Thank you for visiting my blog; it is an exciting venture for me and I hope this will become a forum for moms and homemakers of all types to share stories, frustrations, and triumphs. There will be recipes, pictures of my latest and greatest soap creations, and anything I think will be interesting to Enthusiastic Homemakers.....

Sunday, October 2, 2011

"God Grant me the Serenity...."

"....to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference. 

Dear readers! What a few months it has been! I hardly know where to begin except with the obvious; which is that I've had a really rough few months. Unfortunately, I seem to have developed frequent and persistent migraines, which has been a shock, and a great source of stress for me. I've learned to depend on myself being healthy, and always brimming with energy; and this disorder has taken me down a peg; in fact; it's taken me down all the pegs; and I'm learning how to adapt. I've tried not to dwell on the "why me's"; knowing that so many other people are dealing with things that are far more dire; but I do have moments where I wonder why this has befallen me at this point in my life. I now cannot push myself; because even one late night triggers migraines; so I'm learning to let things go and not be so hard on myself. I am not Superwoman, despite evidence to the contrary, and I'm learning to pace myself. I've had a lot of moments of feeling useless lately; and it's something I never thought I'd need to grapple with. I've realized that I am NOT in charge, and I don't know what the future will bring. I always say that human beings have an endless capacity for adapting to any circumstance; and although I don't want to have to deal with this, I have certainly learned to adapt as well as I can. 

My new hairdo is courtesy of a very vivid dream; which I had during one of my most severe migraines; in which I dreamed that I was supposed to have a 1930's style bobbed haircut...as soon as I was up out of bed, still fuzzy from the migraine, I cut my hair with my sewing scissors! Not something I would recommend, but it made sense to me at the time! I think I really just wanted to do something drastic, like a Medieval warrior preparing for battle; and a battle it has been. 

In the midst of all these life-changes; my children have started school, which means I'm on the go go all day. I don't have a minute to spare most of the time, and I've taken steps to simplify my routine that have been absolutely essential in keeping on schedule. I will be sharing these updates, shortcuts, and new easy fashions in the weeks to come; I have neglected my blog all summer, and it's about time to get on the ball. 

The first exciting thing of the fall I have to look forward to is an upcoming weekend trip with James to a historical inn a few hours from our house. It's the first time we've ever gone away overnight without our children, and we are really looking forward to this long-overdue trip! I hope to have a relaxing time which my boys spend time with their aunts and uncle. 

It's a new day, Happy Monday and Happy Autumn!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

It's Only Pain.......(Reprinted from my Facebook Wall)

After having five children; three of them with no pain medicine whatsoever; I thought I was pretty good with pain. More than good; I thought that I had pain's NUMBER. I would always say, when people asked me why on earth I would give birth to ten pound babies on an antique bed in the North End with no doctors or IV's in sight, "It's only pain, it can't hurt you". I've always been a basically healthy person, used to being able to push myself beyond what most people would consider wise; getting little sleep for days and weeks at a time was normal for me. Caffeine? Yes, please! I drank coffee and energy drinks like water, which I DIDN'T drink enough of. I'm a person who thrived on being busy and productive; and I thought it would always be easy for me.

Until a few weeks ago; when my high-octane lifestyle went kaput. I've always had headaches; some worse than others, a few even severe, but none that reduced me to the serial-puking person that couldn't even lift her head off the pillow and didn't give a flip about returning e-mails. I thought it was a brief glitch in my wiring; and went back to my "normal" routine; until I was felled with another migraine; this one worse; and so scary I ended up in the hospital getting a CT scan one fine morning at 6am. I'm claustrophobic, terribly. But I didn't even care that I was in a tube with no way out; that's how "out of it" I was. In 12 years of marriage and lots of pregnancies; James had actually never witnessed me throwing up; except for once when I was so pregnant I couldn't get to the bathroom in time (mortifying); but last Friday I was in the humbling position of throwing up in front of the hospital with a nurse AND James and whoever else watching. After that; I came home and went to bed; and knew NOTHING else that day. I've always had an "thing" with time; and wasting it; but I let a whole day and a half go by without knowing or caring what was happening; or where my children were, were they eating? Did they go to school? I knew not.

I must admit; it's been scary to feel so out of control of my own body and life; I've had many days the past few weeks when I've wondered if I'll ever get back to feeling like "myself", or whether I would have to drastically change my life so that all the things I've worked so hard for would have to go by the wayside. It's been a hard few weeks. Today while I was driving to my acupuncture appointment I was remembering the last time I was there; when my only health "concern" was an overdue baby Elvis. How laughable that seems now! How little did I realize that the few hours of intense pain followed by the birth of a baby is NOTHING compared to the earth shattering and unchanging pain of a migraine; that reduces you to a being that cares about nothing except getting relief; where all your hopes and desires go down the drain. After seeing my doctor; he seemed convinced that my relatively recent lack of sleep, coupled with stress and my propensity with getting headaches normally; compounded by my anxiety over getting more migraines; led to more migraines. So, armed with a prescription for migraine medicine; and some recommendations for a few lifestyle changes; hopefully will rid me of this awful affliction. Just knowing that there's nothing seriously wrong with me has helped a bit, and I'm hoping that making positive changes to my life will be enough; I don't like to be tethered to medication, and I'm hoping it's just a stop-gap method until I get my strength back.

"As God is my witness, I'll never have a headache again!'

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Boys Of Summer

Today is the official last day of summer. School will be starting tomorrow; and while I'm sure in time it will seem bittersweet to me; I have to say that today seems bitter right now. I remember that first day of summer; when school let out and I was finally able to leave the school with my boys; we walked into the sunshine and felt free. We didn't have to hurry; we didn't have anywhere we needed to be; it was just us against the world.

Those first few weeks were an adjustment for us all; it was hard to have no schedule; for me as well. I remember thinking to myself, "Enjoy this! It won't last!". I truly tried to enjoy it; but this summer I found myself busy and distracted much of the time; having my own business and being a new work at home mom was challenging at times. We had plenty of downtime, though; or at least the boys did. They rode bikes; played in the yard; asked for Popsicles; and had a good time.

As June turned into July we finally got some hot weather; and I started taking more time off; it didn't seem fair to work the summer away; and so I planned some fun adventures for us. I reveled in having my boys to myself; and having the freedom to go where we wanted to go; although looking back I wish I had taken that opportunity more often.

When August began; I felt a sense of foreboding; it's truly my least favorite month of the year; my birthday falls at the end of August; and it has always seemed a sad time of endings to me. I stepped up my efforts to simply "be" with my boys; and knew that I would soon be counting down the days until the summer was over. Now it's August 29th; my 31st birthday and the day before my boys leave me again; and I'm reflecting on the year that summer finally began to have meaning for me. It was 2005; my 25th birthday; and my oldest boy Andrew was starting kindergarten. Up until then; I had simply gone with the seasons as everyone without children in school does; never feeling any particular difference from school starting. I was 7 months pregnant with Callan; and had a 2 year old Bentley besides; I remember taking that first school picture of Andrew's and knowing that life was about to change. Now; 6 years later; Callie is starting kindergarten and my Andrew is going off to the big unknown of Middle School; I can hardly believe it. I know that I will be an emotional wreck inside as he goes off by himself to the bus stop; but I will have to bear it somehow.

And then later; I'll be sending my Callan off to be a big boy. Since his birthday is in November; I truly felt that I had an extra year with him; and it's making it even harder for me to give him up to a teacher. Somehow; Dorian; Elvis and I will have to muddle through our day without our boys! Now all that's left is to make a few more memories before school; we're having our long-awaited "bee party" and I hope I will manage to keep a dry eye for at least part of the day.

