Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hi, I'm "Amanda,"and I'm 11 years old.

Pre-script: To get your money's worth out of this post, read it as the song " Landslide," covered here by the Dixie Chicks, plays...go down to my playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading...I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

I joined Facebook about 2 months ago, I think, and it has revolutionized my life. You see, I just finished taking all of the tests I could stand, and here is what I now know about myself that I never knew before:

My name SHOULD be Amanda.

I am a vain, self centered leader.

I am 43% half genius; on the verge of being great, if I'd only "try a little harder."

I have a Western Accent, which means that I have no accent.

The color of my heart is VIOLET.

I am a mix of girly-girl and tomboy.*

The instrument I most resemble is a flute.

The dog I most resemble is a German Shepherd.

I am an "on topic dork."

I am a normal mom.

I am 75% smarter than a 5th grader, brighter than a big box of crayons.

The musical that most closely resembles my life is "Rent."

My real age is 11.

All I have to say is wow, thanks, Facebook; that sure explains a lot!
( You're the reason for the teardrops in my cottage cheese...)


*I already knew about the girly girl tomboy thing...I even wrote a post with that title about 2 weeks ago.

What's in my veins vs. What's on my forehead

I wrote this post hours ago, and it's got me all itchy now, just thinking of all the ways these words can be taken out of context. So before you read it, just know that I believe in the bible, all of it; I love Jesus; I just don't always love "church culture." We're all just real people, peeps. So be real, not canned.
(pre-script: This post is best paired with the song " Only Hope," by Switchfoot. Go down and turn it on on my playlist, then come back and commence reading...I'll wait...) (...Still waiting...)

I have a bone to pick, SHOCKER!
I can't stand it when people say they are Christians, and then act all weird. Like "we've got all the answers.* We've got our own language**. We only vote republican***. We are NOTW****"
The fact is that there is no separation between what is Spiritual and what is Secular. The idea that there IS a seperation between the two is a cultural concept that is not prevalent in most of the world. The fact is that every person is 100% physical AND spiritual all the time, whether we all realize it or not. The fact is that if anything is positive, beautiful, or true, it is from God, because ALL truth is God's truth. Whether it fits the neat tidy boxes of what many churches claim it should fit or not. I think that we were created as people because God wants us to be the people that we are. I don't think He intends for us to pretend to be anyone else, or put on some show that sometimes churches say we should put on. (This is not to say that you should not grow, mature, study the bible, get help, or groom yourself.) As far as I can tell, He loves us all the time, even when we are at our worst, (but please, continue to grow, mature, study your bible, get healthy help, and groom yourself.) He knows that we were born into this world helpless to help ourselves, and his blood is the only thing that can save us. Nothin' else. Simple(but it's really NOT simple) as that. God is proud of us just because He created us and loves us...and if you don't feel very wonderful or beautiful, maybe it's because our culture defines beauty in very small, boxed in ways. But if you look back in time, you see that what is considered beautiful changes very often, so it could be that in another time period, you would have been considered the most gorgeous thing around...or just wait 5 months, since it's sure to change again. Churches have been known to define what is wonderful in very small, boxed in ways. But again, that's cultural, not spiritual.
Just because a song doesn't have the name "Jesus" in it doesn't mean that it's words are not true words that belong to God, anyway...even if they are sung by a person who does not even claim to believe in God...all truth is God's truth, and He loves us and desperately wants us all to know Him too, which is only possible through the blood of Jesus.
Y'all, I'm trying to live to that level, see the world through these eyes, and what I find is that God is deeper and more complex than typical "christian culture" tends to acknowledge when you finally let yourself realize that God cannot be confined to any box. The WAY to God is narrow; it's only through Jesus blood; it's not the "All Roads Lead To God" thing that is also very cultural; but GOD HIMSELF is not in any way narrow.
This shift in thinking is the difference between having something define you because it is what flows through your veins and fuels you, as opposed to just walking around with red paint on your forehead.
Think about it.


