This Is Only Another Opportunity

The pleasure of writing includes the freedom to write about very certain and particular topics.

This means there is a process of editing and filtering of my life involved.  Otherwise my writing would be a diary, instead of a blog.

This process of filtering gives a certain voice to writing. You know the difference between Poe’s writing and Tolkein’s writing because they have very distinct voices in their works.  I actually wrote this huge long post last week that I thought would be great, but the next day I reread it and it just wasn’t the voice I had curated for my blog.  It didn’t sound right, and so even though I spent hours  writing it, I had to shelf it because it just didn’t fit.  It was not part of my voice.

Something that is difficult to see in writing is the hardships of the soul.  If I filter the hardships out, no one will ever know they even exist.  And on one hand, that is nice.  I am a rather private person, despite having a blog, and I am very selective with what I share with the world.  I am not entirely comfortable sharing problems, for a few reasons.  One is obviously pride, if I am going to be honest with myself.  I know we will get through whatever we are going through and be stronger in the end, and I am not entirely comfortable sharing my vulnerabilities with everyone, at least on a regular basis.  Another is that I do believe some things are genuinely private, and only the business of our family.

And lastly, I have a very English-Victorian mindset way in the back of my brain that thinks, “Oh, I don’t want to be a bother…

This all being said, I do think it is fair to share some struggles here.  Otherwise there would be the impression that we live in a magical wooden fairyland surrounded by beaches and unicorns.

Now, I haven’t found a unicorn yet.  The rest is rather true, though.

Some things we have had to weather through include the huge break-in of our California house that we are trying to sell, which I wrote about a while ago.  That was definitely a tough one to get through, but we are doing fine.

Another is that a week after we moved in, the empty lot behind us went up for sale, and so we had a for sale sign in front of our house for a month or two, as well as calls from real estate agents letting us know when people were coming to look at it.  The reason why we needed to know was because our long driveway as an easement at the front, and it is the only method by which to reach the lot.  So, now I had cars finding our remote house and people walking around in the 2 acres around us during the day.  All in all, everyone was extremely respectful and very polite, and we never had any problems whatsoever.  It was just frustrating that we just moved in, and we finally thought we could relax and let the kids play in the yards safely, and now there are cars driving up to our house and unloading people to walk around.  Not entirely the best situation, but it all worked out in the end (I believe the property has sold, as the sign was finally taken down the other day).

We had to take down the fence around our backyard as soon as we moved in, because the real estate agents informed us that the previous owner had built it almost entirely on the property behind us; so that was kind of annoying.  Again, we just moved in and we already have to start tearing things down.

We still have to fix the septic system and have mold removed from our roof, which we have needed to do ever since we moved in, but have been up to our ears taking care of other things. Oh, and our house ran out of propane last week and we can’t get a truck here to fill the tank until later this week, and I haven’t been able to use the stove or have had a warm shower in days…

This weekend we got another call from the police department, and they let us know that the California house that we are really, sincerely, eagerly trying to sell, was broken into again.  The front door was kicked in and the frame is demolished.  Our agent sent over a handyman to screw a huge piece of wood onto the frame to keep it somewhat secure.

10348224_10203840098664937_8855671420198016848_nThis was my front door when we lived there.

2015050995212004This is what the home looks like, now.

So: recap. The front door is gone.  The carpets are gone. The kitchen is totaled. The ceiling is caving in. No stove, island, cabinets, oven, cupboards, sink, dishwasher, etc because the upstairs flooded when the first break in happened and they unplugged the toilet and flooded the house. No doors on any bathroom cabinets because they were stolen. No closet doors. My sewing machine is gone. My laundry baskets are gone.  The kids’ bikes are gone. My telescope is gone. The wagon is gone…and on and on ….it is ridiculous.

I almost want to think….I don’t know what the hell is happening anymore.  I just don’t understand this madness.

But, it is what it is.  And we can only move forward and be stronger in the end.  I certainly am not going to let bastards who destroy homes of good people also destroy my deep-rooted belief that there are still good people in the world: and anyone who says differently is a damn fool.

Good will always triumph.  There will always be people who will rise up and make the world a better place.  There are people from every corner of the world who bring peace and joy to our lives, and they are the ones who will triumph the most.  The men and women who spend countless hours volunteering to make sure kids have safe places to go, or that families have warm meals or clothes for their children.  The groups that work tirelessly to get clean drinking water to third world countries.  The men and women who look after single mothers and help their children out of the love from their hearts.  The men and women who do even simple things, like being good friends to people in their lives, or love their neighbors.  The men and women on the streets just seeing things that need to be done, and finding the time to do it.  Good people see their time as the biggest opportunity to offer to others, and they spend it finding ways to serve others in ways that would make a real difference.  Not just something you can put on paper, but something that will really impact their community and bring genuine peace and earnest love into the lives of those around them.

Now, this all doesn’t mean bad things won’t happen.  There will always be toil and grief in life.  Jesus even said Himself, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

It means good will be given the opportunity to triumph.

That is the entire point.

