Sunday, October 30, 2011

the Candy Witch!

A couple years ago, my friend Becky mentioned something about the Candy Witch visiting her house on Halloween night.

The Candy Witch?

I had no idea who she was. But I do now. And I am so glad.

Believe me--you want to meet her, too.

The general idea is this: your kids go trick or treating. They get buckets of candy. Approximately 314 more pieces of candy than they should ever eat. Enter the Candy Witch.

Let your kids choose some candy to keep. You can decide how much. We like 10 or 15 pieces. Then they have to put the rest in a big bowl and leave it on the front porch on Halloween night.

When they wake up in the morning, the candy has been whisked away, and in it's place??
A small gift for each child who decided to participate. (Last year they got new winter hats and gloves, along with a dollar store present.)

I have to tell you--I was a bit skeptical that my kids would give up their CANDY for ANYONE. But they loved it. Loved. And they're already so excited to see what the Candy Witch is going to bring this year.

And as far as what to do with the candy that the Witch whisks away?
Sort through it and keep the good stuff for stocking stuffers. ;)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Family Home Evening Chart: A(n attempt at a) Tutorial

The Spouse declared the other day, "We need some kind of official family home evening chart."
I mean, yeah. We've needed one for years, but I guess it's about time.

So I scoured the Internets. I wanted something kind of fun, but not cheesy. And permanent. (I can't go remaking those wheel charts every other week.) Plus, I tend to mess stuff up, so it had to be easy and require NO sewing or sawing.

Finally, I found one that I liked here. But I wanted to make it mine.

Here's how it turned out...

First I went and created this chart do-hicky using my free software, Gimp. (Because I am too cheap for real photoshop.) Easy peasy.

I printed that out on cute scrapbook paper (I chose a very pale aqua-ish stripey one.) When you print it out, the pattern of the paper shows through on the monogram. Cool.

Now for the hard part: magnet boards.
Remember when these were all the rage??? What happened to them?! Why can't you buy them anymore? Some people said I could go to Lowes and have them cut some metal sheeting for me. But I didn't find that out until, you know, I'd already found a different solution:

That, my curious friends, is a magnetic line minder. I got it at Hobby Lobby for $4.00 in the cross stitch aisle. That comes from wandering, aimlessly, looking for ANYTHING resembling a magnet board.

Happy with my purchase, I took my nifty chart and I Modge Podged that sucker right on there. Yep. Only I'd never USED Modge Podge before, so I put too much on and the chart got ruined. Awesome. Not to fear, a little wiping off of some glue, I still had my spare (not quite as cute and with the edges a bit cut off) first try chart. Good enough for me.

After it was dry-ish, I sealed the whole thing with one of those "Acrylic Sealer" sprays. Mine was matte. (I don't know. It's what I had in the closet from some old project.) It makes it more durable. Although--just a note--don't be all impatient and stick magnets to it while the modge podge is still damp and before you spray it. They leave a black smudge. I'm just sayin'.

Now for the magnets.

I tried to be all fancy, like my original source, and do silhouettes, but that isn't happening anytime soon. So I finally just wrote each person's initial on some paper, craft glued it to the back of a clear marble, and then stuck on a self-adhesive magnet from Lake Shore. (Those are awesome. You should pick up a pack.) Took me 5 minutes.

Here's the final result:

I know. The magnet board is 8x11, so no frame. Yet. I'm sure they exist...somewhere. But even un-framed, it's flat and simple and I can have it out in my home. That's nice.

So there you go. Give it a try. You'll like it. (And just in case you want to give it a try, shoot me a note and I'll even send you the chart with your initial in the corner.)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

Typical Me.

Today, I woke up and my first thought was "Yay! It's the first day of fall!!" I had planned a welcome fall party today for my kids and few friends. Just something small.

I thought about the 12 yards of black tulle that I used to make a cool wreath I found online. Something kind of spooky and new for our house. I thought about those 6 perfectly dipped caramel apples in our fridge, ready to be dipped in melted chocolate. Yum. Crafts, decorations, a fun fall movie. It is going to be a great day!

