Thursday, December 30, 2010

Oops! I Almost Tripped...

Today it is time for another AlphabeThursday and the letter is M. As in Memories.
And in honor of the recent festivities and all around Holidayness I offer my little trip down the Memory Lane of Holidays passed...
Perhaps I have already used up my allowance for walks down memory lane, but I thought of a few truly memorable holidays. *Warning* These are stories that (yet again) make Hunky Hubby look pretty dang good...
It was our first Christmas together; a bygone era of compulsory frugality yet abundant affection, and a sweet young couple who, while they have since added a few kids, several pounds and a handful of wrinkles, are still madly in love and still quite prudent!
We had been married 6 months ,we were both in school, money was not tight...there just plain wasn't any. We would finish finals that semester and then head to my parents' home for the holidays. I really wanted our little basement apartment to have a Christmas tree, even if it were only for a few weeks, but Hunky Hubby reminded me that we scarce could afford to splurge when we would not even be there to enjoy it on Christmas morning, so we went without. We went about our routine; classes, work and homework as we neared the holiday and the end of the term. Gifts for each other were barely on the radar. We had some small handmade offerings for our parents that we hoped would be received in the spirit in which they were given. I knew what I wanted to buy for my sweet new husband, but I also knew we could not afford it. HH walked and biked to and from campus with only a frayed, patched and rather pathetic old backpack to lug his huge books back and forth. I nearly cried when I bought the new one. Thirty-eight dollars. More than a week's worth of groceries. I prayed he would not be upset by my extravagance . I did not expect anything from him. But little Christmas miracle.
I arrived home from class one day, opened the door to our little flat and beheld what is still likely the most beautiful Christmas tree I have ever seen.
On his walk home from campus that afternoon, Hubby had seen a cub scout troop closing up there little tree lot. They offered him their last little sapling for free. He carried it home on foot. As he drug it in the front door, the neighbors saw him, lent him a string of lights and he decorated it with Christmas cards and ribbon tied into bows. When I walked in, there he sat, under the tree with little wrapped gifts in hand. The presents turned out to be a coloring book and crayons. Still my best Christmas gifts ever.
The second story is of a more recent Christmas. I have always wanted to learn to play the flute. Maybe not always, but a long time, for sure. About 9 years ago I mentioned this to HH, and he remembered. At Christmas, I was never more surprised to unwrap a gift in my entire life. I always ask for, and usually receive, very practical, useful and frugal gifts. Anything else has always seemed extravagant. This gift still makes me smile and was worth a little extravagance. Every time I pick it up to play, I think of that wonderful Christmas! Thanks babe.
Now, lest you think my life is all peaches and cream...a slightly less happy memory, that actually turned out to be a rather happy memory, or at least one that I can tell the kids when they get to whining about stuff that they don't have! I was away at college Thanksgiving 1990. Money was tight, so I stayed at school for the holiday break. (If my mom reads this ... I know you would have flown me home, but I didn't want to spend the money, ok!) My friend Pam was in the same boat (I know she is reading this!). We were the only 2 in our whole building who did not go home for the break (insert sniff). We were in dormitories with no kitchen, but our "House Mom" said that we could use her kitchen If we wanted. Only it never occurred to Pam or me to get any food to cook in this kitchen! We were fine the first day or two of the break, with the cafeteria and restaurants open. Then...Thanksgiving morning. We head to the kitchen to cook up a nice, even if perhaps untraditional, Turkey Day feast! I am sure you have figured out by now what we found! (Laughing yet Puma?) Ya, nothing much. The only thing in the kitchen was Rice-A-Roni, icecream cones, and some tremendously freezer burnt vanilla icecream. That was our feast. And believe you me, we were grateful to have it! We boo-hooed and felt sufficiently sorry for ourselves for most of the day. But...guess what else? The pizza places deliver after 5:00pm on Thanksgiving...who knew!? Probably still my best Thanksgiving ever.
Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas. Great things to come in 2011!
Quote of the Day: "God Bless Us Everyone!"--Tiny Tim

Thursday, December 9, 2010

K Is For Kids and Are You Kidding Me!?

