Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Good Stuff 2013: Day 30

To us, family means putting your arms around each other and being there.
Barbara Bush

It is hard to believe November has drawn to an end already.  Thirty days have come and gone since I started this year's look at all the blessings in my life.  There have been good days and bad days along the way, but through it all i sought to see the gifts I have been given.  

Today was a day of highs and lows.  The Geek treated me to an early Christmas present --- a new phone.  I spent much of the day trying to figure out my new "toy" --- not too sure you can teach an old hen new tricks!  Thank goodness for Boy Wonder or I would never have made the progress I did.

The day ended on a sad note when we discovered the Munchkin's pet rabbit had died.  She was heartbroken --- especially since earlier this week a favorite pet chicken died.  Losing two pets in one week has cast a bit of a shadow of sadness on the farm.  I am so grateful the thrill of the holiday season may work its magic and lighten my chicklets' mood in the days to come.

the good stuff --- having a family to hold close in the good times and the bad

The Good Stuff 2013: Day 29

There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.
Jane Austen

Today when so much of America was out braving the crowds trying to get the best deals and a good start on their Christmas shopping, I decided to just chill-lax at home with my peeps.


the good stuff --- the little prince's very first drawing of me

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Good Stuff 2013: Day 28

Thanksgiving, man.  Not a good day to be my pants.
Kevin James

Today is the the first time the Geek and I hosted Thanksgiving dinner in 20 years.  It was a small crowd --- just the six residents of the ol' farmhouse plus the Geek's mom and stepfather.  The guest list may have been short, but there was no shortage of food, laughter or memories made.  

My favorite part?  It would have to be an idea I borrowed from somewhere online (sorry I can't remember where exactly.)  The chicklets decorated a paper bag with a hand drawn turkey.  We then wrote down things we were thankful for on slips of paper and "stuffed the turkey."  I challenged the family to come up with at least fifty things --- we surpassed that goal and found well over 100!  The chicklets loved doing so much, they asked if we could do it again sometime.

Hope you and yours had a wonderful Thanksgiving --- I know I did!

the good stuff --- so much to be thankful for

The Good Stuff 2013: Day 27

Cinderella is living proof that a pair of shoes can change your life.
author unknown

The Munchkin and I got to go on a little shopping date today.  Mama Hen needed a new pair of jeans.  I despise clothes shopping,  but my darling chicklet adores it so I brought her along to lighten the mood. 

According to my little fashionista, Mama also needed a new pair of shoes ... well boots, actually.  I'm still not sure how I let her talk me into them, but she assured me the totally suit my style and are the latest thing.  (She should know --- she is 8 years old after all!)  

the good stuff --- loving my chicklets fashion sense 
and rocking my new boots

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Good Stuff 2013: Day 26

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.
from  a headstone in Ireland

I don't know exactly what triggered it --- a song on the radio, something on TV or just a random thought --- but something reminded me of my dad today.  This happens often, but most times I smile or get a little misty-eyed for a few moments.  Today, however, the memory put me in a bit of a funk.  In fact my blue mood lasted much of the day.
Even now at bedtime, I am missing him more than I usually do.  But even through the hurt, I am so very blessed with the years of memories I hold within my heart of always being my daddy's little girl --- even when I grew to be a wife and mother.  His hugs were the best and his heart was full of love.

the good stuff --- memories of my daddy's love

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Good Stuff 2013: Day 25

Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.
Berthold Auerbach

Today I was blessed to be able to lie down on my bed, close my eyes and listen to music without the interruptions of everyday life.  It was divine! Music has the power to soothe the weary soul.
Complete quiet doesn't happen very often around here, but even in the chaos I love how a song can make a difference.  Sometimes music brings back a memory and sometimes it just fills me with a sense of comfort that's hard to explain.  Whatever it does, I know I could never live without it in my life.

the good stuff --- music that soothes

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Good Stuff 2013: Day 24

Siblings are the people we practice on, the people who teach us about fairness and cooperation and kindness and caring, quite often the hard way.
Pamela Dugdale

There are days where the chicklets can't seem to get along.  The get on each other's last nerve from the time they get up.  In the past, the bickering has gone on right up until their last goodnight.  It is enough to send this Mama Hen cockle-doodle-crazy!

The past month, however, we've been coming together every evening for devotion, prayer and sharing of our high and low points of the day.  At first it was kind of awkward.  Our faith plays a big part in our lives, but we never did anything so "official" before.  It has been a big change in our bedtime routine, but it isn't the only change that has happened around here.  There has been a change in how the chicklets get along.  Oh, they still torment one another, but it seems to be less intense.  Even better, they are quicker to forgive one another and move on.  

It's far from utopia here on the farm, but it is so much more peaceful and that's an answer to a few hundred prayers!
the good stuff --- chicklets learning to get along

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Good Stuff 2013: Day 23

Cherish your family for they are your treasure, a storehouse of riches, wealth beyond measure.
Author Unknown 

The Geek and I were able to "sneak" out of the house alone today to run some errands.  It is always a treat to break away if even only for a few minutes to talk with another grown up without little ears hearing every word.  Our "date" to the local feed store may have been good stuff, but an unexpected call from my brother-in-law brought something else worth being grateful for into my world today.

