knock on the door right as my kids are taking baths and climbing into flannel pajama pants. They show up nosy, just to sniff the new-house smell. They flaunt their acrobatics and their dance moves with one hand holding their pants up but no, they don't want a belt.

    They get jittery when I ask about school. 

    Their bikes are stolen. They get evicted. Her big sister gets knocked up by the guy across the street - and now he's headed to jail.

    They know too much, talk too loud. They've never heard of a filter when little ears are near.

    I look into their faces and wonder why the Universe needed us to be together like this. How will these chapters end? Will they move away? Lose interest? Will I learn their middle names and birthdays? Will they play board games at our table?

    I like watching this big mystery unfold. 

    I wouldn't trade my sheltered childhood for all the world. I'll fight for the very same things my parents fought for. It may take a little creativity and a trough of grace, but I'm banking on my kids growing up smart and true, their hearts pointed in the right direction, while they gallivant around with the riff-raff.

    Tuesday, September 18, 2012

    Front Entry Drop Zone

    I had no plan for creating a front entry drop. I thought I'd hang a little hook thing for visitors (remember, we transformed the closet into a desk nook) and call it a day.

    My Dad was irrationally hopeful that we might procure a "hall tree". You've never seen anyone so worried about the outerwear of guests. He used any opportunity to endorse Ye Olde Hall Tree. I didn't see it happening.

    But, we moved in and started tracking dirt in, so I threw a rug down. And then I started to think about the bench I've had forever - it just might fit.

    It was only right to add some punchy thrift-store art.

    And I was dying to find a home for my Goodyear hooks.

    So, again, what you'll see here is a whole lot of hodge-podge. Stuff we had on hand.

    It thrills me to the ends.

    It's happy and functional and brings order to our prolific shoe situation.

    This combo? Serendipitous.

    Cory balked when I brought this rug home from Marshalls. He thought it looked "Aztec".
    (Not that there's anything wrong with Aztec.)

    (Raise your hand if you miss Seinfeld.)

    Goodyear hook: Antique store - $15
    Paint-by-Number: Thrift store - $ can't remember
    Bench: Springfield flea market circa 6 years ago
    Rug: Marshall's - $18
    Basket - Home Goods - $25 

    PS - Speaking of situations, we've got a new one on our hands... Do yourself a favor and stock-pile the heck out of these babies. I bought a bag yesterday, sniffed it through the rest of the store, toasted it up for breakfast and smeared on a little whipped cream cheese, felt like I died and went to Heaven, went back to the store in a panic and bought 4 more.

    Limited Edition, people!

    Monday, September 17, 2012


    Some days we decide to stay in our pajamas and watch SuperWhy and Dinosaur Train.
    Some days we run too fast, yawn too much, and eat left-over tomato soup for lunch.
    But some days, we get brave for no good reason.
    We believe that we can do that thing, even if it involves an empty bobbin.

    I'm feeling kind of Superwomany now. Be warned.

    Okay. You don't love Money Shot Monday. I get it. Maybe it's the name? All I can say is that it came to me in the shower, and I've learned to never doubt shower wisdom. So the bad news is, MSM is sticking around, and here's why: I like it. I strangely liked knowing that today was Monday so I needed to track down my goodness and look it square in the mug. I enjoyed exercising my ability to be succinct. (And am ever thankful there are 6 more days in the week...)

    But there's more! (insert infomercial voice)

    Starting next week, I'm linking up, pups. My first-ever link-up. (I still can't bring myself to say "linky".) (told ya)

    So be ready. You've got 6 days to prepare thine hearts. Fancy cameras not required, because it's not about the photo. Just find that sweet spot and prepare to share.

    I think it might be fun.

    Sunday, September 16, 2012

    Can't Stop Weekend

     This weekend, I couldn't stop...

