Sunday, March 13, 2016

the "what do you want for dinner?" chart

i know our family isn't the only one that has the "what do you want for dinner?" discussion EV-ER-Y DAY!   ugh.

mom's done!   not having that convo any more!

the "what do you want for dinner?" chart was born.   TA-DA!

the nice thing about this is that you have the dinner cards all made up so everyone can look through them and know what is available.   half the time, no one knows what they want because they can't think of what all you make.   when we were making this chart, we went through the recipe box and were surprised at some of the recipes we had liked but forgotten about.   the chart really helps!  you could make the pockets big enough to hold the actual recipe if you wanted.   that would make dinner even easier.   my recipes aren't all on cards yet so we just made title cards.   keep an extra pocket for new recipes you try.   after a new recipe, ask if it's new card worthy or not.  

every week ask the family to fill in the chart.   we put some in sideways to show that they can be moved.   i put them in laying down if it has to be on that day.   crock pot meals on busy days, nothing difficult on days that everyone will be gone during the day etc.   of course, mom gets to move things or remove things but it gets everyone started.

of course, it is really basic because i don't have any fancy tools.   you can trick it out to your little heart's content.    i'll just give you the basics

you will need:
a piece of cardboard, cereal box or back of a notebook
clear packing tape, laminator, clear card holders or other clear film
small recipe cards (size optional)
hole punch
string or yarn

decide how your weekly planner should look like.    i made seven days and a place for the dinner cards and extra cards but whatever fits your style and space.

i made little pockets with colored paper and clear tape.   you could use trading card holders or make pockets like i did.  i measured the space, divided it up (yay!   math class wasn't a total waste of time), and cut pieces to size.   i made them by folding the paper to form a front back and bottom and cutting a window out.   make sure that your windows are smaller than your tape so you don't have to make two layers.   place clear tape on the inside first, fold the pocket over and run the tape across the front and around both sides to close the pocket.  

lay your finished pockets face up, side by side, bottom first.   run a piece of tape across the top of the pockets leaving part of the tape above the pocket.   attach the pockets with that tape that is hanging over the top.   continue this process from the bottom up.

punch a couple of holes and add some string for hanging.   done!

i don't even have the "what do you want for dinner?" convo anymore.   whoo - hoo!
hope this helps your family as much as it has mine.   love to see your version if you make it!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

number shake box

i don't know if i was just in a sheltered school system before or if this school is really awesome but they have a really cool way of teaching the kids things.   my son just started the first year of school, (in germany 1st grade even though the word kindergarten is german.   that's another story)   they learn everything at once it seems.   as they learn letters, they also learn words and syllables and sentences.    in math, they learn their numbers but also addition at the same time.   the pages they do are set up so that they are learning everything at once.   it's pretty cool.  

now that they are doing more addition, they have these shake boxes at school and worksheets to go with them.   my son wanted one at home because, let's face it, it's loud and active.   i think they have different boxes for each number but we made a multi functional one.

super easy and free to make

you have a worksheet with a number at the top and places to separate pieces of the number under it.   just look at the picture and you will get it.   they fill in dots for each bead and then write the numbers in the space on the right.   shake it several times to see the different ways each number can be made.

you could use sticky notes to put the total number in the lid if you wanted, this was a on the spot thing so it's just basic.

i used a sandwich box that had a hinge wearing out.  a duct taped hinge works for a shake box but isn't great for food since it doesn't wash well.   perfect solution to two problems.    flip top is probably easier, you could use a shoe box or just make one from a cereal box.

i cut a piece from a cereal box and folded it in the middle and duct taped it in.   you want to separate the sides but it needs to leave space to let the beads move freely between sides.   i left it with a bit of a slope so the beads would roll to the sides and be easier to count, (and because it was easier to keep it from flopping around this way).

they were doing under ten on the day i took the picture but have used the same thing for 10-20.  

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

a bride with the giggles

this is not my story, although i am in it.   it is not my life but i am a part of it.   this is not my case, but i shared in it.

the candles are lit
flowers are in place
everyone is perfectly dressed.  tuxes rented, dresses matched.   every detail planned and perfect from hair done up and bow ties straight, boutonnieres in place and matching manicures for the bride and bridesmaids with color coordinated ribbons and bells painted on each nail.

friends and family are gathered
the preacher stands and the music starts
a groom waits for his bride at the end of the aisle
two by two, groomsmen and bridesmaids step and pause, step and pause their way down the aisle 
the bride appears
she glides down the aisle with her father, both glowing with pride and joy
the bride is given and received
"we are gathered here today . . . . " the most traditional of weddings begins

then, as though some unseen hands reach out and take hold of the bride, a smile spreads across her face.   it is not the glowing beam of elation that usually graces the face of a lovely young bride.   no, this is uncontrollable smile that tries to contain something more.    this is the face of a bride that gets the giggles.

at first, she is able to bite her lips together and stifle any sound.   of course, that tickle will not be controlled, and soon, she is whispering little sounds of laughter.
at first, the solemn groom hopes it will pass as quietly as it started.   a slight annoyance begins to take hold and he shoots his bride a look to try and restore the appropriate decorum.

upon receiving this look from her beloved groom, the bride does what would be called a spit take had she been drinking at the moment.   fortunately for the preacher who might have been showered, she only spewed a bit of sound instead.

at this point, the bridesmaids, to whom the giggles have passed like an epidemic, and have been trying to control their own giggles, are now biting their lips . . . .except the maid of honor who also caught the groomsman's disparaging look and is now softly chuckling as well.

the preacher has droned on and honestly, none of the girls standing with the chuckling bride have any idea what he is saying and are all wondering what is taking so long.   they all hope for the i do's so that they can be released to walk quickly back down the aisle to the freedom of releasing the pent up laughter.    but, no, tis not the case.   the ceremony has only just begun.