The Geek and I have been struggling with coming up with cost effective storage solutions as we work to simplify the chaos around the ol' farmhouse.  We were hesitant to purchase something new right now with the holiday season fast approaching.  My brother-in-law's gift was the perfect fit.

a picture of my "new" cabinet will go here tomorrow 
the good stuff --- being blessed with just what was needed 

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Good Stuff 2013: Day 22

You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving.
Author Unknown

I had a few free moments all to myself today.  I decided to spend the browsing at the local thrift store.    I was tickled to find a couple of perfect gifts for The Munchkin.  I didn't think I was going to be able to get her any of the things on her wish list this year.  They weren't extravagant wishes, but were not within our budget this holiday season.  I know she would have hidden her disappointment on Christmas morning, but now she won't have too.

the good stuff --- finding the perfect gift at a price that doesn't break the bank

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Good Stuff 2013: Day 21

While we try to teach our children all about life,

Our children teach us what life is all about.
Angela Schwindt

I mentioned the Little Prince's hugs a few days ago, but they are so delicious I had to acknowledge them once again.  My little man is the most affectionate of my three littles.  He can sense when I need a warm embrace.  He wraps his little arms around me and to top it off, gently pats my back and tells me he loves me. It is one of the sweetest things on earth.
It is not just his hugs I am loving most right now, though --- it is his whole personality.  I am having a ball watching him grow out of his toddler stage.  His sense of humor and take on life seem wise beyond his years.  He has a mischievous side, but his halo is never far from sight.

the good stuff --- watching this little guy grow
(the hugs and kisses he gives me daily,  just make life sweeter)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Good Stuff 2013: Day 20

A daughter is the happy memories of the past, the joyful moments of the present, and the hope and promise of the future.
Author Unknown
I hate to have my picture taken --- always have.  Despised it even when I was a skinny bean-pole.  Now that my "horizon" has (ahem) broadened, I am even more reluctant to do so.  I read somewhere once that it is important to try and be in pictures every now and then so your kids know you were present in their childhood.  For that reason alone I reluctantly make sure my mug gets immortalized in film every now and then, but I have never really been happy with the result until this picture.

The Munchkin is everything I am not.  She is outgoing and the life of whatever party she shows up at.  No party? No problem she'll turn an everyday event into a celebration.  I know God chose me to be her mother, but I have often wondered why.  I think I am finally getting at least part of  it.  She makes me be the me God intends me to be.  To get out there and live life to it's fullest.  She gets me to get off the sidelines and challenges me to share smiles and my faith with wild abandon like she does.  She is a handful and a blessing beyond my wildest imagination.

See that smile on my face? She put it there.

the good stuff --- the blessing of being the munchkin's mama

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Good Stuff 2013: Day 19

I dream of a better world where a chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Author Unknown 

I am not the only Mama Hen on this farm.  I share the title with some very productive "ladies" that provide us with the most beautiful eggs I have ever seen.  Some people say there is no difference between farm fresh eggs and those bought from the local supermarket.  There may be some truth to that, but there's one thing I know for sure --- nothing beats walking just outside your backdoor to gather your breakfast.

the good stuff --- farm fresh eggs at my fingertips

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Good Stuff 2013: Day 18

Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart.
Author Unknown 

I don't know how it happened --- today wasn't any different than any other crazy day here on the farm.  I don't know why it happened --- I was so use to living in the chaos I hadn't even thought to pray for relief.  All I know is that right smack in the middle of any ordinary day this Mama Hen was blessed with a sense of peace that surpasses all understanding. And that my friends, is some pretty good stuff.

the good stuff --- answers to prayers I forgot to pray

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Good Stuff 2013: Day 17

The older I get, the less time I want to spend with the part of the human race that didn't marry me.
Robert Brault

The wind are howling outside my back door.  The old farmhouse is shaking, but inside it's toasty and warm.  Toasty, warm and smelling oh so yummy. The Geek spent the day being domestic and making enough homemade applesauce that will hopefully last until next fall.
the good stuff --- being married to a man who shows
his love for me in so many wonderful ways

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Good Stuff 2013: Day 16

However long a hug lasts,
 it doesn't last long enough.
Kyle Schmalenberg

The sickies continue to wreck havoc on my brood and I.  Fevers, runny noses and crankiness abound.  It is hard to find a bright spot on days like this, but I did.

The Little Prince often wraps his little arms around me and declares that I am the best mama.  Today he told me this just when I needed to hear it most.  He is definitely one of my biggest blessings and quite possibly THE world's best hugger.

the good stuff --- a hug from this guy

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Good Stuff 2013: Day 15

The most indispensable ingredient of all home cooking:  love for those you are cooking for.
Sophia Loren

The Geek is off on a work trip so I'm flying solo here.  Everyone except Grandma is feeling a little under the weather.  I felt a little home-baked goodness would lift our spirits and it did the trick.  The littles didn't even notice it was from a (gasp!) mix.  It was warm and baked with love and that seemed to be all that mattered.

the good stuff --- a little lovin' from the oven

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Good Stuff 2013: Day 14

A day without a nap is like a cupcake without frosting.
Terri Guillemets

I had a lot to do this afternoon.  Laundry, dishes and several other chores begged to be done.  Instead I chose to ignore their demands and join the Little Prince in something much more beneficial to my well being.
the good stuff ... taking a nap with my favorite little man

The Good Stuff 2013: Day 13

To the outside world we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other's hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time.
Clara Ortega

I am the baby of my family.  My brothers and sisters were all out of the house by the time I was born.  Well most of them anyway.  One of my big brothers was seven when I made my grand debut.  I have always loved  the story that when he was told a new baby was coming home from the hospital he was asked do you want a sister?" His response? " I'd rather have a puppy!"