    * Eating this.
    (With these for dessert.)
    * Remembering how much I love this song.
    * Watching this youtube video and bawling for a couple of reasons, but mostly because it gripped Calvin with stoic awe and inspired him to say, "I can't wait to be in the Air Force. Or the Navy." (This is one of Ruby's fave songs because it says "and they went to Africa".) :) 
    * Reading this.
    (And another secret book that you'll have to wait to hear about.)
    * Falling in love with this art.
    * Wearing this.
    * Appreciating this awesomeness.
    * Getting excited about this.
    * Making notes for this. (eeek.)
    * Thinking about making this. Only in an M. haha
    * Watching (loving) this movie.
    * Being rattled by these verses.

    What reeled you in this weekend?

    Friday, September 14, 2012

    A Letter to my Teenage Self

    Dear 16-year old Shannan,

    Girl, I know I'm supposed to tell you how lovely and beautiful and perfectly right you are, and I suppose all of those things are true, but here, twenty years later, my first thought about you is that you're kind of strange. You're an odd duck, okay? Just a little. Not so much that you have trouble blending. The truth is, I love you for it. Because your weird self taught my weird self that it's still alright. Different is the new popular. So don't sweat the fact that all your friends play sports and you still can't do a cartwheel. Wear that Periodic Table of the Elements t-shirt like the stunning frock that it is. Own your lankiness, never apologize and please, for the love, never, ever cry about it.

    While you're there rocking your quirks, give your friends a hug. I know, you're not a big hugger (yet) but those girls with the perms and the Clearasil, the ones you've known since you were 5, they will ground you now and forever. They'll root you so deeply in a silly, fierce High School kind of love that you'll carry them with you for a long, long time, hopefully forever. You're lucky, girl, because they're so much like you. Their families lack cash in the same way yours does, and the wonder of that is you collectively don't have the option of caring much about what you wear or where you go. They'll drive you to early morning choir practice and Taco Bell in gigantic, ugly cars because you're obviously less motivated in the ways of a typical 16-year old. Be sure to give 'em some gas money. (Five bucks buys half a tank!) These friends will be mostly responsible for honing your odd sense of humor, and that is a gift, even if no one else in the room sees it that way. Be kind to them, always. Don't try so hard to be tough when those inevitable arguments pop up. Love them for every amazing thing they are because it's true, they're you and you're them. You have no idea yet how rare it is to luck into such a circle.

    Wanna know who else is stinking funny? Your mom and dad. I know you don't necessarily love your mom's penchant for singing made-up songs in silly voices, but what you don't know yet is that you'll carry her "talent" into motherhood one day, pulling it out when you need a nudge through a grumpy or mundane slice of day. (Your little kids will love it. It's too soon to say how they'll feel about it in adolescence, though I think we both have a good idea.) She'll teach you so much about compassion and sacrifice. She'll still be calling you "honey" when you wear wrinkle cream and drive a mini van.

    Yes, your dad is maddening. You get it from him. You know that, right? So keep laughing "with" him - he loves it. Notice that being raised in a sub-culture of quirkiness frees you up to be wholly you. There's a reason your friends want to hang out with him when he chaperones the trip to Tennessee. He's fun. Don't waste time in frustration over his perfectionism. You'll find a way through the middle of it, and you'll do it on your own terms. It will contribute to your current and later successes and you'll toss it to the curb when it suits your whims.

    You have a good brain. I get it. But would it kill you to put in a little more effort? An illustration: The whale's name is Moby Dick. That's his name. You would know this if you read the book or even if you simply paid attention to the movie in Mrs. Blake's class. (You owe Erin a nachos supreme for handing you that choice bit of information one hour before the paper is due, but you'll pay her instead with the promise to include a line from Hotel California in your report. You'll get an A+. Erin will just shake her head.)