After a bit of an hiatus from blogging, I am back. With, I might add, nothing to say. Between Thanksgiving, family visiting and our crazy couple of weeks preceding my daughter's ballet company's Nutcracker performance, I was pretty well booked. But today is the start of my downtime before Christmas. I love the quiet peace that CAN usher in the holiday if we let it. I suppose that is a post for another day. Today is AlpabeThursday, so I am here to talk about Kids. Specifically, my kids I guess. This Holiday season has contradictorily been the same as most years and entirely different.
In actuality, nothing has changed. We have baked gingerbread, attended the Nutcracker, decorated the tree, made new ornaments, wrapped gifts, sang carols and enjoyed the lights and the general festiveness of the pre-holiday season. The difference is that in the back of my mind I know it will never be like this again. You see, this is the last year that our oldest will be living at home full time. Don't get me wrong. I look forward (for her) to this time of exploration and finding her grown-up self. What an exciting time this was in my own life. Going off to college, meeting new people, seeing new things. Independence. I am excited to see her experience that and grow into the woman she is to become. But as the mom? Nope. Not so much. As the mom I think maybe she should just stay home forever; singing to me and writing songs and stories in front of the fire until we both grow old. Sound good? Yeah, I know. I just thought I would have more time.
When they were each born, 18 years seemed like such a long time. It was quite a long time before they each learned to crawl and then walk and then talk. Potty training? Forget it! That took an eternity. The first day of kindergarten seemed as if it would never come. But it came. And went. In the blink of an eye. Then weeks started flying by. And then months and years and now here we are. One is ready to fly from the nest. Ready? Hmmm....I hope she is. That is really my job as a mother. To prepare them to leave. What a sucky job! Feeding and clothing and guiding and nurturing. Pouring your whole heart and soul into this little person; acting excited on the first day of school when all you want to do is wrap them in a blanket and rock them in a chair. Resisting the urge to run away from home the first time they tell you they hate you. Smiling and taking pictures the first time they drive away in the car without you, even though you would rather take out your own appendix with a butter knife because it seems less risky. All that just to have them pack their bags and leave? What the heck! I change my mind. No kids for me. Yeah, I know. That shipped has long sailed. I just know that those days and weeks and years that are flying by will soon turn into decades.
I truly do look forward to seeing what each of my children becomes. The photographer/musician, the astronaut, the architect and the ballerina/baker. They are amazing little people. I can only imagine that they will be even more amazing big people. Who will hopefully bring some new big people into our lives and then make some new little people. (Oh c'mon...all moms hope that is what will happen!) But the selfish part of me just wants to freeze time. To scream, "Wait, I am not ready!"
When our oldest was around 5 or 6, we visited a small amusement park. She reluctantly decided to ride The Dragon, a kiddy roller coaster. Wide-eyed and pale she made the first circle clearly holding back the urge to let out a terrified scream. Her horror was obvious even to the teenage ride operator who stopped the coaster to let her off. When she got off she told us that it was both the most horrendous and most thrilling thing that she had ever experienced. That is me. Right now. Barely holding back the scream and yet somehow thrilling at the ride. I do not know where to even go with it. I am not one for roller coasters ya know and I am not sure how I was even talked into getting on. But I can say for sure...What a ride!
Quotes of the Day: "There are two lasting bequests we can give our children. One is roots. The other is wings." ~Hodding Carter, Jr.
"It would seem that something which means poverty, disorder and violence every single day should be avoided entirely, but the desire to beget children is a natural urge." ~Phyllis Diller

Thursday, November 18, 2010

FreshenUp: Ignominious And Icky Meet Ingenious And Innovative

Ok. Another confession. I stink. I don't mean like..."Oh, man, I stink!" I mean like, stink, stink. You high heaven. Especially after a workout. Which I actually manage to do on a regular basis. There has never been a deodorant that I have found to work. Ever. So, I just stink sometimes. I will not tell you everything I have tried, but let's just say there were several baby wipe and baking soda trials that got a little out of hand. So, if you are not already running for the next blog, let me tell you of the latest experiment. And a big thanks to those Rowdy Stroudy's for turning me on to this. So far it is working well. Homemade Deodorant. (Or pit-stick as Hunky Hubby likes to call it.) It even got rid of some stink that was starting to form. TMI? Now that I have thoroughly embarrassed myself...
We are all friends right? I mean I am only trying to help. And if I have to be brutally honest about my own bouquet to help a fellow man...then so be it! So for anyone else who might be aromatically challenged...give this a try!
Ingredients: 1/4 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup arrowroot powder (or cornstarch), 4 tablespoons coconut oil, Few drops essential oil (optional), A tin or jar with lid for storage.
I used a little jelly jar with a lid, but if you click on the links above they have more details and some storage ideas too. Homemade satisfies NatureGirl's need to be frugal and natural, but not too natural, if you know what I mean. Boy, I really hope this doesn't get me sent to the corner over at Mrs. Matlock's, but I gotta tell it like it is. Good luck with this. Thanks for listening, and may the fragrance be with you!
Quote of the Day: "Don't take life too seriously; you'll never get out of it alive."
--Elbert Hubbard writer, artist, philosopher

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ode To The Hunkiest Of Hubbies

Ok, so this is not really going to be an ode. Sorry. If you would like to stop reading now and hop to another blog, I understand. Really. Go ahead, I'll wait. Now, for those of you who stuck around, this is a highly self-indulgent, totally random post about something that I want to talk about. Yeah, I know, "what's new?" My rules! But both Hunky and Hubby start with the letter H so Teacher won't get mad and I can gush all I want and not get sent to the office. So without further ado, NatureGirl proudly presents 42 things she loves about Hunky Hubby (not his actual name, but I have to protect his identity from the paparazzi.)
42. Knows that my favorite flower is "not roses"
41. Has great legs
40. Will eat almost anything
39. Is amazingly strong
38. Loves the outdoors
37. Helps with laundry and yucky chores
36. Always calls me by cutsie pet names
35. Whenever I see something I like he always says "buy it" even though I never do
34. Doesn't watch sports except BYU football (and that is with me)
33. Is ridiculously smart!
32. Works really hard
31. Is careful with money
30. Works at staying physically fit
29. Is sweet to kids
28. Mops the kitchen floor on his hands and knees
27. Keeps the yard looking nice
26. Always supports my quirky ideas
25. Has a terrific smile
24. Is a good athlete
23. Doesn't stink when he gets sweaty
22. Grows a nice beard and mustache, but shaves before I get tired of it
21. Tells me I am a good cook, even though I am not
20. Tells me I am good at other things, even though I am not
19. Probably actually believes I am good at those things
18. Is cuter now than when we met
17. Is incredibly good with babies
16. Cleans up poop and puke
15. Is not a work-aholic
14. Always does the driving on long trips
13. Takes us on long trips to cool places
12. Is quite brave
11. Likes to camp, hike and bike with me
10. Has a good sense of humor
9. Doesn't mind that I am ornery and sarcastic
8. Is an Eagle Scout (c'mon was there any doubt?)
7. Knows what good music is
6. Likes foreign movies
5. Laughs at the same stuff I do
4. Has awesome burns!
3. Has good taste in shoes
2. Is adventurous
1. Is mine!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Gee, Granola!

