Monthly Archives: May 2011

Memorial Day

We watched the movie The Patriot this weekend. About two-thirds of the way thru I remembered I’ve seen it before. That happens to me a lot. I have such a stellar memory I can watch nearly a whole movie without remembering it. It’s a little sad. But I digress.

This movie was hard to watch. Partly because I hate movies with killing. I just can’t stand the blood and gore. I hate it. But also because it was emotionally draining. I had to keep reminding myself I know how it ends. {If you haven’t seen the movie it’s about the American Revolutionary war. It chronicles a man who wanted to find a peaceful resolution and refused to fight. Eventually, the war came to him and he had to get involved. He lost so much.} Obviously, we won. I know this because I didn’t care about watching the Royal Wedding. If we had lost I probably would have had a compelling desire to watch it.

Watching this movie, which I realize was fictional, reminded me of the real suffering of war. The real sacrifices that Americans have made for generations. The lives that were lost. The families torn apart. All because they were so convicted. They believed that freedom was so important that they had to put their life on the line for it. There are very few things in my life I am that convicted about. And yet I benefit from those generations of men and women who made that sacrifice. Because they were so convicted, I am able to make choices and live as I choose. And I take that for granted every day.

On vacation a couple of summers ago we visited Arlington National Cemetery. It was a humbling experience. Visiting the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and watching the changing of the guard was moving.

I am thankful to all those who have served our country. Those who lost their lives fighting for what they believed in. Those who were forever changed because of what they saw. Those who came home and could not bear to go on. And I am thankful for those who are serving today. I appreciate you and your sacrifice.

I am thankful to the families of those who serve today and in the past. Those who move around the country and around the world as orders dictate. The wives and husbands who parent alone while waiting for their spouse to come home. The kids who change schools every year or two as the family moves. Thank you for your sacrifice. I appreciate you.

I hope I can carry a piece of Memorial Day with me every day…

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Filed under Family, Holidays, Legacy, The State of Affairs

Senior Year

It has  begun! My oldest is officially a senior. I don’t know what I think of that yet. I guess I have some time to come to terms with it. And thank goodness I have so many friends with kids a couple years older than mine! They are so helpful. They give me a glimpse of what is to come. And they let me learn from their experiences. Nothing better than having a friend who can say – here’s what I wish I had known. Its invaluable! So, I’m armed with lots of information, tips and inspiration.

Aside from the emotional aspect of preparing for the end of his senior year, there are a lot of other things that have to be done! I thought it might be fun to chronicle this year here on my blog. There will definitely be lots of options to consider. So here are a few of the topics I will probably cover:

  • Scrapbooking his WHOLE life
  • Senior pictures
  • Choosing a college and major – we are close on this one already
  • Gathering all the information for applications
  • The college application process
  • The alphabet soup of standardized tests
  • The quest to land the many elusive scholarships
  • Planning a celebration

Wouldn’t it be great if we could all share ideas, plans and tips?! I would love to hear from other Moms of seniors. What is your experience? What’s working for you? Share your tips and give us a heads up about the pitfalls.  And there are all those things I don’t even know about yet! I think it’s going to be an exciting year. And, like everything else, it’s probably going to go by much faster than I would like. But, it should be a fun ride – Join Me!

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Filed under Advice, Goals, Senior Year

My Heart is Hurting

Being a parent is brutal.

There are those days when I just feel like there is a huge weight on my chest making it hard to breathe. Today is one of those days. When any of my kids are hurting, I want so badly to make it stop. I know they must go thru these things. They must find their own way. Dig through all the muck and yuck and they will come out stronger {and dirtier} on the other side.

But damn it I don’t like to watch it.

I know that these are the experiences that mold and shape who they are as people; who they become as adults. But sometimes, I just want to kick someone’s butt! I want to jump in and make them understand what they are doing to my child. My child who is honest and true and good. My child who doesn’t deserve to be treated like crud. I want to shake them and make them understand.

And I can’t.

And I hate that.

I also want my boys to learn to stand up for themselves. To find their voice. To respect themselves enough to say, “I deserve better.” I want them to know that they must fight for what they believe in and for what they deserve. They have to learn that life isn’t fair and people are flawed. We all are. I want them to know that and to still trust people. To see people for who they are and accept them for all their inadequacies. I want them to be realists who can dream. To know life isn’t always fair, but to still expect the best from people.