the groom is now embarrassed and hoping that only the wedding party is privy to this bout of flippant behaviour.   desperate, he nudges his soon to be wife.   

alas, this has quite the opposite effect and she covers her mouth to try and keep the explosion contained.   all of the bridesmaid are now trying desperately to suppress their giggles to little avail.   

the best man has now joined in his brother's endeavor for the restoration of propriety.   the best man's girlfriend is at the end of the row of bridesmaids and he is just as displeased with her and all of the young women's lack of deportment.  after all, he plans on standing at the head of the same aisle with her soon.   the two brothers now join forces and give what is meant to be a stern look to restore the last shreds of decency to the ceremony.  

simultaneously, the bridesmaids all lift their bouquets to their faces to cover their own versions of the dry spit take.   the 3 remaining grooms men are now smiling and trying to control their own snickers.    the front row of guests are all covering their mouths in an effort to resist the giggles that have spread like the plague.

the bride, alas the poor bride, she has now reached her peak.   she doubles over, one hand on her stomach and one on her face.   she is not only outright laughing but her trademark snort has emerged full force.   

the unfortunate thing about her snorting sow like guffaws, is that it tends to trigger something in the bridesmaid at the end.  the two friends, dating close knit brothers, have developed, entirely unintentionally and uncontrollably, a laugh that happens only when they are together.   the best man's sweet heart, like a piglet answering her mother's snorts, lets out a squee as she tries to catch her breath.   the bride at one end snorting  like a 500 pound sow and bride's maid on the other end squealing like a 3 pound piglet have descended into insuppressible swein like laughter.  

the room has decayed into a variety of chuckles and snickers.   even the preacher has lifted his book to cover his face.   only the two brothers are left immune, mortified at the lack of gentility.

at this point, the preacher has either reached the point of the i do's or has simply cut to it in self defense.   he swallows his own chuckles, the bride and her company stand with tears in their eyes, sore mid-section muscles, and giggles still in their throats.
the couple is pronounced man and wife.
they proceed back down the aisle, somber groom and still tittering bride.
their wedding party follows, groomsmen asking bridesmaids under their breath what was so funny. 
none of them can answer for sure.   
there wasn't anything funny.   
there was nothing to laugh at.
it was nothing more than a bride with the giggles.

*for those of you wondering what ever happened to the snorting bride and her squealing bridesmaid: 

the exuberant bride and the serious groom had a son soon after.   i lost contact soon after that . . .which brings me to the bridesmaid and the groom's brother.   they went their separate ways.   
the bridesmaid did become the bride of another.   during their wedding, they shared a laugh while at the altar.    their small party of friends and family shared the laughter and joy of the moment, and continue to do so, the way it should be. 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

reflecting on the mirror

happy new year!

as many of us do at this time of year, i have been reflecting on the "man in the mirror". (or woman for me, you get it). 3 articles from 2015 have had me rethinking my mirror usage.
no mirror challenge- go without looking in the mirror for a week.

freckles and pebbles - a story about a girl who obsesses over her freckles and how they make her look.

looking at models changes your brain - the fluid nature of our perception of beauty.

with the influence of these three things, i started evaluating my mirror time.

first, i don't spend a lot of time in front of the mirror. i don't wear make-up at all any more. i'm not green or anything, just too lazy. don't have the time, don't have the money, don't want to be chained to putting my face on. my hair does what it wants no matter what i do so i don't waste time fighting with it. i use the hall mirror to make sure i don't have some crazed loop sticking up but that's about it. on sunday i might look at the mirror to check the outfit if it's new. i hope this doesn't disqualify me from having an opinion on mirror usage.  

background in place - here goes -

mr. demille, i'm ready for my close up.
some of our mirror time is close up. for various reasons, we have to get up close and personal with our face. these inspections don't need to be but generally are critical in nature. we scrutinize pimples, wrinkles, blemishes, pores, and so on. what is your conversation with yourself as you get a little personal face time? i noticed that if i look up close more often, i get less happy with my appearance. the up close mirror tends to be critical and therefore lead to a negative toned convo within. in the pebbles and freckles article, a little girl is freaking about her freckles. she keeps getting up close to the mirror and obsessing over those little spots. her mom gives her a rock and asks her to hold it close and describe what she sees. the girls sees a rock, dirt, bumps and all. then she tosses it back in the garden and sees instead the whole picture. flowers, dirt, rocks, a pleasing composition. too heavy handed? back up off your own self and appreciate the whole picture.

the whole picture - many of us are still unhappy with our whole picture too. what about that? this - less mirror time in general. how do you see yourself in your dreams? i know when i am running around in my night adventures, i am in much better shape, have fabulous hair and can do the splits. i can fly too but that's something else. i noticed that when i spend more time in front of the mirror, my dream image begins to more resemble my waking self. you may think that's a good thing and want to destroy my amazing self perception. bollocks to you, i say! maybe positively distorted self images are the answer, or at least part of an answer, to the ever increasing negative, self doubting, depressing, critical outlook we have on life in general. and now to contradict myself - in the study done in the the models changing our brains piece, people were exposed to overweight and underweight pictures and then asked to rate other pictures for beauty. the groups exposed to overweight models for one minute rated beauty in a slightly higher bmi category. if exposing our brains to something for a minute can change our perception, what can we do to ourselves long term? we can start programming our brains to think we are the beauty standard. maybe? worth a try? time for the contradiction - kind of - more time in front of the mirror or maybe just change the time you spend in front of the mirror. when we back up and look at ourselves, we usually just stand there and look for flaws. yes, look for the bra strap sticking out or skirt tucked into the panties first. after you're sure you don't have something in your teeth or some embarrassing wardrobe malfunction, strike a pose girl! work it! oh yeah! do you see those models standing there in pictures the way you stand in front of the mirror? no! you know why? it isn't pretty. turn 3/4 and tilt your head. put one hand in your hair and one on your hip, give your silhouette a little arch and work it like the beautiful beast you were made to be! promise yourself to not ever stand in front of the mirror and frump it up again. forgo the duck lips but give your mirror some awesome selfie action. the more you look at yourself like the model to be sought after, the more your brain will register your look as the ideal of beauty.

no matter what your current mirror relationship, i hope this will cast a more positive reflection on what you see in the mirror.