He lives far away from me now, so I don't get to see him all that often.  We had hoped to spend Turkey Day with him and his family like we did last year.  Unfortunately, my mother isn't up to a two day car trip this year.  He surprised us instead with an impromptu visit today.  It was fun catching up and reminiscing with him.  I will hate to see him go in a few days, but for now I will enjoy the fun while it lasts.

the good stuff --- having a big brother who  loves you
even if you're not the puppy he wanted 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Good Stuff 2013: Day 12

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6 (ESV)

The Geek and I recently attended a Bible study at our church that encouraged us to meet nightly for a "family huddle" ---  a time connect and grow as a family.  We decided it sounded like a great idea and have been coming together every night at bedtime to share the high and low points of our day with each other.  We also read a Bible story and talk about how it applies to our lives.

The little chicklets love it just as we thought they would.  We hoped Boy Wonder would participate too, but he is a teenager, so we had a little dash of doubt.  We have been pleasantly surprised.  There has been no resistance at all.  He hasn't always had a lot to share and we've respected his silence, praying that someday he would open up more.  Tonight we were witness to something that nearly brought tears of joy to our eyes.

We were rushed to call a quick family huddle so the littles could get to bed at a decent hour.  The Geek was about to nix the reading for the night.  Highs and lows were shared and he was about to  head right to bedtime prayers.  All of a sudden Boy Wonder grabs the Bible story book and asks if he could read this evening.  "Of course," we said.  He smiled and began to read.  He didn't just read though --- he told a story.  He used different voices for each character, he asked questions to ensure the story was being comprehended and he shared his own knowledge.  

Sometimes I wonder if what I do is making a difference in my kiddos lives.  I long to see if the things I am teaching them are being remembered or just going in one ear and out the other.  Tonight I was blessed to see that they are listening and watching.  I was rewarded for my patience and can only imagine what I will get to see in the days, months and years to come.

the good stuff --- having a front row seat to my son's faith in action

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Good Stuff 2013: Day 11

Silently, like thoughts that come and go, the snowflakes fall, each one a gem.
William Hamilton Gibson

Today was a much better day than yesterday.  Oh the weather outside was frightful, but that just made the fire in the fireplace all the more delightful.  The cold moods most of the farmhouse's occupants had yesterday were definitely warmer too.  Laughter replaced angry words and smiles took the place of frowns.  

I had to venture out in the cold November rain to grocery shop.  This task is not a favorite of mine and the poor weather made it even less inviting.  Thanks to my quest to make an extra effort to look for the good stuff this month, I mustered up a somewhat positive attitude and saw the time away as a chance to enjoy an hour of mostly uninterrupted thought.  To my delight, I was blessed when the rain changed to softly falling snow as I made my way back home from my errand.  

the good stuff ... watching the first snowflakes of the season fall 
while sitting inside by a warm fire

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Good Stuff 2013: Day 10

Today the littles and I made the trek home from our weekend adventure.  Egos were still bruised due to not doing as well as hoped in competition.  Tempers flared as the long car ride home added to the tension.  By the time we pulled into the driveway we were all a bit testy.  Sadly the day came to a close with harsh words being spoken by all.  

Bedtime prayers included pleas for forgiveness and help in taming our tongues.  Tentative steps towards meeting halfway have been made by all and I am sure complete forgiveness from one another will come with a new day. Goodnight hugs and kisses were the first step in helping hurting hearts begin to heal.

the good stuff --- feeling loved even when you are unlovable

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Good Stuff 2013: Day 9

If you cannot see the bright side of life ... Polish the dull side.
Christina Dodd

I could look at today and be disappointed.  None of my chicklets brought home trophies at the poultry show.  Oh they came close. All three of them being called back for tiebreakers in the age groups for poultry showmanship, but neither they nor their birds are bringing home any metal this trip. 

Yep, it might be easy to feel a bit down in the dumps, but I think the Little Prince has the right idea.   
"Check out my ribbon, Mama! " he squealed with delight.  It may have just been a "participant" ribbon, but to him it signified something to celebrate. Right on little man!

the good stuff ... celebrating the bright side of things

The Good Stuff 2013: Day 8

Travel, in the younger sort, is part of education; in the elder, a part of experience. 
Francis Bacon, Sr.

The littles and I are on a bit of an adventure.  We have gone on a road trip to a poultry show out of  state.  All three of them will be showing off their poultry knowledge at a national competition.  The Geek couldn't take time off work, so I am doing this parenting gig solo.  My mom thinks I am courageous to trek with the chicklets alone, but I disagree.  I have experience at this sort of thing and while crazy might better describe it, I don't think I am all that courageous.  I am just a Mama Hen seeking out teachable moments for my kiddos and trips like this are full of 'em!

Here's a look at Boy Wonder when he started showing chickens.  He's grown so much as a result of his participation in both 4H and other poultry shows.  Too many trophies and ribbons to count line shelves in his bedroom.  The Munchkin has quite a few of her own now and the Little Prince is hoping to earn some honors this weekend too.

the good stuff --- teachable moments along the way

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Good Stuff 2013: Day 7

Even before Christmas has said Hello, it's saying 'Buy Buy'.
Robert Paul

The holiday season has begun.  At least that is what retailers want us to believe.  Decorations are on store shelves.  The mailbox is filling with holiday catalogs.  One of our local radio stations has even begun to play only Christmas music, can you believe it?  I mean we just went trick or treating last week people!