I've always felt the changing of the seasons acutely; and remember feeling a sense of loss as the last days of summer slipped away; and this has only been made more significant by having my own boys. I know that there are many more great days to be had before Winter takes hold; and I'm hoping to gain this perspective in the weeks to come. I must say; dealing with being solidly established in my 30's as of today is making it difficult for me to see anything positive about this time of the year!

Summer, don't go!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Oregon Trail and a Smartphone

Whew! What a summer! It seems to be flying by; and I've been keeping busy making bee soaps galore, for weddings and baby showers all over the country; which makes me feel really *fancy*; who knew a year ago; when I found the bee mold at the thrift shop; on the clearance rack; marked down to a dollar, that it would facilitate my business! Serendipity indeed!

I'd been so busy all summer; that last week; when I had a lull in my business, and all packages shipped, and nothing pressing; I jumped on the opportunity to take my boys on a little day trip. Now up to now; I'd never driven too far from home; I had a terrible fear of the interstate; and would use surface streets whenever possible. But driving from Las Vegas to Barstow in the middle of the night on our way to San Diego gave me much more confidence in my driving abilities; and I wanted to take my boys somewhere far(ish) away; all by myself. So we set out in the morning with a picnic lunch; and my new smartphone proved it's mettle; as I was able to respond to a customer who contacted me on etsy; and got another wedding favor order while out! We arrived just in time for a gold panning demonstration, in a water trough that was seeded with real gold; although the park ranger reminded us that if we DID find gold; we would not be able to keep it!

I gave it a try myself; it's surprisingly tiring; the heavy pan of sand and water has to be swirled around and around, and then filled back up with water as it becomes dry. All my boys gave up fairly quickly and started playing with the water instead; except Bentley; who was determined to find the gold and stuck it out the longest. After his arms got tired, we went back inside to look at all the exhibits; which are very moving.

I've always wanted a sunbonnet, ever since I was a little girl who was obsessed with Laura Ingalls Wilder; and at the gift shop they had a huge selection of authentic sunbonnets; in fun fabrics; and I just had to have one! I actually loved it so much I wore it the rest of the day, to the embarrassment of my children, and the amusement of the employees of the restaurant we stopped at in Baker City! But, it's one of those things that I HAD to do, on my bucket list!

I'm determined to squeeze every last drop out of summer; because when school starts again my schedule is going to be nearly impossible; so I've been neglecting my little blog! I have kept up with the blogs I follow, though; and I loved this recipe from the first blog I ever followed,  The Vintage Wife and I plan to make it tonight, with a few variations. If it turns out; I'll be posting my "new" recipe later in the week!

Happy Wednesday!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Follow Your Bliss

Hello readers! I can't believe how much I've been neglecting my poor blog of late; I've been so busy with summertime activities and custom orders for weddings; I hardly know what to think!

Anyway, I recently had an interesting exchange with a group of my online friends; and wanted to share some of my thoughts and realizations from this discussion. It began as a show of encouragement and support for a person who was feeling bad about herself; when faced with trouble with her schooling; she was in her early 20's and had yet to receive her degree; having a year or so of college yet to complete. She was feeling "less than", compared to her siblings; who are all enrolled in a prestigious college; and who felt that they were superior to her because of this.

Now friends, this is where I come in....rightly or wrongly; this has been a hot-button issue for me since I was college age. I've been on my own since I was 17, when I had my first little apartment and a full-time job. I made $9 a hour back then, which was pretty darn good for a 17 year old in those days. Since I was on my own; college was not really an option; and honestly, I wasn't sure if that's what I wanted to do with my life. I've always known exactly what I wanted; to do what I'm doing now. Later, when I moved to San Diego, I considered going to community college; even requesting my transcripts from the correspondence school where I got my diploma. However, life had other plans! All throughout my time as a SAHM, family members and others have asked about my education plans; encouraging me to attain a degree so that I would have "something to fall back on". There's nothing wrong with with being cautious; and I know of some people that have had tragedy befall them and really needed that degree to support their family. I don't discount that view; but I also don't believe in making decisions based in fear; and for me; I would just be going through the motions; as I have no plans on a career that would require a degree. Taking time away from my family to do something I don't want to do; just because I "should", is not my idea of a good plan. I also know of many women in my situation that feel foolish expressing that they're a SAHM. For them, their view of themselves is shaped by their educational status, and in some areas, and in some social groups, it's simply unacceptable to be "just" a Mom; and so they feel pressured to be pursuing a degree in order than when their children start school, they will presumably be able to start a lucrative career. I have a confession to make: when my children go to school; I will not go "back to work". In fact; I can't imagine EVER being an employee of another person again in my lifetime. At this point; even if tragedy were to befall me; as has happened to those I've heard of; I would still be able to raise my children while being at home. That is very important to me; and we've set up our life to allow that to happen. I can imagine my soap business growing over the years; and when my children are in school, and when I become an empty Nester, I will pursue that at my leisure; along with my many hobbies and interests. I don't feel defined by a career; my career is being a mom; and it will always be so. I know that is not a popular or modern attitude; I'm okay with bucking the trends; even though it may pain feminists and career woman to hear another woman say that out loud.

It seems to be one of the final frontiers of acceptable bias to conclude that pursuing a college degree is "the" way to go; and those that choose not to are foolish. I've heard before that a college degree is "the price of admission" to certain things. It's certainly true that it's the only way to attain certain career goals; I'm not denying that; but the premise that simply attending college makes one privy to the finer things in life; is simply wrong.

Prejudice is an ugly word, because of the modern connotation; but I'd like to examine the actual definition of prejudice:

"Prejudice means a strong inclination of the mind or a preconceived opinion about something or someone".

It's certainly true that everyone has biases that are ingrained in them; it's human nature to believe that the way one has done things; the way one chooses to live one's life is "better". Certainly if someone believes that there is a better way; most people would proceed differently. But what I'm talking about is the accepted premise that the higher one's educational level reaches; the better. 

I have no quibble with knowledge; and learning; my "beef" is with those that insist that sitting in a classroom for four years is more likely to result in a happy life than simply proceeding directly to the life path of one's choice; and that those who do not do so are bound to feel unsatisfied  with their lot in life. One argument I've heard is that people often regret NOT going to college; but seldom (if ever) regret going. Something similar could be said about having children; few people express the opinion that they regret having children; and many DO regret not having children. Does that mean, though, that everyone MUST have children; despite having no interest in having children; just to avoid regret down the road? That opinion would not go over well with the childless; however the non-college educated are expected to swallow the same argument. 

There's no denying however, that it's easier to become employed when one has a college degree; and that those with higher education are more likely to remain employed; it's true as well that those with college degrees make more money; and if that is important to you; certainly; college is the way to go. But education has no bearing on "following your bliss" something that I think is the MOST important consideration in any life. Would I be in the life I'm in now; if I had followed the common mold of graduation followed immediately by college? Certainly not. There are many, I'm sure; who would not consider my life to be ideal; fortunately, I'm not one of them! I wish for everyone; that it was more acceptable to take the road less traveled if necessary; in order to follow THEIR bliss; regardless of the opinions of others. If your dream in life is to be in a prestigious college; and positively PAPER the wall with degrees; that's wonderful; and I cheer you on! However, for those are doing things because they're "supposed to", because of family expectations; I think that's sad. Everyone does things daily they'd rather not do; and many jobs supply things besides fulfillment; and that's one thing. But to pour your heart and soul into something you're not passionate about is a waste of a life. A job can be many things; a means to and end, certainly; but my hope for all is that they are able to pursue something that doesn't feel like work; that is enjoyable and fulfilling, all on it's own. I'm not advocating moving into the wilderness and becoming a mountain man (or woman); and I believe education is very important, and critical for brain development especially in children. I'm a very well-read person; who tries to soak up information; I simply maintain that there are many ways to gain knowledge.