Friday, October 16, 2015

c is for cat

birthday time again.   my daughter's friends all know i make their gifts so i get requests for birthdays.   makes knowing what to get so much easier!   here is the request i got, purple and cats.   i have been having one of those hectic months so i knew i wasn't going to get anything crocheted in time.   i went to pinterest where i found this adorable and seemingly simple pattern for a stuffed cat.   

looks pretty simple, right?   well it would have been had the pattern included seam allowances.  i am not sure how the pattern got those cute little legs in there unless she has a serger or some kind of magic that i don't know of.   i admit, i am not great with a sewing machine.   we often disagree on what we are going to do and where we are going, but this was more difficult than i thought it would be.

i printed the pattern form the site twice on regular paper.   you probably know, i am a recycler.   i take old clothes and sheets to make stuff.   this cat happens to be flowers from a hanna montana sheet set.  nobody in the family likes the show, so she ended up fabric.  

as i was cutting out, i eyeballed some seam allowances in.   that is most difficult between the legs.   there just isn't room.

stitched everything together, turned and stuffed.   the tight turns were a killer for me.  those turns were the deciding factor in me not attempting kittens to go with it.    

i don't know what i am doing wrong, but i do not have nice round feet and my head turned out a bit less than perfectly rounded although not as lumpy as it looks in the picture.     i also learned that the tail should be sewn on a little loose or tacked in two places or it sticks up weird.   i let mine be a tad loose but didn't tack it so she can move the tail.    

i embroidered a simple face.   we discussed button eyes or embroidered.   i figured it should be a sleeping cat and have a soft face in case she chooses to lay on it.

my projects rarely go as planned but this turned out cute anyway.    i hope that my experience with the pattern helps you before you dive in.     

Friday, October 2, 2015

butterfly braid

super cute but super easy braid with a fun look to it.  

you will need pencil or some kind of rod to put in the braid.  just use something that slides in and out of the braid easily.   sharpened pencils tend to stick on the wood for me and pens obviously have too many little things to catch on.   i used a crochet hook, just make sure you only go one direction with it.

start with a normal underbraid.
stick your rod into the braid try to keep it kind of horizontal.  
separate a small section from the section you are working on and wrap it up and around the rod then just put it back in the braid as normal.   
i did two sets of loops and then a small section of regular braid and then moved the rod down and made two more sets of loops.
you could make loops all the way down or just a few at the top.   if you don't move the rod down you will end up with larger and larger loops.  i did that too one day and it was also really cute.   kind of floppy loops on the side of her braid.   

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

my first fingerless gloves

fingerless gloves seem a bit silly to me.  i mean, what is the point if your fingers are cold?   i need gloveless fingers or something cuz my fingers freeze before anything else.   my tomboy princess loves them though.   ok, i'll do it.

she chose a thicker yarn.   i included a picture of the yarn, label and hook i used.   one skein did one glove with maybe a yard left over, probably less.   

you know i don't know how to follow a pattern much less write one but here's the basics of what i did.   
chain 33
skip a chain and do a double, chain two and another double.   
skip a stitch and attach to the next stitch in your base chain.   repeat until the end of the row.

you will have several mountains.   ( i know i am super with technical terms)
for the next layer, place a chain in each high point of your mountains
half double in the back of the next stitch, just the back loop so you get that raised zig zag
and a double in the back loop of the center between the mountains. and so on

i did 11 sets of these two layers and in the last fill layer just crocheted to the first row to close the tube up.   remember to leave a space for the thumbs though. . . .yeah, i forgot on the second one.

this is a picture of the closing line from the inside and outside.   the inside has this seam and the outside looks continuous.     i was pretty impressed since i was making stuff up as i went along.

i still don't get fingerless gloves but i do like them because o can actually make them.   my friend wants a pair of piggy fingerless gloves.   i'll be working on that one here soon.

tp roll fish tank

my little blonde curls has developed a major fish obsession.   he has been coloring and cutting out pictures and taping them to the wall for a "fish tank" for quite some time.    we have a fish tank, but he has octopi and eels and whales in his paper tank . . . i guess he has a paper ocean on the wall, not a tank.   the other day, i was looking at the many tp rolls that accumulate and thought, "hmmm . . fish in 3d".   i flattened the tp rolls so they had a crease on the top and bottom, cut basic fish shapes and he painted, and i painted, and we made a large selection of tp roll fish.   they sat on my window sill for a couple weeks while school was starting and there was just too much chaos for finding tp roll fish homes.   this week, i decided it was time.

 TA-DA!   tp roll fish tank!

ok, it's a mobile, but you know.   it's fun.

we painted some strips of cardboard for the water and taped them to some wire bent into circles.   two strings crossing for the top suspension of the thing.   same basic principle for the bottom layer of water but longer strings and attached at the same top point so they both turn freely.     i used a large blunt needle to pull string between the cardboard and wire in the water sections.   i went with the easiest attachment, just pulling the string under the top crease in the fish.   you could get fancy and cut fins that stick out, tape the front together etc.   the fanciest i got was one fish he wanted "big".   i used two tp rolls glued together with a third in the middle to stabilize them.    i had some funky cut "sharks" too.   he wanted them to have open mouths.   i thought they looked like nothing but he was happy and that is all that counts.    i had to stick the needle though those, there just wasn't enough top crease to support them hanging.