And then I got out of bed.
Which is when the reality of being me set in rather quickly.

The wreath... wilted... overnight.

Thing 3 puked at the breakfast table.

Out of desperation, I tried to eat one of the caramel apples for breakfast.
And almost broke a tooth.
These things are not edible.
AND, we have a flash flood warning because of rain "at rates of 1 to 5 inches per hour." At this point, I know exactly where that flash flood is going to happen.

To quote my favorite tv show, "Where's a cliff when you need one?"

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Other Septembers...

September 1999.

I am sad today.
I hope our whole country is sad today.
I was looking through old pictures last night, and came across this one. It's me when I was living in Los Angeles in 1999. A beautiful September day.

The world was a different place then.

I had no idea that two years later I would find myself living on the other side of the world on a glowing September morning, when a group of people would follow through on a decision I will never be able to comprehend.

We Americans didn't understand what it was to hate.
We really didn't.

And despite the people who tried to change that, I'd like to think we still don't.

Because love conquers hate. It will always win.
And it will always look forward, instead of back.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


Dear Munchkin,
You have inherited my cankles. My profoundest apologies.
(Really, though, I just had to take a picture of those dirty little feet. I love dirty little feet.)

In Case of Emergency...

*breathe in. breathe out. breathe in. breathe out*
Everyone (and I mean everyone) assured me that I would have moments where I freaked out. About homeschooling. Yep. They told me they would happen. I guess I thought that they would be justified. You know--that I would freak out on the days where we didn't get anything done and stuff.

But I didn't see them coming on clear blue sky, learning a bunch, feeling little nudges of inspiration that should be encouraging kind of days.

So, in my best Bridget Jones fashion, I refuse to be intimidated by something as lame as a panic attack, and I choose instead a good round of cleaning to a 90's dance mix while focusing on pictures like these...

And I tell myself, over and over, "You are not ruining your children, you are not ruining your children, you are not ruining your children..." (to the same beat as "This is the rhythm of the night...")

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Pink Panther and Castanets: a seminar

School starts at 9:00 at our house.
But, really, when your home is your school--your kids wake up at school.
And to your great disappointment, they may NOT be as interested in your carefully planned out, well rounded curriculum, as they are in, say, playing the castanets and watching Pink Panther.

(Yes. I actually photoshopped that.
If only you knew how close this was to the reality of my life.)

I'm just saying, SOME kids might be like that.
And some moms *might* need a Frosty to get through the day. Maybe.

And while I was out getting a Frosty, it came to my attention today that we *may* need another little session in manners and, specifically, where it is appropriate to pee and where it is NOT appropriate to pee. I had this realization as Thing 2 was wailing about how badly he needed to pee, precisely three minutes after we got in the car and four minutes after I asked him if he needed to go before we left, and Thing 1 was listing off places he could go. None of which was an actual bathroom.

I swear I thought we covered this.
Maybe they couldn't hear over the castanets.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Turn and turn again...

Sometimes, nothing turns out like you plan.
Not my life, though. I'm a planner.

Many years ago, my friend Taylor looked me in the eye and said "What are you going to do the first time God tells you 'no'??"

I guess I just figured, maybe He never would.

But fall is coming. And despite an almost desperate striving, I find that nothing much has changed.
The house has not sold.
The job is the same.
I have no pregnancy news to scrawl on the back of our thanksgiving cards.

I am afraid to think how this trend might apply to homeschooling.

Sometimes, nothing turns out like you plan. Sometimes, God tells us No.

Worn from walking this far
So worn from talking this much
And what we found and what we've seen
As the road curves down
And the lights come up to meet us
Silent for the evening
We enter this town like new born creatures
Those I know, Oh see anew
And the space between us is reduced
For I am human
and you are human too.
(All Thieves, Turn and Turn Again.)
(And yes, Carly. Inspired by you.)