And if you cannot see the good in people…if you cannot see how much good is in our world…if this wooden door that encases the shell of a house I used to live in is the blinder on your vision that keeps you from being able to see the incredible, unending love that people will always bring into our lives…

then this is opportunity to take this plank out of your eye.

“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.”
J.R.R. Tolkien

Life can be tough, no doubt.  Not all roads are paved with brilliant sunlight and easy journeys.

I have faith, though, that the roads never end, despite that some roads may travel in periods of shadows.  But the love and inherent good in ourselves and in people will always be the most triumphant, and one criminal alone cannot undermine the countless hours of good that thousands of people invest into the world.

That’s what I think 🙂

Unpopular Opinion: 5 Parenting Conversations I Am Seriously Done With

This article originally appeared on Ravishly.

5 Parenting Conversations I Am So Done With

Sometimes, I leave the house and get together with friends in a place that will give us nachos and margaritas, and then more nachos. I leave my apron hanging in the kitchen. I put on my fancy clothes (totally Instagramming that). I do my hair and put on my bitchin’ red lipstick. I look freaking stunning. The night is ours, my friends.

Some backstory: I am a parent.

My husband and I have a bundle of kids, and while we have been doing this parent thing for over a decade by now, I have learned so much.

About my children. About society. About life.  About myself.

Having children really opens your mind to bigger concepts of what life really is made of.  Big picture ideas.  Does the dirty kitchen floor really matter when your little 3 year old girl is curled up in your lap, sobbing gently because Snow White was running away from the woodsman and she feels so badly for the poor, scared princess?  The floor is not even on my radar at this moment.  My entire heart is devoted to comforting and protecting my baby from these tears that are being shed on my breast.  When my 6 year old son mentions that he has to pee when we are hanging out on an isolated beach, and we tentatively advise him to find a bush hidden away next to the sand dunes (hey, no judging).

Yet, when we look back to check on him, we see him standing at the very top of the tallest sand dune with his tan overalls bunched around his ankles, peeing into freedom.

That is a parenting moment I could never reproduce or replace, and the euphoric joy my husband and I felt as we laughed at the simple misunderstanding is a euphoric joy that fuels parenthood.

IMG_3411Parenting Moment: Following in her mother’s footsteps with good taste in lipstick.

Being a mother has changed everything about how I was planning on living my life.  I love my family, and I love all of my children more than life itself.

However.

Sometimes, I leave the house.  I leave my apron hanging in the kitchen, and I put my fancy clothes on that will totally go on Instagram tonight.  I brush my hair and put on my bitchin’ red lipstick, and I look freaking stunning.  My 4″ sparkly heels are the sound of liberation as they land definitevly on the tile entry way of a local restaurant where I am getting together with girl friends.  We order nachos and margaritas; and maybe more nachos, after that.  The night is ours, my friends.

IMG_3689My killer, “I’m going out tonight” shoes.

Until 9pm, when we have to head home and pay the babysitter; and even after the babysitter leaves, I have the quiet house full of slumbering children, well fed on pizza I ordered before I left (perhaps as outright bribery to let me go out for an evening).

I love going out with girlfriends.  I love laughing with them, I love talking with adults and I love relaxing with my girls.

But I swear to you….

If I go to another Girls’ Night Out event and have to talk about which diapers we have used, or how to make sandwiches that kids will eat, or how lemon essential oils will take gum out of your kids’ hair…

I am seriously going to start punching people in the face.

Listen: We are all in this parenting thing together.  We are all doing the best we can, and we can all learn from each other, no doubt.  No doubt.

But if we have a babysitter at home watching the kids, and we are wearing our grown-up clothes and our very favorite heels…we are not talking shop.

I am talking about adult stuff.  I’m talking about the Pope, I’m talking about the government, I’m talking about the recent societal uproar, I’m talking about social issues, I’m talking about big ideas…I am using the rest of my brain that still remembers how to use polysyllabic words in consecutive sentences, and that isn’t devoted to worrying about what diaper cream we are using.

There are 5 conversations that come up, in particular, that I will put my shiny heel down.  Unless you just got out of the hospital with your first baby, unless you are having a serious crisis, unless you honestly need to discuss this for a very particular purpose….just like our favorite song says: We need to Let these conversations Go:

5. Naptimes. Bedtimes. Reading times. Poop times. 

Omg, it’s just a day.  A day with kids.  You are going to be feeding them, putting them to bed, playing with them, reading with them, schooling with them, eating with them, walking with them…some days you are practically breathing with them.

Although it is interesting to talk shop with other parents, if we are having a Girls’ Night Out..I am not talking shop.  

We do not need to spend the evening talking about how to form the perfect naptime schedule.  Message me on facebook about your ideas on how to get your wiggly 4 year old to keep taking naps, or email me with some Babble article you read on how to create a sticker chart for your infant.  But if I am holding an Amber beer in my hand, I am not talking about naptimes.  I swear, my eyes just glaze over once I hear buzz words like ” Baby-led positive self-regulating attachment naptime schedule competence.” If I hear this from your lips, I am ordering you 3 more martinis and getting you shit-faced until you start solving the world’s problems based on this crazy theory you had when you were 22, and then driving your relaxed, adult ass back home.