Today we talk about the letter G. As in granola. Can you say, granola, class? Luckily, my mother is pretty thick skinned. She does not take life or herself too seriously. More importantly she does not take ME too seriously! Even when I make fun of her. Or my childhood. Or her, during my childhood. So when I say I do not want to grow up to be my mother, it is done with my tongue in my cheek. It is just that we try so hard to snip those apron strings, until we finally make peace with the notion that we have, indeed, become our parents.
The problem is that many of us grow up with misconceptions about our parents. Because we are looking at Mom and Dad through the eyes of a child or adolescent, our judgments of them are not always accurate. Sometimes when we look back on our childhood as adults however, we find that we are much more forgiving of our parents' mishaps and follies. This however, is NOT one of those times!
I was raised in the 1970's and 80's by comparatively young parents, they themselves products of the counterculture of the 1960's. Even at a young age, and certainly as a teen, I noticed that my parents were a bit different than my friends' parents. It was embarrassing and I did not like to admit it, but we were hippies.
We made our own all-natural soap and granola from scratch, often abstained from meat, instead making entire meals from lettuce. We were good stewards of the earth in composting our leftovers, and frequented the secondhand stores as to make good use of existing abundance. To top it off we basically lived in a commune. My family, my aunt and uncle (and two cousins), my uncle and aunt (and two cousins) and my grandfather all lived on one street with only Mr. Toy, the mailman, between our four houses. There were 7 cousins and we basically did everything together using all four houses as our own. At bedtime the grown ups would open the doors and as soon as the right number of children were in the house they tucked them in and kissed them goodnight. It didn't really matter if it was the correct children for that house! Now, with a family of my own, I was carrying on these time-honored hippie traditions. Happily haunting thrift stores, grinding my own wheat and keeping backyard chickens...Until...
During a family gathering last summer, I remarked at how funny it is that no matter how hard we try to not become our parents, the inevitable happens. At forty, I had to face the fact that I, like my mother before me, was a bit of a hippie. I had almost made peace with the idea when Mom said something that dispelled all my delusions about my Bohemian, free-spirited, nature-loving, do-no-harm upbringing and attitude, "We weren't hippies, Sweetheart, we were just poor". NOW she tells me. "Hey, someone turn down that Dead's time for yoga."
Quote of the Day: "You're either on the bus or off the bus." ~ Ken Kesey

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pardon My Flosculation...Again

I really like words. Seriously, I use them all the time! Reading, writing, quotidian colloquy. But I have recently heard some disturbing news. I mean, I guess deep down inside I always knew, but until my worst fears were confirmed by an outside source, I held out hope that it wasn't true. There are words on the brink of expiration. The threshold of existence. Near their demise. Falling, quickly and abruptly, into obsolescence!
Words that once served a purpose and held their places proudly and alphabetically in lexicons across the world, are now being tossed aside like relics of a bygone generation. Deemed antiquated, outdated, useless and ineffective they are being removed from dictionaries to make room for new words like woot, edamame and subprime. I get it. Really, I do. I understand the necessity of it. I mean, the only reason language exists is to serve the community that uses it. It allows us to freely exchange thoughts, feelings and ideas. If a word no longer performs this function, it will drop out of our vernacular naturally. It just seems so harsh, you know, to take them out of the dictionary after all they have done for us. Toiling away year after year until suddenly, when they are no longer needed, being torn from the very pages where they waited so faithfully for some amateur philologist to find them. And, as usual, I digress a bit.
The point is that someone even more passionate about words than I, has taken up the cause. Launched a formal protest even, and issued a call to action! For those of us so inclined, we can adopt one of these vanishing words and try to resuscitate it. How fun is that!? So, please help Savethewords.
I narrowed my choices to thural, coquinate, fallaciloquence, flosculation and ictuate, finally choosing to assimilate flosculation into my vocabulary. As part of my pledge to do so, I publicly take the oath of adoption: "I hereby promise to use this word, in conversation and correspondence, as frequently as possible, to the best of my ability." down!
And A happy, happy AlphabeThursday to you...Mrs. Matlock just loves her some words...
Quote of the Day: "Language artfully used can make you happy to be alive."
--Ben Yagoda author (from If You Catch An Adjective, Kill It)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Coming Out Of The Closet...How Charming!

