Wednesday, December 14, 2011

State of the Blog

Sometimes I go back and forth about why I have this blog at all. I didn't really want to be all out there in internet land. I didn't want to share what I was writing with others. I didn't want any criticism. This type of writing doesn't always allow for the detailed re-write process that I like to exercise. And it doesn't keep my words private until I'm ready to share. My thoughts are out there and I'm quite exposed, so in a way I am unable to be truly real. It's a strange type of feeling, to be so vulnerable, which is why I haven't told anyone that this blog exists.

Then I thought if I had a subject, then maybe I would feel focused and able to write consistently. And maybe it would be interesting and people would want to read about it. And it would at least get me writing every day, right? And that would be good practice in being a legit-real-life writer someday, right?

When I started all of this, I picked my home to be my muse, this Green Acres land. I was excited to take so many pictures and write about what we were growing and what we were learning and what I was making with our garden glories.

And then we had the strangest season.

Our tomatoes didn't grow.

Our zucchini and squash developed a case of cutworm (strangely, not appetizing).

Our corn didn't germinate.

Our apples didn't bud.

Our grapes didn't fruit.

What the? How did? But yes, we did, we utterly and completely messed up a lot of things in our garden this spring and summer.

And now we sit in winter's solitude, trapped inside with nothing to show for it but our potatoes. And my blog sits here lacking a whole lot of what I had planned for it. I'm not quite sure what to do with it all. I think it is important to keep writing but am not certain this format is working for me. I don't expect feedback. I am using this post as another writing exercise: to throw out everything within onto the page and see what it looks like in morning's light.

Here's to a clear morning!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Ornaments: The Child Edition

I love setting up a Christmas tree. At Green Acres, this process is pretty simple. We store our tree in a closet upstairs and it is pre-lit. Saves a lot of time, effort, and brain cells.

Putting up the tree was such a production when I was growing up. We had to clean up the living room and then form an assembly line from the garage in through the kitchen. Five kids made this assembly line pretty efficient. Dad would go up into the attic and grab tree branches and hand them down and we would scurry back and forth piling all the same-sized branches in separate piles in the living room.

Then Dad would come in and set up the base. We would hand him branches to put in the right places and sometimes we would help put them in, until we couldn't reach anymore. Then Dad would put the top of the tree on and mess with it for a while, smoothing out branches and making sure it looked "just so."

Once the tree was assembled, we were banished from tree set-up until Dad had put the lights on. This was always an excruciatingly long process. He would check to make sure all the bulbs were lit, string a bit, take it off, re-do it and on and on. We would come in and check on him, see if he was almost done, fling open the ornament box and plan which ones we would hang first, fight over a few, get sent to our rooms, get sent to the basement to grab a different string of lightbulbs, and on and on.

Finally we could put ornaments on. I had my favorites. I loved the little pram with a top you could flip back and forth. I loved the little cheesemaker you could spin around and around. And I loved the little china doll in the red and white checkered dress. And then I played with the ornaments the rest of the Christmas season.

Yes, you read that right. After the painful process of putting up the tree correctly (and I didn't even get into the tinsel catastrophes) I would remove ornaments from their place and use the Christmas tree as my own personal dollhouse. Even baby Jesus was snatched from the little barn house in front of the tree for my reindeer games. He liked to play hide and seek - as in, I would hide him on the tree and have another sibling find him. Is this sacrilegious? In any case, the little china doll was married to the clown whose legs moved up and down with a string, and that was why they had the pram, except baby Jesus didn't fit in the pram, which was very unfortunate.

I wonder if I will have a little girl someday who plays with the ornaments on the tree. I wonder if I will be upset with this practice, after the effort of putting up the tree. I look at some of the ornaments that we have... and I think that they are just begging for little hands to pull them down. The Mister has quite a classic car collection... and I have a few fun ones, including this little guy, Mr. Pengy.

For now, it's just me naming my ornaments. You should see the Gatlinburg Grizzly, and the Marshmallow Man! Perhaps this post should be called: Why I Need Therapy: Christmas Ornament Edition?


Thursday, December 1, 2011

O Christmas Tree

Last year was our first Christmas together. We didn't have a lot of decor and we didn't have a large budget for decor... but we really wanted a tree. Aloud, we said we would wait until after Christmas and pick out a tree on sale. We walked around Home Depot one night, found a beautiful 7.5 ft tree with LED white lights. We agreed it was perfect. We were excited that our tree desires were the same. We said to each other that we would return after Christmas day, when the tree would be marked down in price.

Our unspoken desires were also the same, but we didn't know it at the time: it really wouldn't feel like Christmas without a tree. 

We only had a few holiday gatherings planned at our own home. Everyone knew we were newlyweds. We didn't really need a tree. Still, that childlike spirit that comes around each Christmas was revealing itself in both of us: we really wanted a tree for Christmas. 

On the outside, we proceeded with our plan. I found some ornaments in the Target $1 section, "for next year," and Mister continued to price out trees, "for after Christmas." 

