Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Required Resolutions Post- Do Better

I am not usually a “New Years Resolution” kinda gal. I am not much for bandwagons and mass guilt, they have always rubbed me the wrong way.  But this year my life's path just happens to line up with the calendar, with lots of projects finished and others just beginning. so I figured, why not go ahead and jump on the New Year, New Me train? Recently I read a great quote by Maya Angelou. She says “when you know better, you do better”  and that is how I feel about resolutions. I don’t want to commit to these grand, self-flagilatiing, never-can-achieve goals that will only make me feel like a failure. Instead I am going to make myself a list of Do Betters. Things that I can work on in small increments and Do Better, cause I know better.

So without further rambling here are my 2012 Do Betters:

Yoga- I pretty much gave up Yoga when I started on the book. I just only had so much time and energy. But Yoga aligns more than just my spine, it aligns my spirit. To me it is as much a form of prayer as it is exercsise, and there is no reason I cannot practice alone daily, and in a group at least twice a week. I think everyone in my house will thank me for it as I am always so much more centered when I am practicing.

Faith  @ Home – The church we go to is wonderful and exactly where we are called to be. It is family to us and a place where all of us can serve together in our community during our Service Sundays and through other relationships and connections we have made there. But the way our body works, and the way in which we meet and gather means that our kids are missing out on some of the more indepth bible study and lessons on the history of our faith that Sweet Man and I benefitted from in the more traditional church setting that we group up in. As we start this year I am convicted that as their parents we need to take the reigns and do better job of teaching our kids the roots and rythms of their faith. So to that end I am going to try a little Sunday school at home type of plan studying together, reading together and digging in to explore and discover God’s Story as a family. I am not 100% sure how this is going to look, but I have some ideas. I will keep you posted on our progress and any tips or book suggestions you have would be very appreciated.

Purge, purge, purge- I am ready to clean out and giveaway and sell. Ever since I started working full time I have just let things pile up- old magazines, craft supplies, fabrics, dishes, clothes. You name it I am ready to give it up.  I am having my first garage sale Jan 14, so if you live local- come on and bring your pocket book cause momma's gotta buy a farm!

Healthy Cooking/Menu Planning- Two Days a week. I am going to try and plan ahead two meals a week and see how it goes. Healthy, fresh, new. Surely I can do it two days? Surely!

Write to Write- a little every day. Book or no book. Blog or no blog. I want to keep a record of this year just for kicks and just for me. If this year is half as interesting as last year this will be project well worth taking on.

Hold On To Hope:  This year I do not want to forget where my hope is and it is not in my circumstances or my address. Of course I pray that we sell our house and move to the farm, but I also pray that regardless I will be content and that I will be filled with hope and faith.  I pray that whomever ends up at the farm and whomever ends up at our house, regardless if it is us or not, loves where they are, just as they are.

So those are my Do Betters for 2012. Do you make resolutions? Do you have a Do Better list? Do you have tips on how I can accomplish mine?

Thank you for sharing 2011 with me. This little blog has been amazing way to meet new and beautiful people whom I would otherwise never know. I am so grateful for each and ever visitor who chooses to read my words and look at my picture, because I know there are so many other things you could be doing. I know you each have very busy lives and struggles of your own,  and I pray that this new year brings about peace and joy in your heart as well as home.

all my love,

Thursday, December 29, 2011


This is me trying to post from my phone...
Did it work?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Long Haul

So here is the deal, let's start with the good: We found our farm. Well, we found a farm. It's not ours just yet... The farm has a  small workable house with some land and barns and a pond. And it is perfect for us.  There are pastures for me and woods for Sweet Man. It is not too far from work and school, and it is closer to some of our very best friends. So after months of planning and revisiting it over and over we made an offer and it was accepted. Hurrah!

But here is were it get's dicey. Here is where reality hits. We have to sell our current home first. There was a chance we wouldn't have to, and then there was the small chance that we had a buyer waiting in the wings, but neither of those things worked out. And at first those bits of news were really hard to take. I won't lie, I have shed my fair share of tears over all of it. But, if I am really honest, both of those options would have come with their own sets of really big issues and hurdles,  which may have bit us in the hinney in the end. Still, it was hard to see the "easy answers" slip away.