I have been inspired, as have others, by Jen's willingness to come out of the closet. Yep, that is right. She totally did it. She exposed all of us for the frauds that we are. Sitting at our computers day after day, blogging about the good the bad and the ugly, but somehow skirting around the actual ugly stuff. Oh, sure, sometimes we discuss the hard things in life and even whine or complain now and again, but somehow we do it in a way that assures all of our readers that even in hardship there is never a dirty dish in the sink.
Well for a few brave souls that has ended. We are comin' clean. I must admit, I lead a pretty charmed life. I have a seriously Hunky Hubby who cleans up after himself (ahem, and me) and four pretty danged well behaved and intelligent kidlets who rarely give me trouble. I have a comfortable home and even some free time to do with as I please during most days. I like sharing that life with others, but I do nip and tuck! You know, a little face lift for my life. But today it is time for, dunt, dunt, dunt, duh...Reality Check!
So yesterday started pretty good. Got the kids fed and ready for school. Packed pretty danged healthy lunches and dropped them off ON TIME to there various destinations. I headed out to teach my yoga class. It was a nice class and I met a few new folks. I dashed home to take a shower, and then catch up on some chores while I let my hair dry in time for my visiting teachers to come by for a visit. So far it is sounding pretty good huh? Except you may not know that I am a curly girl. My hair that is, and this actually is a real issue when dealing with time constraints (other curly girls, back me up here.) It is a whole process. Last month my visiting teachers saw me while it was still in the drying stage...humorous! Anyone unfortunate enough to ring my doorbell between 10 and noon on any given day will get a real laugh I tell ya. (Ok, see that was another little cover up. I should have said 10 and 2!) So, I wanted it to be done drying this time before they came for a visit. It was close enough and they did not have to hold their chuckles while visiting with this...
It was then time to pick up youngest kid from school. It was a lovely day, so I walked. She had invited a guest to come visit her ballet class that day and was very excited. At the last minute the friend could not go and the little one had a melt down. A little late for ballet, I left the 12 year old to fend for himself right as he walked in the door from school and called the two older kids to remind them to get themselves to the dentist straight from the high school. My good intention was to meet them at the dentist and then zip home to fix supper and visit with the one I had left behind. Never happened.
Ballerina did not want me to leave the building so I stayed for the 2 hour class and watched. This story is getting way too long, so I am going to cut to the chase. I never made it to the dentist to hear that one kid had a cavity and they BOTH need their wisdom teeth out. The fifteen year old had to make his own dinner and find a ride to his Civil Air Patrol meeting. The 17 year old had to make her own dinner and then get off to a school thing. 12 year old is still alone. I picked up Sonic (which is quite possibly the most disgusting thing I could imagine feeding my children) on the drive home and the three of us ate it at the kitchen counter. Did I mention Hunky Hubby was out of town on business? We finished up homework just in time for me to retrieve 15 year old from his meeting and returned home just minutes after HH pulled in from the airport. This would not be so bad if the day before had not been equally as odd. Other two kids at the dentist, HH gone, and microwavable macaroni and cheese for dinner. I was also going to show you the cleanest of my kids' rooms and couple of closets, but it seems pointless now. I think we all get the idea.
Our lives are not perfect. Which is ok. Mine is a still charmed life. Less than perfect and sometimes hectic, occasionally sprinkled with quick fixes and messes that take a while to get to. Most days run more smoothly than the past couple have. It was a crazy week. But my man is back home, the children will get a decent meal tonight and we will head back to the dentist next week to fix the cavity. Oh! and I know two teens who are getting wisdom teeth extraction for Christmas... Charming!
Quote of the Day: "It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others."--Unknown

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Theory Of Evolution

Oh oh oh I love me some Mrs. Matlock's homework assignments. (I always was a good student.)
I would like to discuss the theory of evolution today. No not that theory...if that theory were true mothers would have three hands by now and ACTUAL eyes in the backs of their noggins. No, this is the theory of the Little old me. I am Leslie. Wife. Daughter. Sister. Mother. Mormon. Recycler. Writer. Friend. Woman. Gardner. Lover. I am a loudmouthed, stubborn, opinionated know-it-all, but a passionate, empathetic, friendly naturegirl. I could go on, but for everyone's sake, I will not. I am above all, a work in progress. I am evolving. I have likewise evolved. I think most importantly I am becoming more ME. Everyday more comfortable with who I am. Letting go of pretenses; both externally and internally. Allowing myself to get to know the real me.
It takes time and effort to let emerge the person we are at birth before life and hurt and fear gradually sneak in and temporarily rob us of our true selves. Temporarily. We are divine. Yet mortality has a funny way of snatching that knowledge right out from under us...oh around, you know...jr high. Pick, pick, pick, little pieces of our divine nature are plucked off and we have to patch and mend and cover up our perceived inadequacies for years until we are once again able to see our real selves. Once again able to BE ourselves.
I am not perfect. There are things that I do not like about myself. But I do not feel as much need to cover them up anymore. Instead I try to work to change the things that I do not like. To soften my temper, to be more open to change, to be more forgiving and honest with myself and others. We often change and mold and bend ourselves to meet others' expectations or to conform to something or someone we think we ought to be. Mostly to someone we think others want us to be. But there comes a point in our lives, at least I feel it has come in my life, when we are ready. Ready to come back to the real us. Strip away the layers of cover up and be open and honest with the world. ever changing. Forming new relationships, evolving in our current relationships. Finding new passions, resurrecting old ones. Making ourselves over for the better. Putting our real face and our best foot forward. Moving into being who we were really meant to be. It is exciting. It is evolution!
Quote of the day: "Be yourself, everyone else is already taken."
--Oscar Wilde friggin' genius

Monday, October 18, 2010

Heeeelp! Seriously, SOS!