For myself; I don't find my life to be wasted because I will very likely never achieve a fabulous career; when I'm old and grey I would hope I can look back on my life and say, at the very least, "I did it my way". 

I hope I haven't alienated my learned readers (if I have any....who knows whether the well-heeled would really want to read all my ramblings); I hope I've outlined a balanced approach both pro and con a traditional education. And it is my hope that everyone could be more accepting of those that are different than them; that is the reason for my post today, that we can all begin to see the value in lifestyles different than ours. 

I'm off to a day trip tomorrow with my boys; which I will blog about when I return; hopefully after a great adventure! 

Happy Thursday! 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Summertime....and the Livin' is Easy.......

The picture is one I found of downtown Boise; I love our downtown, it always reminds me of Main Street in Disneyland; it's clean and relatively safe; great for strolling around looking at shops or just enjoying the great weather. I had a rare opportunity to do that yesterday; after I dropped off my boys at the zoo with my mom; I found a nail salon and treated myself to a great spa pedi; which is a completely frivolous treat, that I don't get very often. Then, since I had my car safely, and non-parallel parked in a garage; I walked around for a while downtown; strolling the fabulous weather; all by myself. It felt odd not to be holding hands and attempting to keep children from running into the street; and while I wished that James had the same opportunity for "me" time; I truly enjoyed. it.
I've been so enjoying having my boys home from school! I didn't realize how much time was being taken up with school drop-off and pickup; It was almost 2 hours a day! Now; when I am working late at night, I don't have to worry about being up; dressed, makeuped and out the door with 5 boys by 8:45; I can wake up with my boys and have a relaxing morning. Often we don't get dressed until 10 am; or later. Even now; at 8:40; I'm sitting here at my computer with my giant cup of coffee; and my boys; still in jammies, are playing or watching TV.

Another thing that has helped on the soap front; is that James purchased two sets of industrial shelving units and spent Sunday cleaning and rearranging the garage. Before; my supplies were spread out between the living room, the kitchen, and the garage for my non-child safe equipment; lye, and oils; and empty bottles and jars; and it was really hard to find anything. Now I even have a little workbench that allows me to measure and weigh my oils and ingredients; without having to lug 35 pound bottles of oil into the house; along with all my equipment. I still need my kitchen for my CPOP soap; but I can actually make my hot process soap on my workbench, since I have an electrical outlet for my crockpot. Here's how it looks:

 It's been really nice to finally have a separate spot; I can only store my finished soaps out there for part of the year; I don't want them to either freeze or melt; but right now the temperature is perfect, so it's really like having an extension of my too-tiny house; and has freed me up a lot. James has even noticed that the house is looking nicer when he comes home; because I have more time and also more space.

I'm looking forward to the next few months as being a bit of a breather for me; although I'm still staying busy with my etsy shop and my in-person sales; having my boys at home has really changed my focus; and  now I'm not so consumed by my business. I hope that something that I can keep up even when school starts again.

I hope you are all having a great, sunshiny summer!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Stand in the Sunshine of Possibility

This week we had our first fifth grade promotion; it seems such a huge milestone; my Andrew is moving from Elementary School to the big, bad Middle School in the fall; I can't believe it! It seems like yesterday he was entering Kindergarten; actually it was almost six years ago; in 2005. The first day of school I was so sad that he was so grown up! I was also about 7 months pregnant with Callan; and only had a two-year-old Bentley to keep me company! What a simple time it seems when I look back at it! Funny how I remember feeling busy and overwhelmed; it seems that mothers handle what they need to handle, no matter what; as I've had more children and become even more busy; I seem to have absorbed all the extra work; when you'd think I'd have no time or energy left!

Andrew's teacher this year was a great one; who challenged him a lot; he was a 30 year veteran of teaching; who decided halfway through the year that this would be his last year of teaching; so the last day of school had special significance for him and for the children. After handing out "diplomas" to his class; he gave a short speech; where he talked about watching Oprah's last show; which I confess I missed. He said she talked about the "Sunshine of Possibility"; about how important it is to live the life you would live if there were no practical considerations or barriers to it. He said that he felt that that was what he had done; teaching children for all these years; and it got me thinking about the sunshine of my possibility.

When I stop to think about how I would live my life if there were no practical barriers; no consideration for what I think I can't do; I imagine it being very much like my life actually is. Sure; perhaps in my dream life; there would be a bigger house; perhaps I would never need to worry about money; but the basics are the same. I would still be a mother; with the number of children I have now; having had them the way I did; and staying home with them just as I have been for the last 11 years. I think that I would be doing much the same things in my spare time as well; soapmaking; sewing, reading when I got the chance. I would still cook dinner every night; still have movie afternoons and breakfast picnics. I would probably still be too busy; too tired, and get cranky at times. I would still have babies all over my lap; embarrass my big boys and constantly yell, with no results; especially; "Get your shoes on and get in the car, we're late!".

I would probably still cry at every first day of school and last day; and never know what to make for dinner. I'd still cloth diaper and consign; and buy used DVD's and cheap paperbacks. I'd probably have a nicer espresso machine; and hopefully someone to do the laundry; but I'd still decorate and clean my own house; just not the kitchen! Maybe I'd have a better bod....but probably not; because I'd hate to waste any more of my life worrying about that! .Maybe I'd get a tummy tuck, but then again; I wouldn't because I don't believe in risking my life for vanity.  I guess I'd still be me; and it's interesting to explore the things that wouldn't change, no matter what my circumstances. It's good sometimes to 'Stand in the Sunshine of Possibility", it's a good life check; to make sure your life is on the right track. I'm pleasantly surprised that despite not having ideal circumstances much of the time; I still managed to blunder my way into the possibility I would choose even if life were perfect!

What's your sunshine of possibility; and how have you achieved; or not achieved it?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Why I Read Frivolous Novels and Love Twlight.....

Love this sign! Find it here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/blueyedgirl
It occurred to me that most of my blog posts have been pretty upbeat and on the surface; and I'd like to try my hand at delving a little deeper into the machinations of my mind....(my husband's running away as we speak!).

I've never made a secret about my love of the Twilight Saga; mostly in an exaggerated joking way; but I'd like to explain that a little; as well as describe my strategy for staying positive and energized while I do what most people would agree is the hardest job you'll ever love; being a mom.

I became a mom at the age of 19; after being married for 11 months. We lived in a very nice two bedroom apartment; but money was a struggle. James had gotten laid off from his job five days after our wedding; a very simple wedding that we paid for ourselves; leaving me as the breadwinner of the family. It's funny, because I remember our early marriage being kind of a magical, sweet time; but James remembers being constantly stressed; which I think is a funny difference in perspective! Thankfully, James found a great job when I was six months pregnant; one that had full medical benefits; and so I gave my notice at my job weeks before Andrew was born. After we had Andrew; James also picked up a job delivering pizza four nights a week; in addition to working 5 days a week at his full-time job and commuting two hours a day; so Andrew and I were home a lot on our own! We also only had one car; so I was in our apartment just with baby all the time; we often wouldn't leave the house until the weekend, when we'd rush around getting groceries and running errands; before James' second job in the evening. I found the hardest thing for me about being a mom was the loneliness; although funnily enough, now that I look back on that time; that one-on-one interaction and peace seems nothing less than heaven! I was very isolated, but I didn't really mind; I'd always dreamed of being a mom; having a house and a baby and a husband to take care of; and it seemed like the fulfillment of a dream; although it was more difficult that I had imagined. I discovered how important it was to maintain whatever bit of autonomy I could, even in a situation where I was basically dependent on James for everything. 