And as a parent, this is one of those days when I second guess all the decisions I’ve made for a long time. Have I made the right choices or the easy choices? Could I have done better? Did I guide them down the best path? To make the right decisions. Even when “right” isn’t so clear.

The reality is, life doesn’t give many do-overs. I can’t go back and undo any of the decisions I’ve made. I did the best I could with what I knew at the time. But I still second guess. And my heart still hurts.

I know good will prevail.

I believe in my sons. I know they will find a way through the muck and yuck and come out a better, stronger person. I know they will find a way to see something good. To find the nugget.

Because they are resilient and insightful and honest and true and good.

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Filed under Family, Legacy, Parenting, Positive

Upcycled Centerpieces

You might have seen my collection of wine bottles. I mentioned in this post that I’m working on a project with used wine bottles. Well, the project is done! It was super easy….except….for getting the labels off the bottles! I might start buying wine based on how easily the label will come off. I started by soaking the bottles in hot water with a little vinegar in it. I left it for at least an hour. When I came back, some of the labels were floating in the water. Others…not so much. The best method I came up with is to scrape the label off with a paring knife. Then pour on some Goo be gone and rub with a nylon pan scraper. Some of the labels take a healthy dose of elbow grease.

I made these for a baccalaureate reception at church. I chose bright fun colors, to coordinate with our logo.

I decided the light green just didn’t fit with the intensity of the other colors so it was out!

I used my great curbside find to hold the bottles while I painted them. I have to wonder what the previous owner used this for?? Curious. But it worked perfectly for me after Oldest Son put a stabilizer on them.

It took 2-3 coats for each bottle. The key is multiple lighter coats of paint so the paint doesn’t run. When that is dry – at least 24 hours –  set them upright and spray the top since that will be seen when they are on the tables.

Now you can decorate as you wish. I chose to wrap the bottles with colorful papers and add a letter to each one. Since it was for baccalaureate I went with CONGRATS on the bottles for the serving table. I gathered twigs from our redbud tree in the backyard to go in the bottles. I also wanted to give a little inspiration to the pieces so I printed quotes about learning and life. Then matted these with colorful papers and used needlepoint floss to  hang the tags from the branches. The final touch was pieces of ribbon to bring some color to the branches. Here’s the finished product for the serving table.

The hang tag is a quote from John Wesley.

We made a simpler version for the centerpieces on the eating tables. I love the bright colors and the simple tags.

The tables for the baccalaureate turned out great! It just looked like a party:)!

The serving tables on the bridge.

I  want to thank Katie Grace Designs for the inspiration for this project. I stumbled on her blog while searching blogland for some inspiration. I loved her Thanksgiving centerpiece and used it as a jumping off point for my design. And thank you to Karen and Tracy who helped me with all the papercraft on the project! They tried to keep my perfectionist nature in check…somewhat unsuccessfully!

I love that this project used items that would have gone to the recycling bin!

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How Can It Be?

I don’t understand how it happens. It isn’t logical and just doesn’t make sense. All the members of my family have two feet. So how does this happen?

These are the unmatched black socks in our house TODAY! We have just as many unmatched white socks! If everyone has two feet, how can we have so many unmatched socks? It seems like a person would take both socks off at the same time – at least the same day. So they should end up in the same load of laundry. I would think. And I’m pretty sure they would both get dirty. It’s not like when you wear them sometimes the right foot just doesn’t work as hard as the left and doesn’t need to be washed.

Oldest Son suggested we donate all our socks and start over with all the same socks. Then all these could be matched up. I don’t think that would work. A couple people in my family have issues with wrinkles in their socks and I’m pretty sure its the two with the smallest feet! Can you imagine having to wear the socks after Mr. Size 12 has worn them and stretched them all out! Just gives me the heeby-jeebies!

I’ve seen little clips that go on the toe of your dirty socks to keep them together in the wash. It’s a good enough idea, but I think it would take a little too much effort keeping track of the clips and putting them on before washing. We are lucky to get them to the laundry basket – I usually find a pair or two under the coffee table every night.