*As long as we live on this Earth, we will NEVER have all of the answers. Some things are just a mystery; there's beauty in that, too.

**Again, weird. Why do people who claim to follow Christ have to have their own special brand of weirdness? It just makes the idea of Jesus seem that much harder to embrace.

***Um, I'll keep checking, but as far as I can tell, Jesus didn't have a political party.

****stands for Not Of This World; it's the "WWJD" of the '00's. From the bible verse "be in this world, but not of it." I just think it sounds arrogant, though. How about a bumper sticker/t-shirt/ that says "I am IN this world?" because that part of the verse is also true.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Cereal Offenses

(pre-script: To get the most out of this post, read it while listening to the song " The Older I Get," by Skillet.click it on on my playlist, then come back and resume reading...I'll wait...) (...still waiting...and please note that for this post, I am waiting on the beach, because it is a happy place for me, and this post requires me to be in my happy place if I am going to be able to write it.)

Y'all, don't even get me started about breakfast cereal.
To my way of thinking, the eating of it was never meant to be a group event. I cannot abide sitting next to a person who is eating cereal. CAN. NOT. ABIDE. There are noises people make while eating cereal, even people who are polite and conscious of the fact that they are eating cereal around other people. And please don't make me LOOK at your cereal while you eat it. And please, please, when you are done with your cereal, do NOT, I repeat do NOT lift the bowl to your lips and drink the leftover milk. (!) CAN you even imagine the nerve!!!! I remember a time when some friends and I were eating breakfast together, and one friend ate a bowl of cereal, then offered the bowl with the leftover milk to another friend so that she could just pour her own cereal in the same bowl, and not have to pour any new milk or use a new bowl. Y'all, I almost threw up. In fact, just thinking about it makes me feel naseated again. I just wish I had never been there to witness that. The next best thing would be to have my memory purged of it forever. I will try to help the process of memory loss along by never speaking of it again. NEVAH!!!
"But Michelle,"
my imaginary reader is asking, "Do you ever feed your own children cereal?"
The answer is that yes, yes I do, in fact, feed my own children breakfast cereal in the morning, gentle reader. But the younger two are the only two who eat their cereal with milk on it; the older two prefer to eat their cereal dry, and drink their milk seperately...which totally works for me, peeps.
Friends, I eat cereal for breakfast, too, but even my own cereal can gross me out sometimes. (I have been known to have to stop eating mid-bowl.) but I do not sit at the table with the children and engage them in lively conversation during the process. I repeat,
I do not join them at the cereal breakfast table.
Instead, I stand above them at the counter, in an "I'm here to get you whatever you need" postition. Let's just call it one of those instances when a mom knows her own limits.*
"but Michelle,"
imaginary reader butts in, "What about the mother of the year award?"
don't worry, dear reader; I didn't apply.
"But Michelle,"
Yes, gentle reader, what is it this time?
"Michelle, you have talked about friends and your children, but you haven't yet shared about your husband."
Oh, alright, ALRIGHT, gentle reader, if that's what you really want to hear about...but I'm warning you up front that this tale will be sometimes ugly, painful, and generally traumatic. Here goes:
Most mornings, Derek does not stop to eat cereal at home before he leaves for work. If he did, I would be sure to give him SPACE in which to complete his cereal eating. I would try to stay down the hall in another room until he was all done, because peeps, it's true confession time, only this time, I'm confessing something about Derek. (I'm warning you, here's where it get's ugly) Derek is among the lift-the-bowl-to-your-lips-and-drink-the-rest-of-the-milk- set. Yes, yes he is. Makes me shudder. Makes me squirm. Makes me make the sour lemon face. (For the record, I do not try to convince him otherwise; I just try to be far, far away if I know he's about to eat a bowl of cereal or two.) This is working for us, generally,
(and it's a very large, important EXCEPT,)
...for the night a few weeks ago when Derek wanted to have some cereal after the kids were in bed. I'm all over the late night snack, peeps: I really am. It was just that homeboy chose cereal with milk as his late night snack, and homeboy wanted to sit next to me, where I was blogging, and homeboy brought his cereal right next to me, where I was sitting, yes, let me repeat, he sat next to me, where I was sitting, on my left side, and proceeded to eat his breakfast cereal. And. drink. the. milk.. Even with the cereal box barricade I put up, I was grossed out.
Y'all, I gotta sign off now, before I faint.


