Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Have you ever been so conflicted emotionally that it manifests itself physically?  I am a massage therapist. I understand that we humans can internalize emotional turmoil, but eventually our bodies will betray us.  Pains and aches that can be attributed to stress. I have recognized this in my own life often enough. But something different happened to me last night.

For more than a year, I've been stewing, and praying, and (I'll confess) worrying about two different issues, mainly centering on two questions: "Who do I want my kids to be?" and "Who do I want to be?" And how do I get there?  I'm having trouble committing. Public school, private school, or home school? Keep my massage therapy license or not?  I don't need to rehash everything here on my blog. But yesterday it all came out.  

I was sitting in the beautiful sunshine at the homeschool co-op, chatting with friends. Those of us with toddlers spend a lot of time at the play ground. We get good ideas and share stories for three-hours while our littlest kids get some serious wiggle time. It's always a wonderful time. I'm inspired by and encouraged by them. And I want to be like them. 

Then, after co-op, I had an appointment to look at an office space to rent. It was really beautiful, and the massage space was truly fantastic.  It's in a holistic wellness center, addressing Spiritual, Emotional, and Physical needs.  It would be affordable enough for me to work 2 days per week. The woman heading up the effort is a sincere Christian, and I love her heart!  Another person I admire.   
As I was cooking dinner, I could almost feel myself careening toward depression. Praying about how this all fits into my life, talking with these wonderful women, imagining the varying outcomes of whatever I decide to do, asking God to reveal His will. Waiting. Praying. Worrying. Repenting. Trusting. Waiting. It had been spinning around in my heart, soul, and mind so long.  When I closed my Bible last night, and leaned my head back on the chair... I was literally dizzy.  The room was spinning.

I shared a little with my husband. Napped a bit in my cozy chair in front of the fireplace. Shuffled off to bed. I awoke hours later to hear my husband getting ready for work at 3:30 a.m.  I asked him to pray for me, and share any opinions. I think he knows that God can work me through this better than any of his suggestions.  He did suggest meeting up with a Military Family Life Consultant. They'd meet me at McDonald's and the kids can play while I get free counseling.  Help me in my decision making process. 

But now that my head is a bit more clear, and I've digested some of the words that were offered to me by friends, and thoughts that were presented by God, I am realizing a few things, pretty or not:

1) I want someone else to be responsible for my children; better said, "I need a break!"
2) I am clinging to an old identity
3) I am not trusting God with my tomorrow (What if I become a widow? What if Troy doesn't get promoted?)

[Disclaimer: These are NOT thoughts I project on other people when I hear them talking about sending their own children to school, or who try to balance work with kids, or retain their professional license. Please do not be offended by what is going on in MY spiritual journey.  It's where God is taking ME, not where I think EVERYONE should go. Thanks.]

I'm betting that hiring a babysitter or getting Spencer in pre-school a couple of days a week might do wonders for my stamina. And I also know he'll love it. 

So now, I'm looking to visit some verses that are the TRUTH for this situation. And I'm open to suggestions! I am meditating on Matthew 6:33-34:

   33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I'm also excited to start an online book discussion starting in February, hosted by my friend, Grey.  We're reading Captivating. Here's how she pitched the book discussion on FB, with a quote from the book:

"A woman of true beauty offers others the grace to be and the room to become. In her presence, we can release tension and pressure that so often grips our hearts. We can also breathe in the truth that God loves us and He is good." --Stasi Eldredge, Captivating

I am SO IN!  If anyone else is interested in a read-a-long, or has done one before, let me know of an online platform that works well for group discussion.  We're starting soon!

Oh, and by the way... I'm no longer dizzy.  I'm certain I was overwhelmed. Thank God HE knows what will become of this!

In other news... some Food, Fun, and Family stuff...
Chicken Tortilla Soup. Heavenly.

It snowed in the lobby of Great Wolf Lodge at story time!

Wily the Wolf.

First recipe I've tried from Pinterest.

Just now.
Should probably get some pants on the potty monster before we have a puddle.
Those are "light sabers."

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I Have One Cute Bathroom...

And two ugly ones!

Here was my guest bathroom in February 2011 when we moved in:

Polygraph wallpaper. Brass light fixture. Disproportionate mirror...

There was also a funky smell, but you can't take a picture of a smell, so I'll leave that to your own imaginings.

We tackled the kitchen and main living area's walls first, but by July, I was ready for a small, quick, rewarding project.  The wallpaper could really make you dizzy if you stared at it too long. Of all the bathrooms in this house, this one had the most offensive paper on the walls (and, of course the aforementioned smell).