To me this is the tough part. Putting our house on the market. Packing, cleaning, purging, fixing and waiting. The last time we sold a house I was a stay-at-home mom with a 3 year old and the market was so different. I think it took two or three weeks for that house to sell and the waiting was agony.
Looking back I could just slap myself. 3 weeks! Can you imagine? I was spoiled!
Sometimes I have complete serenity about the risk and the work that is ahead. But then there are the other times I completely freak out because the reality is I have zero control over how long -or if- it will take to sell our house. And while often realizing I have no control is completely freeing, there are other times when  it is just maddening. Total bat-sh*t maddening. Today was one those days. Today I  laid on the floor and cried big ole whale tears about it all. And I didn't  just metaphorically lay down on the floor, no I actually laid down on the actual floor. Afterward, not only did I have lovely swollen eyes and a splotchy complexion, I also had carpet impressions all on the side of my face. I alone am bringing sexy back,let me just tell ya.

Eventually I got off the floor and took a shower. And then I went and bought clearance Christmas wrapping paper for 74cents a role which actually really helped.  Also hugs from my momma and sweet text and empathy from my bestest friends, and total calmness from Sweet Man helped too.
Sometimes it takes the kindness of others and clearance wrapping paper to see the forest for the trees. At least that is how it is for me.

After I talked to Sweet Man, I started going back through my photos of the farm and I found this one. Do you see what I see? Do you see the heart in the dry creek bed? I must have seen it and taken this picture on purpose, but I have no memory of it. And yet there it is; A heart. In the dry creek bed.

New Years is days away and I am so ready. 2011 brought with it lots of good things and lots of hard things. In some ways I feel like I spent 12 months swimming upstream. I love to swim, but upstream will wear a body out. 
This year when the ball drops at midnight and when I am eating my black-eyed peas and cornbread on New Years Day, I will not be making many wishes. Instead, I will be saying a prayer. I will be praying that through all of this - this house, the farm, the book, our finances, and our family life changing- that we not lose heart, that we not grow cynical and calloused.   That we not put our faith in realtors and mortgage companies and publishing houses and to-do list,  but that we put our faith in the one who carries our hearts for us. The one who is with us for the long haul, through the thicket, over the barb wire, in the dry creek bed and in the middle of the bat sh*t crazy, when we cannot see even a tenth of the forest for all the monstrous trees that block our view. Instead of a wish, that will be my prayer as we start 2012.
But if I forget that come January 2, will someone pleases slap me? 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Fun House Christmas & Farm Update

For years and years I have wanted to decorate my little vintage tin dollhouse and this year I finally did it!
I think I may have had more fun decorating it than any other part of my actual life size house. Isn't that so the way it goes? I am already plotting what I can add   next year. I think some window treatments are in order for sure and maybe some tiny stockings or a Santa and sleigh on the roof...

Only after I took these pictures did I see the  momma girl laying on the floor by the front door. When I finally spied her I busted out laughing because friends, that momma gal is ME. I am on the floor, worn out, a little distraught, and a little excited.  Why? Because we are one big step closer to our Farm Dreams. One really big step.

But there are still some questions to answer and some hurdles to jump.
So if you think of it, please say a little prayer for this momma gal and for our family and our dream. I really do want what is best for everyone and in the right time, but I can't help but hope that this is that time...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A weary world rejoices

O ye beneath life's crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps so slow;
Look now, for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing;
Oh rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels, and hear them sing

"Peace on the earth, goodwill to men
From heavens all gracious King!"
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels, to hear them sing
Sing –Sing –Sing – Sing

Edmund Hamilton Sears/Sara Groves

Love has come to walk among us.

Peace, peace.

As close as we came to a family portrait this year

Yesterday Sweet Man and I took the boys on a Christmas Outing that had 5 total surprise stops (more on that later. ) It was such a fun day, and I didn't even worry about the laundry or the dishes one single time (OK I did freak out for .05 seconds before I went to bed) instead I just let it all go and enjoyed the day. It was my Christmas gift to myself. 

We took these pictures after our first stop. All I can think when I look at Wylie is "here come the teenage years..." Yikes. Not sure if I am ready for that. 

Aren't my boys so handsome? 
I think so. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Thursday's Confessions: advent reckoning

Welcome to Thursday's Confessions. A weekly feature where I confess, before you my sisters and brothers, the silly, the ridiculous and even at times the shameful. Why? Because confession is good for the soul. Even in Blogland.

Confession: This picture doesn't have too much to do with this post other than I just had to share. This is one of the sweetest babies ever. Course I think all my friends babies are the sweetest. But when I find one that smiles at me, well then I just melt. Did I mention that I love babies? I really think that Target should hire me just to hold crying babies while their mothers shop. I am really good and walking around, bouncing babies on my hip and talking to them about nothing as if we are the oldest of friends. I could be the "relief holder" for tired, stressed-out momma's trying to juggle their crying babies,  finding coupons and locating the exact right size of diaper. Whenever I hear a crying baby in a store I am always tempted to go offer my superb holding & bouncing services but  I am pretty sure it would creep people out and get me kicked out of stores. 

