intent & loving…

Happy Friday!

Things have been fairly quiet around here. Turning 41 and having my youngest turn 18 has been serious business. Add to that my 23rd wedding anniversary and WOW, busy busy. Plus the fact that I spent the upwards of twenty days with an upper respiratory infection. Thankfully Gen contracted whatever nasty virus I had, but in her it seemed to only live a day or two. Chw, thus far, is in stellar health. Minus being a little sleep deprived from sweet Mr. Knightley, we are doing pretty grand.

I have been thinking, over the past few days, about wanting to blog and connect with you a little bit, but perhaps it’s the combination sleep deprivation, our blustery weather outside and just beginning to feel human again, which had me unsure of what to write. Then, this morning, as I was making a small pot of tea- it hit me…

As of late, I have stumbled upon a few things I am really loving. Some have been at the suggestion of friends, some have been by chance and I wanted to share them with you.

  • I love tea. I have likely always loved tea, but sometimes I just get a little forgetful of how much I truly love tea. Then, I wind up being invited to tea somewhere and my love is rekindled. This past weekend I was introduced to a tea flavor by Harney & Sons named Paris. I have to preface the furthering of this subject with a confession. I pretty much detest bagged tea. I am a loose-leaf girl, all the way, for a variety of reasons. My only exception is Harney & Sons. I went to tea on Saturday and this flavor sounded interesting. (don’t get me started on how caught off guard I was that a tea house used bagged tea, because I will come across as a total tea snob and I really am not. I promise) This flavor is AMAZING! I immediately purchased a tin of Paris because- DIVINE.
  • Last night for dinner, I tried this recipe. While I did a couple of things differently, I have to be honest- it was DELICIOUS!
  • My friend Jen told me about the book Big Girls Do It Running. I really enjoy it because, for the most part, I find the Author’s story and approach really relatable. I am inspired to give carb cycling a try.
  • We really don’t watch a lot of TV. Occasionally Gen and I get caught up watching entire series (Currently it is 90210. The girl has a healthy obsession with the 90’s… I am so proud!) There really isn’t much that all three of us really enjoy together, but this new sitcom on NBC called Trial & Error is one we adore. So funny, we LOVE it.
  • I am not sure how familiar you are with Essential Oils. I Swear by them! Over the past few months my dear friend Debbie has turned me on to a few products (that go a bit beyond Essential Oils) that have literally changed my life. They are both in this brand, the ON Guard line. One is the throat drops. While I was sick, these made an amazing difference! Two is the toothpaste. Listen for a moment, this toothpaste, after just ONE use, became something truly special for the three of us, as well as my older daughter and her family. Amazing does not begin to cover it. (I already loved the hand soap, all-purpose cleaner and oil itself.) I am honestly not trying to sell you, just sharing what I love and am willing to elaborate if asked! :)
  • Word searches… No, I am not joking. a couple of months ago I picked up a pretty little Word Search book at Barnes & Noble. (who knew they could be cute and pretty???) I used to love them, was giving up most phone apps (time wasters) for Lent and decided to use this as a substitution. Talk about rekindling a love! For my birthday I received another pretty Word Search book and my spare moments often include doing a quick WS puzzle.
  • Our pet store (which is awesome) told us about these teething rings. They promised a life saver, and they weren’t kidding. Knightley loves them. (he loves chewing on toes, feet, fingers, chins and any other visible flesh more, but these serve as a good distraction!)
  • I received a bag of this coffee, as a gift. You guys, if you are wanting an indulgent weekend coffee, this is the one for you. It is amazing. It is too decadent to drink every day, but it is absolutely our new weekend treat!
  • Rising well before the sun. Having a chronic illness has made early mornings, over the past few years, a struggle. I won’t pretend something changed, because it hasn’t. Because of Knightley, early mornings are a necessity and I have been using that time in more intentionally positive ways. I make a homemade breakfast for my family, play with the puppy, read a little. Whatever I need to do to think less about how crummy and sore I feel, and more about the people I love. It’s not always that easy, but I have seen it shaping my days/week a little differently.
  • If you pay any attention to me at all, you’ll know that I am a huge fan of face masks and skin care. I stumbled upon this mask, and what I loved about it were the ingredients and the price. I used it this past Monday (while sipping my Godiva coffee) and it was heavenly. Five days later and my skin is still amazing. (plus, you guys, we went to dinner for our anniversary and the entire staff REFUSED to believe that we’d been married 23 years and that our youngest was 18. There is really something to be said about an intentional and healthy skin care regimen!)

I am always interested in book, show, music and product recommendations! What are you loving lately??? PLEASE SHARE!