I think our only hope of reducing the unmatched sock basket contents lies in duct tape. If we just duct tape everyone’s socks on they could wash them when they shower. It might take a little extra dry time, but that’s where the hair dryer would come in handy. We would never have unmatched socks, because you would never take them off. We would spend far less money on socks too!

I wonder if I can spin this so they guys think its a great idea?

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Filed under Lifestyle, Organization, Randomness

The Woes of Mother’s Day

It’s Mother’s Day! What a strange day. I don’t know the history; who’s idea it was. It might have been a husband/father who really screwed up and had to do something huge to make up for it. And of course, the wives/mothers of the world felt guilty that there wasn’t an equal time to recognize the sacrifices and generosity of the dads so about came Father’s Day. I’m not complaining. I’ll take a day of pampering.

The thing is, I’m not good at pampering. At making people feel special on “their day.” I’m just not. I don’t think I’m a selfish person. I’m just not one of those people who always remembers birthdays {Happy Birthday to my niece Genevieve who turned 21 on Friday}. I don’t send cards; I’m doing good to call or text. It’s not that I don’t care about them. I truly do! I think of them on that day and many others throughout the year. I’m just missing the “send a card” gene. I do make meals for people when they are sick and help out with activities when there is a plea for volunteers. I am happy to take someone else’s kid to games or give someone a ride somewhere. I don’t mind stepping up. I’m a nice person. But I stink at making people feel special.

And that is why my guys don’t do a great job at it. Don’t get me wrong; they are great guys! I love them all! And they do amazing things that make me so proud on a daily basis. But they are not going to buy me flowers, book a massage and make dinner reservations. Unless I tell them they should. At which point it becomes not so much of a sweet gesture as it is doing what you’re told.

And so, after some discussion with my husband yesterday afternoon. I received a peony to replace the one hit by the soccer ball and nearly destroyed, and an Ivy house plant. Because yesterday when Youngest Son and I were shopping I told him these two things. He replied rather uninterested. So I told him he should make a note in his phone of what I mentioned. {I’m trying to help him be better than me here.} He sarcastically replied that his phone doesn’t have a notes place cause he can’t download apps. {such a deprived child!} I told him to text it to one of his brothers or his dad. Yes, I’m resourceful. So he did and after the “discussion” with my husband, that’s what I got. There was a step in the middle though. A call from Hubby to Oldest Son, who was sitting beside me, asking what kind of ivy? Annual or perennial? I said house plant. He said he needed to know annual or perennial. I said houseplant. Oldest Son translated that to say she doesn’t want it to die the day after she gets it. It was all a very special, touching conversation.

I had also told Middle Son, one day this week, that someone could detail my minivan for Mother’s Day. So Saturday afternoon, he began the process. Let me be clear, this should have counted for a couple gifts – my van had reached a new level of filthy! He spent a couple hours on it. And then got distracted. And when we were ready to leave for dinner, everything lying on the driveway was thrown in the trunk. Done!

When the guys came home from the nursery, they set the plants beside me on the lawn and said Happy Mother’s Day, now get ready we are going out for dinner. It’s 80 degrees and I have been working on a project in the yard for 2 hours. I’m sweaty, and dirty. And he wants to leave right now. But I did tell him in our “discussion” that I would like to go out for a nice dinner where someone waits on me. So I hit the high spots and off we went to a lovely dinner.

They had done everything I had mentioned. But somehow, it didn’t feel warm and fuzzy. Maybe that had to do with the fact that I had to provide so much guidance and direction. Go figure.

So what’s the moral of this Mother’s Day tale?

  1. If you want thoughtful, charming kids you better start setting an example of thoughtful and charming when they are young. It’s mighty hard to catch up when they are teenagers.
  2. If you aren’t married to a man who is a super romantic, you should be very specific in your hints. My man will do EXACTLY what I suggest.
  3. Forget about what all the other Mom’s are getting. Don’t read their facebook posts about the spa day or breakfast in bed. Live in the family you have and appreciate them for who they are.