Confesssion: Over the past year I have not been the best friend. While working full time and writing the book and being a momma, I had to put a lot of things on the back burner. One of those things were several of my friendships, I just have not been able to visit with everyone as regularly as before, so this Advent season I have tried to make it a point to gather as many friends as I can at my home, around my table. My goal has been to love on them with all my heart and to fill all their bellies with tasty food. hoping to bribe them into forgiving me for my un-availability in 2011.  I figure that if they are happy and have full tummys they may be more willing to forget all the birthdays I missed and all the times I have had to cancel plans, all the unanswered text and emails, all the ways I have been completely out of touch and out of pocket.

Last night was group 2 of the 4 gatherings on the docket and judging by the scraped clean bowls last night I think I am making progress...

It was such a fun night, to just sit and soak it all in. To not feel guilty because I should be getting a dozen other things done. To just catch up with everyone, to pass the baby around, to play a mild game of Dirty Santa, to eat too much and  to laugh a lot and most of all  to hear what is good in each of their lives. 
This Advent I am more grateful than ever for all my friends - friends that hang in there year after year, who stick with me when I am not at my best, who still are willing to come out and play with me despite all the bends and turns in our journeys that sometimes separate us. Surely there are not many Christmas gifts better than that?

Monday, December 19, 2011

a mini christmas tour

Now as promised, the cleaner corners of my home, all holly-ed and jolly-ed up.

Our door wreath made up of bits and pieces, odds and ends. I love how it looks against the red door. A few years ago I went through a bottle brush wreath phase. I may or may not have 2 more almost identical to this one...

Um, did I mention my bottle brush phase? Want I meant to say is that I ADORE all things bottle brush. This tall tree I found at a random flea market for $5. I think it is my new favorite.

More trees (yes one is a bottle brush, sheesh...and a little velvet sleigh. I am in-love with vintage velvet/flocked Christmas decor lately.

The happy mantle with the Chalkboard peace sign and the stockings made from a felted afgan of granny squares (thanks Mom!)

The wreathes are two layered. The bottom one is a book page wreath I made years ago, and  the top one is a vintage yarn wreath that I have never found a good home for until now. 

Vintage Putz houses on top of vintage aqua bell jars on a very dusty piano. 

Lulu all dressed up and ready for a holiday party. I think she is ready to go dancing! Every time I change her up I think of the scene in Home Alone when Kevin is dancing with the mannequin in the window to make it look like there is a party  going on. 

The Leaning Tree of Greer embracing it's full Charlie Brownness during the day. I love this tree and will keep the stump holder forever. I know it is not everyone's style but I just love to lay on the couch with no other lights on than the tree and stare into the branches.

My favorite kitchen wreath- a pistachio colored Tupperware jello mold with (another) small bottle brush wreath inside all tied together with some plaid ribbon. This wreath is pretty much my sense of humor wrapped up in a bow. I love puns and what I call "silly-cute", and it really is one of my favorite decorating tactics. Life is already too serious for somber decorating don't you think?

 Surely we all  are better off when our homes are filled with  whimsy, bits of joy,  and  lots of silly-cute that bring giggles and smiles to our everyday too-stressed out & busy lives.

At least that is what helps me get through the rougher patches....

make do and make lovely Mondays - real life holiday

Tomorrow I am going to show you some pretty corners of my Holly Jolly Christmas casa, but today I thought I would show you some of the mess, some of the real life moments.
For instance here is Miles, making some sugar cookies. All looks serene, no? NO! Guess what I broke 6 days before Christmas?? Our Kitchen Aid mixer. Completely stripped the gears. Zoinks.
Can that even be fixed? Oh and a few weeks ago we broke the cheap food processor we bought last year. Seriously people, am I going to have go old school for the holidays and stir and chop things by hand? 
I am not sure if I can survive.

This is my desk in the dining room. While my sister has been living with us I have needed a space where I could store the crafty supplies, books to reference for my book and general home office stuff. that I need to get to often and quickly  Now, for Christmas it has become the holiday joy catch-all. Empty ornament boxes,  decorations I haven't used yet, a few wrapping supplies, gifts to be wrapped... It's all here. Piled high on top of the usual stack of projects.

This desk used to be in my mother's kitchen where it pretty much looked like this year round. When I moved it to my house I swore to myself that I would always keep it neat and cleared off . Little did I know that the desk is a blasted MAGNET for mess. Yes that's it . It's the desk, not me, not my mother, that causes this mess. That's my story and I am sticking to it. PS- Mom I  am sorry I judged.

