Wednesday, November 16, 2011

In the Field by Our House





We live very close to downtown. In fact, in the winter, we can see some of the city skyscrapers from the window over our kitchen sink. We also live next to a large university that has an agricultural field right by our house. It is a great mix for me. The city that I crave to "keep me in the mix" yet the field that reminds me of back home in Indiana.

Last week we woke up to hay bales all over the combined field. We have lived here going on 13 years and we have NEVER seen hay bales in this field.

It was so incredible!



 The first morning we saw them, there was steam rising off the field as the sun was rising and it was just majestic. 

My daughters were itching to run through it.

So was I. 

What is it about an expanse of land that makes you want to just run through it? I have always felt that way--ever since I was a kid. But a grown woman running through a field by herself is the stuff 911 is used for.

Now that my girls' have the same hankering for field running, I have an excuse.

It doesn't look so suspicious.



With our busy schedules, it was Sunday before we could get ourselves to cross the street and hang out by the hay bales. It was windy and cloudy but warm. And it was my birthday.

It was the perfect gift.

I really wanted to hop on that bale.

No dice.

McDaniel tried to lift Ellie up on the bale with no luck.

So she decided to try.

And try.

And try again.

We will count this as a success.



I love that my girls aren't so consumed by the trappings of this technology age that they'd rather sit inside and stare at a screen then run through a field, trying to jump on hay bales and breathing in fresh air.

It was beautiful.
Monte starts his approach.
Clean landing.

Steady…



Show off.


Florida boy acting like this isn't the first bale of hay he has ever sat on.


Birthday bliss.

He is such a good sport.

Field running--there is nothing like it.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

I See God

***With all my posts about Ellie, I didn't want to leave my 
daughter, McDaniel, out on my trip down memory lane.***

When McDaniel was not quite 4, she and Monte were playing in the front yard after a fresh snowfall.

It was January 6th, 2003. 

I know this because I made Monte write it down.

So we'd always remember. 

It was dark and there was a beautiful, bright crescent moon.



Monte said it was a perfect picture:  a snow covered house back-lit by this beautiful, close-enough-to-touch crescent moon.

He pointed the moon out to McDaniel. 

She gasped when she looked up and said, "I see God!" 

It wasn't until later when we were getting McDaniel ready for bed that she told us she saw God sitting on top of the moon looking over us.

I can still remember her sweet little smiling face as she told us.

Truly glowing in God-given light. 

Monte and a 4-year-old McDaniel picking out a Christmas tree.

Ellie adored big sister McDaniel the second she laid eyes on her. 



A week or so later, I told that story to a baby class I attended with Ellie who was just 6 months old. I couldn't get through the story without choking on sobs.

You see, I had had that kind of faith at one time.

A child-like faith. 

Full of wonder and expectation. 

I felt God's presence as surely as McDaniel saw Him on the moon.

But something happened. 

I let the world seep into my soul and crowd God out or at least cover Him up somewhat.

I let the busyness of a scheduled life deafen the Holy Spirit that still lived somewhere locked inside of me.

I wanted McDaniel's 4-year-old faith. 

I wanted the glow of seeing God on the moon,
watching me, to reflect in my face.

I confessed to everyone in that class, with lower lip trembling, that I was jealous of my daughter's faith.

I warned everyone in that class, that God calls us to child-like faith because He knows what growing up in this world can do to us.

To our faith. 

To me.
To me. 
To me. 

God gave me McDaniel to remind me. 

She wasn't afraid when she saw God.

She didn't have to ask Monte who that was on the moon.

She recognized Him.

Like she expected Him to be there as surely as she expected to see me peering out the window watching them play in the snow.

I wanted to recognize God again.

To reacquaint myself.

We were old friends, after all, but it had been awhile since I talked to Him deeper than giving Him my list of requests each day in prayer.

I missed Him. 

No really, I completely missed Him.

He'd been there all along. 

Sitting on the moon,
watching over us and I didn't look up to see Him there. 

It took McDaniel.

4-year-old, 

sweet, 

obedient, 

McDaniel--

to point Him back out to me. 

I see God.

Do you?


Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Puked In the Head

I know, the title is graphic. But read on, it will make sense.

I was in the waiting room of a doctor's office with my husband's mom, Judy, for her annual mammogram. We had just signed in and I was quite excited about the gardening magazine I found to read, when my cell phone rang. It was the school nurse. Here's how the conversation went:

"First of all, everyone is fine."

Okay……

"But it's really weird!"

I just KNEW with 100% of my being that the next word uttered would be my 1st grader, "Ellie".