Girlfriends gotta stick up for each other.

 

4. What to feed the kids.

I am going to be so humbug about this, but hear me out.

Feed them food.

BOOM.  DONE.

3. How to clean the house

I hate cleaning the house.  I clean my house because we have 7 people here, and I may, or may not, be the worst offender of leaving cups around the house.  Laundry is the bane of my existence, and I love Lysol wipes in unnatural ways.  Mirrors, windows, toilets, doorknobs, blankets, cars…they’re awesome.

I remember one weekend, many years ago, when I was on some organized “retreat” with other women who were also part of an organization for mothers.  We were watching this video on how to be better mothers.  The woman I went with was sitting next to me, and we were both sitting in a room full of attentive young women who were eager to learn from older women about how to love their families in real and authentic ways.  I don’t know about them, but I was very interested in what they were going to talk about.  I love learning new things!

And I swear to you, we listened to this nonsense about how to clean your kitchen counters and what percentage of the counter space should be occupied, and 15% of your kitchen table should be used for centerpieces, “but no more than 15%, or it starts to get crowded…

I was stuck at that event, because I was the coordinator for a freaking international mother’s group and I had to go…but my brain began melting, and I could only write my thoughts about what a ridiculous waste of time this was in a notebook, because everyone else seemed to love these ideas.

Here’s the deal: if you love organizing your kitchen, that is great.  More power to you.  If we are shoving nachos into our faces, the percentage of counter space available in my kitchen is the last thing on my mind.  Besides, maybe, the GNP of Amsterdam.  That might be the penultimate thing on my mind, followed by the counter space available in my kitchen.

2. My period.

Ladies, we have been getting our periods ever since we were 12.

Most of us get them every single month.

I get my period exactly 3 weeks after I stop bleeding from birth, so I have no break other than pregnancy.  It is a constant in life that I can always rely on.

I don’t need to talk about it, in detail, at all.  It has nothing to do with being embarrassed, or feeling uncomfortable about talking about menstruation, or getting grossed out by it.  I have been changing diapers for 10 years.  There has been poop on things in my house that I never expected.  Menstruation is not even factoring on my gross-out meter.

There are just better, more thought-provoking things to talk about other than our periods.

Another Bloody Mary?  Don’t mind if I do….

1. My birth story.

It was exciting when it first happened…of course it was!!  It was birth!!  The miracle of life!  FROM MY BODY.

I was an incredible, life changing moment.

But it has also been quite a few years, and it’s just not my main focus of conversation anymore.  Again, unless you just had a baby, unless you are going to have a baby, unless it honestly just comes up in conversation: Even though this is an enormous, life-altering, incredible and amazing event that we have all gone through…

we actually don’t need to rehash the details of our epidurals over cocktails.  5 million times.  We’ve all done it, and your youngest is 14 years old.  Let’s move on, shall we?

Now, if you will please pass the salt, we can get this party started.

IMG_3415Nails done. I am ready to go.

We Invaded A Viking Festival, And Plundered Their Doughnuts

Last Friday, I discovered that there was a Viking Festival on Saturday.

They had Vikings.  They had the most amazing doughnuts that I could but only gaze upon, but everyone thoroughly enjoyed.  I did thoroughly appreciate some handmade orange truffles in a chocolatier’s shop, which was simply amazing.

We saw boats, dragons, swords, Vikings, fake beards and monster trucks.

I may have found Heaven.

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Viking Festival?

Oh. I was made for this.

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And so are my daughters.

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We got there just in time for the parade, so we are just hanging out in a very Norwegian town.  Across the street was Thor’s Hammer Tattoos and The Norse Maid.

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Found some awesome helmets, and had to pry ourselves away from the weapons’ booth…

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Vikings in the wild.IMG_3755

I think they were the friendliest Vikings in the history of Vikings, though.

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Sons of Norway, represent!

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Poor Conrad.  He was plundered by a sticker.

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Most vicious Viking marching band.
IMG_3782The kids were loving the parade and waved to them all.

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And there was ELSA AND ANNA.

At which point everyone freaked out and lost their minds.

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They were fantastic and took pictures with tons of kids.

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Did you know there is a Viking roller derby for girls?  Oh, you better believe I am looking into this.

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Horses. Princesses…what is that in the background??

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I stole some pictures off of Ben’s phone this morning.  Apparently this is my “I am navigating little people through crowds while not tripping on my skirt” face.

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There were so many families at the parade.  I love this place.  Kids and dogs and grandparents and lots of friendly people.

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My girls.

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My son.

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How Do You Sleep At Night?

I have never been a good sleeper.