We need to just slow down. Stop rushing things.  Get through Turkey Day and then pour on the Christmas spirit.  It's way too early for all the holiday hoopla.

I might make an exception for the occasional Christmas carol.  In fact I tend to like Christmas music so much, I have been known to listen to it all year long.  It make me smile:). But even I draw the line for Christmas music 24/7 before the Thanksgiving turkey is even being digested!

the good stuff --- singing Christmas carols with your  littles
even if it's rushing things a bit

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Good Stuff 2013: Day 6

“Too often we give children answers to remember rather than problems to solve.” 
Roger Lewin

Today was another fun filled day with the chicklets.  We all piled into the family truckster for a day of adventure.  The Munchkin took an orienteering class at a local nature center.  Learning to use the compass was a bit tough at first, but she didn't give up.  it wasn't long until I saw  "the lightbulb go on" and she soon was orienteering like she had been doing it for years.  It is times like this that make me especially glad we chose to homeschool.  Having a front row seat to these special moments of discovery are priceless.
the good stuff --- being there for my little's "Aha!" Moments

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Good Stuff 2013: Day 5

To be in your children's memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today.
Barbara Johnson

Tuesdays are very busy days for us. (Oh, who am I kidding --- every day is busy!)  Today was extra jam-packed with lots of driving.  This evening Boy Wonder and I had to make a 50 Mile each way trip to his weekly robotics club meeting. I love these drives with my man-child. He opens up with me and talks freely about things that are on his mind. Even though most of it is technical and way above my head, I love the fact that he is so willing to talk. I want him to know that he matters to me and what he has to say matters to me because it matters to him. I know that he will be off and on his own in the blink of an eye and that makes our "Tuesday Talks" all the more precious to me. I will treasure the memories forever and I hope he does too.

It seems like only yesterday Boy Wonder wasn't 6 feet tall --- he was just my little sweet peanut.

the good stuff --- spending time with my firstborn

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Good Stuff 2013: Day 4

Grown don't mean a thing to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown? What's that suppose to mean? In my heart it don't mean a thing.
Toni Morrison

I am blessed to have the opportunity to have my mother living with us.  It has its less than perfect moments as  many mother/daughter relationships often do, but I realize the gift it is to be able to give back a portion of what she's done for me.  It's not always easy as I step into more of a "parent" role with her a little more each day, but God gives me strength to meet the challenge. And even though our relationship has changed and I am a grown woman, there are still times I still need my mama. 

Today was one of those days.  I was feeling a bit under the weather.  When I saw my mother this morning, she took one look at me and made me sit in one of her chairs.  She had me recline and covered me with a nice warm blanket.  It felt so good to feel cared for.

the good stuff --- a mother's love no matter how old you are

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Good Stuff 2013: Day 3

Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.
Albert Einstein

The Geek and I are in the middle of a massive purge of the mountains of stuff that seem to have overtaken the ol' farmhouse.  The office has been the catch-all place for stuff that didn't have a "home" elsewhere but seemed too good/important/you name it to get rid of quite yet.  We both have come to the same conclusion --- it is now time to reclaim the space and eliminate the chaos in our humble abode. It is not the easiest thing to do --- letting go of stuff does not come naturally to us --- but with each garbage bag taken out and each box filled for the thrift store, we see progress.  It has already begun to feel a little more peaceful.  We have a long way to go, but we have made a start and that is some serious good stuff.
the good stuff ---making room for peacefulness

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Good Stuff 2013: Day 2

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.
Virginia Woolf
In an attempt to give Boy Wonder some valuable life skills and lessen my load a tad, I have been having him be responsible for dinner once a week.  It is his responsibility to plan and prepare the entire meal.  He reads recipes and makes a grocery list for needed items.  Last week he made eggplant parmesan.  It was good, but there was some room for improvement.  Tonite he gave it a second try and the results were delish!  My tummy is blissfully full and I am quite sure his future wife may one day thank me.

the good stuff --- a delicious meal i didn't have to cook myself!

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Good Stuff 2013: Day 1

If you are looking for the bad things in life, then you will find it.  if you search for the good things then that is what you find.
Ann Marie Aguilar

I have been doing this for a few years now --- taking time each day during the month of November to post about something I am grateful for.  It has helped me to make an effort to always try an have an "attitude of gratitude"  not just in November, but all year long.  Some days I miss the mark, but more days than not, I am blessed to be able to spot the "good stuff" --- those bright spots that exist in each and every day if I just take time to look for them.

Today I am grateful for the opportunity to steal away in the middle of the day for a lunch date alone with my husband.  It doesn't happen as often as we might like, but when it does it brings a smile to my soul.

the good stuff --- a date with my sweetie

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Right Kind of Angry

Sometimes when I'm angry I have the right to be angry, but that doesn't give me the right to be cruel.
Author Unknown

When I was growing up I was never allowed me to be angry. My mother said it was an emotion that I had to suppress inside.  She insisted that anger was a negative emotion and I must never let others see my anger.   She even went so far as to say I didn't have the right to be angry.  