next time, we are going to cut turtles out of the tp rolls and make coral for them to swim in.   since halloween is coming, we should really make some bats again.   those are fun too.   but that's another post.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

lil's ladder

lil's ladder

i have enjoyed playing with the ladder braid technique quite a bit.   i used it for the  tiered waterfall braid and the sturdy ladder braid.     a ladder braid is simply taking a little section out of one side of the braid every time then braiding back into the next braid.

this time instead of just a ladder, the sections taken from the braids are then braided together between the mother braids.  
split the hair, i went with a diagonal but you could do a center vertical or whatever direction as well.  

do your top braid first so it stays out of the way of the bottom.   bring in hair from top and bottom as normal just take a small section out of the braid on one side every time.   in my case, it was on the bottom.   i have my daughter hold the sections up out of the way so they don't fall back down into my work.   you could use a clip or something too.

braid your second one now but now removing little bits on the opposite side, or facing the other mother braid.   (i hope this makes sense but the pictures should make it pretty simple if you are familiar with the process)

i left a section at the front to start my middle braid.   start the braid there and just add in from the bits you pulled out of the two mothers.

you could braid the three together or leave them like i did.   you could also run ribbon between the braids or down through the rungs of the ladder.   i can see doing 4 or 5 mother braids instead of just two.
lots of options with this technique.   have fun with it and enjoy!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

bathtub shooter

my son loves playing in the water.   most of the time, that means bathtub.   he wants to take all of his toys in the tub.   obviously, water and most toys just don't mix.   even if they aren't electronic, anything with springs or screws will rust and just make a mess or eventually disintegrate into a non-usable state.   we have to improvise.

recently my little blond curls wanted a gun for the tub.   not a water gun, but something that shoots something.   this is our first attempt, it could still use some tweaking to perfect it but it should get your creative juices flowing.   the bathtub shooter with plastic bottle lid ammo-

this is super simple to make and understand.   it is a deodorant container, disassembled and equipped with a rubber band.   really, just that easy.   the hardest part is prying the end of the deodorant container off.   

start by cleaning the container out.   boiling water and some vinegar worked for us.

twist the base up until it comes off.   lay that aside for later.

now, the hard part.   take the thing apart.

we put a butter knife between the twisting end and the main part of the container.   it wasn't just about prying up but also getting into the center and releasing the two pieces.  don't push down from the inside as you might end up actually removing the center stick and you need that part to still be attached later.   every deo container is different so i can't help much.   for us, twisting it so the end sat uneven with the container and pushing the knife in between at the center hole popped them apart.  

use a knife or sandpaper to remove any edges that were holding the two pieces together.   you need to be able to push the twist end back in all the way without it staying there.  i used a dremel tool and a little sand paper disc.   the plastic is really soft so it doesn't take much.

now, the easy part.   cut a couple of slits in the sides of the container for the rubber band.   the plastic is pretty soft yo you could probably use a knife.   we used a dremel.   the paper sanding discs at high speed was enough to cut it.   they are really that soft.  make sure your slits are wide enough for the rubber bands and smoothed off so they aren't sharp.  that will cut your rubber band.  
 we contemplated cutting the slits on the long edge or the short.   haven't tried both ways so i am still not sure which would be better.   the makeup of your deo container might make your decision easier.   the rubber band has to go through the deo base so look at where your holes are.   

you can see in the picture how we ran the rubber band through the holes and looped them over the slits in the sides.   you need to go through the holes in the base and not under the base.   obviously, the rubber bands won't fit between the base and the sides of the container.   

now, just hold your base at the top and put the twist end back in and twist it back into the base.   you are basically reassembling the container the way it was with a few modifications.   don't glue them together.   if the rubber band breaks, and it will eventually, you need to get the base back off to make putting another one on.

now, just put your plastic bottle caps, or milk lids, or pieces of balled up tin foil (don't use foil in the water though), whatever ammo into the shooter, pull back and release.   you can adjust your power with different rubber bands.   this would work with any container that has the twist up end.   you could make lipstick or glue stick container shooters too.

enjoy your totally easy, water safe, no real cost or commitment bathtub shooter!

let me know what kind of fun tweaks you make to it or how it might work better in the comments.

we discovered that setting various boats sail in ocean tub makes great target practice.   my little blonde curls likes trying to get the bottle lids in the cups or just knocking them over.   he also found that he can fit several lids in the shooter at once to make a serious multi-shot function in his shooter.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

the bathroom stall door

"unless something is bleeding or on fire, i will not discuss it through the bathroom door" is heard at least daily at our house.   i joke about it as much as the next mom.   it is funny, but honestly, every single time i have to say it, another picture comes to mind.   every single time.   

i look at that bathroom door, which i hopefully locked, and hear the calls of "mom!" but i see the door of a public campground bathroom stall.   i feel cold, unfriendly, public tiles that i share with complete strangers beneath my feet.  every single time.   it makes me smile.  every single time.

let me explain.

a few years ago, we came to germany and lived with family.   family that was not used to having 3 kids and crazy, loud, silly, romping, laughing, chaos around.   it was not good.
some friends saw the situation and offered us their camp trailer to live in.   we took it!   we moved into a travel trailer in the german equivalent of a aok or koa camp site in america.   a place to park and a short walk to the lake any time we wanted.   it was also a walk to the bathrooms.   a walk with a wagon full of dishes to the washroom.   a walk to the showers with enough change to pay for hot water.   a walk with a wagon full of laundry and change to the laundry room.    a walk with empty bottles to fetch water to cook with.   

we spent 6 months in that campsite.   mostly winter months.   it was small.  it was hard.  it was cold.   we had hurricane force winds come through that year.   i remember laying in bed praying that the straps would hold everything down as i watched and felt the whole trailer shake wondering if the tent that was our front room would still be there in the morning.    it was better than where we had been.