To do…

Winter came out of nowhere and slammed Michigan over the weekend. I am sitting in an apartment that I will finally admit we pay way too much for, when our water is disgusting and we freeze with the weather outside. We will not be renewing our lease here for a variance of reasons, but I can understand why people do… Apartment hunting is no fun anywhere but this area is a joke. The income is not high enough here to charge the rates they do. We found a lovely option, over the weekend. If only it were about $300 less a month and with a deposit half that size.

Geez, adulting is tough.

Ideally I am mentally putting a plea out there for someone, in the right location, to have a lovely little condo they will rent for a reasonable rate. Thus far my mental plea is going unanswered.

In other news, I started out the year with a long list of fun things that I wanted to learn how to do, or get better at. Here we are, mid march and I have only managed to learn that my body will not tolerate most medications, and that we pay too much for our apartment. These weren’t exactly the things I had in mind.

I have wanted to be a cupcake baker extraordinaire for years. To date I have attempted this process three legitimate times. It was fun. It was delicious. The problem? I’m not sure. Gen and I have been watching the Great British Bakeoff on Netflix and my baking bug has hit, hardcore. The issue is that I have a horribly unworkable kitchen in my incredibly overpriced apartment. At least eleven times Gen and I have said “oh, I want to bake ________, we should totally do it!” Only to then venture in to our “kitchen”  and assess our less than 1″ of workable space. Yep, it is  sad day when contestants on a baking competition have a better kitchen in their tiny strip of space, than we have. In all fairness (and hindsight) our apartment is made for foreigners here on business, with infinite bank accounts, so you can kind of understand, I guess.

So yeah… in thirteen days I celebrate my birthday. One month ago I romantically answered Maybe i will make a dinner of homemade gnocchi* and cute little Alice in Wonderland cupcakes**! When asked what I wanted to do on my birthday. (*I have never made gnocchi from scratch so this seems like a really stupid idea, as the 28th approaches. Especially considering the kitchen I have.) (**no. I later ammended that I really love Whole Foods coconut lemon cake. Like REALLY love it.)

In case you missed it, Gnocchi is also on my list of things to learn/master. I aim small.

While watching the Great British Bake Off I have lengthened my list a bit, (which ironically was a 2017 goal list, so my time table has shortened.) I would love to make a beautiful braided loaf of bread, master pies (sweet pies, no meat pies here) and wrap some poached pears in swirly dough… Of course, the afore mentioned kitchen may be an issue. Also, re: the pears- the bakers did say it was the worst, so I may scratch that from the list. (which also means rewriting the entire list because the flawed “scratch off” list would be below my highly ambitious standards.) (Perhaps in the new list I should head it “Things to learn and master before I am 50”, which would, obviously, make my 49th year of life incredibly busy…)

I guess the moral of this diatribe is that I need to be a little more honest with myself and my limits. Keep sight of my goals, but honestly accept that I can’t do everything. Some days I can’t do anything. Currently I can’t become an amazing baker and gnocchi maker, and that’s ok.

If I can just manage to find a decent rental I’ll consider it good. :)

A family journey…

emmxokmbsik-emma-dauI have been thinking a lot about family lately. My birth family, who i lived with until I was 12, I was the youngest, my grandmother was the woman who loved others through baking, cooking and making for them. My mother was crippled with mental illness and depression and so the most stable parent in my home was only there part time and pretty abusive, but that’s an entirely different story.

The dynamics were skewed but it’s what I knew. “family time” with my mom looked like my mother in front of the TV, smoking and moody. I could watch the westerns or old movies she watched, or I could go play in my room alone. When my step dad was around, “family time” included movie nights, (often inappropriate, but still it was something) and games. My mom really went on and on about how she hated games, but I loved those game nights the most. They were rare. Dinner when he was around was always large meals like Tbones, baked potatoes, corn on the cob and the perfect iced tea. When he wasn’t around I had frozen dinners, half-cooked, nearly thrown and me and verbal abuse about how I would eat it, not gag and not complain. There was also the months long period of time when I only ever was allowed to eat bologna sandwiches.

There was no talking, not really. No parental guidance, or heart to hearts. There were lots of rants, lots of two-faced confessions and a lot of verbal abuse. There was not a “how was school?” or “what are you interested in these days?” Birthday plans, from my mom, typically consisted of plans she made to mess with me the most. The one that sticks out the most is the year she went on and on about how she was going to do something so special and amazing for my birthday, IF I DESERVED it. When the week of my birthday came, I asked her if I’d been good enough and she told me she’d never said she was doing anything for my birthday and I didn’t deserve to even be told Happy Birthday. I was turning 10. The morning of my birthday my mother was especially mean. I walked to my grandmother’s for lunch and tried talking to her about it but she just kept saying “well, you know how your mother is. Just try to enjoy your day.” When she took me home I walked in to a surprise party and my mom crying happily because she had “pulled it off”. I just remember feeling so confused. To this day, 30 years later I still remember that lost and worthless feeling echoing What is going on???, throughout my head.