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Today was one of those days that you wonder about, before you start homeschooling:
"What about the days when I wake up sick? What about the days when the kids don't want to do their work? How will I motivate them? What about the days when I'm moody and ornery and I bite their heads off??"

I had considered all these questions. I hadn't ever expected them to, you know, happen all at the same time. Which they did.

I kind of knew I was in trouble when I clawed my way towards consciousness and felt those sharp knife edges already making their presence known. Deep breaths.

I sat down at the breakfast table, still messy, while the kids watched cartoons, and flipped open a church magazine. This jumped off the page at me:
The first principle of the gospel is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith may be viewed as faithfulness in the face of uncertainty. It is following the Lord, going forward without knowing the outcome. Following the Lord and being faithful to the end are the qualities most linked to eternal life. Of all that Paul might have otherwise said in summing up his amazing life and ministry, he merely would say that he was faithful. He wrote:
“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:6–7; emphasis added).

Like Paul, we can be faithful. We can fight the good fight and stay the course, one day at a time. We can keep going come what may. Even when we think we can’t, we can." (Lawrence E. Corbridge.)

So that was my mantra today. I think I can, I think I can.
And we made progress. Albeit tiny. We did hard things, even if we didn't do all of them. We got the house beautiful for a showing, even though they didn't end up liking the house much. So, for today at least, I have fought a good fight.
I have finished my course.
And now it is time for some Nyquil.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Yes, Puck. That crazy hoodlum.

Shakespeare was a master and creating characters and dialogue. As an English major, I adore his sharp wit and incredible satire. But, I will admit, I never considered what it would be like to introduce my children to Shakespeare.

I think I always assumed it would happen in some high school class. Orange plastic chairs attached to desks. Motivational poster on the bulletin board. English teacher with barely concealed hippie past having the class read Romeo and Juliet, out loud, just for the joy of watching them blush before flipping on the edited version of the film, made in the 1960s.

That's how I met Shakespeare.
It's a miracle I ever learned to appreciate him.

But my kids met Shakespeare today. Ages 7, 4, and 2. And even more fun--they met Shakespeare via A Midsummer Night's Dream and the character of Puck.

As we lounged on a blanket on the floor, playing with blocks, and interrupting our reading to discuss some questions about volcanoes, they met these characters and rolled their names about in their mouths. Like candy.

In life, I believe there is a before Shakespeare, and an after.
Welcome to the after. Day 1.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ah, pickle juice.

Our house has been on the market since March.
Which means two things:
1. My house has been clean for 5 months. I know. Yay me.
2. I'm not sure how much longer I can hold it together.

I mean, really.

I was wondering this even before lightning hit our backyard a week ago and fried the power to the whole front of our house. (It's always fun to leave THAT note taped to the door for a showing..."Sorry about the lack of lights in the bathroom, laundry room, and front bedroom. Trust us when we say it looks nice!")

And then the Munchkin dropped a full jar of pickle juice on the (new) carpet. Right in front of the front door. (Because she wanted to drink it and knew I wouldn't let her so she was, therefore, hiding from me. Of course.)

We're going to be here forever.

Monday, August 15, 2011

In other news...

...and, just to make you feel better about yourself and the future of our country, I'm about to start homeschooling my children.

I mean, we've been homeschooling all summer. And in those two and a half months we have learned about dolphins, dragonflies, and butterflies, among other things. We have completed workbooks, proving that we can, actually, accomplish something that can be measured in pages. We have read real, honest to goodness books, and my 4 year old is sounding out words. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I might be teaching him to read. Maybe. Probably.

But homeschooling in the summer (when everyone else is just wasting time anyway) and homeschooling in the fall (when everyone is dressed in super cute new outfits and toting sharp new pencils in their clean backpacks) are two very different matters. Because if I don't put my daughter in 2nd grade next week then, oh boy, have I gone and done it. Because suddenly, we've stepped off the forward-moving school train. Her classmates from the past two years will move on without us. And I'm left with my doubts and insecurities and worries and, not the least, budget.