I would like to think her intentions were good, but sadly I feel she missed the mark a little bit.  Suppressing anger never works.  Oh maybe for a while, but eventually it takes its toll and it ain't pretty.  It took me a long time to realize that sometimes I do have the right to be angry and that anger in and of itself is not a bad thing. 
Sometimes anger can be the driving force behind a necessary change.  Take for example the "sea of stuff" taking over the ol' farmstead.  I had to get to the point where having so much chaos surrounding me made me angry --- angry enough to begin to make the changes necessary to bring order to our little corner of the world.
Sometimes anger is justified.  Someone wrongs me and I have every right to be angry.  My chicklets are most often the guilty culprits of this in my life.  There are days where I swear they exist merely to break each and every rule that has been set.  They speak disrespectfully to me or each other and it angers me.
Sadly, there are times (more often than I care to admit actually) I let anger get the best of me.  I hear myself yelling and saying things that are nothing short of cruel and I cringe.  I do this most with Boy Wonder.  He has  always been a "button pusher" and seems to have gone into overdrive since reaching puberty.  Instead of being the "grown-up" in the situation, I let my anger take over and I say things I am not proud of.

There have been several times in my life that God decides that I need to hear something.  He will put the message in front of me until I finally get it.  I will see a topic in magazine articles or blog posts, I'll hear conversations or someone will mention something and I'll think, "Hmmm, I've been hearing about that  a lot lately --- I  wonder if God is trying to tell me something."  That's exactly what's happened regarding anger for me.  From blog posts to conversations with other mothers, I am sure God is trying to get me to pay attention and listen. 

Anger is not wrong.  It is not something to be ashamed of.  It is not something to deny and stuff down.  There are times when anger is justified.  Anger is not necessarily bad, but it is what you do with that anger that matters.  I know that as a Mama Hen, I need to make a conscious effort to use it to motivate change within myself and/or my littles. 

Change is never easy, but I know God will give me the tools I need to do so.  I am sure that there will be many more blog posts to provide me with direction.  I know for sure the circle of women I meet with weekly will continue to help me grow through accountability and shared stories.   

It is wise to direct your anger towards problems — not people; to focus your energies on answers — not excuses.
William Arthur Ward 


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What Are Your Afraid Of?

Confront your fears, list them, get to know them, and only then will you be able to put them aside and move ahead.
Jerry Gille

The Geek and I were able to go out to dinner alone the other night for our anniversary.  It was heavenly to just sit there and talk uninterrupted.  We talked about this, that and the other thing.  Seriously, we talked about everything from soup to nuts.  I can't remember what prompted him, but at some point he asked me, "Well, what are you afraid of?" I knew he was asking about a particular thing, but suddenly my mind was racing.  What am I afraid of? Well, where do I begin?

I started to mentally list my fears --- like spiders and lightening and flying and ... and... and...  Before I knew it I had enough items on my list I began to seriously wonder about myself.  I never realized how much of a scaredy cat I was.  The Geek broke my inner turmoil with another question, "What would it take to conquer that fear?" 

Huh, good question.

What would it take?

I never really thought about that.  Take, for example, my fear of spiders.  I mean I have feared spiders my entire life.  I just figured it was something I had to live with.  My fear is not so life limiting --- unless of course there's a big ol' spider between me and somewhere I'd like to be.  But even then, there's usually someone around who I can convince to be my knight in shining armor and slay the ugly beast. 

Unfortunately some of the other fears on my list aren't so innocuous --- like  my fear of going to the doctor.  I suffer from extreme "white coat hypertension" -- my blood pressure goes through the roof when I get it checked at the doctor's office.  I have had it pretty much my whole adult life --- especially since I have put on weight and have the added anxiety of  stepping on the scale and seeing those dreaded numbers come up. It's why I tend to avoid going to the doctor even when I need to.  No question, this has definite life limiting possibilities --- more like life threatening actually --- but what would it take to overcome it? I am not really sure.  I suppose being in better physical shape would curb my fear of the scale and might put me overall more at ease.  Now if I can just get over my fear of going to the gym:)

I have other less "life threatening" fears, that still limit the life I am able to live.  My fear of letting go of things that I feel attached to, particularly getting rid of my "sea of stuff" at home, definitely limits my ability to open my home up to others and share the gift of hospitality.  I have always dreamed of welcoming guests into my farmhouse, but the clutter and chaos always holds me back. 

What would it take to overcome the fear of letting people in?  That is something I am already trying to do --- simplifying my home.  Getting rid of the stuff that doesn't matter to make room for the stuff that does.  It's not something I can do overnight, but the good thing is I am starting to let go.

Then there's the fear that holds me back from writing something besides blog posts.  I have written a few things (I'm even published in two Chicken Soup for the Soul books --- one of them being Inspiration for Writers no less!) but I still let fear cloud my mind. The thought of doing something "more" --- something "bigger" like a novel ---paralyzes me. 

What would it take to overcome my fear that I 'm not a "real" writer?  I am still trying to figure that one out.  I would have thought publication would have been the answer, but I have two pieces published in nationally acclaimed books and I still am filled with fear and doubt.  I love this quote by Lawrence Block:
Once we are aware of our fears, we are almost always capable of being more courageous than we think. Someone once told me that fear and courage are like lightning and thunder; they both start out at the same time, but the fear travels faster and arrives sooner. If we just wait a moment, the requisite courage will be along shortly.
I am not going to let my fear keep me from writing.  I am going to keep plugging away and hope that with time the "requisite courage" will come along, but even if  it doesn't, I won't stop writing.  I write because I like to write.  Writing is a part of who I am and that fact is not dependent on whether I ever write a novel or not.

I am sure if I really looked deeper, I'd find a few more "life limiting" fears lurking around in the abyss that is my mind.  Fears I need to confront and get to know so that I can move ahead and live the life I am meant to.  But for now I'll let them be.  I have enough to tackle for the time being.