"Ellie (BINGO!) was running during recess under the Big Toy (what they call the big play set) and a little boy was on top of the Big Toy just as she was running underneath it and, well, he got sick. In her hair," the nurse explained.

"What?!" I asked confused.

"The boy vomited in her hair. Can I just say that in ALL my years of being a nurse that I have NEVER seen this. Not once. It's so weird!"

Then she whispered in the phone, "She stinks!"

I asked what I needed to do and she said that a good shampoo was in order--her coat and clothes were safe. She pretty much took it "cleanly" in the head (so to speak).

I quickly tried to call Monte since I was on the north side with Judy. I paged him at his office (which I NEVER do) and the receptionist told me he was at a meeting on the east side. Judy said she'd be fine so I left in a rush to the school.

On the drive there I went through several stages of emotion in a loop. I went from laughing hysterically to complete disgust to dread as I feared she'd come down with the stomach flu which would then cause ALL of us to contract the stomach flu. Then I started laughing again imaging the whole scene of, well, you know, getting BARFED on the head! Then the disgust got a hold of me which turned into dread again. But by golly, I started laughing again! The poor drivers next to me HAD to think I was crazy! No radio on, no music--just a kooky lady alternating between three insane facial expressions!

I got to the school nurses office to find Ellie blotting her crunchy, matted hair with the unabsorbent brown paper towels that only schools and public rest areas seems to use. 


The nurse took me in the hallway to again express her complete shock in that she had NEVER seen such a thing. She followed it with a, "Now bring her back. Don't let this ruin her day!"

As we walked to the car I asked Ellie what happened.

"I got puked in the head," she said quietly--matter of factly.

I tried REALLY hard not to start my loop of laughing-disgust-dread again.

She told me that she had been chasing boys on the playground (?!?!) when she passed under the Big Toy and felt a "wetness" on her head. 


She thought it might have been a bird. (No less disgusting, but it would've changed the overall uniqueness of the story.)


Then she heard a boy coughing and stopped and looked up and in a Wiley-coyote-look-up-to-see-the-falling-anvil-coming-right-at-you fashion, and got a little "puked in the head" again.

She told me that apparently the boy had chosen chocolate milk for lunch.

Her friend running with her said "EEWW!" a lot and ran away. Luckily her other friend, Morgan, walked her to the nurses office and said that this kinda thing ALWAYS happens on Friday the 13th.

I guess Morgan felt the responsibility of being the messenger and informed her 1st grade class that Ellie was not back in class after recess because she got "puked in the head".

While she was waiting for me to pick her up, a boy, THE boy, came into the nurses office claiming he had just puked off the Big Toy. Ellie said she exclaimed, "You puked in my head!" but he didn't seem to hear her. I explained that maybe that wasn't the best timing to tell him something he already knew.

I washed Ellie's hair in the sink until it was in knots from the scrubbing. She asked about Friday the 13th and I explained that this kinda thing could've just as easily happened on Thursday the 12th or Saturday the 14th. Not sure "easily" was the best choice of words. I told her God had this all worked out. Boy, He has a sense of humor!

I put two braids in her wet little head which she was SO excited about. I hoped it would lessen the "See the girl with the wet hair? She's the one that got puked in the head!" talk at school.

I had to sign her back in at the office, which involved a "Reason for being away from school" blank. I am a rule follower. I couldn't NOT give a reason. I was shaking from all the excitement, still feeling a sense of rush to get back to Judy waiting at the doctor's office, so I quickly wrote:  "Had to shampoo hair due to getting puked in the head!" I put a little sad face to soften the gruesome news a bit.

As we rushed to Ellie's classroom she just skipped along so proud of her wet braids. I explained that if she heard "EEWW!" from her classmates it was because of what happened, not her personally. She was fine with it. Her teacher met me at the door: "Is it true?" She asked with a look of horror as she glanced at Ellie's wet braids to my face.

"I'm just going to say yes, since I'm in a hurry," I said. "But Ellie is REALLY okay with it."

She skipped off to class.




When I picked her up at the end of the day, she said that everyone knew and she was a bit of a rock star. At the next recess she acted as a Tour Guide and led her little classmates to the exact location of the crime scene. Older kids came over and asked her to retell her tale from the beginning leaving out no detail. She happily obliged, thoroughly enjoying her 15 minutes of fame. It turned out to be one of her "bestest days".

McDaniel, my 4th grade daughter, said that her teacher told her in class what had happened to Ellie (she had heard it in the teacher's lounge). McDaniel said that she got the weirdest feeling that she wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. I told her I was familiar with the feeling.