    Okay. Deep breath. Remember how the boys don't really seem to notice you "like that"? One comes along who does. He's cute and broken and that combination proves disastrous for you. Before long, you feel stuck. Here's the thing: you're not stuck. Your the smart, stubborn girl who follows her gut, remember? Do that, please. Your instincts are almost always right. Listen to them right now. Don't wait so long. Don't waste one more day feeling bad about yourself or pretending that everything is fine when most people know he's mean to you. Stop believing that it's up to you to fix him or that he'd have nothing without you. Sometimes the kindest thing we can do is walk away. Sometimes that's what it takes for someone to be fixed.

    Oh, don't quit band. It's hard to explain, but you'll still dream twenty years later about marching around the field while Mr. Jenkins shouts through his megaphone. Choosing between church camp and band camp seems like a no-brainer, but try harder to make them both work. If Jenk just won't budge, then yeah, go to camp. You need to stay up half the night talking to Sarah, Jenn and Becky. They're a  new group of friends, but they're strange like you, and that experience will carry you right into your future. It'll determine where you go to college in a few short years, and you'll meet your future husband there. (He's super hot and never, ever mean.)

    You're lovely, Girl. It's true. You'll be amazed at the life ahead of you, so full of surprises and yeah, some pain, but mostly redemption and beauty. You've already learned how to love life well, how to notice the details and elevate them. Thanks for that.

    Now, go give your little sister a hug. Really confuse her and give her a kiss. She'll change the world with you, one day. I'd tell you to hug your big brother, but we both know he won't let you. Save that hurt for something different. It really is his loss. And one day, he'll soften.

    Go eat some salsa, one of your earliest, truest loves. Read a fashion magazine. (You won't ever strut the cat walk, but you'll never stop loving the idea.) 

    Keep fighting for the under-dog - you can't imagine where that instinct will find you later on. Read your Bible more, not because people say you should, but because you'll find grace there, and that grace changes everything.

    Fierce love,
    36-year old you

    My friend Emily Freeman invited me to write this letter to my teenage self. Her newest book, for teenagers, is called Graceful and it released this week. It's the exact sort of book I would have devoured as a teenager, dotting the pages with secret tears. Emily, in all her wonder, can be found here. Graceful can be found at Amazon, B&N, CBD, or wherever books are sold.

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

    I Care About Celebs. I Just Do.

     I made a big decision today. I decided that Giuliana and Bill Rancic are my new favorite celebrity couple. (Well, next to this one).

    I know some blogs treat you with all of the best recipes. Some bleed maternal wisdom. Some know what ISO means.

    I give you celeb couples.

    While we're on the topic, can I tell you how badly I was shaken over the whole Jef & Emily scare? I Googled them fervently. I prayed for them, man.

    I think this says something about me. Something strange and wonderful, though I've yet to put my finger on it...

    Anyway, I'm thrilled for the Rancics. That's what I call them. "The Rancics". They're fine with it. I love that they are such joyful advocates of the story of family. Our family talks a whole lot about how God creates families in many different ways. It's just beautiful, all the way around.

    (I do wish I could personally shelter her from any and all insensitive comments that will likely be cast her way over the coming years, but she seems to come from hardy stock. I'm sure she'll manage.)

    Today, I'm painted over with so much love. I teared up in my closet, so full of God's love in my life right now.

    *He sent me a new friend in my new town and I haven't overwhelmed her yet with my propensity to show up unshowered or my strange cookie drops.
    *The small kids who live in my home are strong and healthy. They're learning and growing and I get to kiss them many times a day about the head vicinity or in the cleft of a sweaty-ish neck.
    *The big kid who lives across town, behind bars, writes us letters without punctuation but with an abundance of the kind of smiley faces that have two lines for eyeballs.

    Maybe the rash decision to throw my full support behind The Rancics is a symptom of acute sentimentality. Perhaps. Maybe gratitude can be so big and wild that it flows over to things that most people deem unworthy. Maybe God made me weirder than most. Maybe The Rancics should be Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Maybe I'm stalling because I don't want to fold the darks.

    I'll keep you posted.

    You can count on it.