What about you?  What are you afraid of?

There are four ways you can handle fear. You can go over it, under it, or around it. But if you are ever to put fear behind you, you must walk straight through it. Once you put fear behind you. Leave it  there.
Donna Favors

Monday, October 7, 2013

I Still Do

It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.
Friedrich Nietzsche

24 years ago I married my best friend.  It's a good thing too 'cuz when my husband gets on my last nerve I can laugh about it with my best friend.  And when I border on being to much of a nag, my best friend can crack a joke and make me realize an attitude adjustment might be in order.  Oh, even best friends fight from time to time, but in the end friendship wins. We often joke that only one of us is getting out of this alive, so we might as well find the humor in it all.

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.
Mignon McLaughlin
I always thought it was borderline cheesy to say  things like "I love you more today than yesterday" but I must admit, cheesy or not, there is a lot of truth to it.  Going through 24 years of life's ups and downs with the Geek right by my side has been nothing short of a blessing.  A blessing I am thankful for today and as long as God lets me be.
Happy Anniversary Bubbaganoosh!
You're my best!

Friday, October 4, 2013

A List

I am a list maker.  I write grocery lists. To-do lists. Must read lists. Gotta make lists.  I want to go to there lists. If it can be listed, I will and probably have.

I'm not sure what it is about lists that draws me to making them.  I know I  love the feeling of checking off items on lists.  That feeling of accomplishment is a real high for me (so much so that I may or may not occasionally make lists of things I have done just so I can check them off ... sad, I know)  Maybe it's their order and structure that soothes my soul in the chaos that is my life. 

I may be a list maker extraordinaire, but list do-er? Yeah, not so much.  I don't let my tendency to fail in the follow through stop me from making lists. No, my love of lists remains so strong it would only make sense to make one on this day celebrating the anniversary of my entrance into this crazy world (Happy Birthday to Me!)  I recently saw a blog post where someone listed a number of things they wanted to accomplish before their next birthday (my apologies, I can not seem to find the site so I can give credit where credit is due) and thought the idea was right up my alley.

First of all, I will start off with a list of things I want to remember on this auspicious day:

I am exactly where I should be right now.
It's easy for me to look at the number of candles on my cake and sigh.  Not because I am growing older, but in thinking about all I haven't done.  I need to remind myself that life rarely goes according to my plan, but always follows God's plan and I am in the right place for me.

Stop comparing my story to others.
I don't play the "compare game" nearly as much as I used to (thankfully) but I do it often enough that I want to make a gentle reminder to myself to CUT IT OUT!   This is the story God has written for me.  My plotline twists and turns are mine alone.  This story has a happily ever after no matter what.  I just need to keep turning the pages.  I need to trust.  I need to be patient.  And I need to...

Keep up an attitude of gratitude.
I have been doing a pretty good job of this for the past few years, but I slip up every now and then.  It never hurts to give myself a nudge to remember to look for all the blessings in my life.  I am currently reading through One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp (I will not attempt to review the book here ... maybe some day. I'll put it on my to-do list  ) and it has further opened my eyes to appreciate the small stuff.  An attitude of gratitude is manna for the weary soul.

You can get there from here.
 I remember seeing a comedy sketch years ago that parodied the directions local people in Maine give to tourists.  After a long list of complicated directions were given, the local declared, "but you can't get there from here" and the tourist sulked away deflated.  Saying my life is complicated would be a gross understatement, but I refuse to sulk.  I propose that with a good list as my road map, I can get "there" from "here" --- or at the very least have a fun time getting lost along the way.