we were fortunate to be near the bathrooms and in an end site where there wasn't much traffic.   living in a camper the size of most living rooms with no yard and an active 2 year old is crazy.   we were also fortunate to be able to get a stove and larger fridge about half way through.   no more just cooking on a hot plate, i had a fridge large enough for more than that days meals and oven to cook them.   whoo-hoo!   

we did finally move into a house.   whenever i stand at the kitchen sink that is lower than any american sink i have ever seen, washing dishes with a sore back, i think about how grateful i am that i'm in my kitchen.   my kids are playing in their rooms, or in the yard, or in the living room . . .there is a whole house and yard for them to be in!   seems silly.   we always had all those things before, but i never appreciated them until i didn't have them anymore.   
whenever i hear the kids whine about their rooms, i am glad they have rooms and not bunks that they call their rooms.
whenever i send my youngest out to play, i am relieved that he can go play in a yard and not a driveway full of gravel i share with the camper next door.
whenever i work on the ever present mountain of laundry, i am grateful that i only have to haul it from one room to another and it doesn't cost me 6€ to wash and dry one load.
whenever i turn on the sink, i feel so blessed for running water in my kitchen.   dumping noodles into a colander in the sink to drain them is a privilege we did not have for a while.   
every time mother nature calls in the night and i stumble to the potty, i am grateful i don't have to put on a coat and robe and shoes to trudge out in the night with key in hand so i can use a cold public stall.

it's been a few years, but i still see that camper and campsite as i move through my normal daily life.   i know that camper was more than a lot of people have and i was always grateful for it.   we grew as a family, we came to appreciate what we had.   i can put an end to most of the kids complaining with , "but it isn't . . . .".   
life is busier.   there is a lot more to do.    i still get caught up in the rush of life and forget how much i have sometimes.   there is one things that keeps me grateful.   there is still one thing that lifts my heart every time.   it's the morphing of my white wood bathroom door.   i hear a knock, or the call of "mom!" and that door changes before my eyes.   i see a metal stall door hanging there, like a ghost that materializes before me.   a piece of me just smiles and sighs with relief and  thanksgiving.   

one day, i looked around me.   the streets, and cars, and trees always the same and i thought, "what if tomorrow it was gone?"   what if tomorrow i lived somewhere else?  what if?   the trees looked greener that day.   i noticed the little beautiful hidden surprises that always hide in our hurried lives.   i saw the whole world as if the first time and i realized that it was new again.   

i'm still busy.   i'm still unorganized and chaotic.   lots of things still make me crazy.   i may never appreciate some of the annoying things of life, but now i see the really great things all around and it kind of overpowers the irritations.   not always, but sometimes.

close your eyes and imagine that you will have to leave everything tomorrow.   now, look around, walk through your day as if it's the last day that you will have it.   might not miss going to work, but i bet you would miss the paycheck.   might not miss the traffic but i bet you would miss the car.  you might not miss somethings, but there will be much much more you would. 

the next time you go into a public bathroom, imagine that being the only bathroom door you have.   when you say, "i just want to "go" in peace", imagine those other people's voices, strangers being on the other side of that door instead of your kids calling for mom.     you will still tell them that you are not discussing anything that isn't bleeding or on fire through the bathroom door.   you will also be grateful that you can. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

bull by the horns

you never know how your words will fit into another person's life.

as a kid, there were these boys that kept trying to run us over with their bikes.   they were freakin' obnoxious!   it was constant.   day after day they would show up and just bully us non-stop.

then it happened!  i heard an adult say something about taking the bull by the horns.   my pre10 year old mind knew exactly what to do!

the next day, i was ready.   i had played it out in my head several times.   i was kind of a thinker even then so i had thought about all the things that could go wrong.   i also knew i was not taking this crap from these kids any more!

we went out to play.
they showed up.
i watched them carefully and put  my plan into action.  

one of them lined up to take a run at me.   the other kids were scattering.   i yelled that i wasn't afraid and they better not try it.   i wasn't running anymore.

the bullies laughed and my friends cringed.

i lined up, spread my legs a bit so they wouldn't get hit before i could act.  i braced myself.   the bike came at me faster than i thought.

i wasn't totally ready but i wasn't moving.   the kid raced at me full speed.  

as he got to me, i grabbed the handlebars and twisted.. . . .

i had planned on twisting anyway.     the plan was to twist the handlebars and throw him off the bike as i stayed standing triumphant over the defeated villain.    

seemed like a solid plan.   i just didn't account for my size . . . or his size . . . .  or the bikes momentum.

i did catch the handlebars with my hands and i did throw the kid and his bike to the ground.   i ended up on the ground in the aftermath as well.  

i'm sure i got hurt, but i didn't feel it.   i got up as fast as possible and in true hero style asked if anyone else wanted to try it.

ended up taking on a couple more.   they didn't run in fear when i toppled the leader like they do in the movies.    i was determined though.   eventually, the dust settled and one kid swore his parents would make me pay for the damage done to his bike.   i was a little freaked when i saw him walking back down the road with mom in tow.   i gathered up that crazy, ticked off, not gonna take it anymore courage that had made me try to take the bully bike by the handlebars in the first place and explained that the reason he got thrown from his bike was because of at least a week's worth of attacks.   fortunately, my friends bore witness and showed their recent injuries inflicted by her son and his pals.   his bike was the least of his worries after that.  

i learned that it was easier to side step and push than to go head on and twist.  
i learned that standing up means being willing to get hurt in the process.
 i learned that you shouldn't tattle on someone that has just gathered up the gumption to defend themselves against you.
 i learned that sometimes you stand alone, and sometimes you gather followers but standing up is what counts.  
i learned to use the crazy.
i learned the power of ticked off.
i learned to fight back.

i learned to take the bull by the horns.   that is one of the most important things i ever learned.

no one calls with good news at midnight

the phone rings.   at first, not sure if it's a dream or if i am waking up to the sound.   no, the phone is ringing.   it's past midnight, there is only one possibility.  please let it be a prank call.  please let it be a wrong number.