Thanksgiving arrived, along with the numerous advertisements. Grandpa directed us to the front page of the Home Depot ad - "7 ft tree with LED white lights: $49.99." It was not quite like the tree we had our eye on, but a solid substitution.

Still, we were not black Friday shoppers. Mister decided that IF he woke up on his own without an alarm clock being set for so early THEN he would perhaps go out and purchase this tree on sale for such a fabulous price. We went to sleep with visions of turkey, turkey-trot run, and our (maybe) tree.

Mister woke up at 5:13am.

He left our house.

He went to Home Depot, picked up the tree, paid for it at self-check-out with a gift card we had received from our wedding (read: free tree!!!!)

He crawled back in bed next to me at 5:37am.

Around 9am, we awoke joyously and ran downstairs to look at the tree box. We set up the tree. We gathered ornaments we had collected for years and put them on our tree. Many of these ornaments had never seen a tree before, though they had been owned for years. These were ornaments I was told to save, "for when you have your own tree someday." 

And my, it is lovely to have my own tree. Mister and I stood back to admire our tree, surprisingly we had a good distribution of ornaments, evenly spaced, plenty of color. Further confirmation that we were made for each other, and that this tree was made for us.  

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Question of the day...

 


Blurry cell phone picture taken so that I could look up the answer at home. Friend leaned across counter at Starbucks and asked as we awaited our Peppermint Mochas and received the answer immediately: so be it.

Further internet searching reveals duplicate meanings: verily
or the more common: truly.

How wonderfully fitting that we end our prayers with this word, confirming that yes, so be it, verily, truly, You are our God and we offer You praise.
 

I love this season we've entered in, the season of Advent. Four weeks of waiting, anticipating, and celebrating our God's arrival on this earth, and also waiting and anticipating His return. It is only fitting that this season - no - HIS SEASON be celebrated with festive lights and decoration, beautiful songs and opportunities to be with friends and family as His peace covers us all. Amen.




O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.




Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving

It's kind of funny how things appear when you look back. My memories of this holiday week are full of warmth... which is funny because my dad has the same thermostat philosophy as my husband (turn it low low low low low low low low - Flo Rida style!) so it wasn't very warm at all. In my memory though, it is warm and cozy, and my siblings and I are gathered in the living room watching whatever show we are currently addicted to, "Ed" or "JAG" or something while my father tries to get us to help him rip up bread for stuffing.

That was one of my Thanksgiving jobs. Ripping up bread. And sometimes eating little bits of it because for stuffing Dad sometimes bought white bread. NEVER allowed in our kitchen except for this one purpose so it was quite the treat. My parents ran around cleaning and cooking and preparing... and I watched television and gorged myself on white bread.

We would go to church on Thanksgiving and I would try to rush us out as soon as possible so that we wouldn't miss the entire Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Why I thought this parade was so important is beyond... oh wait. It's because they have teeny-bopper musical guests lip-sing for about a minute each at various points of the parade. Oh yeah. That's why it was important. You never knew the line-up and I certainly didn't want to miss my faves.

My second job was to create place cards. We were so creative. They were beautiful. And then my mother let us try and seat all of our relatives by ourselves. When family arrived they always wondered why the seating arrangement was so bonkers - I mean why would you seat a one-year-old without a parent in at least a three person radius?

I know that in those moments, I wasn't thankful at all. I took it all for granted. I wish that I had a spirit of gratitude in my younger years for all of the time I was able to spend with my siblings and cousins. Though we live in an age where technology can connect us across states and countries, it certainly is not the same.

I feel warm just thinking about these events. It was so much fun to have the whole family together, with tables lined up and stretching across the great room, a fire raging in the wood burning stove, and a delicious dinner to share.





Thursday, November 17, 2011

My ABCs of Thankful

(Because I am way too focused on the December holiday and need to slow down and appreciate this one first)

A - Apple trees in my yard
B - "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott, encouraging me to write very bad first drafts everyday
C - Cards in my mailbox
D - Doggies and Down comforters (file under: things to snuggle with)
E - Etsy
F - Family and Friends
G - Green Acres, my home :)
H - Harvest time
I - Ice skating season ~ soon!
J - Jewelry: a new found appreciation
K - Kitchen victories
L - Leaves in reds and yellows on the running trail
M - Menchies, the new frozen yogurt place
N - Nephew :)
O - Opportunities for new adventures
P - Peaceful Pond
Q - Quiet times
R - Running and the ability to run
S - Starbucks (in red cups! - oh shoot! Must focus on current holiday!)
T - Teachers
U - User friendly websites (it was either that or underwear..)
V - Vacations
W - Weekends
X - Xtra scoops of cheesy potatoes
Y - YouVersion - a saving face app :)
Z - Zumba! I am liking this dance class

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Grateful

There is nothing quite like the Midwest

when the sun is setting and streaks of orange, pink and purple stretch across the sky

and the air is cool but not cold

and I have arrived at home with minimal traffic

with enough time to get in a run before yoga

and the run is encouraging and I feel strong.