Plus, I have a sneaking suspicion that on that first day of school, when everyone else has gotten on the bus, I'm going to look down at my kids and they're going to look up at me, and we're both going to have the same thought:
Now what????

See?? Don't you feel better about your life?! *grin*

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Obligatory blog post.

I was in Utah last week for my younger brother's wedding.
It was lovely. Both the wedding, and the trip.

For the record, it also happened to involve more motorcycles than I am comfortable with.

My younger brother berated me for not blogging more. Apparently he's more bored at work than I'd like to think about. So, just for him.

Tonight, my son was sitting at the table, writing in his journal. Suddenly, he looked at me and said "Mama, Caleb is my fake name."
"Oh, yes? And what is your real name?"
"Satellite?? Where did you get that name? From planet earth, or a different planet?"
"Planet earth. From China."

That's it. I am now supposed to call him Satellite, which is fine, but how am I supposed to do that without singing it, a la the Dave Matthews song???

Monday, April 18, 2011


So, when we first moved to North Carolina, we started seeing stickers on cars. You know--the oval ones with black letters. They're everywhere. But all the ones here said the same thing: OBX.

It stands for Outer Banks.

But the Outer Banks are 7 hours from us. We could be to Washington DC in the same amount of time. Or only an hour from DisneyWorld. So we've never gone.

Besides--what's the big deal? A beach is a beach, right??? How great can it be?

We finally went.
And we loved it.

So, since I searched high and low for all the "best things to do, see, and eat" and couldn't find a good, concise list anywhere--here is mine.

Don't Miss (if you do nothing else, do these, and if you don't do them--lie and tell me you did...)
Currituck Lighthouse (I totally recommend climbing it) and the shops nearby.
Pig Man's Barbecue (oh. my. lawsie. I would drive 7 hours just for this. Eastern Carolina style heaven.)
Fishing on Nag's Head Pier at sunset. (You pay $10.00 for a 24 hour pass and rent a pole. You can buy tackle. Just to walk on the pier is $1.50 and it's cool to see what people catch.)
Kayaking the Pamlico Sound and exploring the waterfront of Manteo. (We loved this. So much.)
Best beach? We loved Currituck and Duck best.

Nice, but optional:
Bodie Lighthouse and Hatteras Lighthouse (I was surprised that I didn't love these more. Bodie Island was the cooler of the two, oddly enough.)
Roanoke Island Festival Park (We really liked this a lot, and the Adventure section was perfect for little kids. If you've got the time, I recommend.)
Owen's Restaurant in Nag's Head (I mean, it was good. But average entree was $25+. I thought it was a bit expensive for what you got.)
The Wright Brothers Memorial (The most impressive part, to me, was the monument. I loved the engraving: "Conceived by genius, achieved by dauntless resolution and unconquerable faith." Awesome.)
Jockey Ridge State Park (With teenagers? A blast. With little kids? A drag. The picnic sites were nice, though.)

The reasons we'll go back?
To see Ocracoke.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


The world is in turmoil.

Putting our house on the market.
Potty training.

Nothing seems right with the world.

But this week I was reminded on a time in my life. (A younger time.) When I used to tell myself that fear either meant STOP ("No, beloved idiot girl, don't move to Portland with no plans in place...") or fear meant GO ("Yes, scaredy cat, move to Los Angeles and take that job..."). It meant that I was absolutely moving in the direction that I shouldn't go... or that I should.

So, for now--for my sanity--I'm going to go with *should* on this one. Things are just as they should be. Even if they feel like they shouldn't be.

Monday, March 14, 2011

1,000 Words....

Yup. That's my life in a nutshell.

Oh good. It looks like "Dopey" and "Sleepy" are well and accounted for, what the heck happened to "Happy"?! Did "Grumpy" push his face off the table, or what? Good thing Prince Charming is willing to carry Snow White off into the sunset, even with all her 7 dwarf baggage and chunks of her that are completely missing...

