Sunday, November 02, 2014

Struggling to be Thankful

For the last three years I have taken November to be what I've called randomly thankful. Each day I post on Facebook a totally random, somewhat ordinary thing that I am thankful for. Last year's highlights included ziploc bags and gas station microwaves. This year I wanted to throw in a little something different, but it is so different that I fear it must be done in small doses. I want to be thankful for things that I am not naturally thankful for. In short, the things I complain about. Being a somewhat sarcastic person, I've been worried that it would come off as snide. This is where a blog post to explains things comes in. I'm going to start with once a week and see how it goes.
I wanted to go about this with as pure of intentions as possible. That lead me to read up on what the Bible says about being thankful. Spoiler alert: It is pro-thanking God for everything He has given us even if the rest of life is kind of not going well. Job comes to mind, but for the record, I am not trying to sign up for a month of Job.
Something in Ephesians 5 caught my attention. In addition to being openly thankful there are things I also need to not do in order for this to really work. I need to not use obscenities (not too hard for me), no coarse joking (okay, a little harder but totally doable), and no foolish talk (I'm in trouble). Foolish talk is my go to. I tried changing what version I was reading, but they all seem to agree that being silly was a block to being really thankful to God. I even tried The Message, which was foolish and set me back to square one.
My main point of this post is to warn you. I have not thought out what each post will be. I have no idea what will be impressed upon me each day. What I do know and trust is that the Lord is going to hit me with something I need to be more thankful for and that some of those things will not be fun. This idea has been weighing on me since September, so I have had time to settle in on the idea. I hesitate to invite others to join me because I have no idea what I am in for. Honestly, I am a little nervous. This is a big trust exercise for me. So, if you want to take the risk with me, great, but if not I hope to see you all continuing to be randomly thankful this month because it is fun, enlightening, and points more of our lives towards God.
Thank you for your support and understanding in this. Now for my first one.
Today I am thankful for the awareness my stomach problems have brought me. It sits me down more often than I'd like and my dietary requirements kind of stink, but I have to eat healthy, I am so much more understanding of others' who have invisible health problems, and it makes me appreciate the time I feel good as well as the things I can do when I feel bad. I wouldn't choose it, or wish it on anyone else, but right now, for today, I am truly thankful for the blessings God has given me through it.
Wow, that was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I wish I could convey through words the emotions that spilled out of me typing that. There is no way I could ever say that out loud.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Our Unfiltered Healthcare Numbers

We received our annual healthcare renewal letter today. I don't typically share details about our finances, but this is kind of a big deal. There are a lot of exaggerations and bending of facts to suit personal opinions. This isn't about my personal opinion. This is about the choices my family, and many others, will be making in the coming days.
First, I should explain that my husband works for a very small company that isn't large enough to have any sort of group rate policy. We pay for 100% of our insurance. Because of that, we have a very high deductible and try very hard not to need a doctor.
I made a picture of the price and benefit changes that were sent to us today.

There are a couple of things I'd like to point out. We were told that our premiums might increase some, but so would our benefits. As you can see here our deductible will decrease by $3,000. However it is still $7,000, which is a good bit more than what we spend on average on family healthcare costs. 

You'll also notice in the picture that we will now have prescription coverage. Yeah! But wait, there is that sneaky add on that it doesn't kick in until we meet our new $7,000 deductible. Boo! So, it really might as well still be no coverage at all.
The next upgrade is that I will now be covered for "Essential Health Benefits". These vary from state to state, but I am having a lot of trouble finding out what they are specifically above what we normally have. I know it covers mental health coverage (a total joke if you look at what is actually covered), maternity (no one in my house needs that), breast reconstruction, and then "others" that no one can seem to promise specifics on. 

Now we get to the math. For these new add-ons that we probably will never get to use and certainly didn't ask for, we are paying a pretty large price. To be exact, it is $526.18 per month more. That adds up to $6314.16 per year more. The total we are out of pocket for this is $9,413.28. Before we get real use out of it we must first meet the deductible. That puts us at $16,413.28 per year out of our pocket. 
We are not wealthy people, but we end up with too much income to receive any break or credit, but not enough that we would want to add an extra $500 a month payment for anything. I think most people probably arrange their budget so that even if they are well off they don't have $500 extra that they are willing to throw at something that has no added benefit. 
We are now looking at our options. We will talk to an agent, we will investigate every avenue we can find, but tonight the numbers just don't add up. There is a very good chance we will end up uninsured. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Creeper Pumpkin

Last year's Minecraft Pumpkin was a huge hit. I had trick-or-treaters make their picture with it. Never have I had a carved pumpkin get that kind of attention. This encouraged me to do something similar this year, which logically can mean only one thing - CREEPER HEAD!