P.S. And don't even get me started about dirty cereal bowls left in the sink with some of the milk and cereal flakes still in them. Y'all, I can't even type that without getting queasy.

*Not that a mom ALWAYS knows her limits, but on this point I have always known.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Fabulous Lyrical Stylings of Country Music

I'm not one to shun an entire category of music. I like to think that I could find at least ONE song that I like or can relate to from any genre. I have mentioned before that Country songs are often dumb; there are certain gimmicks that are repeated over and over in country music , like a tendency to take one phrase and turn it out of context to try to sound really "clever."

(i.e. "I hear voices all the time.")

There are also things that tend to show up in country songs that are not as common in non-country songs...like tractors, and, for some reason, cats.

(i.e. "Take your cat and leave my sweater...")

Oh, now that I think about it, sweaters are common, as well.

(i.e. "...picture me cryin' readin' all your love letters, walkin' around in your old sweaters...")

Last week, Derek and I heard a song that was so deep, it said something to the effect of: that a monster truck with huge, lifted tires is meaningless until you put a girl in it. Or something. I said to Derek "The problem is that if you drive a truck like that, you'll NEVER get a girl to put in it."

Yeah, but there are also country songs that are completely joyful. One example is the Brad Paisley song, "I'm Still A Guy." (I didn't put it on my blog playlist because I'm NOT a guy, even though I appreciate the words of this song very, very much.)

This morning, on our 26.2 (roughly) mile drive to church, Derek started to sing along to the radio...it was Trisha Yearwood's "She's in love with the boy." I was completely amused as he sang "She's in love with the boy, and even if they have to run away, she's gonna marry that boy some-day!"

-Highlight of my day right there, peeps.

And it got me thinking...in what other genre of music can you hear lyrics like these:

"...it wasn't very long ago

when you yourself was just a hayseed plowboy

who didn't have a row to hoe.

My Daddy said you wasn't worth a lick.

When it came to brains, you got the short end of the stick..."

Think about it...but not too hard... might hurt your brain.


Man Eater

"Woah, here she comes;
Watch out, boy, she'll chew you up!
Woah, here she comes;

She's a Man Eater!"


Saturday, September 27, 2008

It's alright, It's alright, It's alright, peeps;

(pre-script: To get the most out of this post, read it as the song "Mysterious Ways," by U2, plays. Go down to my playlist to turn it on, then come back...I'll wait...) (...Still waiting...)

Recently, Hubba-Dubba* and Firstborn girl child were driving in his truck. A certain song came on the radio, which prompted following conversation:
Firstborn: "This guy is ,like, the third worst singer in the world."
Hubba-Dubba: "Who are the first two?"
Firstborn: "Bono**, then you."
(Um, Ouch! That smarts.)


*I have never actually used this particular nickname (Hubba-Dubba) before. I'm still deciding if I like it.

**For the record, Hubba-Dubba and I are super Bono fans. We heart Bono. We heart his music, and we heart his heart for using his platform to help so many people. Bono, if you are reading this, we HEART you, do you even understand?!? Firstborn isn't nine years old yet, and she is very wrong much, so much of the time...and I would even say that she moves in mysterious ways...and you should never try to figure her out because you never, ever will. Trust me. Let's just leave it at that, okay? Okay.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Goodbye to this Wonderland, Until the Weekend...

Pre-script: This post is best paired with the song "Ants Marching," by Dave Matthews band, (DMB, on my playlist) please go click on it, then come back and resume reading (...I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

This is how I have always sung these lyrics:
"...red and black until the weekend..."
"...goodbye to this wonderland..."
"...just a bucket on a lone-ly string..."