    Monday, September 10, 2012

    Money Shot Monday

    I drove today. I hustled the hustler. I gave the benefit of the doubt beyond all reason. I held hope in my hand, hope that the course of a stagnant future can be shifted, changed, redirected, anything. I ran in circles. I validated my quiet skepticism. When given a prime opportunity, I sighed too long, too loud. (I failed.)

    But without meaning to, without trying, I reached from my seat to hers and grabbed her elbow. I called her honey, like she was my child - one that I love. Her tears fell and I wanted her to know what it felt like for someone to catch them. Who cares that some things never change? Because there she was, broken and lovely, never believing a single good thing, always inclined to doubt me and the rest of the world.

    So maybe tomorrow we'll try again. Maybe she'll learn more about the lining up of ducks and I'll learn that my day was never mine to begin with.

    Sunday, September 9, 2012

    Our Living Room and the Icing on the Cake

    Here's the thing: my tendency leans toward not showing something until it's *just* right. So yes, I have dawdled. I keep thinking about the things I still want to do, the details, the yada yadas. Part of me loves the idea of a magical Big Reveal. Give me some wow factor, people! Give me a megaphone to scream into! Give me a living room that is staged to within an inch of its life!

    It's a nice dream.

    But I'm finding that "that" part of me is fading a bit. I have bigger things on my mind. I'm not a perfect person with a perfect house. My living room often includes dirty socks strewn about, piles of laundry on the floor, library books covering all flat surfaces and the odd Lego or a hundred. You might as well just know it.

    So, here she is.

    Full disclosure on the curtains: The first night we hung them, I was sure I had made an egregious error in judgment. It was dark and they were pulled closed, in all their zany glory. Complicating matters was the fact that my pregnant friend had just hemmed and backed 5 of the 6 panels. I'll be honest, I'm a tiny bit afraid of her right now. Sister's tough as nails, and that's without the pregnancy  hormones. So I couldn't really imagine a situation where I'd tell her I had scrapped the whole idea.

    The next morning, Calvin came downstairs and yelled, "Cool! It looks like a Mexican restaurant in here!"

    I could see his point.
    And as much as I want to marry Mexican food....

    But then the sun started to filter through them and I fell in love.

    And then, my sign arrived.

    Have you visited Between You and Me's etsy shop? Do yourself a favor and go. Pronto.

    I adore Tara (she blogs here). She's my fashion muse and shares my passion for adoption and good food. I already knew that everything Tara touches turns to gold, or maybe something fabulously chippy and layered and rustic and truth-soaked, but even I was not prepared for how much I would love my sign.

    I stare at it many times a day. Last night, I took a break from the book I was reading and reached up to touch it. Not even playing.

    It's the perfect size to fill that large space behind the couch and I love that it's a one-of-a-kind. The quality of craftsmanship is impeccable. I cannot say enough about it.

    Between You and Me is offering FPFG readers $15 off any purchase through the month of September. Just be sure to mention the code FLOWERPATCH when you place your order. All signs are hand-crafted and fully customizable. (Example: I gave her a verse and a particular translation for my sign and they rocked it.) They also offer a  range of sizes.

    So, there you have it! The first peek. And now, I shall retire to said room with a slice of pie. (Love you, pie. Love you so much.)

    Scripture sign: Between You and Me
    Light fixture: Barn Light Electric giveaway
    Orange chair: church tag sale
    Turquoise foot stool: St. Vincent de Paul ($3)
    Turquoise end table: An old crate from a local antique store ($20)
    Lamp: Pier 1 clearance circa 8 years ago
    Coffee table: Pottery Barn circa 11 years ago
    Metal magazine basket: antiques store
    Rug: Pottery Barn via Ebay circa 8 years ago
    Curtains: Urban Outfitters bed tapestries (no longer available)
    Flowers: Our rockin' local farmer's market
    Pitcher: St. Vincent de Paul ($3)
    Tall cabinet: garage sale
    Small oil painting: Goodwill Outlet  (still one of the funniest memories ever)
    Vintage camera: thrift store
    Clock: the auction of my childhood school
    Round pillow: Urban Outfitters
    Grey damask pillow: TJ Maxx circa eons ago
    Purple pillow: DKNY via TJ Maxx (traded with Sarah)
    Grey flannel pillow: Target clearance 2 weeks ago ($12)
    Vintage grain sack pillow:Vintage Junky Style