There is nothing quite like running through quiet streets

and seeing another neighbor enjoying his run too

while we are both wearing shorts in November

and it all brings me a sense of deep satisfaction and peace.



Monday, November 14, 2011

Forts

It's raining hard tonight. The noise on our flat roof is loud and sounds like it is a very treacherous storm. It seems like today would be a good day for building a fort. An inside fort. I don't know why I think this, because I only had outside forts when I was a child.

The first outside fort was in the woods in my backyard. It wasn't really a fort, rather a clearing in the woods that we called our fort. It was an oval shape with some old pieces of cement block that we used as chairs. It had a bathroom, rather a hole in the ground about three inches deep. The bathroom was only to be used by boys. I didn't really know why, but I didn't question it since I didn't really want to go to the bathroom out there anyway.

One day, the fort disappeared. The boys had been in the woods and reported there were flags everywhere. Someone had invaded. And soon, all the trees were gone and so was our oval fort with a men's room.

The next time I made a fort was at my cousin's house. We split into pairs and ran into the woods as if it were a fort building competition. The fort I made with my cousin was probably the worst of the three. Not so much a fort as a circle of sticks standing upright in the ground. The boys made a teepee. The other girls used a fallen log as a base. So much creativity. Fort building creativity. Fort building creativity that I lack.

I wanted to be good at building forts because I wanted to have my own space. Our house had too many people, too many voices, too much noise. I wanted to be able to sit by myself. I wanted secrets. And I wanted quiet.

My poor fort making abilities meant I had none of this.

Tonight, I sit in my quiet fortress of a home, as usual, wishing for what I don't have: my people, their voices, and the noise that means we are all safe at home together.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

City Dreaming

I tell the Mister that I wish I had lived in the city. Just for a short while. I follow city dweller blogs and crave their apartments high in the sky, their elevator rides, their grocery store trips by foot. Let's not even start on their glamorous wardrobes. I think it would be an exciting lifestyle. So many people around. So many restaurant options. So much noise.

When I spent a few nights in New York City I loved the sound of the streets below me. It was New Years, December to January, and I slept with a window open so that I could hear the sirens, the car horns, and the movement.

I am grateful. There are lovely things about suburbs too. Shopping is easier with a car than just my hands holding bags laden with groceries. The air is cleaner. There are more parks and trails for running. Children can play in the neighborhood streets fairly safely, which is wonderful for bike riding and large chalk murals.

But I am also grateful that our home is close to the highway. Because in the winter, when the trees drop their leaves, I can hear city. I hear the motorcycles, I hear the trucks, the sirens, the car horns, and all that movement.

And I couldn't think of a sweeter sound to be the soundtrack of my dreams.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Swim Lessons

Some days when I come home from work I wish that it would be like coming home from swim lessons.

Swim lessons, swim team really, was a full body workout. A full body workout right around lunchtime, so I never ate very much before lessons, because who wants to swim on a full stomach. After swim lessons, it was chow-down time. 

One sibling would grab the mail from our box so that we would have something to read for chow-down time. We had our favorites: Parents magazine was good, Real Simple was excellent, and of course any newsletter or personal note addressed to my mother was fair game. If it was a slow mail day we would gather our most recent library books. 

Almost always, we had Adventures in Odyssey playing. And for our snack: cheddar rice cakes and goldfish. And oh my word. We absolutely consumed the rice cakes and goldfish. Often a second bag of rice cakes was needed. Or a bag of popcorn. Or two bags of popcorn. We were famished. It didn't matter that mother was preparing dinner as we were snacking because we were so hungry. We would sit there, reading, listening, and snacking for a solid hour. 

And as much as I like rice cakes, Odyssey and reading, the best part was that we were relaxing. We were clearing our minds. We were giving our bodies a chance to make it to the end of the day. 

When I come home from work I go for a run or start making dinner. It is not restful. It doesn't help me to clear my mind. And it doesn't give me an extra oomph! to make it to the end of the day. And the worst part? You can't find those rice cakes anywhere. Off the market. Completely. 


Some days I just need a good rice cake, and an hour to truly enjoy it.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Trick or Treat

I never celebrated Halloween. I never went Trick or Treating, never made a costume, never had any Halloween decor lying about the house. My mother was not a fan of this holiday. And by not a fan, I mean that we would high-tail it out of our neighborhood every Halloween evening before the costumed children came begging and return after they had gone to bed. Now, to be fair, my parents did dress my brother as a pumpkin when he was very small but he didn't make it long into the night before being a tired little whiner and my father ate most of the candy. After that experience, my mother stuck to her convictions and created a Halloween tradition for our family: a night of family bonding.

For many, many, many years we went to Marc's Fun Time Pizza Plaza, a predecessor to Chuckie Cheese's. And we had a blast, playing games and earning tickets and cashing them in at the end of the night for twisty straws and bouncy balls. We moved on to bowling with another family who didn't celebrate Halloween. We felt like we were almost-normal since we had met someone like us who did not Trick or Treat. Plus, their mother always gave each of us a gigantic bag of candy since she was not opposed to that part of the holiday. 