When I was in elementary school, I would always wake up in the middle of the night for something.  Sometimes it was random bloody noses, sometimes it was nightmares…sometimes I would just wake up.  And lay there.  Moving to the couch in the living room helped, because my grandfather was usually awake watching infomercials since he couldn’t sleep either.  He usually got the big couch, and I got the loveseat.  He also would leave his dentures under the coffee table, just out of obvious sight, when he started falling asleep, and let me tell you: that never failed to gross me out.  In a good way.  It is an endearing memory I have of him.  I think grandfathers are allowed to troll their families in their own weird and subtle ways.

So, at 2:30 this morning, my 6 year old had a nightmare and came into our bedroom for help.  As a child, though, I would stand next to my parents’ bed, and consequently freak them out by just staring at them trying to figure out if I should wake them up at all… he  proceeded to jump on me and crawl into bed with the energy of a puppy.

So, I was very awake.

And it is 5:30.

And I am still awake.

I figured sleep just wasn’t coming, so I might as well get up and make the most of my time.

I believe that knowledge and awareness go a long way, and I have a feeling that I am going to become very aware of how tired I am around lunch time today, with the knowledge that I’ve had 2 hours of sleep.

With this in mind, I have the foreknowledge that I am going to be cranky.

This may be overthinking things a little bit…but I have nothing better to do right now.  There are things that happen every day around here that bug me, but they are very little things that I can fix.  None of them are a big deal at all.  And I can handle them.  When I am well rested.  But today, I am not. So these little things are going to pile up quickly, and instead of reacting to them, I am going to anticipate my irritation and not react to them, since I saw them coming already!

Ha Ha!

Seriously, I need to sleep.

So here we go!  10 things I know will irritate me this afternoon!

1. Open cabinets.  I don’t know why this bothers me to the degree it does, but walking into the kitchen and seeing an open cabinet just drives me nuts.

2. Cereal bowls left on the table.

3. Cereal bowls left on the couch.

4. Binder paper on the floor.

5. No one can find a pen.

6. They can find a pencil, but not a pencil sharpener.

7. I mess up the sandwich orders and give the sandwich with no jelly to the child who wanted the jelly, and the sandwich with jelly to the child who didn’t want the jelly, and go right into transcendental Socratic arguments of whether or not we really have the sandwich that we were intended to have, and what does jelly really mean anyway?

8. Coming downstairs to see the front door open, and then having to do a headcount.

9. Missing shoes.

10. These guys are basically going to be my inner monologue until I get some rest.

 

The Real Life and Times of Celiac

I have the pleasure of having Celiac, which I can unequivocally say has improved my quality of life.

Which is a weird thing to state, I understand.

“You ca’t have pizza??  Or doughnuts??  No french toast??  No KFC??  No burritos?!”

I don’t really miss any of these.  Okay, I actually do really miss flour tortillas.  There is nothing like biting into the soft flour tortilla for a burrito.  I have tried gluten free tortillas, and they are all unconditionally terrible.

But the rest of the items I am forbidden to eat…I probably shouldn’t be eating anyway.

Before I discovered I had Celiac, I just ate whatever I desired.  Since discovering this autoimmune blessing (yes, blessing), I have had to actually do research on what food I am not only putting into my body, but into my family’s as well.  I have taught myself how to cook nutritious food from scratch that actually tastes amazing (these two do not always go hand in hand).

So, in the end, I my quality of life is significantly better because I have Celiac.

Unfortunately, there are drawbacks.

I cannot trust anything that has been pre-made.  Anything.  Even gluten free items.  Even certified gluten free items.

I had to stop eating gluten free pasta, because I would have violent reactions (lack of breathing, flush cheeks, muscle spasms, etc) after eating gluten free pasta.  Why is this…it is gluten free!  Maybe the labeling says gluten free, but legally a company can include up to 0.025% gluten in their food, and still be considered gluten free.  That 0.025% makes a difference when my body sees that as eating 0.025% poison I am putting in my body.

Lately I have had to stop eating the gluten free pizza in the Costco freezer section.

And last night I was in bed with another violent reaction to Udi’s Gluten Free Bread, which I never thought was a problem before. It is incredibly frustrating, since this was a safe option for me; but after a few tests over the course of a few weeks, you at some point you have to admit there is a problem.  You aren’t just tired, you aren’t just imagining things. Laying in bed with muscle cramps and not being able to breathe, and then feeling fine 2-3 hours later, is a big indicator that there is something wrong.

So what is the problem with Udi’s Gluten Free Bread???  The ingredients are all gluten free…

I think I found out why – after reviewing the ingredients – they have added a mold inhibitor which may be a sensitivity problem. I know with the Kraft Cracker Barrel cheese – this has been added as well – which may be why Kraft does not have this cheese on its gluten free web page. The other cheeses yes, but not this particular brand. The inhibitor is natamycin – and it seems that some do have a sensitivity to this type of preservative.”  (celiac.com)

You are going to have to forgive my language for a second:

SONOFABITCH

The mold inhibitor?!!!!

GGGAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

So, I’m back to square one.

That is Celiac, my friends.

By Hollywood’s Standards, I Am Ahead

This article originally appeared on Ravishly.

 

37 Is Too Old To Date, Says Hollywood

Old guy, younger woman. Nonsense.Old guy, younger woman. Nonsense.