Over the course of the years of being a stay at home mom; I've always tried to treat myself to little things that gave me a bit of a diversion, because the days at home with no adult conversation can be long; and tedious; and can strain your psyche in ways I could not have anticipated. I suppose I could be reading great, uplifting works of literature; but honestly; when I have a few stolen minutes to pick up a book, I don't want to be reading "Anna Karenina"; no matter how brilliant Tolstoy was; I want a peppy little pick me up that sticks to simple themes; love and happily ever after.

I got started on Twilight last summer; after a very difficult pregnancy with baby Elvis; not so much physically; although it was the most trying pregnancy physically that I've ever had. I was strained to the limit emotionally after Elvis was born, and have a history of Postpartum Depression; which I was trying everything imaginable to avoid. I became a little afraid of nighttime, fearing that the depression would return, so I started renting and watching movies while nursing Elvis in bed in the evenings. On a lark one day, I rented the first Twilight movie and surprised myself by really finding it fun and entertaining. So I picked up the books, used, at a bookstore; and picked them up whenever I had a spare minute. I was riveted! It was a sweet love story; and for some reason I found myself relating to the story; which sounds silly, I know; but I found myself reading while I couldn't sleep, in between feedings; and whenever I could. I'm a fast reader, and devoured all four books in a short amount of time. I honestly feel that having that diversion helped my postpartum blues stay manageable; and kept me from delving into a true depression; as I had after Dorian was born.

Since I've started my own business; I've developed quite a penchant for picking up paperbacks while I grocery shop; something which would have been unthinkable even a year ago; our budget simply could not have managed it. Making a little of my own money has allowed me freedom to do things like that; things that probably most people take for granted; but I must tell you; when I choose a silly little paperback, it seems positively decadent! I now have very little time to read, but I do pick up paperbacks when I have time. I'm a very, very fast reader, and can go back and forth between stories with no problem; so I often rotate books in the middle; starting and stopping often. It's rare for me to find a story I truly get enveloped in; the way I am with Twilight; or my other favorite; Outlander; but I still enjoy the little bright spot in my day that I get from reading a few chapters of silly, frivolous, with-no-literary-value pieces of fiction; and I hope I never get to the point where I can't enjoy a fun little novel! 

So that's my story.. and I'm stickin' to it!

This week will be very busy for me; and very, very bittersweet; since the last day of school and the last day of Andrew being in Elementary school is tomorrow. I'm going to be scaling back the amount of work I put into my etsy shop; concentrating more on my in-person prospects and summer with my boys, above all. And the weather is supposed to start behaving; at long last!

Summer is here!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Hello Blogging, My Old Friend.....

I feel like I'm in a perpetual state of catching-upness lately; and I have felt too frazzled to compose a logical and entertaining blog post! I'm so surprised I even have followers left; and have gained a few...welcome!

So many things I'm juggling right now; I took the plunge and obtained my own booth space for my Farmers' Market; and had my first day on my own on Saturday. It wasn't the greatest day I've ever had; but I think it was because I had moved locations; and was exceedingly unprepared with no tent in the blazing sun! I have lots of lofty plans for my booth; I want to create a station with running water in a sink so my customers can try my soaps and scrubs; but the logistics are proving to be complicated, to say the least! I was so lucky that the Market Manager was extremely receptive to my crazy ideas; and is planning to try to get me near a water spigot; which would be exciting!

I also had my first experience selling in Downtown Boise, which around here; is the biggest show in town! I had an opportunity to do so with Idaho Indie Works, who has a store in Downtown Boise; and offered spaces for vendors during First Thursday; which is a seasonal, monthly street fair and event. I felt so "fancy" being downtown with all the hustle and bustle, and got to introduce my products to a whole new crowd of people, it was great! I had a lot of fun with my "neighbors", including a fabulous fine artist; some lovely jewelry makers; and a glass artist; among others. I acquired a set of gorgeous art glass-topped hairpins and a tie dye onesie through trading; and love them!

Goodness...it's uncharacteristic of me to wax poetic about my business; I guess it's just because it's what's on my mind; although there's a lot going on in my "real" life as well. My boys will be home for the summer starting Thursday; and I was getting very misty while doing my weekly grocery shopping; because I was buying things with a view to summer lunches and picnics; I really do love the summer; but each time summer comes; it's bittersweet; because it means another year has passed; and my boys are yet another year older. Ahhh, how sad and sweet it can be to be a parent!

Elvis just turned 11 months; I can't believe we've had him for nearly a year! On the other hand; my pregnancy seems like a long-distant memory; and I look back at that time with a tinge of sadness; because it seems like such a simpler time; although I didn't think so then!


This somewhat blurry video shows my adorable Elvis; he just learned to "snap" his fingers and was doing it up a storm...until the camera came out! It's still a great video and he snaps for half a second; don't blink or you'll miss it! 
Oh...I suppose I should explain my picture.....no, I'm not pregnant; and have no immediate plans to become pregnant; but I love vintage maternity fashion; and have always wanted to own a vintage maternity pattern. I found a great one from my friend Maggie at Vintage Core Patterns and couldn't resist! I may make them up just for fun...or for possible future use...or to sell, who knows! All I know is that I love this style of Maternity wear; and if I ever decide to take the plunge again; this is what I'll be sporting! 
Have a great, Summer-y week! 

Friday, May 27, 2011

You had me at Merlot......

I am so sorry that I've been neglecting my blog of late! I've been suffering from both acute business and a bit of writers' block. I've felt that I've had nothing really to add lately; almost every night I open my blogger dashboard...and nothing! But; I've decided to just start writing and see what happens! The sign above is an item I found while looking for things for a tongue in cheek treasury I made on Etsy. I was looking for a Merlot theme; because I've been on a bit of a wine kick (not drinking). I've decided to make some Merlot soap; for my street fair that's happening next week; and then I decided to make some Merlot sugar scrub....why not bathe in wine?

This week my mother went to San Diego; for the beach wedding she had planned; although the real wedding happened at the end of last month; in her backyard. So I finally have "real" pictures of the dress I made her!

The happy couple on the beach in San Diego
Doesn't she look great? I'm so glad I was able to do this for her; and that she got the beach wedding she dreamed of.

I'm exploring other opportunities for my business; which is exciting; while continuing to be tired; overwhelmed, and busy! That's pretty much par for the course for me now; but I'm adapting; and hopefully getting better at it.

See; I took a small break to collect my thoughts; responded to a bunch of e-mails and got and order and placed an order. Never a dull moment! I'm really hoping I can stick to a schedule and become more efficient with my time. I suppose that all mothers, especially with lots of children feel overwhelmed and run down; but I can't help but think I should be able to handle it all by now!

Another long break....this time; to eat a late dinner; design a few labels; and complain about my aching joints....I see now why it's been so hard for me to blog lately!

I'm hoping for no rain tomorrow; but my joints say otherwise!

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cinder Blocks are a Girl's Best Friend.....

I usually don't blab on about my business....or I try not to; but I have to share with you the experience I had going solo (with my bestie) at the Farmers' Market on Saturday!

The weather this spring has been bad. Simply terrible; but I was very excited because it was supposed to be nice and warm on Saturday. Warm.....and windy! I woke up to a few droplets of rain on my drive to the market...no biggie; it looked like it was breaking up; and the forecast was still for warm weather.

We arrived; and foolishly and bumblingly put up the tent; with a tremendous amount of help from our neighbors at the Market; in fact; it was like the blind leading the blind until he stepped in! We set up my display; which I have to say; looked paltry compared to the full booth I normally enjoy with the other ladies' work! And off we went. We were having a great time; giggling and chatting....my friend taking frequent and speedy shopping excursions...that girl can shop! When......