This is how I should have been singing these lyrics:
"...red and black antenna weaving..."-Ants Marching, Dave Matthews Band
"...Your body is a wonderland..."-Your Body is a Wonderland, John Mayer
"...just a puppet on a lonely string..."-Viva la Vida, Coldplay



Thursday, September 25, 2008

"The Remains of the Day"

(pre-script: To get the most out of this post, go down to the playlist and turn on the song "Sweet Pea," by Amos Lee. Then come back and commence viewing this post. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

Here's how it looks before we dig in: (*Please take special note of the fact that Derek is reading a book.*)

Here's how it looks midway:

Notice my technique for getting the frosting out. It's an original technique, but feel free to adapt it for your own cake devouring purposes.

Here's how it looks when we are done:

Derek was sooo wasteful to let all that dry cake go uneaten. I guess he ate too much salad for dinner.


Attention Shoppers

(Pre-script: To get the most out of this post, go down and click on the song "Gone," by Switchfoot, then come back and commence reading. I'll wait...) (...Still waiting...)

When you are strolling through a well-to-do downtown area of a well-to-do neighborhood, where BMW's and Mercedes Benz* are as rampant as Honda's and Chevrolet's in any other neighborhood, and you see a store (read: boutique) window with a sign that looks something like this:
Feel free to laugh heartily.


P.S. In the same night I took this picture, (read: last night)we also went to Target, which looks very much like the worst of the '80's threw up all over the place. Like "The 80's called; they want their purple (!) acid washed jeans back." Um, I already lived through the '80's the first time, and like I have TIME... to start pegging my jeans and feathering my bangs again...GOSH!

*I wanted to provide photo evidence of the prevalence of the aforementioned vehicles, but there were people around, and I was too embarrassed...although I DO regret not taking a picture of the Lamborghini and the Rolls Royce...which I wouldn't have recognized except that Derek stopped to look, and when I asked him what was so interesting, he said "It's not every day I see a Rolls Royce."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Have I ever told you about the time...

(Pre-script: To get the most out of this post, please scroll down to the playlist and turn on the songs "Good Intentions," by Toad the Wet Sproket, and then "Wide Open Spaces," by the Dixie Chicks., then come back...I'll wait... (...still waiting...)

Y'all know by now that I have been full-term pregnant and given birth 4 times, right? It's enough for anyone, really. And sometimes people ask me about it, like "Oh Michelle, darling, were the first two darlings such bliss, such blessed bundles of joy and delight and merriment that you just had to have a 3rd and a 4th? Because 4 kids, wow, that is really fantastic."


Excuse me while I clear my throat very loudly here...because peeps. that's not exactly how people usually react to the fact that we have 4 kids. Usually it is much more condescending, that we are contributing to overpopulation, that I am CRAZY, and the look on the face of the individual just learning of this phenomenon usually says loudly and clearly that he or she has just written me off completely. Well.
I don't have time tonight to answer all of the skeptics, except to say that I now know that:

3 is the new 2!!!

...but I never got that memo until after the 4th was already in existence. DOH!*
Y'all got me off on a tangent before I even got to the point of this post. (Why do you do that to me so often?) The story I want to tell has to do with the fact that in all of my pregnancies, I only threw up once. Pregnancy was relatively enjoyable for me**; I loved sporting the big round belly, loved dreaming up baby names, feeling baby kicks and rolls, loved the whole hospital ***experience,( I was not one of those who wanted to go home as soon as possible; I insisted on staying at the hospital the full 2 days postpartum.) loved the anticipation of meeting the new baby, the dreaming and imagining who this new person who has not yet seen the world will be...and then the baby is born, and he or she is nothing that you could have ever imagined.
Yeah. It was something like that for me. And, as I said, I only ever threw up once. It was fantastic. In my one experience of pregnancy barf, surprisingly, there was no nausea before the experience to warn me that something was about to happen...You see, I'd never experienced barfing without the preamble of nausea so painful I wanted to die, so really I should have been grateful to get to skip that part, and I think I would have been, if only Derek and I were not hours away from home, on our way from a wedding to the reception, without a change of clothes, and with our friend Renee sitting in the backseat.
What prompted the puking? It was simply that Derek told a joke and it made me laugh. We still made it to the reception, just with a stop at the first gas station we could find, to clean out the car as much as possible, and then to the nearest clothing store we could find, Clothestime, to clean ME up as much as possible. (Does Clothestime exist anymore?)
Y'all, I hope I haven't grossed you out TOO much. But sometimes a story just needs to be told, and today was the day for this one.