I've gotta find those missing pieces. They must be around here somewhere.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

My Unedited Life: What?? This isn't normal??

So. A couple times in the (very) recent past, I have found reason to pause and analyze my life and parenting a little bit.

The first happened at the veterinarian's a couple weeks ago. Our cat, Cat, had an oozing eye. And she was overdue for her shots by... oh... I don't know. Forever. So we made an appointment and went in.

For those of you who are pet-less, you may not know the joy that kids take in taking pets to the doctor. Because there is absolutely NO chance that they'll be getting a shot. Plus, vets are much more likely to let them play with a stethoscope that their actual doctor. (I swear. It's like the pediatrician thinks they have cooties. Why would she think that???)

I digress.

We get to the vets. Cat in cat carrier. Waiting our turn. All is well. We finally get called in to the room, and the vet begins to work with our cat. After a few minutes, three things happen simultaneously:
1. Thing 2 tries to jump up on the table because he's a "doggy",
2. The Munchkin bites my rump good and hard, since she's not the one getting the attention,
3. Thing 1 passes out COLD because she's sees a needle on the counter.

Herr Doctor looks at me with this face that says "Are you FOR REAL????"
I look back, as I'm dragging Thing 1 out the door by her shoulders, trying to muster up a look that conveys "What?? This doesn't happen all the time??"

The next thing was this past week when I took my kids to the store. The Munchkin had marker all over her face and was wearing a Minnie dress, Thing 2 was wearing really short shorts and a pajama top with galoshes on the wrong feet, and Thing 1 decided now would be a good time to roll her eyes back in her head and drool, just for fun.

Where did I go wrong???

Thursday, February 3, 2011

"There is no such thing as natural beauty..."

This morning I looked in the mirror and my Dolly Pardon was looking back at me. The Dolly Pardon I remember in 1987. And while I love Dolly, I'm being perfectly candid when I say that no one wants to look like Dolly Pardon in 1987.

I am a disgrace to Southern women everywhere.

So I rushed to my nearest Target (since the closest Piggly Wiggly is an hour away) and left with an armful of things to get my pretty back.

Crest Whitestrips (on sale!)
Nair (shudder. winter legs.)
BORN BLONDE hair dye

Then I called my sister and on-call beautician to ask how to dye just the roots of my hair. She got all complicated and started using chemical terms like "toner" and "overprocessed." I kind of lost her at "don't overlap the dye with your already bleached hair. Because it might fall out if you do." Whaaaa?? You mean I can't just slather it on like shampoo???

Carefully pulling out the directions, they said to start in the back of my head. Which I can't see. That's when I knew that they contained nothing helpful and tossed 'em in the trashcan.

So here I sit. My teeth are so sensitive after half an hour of whitening that I feel like I'm biting down on a frozen creamsicle. I smell like a chemical refinery, but at least the hair is gone from my legs. And based on the tingling coming from my head, I think I might have put Nair on my head by mistake.

Am I pretty yet????

Monday, January 31, 2011


We are frantically "staging" our house so that we can put it on the market.
Notice I didn't say "sell it" because, well, who are we kidding?

Part of staging means repainting every single room in our house.
And some furniture.

Saturday, me and my back were still at odds, but we were getting along well enough to help paint one room and spray paint a dresser. What was once an off white and gold reminder of a bygone era was now Pottery Barn white. *chorus of angels singing*

For all of one day.

Which is when Thing 1 christened it. With charcoal drawing pencils.
Oh well.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Down for the count.

There is a lovely woman in my congregation who comes every Sunday.
She is always dressed immaculately.
She stands at the back, rigid and unmoving. Her walk looks carefully calculated.
She has "back problems."
And I've looked at her sometimes and thought "Man, that has to be hard."

Then, this morning, I leaned over to help Thing 2 get on his jeans, and my back said "If I could get your attention for a minute, and please don't take this personally, I just wanted let you know that I'm going on strike. My lawyers will be in touch."

Agony and curses.