THE WIND started. Not just any wind; the first gust I was painfully aware of lifted the tent and blew it sideways about a foot; until I reflexively reached up to grab the center support and bring it down to earth! This tent was weighted in the usual way; but it was like those weights did not exist when the wind caught hold! As I frantically tried to avoid an unfortunate kite-flying accident; and thought of Mary Poppins; our lovely neighbor came to the rescue again; retying the weights in better locations; and providing us with a rope; to tie to the center support. We hung on to that rope for dear life; at one point, I somehow managed to cash out a customer one handed while holding the tent earth-bound with another!

I kept watching the other vendors; the second any one of them took down their tent; ours was going to be next! But although many were holding onto their tents; like me; I didn't see a single person give up....naturally; I was not going to be the fraidy-cat! I don't think I breathed at all until the market was over and the tent safely stowed in the case! Again with the help of our neighbor; who I paid in lotion!

Despite all the wind; my friend and I; who have known each other almost a long as we can remember; had a really good time; met some interesting and fabulous people; and just generally had a fun girls' time!

But I am looking forward to having the ladies back next Saturday!

I'm looking forward to a busy Thursday; and probably will have a link from my blog post I wrote as a guest on another etsian's blog!

Have a great one!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Ain't She Sweet......Now I ask you very confidentially; ain't she nice.....

My "best comment" award from Stephanie Evers' blog!  

Friday already? Where does the time go? I have been meaning to update my blog for a few days; but Blogger has had continual problems; every time I thought of sitting down to blog; it seems like!

I was very pleased a few days ago to find out that I had received the "best comment" award from a fellow blogger Stephanie Evers; who liked my embarrassing comment about why I read frivolous novels and not grand literature.....ah, well; I knew that would bring good things to me in some fashion!

I was also very honored to have my soap featured on the blog of a great customer and fellow etsian Jean May Originals......Awww; it's great to have such great blogging friends!

Whew.....more blogging news! I wrote a guest post for my Idaho Etsy Team Blog; all about the experience selling at the Farmers' Market.

In other news; I have to tell you, blog friends; I'm really struggling. Struggling to keep up with all the things I'm doing right now; I rush around all day long and feel like I have very little to show for it. I know that feeling is common to stay-at-home-moms, regardless of whether they are working from home as well; and I guess it should be no surprise that adding working from home into the mix would cause some adjustment. I have a tendency to take on things; thinking that I can handle it all; I have trouble admitting that I'm only one person and there's only so many things one can do in a 24 hour period; sleep notwithstanding. James keeps reminding me that any undertaking like this is going to have some hiccups; setbacks; and growing pains....but I just wish growing pains weren't so.....painful!

Sometimes I just can't see my way through this; on the one hand I'm really enjoying myself and doing something that I know will pay off in the long run....on the other hand; I'm tired; cranky; and some days feel like going back to bed (or to bed) and pulling the covers over my head. I keep thinking of the illustration of a wife in the Bible, that talks about her not eating "the bread of laziness" and actually talks about her managing and owning property. I would imagine the ideal wife would be a lot less anxious about her tasks than I am; and most likely would not be printing off Paypal shipping labels at 3 am; but the principle holds.

I keep thinking to myself "I'm no quitter, I'm no quitter"; and I know someday I'll look back on this and I'll be glad I persevered. At least, I sure hope so!

This is so funny; while I was writing this, I took a Facebook quiz; which I kinda think are true.....here are the results: 

People Are Drawn to Your Energy

You have a real zest for life. You approach each day with optimism.
You believe it's important to keep going no matter what. You're always ready to tackle a new challenge.

You naturally boost the energy levels of those around you. You have a lot of enthusiasm and stamina.
You know how to get people moving in the right direction. You are a natural coach.

Well this is good to know! I hope I can live up to my Facebook quiz!

I have another busy weekend ahead; the weather is supposed to be great; I hope you all have a great one as well!

Happy Friday!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Every time I say the word 'Diet', I wash my mouth out with chocolate

What a week! I'm finding my groove with my Saturday morning market; my last Saturday I felt much more comfortable, and enjoyed it much more; I didn't feel as much like a fish out of water, and had a lot of fun! I ran out of change because I wasn't prepared on that front; but that's a good problem to have, and I hope to run out of change every week; and running out of soap is a goal to reach for!

Speaking of reaching for goals; I've been finally putting my money where my mouth is, so to speak; about achieving balance with my work and home life. I've decided that life's too short to stay up until 3 and 4 am, and I've decided to take several evenings off per week, and just kick back and relax in the evening with my husband. It was so nice this last week to watch a movie with James; a few times, we ate dessert and drank wine and fell asleep at a very reasonable hour for a change! I'm happy to say that I've gotten 8 hours of sleep more than once lately, and it felt great!

I've also finally made it back to the gym, which was something I've been neglecting lately. I have a very difficult relationship with exercise, I place a high priority on being healthy and energetic, and I feel that it's my responsibility as a mother to stay as healthy and vibrant as possible. However, my relationship with food and diet is complicated. As a teenager, I suffered from what could best be described as a little past extreme dieting, verging on anorexia. For several years; I knew the calorie count of every food known to man, and limited myself often to under 500 calories a day. When I was first out on my own, at 17, this escalated to not eating for days at a time; even while I was walking several miles a day. I remember feeling faint often, and the feeling of gnawing hunger was something I relied upon to know that I was being "good". I remember the day I made the decision to start living again; and promising myself;  Scarlett O'Hara style, that I would "never be hungry again!". I vowed to allow my body to develop in the way that I never allowed it to during my adolescence and I knew that that would mean weight gain; and that my predilection for extreme dieting would mean that I could not allow myself to start down that road, ever, ever again. I knew I could not dabble in different diets, the way most women do, or even "sensibly" limit my food choices or calorie intake. For me, even a day or two of limiting my food choices or thinking about my calorie intake turns swiftly into an obsession; one that could threaten the life I've built; so I have staunchly avoided any dieting tactics. Having my children has meant a huge change for my body; and I struggle, mostly successfully, to embrace that change. This is more difficult for me during times of stress; and I have sometimes faltered in my resolve. I realized last week, when I had been too busy and stressed to eat, that hunger is like a drug to me, it made me feel powerful and in charge. I don't crave that "fix" anymore, but I'm still succeptable to falling into that trap; so I have to be extremely careful when I exercise; that I'm doing it for the "right" reasons; for my health and vitality, and not as a substitute for the dieting that I used to use as an addiction. Whenever I feel like I must go to the gym, I know that I can't go to the gym until I get back the proper perspective. This addiction will always be with me, although I have improved so much even in the last five years; but I am still ever vigilant. I have learned not to put so much emphasis on my looks, and as a person who derived a great deal of my self-esteem from my looks; that has been a hard adjustment. I know that I have value now, without my looks entering into the equation at all; I created five people, after all, and that is something that makes me feel good about my body for a change; looking at the "battle scars" from having my children, I always remember how lucky I am to have had the experience of being a mother, and I would be willing to pay any price for that!

I'm looking forward to my newfound lease on balance; and enjoying my sleep and relaxation time tremendously, and finding that I'm actually able to be quite productive and relax! I'm looking forward to a busy and productive week, and thrilled that a large supply order will be coming in tomorrow!

Happy Monday!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Red Rompers and Red(dish) Velvet Cake

Elvis Modeling his new romper   

Wow; Spring has finally sprung! It's been a very cold and damp spring; which happens every few years here; it seems that it will always be winter; and then, POOF! Spring! A late spring, but spring nonetheless! Today the weather was just gorgeous; 75 degrees and beautiful sun. I'm sure we'll still have some damp weather over the next few weeks, but days like this are such a treat!