this is the doctor at the hospital, can i speak to your husband please?
no.   i'm sorry.   he's sleeping.   (maybe if i delay it, it will be a dream and i will wake up.  i don't want to hear what you are going to say.   i'm sorry, you can't talk to him because i know what you are going to say.   no.   it hasn't happened.   no.   it isn't time.   no.   no.   no.)
it is really important, may i speak with your husband, please? (no!   no you can't!   no!   not yet!   one more visit.   one more book read to the grandkids.  one more . . . .no!) . . just a moment

i am not sure where i am while the phone call takes place.   i know what the doctor is saying without hearing it.   he asked to not be brought back again.   he was ready, i was not.

a phone call to the brother.   he is sure he will still be there in the morning and wants to wait.   surely he can wait to die until tomorrow.   can't he wait until tomorrow?   no, he is gone.   without permission, he has gone.   they make the trip to the hospital.   one was just  there a few hours ago.   just an hour before it happened, two hours before it was discovered by the shift nurse.    the other had always planned on going the next day.   the next day was now gone too.

i call my mother to cry and wonder.  

a few years ago, i didn't want to be around him.   a few years ago, we were at war.  now, i can't even believe or even really remember the feelings of so long ago.  now, i just want another chance to say "i love you".  it was only a day since i last looked into his eyes and said, as though i knew it would be the last, "i love you very much.   we love you so very much".   i knew at that moment, and the look in his eyes said he did as well, it would be the last time he would say, " you too".

the next day, the children cry.  one more book, one more time to tell opa their stories of adventure from the day.   one more time to hear their opa say they are doing well in school and be good.  see one more pride filled smile, one more joke and laugh together.   one more time to push his chair down the hall and pretend they are a race car.   one more time to hug him.   one more time, it was only the day before, but one more time.

two brothers miss their father.   
one rejoices that he had so much time with him.  the other regrets that there is no more tomorrows.  
one reflects over pictures and memories.   the other is given pictures because he has none of his own.
one knows that separation is short.
one built a relationship.
one found joy.
one heard "you too" only because he said "i love you".

Monday, March 9, 2015

i am not a victim

my last post was pretty personal and hard to write.   it needed done.   as i have been letting this roam a little more freely in my head, i realized that i probably needed to explain something.  it's a word that i feel gets used to often in any sense and way too often as an excuse or a cage.   VICTIM

in my last post, i said, " i was never a victim.   i allowed it to happen.   i chose to stay.  i chose to leave."   that sounds simple and yet i can see where it sounds like i am degrading women who stay.   i felt like i needed to clear this up and possibly help to make a few less victims in the world.

the literal definition sounds like this, "suffers from a destructive or injurious action", "deceived or cheated", "sacrificed".   all pretty horrific and powerless but completed, over and done.   victim is a final, past tense, helpless word.   abuse is not final.   the person being abused is not helpless.   applying the word victim, serves only to shove a person deeper into the cage and strips them of power.        

if you are in an abusive situation, it doesn't end.   if you leave the relationship, the mentality goes with you.   that is why so many women stay or go from one abuser to another.   it's like an addiction.   can you break it?   YES!   just like any addiction, you can get out.   like any addiction, you can be in recovery, you can be recovering, but some part of this mental state or tendency to allow this behaviour is still there.  

victim means helpless.
a victim can't do anything to change what happened.   a victim can report it to police, testify and do all of those justice things, but they can't change it.   a person in an abusive situation CAN DO SOMETHING!   victim traps you.   it puts you someplace that you can't leave.   that isn't what abuse is.   it is what abuse tries to do but you can leave!   you can do something about it.   you can get out of it.   you are not helpless.   you are not trapped.  you choose.   it isn't an easy choice.   it isn't an easy road.   nothing about it is easy except staying.   as crazy as that sounds, the easy way is to stay.   overcoming the fear and the dependance and the thought process is real battle.   it is so hard.  

the word victim serves only the abuser.   being a victim is easy.   too  many people claim the word victim and give up their thoughts of freedom when they place the label on their foreheads.  

telling a person that they are the victim tells them that the have no power over what happens.   we don't call people drug victims.   they are addicts.   i don't know that abuse addict is the right word but it is closer than victim.  

victim is hopeless, weak, trapped.   i was never a victim.   i refused to be a victim.   i refuse to tell anyone in an abuse situation that they are a victim.    you are not hopeless.   you are not weak.   you are not trapped.   you are not a victim!   throw off the label and take back some power.   don't allow anyone to tell you that you are a victim of something you can stop.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

to those who had no reason to help, but did

to the mother living near the corner of maple grove and franklin approx. 23 years ago,
i won't bother you with the scene that had been taking place before except he had nearly ripped off my car door.   it wouldn't close.   it wouldn't even come close to closing, i couldn't escape that way.   i had already knocked on several doors.  i sometimes heard tvs or talking behind the door, but no one answered.   i was trying not to cry but i was afraid every second that he would return and the scene would commence again.   i admit, your door was open so i knew you couldn't pretend to not be home.   at the very least, i hoped you would call the police to report a girl crying at your door begging to come in.
i tried to knock calmly on your screen door but the terror and desperation in my eyes and actions betrayed me.   you were not happy about it.   who was this person that had come begging on the porch for protection?   whatever she was afraid of might follow her to you.   i knew that.   i was sorry to do it.   i tried to control my fear in front of your little girl as she happily colored her birthday party invitations.   she was so excited to be having a birthday party!   she invited me to come.   i saw the doubt in your eyes as you handed me the phone.   i thanked your little girl for the invitation but was sure to be working that day and would have to miss it.  
i dialed 911 and we waited.    i know i was the intruder, carefully watching across the street as he came out again, looking for me.   he searched my car, and up and down the street.   i want you to know that if he had crossed the street, i would have asked for the back door and lead him away from you and your little one.   i would have done anything to protect you from him.
it seemed like hours we waited for the officer  but time means nothing in those moments.   i was grateful that your daughter seemed only to realize she had someone else to talk to.   i hope she never knew and i hope that you never regretted.