What if an accomplished actress was not just the love interest of an older man?  What if being 37 meant I was worth more than being an attraction?  What if being a 37 year old woman with a career had value beyond my bikini lines.  Wouldn’t that be crazy?

Apparently women who are 37, by Hollywood’s standards, are way too old to date a male protagonist in his mid-50s.

While our first reaction might be a flavor of, “I’m sorry, what??” it isn’t that surprising.  Remember “Sabrina” with Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart? Dude, Hepburn was 25 in that film.  25. Bogart was 55.

Not much has changed.

What threw me when I read that Maggie Gyllenhaal was too old, by Hollywood’s standards, to play the love interest of a 55 year old dude, was realizing that I was turning 37 this year.

I had to walk that one off.

This means I am too old to date anyone who is 55 such as the enchanting Hugh Laurie, or the elegant James Spader.  I may be young enough to date Tom Selleck, who is completely owning his 70s, but really, no one is that lucky.

But that got me thinking: who else am I too old to date?*

Jim Carrey: This amazing actor is sporting his 53 years with vigor, and enjoying life with Cathriona White, who is 28. So I am waayyyy too old for Jim.

Johnny Depp: Albeit still a youthful 50, Johnny’s illustrious lady friend, Amber Heard, is still an even more youthful 27.

Leonardo DiCaprio: This overly talented man has not even reached his 50s, and yet he has never had a woman on his yacht that has reached their 30s. 

But, to be fair, the most beautifully talented Robin Wright is pulling off her 50th year with a 35 year old Ben Foster. And although you wouldn’t know it, Joan Collins is sashaying her 81st year with a 49 year old Percy Gibson.  So, men may have similar limitations with gaining the attentions of phenomenal women in Hollywood.

The other day Melissa McCarthy had a quality moment with the press:  McCarthy then asked him if he had a daughter: “If she comes home and someone says, ‘You can’t have a job because you are unattractive,’ are you going to say, ‘That’s right’?”

“Just know every time you write stuff, every young girl in this country reads that, and they just get a little bit chipped away,” McCarthy said. “I just think we tear down women in this country for all these superficial reasons, and women are so great and strong.”

I just wonder…if my daughter came home one day and said she couldn’t have a job because she was too old, how would that be right?

What if an accomplished actress was not just the love interest of an older man?  What if being 37 meant I was worth more than being an attraction?  What if being a 37 year old woman with a career had value beyond my bikini lines.  Wouldn’t that be crazy?

You know what that makes me think, though?  It makes me think that us older women have the upper hand with Hollywood.  Sure, Maggie Gyllenhaal can’t be a love interest to a 55 year old actor…but, stay with me here: what if she didn’t have to be a love interest, at all?  What if a woman was the hero, like Katniss Everdeen?  Or maybe the women fought for themselves, like in “Mad Max”?  What if the leading woman was like Emma Stone’s role as Sam Thompson in “Birdman”? 

What if women had worth as more than the romantic interest to a man?  It seems that if Hollywood shuts the door to women in their 30s for this position, that the doors of opportunity for greater, world-changing roles actually open up for us.

So, with all this being said: at a distinguished 37, I believe I am actually ahead of the game.  By Hollywood’s standards.

*obviously, hypothetically speaking. 

The Forest Fashionista: Off The Grid Fashion Tips

This article originally appeared on Ravishly.

The Forest Fashionista: Off The Grid Fashion Tips

pickaxe fashion

Honestly, it’s T-shirt and jeans almost every day. Which makes me think that either I have it all together, and I just have a balance between “comfortable” and “eclectic”…or I am living off the fashion grid, entirely.  

I am a big believer in dressing for how you feel.

Feeling funky? Sweat pants and a comfy shirt are probably in your best interest.

Feeling sassy? Definitely a skirt and scarf.

Feeling like swimming? Probably whatever bathing suit you found at Target that you picked up on the way out, when you stopped in for shampoo and cat food.

Feeling like it’s Tuesday…. and you are trying to catch up with projects and still have no idea what to do for dinner?

Tshirt and jeans.

Honestly, it’s tshirt and jeans almost every day.  Which makes me think that either I have it all together, and I just have a balance between “comfortable” and “eclectic”…or I am living off the fashion grid, entirely.  I think a lot of people actually dress according to what is in season..? Like, apparently you can dress for Autumn, and there are some color requirements for that.

That is just too restricting for those of us in the forest.

We have “Forest Glamorous,” which means we are wearing nice jeans, a decent leather jacket and a fancy scarf.

Yet, there is life beyond just tshirt and jeans .  There is more to an ensemble than denim and scarves.

Let me take you down the dusty roads into: Off The Grid Fashion Tips

Shirts:

I am trying to wear Ben’s shirts less, and my shirts more.

Even though his shirts are really comfortable, and don’t show my poochy belly or untoned arms as much.

10392493_10206401980710387_6552175398652696503_nAs we can see in this forest ensemble, the model is sporting a lovely Firefly shirt she bought on the internet.

Pants:

Jeans.