My larger family consisted of an aunt, uncle, cousins, grandparents, etc. Pretty normal. We did family holiday dinners, when my mom allowed me to participate. It was always fun and there was good food, lots of laughter, games played and I loved them. There still wasn’t talking really. It was, at least when I was around, pretty light-hearted and fun. Well, that’s not entirely true. There were often yelling matches when my mother was in a mood, which soured everything.

At 12 I went to live in a foster family filled to the brim with two biological children and 8 fosters. Family time looked like everyone piled around watching movies and drinking soda and eating homemade popcorn. On Sunday’s, after church, we sat at the table lingering after lunch and telling jokes. We baked and cooked together. Things like parental talks and advice, honest criticism, encouragement, etc were something I balked at because, lets face it, they were a foreign language to me.

I changed foster families once, about a year and a half later. There were similarities but a lot more tension and “joking around” which could have been borderline bullying…

Fast forward to a dinner when Gen was about 9. My son sat at the table and said something very sexually crude, to which my older daughter laughed and said something to follow-up. Chw and I looked at each other and realized that we were standing on a parental precipice. We decided then and there that our home would be the home were things could be talked about, and over the years they have been. If questions were asked, we answered them honestly, without candy coating anything. There were moments when he or I would question if we were doing the right thing, allowing such candidness, but with our youngest heading to college in a few months, we know we did it right.

Family time, in our family, does not happen enough. (That’s the way with older kids I guess.) When it does though, it looks like movie nights with homemade popcorn, or game nights, or family dates to dinner, etc. It looks like walks and bike rides or light hiking. Sometimes there is teenage attitude which puts a damper on it, but most of the time there is laughter, conversations ranging from politics to religion, sex to relationships, etc. There are always movie quotes and references to other times together, littered throughout.

I am not a perfect mother, thankfully I have never strived for perfection. I haven’t ever really worried about if my kids like me or not, but more on loving my kids where they are. Parenthood for anyone is speckled with disappointments and triumphs, adoptive parenting is no different. The journey is hard and our family has a lot of evidence of my shortcomings, but that is ok. This weekend everyone (but my son) was together. As open and honest conversation (about pretty much every possible thing, including an in-depth discussion on poop), laughter (sometimes at someone else’s expense, in a loving way) and at one point we just looked around and thought, this… Of all the dynamics I have known, ours is the one I love the most. It may not be your style, or her style, or that guys over there, but it IS ours. This is us, and I love us…

On Marching forth…

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Awhile ago I wrote about battling my own demons regarding what was happening last year, around this time, versus now. I think that maybe I had it all figured out, in my head, that by this point in my life, I would know more. (and let’s be honest, be more…) When I think of a 40 year old wife and mother, there are a series of things that I personally feel shouldn’t be in my plan. (in yours, or anyone else’s, its fine.) How after a 22 year long relationship, I we should not have separated. Sure, life would happen, and there for about a year it would happen BIG, but by that point shouldn’t we have it figured out? Or, how after losing 138 lbs, I shouldn’t gain 20. That doesn’t even make sense. What about how, after so many years, we shouldn’t be living in a tiny apartment crippled by debt.

While it would be true to say that I had other plans, the more accurate reality is that I had other expectations, for me.

Between you and I, I am trying so hard to work through those things and deal with life differently. I don’t want to live with the weight of the feelings that accompany the disappointment in my life and where it’s at. Have I made mistakes? Yes, of course I have. Have things happened which weren’t my fault? Again, of course. At the end of the day, however, it simply doesn’t (or shouldn’t) matter.

I feel like my head is a little clearer, and my heart is a little less muddled and stuck in the hauntings of the past year. This is due some to praying about it, some to talking with friends and Chw about it, and due to just realizing truths about myself. This life, until the day I no longer take breath, will be a journey. There will be peaks and there will be valleys. We expect and accept this within the boundaries of the shared stories from the lives and journeys of others, but when it comes to the way we perceive our own life adventures- our expectations are tremendously different.

This month I am journeying forth a little differently. March is always BIG for me, big with the sentiment and big with the pressure. March is my birth month and my birthdays and I have always been without peace. I wanted to share with you how I plan to take control of this journey (in a healthy way) and move forward, navigating through it, to something better…

Me:

  • Do a photo of the day challenge on Instagram.
  • Do a 31 day Scripture writing challenge.
  • Read a fiction book, a memoir and a nonfiction book.
  • Be a better breakfaster
  • REALLY celebrate my birthday, how I want to celebrate it.
  • Choose books or gentle creativity on those days when life (and fibromyalgia) make major functioning too difficult, instead of turning on the tv.
  • continue striving to be intentional in the relationships I hold most dear.
  • Journal. It doesn’t matter how, just that I do.