*...but we would have had that 4th baby, anyway.

**except for the LAST pregnancy, when I gained 80 lbs and couldn't sleep unless I was in an upright recliner, and then only sparingly, couldn't breathe, or feel my fingertips at the end...but it was the LAST pregnancy, and I knew that going in, so I endured with renewed assurance everyday that even if this last baby wasn't necessarily going to be the last one before, this baby was for sure going to be the last one now that I was enduring this misery...and then I labored and birthed that one, and that for sure sealed the deal that had already been sealed.

***Again, except for the LAST one...because I had her at a DIFFERENT hospital, which made the postpartum mothers share rooms. The nerve!

Our Own Tropical Paradise

Now that my firstborn girl child plays the ukulele, we feel like we are on a tropical island all the time. Feeling stressed? Come on over! She will play you the song about the spaceman, the "Get me out of the tub" song, the spaghetti song..., whatever you want, as long as it can be played in the 2 or 3 chords she knows. And if you want, close your eyes, and we can try to convince third born, boy child to fan you with a large feather, and our fourth born, girl child can walk on your back. I'm afraid that 2nd born, boy child, will not be of much help in relieving your stress; He would only add to it by yelling at his ukulele wielding sister to STOP SINGING!!! But he won't hurt her, for she will be wielding a ukulele. Hey, I might even offer up one of my precious cans of Enviga!* And Derek, well, Derek puts everyone at ease. He's one of those people who makes everyone comfortable just by his presence and his charm. I used to get together with some girl friends one night a week, and when Derek saw them all lounging in our living room, he'd sit right down in the middle and sigh, in a "when's it my turn to share?" sort of way. But that's neither here nor there, and I'm sure he is delighted that I am sharing it with all y'all.


P.S. No music was recommended for this post, since the goal was that you would be imagining soothing ukulele music as you read it.
*Okay, it's actually not very likely.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I'm not only 32, but I'm also "32 flavors, and then some"

(Pre-script:this post should be viewed as the song "32 Flavors" covered by Alana Davis here, plays...click on it on my playlist at the bottom, then come back here and commence reading...I'll wait...)
(...still waiting...and if you're wondering why you can't see me very well, it's because I am "beyond your peripheral vision." Turn your heads already, peeps!)

Last night, after the children where nestled, all snug in their beds, I decided to paint my nails

this color.

(Oh, how I enjoy short dark nails.)

Don't hate me** because I painted my nails last night. For this morning, before I went anywhere, they were back to looking like this:
Yeah, I picked the polish off, alright? Gosh!
But sometimes, after I apply the topcoat and it dries, the whole of the polish on a particular nail just pulls right off in a single sheet. So it is fascinating fun to just keep pulling at the polish until they would just look silly until all of the nails are bare, again.
The problem is that after the fun and merriment, the nails are no longer painted. DOH! Maybe I will paint them again tonight. If I do, I'll take a picture...just in case it doesn't last. Until then, let us all raise our can of Enviga Green Tea (Tropical Pomegranate flavor, what do you think?!?*) and reminisce together about how truly traumatic fingernail maintenance can be.

...and again...


*This statement was written in my best Napoleon Dynamite voice.