I wear my size 12 jeans when I want to believe I am a size 12.

I wear my size 14 jeans when I am being realistic.

11053170_10206447435606731_7886497873447201044_nAs we can see here, the forest dweller has emerged to enjoy the native coastline in a full denim ensemble: the overalls.              

Also bought on the internet.

Capes:

Capes are the most underappreciated article of clothing.

Not only do they keep your arms and torso warm, but your legs as well!  No more warm jackets protecting your upper body while letting your poor legs be pelted to death by chill.

10606462_10204751037477838_5706566527143555996_nChill is only a frame of mind.

Bonus: hoodie feature.

1425629_10204749496159306_2716237834678472649_nPrincess of Avalon?  Maybe.

Hats:

If the caped hood is not your style, you can simply go with the classic – the hat.

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A classic, wide brimmed hat…

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or the simple, yet lovely, birdcage veil.

Wigs:

Another underutilized cranial accessory is the wig!

Why spend countless hours and hundreds of dollars to try to get your hair to another shade, when you can wear a wig!

It is easy as pie: braid your hair in the back or wrap it around your head and adorn your crown with the fabulous wig.


10404500_10204884453973167_6121312052279610165_nA lovely shade of purple may suit your ensemble…

10665790_10204686023012517_854869180011376221_nOr a full spectrum of colors, for the colorly indecisive.

Further Accessories:

You may wish to accent your ensemble with rainbow socks:

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Fully decked out in Mom’s socks… 

11169836_10206476427131501_3737089137626006271_nOr a pickaxe.

There you have it, my friends.

A full spectrum of Off The Grid Fashion ideas to completely throw your fashion friends’ heads’ spinning.

But damn will you look good when you do.

(Quick)True Story: I’m Not Really Sure How They’ll Turn Out In The End, To Be Honest.

The other day we took a day trip over to Seattle, proper.  We don’t live in Seattle, proper. We live a boatride away.

It’s awesome.

So we went to Seattle for the day, just exploring and checking things out.  Last November I had taken the kids to Golden Gardens Park, which was quite lovely and attached to a huge beach.  We loved it. Plus, it was empty, which made my levels of anxiety regarding losing a kid in a park almost nil.  We all wanted to go back and play at this magical park again.

Unfortunately, last time we were there was the end of Fall.  Now is the end of Spring.  It was packed with people, bbqs, volleyball nets and random mohawked circus jugglers.

If you haven't seen

If you haven’t seen “Hot Fuzz,” then this won’t make much sense. But it is hilarious.

So, we hung out at the tide pools and the kids collected a few billion caterpillars that are swarming on everything around here, and stuck them on their jeans and walked around with them.  Eve named hers Nacho.  Nacho the Caterpillar.

After that we were driving past the Locks, and stopped in to take a peek.

The Locks is this ginormous park that celebrates the Locks that separate the Washington Lake freshwater from the Sound saltwater, and allow ships and boats to go through without disturbing the water too much.  It was neat.  We watched a 1980s video in a dark room about it.

So, we were walking around and watching people’s boats go through the Locks, and on the other side we found the Salmon Ladder.

This ladder is to make sure the salmon can migrate home without getting stuck in/on/around the boats.  Apparently it is pretty successful, because they built this thing in like, 1916 and it has been managing boat travel and over a million salmon, or some crazy number, every year.

All this being said: we were standing in front of the fish ladder exhibit, which was rather interesting.  If there were fish coming through, you would be able to watch them through the windows.  However, we were past migratory season so we were just watching water.  But still – pretty interesting to learn about.

The mesmerizing fish windows.

Well, next to the windows were little red buttons.

Underneath the red buttons was a plaque that said, “Push to hear audio about the types of salmon.”

However, no one read the plaque.  Well, I did, but no one else noticed it was there.

So one of my little children looks at me and asks, “What does the red button do?”

Now, it has been a rather long day at this point and we are at the end of our urban hike, so I am a little tired.

This is the excuse I am using to justify my response.

“Well, if you push the red button the fish fall out.”

*wide eyed*

“So, can I push it?”

“Sure. But all the fish will fall out.”

I don’t even know what this means. The fish will fall out of where? Onto what? Into the auditorium? Into the water?  So many questions!

But every one of the kids asked me the same question about the red button, and I said the exact same thing each time.

Ben was far too eager to get in on this action, and we discussed the fish (who weren’t even there) for a good long time while we were at this exhibit.

Needless to say, no one pushed the red button since no one wanted to hurt the fish.

I imagine, many years from now, my children will take their children to see the Salmon Ladder.

And they will look at the red buttons that will make the fish fall out, and they will be eager and ready to tell their children about this feature….when suddenly…

“WAIT! THIS BUTTON IS JUST FOR AUDIO!”

“THE FISH WON’T FALL OUT IF YOU……gaaahhhh…..Mooooommmmmm.”

Muahahaha.  Mom strikes again.