to the responding officer,
you pulled up to my abandoned car.   i met you and told my story.  a story you had heard a million times and had grown completely abhorrent of.   the victim, the abuser.   it was just another beginning of a never ending cycle.   you told me so.   you told me that you didn't expect me to stay away, you didn't expect me to press charges and if i did, i would be back for more later.   you asked all the questions, talked to him, you filed a  report.  you told me how to file for a protection order that you never believed i would get, or even if i did, you were sure i would not report violations.   you expected to see me again in the same situation. you tied my car door shut so i could drive home.
you didn't hide anything from me.   you were blunt, and impatient, and 99% of the time, you were right.    i want to tell you that this time you were wrong.   i am sure that you would be happy to know, that at least this one time, you were wrong.

to the case officer
i filed for my protection order and you were assigned to be my contact.  you told me about the same thing as the responding officer did, but more gently.   you explained everything i should do.   you nearly pleaded with me to actually call if he came around.   you said that if i stuck with it, you would be there for me.
time passed.   he called.   i called you.
nothing threatening but i had proven myself, at least a little.   you proved yourself.   you watched out for me, you watched him.   you made sure he knew that you were watching him.   you made sure that i knew.
time passed.   i moved and felt like i might be actually alive again.   then one day, i came out to find my car had been tampered with.   i called you again.    this time, i didn't have to worry about him coming back for a long time.  you took care of me.    you took time to back me up and protect me even when you weren't on duty.   i was still scared and worried, but i knew you would do everything in your power to protect me.   it made a difference.

i don't remember your faces, or your names.   i know you don't remember mine.    more than 20 years have passed and i still think about you sometimes.   i think about you more than i think about him.   i want to thank you.    i want you to know that i never went back.    i want you to know that you made a difference in my life.   you helped me make a difference in my life.

to those still there.
it wasn't the first time it happened.   it was only the first time i called for help.   i was never a victim.  i allowed it to happen.   i chose to stay.   i chose to leave.   i am still ashamed that i let it happen, but i am proud that i made it stop.   everyday, i am the only one responsible for my decisions.   no matter what anyone does to me, i choose what i do.   i choose my actions.

to everyone else.
i can't explain it.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

it's not that i don't care, it's that i don't care

in response to a post about judging. 

we actually have this conversation at our house. i tell people that it's not that i don't care about them it's just that i don't care. so, i care about their health and safety but what they do is their business. (please do not mistake that for not getting a truthful answer if you ask.   be sure you really want my opinion if you ask.)

the other side is i don't care what you think. that goes farther with me than with most. i means that i do not do things to get a rise out of you, to make you think i am weird, or normal, or crazy, or funny, or serious or anything else.  i really don't care what other people think.   i am not going to do all the things i want to because it know the thought process of my area and don't want to be arrested.    not that i am wanting to do illegal things but if i went shopping in a gorilla costume, or some of the other fun things that run through my head . . .well, they just don't have a great sense of humor here.   it's misconstrued as needing medical attention.   i will still run around barefoot, which freaks a lot of people out, and play roller coaster on the sidewalks with my kids, but i do have to be aware of what will have repercussions

not caring about what others think has some exceptions. 

God's opinion matters to me, it's the only one i will work to conform my thoughts and actions to.

 my husband's opinion also matters to a lesser extent. more than he thinks but less than God's. 

other family and friends have some weight with me or i simply turn to them for opinions and then weigh it with my own thoughts and decide from there. please understand that not caring what others think does not mean that i do not listen to other opinions. i do, and i consider them. sometimes it affects my personal opinions to some degree, small or large, sometimes it spurrs research, sometimes it doesn't.    

not caring does not mean that i will just say what i want and do what i want even if it hurts another person's feelings.   i will try to be polite, tactful, and kind as well as really honest.   yeah, it's kind of a balance.

pretty much, i just don't have time to care about what anyone else thinks or does. like my grandma always said, "you just take care of you and you will have your hands full." (in respect to judging and not meant in regards to service and charity.)   so, you know, if i choose to grow some horns, i will.   if you choose to implant a 3rd eye, do your thing.   if you need help because you blinded yourself doing it, i will still help you get through the maze . . .i might tease you about it though, cuz i am just a good friend like that.

Monday, November 10, 2014

fiery darts!

have you ever thought about the amazingness of cotton on a stick?

clean your ears, nose, belly button and various body cavities with it
swab for dna
general nook and cranny cleaner
building material, nifty crafty stuff for skeletons, bunnies, sheep, stars, snowflakes, turkey tails, people, paintsticks, "what's that smell" game dosers, flowers, fireworks, and spider legs.   of all that funs stuff . . . . .

the most often used at our house- fiery dart!

ephesians 6:13-17
these scriptures talk about putting on the armor of God.   we did a family home evening about it that turned into a favorite past time.

 you need a volunteer to put on the armor -

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

if you don't know how to gird your loins, it is talking about the fact that everyone wore and still wears a robe or tunic.   there are a lot of different names for it, including dishdasha / dish dash, taub / thawbs, abaya . . .not my culture so i am not going to try and educate you on it or pretend that i know the difference between them.   i do know how to gird up your loins and the meaning though.

basically, if you need to run, work, or fight in a long skirt, you are going to trip.  ( i'll trip no matter what, but that's not the point. )   gather up your skirt, pull it forward and then pull the excess between your legs to the back.   pull the material to the sides and out about even so you can wrap it around and tie it in front . . .like a diaper.  you are girded!    
you can also just reach under and pull the back upĆ¼ between the legs.   hoist it all up over the knees and pull the back of your skirt through the front of your belt.  this isn't going to stay as well though, this is like the quicky, "just gotta jump this fence" version

strap a pillow to your volunteer with tape and if you happen to have a nice full skirt, gird 'em up


15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

put your shoes on!   even better, a pair of rubber boots, just cuz

16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

we used the lid to a storage bin, you can use a garbage can lid ( if it's clean) or whatever.