Ok, so within the last month or so someone, some blogger, someone we all read, posted a recipe for chili. It looked really yummy and I wanted to try it. I remember that it had some odd sounding ingredients for chili...cocoa or cinnamon, or maybe both. Anyway, I did not write it down, and now I cannot find it! Someone help! If you remember whose blog it was, or if it was you... Fess up! I want that recipe before our chili cookoff this weekend. That is all.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Notes From A Bohemian Cottage

Happy AlphabeThursday! Today my D is for Decorating. I am not good at decorating. I have good taste, don't get me wrong, of course I have good taste. I just do not know how to put it all together. Also, my taste is we say...eclectic. It is my mom's fault.
Growing up we always had a strange assemblage of furnishings and decor. A mixture of family pieces, antiques and odds and ends. A combination my mom's diverse flair for decorating and a lack of financing. Bookshelves in every nook and cranny, including the hallway! Nothing matched. I hated it. I just wanted everything to match. One year we bought a whole living room set, straight off the showroom floor. Overstuffed sectional sofa with matching (yes matching) end tables, coffee table and lamps. It was the one and only time I remember having a whole room in our house that...ya, you guessed it...matched. We moved shortly thereafter and that living room set was quickly pieced out, servicing new rooms and odd corners of the new house. We never matched again.
I knew that when I grew up and had a home of my own I would drive straight to the nearest furniture store, find my favorite grouping, wrap it up and take it home. Each room of my house would look just like a showroom. Sofas purposefully flanked by matching end tables. Headboards purposefully flanked by matching end tables, with matching dresser against the opposite wall. Everything. would. be. perfect. But as it turns out. I hate it. I hate matching furniture. Oh, do not get me wrong. It looks amazing at the store. It even looks amazing in my friends' homes. But it isn't me. Come on! Who was I kidding, my clothes never even match!
So here I sit, in my little bohemian cottage, full of hand-me-downs, thrift store finds and odds and ends. Bookshelves in every corner and a dining table in the middle of the living room.No real antiques because I am way cheaper than my mom. Nothing matches. Well except one sofa table and one end table that I bought together for our first home. They are in different rooms. I became my mother. Good thing. She lives in a wonderful space that really suits her. That is it I guess. Our space, our homes, our rooms must authentically reflect who we are. I was trying to make my outside into something that did not jive with my inside. I do not know why yet, perhaps just to rebel against my upbringing. I will have to explore that. But finally I have begun to make peace with my insides and am becoming more comfortable with showing that to the world. So, letting my inner bohemian shine through is a step toward living more authentically I guess. Well, that is all I have to say on the matter. For now anyway.
Quote of the Day: "I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.
--Anna Quindlen author

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Let's Go To The Hop, Oh Baby!

I have actually blogged about blogging. On more than one occasion. Seems rather redundant, superfluous even. Haha...I crack myself up! Anywho, here is a little excerpt, extract, part, section, piece, portion, snippet, clip, bit, sample of one of those posts. But don't worry. There is a reason behind it.
I have seen some remarkable things over the year since my somewhat trepidatious entrance into the blogosphere. I have "met" some amazing people, reconnected with old friends and drawn closer to family. I have seen babies born, and couples wed (not necessarily in that order)...birthdays celebrated and anniversaries marked...rejoiced with some friends and cried with others. Am I alone in my sentiment, sickeningly saccharine as it may be? Do any of you have experiences with this medium that have touched, inspired, angered or fed you? I want answers I tell ya! So here is where the favor comes in. I want to know who you are. Am I getting to read all the bloggers' blogs who hit my blog? So, if you read this...leave a comment. If you have an experience, share it. If not, just say hi so I can go check out your blog! If I already know who you are...leave a comment anyway so I don't look like a big dork standing in the corner all by myself waiting for someone to ask me to dance."
I like the blogging medium. I have met even MORE cool people in the year since I wrote that little bit. I love the accidental blog hop that leads me to find people who enjoy the same quirky things that I do. Or people who look at things and do things and think things that are completely opposite of me!
I love the sneak peek into the daily (even if mundane) lives of friends and family. My friends and family are spread literally from border to border and from sea to shining sea. We have, however, this place to converge, to rally, to reunite, to associate, to mingle, to share, to connect and reconnect. So, while there may not always be a lot to say, keep saying it. Real people, real lives. Ordinary and humdrum at times. Remarkable and Amazing at others. Blogging is journalism, poetry, prose, expression, conversation, news and stories. It is whatever you want it to be. So, I say...Blog On! And today. I say also...Blog HOP! Let's meet some new folks, make new friends and hop, hop, hop...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

B Is For: Bicycles And Big Buts

I owe a big thanks to Mrs. Matlock of Off On My Tangent. Oh, you don't know her? Well you should. She is a lovely, albeit somewhat strict, anytime blogger and part time schoolmarm. If it were not for her weekly homework assignments I believe my blogging would be sporadic as of late. Today's assignment? The letter "B". And thank goodness because it gives me the chance to finally sit down and write about a recent experience.
If anyone read this post at the beginning of the year then perhaps, just perhaps, you have wondered how it turned out. If you did not read it and do not intend to, I spoke about the difficulty that I have with breaking out of my box. And in order to help force myself out of that box I decided to do something daring in honor of my 40th birthday. Specifically, a century bike ride. I chose to do the 100km. Sixty five bum bustin', leg burnin', sweat breakin' miles. And I did it. And except for the 20 mph winds for the last 30 miles it wasn't all that hard. Next year Hunky Hubby says we are doing the 100 miler route. I say "Bring it on!", which if you know me is not something I say very often. You see...I am the queen of big buts.
You know...
I would try the ride... BUT.
I wish I could do this...BUT.
I would love to try that...BUT.
I could be all that and a bag of chips...BUT.
I dream of_______...BUT.
That is a lot of big buts. I am kinda tired of walking around dragging all those big buts behind me. Now, this is not to say that I do not love my life. I totally do. I have amazing kids and a Hunky Hubby that I cannot get enough of, and we live a great life full of love and books and movies and art and nature and fun, but I have always played it safe. I read something recently that I wrote a year or so ago. A question to myself in my journal. "Will I ever do something truly daring?" This ride for me was daring. It required believing that I could do something that I did not know whether or not I could do. I never, let me repeat, never do anything that I do not absolutely know I can do. Especially in public. Safe.
So many of my posts over the last 2+ years have been about my desire to get out and live, oh I don't know, to live...more, I guess. Live more, love more, pray more, try more, be more. Not worry so much about getting hurt, or looking stupid, or shhhhh....failing. Firstborn syndrome I suppose, but that is a chat for another day. More. Yep that is it. Of course as a simplicity freak, I am going to have to learn to be more with less. Ah ha! Sounds like at least a couple more posts. Life is good.
Quote of the Day: "Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told: "I am with you kid. Let's go." ~Maya Angelou