So, after one day, I can now tell you that you use your lower back for:
making your legs move,
sitting up,
and breathing.

Without it, doing those things can be next to impossible.

Who knew?

And so, as a penitent, I just wanted to say to that lady at my church every Sunday:
I can't believe you got dressed.
How did you get your shoes on?!
How do you even get out of bed???
You are a rockstar.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


So. Wait. Where was I before my computer ate it??

Oh, yes.
Things to love.

Well, it just so happens that my own true love and I fell in love right smack dab in the middle of the dreariest,
time of year.

Which is an unusual blessing of sorts, really.
Because it doesn't matter that my Happy Lamp fell off the counter and got broken, along with my computer. It doesn't matter that we've used up so many school snow days that, from here on our, the kids are supposed to go to school on Saturdays. It doesn't even matter that I'm stuck on a weight loss plateau that would give the Tibetan Plateau a run for it's money. (Google: World's largest plateau.)


Because back in 2003, I was in possession of a periwinkle colored parka and a brand new love. December was longing for the phone to ring and hoping it'd be him.
January was holding hands and first kisses.
February was head over heels and him IN LOVE with me.

Best. winter. ever.

And every winter, it whispers to me across the years. I'll find myself suddenly smiling and loving the fog and the frost--for so many memories that I've nearly forgotten that come back to the surface in the dead of winter.

Who knew winter could be so warm?

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Every year, on the first Sunday of the year, we get to change what time we go to church.

So last year was a flurry of up and out and ready by 8:15 to make the 9:00 service. Hilarity and tears often ensued.

This year, church starts at 11:00. So instead of rushing, this morning found me
sitting on the living room floor,
reading books to my children,
cutting out pictures of Jesus to look at during church,
and playing with bouncy balls and laughing our heads off.

And a tiny voice whispered "This is how it could be. This is how homeschooling could be."
And my heart felt a little braver.

But not yet brave enough. Not yet.
But closer.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Happy New Years, everyone.

This morning, I am sitting here gazing at my folder of resolutions for 2011. Thinking about what I want to do, try, fix, change, and be. But that requires some reflection on last year.

Which is why I'm sitting here looking at my original handwritten list of goals.
In so many ways, I don't feel like I accomplished anything in 2010. I am the same weight, give or take. I am still impatient, restless, and stubborn.
But I do have a couple checks to add to my list, bringing my completed total to 54.

In 2010, I became a beekeeper.
I visited Washington DC and the Smithsonian for the first time.
And I truly did improve my ability to take pictures with my point and shoot camera.

I feel blessed by those goals. I feel grateful for every check I get to add to my list, since none of them are a given.

So, what for 2011?
I don't think I'll be seeing the Himalayas this year. Tahiti isn't really realistic either. I pause over the "Have a lot of kids" goal. I'm glad I didn't specify a number. Like 9. But I don't feel like I can check it off, at 3.

I am training for Kilimanjaro, with a goal to save the money and make the climb in 2014. So that's something.

But for 2011???

My 17 year old self didn't think to add things like "Speak softly" or "Give vegetarianism a try."
Maybe this is the year to do something I haven't done and actually add some new numbers to my list...

My girls.

Yesterday, my two oldest kids requested powdered mini-donuts for breakfast on New Year's Day.

I thought, "That sounds easy. So, yes."

This morning, bright and early, Thing 1 came bounding in to our bedroom and declared "It's the great day!!!!!!" I can only hope that the same tone of "glory-be" applied to donuts for breakfast will be as evident on her own wedding day.

I got up as Thing 1 and Thing 2 danced around me in raptures and went to get the Munchkin out of her crib. She looked up at me, with her sweet eyes, and asked me if I "sleep good?" Scooping up my snuggly, bed-head baby girl, I asked her if she wanted a donut for breakfast.

She threw back her head and wailed "NOOOOOOOO! I WANT BANANA! I WANT GWAPE-FWUIT!"

And she wasn't even kidding.

This year, I wanna be more like my girls.