And so now without further ado ---

My 48 by 49 (in no particular order of importance)
  1. Visit the art museum --- our local one is in danger of closing so time is of the essence here
  2. Go to the zoo --- penguins make me smile
  3. Go sledding  --- my kids will love this one
  4. Go on a monthly date (12  total) with the Geek --- and no trips to the grocery store do not count
  5. Handwrite a card or letter at least once a month --- time to go old school for a change
  6. Attend a writing conference --- like a "real" writer
  7. Blog at least once a week 
  8.  Lose 2 dress sizes  --- I prefer not to focus on the numbers on the scale --- too depressing 
  9. Run or walk a 5K  --- walking is more do-able but I'd love to run across a finish line just once
  10. Ride bike 50 miles --- not all at once, but over the course of a year seems possible
  11. Learn to watercolor paint 
  12. See a play --- professional or not --- I'm not picky.
  13. Go to a concert --- again not too picky on who is performing
  14. Take 1 picture a day for a year --- one blogger I follow takes pictures of her feet.  I've always thought that was kind of interesting, but since I own two pairs of shoes and only white socks that would get boring really fast!
  15. Crochet a neck warmer --- perhaps "finish crocheting a neck warmer" would be more accurate:)
  16. Knit a scarf --- see above
  17. Walk across the Mackinaw Bridge on Labor Day  --- I have an insanely unreasonable fear of bridges so this one would be a real stretch, but who knows?
  18. Visit the Keweenaw in Michigan's upper peninsula --- THE most beautiful place on earth
  19. Kayak --- I have a huge aversion to getting wet, but I still think this would be a hoot.
  20. Learn to use Photoshop --- the Photoshop the Geek bought me three.years.ago.
  21. Submit an article to a magazine or newspaper --- time to put myself out there dontcha know. 
  22. Write a novel --- already signed up for NaNoWriMo
  23. Get a pedicure  --- I did this once and I swore I do it once a month --- that was six months ago.
  24. Learn to take photos in manual mode --- it's so sad to own a "Cadillac" camera and use it like a point and shoot
  25. Make birthday scrapbooks for all three kids --- time to stop collecting scrapbook paraphernalia and just do it.
  26. Get my mothers "life story" written or videoed   --- I always regret not sitting down with my daddy and doing this.
  27. Organize my craft area  --- step one:  get a craft area
  28. Sew a quilt --- see above
  29. Swim in a pool --- this body has not seen a swimming suit in years so this may remain undone
  30. Finish kid's bedroom --- no more excuses
  31. Sew a purse ---  not sure why,  I just wanna
  32. Remodel Trailer --- time to finally put that Pinterest board to use
  33. Host a Christmas cookie exchange --- have always wanted to do this and never made the time.
  34. Learn to bake bread --- I love the smell of baking bread.
  35. Learn to make noodles --- more appropriately "relearn to make noodles" as I took a class once
  36. Make ice cream  --- The Geek and I have yet to use an ice cream maker we received as a wedding present --- 24 four years ago!
  37. Go to Chicago --- no reason, just sounds cool
  38. Go on a train ride --- maybe to Chicago?
  39. get a pair of cool boots --- to replace the pair that "died" last year
  40. See a comedy show --- I have always wanted to take a stand up comedy class but this would do.
  41. Plant a flower garden --- a hundred year old farmhouse just looks sad without a beautiful perennial garden
  42. Make the house more of a home--- we've lived here just about sixteen years and we still have packed boxes in the basement!
  43. Cook dinner at home more frequently --- my checkbook and my waistline are counting on it.
  44. Give up soda --- see above
  45. Keep bedroom organized --- it's high past time to make my boudoir the peaceful haven it should be.
  46. Manage laundry better --- It ain't pretty folks --- it's me against the dirty clothes  right now and the dirty clothes are winning
  47. Go on a plane somewhere  ...  someplace warm in the middle of winter would be nice.
  48. Read Bible and devotions regularly ---  this should be No. 1

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Stumbling forward

"All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on."
Havelock Ellis

I sometimes joke and say that I am one take-out container shy of being on the show "Hoarders".  It's not that bad, but I do have a lot of stuff.  Way too much stuff.  Stuff that is getting in the way of living the life I feel I am meant to live.   The life God wants me to live. 

Now knowing this is one thing, but doing something about it is an entirely different matter all together.  I don't wanna get rid of all of my stuff.  Oh, there is plenty I could part with easily.  Kitchen stuff that I haven't used for years could leave without a moment of angst.  Old clothes could be donated to the local thrift shop with ease.  Outgrown toys might cause a tear or two as I reminisce and think about my littles growing up, but I could get rid of those too.  It wouldn't be easy, but I could do it with a little push.  Unfortunately, those things are just the tip of the iceberg in the sea of stuff I am swimming in.

There are the scrapbooking supplies I have "collected" for years with every intention of making scrapbooks chronicling my littles' lives.  How can I just toss those?  Or the plethora of vintage glassware and dishes I envision using someday at an open house I throw for family and friends?  Never mind I have far more dishes than family and/or friends --- I could have more someday. 

There's also all the things that have come into my home as the result of being the unofficial curators of all family memorabilia and all things too vintage for someone else to throw out.  This list includes the dinette set my parents bought when they got married 68 years ago,  the retro dinette set a cousin passed on to us when cleaning out her parents house, an antique oak table and chairs my mother-in-law no longer had room for in her home, a table made by my great-grandfather that I inherited when my grandfather passed away, a vintage porcelain laundry table the Geek and I bought when we first got married and another cute little porcelain table we bought years ago because it was just too cute to pass up.  Clearly waaaaaaaaay too many tables for one household, yet each one would pain me to give away.

There are many more examples of items with real and/or perceived worth that would be hard to part with.    Holiday decorations, books, and vintage linens are just a few of the collections of things taking up more than their fair share of real estate in the ol' farmhouse.  Every nook and cranny, every flat surface and every bookcase is full to the brim with stuff --- stuff I am reluctant to let go of  for a variety of reasons.

I know something has to give, but I am overwhelmed.  I have tried to tackle the monumental task of bringing peace to my home through simplifying our possessions.  Despite good intentions, however, the enormity of the amount of work that needs to be done ends up getting the best of me.  I am now at the point where I can't even begin to decide where to start. 

Remember that circle of friends that recently embraced me?  That clan I needed even though I may have thought I didn't?  Well, it just so happens that simplifying lives of others is another one of their many  God-given talents.  They have the gift of knowing that the value of life lies not in material things, but rather in memories.  They know personally the freedom of living a simplified life.  They live in homes that are havens.  Homes free from the chaos of too much stuff. 

Some of them have come by their gift of simplification by birth and others have learned it the hard way.  No matter how the ability was gleaned, they are willing to pass on their know-how freely and without judgment.  I am humbled once again by a Heavenly Father who knows my needs and supplies me with answers I didn't even know I was seeking.

“It doesn’t matter where you are, you are nowhere compared to where you can go.”
Bob Proctor
I have so far to go to make my home the haven it should be, but I am taking the first steps.   These awesome ladies are willing to help as little or as much as I need, one even offered to come over and perform "hard labor" if desired.   I am not ready for that yet, but willingly accepted the offer to help me break down the tasks in to manageable "bite-sized" pieces and to hold me accountable for completing those pieces weekly.  No more excuses, just baby steps forward.