Ruth’s Relationship Status: Uncomplicated

Last week we enjoyed Shavuot, which is the Jewish festival of firstfruits of the wheat harvest, as well as the day celebrating when Moses brought the Torah to Yisrael: “Finally, G-d gave Moses the two stone Tables of Testimony, containing the Ten Commandments, written by G-d Himself.

An easy way to remember Shavuot is that it is the same day as Pentecost: God gave the Torah, and He gave the Spirit.

 

The Torah was given by G‑d to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai more than 3300 years ago. Every year on the holiday of Shavuot we renew our acceptance of G‑d’s gift, and G‑d “re-gives” the Torah.  The word Shavuot means “weeks.” It marks the completion of the seven-week counting period betweenPassover and Shavuot.” (chabad.org)

Traditionally, the entire book of Ruth is read on Shavuot, so, I was reading all 4 chapters of Ruth…I remember it being a little longer than 4 chapters, for some reason.  But, 4 chapters it was.  I always had read the book of Ruth as a love story between Boaz and Ruth, but now I am reading it and noticing that the whole thing basically took place in the fields!  So, that makes sense, being the festival of wheat harvests.

The Book of Ruth was recorded by the prophet Samuel. It is appropriate to read the Book of Ruth on Shavuot for two reasons: First, because Shavuot is a harvest festival and the Book of Ruth gives us a picture of the harvest, and how the poor were treated in the harvest season with sympathy and love. Secondly, because Shavuot is the anniversary of the passing of King David, who was the great-grandson of Ruth and Boaz, whose story is told in the Book of Ruth.”  (chabad.org)

When I just started the book, though, I was completely struck with how close Naomi and Ruth were.  These were women who had come together through Ruth’s marriage to Naomi’s son, experienced deaths of husbands together, and clung to each other in friendship through life and through hardships.

Naomi was loving to Ruth and Orpah, and while Orpah decided to return back to her mother, Ruth wanted to stay with Naomi.

Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.

15 And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” 18 And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.

 

This is such an incredible picture of friendship between women.

But…in reality, they had something more than friendship. The relationship Naomi and Ruth had was something akin to “kenzoku,” which is, “is a Japanese term which means “family”,  a bond that is shared by people with the same or nearly the same ideals,  have the same commitment or even destiny.  We know and feel the presence of  the deepest connection of friendship. These people may be family members, a friend from high school, co-workers who we probably haven’t talked to in decades but we know they are there for us when we need them. Time and distance do nothing to cut the bond we have with them.”

These women loved each other.  They were friends and they were family; they were kenzoku.  I am honestly moved just thinking about the two of them holding hands and traveling home, together.  


Sometimes, relationships in life can be complicated. 

Friendships in school when we were kids was rather uncomplicated.  We all had our friends, and we knew who definitely weren’t our friends; but adults can be complicated, sometimes. 

The other day I got a message out of the blue from someone I used to know.  We were not close, at all, and I had only talked with her once on the phone sometime last year, and it was for something in particular.  I did not have any sort of relationship with her, because we weren’t friends.  

I haven’t even seen her since last year, when we were both attendants of the same group; so getting a message from her was surprising.  Without any context, she simply said:

“I am sad you unfriended me.”

Which was also odd…because if I remember somewhat correctly, I closed the connection with this woman sometime around last summer.  It’s been almost a year. I haven’t talked with her or heard from her in ages.  Our kids never became friends, I never got together with her, our husbands never talked.  I really don’t know what this meant…there is zero context on this statement.

Odd.  A little complicated.  But odd.

Now, with any other situation I might have seen this as an open door to rekindle something.  But, there really aren’t embers to rekindle anywhere. 

There never was a friendship with her, because there was no relationship with her.

 

Friends, especially kenzoku friends, aren’t complicated because love isn’t complicated.  It really isn’t. You know when someone loves you, and you definitely know when they don’t.  This is one thing you don’t need to debate back and forth: if someone loves you, you feel loved. If someone doesn’t love you…what is there?

The thing about friends, is that they are part of your life.  They call you and see how things are going.  They text you once in a while to connect with you.  You feel better after being with them and sharing your life with them.  Friends include you. They encourage you. I can think of friends I have had for years, and I look forward to talking to them every time we get on the phone together.  I truly enjoy including them, and encouraging them in their lives, and I look forward to being included in their lives and being encouraged by their words.  I love the friends in my life because they are amazing people who are part of my life.  

Having a relationship with someone is so much more than just showing up and being a warm body.  Mere attendance is not the soul of a relationship: the heart is.

A relationship is understanding your friends in ways no one else can. A relationship with your friends means you don’t bully them into obeying your own dogmas and expectations; which seems like and overly obvious quality, I think. A relationship with your friends is kind and generous.

A truly wonderful relationship with friends means you love them.

“Why did you do all this for me?’ he asked. ‘I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.’ ‘You have been my friend,’ replied Charlotte. ‘That in itself is a tremendous thing.”

E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

It is a tremendous thing, indeed.