Last year was my first without the family bonding evening. I bought candy and was anxiously awaiting the time when I could open my door, admire the costumes and hand out yummy candy. We had six little Trick or Treaters come by. And I didn't see a single one. Mister was working in the yard that evening and brought the candy bowl outside with him. He saw every single costume. All six of them. 

We don't have sidewalks in our neighborhood, and the majority age group around these streets is 65+. There are not a lot of children, (obviously, with only six little ones running around on Halloween night!) and there is not a safe place for them to walk. I am not sure exactly what we will do when we have little ones. I know I will want to dress them as little ladybugs and pea-pods but oh what to do about this no sidewalk issue!! My parents still live in the neighborhood where I grew up, overpopulated with children at all times and sidewalks all over the place and neighbors ready to hand you your own bag of Snickers because they are so very generous. Solution: we will take our family and Trick or Treat in my parent's neighborhood. My mother cannot know about this. I will bribe my father to keep the secret with candy. This is a perfect plan.

Until then, please come by Trick or Treaters! I bought some candy and I have a pretty carved pumpkin to greet you!



Also, I have to add that this was the first pumpkin I ever carved and I am very proud of myself.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

First-World Problems


We spent last week wandering. 

Aimlessly wandering.

And wondering. 

Wondering what we did without our iMac.

Let me take you back to the fall of 2009. Newly engaged and excited for what was to come, we received an early Christmas present – an iMac. We picked out the size we wanted at Best Buy and loaded up the box in the backseat. The Mister strapped it in with the seat belt and I laughed "it’s our baby! Our baby iMac." 

So you see this iMac is really our first child. 

And on Sunday October 9, we spent the entire day hiking the metropark trails and enjoying the sunshine. We arrived home that evening and our baby iMac wouldn’t turn on. Mister wrapped up our baby in a blanket for it’s extended stay at the Apple store. It didn’t help that our troubles were the same week as Apple’s software update and iPhone 4s release. Needless to say, our baby iMac was not Apple’s first priority. 

Oh and the comments! Don’t you have an external hardrive? Yes. And didn’t your iMac come with Time Machine? Yes. Then why didn’t you… We know! We know we should have backed everything up!

We waited, we paced, we didn’t know how to spend our evenings. What if everything was gone? We didn’t know how much money we could spend because we couldn’t look at our budget spreadsheet. I cried over pictures from our honeymoon in the mountains, our trip to beautiful Michigan, and our many MANY pictures of our garden – flowers, potato planting, strawberries changing colors. They could all be gone.

On Saturday the 15 we got the call and raced to the Apple store to pick up our baby. And our hardrive, which is now separate from our baby. So now we face the question: how much will we spend before we accept that our first year of marriage has been erased forever?

We know our problems are so first-world. We have our wedding and engagement photographs (thank you wonderful photographers for giving us a disc!!). We’ve re-created our iTunes library. We have our home.  We have each other. We’re doing ok, really.

But for goodness sakes people… be sure to back your stuff up!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Too Much Fun

Throughout the day, the Mister prods me for details, "what are you thinking about?" or "tell me about your day" and "are you thinking or just spacing out?" and always I don’t have much to say. Until my head hits the pillow. Strangely, magically, I turn into a chatterbox. And all I want to do is talk about my day, who I saw, funny things I said, our favorite memories of this date or that date or when we first knew we loved each other, what we want to name potential future children, and on and on. And all Mister wants to do is sleep. And then I get upset. And then Mister apologizes. But he can’t remember what I was wearing on our first date. And he doesn’t think what I said earlier that day was very funny. And then he falls asleep.

And I lay there. Staring at the ceiling. Not sure what to do.

Because I grew up with sisters. And I always shared a room. And we always spent an hour after "going to bed" talking or playing. And we had so much fun. And when we were especially small my mother or father would knock on the door and say in their most intimidating parent voice "Girls! It’s time to go to sleep!" And we would be quiet for about two minutes and start the fun all over again.

There was the shopping game: take the tag from the bedspread and use it as a shopping list. Walk around the bed picking out four oranges and a box of raisins and everything else on the list. One sister is the shopper and the other is the cashier. Then we switched.

There was the fake dollhouse game: Pretend that there are people who are one inch tall and they live in a house as big as our bedroom. What would they do with that many rooms? How many children do they have? We decide that both of our "peoples" families will live in the same house but on different floors. Which floors do you want? I decide that the father of my family is Omar Vizquel. My family is instantly a million times more cool than my sister’s family, but I let them stay in the giant house anyway.

We tell our parents we can't sleep without our favorite baby dolls, proceed to play with baby dolls all night, "my baby needs a diaper change," "my baby is learning how to walk," and then in the morning both baby dolls are on the floor. I think this was the first indication that I would not be a good snuggler. Sorry Mister.