I rushed back to the doctor's office and was met by a humored waiting room. Judy had been entertaining the "crowd" with Ellie's story!

My husband called breathless as we walked to the car. He feared an emergency. I explained.

"That is so Ellie," he said, matter of factly.


I Have a New Ellie Story

My 4th grade daughter, Ellie, sat on a tack in her chair at school a few weeks ago. Is that so Little Rascals? I keep singing the line, "I put a tack on teacher's chair. Somebody snitched on me" from "I'm Gettin' Nuttin' For Christmas".



When she told me, I instantly thought of which boy in her class did it.

Then she said she was in the computer lab. And had just asked to switch seats to get away from two boys so she could concentrate more.

I guess she did a little hoppity-plop on the chair in her little yippity-skip way she has so the tack REALLY got in there with some force.

"In there" being in her bottom. (sorry to be graphic)

Ouch.

She asked the boy next to her if she did indeed have something in her bottom (she thought it was a splinter).

He confirmed.

She asked (in the complete desperation of the situation) for him to take it out.

He declined.

But he did go get the teacher.

Bless him.

The teacher pulled it out.

God bless her.

I meant to write her a note to thank her for that but could never come up with the appropriate "Hey, thanks for yanking a tack out of my daughter's behind!" kind of sentiment suitable for a card. I felt this needed to be a face-to-face conversation.

I got to do that last week. In all the years of teaching, Ellie was the first tack-in-the-chair incident the teacher had to deal with and the first tack-in-the-bottom she had to pluck out. Ellie is good like that. Good for giving you a story to tell. I have often heard, "Never, in all my years as a school nurse…" through the phone when being called at home with an Ellie story. See "Puked In the Head" for another example.

So once the tack was plucked,  Ellie got sent right to the nurse. Ellie has a little problem with the nurse. Not a problem. An obsession. She likes to go see the nurse. To "check in" as she likes to call it. She is no hypochondriac. I'm not sure what it's all about but I think she needs a little break from time to time. Or attention. Or both. It's either a rush or a comfort. She figured out in the 1st grade that if you complain of a stomach ache you could get Goldfish crackers. Claim to be weak and/or shaky--score some apple juice. It was better than a vending machine to her!

The nurse was out so a substitute nurse was there. A substitute who happened to be the mother of a boy in Ellie's class. Ellie had to, literally, be pantsed so the nurse could check to see if the tack had broken off.

Ellie seemed okay with the whole thing. She started the story by saying, "Interesting thing happened to me today…" like she was going to go right into a how-I-got-picked-to-take-attendance or a I-made-it-to-second-base-in-kickball story. But then again, she is my daughter, and these things have happened to her since, well, birth. In fact, I retell her tales by starting out, "I have a new Ellie story…" It's better than "Once upon a time" and heavily implied with a "Pull up a chair, you're going to want to hear this."

God bless her.



Friday, October 14, 2011

May It Be So For Me

This fall has been particularly spectacular.

I've been watching leaves swirl through the air in a gust of wind.

It is so beautiful, isn't it?

 The little herds of reds, oranges and yellows floating slowly and sometimes very quickly to the ground.

Sometimes it is just one loan leaf fluttering through the sky riding the wind.



You know, it occurred to me as I watched this, that this is the end of the leaf's life. It has spent its entire existence budding, growing and sticking to one singular branch of one singular tree.

This final "ride" is it for them.

Why then does it look like so much fun?



It seems as if they are riding a roller coaster with loopy-loops and ups and downs.

Fast and slow.

I think if I had supernatural hearing I could make out their "Wheeeeees!"

Then to the ground they go where they will be raked up and sent to the curb to be sucked up by a truck.



It could be viewed as a sad event. But I still can't help but be transfixed every time I see a bunch go sailing through the sky.

It is like they were made for this ride.

This is their shining glory.

Their swan song. 

Their chance to be a butterfly who after all was made to look like them. 

Doesn't it look like this butterfly is posing for me? I think he is saying "Cheese!"


I imagine they tremble in excitement as their stems loosen from the branch and they realize it is (finally) their turn to fly.

Do you think they look back? Are they sad to leave (pun intended) behind their leaf families and friends?

This one got stuck in a spider web on my garage. Hmmmm…


Not from what I can see. 

If a leaf can smile--they are grinning from one point to the next as they feel the wind in a much different way.

They don't have to brace themselves against it anymore.

Hang on for dear life anymore.

They can finally--just


                                      let
                                                                                      go.

And enjoy the ride.