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Is For: Autumnal Ruminations

Today at AlphabeThursday the letter is A. Here in beautiful Idaho, the seasons they are a changin'. It is officially the first day of AUTUMN. I love autumn. It is likely my favorite season. I am a bit sad though to say goodbye to summer. Those lazy, hazy crazy days of summer. Sunshine, fresh fruits and veggies, picnics, parks, playing in the water, breezy skirts and flip flops. (I love my flip flops.) I go into the garden and pick fresh raspberries for breakfast. I lie on my back in the grass and stare up into that endless blue sky. I read in the shade of the patio while the kids run through the sprinkler and dash across the lawn headed for that iconic summer contraption, the "slip'n'slide" wishing that the season would last forever. (And secretly wishing that they would stay my little ones forever as well.) Yet as the kids finish their fourth week of school, and I see the leaves beginning to turn and the temperatures fall, I know that another summer has come and gone. Did I appreciate it while it was here? I sure tried to, yet it seems gone too soon still. I feel that way too as I watch my four kids grow up right before my eyes. Do I appreciate each stage for its own wonder and excitement? I am trying to, yet the years too, seem gone all to soon still.
Before I fall off my chair and roll up into a soggy mom-ball of tears, I had better move on to autumn. I do love autumn. The air smells crispy. It is clear and cool. Just as the summer flowers lose their color, the trees begin to change and a whole new pallette is arranged. I just love the way it feels, and the sunsets are spectacular! It is time to don cardigans, scarves and cute hats to crunch the leaves on the sidewalk during my afternoon walks. I relinquish the barbecue for the big soup pot. Fall is the time to enjoy a giant batch of chili with a big, crusty loaf of sourdough...Yummm! The pumpkins in the garden are getting plump and I know that trick-or-treating is just around the corner. (I DO love to dress up.) I used to rush the passing of the seasons and celebrate each milestone in the kids' lives with a mad desire to see how it was all going to play out in the end. Now, though I just wish it would all slow down. I don't want it to stop, of course. I love seeing my kids grow and learn and develop into their own little people. They really are cool. I don't really want summer to last forever, nor fall either. It just goes so dang fast! So, I say, let's slow down.
The changing of the seasons really gives us the opportunity to reconnect with the earth and with nature. Go to the farmers market and see what is fresh this week. Taste the difference in food that is really ripe. Take a drive, or even a walk, and see all of the changes in the trees and flowers. Smell the air. Take advantage of all of it. Perhaps in your area Autumn lasts a while longer, but I know that here, winter is just around the corner. I will relish that when it comes too (only through March though), but for now I am love love lovin' Autumn! Although, I'm not putting a way those flip flops just yet...
Quote of the Day: "Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns."
~George Eliot author

Friday, September 17, 2010

To Blog Or Not To Blog...What A Question?!

Fifth and Final Day of The SITS Blogging Project. Ugh...I have always hated finals! So, today's final?
Challenge #5
(Write about what blogging means to you. Why do you blog? What purpose does it serve you and how have you benefited from sharing a piece of yourself online this way?)
What an odd phenomenon is the blog world. Who are we to think that we have anything to say that anyone would want to hear? Most of the time, I doubt that my own family (i.e. those obligated by blood or marriage to at least pretend to be interested) particularly cares what I have to rant or ramble about. Are we truly a narcissistic society, so caught up in our own opinions and postulations as to believe that others would want to read them, to the tune of thousands of bloggers, publishing thousands upon thousands of posts each week? Clearly, yes, we are. BUT truth be told...I love it! I have always loved discussing, debating, deliberating, conversing, examining, exploring, analyzing and connecting with people. This is a new medium that is all.
I am not so delusional as to think that I ever say anything earth-shattering or even compelling in any way. Most of the time poignant is even beyond my reach, but I do hope to share. Share a little piece of me. This is something that I am actually not particularly good at. Sharing I mean. Well, feelings that is. Toys? Sure. My Halloween candy (except Snickers)? Of course. Clothes, money, friends, recipes, time, talents...anything...but feelings? Uh, No.
I am, by nature, rather private. I am friendly and some would call me outgoing even, but I keep my deepest feelings exactly that...deep. Always have. But I love to write. Always have. I started a journal in the 7th grade. She became my best friend. I "talked" to her at least once a day for the next ten years until I got married. I do not know why I stopped writing everyday. I guess it seemed childish for a grown, married mother to write to an imaginary friend. Hmph! Even saying that makes me sad. Why did I think growing up meant letting go of my imagination?
Truth be told though. It was a piece of me that was important. The writing. I don't make any judgements about whether this is something I am good at or not. It does not really matter. It is a part of who I am. It is a part of what makes me, me. I write. I lost that for so many years. I missed it, but I let it go because...well, I don't know why. But I did.
This blog has, for the last couple of years, given that back to me. All my lovely imaginary friends. A place to share a thought, a feeling, an idea. I don't know who all reads. I usually cannot figure out why anyone does, but I appreciate the place to be me.
I also love the sneak peek into the daily (even if mundane) lives of friends and family. Do I think that it would be better for us to bind these ties face to face? Yes, but that is not the reality of the times we are living in. I live 100's of miles from my "hometown". Also true of my college home. My friends and family are spread literally from border to border and from sea to shining sea. We have, however, this place to converge, to rally, to reunite, to associate, to mingle, to share, to connect and reconnect. So, while there may not always be a lot to say, keep saying it. This is what we talk about around the water cooler now. Real people, real lives. Ordinary and humdrum at times. Remarkable and Amazing at others. Blogging is journalism, poetry, prose, expression, conversation, news and stories. It is whatever you want it to be. So, I say...Blog On!
Quote of the Day: "In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit."
~Albert Schweitzer physician and philosopher