Home:

  • keep fresh flowers home, when I am home.
  • experiment more with essential oils.
  • keep wholesome and delicious things made so that my family always has something good and desirable to eat.
  • continue the journey of minimizing and striving for less.

Family:

  • celebrate my grandson’s 6th birthday.
  • spend quality time visiting my daughter.
  • celebrate my son’s birthday, though he is far-far away.
  • celebrate my youngest daughter’s crossing into adulthood.
  • make moments momentous, without the aid of stuff.

Create:

  • experiment more with photography.
  • make significant progress on a writing project I am doing.
  • Play around with baking, here and there.
  • Do more with my hands.

Health:

  • I reiterate: be a better breakfaster.
  • try, try, try to do the ACV thing.
  • experiment with DIY tooth polish.
  • Be more active.
  • Lose 10 lbs.
  • Be more intentional and deliberate with Yoga.

Spring is such an encouraging time of year. Already I am feeling motivated by it. What about you? What are you working on or looking forward to, this spring?

Perfecting imperfection…

3ll_nlvpl08-matthew-henryI sit here, laptop flat on the deep grey quilt. To my left there is that one thread, unraveling big. To many, this would mean it is time to shop for a new one, while to me it simply makes my heart soar a little. This quilt makes up a small piece of the larger picture of home. It has wear spots and snags, like all good home things do.

Me too…

To my write sits an unfinished library book balancing a long, cold cup of coffee. My day, before it unfolds, holds hope of laundry, quiet time, a face mask, bottles of water, chapters read and a heavy word count written. So many things scribbled out on my to do list. Drink water. Record food. Take a walk. Wash the towels. Hang up the closet clothes. Wash face, and moisturize. Put dinner in the slow cooker. Address the envelopes. Make some calls. Work on that project. Write a blog post… The list of things tick out, both equal measures of daunt and comfort.

I love lists. They keep me grounded and in line, until they don’t. The don’t, these days, begins to strike about Wednesday. The rest of the week has taken up the bad habit of rebelling against everything good, healthy and necessary. I am watching and listening, careful to try and find the place the days snag.

Do I not have enough grace for myself? Am I driven by lists until I simply cannot drive any longer? It does not seem so, or feel that way, but why else?

What is it I want? Really? At the end of the lists, when the day’s sun is disappearing behind the skyline of that moment, what is my goal? To have a clean home? To feed my family clean, healthy and yet delicious food? To find joy in every experience and make joy when I don’t find it? To be a slave to nothing other than the moment and making the best of it? To be a writer/artist who creates? To further grow and nurture relationships? To read a book every week or two? To lose 50 lbs? Why can’t I do all of these things? They don’t seem too big, they do seem like every other wife and mother gets them done without much effort.

My apartment is thick with the smell of barbacoa in the slow cooker. Today’s organic grocery delivery is put away, nestled into a freshly clean refrigerator. The laundry basket is stacked high with clean and folded clothes, the dryer humming with another load shortly on it’s way to the same. Music softly plays in the back ground and I feel a slight twinge of frustration that I didn’t even manage to open my laptop until 3:30 in the afternoon, which means that not only will I not accomplish much writing today, but that I MUST prioritize and manage my time better. I must… I must. But I don’t know how. How do I do it all? I do I get it done? At what point do I decide the things which are accomplished, (and accomplished well, at that) are insignificant to the contrast of what remains incomplete or left for abandon? How fair is that to myself? I have a clean fridge, food prepped and put away (or cooking), laundry in progress… Once things are done, do they lose their importance?

I’m also, in the back of my mind, packing and preparing for the few days I am going to spend with my older daughter for her spring break. That little voice, in the back of my soul, is saying why? Why try so hard to figure out how when you are just going to be gone and ruin it all anyway?

I do not want my life to be a slave to the daunting list to check off, missing the heart in the moments written there. I do not want to live my life by check marks, missing all that might happen when I am not looking. I ache, simply, to live my life. To live it well, with intention, and still manage to get the necessary responsibilities done.

If nothing else, today, there are successes. I have managed conversations with each of my beautiful daughters, reminding me gently that I am so blessed to be their mother. I have sang along with songs that stir my inner self with so much love and goodness. I have began dinner, lived Monday with open windows and fresh air. I have washed, masked and moisturized my skin to the point of glowing-smooth (and healthy) goodness, (my absolute favorite part of Mondays.) I have prep-work done for a tasty snack for our tv-catching-up evening. My laundry isn’t done, but it is getting there. Mason’s birthday gift isn’t wrapped, but it will be before Friday so I can relax on that one.

So I don’t write today. There’s always tomorrow. If I set my alarm, I can do it. If I clear out and set myself up somewhere inspiring, a place which does not remind me of the undone list and unfinished snags of home that sit all around to call my name and distract me. I can do better, or at least, different. It can have both to-do lists and grace. It can be imperfect.

I can be imperfect…