Baby steps.  Sometimes it's the best we can do.

“Even if you stumble, you’re still moving forward.”
Author Unknown

Monday, September 30, 2013

Hope Returns

Beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it's the middle that counts the most. Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up.  And it will...
line from the movie Hope Floats

I am a pretty hopeful person normally.  I tend to be a glass half full kinda gal most of the time, but somehow I slipped recently.  Life threw me some curve balls I didn't see coming and I forgot to duck.  I started losing hope.
I actually thought I was doing a good job putting on a smile for the world. Waiting until I was alone at night to let down my guard and cry out to God in prayer ... why me? why now?  Yeah, I know, pity parties for one are no good, but I'm human --- what can I say?

I didn't fool the Geek.  He saw my hidden tears and did his best to lift me up.  I regrettably gave him a hard time and yet he continued to love me --- broken halo and all.

This past weekend, I met with my writing group for our monthly critique and chat fest.  I hadn't been able to go for a while (on account of all those curve balls life had thrown me) and it felt good to get back to it.  I haven't done much writing (those pesky curveballs again) so I submitted a recent blog post for their feedback.  They are my biggest cheerleaders --- always encouraging me to remember that I am a writer (I still have moments of doubt) and giving me constructive feedback on ways to continue to improve my craft.  Upon reading my work, they once again praised my effort.  Despite their praise, however, they felt something was missing.  They said my writings often reflect my topsy-turvy life in a relatable way and this was another example of it, with one major piece missing --- hope.  They said that while I share how life tries it's best to get to me, I never fail to share the hope that things will get better ... because it always does.

Apparently, I didn't fool them either.

Thankfully, my hope has returned.  I am slowly getting use to our "new normal" here on the farm  --- dealing with my mother's increasing dependence on me with God's grace to lift me when I need it most.  God has strengthened my faith and hope that things will indeed get better.

And the icing on the cake?  I have been blessed with a regularly scheduled time to write once a week without distraction.  Time to finally take a leap of faith and use the gift God has given me in an even bigger way than just this blog.  I have done a bit of that (I hope to post about becoming a published author this week), but this time I a hoping to really stretch myself and possibly pen a novel.  It's a little scary --- who am I kidding --- it's a lot scary!  If you think about it, all beginnings are aren't they?  I am not letting fear hold me back any longer.  I am trusting God and I vow to do my best to remain hopeful that it will all work out like it should ... because it always does.

In a mood of faith and hope my work goes on. A ream of fresh paper lies on my desk waiting for the next book. I am a writer and I take up my pen to write.
Pearl S. Buck

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Just a Nibble

Scene:  The Geek's office --- sometime around lunchtime.

Little Prince:  Here Dad, Mama made this for you.

The Geek:  What is it?

Little Prince:  It's your sandwich.  I took a little bite, hope that's ok.

this is the stuff folks :)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

God Knows Best

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You, too? I thought I was the only one.”
C.S. Lewis

I am not one who easily makes friends. It's just not in my make up I guess.  I have lots of acquaintances yes, but friends?  People I have risked letting know the "real" me?  Those are few and treasured.

I am not sure why I am so hesitant to take the risk of making friends.  It's the way God wired me, I guess.  If you were to ask me how I feel about that, I would tell you that I am pretty happy with the way things are.  My life is pretty darn full and I really don't have the room or the time for new friendships right now thankyouverymuch.

At least that's what I would have said before this past week.

Apparently, God knows better.  Who'd a-thunk?

Through what can only be described as Divine Intervention, I have been blessed with making the acquaintance of a group of women who have already welcomed me into their "clan" and I am grateful to (dare I say it?) call them friends.

This has not come easily for me.  I have had to step waaaaaay out of my comfort zone.  I have had to put myself out there.  Expose parts of the "real" me to these ladies. I had to take a risk.  I didn't want to, but God knew what I needed even if I didn't.  And because this has His fingerprints all over it, it turned out better than I could have ever planned for myself.

These women are a group of homeschooling moms --- sisters and best friends since childhood.  Their camaraderie and love for one another is enviable.  I had met one of the sisters at church years ago.  We were acquaintances --- exchanging pleasantries on Sunday mornings --- but it never went beyond that.  Recently we connected when both our daughters signed up for a class through the local parks and recreation.

While our littles were in class we passed the time chatting about this and that. We talked about "safe" things like homeschooling and our church.  Soon God was nudging me to open up to her and share things I might not otherwise.  Thankfully I listened.  She opened her heart too and shared a bit of herself as well.  I told her I was envious of the relationship she had with her sisters, especially since I lost one of my sisters and that I am currently going through a difficult time with my other sister.  Long story short, I don't have a strong support system there. 

She then shared something with me that proved that God had a hand in all of this.  She said that she and her sisters realized that what they had was indeed a blessing.  They were grateful for the support system God had given them and they had prayed that He would use them to bless others along the way.  She said through the years mothers had come and gone to their group.  They were there for a season and left when life took them in a different direction.  She felt strongly that the women they had welcomed into their circle were answers to prayers and prayed that in return they were the same to them. 

She then said to me that I need not worry.  I had new sisters now.  Sisters that had my back. Sisters that would walk beside me for as long as I needed them.  No promises of forever.  Just the blessed assurance that right now I am not alone.  I have God and He gave me them. 

Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family:
Whatever you call it, whoever you are,
you need one.
Jane Howard