Today I received a romper in the mail from Mary Beth at Monkey and Friends. She's sending me an outfit for each of my boys who wear the sizes of clothes she makes; in return for taking a few pictures of my boys wearing them. What a deal! It's a win-win situation, because she doesn't have to hire a model, which can get expensive. Although I must say, I feel I've gotten a better deal than she! The romper for Elvis is just gorgeous, the fabric is high quality and adorable, and her workmanship is just superb. I can't compare to her skill at all! I snapped a few "unofficial" pics of Elvis, because I was so excited at how cute he looks in it! Tomorrow, I'll be having a photo shoot with him in our backyard....come to think of it; I better put the romper in the wash, because it was so darn cute on him I left it on him the rest of the day!

I also made us our slightly belated anniversary cake; using the recipe for Red Velvet cake I blogged about a few months ago. I felt very rushed and although the batter was a bright red color, I was initially disappointed that the finished cake was only slightly red. I think next time I need to add more food coloring. The frosting is cream cheese, which I love; but I had to quickly frost the cake while making dinner in a big rush (as always); and so I didn't make as pretty a cake as I would have liked, had a had more time. I bought chocolate covered strawberries to garnish the cake with, a fun treat that is sold at our grocery stores bakery; and one of those things we always drool over but never buy. The cake was quite delicious, but not exactly Food Network material; but I'm glad I made it. I usually make a cake for our anniversary, and try to make a new recipe every year; this will definitely be in my cake arsenal; to bake when I have the time (and the red food coloring).

I also finally made it back to the gym; after completely neglecting it from around the time of our vacation, because I was literally working 18 hours and day and felt I couldn't get away. I am really trying to find a better balance; and doing things that are important to me; whether or not I feel I have the time.

I have plenty of stories about things I've done in an effort to find balance; more to come!

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Farmers and Brides

Ahhh....such awful cell-phone pics of the bride! I promise that as soon as the real pictures are back I will post them! The first picture is taken with a camera, at least; as I was finishing the dress; you can see it's a beautiful shade of pale yellow; and I hope you can see enough to know that my mother made a lovely bride for her wedding last Saturday. After the wedding, which was at her home; she opened up her pool and the boys went swimming and ate Hawaiian food, which they had never had, but loved!

Saturday was also my first day selling at at Farmer's Market. I was so nervous and had so much to do, I couldn't sleep! Once we were there getting everything set up, I felt more comfortable, but it takes some getting used to to have people look at your items, ask you questions, and then walk away without buying. I know that happens hundreds of times a day to my online site, but it feels more personal when the customer is standing there! After I loosened up a bit, and got a couple sales, I started to enjoy chatting with customers and only felt a twinge of disappointment when they would walk away. The weather was as good as could be expected for fickle Idaho springtime; and I can't wait for the weather to improve further, so I don't have to freeze every Saturday! I learned of a lot of things I need to change and get better at, but all in all I think it was a success!

This picture is my display; I wasn't totally happy with it, I felt like a big dork with hardly any items, but I do plan to expand on this for next week; and I hope to be better prepared and less stressed that way.

Sunday was our 12th anniversary! I had a great day, I slept in thanks to James; which was amazing, since I've been so sleep-deprived lately! He made us a great breakfast, and then we had a relaxing morning. My little sis Rachel, who is so great with our boys, came over in the afternoon to babysit; so James and I had a great date afternoon. I treated myself to a real haircut at a salon, and even had my eyebrows shaped; Jean Harlow's got nothing on me! James got a haircut and a shave, then we drove out to Ste. Chapelle, our local winery, and had lots of fun deciding on our wine order. We are members of the "wine club", which gives us a discount on the wine we buy; it actually turns out to be an economical, and fun, option. We decided on 12 bottles; which will probably last us three months or more; and it seems so decadent to so many lovely bottles to choose from.

I feel like I've been so busy lately I don't know which end is up! I'm trying desperately to catch up, and to find my joy again; it's been really hard lately, because I feel like I'm doing so many things all at once; and none of them well!

One of the many things I've been neglecting is my blog; I hope I will have more interesting and less whiny posts soon!

Happy May!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cowboy, Take Me Away......

<Sigh> Whenever I'm tired and stressed I start to think about how nice it would be to ride off into the sunset....where there would be no worries of course! I think it's normal to need an escape when things are tough, for whatever reason.

It's no secret to anyone, I'm sure; that I've been overworking myself lately; I feel like I have no choice at the moment; it's just something I have to power through...but it's been tough! A few nights I have been so exhausted I didn't know where I would find the energy to package orders or work on my sewing; but I did!

I hesitate to post pictures; because I always find dresses on hangers aren't nearly as lovely as the dress on a body or a dress form.....and I still have "loose ends" so to speak, yes the bodice facing in flapping in the breeze (undone because I still have alterations to do); and I can see 14,000 loose threads in that picture; but all that will be taken care of in due course. Oh, and working with the silk makes it terribly wrinkly; when finished I will steam the wrinkles out....so keep an open mind......<eeek>

When worn, the neckline on this slinky bias-cut dress drapes loosely

This is the material which will become the detachable train, it has a heather pattern and tiny beads and rhinestones
The daring low back plunges to the waistband....and yes, there's that bodice facing!

My mother came over to try on the dress for fit today; I'm happy to say that it just needs a little nip in the side seams; and she looks like Jean Harlow in it! The cut fits her petite frame perfectly, and reminds me of an old-time movie star! Next I have to do multitudes of hand sewing, which I have trouble with and dislike immensely! And the hem; which shouldn't be too hard; the only challenge is getting the shape right, since the back flares outward to form a small train. Another fitting on Thursday...hopefully, the last!

Gracious, I'm so tired I can barely keep my eyes open; but I have to make 3 batches of soap tonight, and hopefully at least press the hem for the dress....I may have to take a tiny nap!

I'm hoping to get back into the groove of regular posting as my schedule slows down; so many things falling through the cracks at the moment; I'm really hoping to change that!

Thank you to all my loyal followers, and I'm stunned to learn that I've gained new followers in light of my recent neglect! Thank you!

Have a great week!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

You Should be Kissed Often and by Someone Who Knows How

Ahh, Gone with the Wind! I absolutely believe in that sentiment! It's important in a marriage to not forget the "little things". I've seen the saying "Always kiss me Goodnight", which is a nice thought, but honestly; half the time James and I don't even go to bed at the same time, or else we both collapse on the couch; so there's not a lot of Good night's going on in our house! I say; kiss when you can! Somebody should put that on a coffee mug!

I've got marriage and weddings on the brain right now because my anniversary is coming up, and yesterday I realized that my mother's wedding is in nine days, so I really need to finish her dress this weekend. I'm coming right along with it, the skirt is bias cut and has five pieces, so getting those contoured seams perfect is crucial to the flow of the dress. The skirt is put together, and the bodice and facing are done, I just have to put the lining together and do the zipper and the hem. And the train...and the waistband....And the straps....EEK! I must work faster! I don't have any pics yet, because...well, it doesn't look like a whole lot yet, so I'll wait until it's at least recognizable!

There's no point in saying I'm busy; or tired; so I won't! I'll just say that I'm feeling very hopeful about the way things are going business-wise; and I'm trying to not sweat the small stuff. I heard that song on the radio today, the one by Tim McGraw called "Live like you were dying"; which basically is about living your life to the fullest, as if each day were your last. Certainly if everyone followed that to the "T"; there would not be a lot of bills being paid or laundry done; but I appreciate the message. Truly, getting my darn laundry put away doesn't help anyone (much); but having a (relatively) calm mother helps my boys tremendously. My final hang-up about the "letting it go" method is because of ingrained habits and attitudes, and the (unfounded) fear that if I don't keep up appearances; so to speak; James will not see the value in what I do. He's told me a million times that he would rather have a happy wife than a clean house, so I suppose it's really all just me. I have a tendency to be pretty hard on myself, and others; and it's hard not to have the cleanest house and the best cooking and be the happiest, busiest Mama in the whole world! I guess it's just admitting I'm human, and fallible, and recognizing that I don't have to be perfect to be a pretty good person.