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

slap a bowl on their head, you have a helmet

now, where are the q-tips coming in?   THEY ARE COMIN' IN A BLAZIN'!

everyone else gets a straw and some of these fancy q-tips that we colored for effect ( and so the kids know which q-tips they get to play with and which  ones need to stay in the bathroom for regular use.   they steal my clean q-tips when they run out of ammo, little stinkers! )

load up the straw and you have fiery darts in a blow gun!

this game is so dang much fun!   they don't dress up anymore but they like to have these blow gun fights all the time!   i bought them a couple of the cheapo packages to use and they have to pick them back up and keep using them until the cotton falls off.   no reason to waste good ammo.   they still snag a pack from the bathroom occasionally, but they are good about asking first.

i would be completely remiss if i didn't show you the rapid fire gun my son made from legos.   he is continually making improvements to it.   it just holds several straws together and he can blow down the line like pan pipes and fire however many one right after the other.   he thinks he is very clever!   ( he is )

that is my gratitude for the day.  i hope you never think about q-tips the same way and i even hope you have a little fiery darts war.   it's too much fun to miss!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

bowl me over!

today, i am grateful for bowls. have you ever thought about how great bowls are? 
soup, rice, cereal . . . . all the sloppy stuff you wanna eat is perfect for a bowl. 
use it to mix cake, bread, cookies, dressing, paper mache glue . . .
contain jewelry, beads, legos, pins, marbles . . .all those little tiny parts that would escape otherwise.
spin a marble around it in and turn it over, make a hat, catch the leaks, soak the whites, catch a spider, make barbie a swimming pool or a skatepark, use it as a form for that paper mache, bail out your boat . . . .
i am really grateful for bowls

Saturday, June 21, 2014

the hug rule

once upon a time there was a very good little boy with way too much energy.   he was kind and loving and helpful.   he got lots of attention and played with his mommy all day long.   anything she did, he did with her.   he just had a lot of energy.   that energy would sometimes sneak out of his body without him knowing it.   it would make a hand to reach out and smack someone.   if you asked him why he did it, he really would not remember doing it.   he was taken to doctors who insisted he was normal.   his mother came up with the best description that all of the doctors agreed with.   he was "a normal little boy, just exaggerated".

so, this is where i was, looking for some help but not wanting my son just medicated.

finally, i just did some mom diagnosis.   i realized that he really did just have more energy than he could control.   i realized that he no matter how much attention he was getting, it wasn't enough.   i realized that he would subconsciously do things to get some attention.   bad attention is better than no attention.   once i realized what he was doing, i could help him understand it too.   when he would "act up" i would ask him if he wanted some attention.   i would ask him if it was nice to get in trouble or if it would be better to have a hug than to get in trouble.   this is where the hug rule was created.

the hug rule -
anyone, anytime, can get a hug from anyone in the house/family.
there is some fine print to this rule of course.   if the person is on the phone, you have to be quiet when getting a hug.   if the person is busy with something, you might have to get a one arm hug but you will get acknowledgement.   the person you go to has to know about the rule, so we don't hug strangers.   if you just did get in trouble and sent to your room/time out, you have to go to time out first.

this works!

here's why it works.
there is the explanation of why they are doing things.   they don't know why, they don't understand it themselves.   this helps them to understand themselves.
they get a positive alternative to what they would normally do.

here i am on the third child, the rule still applies.   my third also has "too much energy".   i have worked with him in the same way.   of course, you have to explain things differently for each child and i had to add that last rule for this last loop hole finding child.   he is still learning to recognize his own motivations.   when he starts "acting up" i ask him why he is doing it and if he needs attention.   then i ask if he wants good attention or bad attention.   and i ask how we get good attention.   with this line of questioning the standard, he is starting to just come tell me he needs attention.   if i have to ask him about it, it takes less questions for him to understand and just come get a hug.

as my oldest has become a teen and my second is entering the teen fun.   this age has helped me find a new use for this awesome rule.   mom hugs!   i have an angry teen and i need to let them know i love them before they go stomping off to their room - anyone, anytime, gets a hug.   mom gets a hug from them!  i take the opportunity to tell them i love them and some kind of positive comment for them.   sometimes i sing something to them, which generally gets a laugh.   this is one of those picking your timing things.   some situations need singing, some just need some words of love.    either way, i love using the hug rule!

now, my kids use the hug rule on each other and i use it on my husband.   i have shared this info with teachers and they have adapted it to their classrooms.   the oldest, my original "exaggerated child", has grown quite a bit and understands his own head better than before.   we have built on the, "why are you doing this?" question over the years.   helping the kids understand what they are doing and why has been a great tool in their lives.   giving mom the opportunity to give some kind and loving words in times of anger is priceless!

that is the beauty of the hug rule!

Friday, February 14, 2014

braided bow

split the top half of the head into two sections.   briad the sections starting at the center of the head.   cross the braids and bring the ends back to the center.  i used a rubberband to hold everything together leaving the unbraided ends to hang in the center.   you will use them in a minute.   now, take a section from the center under the bow and wrap it around the center to make the center of the bow.   it's important that you wrap from front to back.   you can braid it if you want as well.    i have done this with all the hair braided but can't find the pictures . . . be watching for the update.
bring your center down and braid it in with the loose ends of the bow braids.   this holds it all in place.   you can braid all of the hair or bring several braids together for the bow.   it's open for experimentation.