We tell our parents we can't sleep in the dark. We need the nightlight to be on at all times. No Daddy, you can't turn it off when you go to bed. We NEED it. And then we use the nightlight to read stories until very late at night, and then "GIRLS! IT'S TIME TO GO TO SLEEP!"

We always got in trouble for having too much fun.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Kitchen Victories

I get real excited when my kitchen creations mirror something I grew up with.

Tonight: Indonesian Stew over Rice. Translation: Hachee. Yummy? Absolutely!



Feels like a success. The meat wasn't quite so tender, the carrots weren't quite as cooked, but the eaters were happy! I continue to surprise myself by creating food that is edible. I'll never forget the day I set spaghetti on fire in my parent's kitchen. Babysitting, dogsitting, and kitchensitting didn't jazz that night. Picture Olympic torch in the shape of uncooked spaghetti noodles and you are picturing the exact details of the night. Enter a yapping dog and a crying toddler and you can see why I've been a little skittish around the cosina.

Tonight was a victory!

Great Work

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on."


Steve Jobs | 1955 - 2011

I saw this quotation here. 

I've been hoping for something that makes me excited to get out of bed in the morning, something that makes me proud, something that I can look at and say, "this is great work." I believe in great work. I still have to find it, but I do believe. 


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Season

Today was a perfect fall day. 
All the rain that has been pouring down for the past week has clogged my mind with misconceptions about this season.
It is a lovely time of year.
The sun is shining and the leaves are changing colors.
The girls walk around in boots and scarves (the latter being my favorite accessory of all time).
I don’t sweat very much when I run.
The Mister made me a mug of hot chocolate when I came in from a rainy run last week.
The fall hiking spree has begun and the Mister and I have enjoyed two walks through some splendid Midwestern scenery.
Soups are on the stove again – I am excited to make broccoli&cheese and wild rice&chicken.
A fire in our wood burning stove makes a comforting crackling sound. 
Kids are back in school.
I wish I was back in school. I love the first day of class and the first day of mid-terms and the first day of finals.
I fell in love in the fall – in fact, truth: I fell in love every fall for four years in a row.

There is a promise of new in the fall air – new semester, new classes (when I was younger) new focus, new commitments (now). I'm hoping for more things new.

This is a picture of my most favorite of fall days – spending time in an enchanted yellow forest and falling in love for the last time.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Toothbrush

We had a family bathroom when I was little. One bathroom with two many toothbrushes for the toothbrush holder and drawers full of hair bows, deodorant and after shave. Truly a wild assortment. We also had a guest bathroom that remained fresh and clean at all times because we were not even allowed to look inside. As I reflect on this I wonder why my parents would not want their own bathroom space. Why would they choose to have their bathtub so cluttered with tear-free shampoo and bath toys? Why would they want five towels hanging around? Or a baby potty right next to the regular toilet? Plus, the only way into the family bathroom was to walk through their room. They were woken up many times to the sound of a little one making a midnight potty run or even worse, the sounds of a little one being sick. Yet I think the greatest inconvenience to my father was that his toothbrush was fully accessible to us.

I am not sure what the story was or why the toothbrush was a point of contention between my father and his mother, my grandmother. What I do know is that every time my grandmother visited she requested that me or my brother or my sister run along and fetch our father’s toothbrush for her. She would inspect it carefully and determine whether we had to throw it out or put it back. “Look at these bristles,” she would say with a frown while my father protested in the background, “LEAVE IT ALONE!” Grandma usually won and I would skip happily to the garbage can with toothbrush in hand, feeling a little devious but happy to be part of the conspiracy against my dad.

This strange exchange when my grandmother walked in the door made me feel that my dad was more relatable. He was just a bigger kid who was still getting in trouble with his mom. I felt like it put us on an equal playing field. Until I didn’t wait for my grandmother to come over and inspect the toothbrush and I just threw it away without her guidance. Then it was me, in trouble with my mother, for throwing away my dad’s toothbrush.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Avacad-oh-no



I had to stop at the store on my way home to get meat for burgers on the grill. A delicious summer meal (don't care what everyone thinks - summer is not over until I go on my vacation!). I wasn't feeling too cheery today so I bought an avocado to make the meal even more delish. And while it looks perfectly pretty and smooth... it was not ripe. In fact, it was very hard and not even tasty. Drat. So I skipped my run and am listening to Sufjan on repeat. Please come quickly my vaca...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Story Time

I've been thinking back to the summer nights when the daylight lasted forever and I tried desperately to trick my parents into letting me stay up just a bit later. Most often, it was with a million pleadings all beginning with, "tell me the story of when..." followed by some family event or milestone in my growing years.

Tell me the story of when I ate plants.

Tell me the story of when I learned to read. (Age 4 by the way... genius = me)

Tell me the story of when I was born.

And part of the reason I needed to know so much about my origins and place in the family is because for years I was completely confident that I was adopted. This theory has been blown to bits as I've aged and developed into a female version of my daddy. At the time it really seemed logical to have been picked up off the street in a Moses basket. And the other part of the reason I needed to know where I came from and how I belonged to my parents is because deep down we all just want to belong to something or to someone.