Must sew tonight! As soon as the dress looks like a dress, I will be sure to post pictures of it, and I really hope my mom's not reading this; because she'll think I won't have her dress ready in time! (It's ok, Mom; I'll get it done, no matter what!).

Tomorrow's Friday; have a great one!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I Am a Material Girl.....

Of course, the "material" I'm talking about is the fabric kind! I've been working with glorious silk charmeuse fabric for my mother's wedding dress; it's a great pale, pale, yellow color (her favorite); and as delicate as tissue paper! At first I was wary of even cutting into it, but after working with it for a while, I realized that since it's 100% silk, it is much sturdier than it looks and it behaves quite well; clinging to the other layer when sewing, unlike cheap synthetics that are a nightmare to hold together! I've been staying up quite late sewing (or early, rather), and the other night watched another of my favorite classics; "How to Marry a Millionaire". It's very much in the same vein as "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes"; with good comedy, and the straight woman Lauren Bacall to act as a foil for Marilyn Monroe's signature ditzy blond character. My favorite line is when the girls were discussing how to "catch" a rich man; one asks "Do you marry him?" and Lauren's character answers, "Honey, if you don't marry him; you haven't caught him, he's caught you!". 

Whew! I feel like I've been neglecting my blog lately (because I have). I feel like I'm always talking about how busy I am; and really; busy doesn't begin to cover it!

Ooh! Ooh! I'm really excited because yesterday I got a lovely message from a woman who has a shop Flossie Fern's Vulgar Medicinals  where she makes lovely things with adorable names; she's a trained herbalist and makes all manner of balms and salves, and something called "Tea and Strumpets" dry shampoo! Her whole shop makes me happy!

So, after justifying the expense six ways to Sunday; I purchased these lovely items from her; for myself I got a tin of this sweet Knee Rouge  which is a really great multi-purpose rosy cream balm (but I must use it to rouge my knees; because I can't resist); and a product that James actually needs *don't click the link, my dear husby; it's a surprise*. The rest of you can feel free to click away and see what I got for a Gift for James. 

I love being able to buy little lovely trinkets like these; I find more joy in the little inexpensive items than I ever do in the big things. I remember when our refrigerator was on it's last legs last summer; I would have kept on dealing with the issues it had, but James was determined to get a new refrigerator at last and took me appliance shopping. It was horrible! I was very glad and felt lucky to get a new appliance, but the whole process was stressful and I would have preferred buying something like these little things; instead of breaking out in a cold sweat over the expense of a big ticket item! The saleslady even remarked that I didn't seem excited about getting a new refrigerator, and James and I were switching up the usual roles of husband and wife; he excited about shopping, and me wanting to run away and never come back! I guess I'm not really a material girl, and I certainly didn't go about trying to marry a millionaire!

The wedding dress is coming together; and I'm trying to ease my workload by not being as much of a perfectionist and delisting some of the items that are running low, instead of working through the night to restock my store. I have a Farmer's Market to prepare for, and that has to take priority right now. It does sting to feel like I "should" be doing more things and recognizing that I simply can't. I've heard the saying so many times, "you can only do what you can do", which seems so cliche, but is really meaningful. I always feel the need to push myself further and further, and I know I need to back off some so that I can still enjoy family time and perhaps eventually, sleep! I keep telling myself this refrain, "Just make it to May"; since all my most pressing issues will be done or under control by then, just so long as April doesn't speed by even more quickly, I should make it!

Have a great Wednesday everyone!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

...It Was a Teenage Wedding.......

".......beauty fades, but to be married to a man who makes you laugh every day, ah, now that's a real treat' ~ Joanne Woodward, wife of Paul Newman 

".......beauty fades, but to be married to a man who makes you laugh every day, ah, now that's a real treat" ~ Joanne Woodward, wife of Paul Newman 

I'm a huge fan of Hollywood celebrities who manage to have long marriages, and Paul Newman is one of my favorites! Let's face it, he was a drop-dead gorgeous man who believed in marriage and fidelity; how rare! He was known to say that he had "steak at home, why would I go out for hamburger?". I also found another quote from him that is brilliant, "People stay married because they want to, not because the doors are locked".

All this reflection on marriage is because my wedding anniversary is fast approaching, May 1st will be our twelfth anniversary!

 I can hardly believe it, 12 years is a long time, isn't it? When I look at our wedding pictures and see how painfully young we were; honestly; I can't believe we were allowed to get married! How far we've come! Whenever I start to delude myself that I haven't changed, I have only to look at our wedding pictures, and the truth is evident; we've grown up together, as well as growing together as a couple.

It certainly hasn't been easy; though nothing worth doing ever is. We agreed (as we do almost every year) that presents were unnecessary (especially since our vacation was a great present), but I couldn't resist, and used my etsy money to buy a little trinket for both James and I! It wasn't expensive, just funny and meaningful; and I'm bursting to say what it is, but won't, because James sometimes reads my blog and I don't want to let the cat out of the bag!

We do generally go to a movie and out to dinner, which I'm sure doesn't sound exciting to most people, but we rarely get the opportunity to see movies anymore, or go out to dinner, so it's a special treat that reminds us of when we were dating. I think we may just go to our favorite winery for wine tasting and for lunch this year; we've recently enjoyed sampling different types of wine, and the drive and visit to the winery itself is very beautiful this time of year. Thank goodness I have a few sisters that are great with my boys and so generous as to come over to babysit when I ask; otherwise, it would be virtually impossible for us to have "dates", since none of my children have ever been watched over by a babysitter who wasn't family; and I don't want to go down that road. Although I do have a few wonderful friends I would trust, but I consider them family, anyway.

Last weekend I went with one of my best friends to a craft store, to buy supplies for my Farmer's Market booth, and found one of those inspirational saying signs that I loved; it says "All because two people fell in love". I love it! I'm planning on putting in on the wall that has all the framed photos of our boys; I think I love the sentiment because it's something I often think about. When I'm driving my boys to school, I look in the rear-view mirror and see five little heads in shades of blonde and auburn, and think to myself; "all this because a 19 year old boy asked a 17 year old girl for her phone number?!". It seems so strange that such a little thing, that happens every day has changed the world so much. Having five boys seems so profound to me, that means that because of me, five men will go out into the world and change it, for good (I hope), or for bad; and their children's children will as well. I never wonder when people have difficulty in deciding whether to have children or not; I'm thankful I never had to decide, it's a wonder to me anyone has children when given the choice, such a serious undertaking!

Anyway; I'm not sure where the serious bent to my blog posts lately has come from; I find myself reluctant to blog about the mundane lately, because as always, I feel like I'm getting buried by everyday tasks, and have found myself worrying quite a bit about the next few weeks, since I have so much to do! I began work on my mom's reception dress, I always wish, wish, wish that I had a dedicated space for it, since before I sew I have to make sure my kitchen table is sparkling clean, especially with the fine fabrics I will be working with on this project; it would be horrible for my mother to get married in a silk dress decorated with jelly from her grandsons' breakfast! Someday, I'm sure I will have a sewing and craft space, but for now, I just have to make the best of it! I may find myself pulling all-nighters soon, but I have no doubt if I push through it, I can get everything done.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How Lucky Can One Girl Be?

Elvis encountering grass for the first time!

I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all." ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

Spring is here! I woke up this morning and felt that surely nothing bad can happen when spring is new and the sun is shining. I've been thinking a lot about gratitude lately; I think because lately I've felt so fortunate; especially when we were able to spend 10 uninterrupted days of family time while on vacation. It is so rare that we are really able to enjoy each other's company, without worrying about schedules and work and school. 