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Biography Of A Woman

Four, day, two, three, four...Day four. Still participating in the Event. Today's challenge...dun dunt dunt duh...
Challenge #4
(Write a new post about a woman who inspires you.)
I actually do not know where to start. There are dozens. Women in the scriptures, public figures, family and friends, fellow bloggers. Countless women who have inspired me in countless ways. But I narrowed it down to one.
This woman speaks to me. Inspires me to be the best I can be, even though most days I feel like I fall helplessly short of her expectations, somehow the next day, there she is, pushing me to be better and to try harder. Kicking me in the butt and urging me to pick myself up by my proverbial bootstraps and give it one more shot! She is kinda bossy. I can say that because I know she will not read this for quite a while. There are days when I feel her disapproval, but for the most part I think she thinks I can make more of my life than I think I can.
She dreams big. She has faith that somehow things will work out if we can just take the first step. She is nearly fearless when it comes to dreams and aspirations. Sometimes I think she is crazy when she tells me all of the things she hopes for and wants to try. and do. and be.
She is joyful almost terminally so. Her joy from the love of God and people and life is tangible. She lives every moment and loves every moment as if it is her last. She never wastes time, but is not afraid to sit and be still. To just be. She knows that this is Not a waste of time. She grows things. Plants love her. She has always talked to them, but they have begun to talk back. She travels. She loves experiencing new people and places and is not afraid to experience life out of the ordinary.
She is rarely without her beau. They are best friends, but support one another in their individual endeavors. The time occasionally apart makes the time together sweeter. They know that they must be whole and vital people alone if they are to be of benefit to one another and their family as a couple. They laugh together still. And she still thinks he is hunky. Even though she is no longer a young woman she is at peace with her body and every wrinkle and gray hair. They tell a story of a life lived and she will forever be young at heart.
She is the woman I want to be when I grow up. No really. She is. This woman does not yet exist. She is me. Or at least the me I want to be. Perhaps if I can envision her in such a real sense maybe I really can become her. Perhaps SHE can inspire ME to become HER! Crazy thought I know. But let's go with it. Let's write our own future autobiographies. In present tense. As if we are there. Let us let these future women inspire us be them...then. Hmmm...Who's with me?! Read the quote below and then if you do this experiment please leave a comment so I can read yours.
Quote of the Day: "Far away there, in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead!"
--Louisa May Alcott

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What's In A Name?!