Because I remember reaching for the hand of a parent because I belonged to them and needed to stay with them so I didn't get lost.

And I can remember going to college and trying out numerous clubs and social groups trying to fit into somewhere.

And I still love to say to my husband "I'm yours" and rest knowing that we belong to each other forever even though they don't play that Jason Mraz song anymore.

I guess we can do that with God too but the stories wouldn't always be so pretty.

Tell me the story of when I denied you.

Tell me the story of when I decided my way was better.

And still, tell me the story of how I am your child and tell me about the great love you have lavished on me.

It feels good to belong.



Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Year at Green Acres

It's a little crazy to realize but I've been living on Green Acres for almost a year now. This is my first summer with no air conditioning and I'm doing really well. I surprised myself with my own adaptability. I came up with a new summer hairstyle that doesn't involve my (very hot) straightening iron, I have gone for several swims in the muddy-ish pond, and worn tank-tops as if I were in high school (aka all the time). Needless to say, I'm feeling very proud of myself.

The garden is way more overwhelming than I anticipated. Actually, I don't know how I can even say that because really, I make the Mister do most things everything. We the Mister have been fighting with groundhogs over our sweet potato plants. He tries to stop them from making holes under the fence and eating up the plants while I stand on the sidelines and whimper about a fall harvest that will have store bought sweet potatoes for my sweet potato fries, souffle, and everything else I was going to make with my home grown sweet potatoes. I am really good at picking the berries. Maybe that is the only thing I am really good at so far. In fact I was doing that earlier this evening and feeling very proud of myself. Such a treat to have fresh blueberries and raspberries and save money in my food budget by growing them at home!

As for renovations - there has definitely been a halt in progress. The garden and yard upkeep is so time consuming... but I have been working on my ideas! I bought foam and fabric to make a cushion for a built-in bench by the fireplace. I guess the bench is actually for storing wood but when we start making fires in that fireplace I'll just move my cushion. So far in one year we have not used that fireplace at all. When you have three you can be kinda choosy so I am choosing to make that the decorative fireplace. I also spray-painted a mirror black and Mister hung it up for me in our front hall. The little touches do make a big difference. I am working on acquiring more to hang up on the walls because I think that will really help. For my birthday I am wishing for many gallery frames to fill up my upstairs hallway with family photos and such. I think it will look really great when I get it together but even still I am feeling very very very proud of myself. 

It's been a great first year :-)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Garage Sale-ing

It's a verb. It's something I did with my pennies as a child and now I do it with my pennies as an adult. This is a strange phenomenon. Growing up in an affluent neighborhood I never expected to seek out "used" items for my future home, but this is the real world. And in the real world the economy is junky and everything is expensive. And in the real world I don't make anything close to the money I grew up with. And in the real world, it's not so bad to stop by a few garage sales to see the offerings.

Still, it's a strange phenomenon. I had to take the Mister with me to stop me from buying something in every garage. I overdose on generosity. Or maybe I'm just a sucker. In any case, I can't walk out of some little old white-haired lady's garage without buying something to make her feel good about her former belongings. Which is why the Mister has to come and help me realize that tarnished silver serving pieces will never be used in our home and a small Amish made table and chairs isn't a good fit for a home with no children. How do you just walk out? I view this as a huge insult - "you have no taste." I say "thank you" to everyone when we leave their garage. I don't know exactly what I am thanking them for, I guess for the opportunity to peruse their things, but I feel I must say it.

We did wind up with a beautiful mirror for our front hall, Christmas stockings that I adore (and that still have tags on them), a little pitcher perfect for the homemade grape juice we've been hoarding since last year, and a small cutting board with a sweet depiction of Holland, windmill in the distance and all. I spent $14.50. Thank you.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Strawberry Delight

It's so nice to have a little strawberry patch. We are yielding more than we expected which is another fun surprise. I was able to make a fresh fruit pie - one of the Mister's faves. This photo is a "before" shot - before it went in the fridge for a while to cool and allow the jello to solidify around the berries.


This little fresh fruit pie reminds me of growing up and going berry picking with my mother. She loves fresh fruit and knows what a deal it is to go to a "U-Pick" type of place. We drove for hours in a stuffy van to random farms. I think the farm hands cringed when she opened the side of our 12 passenger van. My mother would always encourage us to bring a friend or two, she knew it was cheap labor. She would give them a small pint of whatever berries we picked to take home to their family. Due to the large number of youngsters we always received a lecture from farm hands about how one) we couldn't eat any berries until we had paid for them and two) how we shouldn't pick any berries that are not ripe yet. Last summer I went blueberry picking with my mother and sisters. We came away with close to 30 pounds of blueberries. My mother is serious about the "U-Picks."

I hated being outside in the heat with bugs buzzing around my head trying to attack me for stealing berries from them. I was embarrassed to have brought friends along for such an activity. What would they think of me and my family? Would they think we were too poor to buy berries at Giant Eagle?