Featured Blog Post: Chobani Kids Yogurt

So, recently I heard about Chobani’s project for Chobani Kids Yogurt asking parents to discuss ways to encourage children to eat healthy.
IMG_3964We usually don’t do formal snacks, so they were a little more than extremely thrilled for this event.
I’ve gotten emails about products before, but I am not terribly interested in reviewing tons of stuff on here.  I am a writer, and I’d kind of like to keep it that way, for the most part.  However, there are some things I really, genuinely think are awesome ideas, or sites, or products…and I actually love to do reviews of them if I have the chance.
The thing is, I actually love Chobani yogurt. It is a good company and it makes good yogurt.  I actually have a yogurt maker to make my own yogurt (mmmm….geeky), but I still pick up yogurt at the store once in a while when I don’t want to spend the time boiling milk and letting the tiny jars sit in the maker for 12 hours.  It’s darn good homemade yogurt…but it does take a while.
The Chobani Kids Yogurt comes in little packets with twist tops, which makes it easy to use for kids.  I am certainly more comfortable letting them handle these, rather than my little glass yogurt jars that may or may not be completely off limits to people, since I have dropped and broken a few already, and had to order replacement jars…  So these kids packets are fantastic for us, and I was thinking about how the kids could use these yogurt packets for different dishes.
Ultimately, what I want to impart on my kids in the kitchen is to see food as ingredients for anything.   I want them to think, “what else can I do with this?” for every item of food.  This keeps their culinary creativity fresh, and they will be able to explore the world of food with an open, and exciting, mind when they are older.
It was astonishing how successful this was with everyone.  I was actually surprised how much I liked liked it!  Yogurt is an extremely healthy food, and packed with protein which is going to help the kiddos grow up big and strong.  The thing is, usually I don’t buy tubed yogurt for the kids, but Chobani has good yogurt with non-GMO ingredients and fresh fruit, and I trust it with my kids.  I was very impressed with the quality of yogurt, and how it wasn’t loaded with sugar or unpronounceable ingredients.
I just don’t buy into gimmicky stuff with characters on it…but I will submit that the kids loved the yogurt, and the Marvel characters on the packets.  And we are all Marvel geeks over here, so I can’t disagree with this 😉
So, this all being said, these are 3 dishes I came up with for the kids!
1) Get A Grip On Your Dip
 2) Superhero Fruity Gyro
 3) Black and Blueberry Yogurt Shortcake Party
(I didn’t have to name these…but, seriously? I name everything. I named our cars Black Thunder and Red 5. Because it’s awesome)
1) Get A Grip On Your Dip
We are a big family, and we are a busy family! It is important to have healthy snacks to keep us going. Veg and yogurt dips are the perfect solution for snacking on the go.
3 different types of yogurt dips for kids, made from the Chobani Kids Yogurt.  The squeezable pouches make it easy for the kids to be hands-on in making their own recipe without making a mess.  This is helpful especially with little hands so they have the positive satisfaction of completing it on their own.
The 3 dips with veg:
-Strawberry yogurt dip with slices of bananas
-Vanilla Chocolate Dust yogurt dip with slices of strawberries
-Banana yogurt with Nilla wafers
Review: This went over incredibly well.  The kids absolutely loved this snack, and I liked how easily they could use the yogurt themselves without making a mess or wasting yogurt.  They actually didn’t like the vanilla-chocolate yogurt very much…but I did!
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2) Superhero Fruity Gyro
Creating healthy lunches is vital to healthy kids.
Teaching kids how to eat fun, healthy meals is crucial!  With this recipe, the kids will help me mix melons, apples, mangoes and pineapples with mint and feta in a lettuce wrap, and top it off with Chobani Kids Yogurt for the finishing touch to their healthy, protein rich fruity gyro.
Review: I think this was the most fun and the most filling of the dishes.  The kids all loved putting together their gyros on their own, and it was a little messy, but totally worth it.  I made a dish for myself afterward, and I was surprised how alert and energetic I felt after!  Definitely a better afternoon snack than chips and black coffee (*cough*….what?).  We will actually be using this as a regular meal item after this, for sure.
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3) Black and Blueberry Yogurt Shortcake Party
Yogurt between friends make the best friends with yogurt!
The best way to have fun with friends is to have a party with them! We will have a buffet of blackberry and blueberry sauce (cooked ahead of time), Chobani Kids Yogurts, and shortcakes with a little whipped cream on the side.

Review: This was obviously the most popular dish, since I let the kids have dessert in the middle of the day.  I would highly suggest this for desserts, playdates, special occasions, birthdays…really, it was super simple and incredibly tasty.

So, for this one there was a little bit of prep to get it started:
  • Homemade jelly
  • Homemade whipped cream
  • Chobani Kids Yogurt
  • Shortcakes

IMG_3996Homemade Jelly:  Frozen berries, 1/2 cup lemonade, 1 cup of white sugar. Boil for 15 minutes and let cool.

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 Homemade Whipped Cream: Take heavy whipping cream, add 1 tsp of vanilla, and use an electric beater until it forms peaks.

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 Let the kids pour the yogurt into the shortcake, then spoon the jelly on top, and then a dollop of whipped cream!

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 Dessert!

Fin.