**How about if we just leave it at "Don't hate me?"

"Like anyone could ever know that."**

Sometimes people ask me:
"Do you use a Mac or a PC?"
to which I say:
"How in the world would I know that?
It's not like I'm some sort of technological wizard! I barely passed geometry; to this day the mere sight of a triangle confuses me (unless it's an isosceles...then I'm good.*) What, do you think I'm on the Geek Squad or something, just because I've been blogging for 2 months? GOSH! The next thing I know, you'll all be asking me to program the clocks on your VCR's, too... Like I have time to program 10 VCR clocks!!!!

"...but Michelle,"
I hear you whispering,
"We don't use VCR's anymore. We have already moved on to DVD Players and DVR"S and Tivo and stuff....and sometimes, we even watch movies on our computers."

"Oh, really? Mac or PC????"
DOH! Don't answer that. I will not understand your answer. Just tell me:
"It looks sort of like an isosceles triangle."

-XOXO, (I Guess,)

P.S. Y'all got me so fired up, I forgot to suggest the song to accompany this post. If you're still reading this, go ahead and click on the song "Superman," by Five for Fighting. Click on it, then come back and resume reading...
I'll wait...

(...still waiting...)

P.S. Actually, I do tend to think in mathematical, logical patterns, and there are equations just swimming all around my brain; it's just that mine are all interspersed with poetry.

*Oh I kid, I kid. I don't even remember what the heck an isosceles triangle even is. and I'm pretty sure it trips me up every single day, now that I'm out in the "Real World."

**Kip Dynamite

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Beautiful Thing That Breaks You

When the pollution
of a broken shard of glass
ends up in the ocean,
it is battered and tumbled by the waves,
and smoothed in the salt water,
and eventually
tossed back onto the shore, there
to sit until it is collected
by one who will recognize it
for what it is.
The prettiest pieces are the ones that have endured the most
of the sea's jossling;
the best and the most pieces
appear in the winter months.
I will not
give up collecting
just because the summer
has ended;
I will not
take my eyes off
of the sand even though there is
an unbearable preciousness I sometimes want to smash
because it's existance shatters
what I am
to the core
moments everything I thought
I knew go
flying on the wind
and leave the shell of
me sopping up the puddle
I have become.
Look for me along the shore on a brisk, cold day;
I will be in search of beauty.

Where is my heart right now?

(Pre-script: To get the most out of this post, you will need to read it while listening to the song "This Is Home," by Switchfoot. Go down to my playlist and turn it on, then continue reading this post...I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)
I live 26.2 miles from my church. It isn't too far, and it's a gorgeous drive, because we live in the city, and the church is over the mountain range that seperates the city side of the mountains from the coastal (read:Pacific Ocean) side of the mountains. There is a cultural divide between these two that is known as hwy 17. While the physical distance between these two places I rally between is fairly short, the sociological distance is much greater. However, in a strange phenomenon, by my observation, at least, the people who live on the ocean side of the mountains seem to be the only ones who got the memo. Those of us who live on the city side of the mountain tend to think we are every bit as cool and informed and artistic and organic as those on the ocean side, but we are apparently so, so wrong. Now that I spend so much time on the ocean side, I would like to think that I am starting to understand. I know, for example,that when the city people come over, they tend to go to exactly 2 beaches, therefore crowding those two beaches. The two they have chosen as destinations de rigor are not even the best beaches. Maybe I'm not supposed to say that, though; it's probably better for the locals (and myself, actually) to keep the better beaches under wraps...our own little secret. Okay, I won't tell. I'll just scratch my head and roll my eyes along with the natives... For Shizzle.
I think that the ocean side locals see the city side people as conformists. To what do they see us as conforming to? To "the man," I'm sure. "Which man," you ask? I'm not sure, but I think it depends on who you ask, and I'm sure it's some sort of "Cultural Man," or "Thought Police Man." The fact that the city people would conform to such a man is what disgusts the coastal natives. And I hear them, I really do. I think it's because by my observations, the people who live along the coast tend to be a very creative, artistic set of bleeding hearts. They are very good at embracing and fully enhabiting who it is that God created them to be, and they make no apologies for doing so**. I love that. I have also never seen more dread locks and tattoo sleeves then when I am on the ocean side of the mountain.