Today I am grateful. My mother taught me how to be a master berry picker. Our blueberries are almost ready and I am hoping to arrange a mommy&me date. I may even give her two pints of berries!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Memorial Day

What did Mr. and Mrs. decide to do on Memorial Day, the hottest day of the year so far?

Oh, run a 5k, mow some of the lawn, tie up daffodil leaves, and start the garden. We were a sweaty mess, but we've got potatoes planted. We've got brilliant sunburns too. :-)


Dear Graduate

Dear Graduate,

Welcome to this summer. It's your last summer to be a child. So go ahead and let it out, be a bit reckless, make a few mistakes. In a few short months, you will transition into an-almost-adult lifestyle. More will be expected of you in each day going forward. You will never be able to return to the carefree life you live now.

Savor this summer. And the next three summers. After that, you won't know what summer is. Summer will just be a hot day when you're dressed in a professional costume sitting in an air-conditioned office while you hear the shouts of youth from the streets.

Dear Graduate, I'm so jealous of you, running around in shorts and Old Navy flip-flops. It's not even worth it for me to buy Old Navy flip-flops - even on the days when they are on sale for one dollar - because the hours I will spend wearing them will be so very few. You probably think your life is so boring, but let me assure you, it's just beautiful.

Goodness. Getting old is tough.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Good Job Runners

source

My training had not been as smooth as the previous year. My legs ached and my ankles bled. I ran in either snow or in rain. There was no sunshine from January through mid-May. To say I had no great expectations for my second 1/2 marathon would be an understatement. I knew I would be lucky to have the same time as last year. A few days before race day, high on delicious Asiago Chicken Penne and rested from shortened runs, I decided I would just enjoy my city.

Lucky for me, I had trained in the rain. There was a light drizzle that Sunday morning, more like a mist. The temperature was cooler and perfect to warm up in. The start was uneventful. We took to a highway next to the lake but the mist was so thick the lake was hidden from us. All around me, people were commenting that while we don't have a glorious view and the weather is not picturesque, this was our city and that's why they were running. I agreed whole-heartedly.

We were rewarded as we ran west into the neighboring suburbs. There were spectators out! They held their umbrellas and huddled together tightly, but they were there holding handmade signs, ringing cowbells, cheering and clapping. It was beautiful. The misting rain showered us all with feelings of pride. This is our city.

There was one man sitting in a lawn chair in his front yard, no umbrella and no coat. He shouted the same thing, again and again: "Good job runners! Tremont loves you!" My friend who walked the 1/2 marathon and finished almost two hours after me said that while many folks had returned to warm cars and hot showers, that man was still sitting there shouting when she walked past. "Good job runners! Tremont loves you!"

That man makes it so easy to enjoy my city. We had a beautiful race.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Plight of the Twenty-Somethings

The American Dream still burns in all of us. We learned in school how life was supposed to work, we grew up truly believing that we could do anything we set our minds to, and here we are. Welcome to the quarter-life crisis. In my reading of this issue in college, I never thought it would affect me. Disillusioned, anyone? Is it time to move out of my first job? Is it possible to find something meaningful? Is there anyone out there who really does enjoy going to work everyday?

Maybe the problem is that I was raised to believe work was something you wanted to do. Isn't that what our parents and teachers said - what do you want to be when you grow up? Wasn't that the question at my high school graduation - what do you want to study? Now I am here, and what I want doesn't seem to exist in a real job. Who has my dream job? And when are they going to retire? Times are different and we are all holding tightly to our current jobs regardless of whether it is a good fit or we enjoy it. We fear unemployment. And we fear unemployment because of one more question - what do you do for a living? It's the standard opening line when meeting someone for the first time...

If life is made up of more than just a nine to five, should the job matter this much? If what we do is just one extension of who we are, why is what we do the only thing we mention to others? Unemployment often feels like failure. We fear failure. If it must be failure, it is just failure in one aspect of life. We don't have to fail our other responsibilities or commitments.

I want to live a life that is not defined by my job. As unsatisfying as my job is right now, focusing on the rest of my life is the only thing that will keep me sane. I live on a beautiful property. I am married to a wonderful man. I have two loving families. I am currently learning about how social media is a tool to aid non-profit organizations - on my own time. I am excited about my next big travel adventure. I am in the middle of decorating my first home and making it look like me and Mister. I run. I walk. I have quick access to beautiful trails.

I'm a twenty-something. I don't like my first job. And until I find something that makes me want to bake muffins and bring them to all my co-workers, I'll re-direct my thoughts so that I can remember daily that my life is beautiful.

Monday, May 2, 2011

We Don't Have tv

I would just like to point out, for the record, that with no television we still heard about the death of Osama bin Laden in a timely manner. Yes, we heard the news for the first time this morning. Yes, we were asleep by 10:15 last night. Yes, we still hold firmly to the belief that we don't need television.

No TV? Wellllll, we have a television box. But no cable. And no converter box. It works great for watching movies! Which we enjoy every Friday night, along with some pizza and popcorn. 