Dear Lord, may it be so for me. May I be as eager to let go of my will for my life to ride Your will with You. And may that ride be as joyful and transfixing to watch to someone else. So that they may ask of You, Lord:  may it be so for me.

Amen.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Keep on Pedaling

It was foggy this morning.

And I do mean FOGGY.

It also happened to be walk/ride to school day. As my daughter, Ellie, scootered and I rode my bike, we could only see a few houses in front of us. Ellie commented on how if felt like we were riding into the unknown. It was spooky to her.

It was so cool for me.

It was neat how you rode on and looked back and couldn't see where you had come from while still only seeing just a little bit ahead. Every half-block we went was the only half-block we could see. The fog was so thick you could feel it.

Breathe it.                                 
                                                Smell it.

It was so amazing!

This was taken in Maine. Where we first fell in love with fog. 


All around us I could hear kids talking about the fog. Making spooky ghost noises. Cars crept along cautiously trying to navigate their way.

I couldn't help but think as I rode home alone that riding through fog is faith. Going forward when you can not only NOT see the destination, but couldn't really see much at all.

Or where you came from to turn around and run back.

But you keep on pedaling.

Wouldn't the temptation be to wait it out?

Not go out at all?

Wait until it was safer? 
More predictable?

I was struck by the beauty of it all. No spooky Halloween images for me. The leaves on the ground seemed more yellow, red and orange.

The cool air on my face, more refreshing.

The trees seemed taller because I couldn't see their tops.

The streets l o n g e r. 

It was exhilarating because I felt completely safe.

Not lost.

God wants us right there, doesn't He?

In the middle of the fog, not able to see ahead or behind us

but willing to keep pedaling,
                                                         
                                     trusting He knows the way.

He is the lamp unto our feet and the light unto our path.

And He has a plan. Not to harm. But one that gives us hope and a future.

Amen.

And may I always be willing to 

keep 
           on 
                              pedaling.

Monday, October 03, 2011

New Experience

I was raised in a small town. There is a sweet predictability of the goings on in a small town and familiarity of the people that live there. There was a wonderful protective shelter to small town living. This has always made me incredibly curious about the goings on of new places and other people. It was the solid comfort of security in my small town that gave me the wings to fly in exploration of other places. I have now lived longer away from my small town than I ever stomped around in it as a resident, although I feel its markings in me daily. I am now a city dweller, but I am no less curious about different experiences and new people.

Which leads me to what I did on Saturday.

I went to a bodybuilding competition. Not as a competitor (snort). As a supporting fan of my awesome 44-year-old friend, Beth, who was approached in the early days of summer by someone willing to sponsor her for this event. If she'd consider it. Turns out Beth is willing to try new experiences too.

She had to work out (which is nothing new or no big deal for her). Beth was in awesome shape to start.

She had to follow a strict diet (which involved cutting out all carbs and sugar and eating predominantly protein).

She had to practice. Practice posing. Practice flexing certain muscles at certain times and then practice flexing all her muscles at other times.

She had to practice doing all this wearing high heels and a bathing suit and glittery eye shadow. And a smile.

She had to step FAR outside her comfort level to participate in the whole pageantry portion of showing off exactly what she had been working on.

She was nervous. I was intrigued.

The whole thing was fascinating! As members of the audience, my friend and I (also named Beth) had incredible seats to some of the best people watching ever. Better than the airport (and I do love airport people watching).

The people in the audience seemed to know a lot about what the people on stage should be doing. They called it out as if at a basketball game. Instead of, "Shoot it!" or "Rebound!" the fans yelled, "Flex it!" or "Squeeze it!" They would offer up specific advice like, "Watch your arms!" or just a quick, "Legs! Your legs!"

Fascinating.

I had questions. The other Beth and I decided we needed a program explaining each of the divisions and what the judges were looking for. We wanted to look for it too. On a break, we got to see Beth and I told her I'd yell "Squeeze it!"the next time she was on stage,  but it looked like she already was. Expertly.

The women were beautiful and toned. I had prepared myself for some grotesque muscle heads but the women were feminine and would still look amazing with normal clothes on. That was my "test" when I watched each person (male or female) in this competition. That is why we were there, to judge their  muscular physique, so I don't feel bad about what I was doing (so don't go and try to make me feel bad.)

I would look at each bulging bicep or toned thigh and think:  but would they look good in jeans? Could they pull off a tight weave non stretch cotton dress shirt? For most of the women, the answers were astoundingly yes. For a good majority of the men, the answers were absolutely no. For a select few of the men, I worried if they could EVER find a sport coat that wouldn't split every time they reached out to shake someone's hand.

Even Superman's Clark Kent looked good in a suit for work. I'm just saying.