I am blessed many times over each day with a Hubby who works his tail off for his family, who gets so little sleep I’m surprised he can function. He cooks, does laundry, keeps up the yard work. He’s a great husband. My teenage boys bring me tons of joy every day with their laughter, perspectives on life and attitudes toward each other. They have allowed me to stay connected in their world and don’t hesitate to share with me. Those are priceless gifts! And I get to enjoy them over and over again, every day of the year.

So to all the Moms out there. Enjoy your special day and the people who make it that way! Happy Mother’s Day!

And to my own mother, who won’t be getting a card in the mail {yes, I meant to and I’m a schmuck for not sending one}, Happy Mother’s Day! You are my best friend. You are always there for me. You listen to me whine and complain and give me just the right combination of sympathy, understanding and kick-in-the-butt. I don’t know how you survived raising three boys and one very strong-willed girl while working full-time and having a hubby on the road for weeks at a time. You raised us to love God, respect others and ourselves and do what is right. Thanks Mom for giving me my moral compass, my love of writing, and my creativity! You rock! I love you!

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Filed under Advice, Family, Holidays, Legacy, Lifestyle, Parenting

I have a secret…

You can’t tell anyone. I’ve seen some friends post about it on facebook. Making fun of those who do it. I almost admitted, I’m one of them. Just a little bit. And I liked it! A LOT! I wanted to do some more, but I ran out of time. It was kind of thrilling. And a little bit embarrassing. Not too embarrassing, or I wouldn’t have done it. 

Tomorrow is Tidy Town day in our neighborhood. That’s the day when the garbage truck will pick up all the huge pieces they normally refuse. So everyone in the neighborhood has piles by the street. Piles of their junk. But you know the saying…One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. I love recycled crafts! I find it challenging to take something old and seemingly garbage, and repurpose it into something beautiful. Something creative and personal. I’ve been doing it for a long time. I’ve even blogged about a couple projects. And I have lots more to share with you. Maybe when you see the finished products you won’t judge me quite so harshly. Or maybe you still will.

So here’s my secret…I picked up things people had piled along the street! Several things. And I wanted to look for more! I kind of wanted to stay ahead of all the pickups that were casing the neighborhood. I might miss something good. Problem is, we were in the Camery. There isn’t a lot of room for great finds when you already have four people in a Camery. We put down the windows and let things stick out! And then, when we got home, I sent Oldest Son and Youngest Son back with the van for some things that didn’t fit in the Camery. Can you believe that?! 

You want to know what I got don’t you? I know you do. You’re thinking, “There’s nothing cool enough to make me stop along the road, get out of my car and load it up.”

Well, I disagree. And I didn’t have to get out of the car. Remeber I had three family members with me. The ones who are obligated to do as I ask. But they did go willingly. I didn’t even have to threaten them. They kind of got into it too. 

You’re gonna be jealous when you see what I got. If you have a creative eye. If you can see the potential. If not, I feel bad for you – you’re missing out. It’s so fun to look at something and imagine what it might become.

So you want to see? Here they are. My amazing finds!

The coolest ladders. There are three of them here. It was one big wooden extension ladder. The person who put it by the curb cut it into pieces. Bummer. But they fit in my flower bed perfectly. So, yay! They are old and worn and used. And I can only imagine what they have been through.

Isnt’ it awesome?! I love it. I have one more piece that is just two or three rungs long. I haven’t decided what to do with it yet. Something will come to me.

Then there is this one.

Look at the paint spatters. They’re real. This ladder has been used by someone…for a long time. It’s pink! And Blue! Do you see the potential? I do!

It’s going to become something cool. I just don’t know what quite yet.

I do have a plan for these though. {No, I did not drink all this wine. Like I very emfatically told Middle Son’s study partner that saw them tonight. And there are more bottles…lots more!}

   

It involves removing the labels and painting them. It’s going to be a great centerpiece when I’m done. But, I needed something to put them on when I spray paint them. I was thinking about poking sticks in the yard so I could put the bottles upside down on them and paint the whole bottle. I was thinking it might look quite odd. That’s when I drove by these.

It’s PERFECT! I can spray 16 bottles at once! And it was laying by the street.

One man’s garbage…exactly what I was looking for.

I’m going to mark my calendar for the next Tidy Town and make sure I’m driving the van!

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Filed under Creativity, Decor, Frugal living, Home Improvement