This is a shocking thing to most of our peers. Frankly, it’s an expense we are not willing to have right now. We  will sit down and watch movies together, but neither of us have a “show” that we have to tune in for every week. I hear my co-workers talking at lunch about The Bachelor or The Apprentice. I have nothing to contribute. And surprisingly I am all right with this. In high school I had a favorite show or two for every night of the week. My schedule was the TV guide. Now in our first year of marriage, it doesn’t have the appeal it once did.

We woke up this morning and had breakfast together, and didn't turn to media until we had parted for the day. Mister heard the news from the radio. I saw it on the Book. (Note: I am on the Book less since giving it up for lent... I really really am) I like that we are don't depend on television to relax our minds after work. We arrive home, we run, eat dinner together, and talk. We read - he reads the paper and I read my Real Simple  magazine. We may watch a movie and cuddle. We try to be in bed by ten. He has to be up at six for work and running makes us both tired.


I wonder if we would be so together if we had TV. And even with all this together time, we can’t wait for the weekend when we can spend MORE time together. We read emails together. We plan our budget together. We talk about how we want to decorate our house. Would we talk so much if we had television? What if I don’t want to find out? It would be an interesting experiment to have television for a time and see how our lives change. Would I become addicted to a stupid sitcom? Would he spend hours watching reruns of Family Guy? Would our television time be separate or would we watch together? 

I think we have a good thing right now. Someday, we may fit TV into our budget. I’ll savor the present. Our life without TV. Our first year together. Documented by trails carved in ice by our skates and mud on our running shoes, and not sedentary lives seated on the sofa. And we still heard the same news that everyone else did, maybe just a few hours later than most, but we both felt rested when we got up this morning. :)


We know exactly what we are missing out on, and I think it’s the best decision we have made.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Spring? Is that you?

We keep getting tricked into thinking it is spring, only to have to break out the winter coats yet again. This week, we had so many rain storms that there was very limited opportunity to enjoy warmer temperatures. I scampered around the yard cutting as many daffodils as I could before they were gone. I love daffodils and am thrilled that we have so many at Green Acres. Seriously. So many. I think I have cut close to 100 now with all the different vases I have filled and you really can't tell that I even made a dent in the gardens. Here are some encouraging sights we found in our yard:
These daffodils grow right outside the kitchen window. It has been fun to see them beginning to shoot up through the snow!


Apple tree starting to bud!!

We don't know what this tree is called, but it has these beautiful white flowers!


Of course, now that spring is here we have to get ourselves in gear and prepare for planting! We have apple trees, raspberry bushes and grape vines that Mister has already pruned and prepared for harvest. I hope that we plant a few tomatoes, some sweet potatoes, zucchini, and yellow squash. I have a creamy pasta recipe with zucchini and yellow squash that I can't wait to try!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

We Said Goodbye to the Book

It was getting really out of hand. Mister would open my car door, walk around to his side of the car and get in, and in that small amount of time I had already scrolled through the entirety of my newsfeed and commented on a posting. Mister would put gas in the car and I would update my status. Mister would get up from the breakfast table to pour more apple juice and I would quickly see if I had any notifications.

So that is why Mister, who is not a give-it-up-for-lent type of person, suggested we give up the Book for about forty days and nights.

I wrote a goodbye book status and deleted the app from my phone's home screen. I felt like the goodbye was rushed, as we made the decision pretty late in the day on "Fat Tuesday" but I had to let my peeps know I would be gone. I didn't want anyone to get offended if I didn't respond in two seconds.

It was difficult when co-workers would converse about a picture posted (in this case, an adorable new puppy that I desperately wanted to see too!!!) or a relationship status change (I hate being the last to know!) but after the forty days were over, was it really that bad?

We decided that it wasn't that bad after all, and resolved to spend less time on the Book. Without the Book, we read actual news, talked to each other more, and had to use our own brains to remember birthdays, due dates, and other items. It was very strange, and yet, peacefully quiet. There is a lot of information in my newsfeed that just feels like "noise" to me. And not a noise that I find uplifting. In fact, two days out, I resent my Facebook profile, as it has now become an item on my to-do list that I feel like I must tend to promptly.

Summer is coming soon, and with summer comes planting, weeding, and then enjoying our garden. It's going to be a lot of work, and I don't think I'll want to use my dirty fingers to be checking the Book for updates...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Little Girl Dreams

My little girl dream is to be Carrie Bradshaw. I'd love to live in the big city, own hundreds of pairs of beautiful shoes, take long lunches with my girlfriends, and have a truly exotic job as a writer.

Instead, I live in the country side of a suburb, own maybe sixteen pairs of shoes (including my moccasin slippers), have a regular sized lunch break and my work writing consists of emails and to-do lists.

This blog is my attempt at being Carrie Bradshaw. With newspapers going out of style like my gaucho pants, this is an easier way to get my voice out there. I'll write about life, love, and laughter, but mostly I'll write about how a suburban prep like me lives day to day at this home we call Green Acres.