Some of the men looked chiseled out of smooth marble--a testament of what the body is capable of in its highest, truest form. Art. Flat-out-statue-of-David art.  Some looked clunked together out of rock:  lumpy and large where even their jaw muscles were pumped up and flexed. Almost comic book villianesque. You know, extreme.

The people in the crowd were an interesting mix. Family, fellow physically fit friends, little kids, and then us: two chicks who looked like they got lost on their way to find a crafts bizarre.

I have to say, I liked watching the women the best. Not just because I could cheer on my friend, but because they were soft on the eyes, natural, not "I just got dropped in a vat of toxic waste and now my arms look like this" (fyi:  she was sitting across the aisle about 10 chairs over from us). Extreme.

There was one division that didn't seem to involve any physical flexing of muscles but more of a bikini-clad "oh, wait, is this NOT the tryouts for the new Poison video?"

Yes, sadly, there was an entire division of girls that didn't flex but felt compelled to "pose" in every overtly non-athletic way that left me feeling as if I needed to pray for them right then and there after singing "Jesus Loves Me" really loud first. While standing on top of my chair. I didn't (do the singing part at least).

Overall, I was so glad I went. I didn't walk away feeling bad about myself or with a bad case of the "gimmies".  I'm not allowed to go to house or garden tours anymore because of the "gimmies" I bring home every time. (Gimmie that kitchen island, gimmie that mudroom, gimmie that open floor plan). Don't get me wrong, I would LOVE to have the abs of some of those women, but I didn't obsessively think about it. That's showing growth for me. (Yeah, me!)

This time I walked away thinking what a luxury it is to live in a time and place that a select group of people can get sponsored to work out and get muscular. And people like me will come and watch the results of their hard work. Beth ended up with two fourth place trophies for the novice and masters divisions. Get this, a master is anyone 35 years old and up. Ouch.

Beth let me play with her trophies.


What is wrong with this trophy? She looks in pain.





















I am so proud of her. For doing the hard work. Stepping outside her comfort level. Being open to a new experience.

Rock star!


That caused the other Beth and I to think about other shows and how they get their own sponsorships and followings like craft shows, antique/flea markets and then that went right into Comic Con. The ultimate in new experiences from what I hear.

Maybe next year?

What about you? What recent event have you witnessed that was a brand new experience for you?




Thursday, September 22, 2011

Painted Pillow

I have been wanting to try my hand at painting a pillow. I love all the large graphics on pillows I am seeing in the Pottery Barn and Ballard Designs catalogs. I just can't love the price. So I bought an inexpensive plain pillow (I think it was $7). I liked the color because it was plain and reminded me of burlap but without the scratchiness.

Then I had to figure out what I wanted to paint on the pillow. I thought about "&" but I just bought a huge wooden "&" at Marshall's and LOVE it and come on, how many "&"s does one need in the same room?

I also thought about "!" because that kinda fits our family. We are most definitely all about the "!" but I was afraid it would look more like a letter or number.

So I decided on "@". Not only is it visually interesting, it, in this technology day and age, means "at" and if this pillow is on a chair that's where it's "at". So it's factual. 

I printed out "@" from my computer on regular printer paper after spending WAY too long playing with different fonts. I'm indecisive that way. In the end I chose Braggadocio (or was it Wide Latin?). I can't even remember. I made it something like a 600 font size so it would be quite the statement on the pillow. 

I used black fabric paint although I imagine regular black craft paint would work too. I doubt I will be throwing this guy in the wash. 

You can see from the picture above that I had a stencil foam brush out. I didn't use it. I had originally planned on using the stencil method of cutting out the image and then pouncing on the paint. I've done it successfully with several other projects that were flat and hard surfaces. A pillow is neither. 


So I just traced inside the stencil directly onto the pillow with a pen. 



Then I just painted the fabric on with a small paint brush. I wish I had lightly brushed on the paint to give it more of an aged look, but I am still happy with the end result.






Took me way less than an hour (not counting my deliberation over font styles). The pillow is now resting "@" its place on my letter chair. I will tell you about that fun project once I find the pictures.

What would you paint on a pillow? 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Let's Try This Again



It has been over 4 years since I last posted on this site. I started the blog to give myself a regular reason to write. I eventually stopped because it felt self-serving to go on. I felt like I was writing to no one. I needed interaction. I have been following several blogs lately and I see the communities they have formed. That's what I was missing:  you. So pull up a chair and let's talk. I will share what I've learned this week or spray painted or found funny (sometimes that will all be the same thing). But only if you promise to share your thoughts too. Deal?