This picture isn't so messy, Maybe a little. Mostly it just shows what both the boys have spent WAY too much time doing lately - watching TV and playing on the computer. I have over used my media babysitting reserves the past week and I am slightly ashamed.  But I am also realistic and sometimes when you have overly creative children you need a break from all their projects in order to get a few of your own done. Real life is what it is.

Speaking of projects, this is where I spent all Saturday morning putting the final touches on the book. What you say? The Book? Yes, well hmm. See it turns out there is a reason I am a writer and not a mathematician. Because numbers do not stick in my head. Turns out I had remembered my word count goal wrong and I wrote almost twice as much as I needed to. So the past two weeks have been all about merciless chopping and editing.  Saturday morning and 35 thousand words less than before, I sent it back to my editor one more time. Fingers crossed it sticks this time. 

Till tomorrow, 

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Tree

Our Charlie Brown fairy tree.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dear Santa Baby

All I want for Christmas is this.
Farm + Snow + Me = Christmas Cheer 

Yours truly,

Monday, December 12, 2011

Teen MOPS & Me

When Wylie was little I was a pretty lonesome momma of a preschooler. I only had a two  friends who had kids, and since I stayed at home, my world tended to be small, my days often  mind numbingly repetitive.   Someone along the way (I so wish I could remember who) invited me to a local MOPS group, and since I was happy to go anywhere there was free food and childcare, I jumped at the opportunity.  I didn't get to go very often, but when I did I absolutely loved it. Everyone was so open and friendly and willing to share their less-than perfect mothering stories. I no longer felt so alone or rudderless. During those few Tuesday mornings,  sitting at a banquet table doing random crafts with perfect strangers, I begin to find my footing and my groove as a person -not just a momma- again. 
So when my friend Sarah asked our church to pitch in and help with a Teen MOPS group that she leads,  Sweet Man and I jumped at the chance to help and to give back to this program that had given me so much. 

Nathan  made West Wing Spaghetti (so named because back in the good old days we used to make it and watch The West Wing each Wednesday night,) Iceberg Salad and Garlic Bread. Other friends from our church brought delicious cookies and desserts and helped set up. 

Everyone pitched in, even our friends Lilly and Brady. Lilly loves to help in the kitchen and Sweet Man is training her up to be his ultimate sous chef I think. In addition to the dinner, we also provided the nights activity - a craft of course.

.Sarah had mentioned that  lot many of the girls give the crafts as gifts to their mothers and grandmothers, so I wanted the craft  to be substantial and easy to personalize.

So, inspired by some glittered frame ornaments at Pottery Barn, I came up with this little diddy-
a wall hanging, ornament, door hanging, or embellished frame.-whatever you want to call it.
The theme was " a joyful noise"  and when I introduced the craft I talked very briefly about how easy it is to lose sight of  the joy to be found in our children's noise making when we are tired, overworked and stressed.

I needed the craft  to be affordable, both for me to provide and for the girls if they wanted to make more at home, so I very intentionally made sure that everything I used could be bought at the Dollar Tree or Wal-Mart with the exception of the printable I provided.

While Lilly had helped in the kitchen, Brady was all about the crafting. She helped prep all the glitter and glue cups and then I handed over the camera to her so that I could help the girls hot glue their ribbon and jingle bells to the frames.
 (Having things ready in individual portions like this really makes a group craft go so much smoother. )

When I  handed Brady the camera my only instructions were"take lots of pictures of their hands." I was pretty impressed with how she did. She got lots of great "hands on" shots.

In addition to the frames I also gave the gals gift boxes that they could transport their frames home in, knowing that some of the may not dry by the end of the night.
 (This is a little tip  I have learned the hard way in the past ...)

I was worried that the MOPS gals -ages 16-20- would think the craft was dumb, or cheesy or just not their style. But I explained that the could trade out the printable I had given them with a picture of their children or other family members if they wanted and that they could use as much or as little glitter as they wanted. I even showed them a few different techniques for spreading glitter cheer (use a paint brush for spreading glue is my #1 tip.)

Amazingly everyone seemed to really enjoy  themselves, embracing the glitter for all it's glitzyness, and really going to town with their frames. One gal even glitzed up her gift box!

During events like this it is hard to know if what we did helped in any way, if it left even the smallest tiny impression of love, encouragement or hope in the hearts of the girls. I hope so. Not so much for my sake but for theirs. After all motherhood is hard, no matter who you are.

(If you would like to make your own version of this craft or perhaps just use these as gift tags, feel free to download and print these off.) 

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