I don't think it's fair to just put a before and after shot.  So much time and effort happens in between.  But I refuse to post a pic of this room without the toilet (which was removed for quite some time). Here, instead is a pic of me convincing the wallpaper it's time to let go:

Insert steamy online photo joke here

Then I painted the walls, spray painted the light fixture and mirror frame to make do until I came across the perfect pieces.

So much better, but not quite right yet.
Removed the vases right away when I got tired of dusting them.

Used white high-heat spray to hide the brown roses and etching on the globes. 
This is what my bathroom looked like this morning. Not loving it.
What I DO love are the hooks on the towel rack.
I bought them in Anchorage at the huge craft show downtown, shortly before moving away.
This morning, while refereeing 4 boys to take turns on the Wii, kiss a bump and boo-boo or two, feed some snacks, make lunch, save the cat's life, threaten time-out, convince a naked two-year-old to get dressed, dress said 2-year-old, Skype with long distance friends (almost family) I got to hang my mirror, my photo, and rework the hooks on my towel rack into something I LOVE:
The wood for the towel rack is from the train parked in downtown Sanford.
My older son found it laying on the ground next to it.
And he really didn't want me to use it, because he pretends its his wooden gun.
And I told him that it's my turn to play with it.

Here's the mirror. $40 at Kirkland's.
I forgot about that place until yesterday when I was going to pass it on my way to Pier 1.
I never made it to Pier 1.  Maybe next time.

I love the bathroom. It's clean and calm. Nothing cluttering up the counter. And the funky smell is gone (well... most of the time). Biggest bang for my buck would have to be the $8 light fixture transformation ($1 for a partial can of spray paint and $7 for the replacement globes):

So, one bathroom down... two to go! Wondering if Rate My Space on HGTV would rather do them for me... 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Nineteen Years!

Today we celebrate an anniversary. Nineteen years ago, my husband enlisted in the Army National Guard. His mom never really celebrates that day. When we discuss, "that day," she tells us she still needs to forgive the recruiter, with whom their family worshipped at church each week. But, oh, if he'd not joined the Army at the young age of 17, then he wouldn't have been called to the Chaplaincy the following summer, where he was learning his job for his enlisted career. And though we may have been attending the same college 3 years after enlisting, and I may have noticed him from afar the way I did, I may not have found him the least bit attractive. Because just weeks before meeting him, I told my room mate that though there was nothing wrong with picking a place to live and work and staying there all your live-long days, I just couldn't see myself doing that. I inherited wanderlust from my mother, and I needed to keep moving. I knew I would. So when I saw my future husband from afar, I crushed. Hard. Then I found out that he was choosing a lifelong career in the Army Chaplaincy, if they would have him. And it's like a million arrows appeared out of nowhere, floating in the air, and all pointing to him. They said, "THIS IS IT!" and "THE ONE!" and "LOOK NO FURTHER!" and "Girl? Whatchu waitin' for?" And we were engaged a year later. So I can celebrate the anniversary of his enlistment. Knowing that a boy with plans to not stay anywhere long would suit me just fine. That and his love for his God, his country, and Christ's compassion for the soldiers that lay their lives on the line. That suits me just fine.

So, at times, I get ambitious in the kitchen. And by ambitious, I mean trying a new recipe with ingredients I don't normally have on hand. Which means going grocery shopping. Something I hate. But I'm usually never disappointed. Today was no exception. Here's how I commended my husband's 19 years of faithful service:

Thai Chicken Pizza
One 12" precooked pizza crust (or, you overachievers can make your own)
7-oz. peanut sauce (or make the recipe below--awesome and easy)
1 chicken breast, sliced and cooked (I sauteed mine in coconut oil and garlic, added soy sauce)
1 C Italian blend shredded cheese
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1/3 Red pepper, sliced
4 T fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 C fresh bean sprouts
1/2 C matchstick carrots
1 T peanuts

For Peanut Sauce, measure and mix in a bowl the ingredients listed below:
1/4 C honey
1/4 C smooth peanut butter
3 T Soy Sauce
2 T Rice Vinegar
2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 T Sesame Oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T fresh ginger root, minced
1 t ground red cayenne pepper flakes
(this will make more than enough for your pizza. Save some to pour over leftover noodles and broccoli)

Here's the sauce:
Preheat your oven to 400 while assembling your Pizza in this order:
Crust, sauce, chicken, onions, cilantro, red peppers, then cheese. You'll add the sprouts and carrots after it's cooked. Bake for 8-12 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Sauteed in unrefined coconut oil, garlic, and a splash of soy sauce.