It is so easy (and I'm often guilty of this) to focus on the little problems and annoyances in life; where the mere fact that we are alive and able to have annoyances should be enough! A year ago in January, while I was 4 months pregnant with Elvis; James had a life threatening reaction to penicillin, and went into anaphylactic shock. He went to the doctor with hives and body aches, and before we knew what was happening, was hospitalized; with an abnormally elevated heart rate and blood pressure, and chest pain. I sat by his side all night, while he was barely conscious, and the doctors were trying to figure out what was going on, since it was a very bad reaction, worse than they had ever seen. His poor heart was going at almost 200 beats per minute, even while he was sleeping, and his kidneys were not happy. I finally left the hospital at 4 am; after being given the not terribly reassuring "he's stable right now; go home and rest" from the doctor. I had to consider the possibility of losing my husband while pregnant with our fifth child. It was so odd; James has always been my rock during times where I was weak; beginning with my bout with a terrible flu and tonsillitis while we were dating, up to the miscarriage I had eight years ago, and even the happier times when I was more vulnerable than usual, like during my pregnancies and births. He is one of those people that is rarely sick; and I had never seen him in that role, being vulnerable physically, and needing my help. It's funny because I never brought our boys to visit him in the hospital, and he never asked to see them. It was only afterwards that we discussed it and found that we both had the same thought; we didn't want our boys to see their big strong daddy in such a state. We both expressed feeling that we wanted our boys to see him as strong and capable; and thought that seeing him sick would scare them and stick with them. For the day and half when his health was up in the air; I've never felt so alone. I also was trying to stay upbeat and take care of myself and the baby. I brought some crocheting with me to keep me occupied and cheerful at his bedside; in fact; it was the blanket you see in the picture above. I crocheted, dreamed of baby, and tried to stay positive. That blanket has special meaning for me now; it is Elvis' BLANKET; the one he sleeps with and goes with us in the car, and every time I see it; it's bittersweet and special. After Elvis was born at the birth center, I couldn't wait to have that moment I dreamed of while crocheting it, joyfully wrapping my baby in it; saying "We made it!". The midwives were very sensitive to my wishes, and wrapped Elvis in it right away as I asked, even though it was July!

I don't think I can ever look at things the same after that experience; I find myself most often very joyful; although my life is far from perfect and have daily worries and struggles like everyone. Sometimes I even feel guilty for being so joyful; how can it be that I am so lucky as to wake up in the morning, under a quilt that I adore, and although getting five children ready and out the door is not easy, and at times makes me grumpy; I know how fortunate I am. I don't have to look ahead to a day at a job I don't want to do; I get to make my own schedule and be with my children. If I decide (as I did last week) to take them all out for Cherry Cokes after school, get home later and throw a simple dinner together before Daddy gets home; I can! Right now in fact, I'm trying to decide whether to work on my mom's reception dress or make more soap; not a bad choice, is it?

I'm grateful that as I get older, I have the maturity and experiences under my belt that make me able to focus on the "good stuff". I'm not always perfect at this, but for the days when I feel "cheerful for no reason"; I am grateful!

Happy Tuesday!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I'm (not) ready for my close-up, Mr. Deville......

The Lily Belle at Disneyland

This was one of the highlights of our Disney trip; after all the times (probably over 20) that I've been to Disneyland, I'd never ridden the Lily Belle, nor really knew anyone could. I had seen the trains of course; it was Dorian's favorite pastime to ride past the "dinosaurs" over and over again. Before we boarded the train one morning, James pointed to the Lily Belle; which was attached to that particular train, and said; "I want to ride in that car! He asked the conductor how to go about getting a ride, and was told that we needed a reservation; and that the resevations fill up fast! So the first thing the next morning, we went to Main Street Station to make a resevation, and found that allthough it was only 9:30 all but three spots were taken!

I just did some research and learned more about the Lily Belle; as well as reading This article

Shortly after Disneyland opened, Walt told his wife Lillian that he would like to build a parlor car. It would be great to ride outside on the Santa Fe and Disneyland Railroad studying landscape, buildings, etc. Maybe have lunch on the train, discuss plans for future ideas of Disneyland. All of this came as a result of Walt's great enthusiasm for trains. Now the open car from the first passenger train has been converted into an elegant parlor car, or the President car, so named in honor of the first president of the Disneyland Railroad, who was Walt Disney.

A picture of the Lily Belle interior; taken some years ago and not by me!

Waiting in Main Street Station for the train

The last day we were at Disneyland was dreadfully hot; at least for our standards; and we were tired, but we still had a memorable day. We started the day with beignets and mocha's (thank goodness!) at the Mint Julep Bar; and then after we baked in the sun a bit and were really getting quite cranky; found our way to the Dole Pineapple bar; which I had somehow managed to avoid ever going to! Mmmmm; fresh pineapple juice in the heat was glorious! I fulfilled my life-long dream to have a drink with an umbrella by ordering a pineapple float, which was fresh pineapple juice and pineapple soft-serve ice cream! Just what the doctor ordered! And Elvis shared with me and cooled down his poor flushed cheeks! Since it was our fourth day and we were out of gas; we had a laid-back day involving riding the train around the park several times for a break for our poor feet; and shopping, which I learned was my favorite ride! We had bought each boy (except Elvis) a gift card to use at Disneyland; and James sister was soooo generous and did the same! So each boy had plenty of money to buy what they liked. Andrew was determined to buy a genuine leather fedora, like Indiana Jones; and found one at a store in Frontierland. At over $50; it is not something that he would have ever had the opportunity to buy otherwise; but after talking to him a bit and urging him to sleep on it to make sure it was what he really, really wanted; it was nice to see his excitement after he was able to wear it out of the store. Later the same night; a family we met from Australia complimented the hat; and it turned out the dad of the family purchased that very same hat! To Andrew; this convinced him of the value of it; because everyone (apparently) knows that Aussies are the authority on leather fedoras! I got a sparkly pink Minnie Mouse travel coffee mug, and two tops; I had to convince James to spend money on himself; but he got a Pirates of the Caribbean (the ride, not the movie) beer mug, an apron that makes him look like Mickey Mouse, and a wire whisk for his famous breakfasts. I also saw a darling Alice in Wonderland tea set; and bought a teacup and saucer for my best friend, who adores all things Alice; and has never been to Disneyland!

After being at Disneyland from 9 to 6; I was completely exhausted, and while I love Disney; I was ready to leave while I was still on two legs! The boys were fired up about getting their last kicks in, so after walking Elvis and I to the hotel to collapse in bed, my poor tired husby brought the other four boys back to Disneyland for a last hurrah. They went on more rides, and stayed to watch the fireworks; which was an excellent ending to the vacation of our dreams!

The title refers to the fact that I am only a few weeks away from my market debut; and feeling very much like a scared starlet! What if they don't like me? What if I flop? This is my first time selling my products face to face; and I really don't know what to expect. I met a lot of the vendors today, and they are a friendly, home-spun bunch!  I just hope I can fit in! One dear older lady who sells knit wares, came up to our table and introduced herself and gave us great advice for having a shared booth, and we met the face painter, a young woman just out of college; who does the market with her father.  Everyone was very welcoming, I just hope I don't disappoint! After the vendor meeting my best friend and I took a shopping spree to a craft store to buy displays and booth decor. We had lots of fun, and I think the booth will be great!

I found fabric for the sheer train on my mom's wedding dress, just waiting on the silk charmuese, and I will be sewing away!

I hope to have a relatively productive evening, since last night I put my hair in curlers, laid down "for a minute" and was dead to the world until morning!

Have a great Sunday!