Here we are...Day Three! I think this challenge was just for me. I do pay special attention to my post titles. I do not really know why. Probably because I have a really bad sense of humor and love (a bit too much) a good pun or particularly absurd play on words. It was hard to pick my favorite, because I really do cherish all the little buggers for all their hard work and jocular dispositions. But this one was terribly funny to me because it was a story about jr. high english class, you know where they make you read Shakespeare and crap and then girls make fun of you if you don't have the right jeans, you know...
Challenge #3 What's In A Name?
(Re-upload a post with a title that you are particularly proud of and explain why.)
Too Bad The Merchant Of Venice Didn't Sell Calvins! originally posted December 2009
My youngest had a bit of a melt down the other day. Minor really, but made Mom think and smile and giggle and hug the little princess because, being at least thirty two steps ahead of the girl on the path of life, Mom knows it is only a foreshadowing of at least a few more such instances. She had had a substitute teacher that day in Mrs. G's normally efficiently run, well oiled, chaos free second grade class. The sub however was not so fastidious. Princess's table was noisy and disorderly and Miss R is one 7 year old who does not stand for such nonsense and told her friends as much. When she got home she flopped on the couch, stared out the window and with tears starting to run remarked softly, "I wish I could go back and start this day over."
Boy howdy girl...I hear ya! Day? I have whole years I wish I could take a mulligan on. 1984...Do over! 1996? Puhlease! 2007...Don't even ask!
If I could go back and redo most of jr. high I know exactly where I would start. Nikki Whatserface! I am pretty sure her primary goal of the 7th grade was to make my life miserable. You remember 7th grade right? Ya, her. Why did I let her do that to me? Destroy my self esteem, make me feel small and insignificant. I should not have given her the power. One of my big life regrets is not standing up to her the day I had a chance. Math class. She asked loudly, backed up by her little toady, Christine Somethingorother, "Are those the ONLY pants you own? You wear them everyday!" They were in fact my only pair and she made me feel ashamed of it. The next morning I dug through my mom's closet and found a pair of dress slacks that fit my frame but not my age and I wore those with some of mom's shoes because somehow I thought that wearing tennis shoes with a pair of women's dress slacks was the silly part. Of course the next day my only reprieve came in the mocking my shoes instead of my jeans.
Over the last 25 years, I have written and rewritten what could have been my triumphant soliloquy rebuking every adolescent tyrant and tormentor spewing vitriol and insult from behind the shield of perfectly pressed Calvins. "Nikki, what is it that makes you so insecure about yourself that you feel the need to break others down in order to build yourself up? What part of you is so passed feeling that you have no empathy for those around you who may be hurt or afraid. I may not have the right clothes or hair but I am a nice person! We all have something to offer! Everyone in this room! We have friends and families. We live and laugh and love. If you prick us do we not bleed? (By now I am standing on the desk for full effect) If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us, do we not seek revenge? I am NOT AN Animal!!!" Ok you get the point...I hope. Shoulda, coulda, woulda. Mr. Coleman's math class really missed out, eh?
In all reality once I started thinking about it, I decided to keep those years. This is my life. This is me. Warts and all. The good and the bad days, weeks or even years, have shaped me. Molded me into the fine upstanding lady you see today. Ya, I know, I have a tendency to exaggerate. But I guess the long and the short of it is we learn from our experiences. I will never make fun of anyone's clothes. I will always try to find something I like about people I meet. I am nice. Sarcastic, opinionated, stubborn and sometimes temperamental, but nice. And in the end mean people are just mean.
Quote of the Day: "All I can do is be me-whoever that is."
--Robert Zimmerman
Oh how pathetic are you NatureGirl? But you know what? I still cringe when I think of those girls...Just play nice people. Play.Nice.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Kissing Books Are My Favorite Kind Of Books!

Day two of the Back to Blogging Event. It was fun to look back through the archives and re-read a few oldies. Some posts should just be deleted, never to be heard from again but there were perhaps one or two that could stand to be resurrected for this event.
Challenge #2 Here we go again...
(Re-upload a post you wish more people had read and explain why it was important to you.)
I would not say that this one was particularly important to me, but it was a funny thing that happened, and I remember being quite upset at the time, but it was just a couple of weeks after I started the blog and I had not told many people about it. Actually I still do not tell many people about it, but I am getting braver. So without further ado...
Is This A Kissing Book? Oh, Ya! originally posted September 2008
I don't know where to start. I like to keep things upbeat, and simply muse (or rant) about the things that are going on in my life. I like to think that in almost every situation, we can find some good. Some lesson to be learned. Something positive to focus on. I am going to try...
I recently saw an old episode of Everybody Loves Raymond in which the lead character, Ray, is speaking to a friend about marriage. He says, "Ya, we have been married eleven years, and there is no end in sight." Double entendre duly noted, that is quite poignant. When Hunky Hubby and I married, because of our religious beliefs, we ended the ceremony not with "until death do us part", but "for Time and all Eternity." So I can say, 17 years--with no end in sight! I am so thankful for this...most of the time! (it's a joke sweetheart)
So, HH and I love to get outdoors when we have our "mom and dad time". We often go backpacking, but the last couple of outings have been mountain biking. SOOO much fun. Usually.
Yesterday, we dropped the kids off at school and headed to some trails fairly close to home. The trail we take is difficult, but we know we have plenty of time to make the 15 or so mile loop back to the truck and get home before the young'ns do. Obviously this is not what happened or I wouldn't be blah blah bloggin' about it. The first 13 miles goes smoothly. Except for some parts of the trail that are not in good shape, we are having a good time. The leaves are starting to turn color, and the weather is perfect! Near the end though, we cannot find the last turn-off to get back to the truck. We try several different trails, including one that was a horrible downhill bushwhack, followed by an arduous UPhill bushwhack back out (this required carrying our bikes a good deal of the time). We are quickly loosing time and patience. We finally decide to just backtrack and go out the way we came in...another 13 or so miles! In the end our fun-time 15 mile jaunt turned into a 30+ mile fight-waiting-to-happen, who's-sleeping-on-the-couch-tonight major expedition! HH kept his cool the whole time. He is just level like that. I lost it pretty good once near the end. On a rather steep and rocky downhill, he got way ahead of me. When I came to a fork, I wasn't sure which turn to take so, I stopped and waited for him to realize I was not there. It took what I considered WAY too long for him to come and retrieve me, and I let him have it! Poor kid, he just took it and said how sorry he was and tried to soften my scowl by adding, "I will always come for you" in his best attempt at a Westly-like fake British accent. He is cute. I reminded him, however that he should have not lost me in the first place! He agreed. I will never doubt again. So, it is still 17 years with no end in sight...
We both found a positive. Hubby said that from now on, every mountain bike trip we take will seem way more fun and pretty easy. I loved the new bike seat he bought me last month. It's way more comfy than my old one and I was sure to thank him for it.
Quote of the Day:"Pray for your marriage because God will fill the void and sweep in and muster feelings for your spouse you never thought you had."
--Patricia Heaton actress