    Wednesday, September 5, 2012

    The Particular Problem of Stripey Flats

    Six months ago, I whittled my embarrassingly vast wardrobe down to nine paltry items for thirty days, on journey with Jen Hatmaker’s 7.
    Today, I stomped around town in pink and orange striped flats, bought for a song at our local grocery store.

    These flats encapsulate my inner struggle so perfectly that I’m tempted to leave well enough alone and let them do the talking. But in the end, no one can be expected to concentrate when it comes to talking grocery store shoes – no matter how cute they are.

    {Click here to continue reading...}

    Tuesday, September 4, 2012

    One Stop Self-Esteem Boost

    In high school I was generally ambivalent about my looks. I'd taken inventory. I wasn't thrilled, but it was futile to sweat it. I was all elbows and forehead, not a curve to be found. My hair was flat. I wasn't coordinated enough to roller-skate, whistle, or do a proper cartwheel, much less play a sport.

    It was mostly alright with me.

    But those days would come around, the ones where I'd feel certain that I was a hopeless case. I'd pray for a make-over. I'd sneak glances at the skinny alto over on the second riser and wish for her, uh, "curves". I'd pray that the phone would just ring, dangit.

    And then I'd pull this puppy out and and magically, the situation didn't seem quite so bleak.

    Have mercy, this poor 7th grader, with her shoulder-padded mock-neck (my mom's) and the Ogilvie home perm. My locket is backwards. If memory serves me, my mom let me spritz a little White Shoulders on for the occasion. (FYI, White Shoulders is not the boyfriend-magnet you might imagine...)

    I practiced smiles in the mirror and this was the hands-down winner. If you want to copy-cat it, just roll your upper lip all the way under to bare your gums and stretch your cheeks back to expose your molars. (Not sure what to tell you about the missing eye-tooth.)

    Maybe I'd never be the Homecoming Queen, but progress had been made.

    Twenty-five years later, the picture still helps on a rough day, if I'm being honest. Also, it makes Cory snort and then very patronizingly say, "Oh, Honey..."

    What was your most awkward stage? Paint me a picture, Sister.

    Monday, September 3, 2012

    Money Shot Monday

    Maybe you noticed, but I started Money Shot Monday. I invented it. Like the internet.
    I'm sure your Mondays were revolutionized, as of one week ago. What did the world ever do without me?

    The thing is, I've been a photo slacker. And a blog slacker. I blame it on a general loss of mojo coupled with increased life insanity, but the truth of the matter is this: I hate uploading photos to the computer.

    There. I said it.

    I hate finding the cable, hooking up the cable, transferring the photos into the file, deleting them off the memory card, editing them, and loading them to the blog.

    This entire process used to be one million percent simpler. And that's no joke. Now, my folders are all in disarray. We have duplicate photo numbers so we now have a duplicate file. Blast it.

    Aren't you glad you came here today?

    Do I light up your life, or what?

    But I'm committed to pushing through. I can do this.

    If Dean Cain can pretend to be in the armed forces, I can embrace a bit of unruly technology.

    Also? It's high time I started sniffing out the best moments of my day and holding on to them.

    So every Monday, for the rest of my life or until I tire of it, I will be posting one photo, taken on the very day, that summarizes one of the happy little blips on the radar.

    I'll try to keep my yammering to a minimum.

    Though tonight totally doesn't count.

    And really, if I'm feeling especially verbose on a Monday, well, you'll be kicking yourself that you didn't invent this game first. I wrote this rule book, Mamas.