Okay, I'm cofessing right here that I think dread locks are gross, and maybe that is my city conditioning, but I read an article once on what it takes to actually create dreadlocks, so I know that it involves not washing your hair for at least a month, and I know that things like cigarette ash and dirt get trapped in dreadlocks, and I like my people to be good smelling, I really do. But again, that's probably just my city side conditioning.

Tattoo sleeves are gorgeous*, though, like an individual walking around with stained glass window arms, and heaven help you if you have them, and you sit next to me, because I will want to ask you about each one, and I will want to hear the story behind it in detail. The thing about tattoo sleeves is that no two are alike, so there are many stories to tell about them. And then if we run out of tattoos to discuss, I will want to move on to your jewelry, and ask you about what each piece means to you, since each piece of jewelry also has a story, ranging from "This was my Great Great Grandmothers wedding band," to "I just saw this ring and thought it was cute, and I particularly like it on my index finger when I pair it with this bracelet." yes, I fully understand that.

But back to the beginning of this post: why are we driving over the mountains to church every week? Why not go to a church closer to our house? Because the first time we went to Vintage Faith Church, we felt like we were home. It's as if after a lifetime of living with wonderful adoptive parents, we finally found our birth parents, and therefore the links to our very DNA. It's as simple as that. This church is real and authentic, embracing the arts, but they do it without compromising. It's an amazing feat of balancing that I admire, and have not experienced as fully elsewhere. I love Vintage Faith Church on more levels then I can even begin to explain here.

So while I live in the city, I feel that my heart is divided in two. You see, I love living in the city, but I also love driving over the hill every chance I can. Is that okay? Will all of you coastal natives accept me warmly as a wanna-be one of your own? Because I love you, you know, and my church home is there, and my ocean home is there, even though my house home is (gasp) in the city.


*While I greatly admire the brave individuals who have committed a lifetime to tattoo sleeves, I am not courageous enough to embark on this venture myself. I am happy to admire the tattoo sleeves on those around me, and ask lots and lots of questions.

**The idea of embracing who you are and fully becoming that person is necessary if one is ever going to be able to embrace anyone else...because you really are only able to love others to the degree that you already love yourself. The bible says to "Love your neighbor as yourself," It is not only a command, but a statement of fact, for you really only can love your neighbor to the measure that you love yourself, and it is assumed that you already love yourself.
An example of this is our teaching pastor, Dan, who sports a blonde pompadour and blue jeans rolled up over doc martins. I love that he styles himself this way, because to me it is a beautiful example of a person fully embracing who God made him to be...and in my experience, I find that when I embrace myself thusly, not only do I love people more, but I love God more, too.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ah, thanks, Deb! (A continuation from the previous post.)

...Then I turned on my computer, and Deb had published this post today, and it felt like another LoveWishHope hug.*
(*If this makes no sense to you, read the previous post.)
P.S. If you have already viewed Deb's post, I will tell you that the fabulous collage pictured there is one that I made for Deb before her family moved from California to Kansas when we were 15. Deb and I became friends when we were 5, and her father was the pastor of our church. You can see from the collage that we wore gunny sack dresses to church, sang duets in church, went to the beach several times, mothered our beloved cabbage patch kids, and so forth, but what you cannot see is our fierce cheerleading moves, the plays and musicals we would write and perform for her grandma, our Amy Grant sing-a-longs, (Deb even said to me once,"My mom said that when I grow up, I can do my hair just like Amy Grant." Cool, Deb!) and the awkwardness with which we weathered the most awkward years of any pre-teen's life.

Warning: this is a Secret Post, not to be read by the faint of heart.

Tonight, I am seeking comfort in the cozyness of my hoody that says "Lovewishhope"on the arms and around the hood. I need to be surrounded in a "Lovewishhope" hug. Why, you ask? Because Derek and I just got back from a vacation with the kids. Derek and I have not taken all of our kids on any sort of vacation since Natalie was born, because I always said "I'm not ready yet, I'm not ready yet," and this weekend, I remembered why.