I prepped everything while the boys were eating leftovers for dinner. Maybe one day they'l like hot peanut sauce. Things stayed like this until after boys were in bed. 

Finally assembled after 8.  A pretty late dinner time tonight.  

Fresh out of the oven is when you'll add the sprouts, carrots, and peanuts.

So so so very good. I can't wait to celebrate 19 years and one day tomorrow with the two pieces
we had left over!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Home Made Cleaning Concoctions

Of course my entire house is clean, all chores complete, my home-made-everything-from-scratch dinner is almost done, classical music is playing, and my children are sitting quietly and politely, playing with only educational toys. So I decide it's time for another little project to help round out my day.

So I dig out the ingredients I purchased last week to make my second batch of home made laundry soap (the first one I made as a demonstration for a "save money, naturally" class I presented to some ladies for a PWOC retreat up in Alaska).

Finely grate a 4.5 ounce bar of soap --many recipes call for Fels Naptha. I used Dr. Bronner's Lavender
Add this to
1 Cup of Arm and Hammer Washing Soda
1 Cup of 20-Mule Team Borax

Mix until blended evenly. Jar it up, and use 1 Tablespoon per load of laundry. Safe for HE machines.

I've done a couple of loads, and think it's worth the few minutes (and the bit of flesh from my thumb) it took to grate the soap. I paid less than $10 for all the supplies (the Dr. Bronner's soap was a bit spendy at $5), and it will last for months.

I'm more excited about the bathroom scrub recipe my friend Samantha shared with me. And I want you to be excited about it, as well.  I'm sitting down the hall from my freshly scrubbed master shower stall, and I am almost giddy about how good it smells. And I'm just as geeked about the fact that this is a scrub I can use in my boys' tub and know the ingredients within won't burn their bums.

Here's what you need:
1 Cup Baking Soda
1 Cup Arm and Hammer Washing Soda
1 Cup Liquid Castile Soap (I used peppermint)
60 drops Tea Tree Oil

Mix all ingredients in a bowl until the dry ingredients are incorporated.  Blend in more Castile soap, a teaspoon at a time, until you have a spreadable paste. transfer ingredients to an airtight container.

To use: wet down a sponge or nylon scrubber, scoop a bit out of the container with your scrubber, and scrub away.  So far I've used it in the shower pan and the sink.  Tomorrow the boys tub will get a proper scrub down.

Aren't they cute?

The bathroom scrub in the photo needs a bit more liquid castile soap. But you get the idea, I'm sure.

Try these!  They're fun, cheap, and so much better for your body, brain, and the environment than the rainbow-tinted chemical slurries being sold at the grocery store. And think of the heavy plastic jugs you won't have to lug in from the grocery store when it's time to make more!

P.S. If you know me, you know my house will never be all the way clean, the chores will forever be in-progress, my children often stay in their pajamas until after lunch, a completely from-scratch meal rarely makes an appearance at my table, and "polite"is a loose term.  I'm pretty happy when no one's screaming.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Coffee works.

Coffee works wonders.  I planned to stay up late steaming wallpaper off the bathroom walls tonight, so I drank HALF a cup of coffee at about 4:45.  It's 12:30 a.m. and I am awake.  Yes, I worked for nearly 2 hours with the steamer. But it was so overwhelmingly slow. This wallpaper is making me rethink how I feel about living with 80's flowers plastered to my walls. I'm strategizing now that if the wallpaper is so stuck, then it probably would stay that way under a few coats of texture, primer, and paint.

Speaking of coffee, the photo in the background of this blog was taken moments after Troy pulled his first shot of espresso from his Alex Duetto machine. It's a true Macchiato (which means "marked.") A simple shot that has been marked with steamed milk on top.  I think the Starbucks version is much more delicious, in a whipped-cream, caramel-y, dessert-y sort of way.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

This May Not Be Pretty...

So, I've done this before. Starting a blog.  It was a Wordpress blog and still exists out there. So why this blog?  Just so I can more easily follow other people's blogs.  Not so I can become the next internet sensation.  Not so I can inspire people to while their hours away wishing they could make all the cool things I make. Not so I can start participating in awesome giveaways from craft sites.  Though I wish I was that kind of girl, I'm not.

But there are those times I want to share, and if you're willing to listen (well, read...) then you're invited to follow!

This may not be pretty, but it's here, and it's me.  And I will keep it real.

Until next time...