    Or, as I tell Silas numerous times a day, "I'm the boss!"

    I have no idea why I'm in the mood to throw my weight around tonight. It's just the cards we were dealt.

    Maybe I'm angsty because we went to the zoo and all of the animals were boring and lazy. I needed to hear those lions, man. They freak me straight out.

    Maybe it's because I hit up the new J Crew store and had trouble understanding why a rayon granny blouse needed to cost $80.

    Maybe partially stuffing myself into bright coral cropped jeggings from the Gap clearance rack was even more demoralizing than I remember.

    Whatever the case may be, that's not even what I'm supposed to be talking about tonight.

    (Be honest, you don't hold high hopes for MSM, do you?)

    (Me, either.)

    But I'm The BOSS!!!

    The moral of the story is this: Our landscaping was installed on Friday. Yes, I said installed. Some landscape snobs might say "planted". Whatevs.

    We were exactly zero percent helpful in deciding what would be installed. I regressed to my typical level of helpfulness, saying things like, "What about those little trees that look sort of like umbrellas?" I said that very line to an ex-Amish man. Over the phone.

    In the end, he read between the lines and planted a crab apple tree, some boxwood, a knock out rose bush, and a black eyed susan. The flowers are totally random and were never discussed, other than my constant refrain, "I just love flowers!"

    I do love my flowers. I'm thankful for the surprise. I feel a bit more like my real, old self, the one who has flowers and mulch. It's been too long.

    If the plant installation business ever dries up, ex-Amish Dave might consider a career as a therapist/mind reader.

    Boss Lady

    ps - Have you watched the Mercy Project video yet? It's important stuff, homies.

    Mercy Project

    There’s an estimated 7,000 children who work in the Ghana fishing industry. Some of
    these children are as young as 5 and 6 years old.  All of these children are slaves.
    –Mercy Project

    The problem with living such a cushy life in America is that there's an impulse to pretend that most everyone else lives the same, or close to the same. To look hard at the face of injustice and abuse - especially toward children - threatens our own coziness, somehow. 

    It's difficult to wrestle with the dichotomy of have/have not. It can't be tidied up and tucked away in a labeled box. It messes with my head. It kicks me in the gut when I should be sleeping.

    I can't make sense of my life juxtaposed with the lives of three little girls who live in a one room shack just a few miles down the street. Their existence complicates my bliss a little. It should.

    It's even harder to process the lives of children in third world countries. Their existence involves crippling poverty. Hunger. Slavery. 

    Children. Slavery. I can't make it compute. 

    Today, my children will wake up thrilled to the ends that Daddy has the day off. They'll argue over whether we go to the zoo or the mall. We'll pay for one meal what over half of the families in the world live on for a week.

    Across the ocean, in Ghana, Africa, mothers living impossible lives make the unthinkable decision to either sell their young children to someone who can provide for them, or watch them starve to death. They are told their children will be given food, housing, and an education. Instead, the kids are often taken to Lake Volta where they become child slaves. Their mothers never see them again.   

    Thankfully, Mercy Project is working to break the cycles of trafficking around Lake Volta by providing alternate, more efficient, sustainable, fishing methods for villagers – ultimately eliminating the need for child slaves.  Because of the work Mercy Project is doing in Ghana, the first group of children will be freed this month from Lake Volta.

    Calvin and I watched this video together a few weeks ago and it provided an amazing opportunity for him to see the way so many other children around the world are forced to live. I want my kiddos to understand from a young age that they are not the center of the Universe, that people are hurting all around, that they have a responsibility to help the helpless.

    Today, as we celebrate the systems in our own country that strive to prevent injustices like child trafficking and child labor, let's remember the many child slaves around the world who are unprotected and the organizations, like Mercy Project, who are working to free them. 

    Get involved by connecting with Mercy Project  via  Facebook, twitter, or their website.

    Help spread the word. And later this month, when they free their first group of children, we can celebrate together.

    Happy Labor Day, friends.