My process was similar to last year. This time I got a 14 inch square box (last year was 12), the paint grid was a much more merciful 8x8 formation, and it required a minimum of 7 colors. I say minimum because I could have done more, but I decided not to go completely crazy. Also unlike last year's, each side had a different pattern to it, so I ended up mapping out 5 different grids.
Here is the rundown
1. Find a pattern. I used this head for a papercraft on fps-x-games

2. Pick your paint. I went with 5 greens and 2 grays from Apple Barrel for the very important reason of that is what Walmart had, which saved me a trip across town to a craft store. I numbered them light to dark. I think the color names will give you a pretty good idea.
       1. Pale Green     2. Crisp Green    3. Palm Leaf    4. Kelly Green    5. English Ivy
          6. Granite Gray    7. Pewter Grey  (yup, they spelled it 2 different ways and yes it bugged me)

3. Plot it out. I'm going to post these small for space purposes, but you can click on each image to see it in detail. I raised the face up by one line so that the mouth wouldn't be at the very bottom.


4. Decided what side your face goes on. Pay attention to the way you fold the top. Then draw out the grid.

5. Cut the face out

6. Paint and paint and paint and then paint. But seriously, because of the bigger squares, this one was MUCH faster than the pumpkin one from last year.

7. Glue your top and bottom closed.

Remember not to use a real candle in these (cardboard tends to react badly to fire) I'm thinking of trying green glowsticks this year.
Our cat really likes them. The eye holes on the creeper are just the right height for her to stick her head in it.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Wrong Time to be Batman

I know what you are thinking. How can there be a wrong time to be Batman? This is an analogy, so just go with it.

I've read a few articles this summer on modesty in churches, and I have come to an illustration that I hope will better explain it to both sides.
You get a birthday party invitation. It is dated October 30th, the day before Halloween. You've hung out with these friends before at other events, and you know that they go big for Halloween. They are a fun loving group, and so naturally you assume that a party on the 30th means it is a costume party. The perfect time to wear that awesome Batman costume you bought on clearance last year, and have been dying to show off. The day of the party comes, you go all out to look extra cool, you get to the party, and it is not a costume party. In fact, everyone is dressed in the exact opposite of costumes. You couldn't stand out more if you tried. It is too late to sneak out, you have been seen. You'll just have to own it.
Here is what I take from looking at it this way.

  • I would remember nothing from that night beyond it being the night I was Batman when I really shouldn't have been. Most of the people there would only remember that someone showed up dressed as Batman.
  • I would be really embarrassed knowing I was that sort of distraction from my friend's celebration.
  • I do not need someone coming up to me to tell me that this wasn't a costume party. I noticed. I'm ashamed without it being pointed to openly. 
  • I do need a few friendly faces who don't treat me like a total idiot, and talk to me in spite of how I look. 
  • I am not going to get mad at the people who look at me sideways. They are trying to figure out if I am mentally stable. After all, I am kind of a sight. Sure it makes me uncomfortable, and yes people should try not to wear their shock on their face, but being uncomfortable is not always a bad thing. It teaches us not to be Batman when it isn't appropriate. 
  • I will not let this happen again. I will make sure to ask and double check before I show up as Batman again. This one is key. If I continue to show up to events dressed as Batman, people are not going to take me seriously. Great Aunt Sophie dies, and I am Batman. A wedding comes along, and Batman. Job interview? Batman. No. 
Is it your friend's fault for the party not being a costume party? No. Should they have forced everyone to go home and change into a costume to make you feel better? No. Should your friend kick you out for wearing a costume? No.
There are two things I hope people take away from this. First, always check to see what is considered appropriate dress for things you don't regularly attend. Second, don't comment on what people are wearing unless it is to compliment them. It is rude. In fact, I'm pretty sure it is ruder than showing up to church dressed as Batman. Neither are socially acceptable. Really this advice applies outside of just church. It is a lesson for life. We need to stop focusing on if we look attractive, and focus more on if we look appropriate, because like it or not we live in a civilized society that has rules for such things. If that is too much for you, I can recommend a nice nudist camp nearby where no one is judged on their clothes. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Selfie Centered

This post is not directed at you. If it applies to you, that is not my fault.
There has been a lot of talk about kids these days and their selfies (pictures you take of yourself using your phone). Teenagers seem to spend a lot of time trying to take the perfect picture of themselves. Even obsessing over it at times. My adorable daughter fails at this miserably. I wish I could post proof, but I love her, and wouldn't do that. She has given up. Other people can take pictures of her, but she will not try to take a picture of herself. It comes out weird. Funny weird. JD went to make one not knowing the flash was on and the result was so funny that he made it his wallpaper. He probably wouldn't care if I showed you, but one day he might not be 10, and that should not come up on google when he is applying for jobs in the future. Any way, as usual, my kids are not the norm.
I was recently talking with some friends about this and one woman pointed out that it isn't just the teens. My generation has gotten a bit heavy handed with the selfies as well. She mentioned that one of her friends had recently posted one captioned with something indicating that she almost never posted pictures of herself, but this same person had multiple pictures already posted. It actually wasn't unusual at all for her. That is when the fear set in. What if we are selfie obsessed and don't know it! We instantly went to our own Facebook profiles and started counting. I was a little worried. My profile picture is a selfie, and I know I took one when I got my flu shot, maybe the last time I got my hair done. Counting ones others have made of me and I have posted, I'm averaging around 2 pictures that I am in per month. For comparison we looked up the profile of the woman who sparked the debate. She had 50... in a couple of months. I'm not sure what the cap would be for a healthy level of self pictures, but I'm pretty sure that almost 1 a day is not good.
I kind of like the idea of doing occasional self wellness checks on our profiles. Are we posting too many pictures of ourselves and pretending that we don't? Do we tend to share unverified links, the modern version of "forward to all"? Are you posting publicly thing that you don't want to come up under a google search of your name? That one goes double if you are a teacher. It may not be fair, but us nosy parents look. Are you abusing the ability to send game requests? Are you posting enough videos of cute animals? Okay, that last one is a trick. There are never enough cute animal videos. That is what makes the internet work.
Now that I've said that, I should probably go check myself.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Are you a bad driver?

Surveys show that most people are confidant drivers who feel like they do a good job of driving. They also feel that most other drivers are crazy. Someone has to be wrong here. Yesterday I saw one of the wrong people, and I thought their example might could help others figure out if they too are a bad driver. 
Rocky and I were on a walk in the neighborhood. As we got close to our house we saw a car whip around the corner with barely a pause at the stop sign. They then swerved and honked at a car they almost hit. The "idiot driver" they had to honk their horn at was actually a parked car with no one in it. It was pulled to the side, in the proper direction, and well within the law. 
Here is my helpful tip: If you find yourself honking at legally parked cars, you are in fact, a bad driver. It isn't them. It's you. Consider enrolling in driving school. Maybe taking a yoga class to calm you down a bit. Oh, and even if you are a good driver, please slow down in neighborhoods. Kids are out, people are walking, cars are parked, just be extra careful. 
On a side note, on this walk we also saw a wild rabbit that kept sneezing. It was one of the most adorable things I've ever seen. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Why does this annoy me?

I can not believe I am writing an actual blog post about this, but it is really bugging me, and I'm kind of hoping I have at least one friend as crazy as me that is also annoyed.
I was in Kroger today looking at the canned biscuits to use to make mini pizzas because sometimes I can be a fun mom. It has been bothering me that over the past few years Pillsbury seemed to be phasing out their normal sized whop biscuits (you "whop" them on the counter to open them, I didn't make that up, people really call them that). Everything was now the "grand" sized because what good is a biscuit unless it is the size of your toddler's head, right? Then I saw this:
Normal, regular sized biscuits are now "junior"? Why? The name is an oxymoron! Are we suppose to be excited they they now have miniature versions of their gigantic version? We have taken  1+1 and made 2, but now you can get half of 2 also. That is still 1! It isn't new. 
It is fine to eat a giant biscuit as long as you aren't pretending that it is a normal single serving biscuit. The smaller size is a normal biscuit. 
It is stupid things like this that make America fat. 

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Jack and the Pie

Something cool happened tonight, but to explain it I have to start last week. Our church has an Awana program for the kids on Wednesday night (it's a church thing, learn bible verse, have fun, etc.). Our two oldest age groups were in a friendly competition to raise money for missions. The leaders of the losing side would get a whipped cream pie to the face. The problem was that two of the sweetest most Disney princess ladies were the leaders on the losing side. Even the winners were not too excited, especially the daughter of Miss Tina (one of the two). She was almost in tears.
In our Sunday School class this week, Tina told us she was nervous about it and was still holding out hope that a night in shining armor (meaning her husband) would swoop in and take her place. I was telling the kids this over lunch after church and we mentioned that often Miss Tina's husband doesn't get home from work in time on Wednesday nights to be able to save her. Right then I noticed a gleam in Jack's eye. We could tell he was giving it a lot of thought. He started to ask, "Do you think I should ...?", but didn't get the whole thought out. I smiled and told him if he wanted to step in and be the knight in shining armor, I'd bring him a change of clothes. He wanted to think about it.
This morning I sent an email to our youth minister Nick that started out "One day I'll send you a normal email, but today is not that day." I went on to explain that if Jack volunteered it was not a joke or impulsive. It was fine by me, if it was fine with him. He replied that he had also decided not to let the ladies get hit and Jack could join him in saving them. He actually spun it into a sweet message about Christ's sacrifice for us.
So, here it is. Jack getting a pie in the face to save a lady.

...and maybe a tiny bit to impress a girl.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Egg Hunt Husbands

I had to write a post bragging about something unusual that happened at my church. We had an Easter Egg hunt this past weekend at a member's beautiful farm, which is not the strange part. The strange part was the number of men who showed up to watch their kids pick up plastic eggs. Several were even there in spite of the fact that their wives weren't. Two of the moms I asked about were out of town for different mini vacations. I can not tell you the number of kid things I have been to where there were 100 moms and 4 dads. I don't think I have ever seen the dads outnumber the moms, especially at a church event that was preschool heavy. Both our senior pastor and music minister where there, even though neither of them have young kids, and neither of them were leading the devotional or prayer time.They just showed up to help. Speaking of helping, there were rather large bounce houses that needed to be taken down. It was going to require several men to make it happen. The children's minister asked if a few would stay to help with clean up, and they did, a lot of them. The following is a picture of a few of them as they tried to get the rest of the air out after folding the largest one.

 Keep in mind that this is just a few of the dads who stayed to help. That is at least ten guys just in this picture who volunteered to stay late after a kid's church event. If this doesn't amaze you then clearly you have never served on a church preschool committee.
Far too often men stay home giving the impression that church is just for women and children. I am so proud of our guys and the love they show to their families, both in their home and in their church family.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

No makeup for cancer (not exactly)

No make up selfies are popping up all over Facebook for cancer awareness. If you are wondering why, then welcome to my thought train. If you have read my blog for long then you already know how I feel about awareness for things everyone already knows about. Today I read an article written by a cancer patient kind of ripping the trend. She was irritated because she feels terrible and doesn't have the energy for makeup ever, and the idea of people "being brave" to post a picture with no makeup rubbed her wrong. Probably because she had no makeup and no hair and was just happy to be breathing. I can't say I blame her.
For me, it reminded me of my husband's cousin Joy. She was recently on an episode of The Doctors. She has a bizarre form of cancer, but that isn't why they had her on. She was there to talk about benefiting from a charity called Lipstick Angels. They are makeup artists who go to hospitals and pamper patients.  They give hand massages, facials, and makeup application to women who are tired from fighting for their life. It may seem trivial to some, but that sort of attention can really lift your spirits. It is a good example of people using their skill and talents to brighten the day of someone else. If you want to see the clip from the episode, it is here.
So, here is my picture with no makeup. It isn't brave. It isn't special. It is just how I look when I have a cold and not enough sleep. It isn't to make you aware of cancer. You are already all too familiar with it. It is to make you aware that you know how to do something that would benefit someone else. Even if it isn't something traditionally done, it can still be helpful. Maybe all you can do is write a check, but that is huge and more than most.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Have you ever noticed that as a mom you never get sick just after restocking tissues, cold medicine, or after getting all your whites washed? No. It is always the day you needed to go to the store, the day before you completely run out of clean underwear, and just as the last tissue leaves the box. Every single time. One day I will write a book called "Murphy's wife's laws", and this will be chapter one. 
Seasonal allergies finally caught up with me. I've been holding them at bay for a month now, but Monday they won the battle. I've only been really sick two days now and already I look like a less groomed Jennifer Connelly in Labrynth. Is growing eyebrows a super power, and if so, can I exchange it for something cooler like mental long division skills? 
Speaking of super powers, thanks to auto correct, I now know that if I am ever in a lab accident my evil villain name will be Judge Mental. It has a nice ring to it. Judge Mental sentences you to death. Mwahaha! I should start working on my evil laugh just in case. I think I have a gavel around here somewhere. I picture it something like Yzma in The Emperor's New Groove, but after she was turned into the cat with the cute voice. 
Keep in mind that these are my thoughts on cold medicine. I think we can all be thankful that I don't drink or use any recreational drugs. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Junk Shopping

I've had kind of a stressful week. Well, that's not exactly true. "I've given myself stress this week" is probably more honest. While my kids are at the dentist (Rocky goes all knight in shining armor and covers that for me) I decided to take a side trip to one of my local junk stores. Some people call them antique boutiques, but when your store's name is Lolitta's at Runt Place, I think we all know what kind of store it is.
Here is a sampling of what I didn't buy. 
Meet Enrique, Fabio, and John Henry.

I did pick up this little beauty very cheaply. I know people don't wear these anymore, but when has that ever stopped me? 
It is amazing how fun these little shops are. I may need to spend a day soon hitting a bunch of them. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

What's in a degree

Mike Rowe, champion of us "under-educated" folk, gave another interview challenging the idea that everyone must go to college. Don't get me wrong, college is awesome, and much needed for several careers. No one wants someone in the medical field who didn't go to college. However, did you know that it requires a masters degree to be a librarian? I'm sure there is a lot more to it than knowing the Dewey decimal system, but still, a masters degree? Is there something about that job that requires only rich people or people willing to take on massive debt can do it? Probably not. Not to mention the fact that it is a rapidly declining field.
For many years now America has failed to recognize that many people, like myself, learn more in the field than they ever would in a classroom. For those people, hustling in an entry level job for a year is worth a couple of years of college. Three years in the field trumps a college degree for us. Being an apprentice or intern will teach you more about a job than any college lecture ever could. And yet, "degree required" is standard on job listings these days. 
On the flip side of this, the state of GA is now requiring all students to take some vo-tech classes. One size does not fit all! It never has, and never will. The answer is not to force everyone into the same box. The answer is to stop attaching shame and failure to the different boxes. 
I want my children to work hard towards the career that will best suit them. Maybe that work will be done in a classroom, and maybe it will be done with a toolbox. Either way I will be a proud mother. 

Saturday, March 01, 2014

A Challenge

The doctors that my kids see have three offices. This week one of those offices burnt to the ground. Thankfully it happened in the middle of the night, and no one was hurt. I am personally lucky because it wasn't the office we go to. All I could think about was those poor people who had or needed appointments Friday. It occurred to me that they were going to have to try and fit all the practice's doctors and patience into the two remaining locations. The office workers are going to have a rough couple of weeks. Those ladies are going to need some chocolate. So, on my way to a regular errand, I stopped into the grocery store and picked up cheap flowers and a bag of Hershey Kisses. It cost me less than $15. Those people have seen my kids through some medical fires, so it just makes sense to see them through this. The look on the receptionist's face made my day. She let out a long breath and told me about what was on her plate. She thanked me repeatedly and then took it all to the back so everyone could have a little cheering up and chocolate.

I'm not telling this story to brag about what I did. Honestly. I was floating the rest of the day, and that is the best reward. I am telling you to introduce this.

I think most of us have those fleeting thoughts of  "I should take them cookies" or "I'm going to send them a card" or even "I should give them a good Yelp review", but then we don't. Why don't we? Usually because life gets in our way. It isn't on our "to do" list. Well, here is your excuse.
Here are some guidelines:
1. Don't over think the who. Someone will come to mind. Someone you know will have a rough day. Someone you know does stuff for people all the time. There is someone you hardly ever see, but admire. One of these statements probably brought someone to mind. Go with that person, but not if that person is me because Rocky just brought home flowers and chocolate for me. (I inspired him, his inspiration inspired me to post, we are cute like that)
2.You don't have to make it big. Big takes planning, and you are more likely to actually do it if you don't make it complicated. You have to go to the store this week anyway. Add "random chocolate bunny" to your list and drop it on someone's doorstep with a post-it that says "You are awesome!" You are out $2 and 5 minutes and have made someone's day.
3. IF you tell people you did it, don't do it to brag. Do it to encourage others about how easy it is and to give them ideas on how they might could do it too. This one is harder than you'd like it to be because you will be on an awesome excited high after. If it helps you can call or email me and I'll happy dance with you.
4. If putting it on your list isn't getting it done, tell your kid you are going to do it. Those little people are crazy good accountability partners. If you don't have kids, try your parent or close friend who'll ask follow up questions. This trick works best if it is someone who'll give you a hard time if you let it slide.
5. Don't expected it to be returned. Remember that the vast majority of people never follow through with these type of ideas, so you may never reap a reward beyond the wonderful feeling of having brightened a day.
Okay, I think you are ready. Go be random!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Grandma Medical Advice

Googling a medical question is just a dumb thing to do. We all know it is going to tell us we have an incurable rare disease, but we do it anyway. What we really need is a way to search what a typical granny type would tell you. Chances are it would have a more accurate answer than a "medical" site that tells you an eye twitch is probably a tumor or Tourettes (true story)

Why do I have a pain in my side?
It's just gas. Cut back on the chili and fritos a bit.

What does this headache mean?
It means you need to log off the computer. We all get headaches. Take a pill and sit in the dark.

What is this bruise on my leg?
You hit your leg two days ago on the coffee table/car door/ bedpost and forgot about it

What is this red bump?
Looks like a no-see-um gottcha. Just rub a little of that bug cream stuff on it. If it gets bigger, see about it.

Does my child have a learning disability?
Yes. Who doesn't. Back in my day....(insert opinion on spanking/working harder/just a phase/medication)

Why do I keep falling over?
Men, stop drinking  Women, stop wearing though crazy shoes

Could this be cancerous?
Everything could be cancerous. Why are you asking me? Talk to a doctor

Will this get worse if I don't have it treated?
It will either get better or worse

It hurts when I do this.
Stop doing that!

Obviously, none of this is legitimate medical advice, but is it really much worse than what you'll find if you google "toenail infection"? Actually, mine might be better because there aren't pictures that make you gag.
(just a damaged nail from dropping things on it and discolored from nail polish or a tumor)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Advice sort of not taken

I signed up to let Jon Acuff bug me every day for a month about my dream. I’d like to say that I took every word to heart, followed his plan to the letter, and attain my goal, but that’s not how I work. I read every email, nodded in agreement, and then thought of at least 10 things I could do other than work on my goal. My mother says I have a special talent for “creative avoidance”.
My goal was not grand. I simply wanted to write more. If I could turn out one blog post a week, it would be a start. Instead, I took up new craft projects. I tried new recipes. I caught up on health checkups. I did not attack my goal. Then a funny thing happened. I checked my blog and I had accidentally written 5 posts before the end of the month instead of 4. (if you count this one, 6)
I was so confused by this that I had to sit down and figure out how it had happened. I determined that either Jon has magical powers that are sent via email, or the key problem in my not writing was not living my life in a way that gave me something to write about. 

It turns out that I needed to get out of my own head, stop focusing on what I wasn't doing, and try new things.  I don’t think I would have gotten there on my own. It took having something to creatively avoid. I should never underestimate my ability to do things backwards. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Look it!

It seems I have been in the mood to breakdown my own crafting barriers this month. After my modesty success and lessons learned from painting canvas paper, I moved to the real thing.
I had already decided that I wanted some sort of quote for Nix' room. I polled friends, made a list, and Nix picked a lovely quote from Dr. Seuss that fits her well.
Step 1: The Design. This was the easy part for me. It was computer work and therefore easily changed.

Step 2. The Layout. I turned my original work into segments 8x10 pieces that would allow me to transfer the design to the canvas

Step 3 Transfer. After the gray base coat, I transferred the design to the canvas using graphite paper. This gave me an outline to follow, so it became more like paint by number.

Step 4 Paint. This was the part I was nervous about. It was a lot of words to fill in. Next time I must remember a smaller quote and a larger, less swirly font. It is hard to see here, but I went back after I was done with my original plan and add in silver swirls to the purple ones and purple highlighting to the letters.

Step 5 Hanging the finished project. I never expected it to look this good.

I am certain that people who have a knowledge of how these things should be done would pat my head and bless my heart upon close inspection, but Nix loves it and I am satisfied with it.
Next up is one for JD, which will hopefully glow in the dark.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Killing Cupid

It's that time of year again. Time to see how I will be tortured by Valentine's Day this year. In all fairness, it isn't just me this year. I captured this lovely headline.

It snowed everywhere. Here in Georgia we got 5 whole inches of a snow and ice mix and confined the entire city of Atlanta and the surrounding areas for most of the week. Typically, I enjoy snow days. I love having random days off with the kids. This is the second run of snow days for us. The school calendar already had this being a 4 day weekend, which means the kids went to school Monday and don't go back until Tuesday. We have all gone a bit stir crazy, but it is really cold out there and filled with other people who are stir crazy, so I also don't want to leave.

In addition to the weather, I have had personal horrors this week. Thanks to a couple of oral surgeries, more teeth pulled than I care to dwell on, and the combination of a small mouth and dentists with large hands, I have one of the most common phobias, The Dentist. I have a mini panic attack just talking about the idea of going. It is really far outside of my normal to react to anything like that, which I think makes it even worse. This week my "permanent" retainer detached from one side and stabbed my tongue. I had no choice. I had to go. I spent a good bit of Sunday and Monday randomly bursting into tears. It was pathetic. Rocky arranged for me to see Nix's orthodontist. They were beyond amazing. So understanding and quick. Rocky sat by my side the whole time. I felt like a complete failure because I had to have my husband drive me so that I'd stay, and I cried in front of a couple of people there. Rocky says I was amazing because I did everything they asked me to, I didn't balk, I didn't lose it in front of any kids, including my own. I cried when we got in the car, and my stomach has been taking the stress out on me in spurts all week. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that this was harder for me than the year of the breast cancer scare probably because deep down I knew genetics was on my side with that one.
On the upside, I had a man who not only was understanding about my fear, but let me cry and held my hand and encouraged me even when I felt like a failure. Sadly, I am not getting even our normal weekly date with this man because he is in a jazz band. When he puts on his tux tomorrow night and goes to an incredibly romantic venue it will be without me because I don't crash weddings. I have gone into a lot of things being "with the band", but I draw the line at weddings the weekend of Valentine's. The kids are pushing for us to try the after Valentine's banquet at church again this year, but I'm understandably gun shy.
Update: JD got pink eye the day of the church banquet so by not signing up I saved myself the trouble of cancelling. Win!?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Snow Day Craft #2

I spent most of my creative juices on digital stuff because my computer keeps my lap warm, but I started going cross-eyed and found myself making things like this.

It was clearly time for a hands on craft. Before the storm, I bought some aluminum tape so that I could try out a how to from my favorite blog Epbot. 
My end game is to turn a ballet pointe shoe into the tin man, which will be awesome because I also want to make one into a ruby slipper. 
Baby steps first, so I tried a small box. 
First I glued on some things for texture. It was basically just what I could find quickly in my random craft stash. 

I don't have any cool metallic wax stuff to give it the added color, but it turned out pretty cute, especially for a first try.

This is a random thing to throw in, but I just went upstairs and saw JD doing his daily reading. He was on the air mattress we aired up just in case we had friends lose power and ended up hosting people. This is not the proper way to lay on an air mattress. I think we need out of the house.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Snow Day Craft #1

I don't know if you have heard, but we've been kind of snowed in a lot this winter , or at least a lot for Georgia. In addition to french toasting (that is my new term for buying milk, bread, and eggs before snow), I hit the craft store. I have a stack of fleece for cape making, but I am also trying a few new things.
I really enjoy playing around with words in Photoshop, but they never leave my computer. I decided it was time to stop being intimidated by paint brushes. I'm trying out a few different methods of getting my ideas on canvas.
 For this one. I tool my original PS file and turned it all white with a black stroke fx on the words. I then printed it onto my canvas paper, and did it paint by number style.

My first one turn out pretty from a distance, but the labor involved and the messiness of a close look bugged me. I really should have painted the whole thing brown and then used transfer paper to trace on the lettering to paint.

I decided that my next try would be simple. Something for JD. A Doctor Who quote. I gave him the choice of TARDIS blue or fez red. He went with his favorite color.
First, I laid out vinyl letters on a piece of canvas paper.

Then, I painted the whole thing fez red.

Next came peeling off the letters to reveal the white underneath.

Last, I sealed it. It turned out a lot better than I thought it would. I was really pleased. The only hard part was waiting on coats to dry.
Since I wasn't sure how it would work, I stuck to canvas paper, but I intend to try this on a real canvas. I may attempt to mount the ones I have done on paper to wood, but that will have to wait until we can drive on the streets again.
I'm not sure what I'll try next. I bought chalkboard paint and glow in the dark paint, so there is really no telling.
On deck right now is starting a big pot of chili. 

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Scarred for Life

When I was about 4, I was playing around in my parents bathroom. This didn't happen often because their shower was where monsters and/or serial killers likes to hide. It was during the daylight hours at the time, so I was able to relax. While in there, I decided it would be a great idea to use my mom's Chapstick. I really went to town with it. I know this because what I had actually grabbed was lipstick, and my face looked like a murderous clown. In my youth I did not stop to think that I might have mistakenly used lipstick. I thought, red = blood, blood = hurt, hurt = pain. I am clearly about to die. To this day the smell of lipstick turns my stomach. It was a traumatizing moment in my life. My mother thought it was a funny little kid moment. I think she might have even made a picture. It wasn't until I was of age to start wearing lipstick and couldn't bring myself to use it, that the impact of the moment really came to light.
I tell this story to put context to my next line of thinking. Do you ever wonder what harmless random event of life will turn out to have traumatized your child? 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

My Almost Productive Week

I decided that this week was going to be productive. I had plans to reset my pantry because it is disorderly again. I was going to clean my laundry room because it is gross. Then, I was going to make a dozen capes because there was a fleece sale and I still had bank from Christmas. Today is Wednesday and I have yet to do any of that. I have good reasons. Here is how I killed my productivity thus far.
1. Monday I changed my sheets and put on flannel sheets
2. Fuzzy socks that keep my feet warm but discourage shoes
3. I made rice bags and keep heating them up
4. I used a french press to make tea, which then required sipping and savoring because it was wonderful
5. I had refrigerated cookie dough
6. Netflix has episodes of Chuck
7. I realized that I didn't have a favorite My Little Pony yet. (Twilight Sparkles)
8. Probably worst of all, I turned on my computer.
9. I learned that I like hummus. You can't really eat that stuff while working
10. I started back walking yesterday and have sore legs today
11. The possibility of snow makes me look out the window a lot. Actual snow hypnotizes me.
12. Arm knitting (maybe not, but I felt like I needed an even dozen)

I still have half a week. I could still get it all done. It might happen.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Part 3: JD's Dream

Over the years JD has had several typical little boy dreams. At 4 he wanted to be a policeman because he really likes it when he goes to cross the parking lot and it makes cars stop and wait on him. It gave him a power trip. You get a gun and a whistle. What could be better?
Next was the fireman phase. It was based solely on getting to drive the big red truck. It was a short lived dream. He realized that picking a career based on the color of the vehicle you got to drive was a little silly. He went back to policeman for the remained of his preschool years.
I have a very clear memory of what came next. We were in the car, where all deep conversations start, and he asked me how one can make a living telling jokes. He wanted to be a stand up comic. He was 5. There is something a little scary about that to me, mainly because I think he is serious. Moms want their boys to grow up to be doctors and lawyers and things that provide a stable life. Stand up comedian is the exact opposite of that.
The most recent questioning has turned out a similar answer. His dream is to be a comedic actor or a spy. If recent headlines are to be believed, he could be both as long as he doesn't ask to be paid in cocaine.
I'm struggling a bit with this dream. I want to be supportive. I can totally see him being some sort of comic. He has those things you can't teach, like timing. He takes it seriously. He actually works on it (that is a struggle in pretty much every other area). We are letting him take drama classes this year. He is the only boy in the class. That did not stop him. He has to read and memorize lines. He does this without us helping at all. The only school project he has really gotten into this year involved dressing up as an explorer and giving a short presentation. He was one of the few kids who didn't use notes. He is good at this. So, why do I struggle? Do you know how many people want to be actors? Do you know how many of those people actually make a living doing that? On top of that, it is not a pretty industry. There is rejection and even at it's best it is still harsh and unpredictable. I don't want that for my baby.
He was Henry Hudson. We went for clever over elaborate. 
I'm not exactly excited about the spy idea either. He is too cute to be sneaking around Russia to uncover secret plots. He is too funny to be Jason Borne. I don't want people shooting at my little guy, or him shooting other people, for that matter. I'd never sleep.
That is the thing about dreams. They are rarely practical. They aren't always what other people would want for you. They are often scary. For now, I am finding a healthy balance of supporting the kid's dreams while also encouraging a realistic backup means of support. I can not wait to see what happens. No, wait, I take that back, I can wait. Seeing it comes at the cost of my babies growing up, and I'm not ready for that.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Part 2: Nix Dream

In continuing with what I started, I asked Nix what she would want to be if she didn't have to worry about education or money, or even skill, what would she want to do. It took her awhile to answer. She isn't sure what she wants to do with her life at this point. She wants to get married, have children, and teach preschool kids in Sunday School. These are all very lovely goals but aren't exactly college majors. The school system has had her take some really lame tests that are suppose to help you figure out your goals, but those haven't helped. They suggest things like music video choreographer and a brew master (not even kidding). These are probably suggested because she likes taking ballet and enjoys chemistry. For now, she is taking the broad approach and studying a little of everything in hopes that something clicks.
Back to my original topic. Nix finally decided that if she could be anything with no limits she would be a writer. I suggested that she might want to major in something to further that dream, and was met with an argument that I have yet to refute. Her point is that after a certain point, grading a person's writing is subjective. She could get professors that hate fantasy books and will despise her work no matter what. If she did adjust to please the professors then her writing would be their taste not hers, and if they were so good then they would be authors not professors. She has a point.
Thinking through this has given me an idea for her. I think she would make an awesome editor. She'd get to read a lot, correct people's grammar, and make other people's dreams come true while still having time to work on her's. It would also give her a foot in the door to the industry. Bonus! That is even a job that, if you are good at it, can be done from home while you have kids and teach Sunday School. The more I think through this, the better it sounds for her. I just have to be extra careful not to push my idea of perfect on her while still guiding her. It is one of those fun fine lines we walk as parents.

Dreams Part 1

This morning my bestie texted me this picture.

It put me on a thought train.
My first thought was of Tangled and the "I've Got a Dream" song.
From there I went to Molly Lewis and "I Pity the Fool".
Then I really started thinking about what my dream was. Do I have a dream? Is there something that I consider my version of riding a unicorn over a rainbow? There should be. I like to ask my kids what their ultimate dreams are. If you didn't have to worry about how much schooling it took or how much money you'd make, what would you do with your life? (parts 2 and 3 will be their answers)
I have two. The first one, I've shared before. I'd like to be Erma Bombeck. Well, not the dying young part, but the humorously honest writer part. This one bugs me because there is part of my that thinks I could actually do this if I sat down and really got serious about writing. The one thing that stops this dream is me. Do you know how introverted people who can not bring themselves to self promote get books out there? It is really easy, they don't. Unless I change who I am and how I approach presenting myself, I'm going nowhere with this one. I haven't decided yet how I feel about that.
Moving on from that somewhat depressing thought, my ultimate unicorn dream is to be the voice of a cartoon. Seriously. I'd probably pay to have that job. Ever since I saw the Animaniacs, I have wanted to be Dot Warner or a Power Puff Girl or a chipmunk in a Disney movie. I recently freaked my children out by breaking into cartoon me. They made me do different voices until I went hoarse. The look of astonishment on their faces was great.
The first time I remember really wanting this it came from the rant at the end of Dot's song, "I'm Cute". I don't know what it is about angry cute voice that tickles me so, but I love it, and I can do it, and I can't believe people actually get paid to do something so fun. More recently I was watching a reading done at Emerald City Con (Seattle convention). Each year they get a panel of voice actors together to read through a famous movie script in different character voices. They gather legends like Rob Paulsen,  Maurice LeMarche, and Tara Strong to read Star Wars or something like it. (major swear warning on that link) I don't even know where one would start on the road to become Billy West. If anyone finds out, let me know. Right now I am going with the plan of JD becoming a Disney prince and me having a small part being in his contract. It could happen.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

My Secret Ship

There has recently been this list floating around with trendy words that people over 30 need to stop using. I'm going to ignore that list just for this post. There was one word that wasn't on the list, and I think it is because it hasn't really caught on with the over 30 crowd. That word is "ship". It is when you wish to see a relationship form between two people (usually fictional ones, but it works for real people, too). Then you make a cute name that is a mesh of the two people's names like Brangelina. After you have picked a ship to hop on you are a full member of a fandom. The next thing you know you'll be reading fanfiction, joining tumblr, and trolling pages of people who want a different pairing. You are full of feels and squee each time your ship progresses towards reality. (translation: overly emotional and making an excited noise only dogs can hear each time you think the couple might actually happen).
I haven't gone completely down that rabbit hole, but I do have a couple I ship.
It is my belief that one day Isabella Garcia-Shapiro is going to wake up and realize that she has been wasting her time following around Phineas Flynn because Ferb Fletcher has been appreciating her and taking care of her. That's right. I ship Ferbella, and I'm not afraid to admit it.

It totally makes sense. We know she ends up with one of them. What if all this time Ferb has been a man of few words because he is too nervous to talk around her. What modern teen girl doesn't go through a British phase sooner or later? Phineas gets so caught up in his grand plans that he doesn't stop to consider her. Phineas is a guy you crush on, Ferb is a guy you marry.

Sometimes for fun Nix and I debate her shipping of Sherlolly (BBC Sherlock Holmes and Molly Hooper). I maintain that it is because I like them both that I don't want to see it happen. Molly deserves better. Sherlock would hurt her, which would hurt him in turn, he'd go back to drugs to dull the guilt, and crimes in London would go unsolved. We can't have that. There are reasons he is alone. Mostly I am just hoping to avoid my daughter dating a smart but emotionally unavailable sociopath no matter how high functioning he is.

Now that I have fessed up, it is your turn. Who do you ship?