Y'all, I am about to reveal a little secret here for free. Take note. Are you ready? The secret is that taking 4 kids on any sort of vacation when 1 of them is under 2 and still in diapers, and one of them is a hyperactive 4 year old who doesn't always know how to channel it appropriately, and one of them has special needs, and one of them is...well, okay, it's actually pretty easy taking the oldest one, but the other three...well, let's just say, it wasn't exactly restful. But I knew it wouldn't be...which is why we waited so long to do it in the first place, and why we won't do it again anytime soon...

While the above statements are true, just know that I am glad we did it, I would not trade the weekend in, and I hope the kids will remember it always. (Since we won't be doing it again anytime soon...) It's worth it just to see how excited they get, and how excited they remain the entire time. But I must admit, the whole process broke me. I'm just sort of a messy puddle full of shards of glass right now. I'm glad to be home, with the laundry almost done and everything else put away, yes I said put away already, thanks to a certain someone who wouldn't be able to feel a sense of peace until everything was completely unpacked. (Okay, that's me.) Now I'm off to put the kids in their proper place, in their own beds in their own home, and then the world will be right again. May visions of beach house romping and merriment dance in their heads as they drift to deeper and deepest levels of sleep. As for their mother, I think I'm going to curl up in a corner of the couch while imagining that I am walking in a lush green field as violin music plays a soothing lullabye* in my mind. I will pull the strings of the hood of Lovewishhope so as to tighten it closely too my ears, as it's wooly goodness cushions my aching head.

*I actually do have a soothing violin music lullabye that has lived in my head for as long as I can remember, which is most of my life. I have no idea how it got there, as I have never played the violin myself, and as far as I know, I've never heard the tune before it popped into my head. Maybe I was born with it. Does that make me officially crazy?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

One of my favorite poems

(The following poem needs no musical accompaniment. It's practically perfect in every way. and it speaks to me on many levels.)

Robert Frost
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines,
I tell him. He only says,
'Good fences make good neighbors'.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors?
Isn't it Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.' I could say 'Elves' to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors." "

(I Just want to reitterate that ROBERT FROST wrote this poem. Not me; I only wish.)

I like her freckles

(Prescript: To get the most out of this post, scroll down to my playlist, click on the song "Hello," by Hawk Nelson, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...)

(Still waiting...)

Often while driving around town, Derek will point randomly to a street and say "I did that kitchen." or "I did an entertainment center in that house." I am never surprised by this. But the other night, we stopped in to see one of his most recent customers, Rob and Meilei. I found them to be delightful and hilarious, and their kitchen wasn't too shabby, either.
Actually, I like shabby, so I might have liked it if it were. But as it is, their kitchen it new, so new it's not yet finished, which is why I did not take many pictures of it. You can see the bottom of the cabinetry in some of these pictures.

Oh, and let's not forget the bling.

I love, love these tiles that are set into the backsplash. They look like little jewels, or little pots of eye shadow. So delectable and "so darn good looking.*"

(In this picture you can also see the handles which will soon go on the cabinets and the granite countertops.)

And now it's time for TRUE CONFESSIONS, a semi-regularly occuring phenomenon when I confess something to you that you would not have known unless you had read it here. Think of it as a reward for reading my blog. Lucky you. Today's confession is this: as soon as Mei Lei opened the front door, I fell in love with her freckles. I almost said "I love your freckles!" Right then and there, but I didn't, because I thought "What if she doesn't like her freckles?" so I said nothing. But I DID compliment her daughter on HER freckles.


*Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

P.S. And if anyone wonders if any of these elements exist in my home, the answer it no, no they don't. But there IS a black power ranger with one leg missing and a yellow leg of another power ranger with a body missing in our bathtub.

There is also my sea glass collection, which I added to thusly today: