The world has been Thrilled once more.
Stranger Things are happening around here.
We could not love Potter more.
The world has been Thrilled once more.
Stranger Things are happening around here.
We could not love Potter more.
Simply Awesome Fall Décor = Pumpkins
Here’s my problem with home décor. I love pretty things. I pin the heck out of all kinds of craft and decorating ideas on Pinterest.
And then I try to execute my visions and end up with a pinzaster of epic proportions.
Or, worse yet, I don’t do any decorating because when I look at Pinterest and see everyone’s beautiful homes, looking amazing and fancy and creative, I give up. I give up because I don’t have a perfect home, a billion dollars, 20 spare hours, and a design degree.
But you don’t have to have a perfect home, a billion dollars, 20 spare hours, and a design degree to bring a little bit of fall Awesome into your home. You can be festive in five minutes and then live your life.
As part of my Simply Awesome series, I want to talk about fall décor.
Seriously. I was walking into the grocery store when I saw a gorgeous display of bagged gourdes and I thought, “I’m working on my writing business these days. Too bad I don’t have the time to use some of these cute pumpkins and a bag of fancy things I don’t know the name of from Ben Franklin to decorate my house.”
And then I thought, “The heck?”
That is all.
You want to get a little festive for fall? Here’s a plan to follow:
Step 1. Throw some mini pumpkins in your grocery cart.
Step 2. Drive home.
Step 3. Put the pumpkins on shelves around your house.
Step 4. Blog about it.
Step 4 is optional.
After 13 years of parenting little people, I no longer have a lunch buddy, a grocery buddy, or a pound on the door while I go to the bathroom buddy. For 6 hours. Every. Single. Weekday.
Starting this week, my kids are all in school fulltime.
I’ve had wild emotional mood swings about this.
Last year when I chose to only put Wanda in half-day kindergarten, it had a little to do with money, but mostly it was about – I wasn’t ready yet. She was ready. SO SO ready. But I couldn’t bear to let go of my last little friend for that many hours each day.
I knew I’d miss her, miss my role as a fulltime stay-at-home mom.
Motherhood is my favorite thing. Gratitude is not a strong enough word to describe how I feel about being a mom.
But it is brutal sometimes. And it is not cessant. Even a little bit.
Halfway through the school year last year, I started to get excited. Wanda was overripe for full day school at that point and I found myself daydreaming about all the things I’d accomplish when I had more uninterrupted time.
I could write a novel worth publishing. I could go back to school and become a doctor or an astronaut. I could even find out what it feels like to finish a thought before being interrupted.
I’ve been a casual on-again/off-again writer and blogger for ten years, periodically taking on too much freelance work. Then I would scale way back when I realized I was incapable of being a great working mom of young kids.
My blog has gone through periods of large readership, but things are quiet around here these days. I just haven’t had the time and focus to give it.
As I contemplated my new free time and all the ways I could fill it, I started to get really excited. I was ready. I could do this. I was simply moving into a new chapter of my life and I might love it.
And there was a box by Wanda’s name.
For lunch money.
I was overcome with sadness. It was sadness that she would be eating lunch with someone other than me. Sadness that a hugely important phase of my life was ending. My identity for the past 13 years was gone. I grieved.
So I didn’t know what to expect this week as the kids headed off to school.
Would I be sad? Would I be lonely? Would I be bored?
I doubted I’d be bored. I’d spent the entire summer (whenever I wasn’t having emergency surgery) making a business plan for all the writing and marketing I was going to do this year. But maybe I’d be depressed or lacking in motivation to follow through. That scared me.
The morning of the first day of school, Wanda was eating breakfast while I read. She called my name.
I looked up to see a concerned expression on her face.
“What’s wrong, Wanda?”
She eyed me with pity.
“When I leave for school today, the only one you’ll have to talk to is Cortana.”
(We’re a Windows Phone family. Cortana is my personal digital assistant. Like Siri’s big sister.)
To her, that was a horrible prospect. Me, sitting alone at a table, my head in my hands, repeatedly saying, “Cortona, tell me a joke.”
I walked her to school. I had a nice walk home. I showered in silence.
Then I got in the car to run an errand and this feeling welled up inside my chest, a feeling I hadn’t been expecting.
I can do this. In my worry and sadness about turning in my full time stay-at-home mom badge, it hadn’t occurred to me that I would be getting another badge back. KATHRYN. I was overcome with this feeling of reclaiming a part of myself that I willingly surrendered many years ago.
I am autonomous.
I am free.
I am simply Kathryn for six whole hours each day.
And I love it.
I have gotten so much done in the past three days. I can’t even believe it.
Lately I’ve been talking to my doctor about the possibility that I might have ADD. My thoughts have been so scattered and I’ve had such a hard time finishing tasks and following through.
My kids just started school fulltime and I realized – maybe I don’t have ADD. Maybe I just have children.
I think my explosion of productivity can be explained this way – In the past, when I’ve had an hour to work on a blog post, what I’ve really had is:
5 minutes to work on a blog post
6 minutes to have my hair styled like a princess
3 minutes to work on a blog post
5 minutes to notice the pirate booty on the floor and pick it up before it got ground into the carpet
10 minutes to work on a blog post
15 minutes to kiss the invisible owie and find the band-aids because IT JUST FEELS LIKE BLOOOOD
3 minutes to work on a blog post
And then 13 minutes to figure out how the Octonauts were possibly going to rescue the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a
Now, when I have an hour to work on a blog post, I have AN HOUR TO WORK ON A BLOG POST.
And I miss my kids. But that just makes it more fun to see when they get home each afternoon. Missing them is not the worst thing in the world. I’m genuinely delighted to see them when they come home.
Enjoying this phase of life doesn’t take away from how much I adored being home and raising my kids full time. Some of my most precious memories were made during those times and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
Today as I drove home from volunteering at the school, I saw a mother with her toddler, standing by the construction site. They were holding hands and engrossed in the digger truck action. I felt a twinge in my chest and thought, “I don’t do that anymore.”
But I like this time too. I’m coming to believe that there are seasons enough in our lives for all the good things we want to do. We just need to look for the beauty in the one we’re in and be present so we can make the most of it.
I’m not always in love with my body. The past couple of years I’ve gotten squishier and sometimes my energy is low. I can’t always wear the clothes I want to wear or get the times I want when I’m racing. Sometimes I’m embarrassed when I see an unflattering picture of myself. And then I go on another
diet lifestyle. Let’s call it a new healthy lifestyle. It just looks like a diet to human person with working eyes and a brain.
My passion is helping people find the good in themselves and in others. But sometimes it’s hard to find what I like about my body when there are so many things I wish I could change. Then I feel bad that I can’t just let go and love myself more. Because I’m Drops of Awesome lady. It’s not always easy in practice. Most things aren’t.
The Friday before Fourth of July I started having some pain and bleeding. The timing wasn’t right but I figured it must just be lady problems. I took Ibuprofen and I muscled through. My parents were in town and there was fun to be had. They left on Sunday and on Monday, the fourth. The pain got worse.
We got situated at the parade and I was really uncomfortable so Dan made a run to the grocery store for some painkillers while I soaked up the small town eye-candy. We had a good day. I threatened to call a doctor if things didn’t get better. The pain came and went for the next couple of days.
But Wednesday morning as I was rinsing Wanda off after her swimming lesson, I knew things weren’t alright. I hobbled out to the car and called my OB for an appointment and miraculously they fit me in that afternoon. I cried all the way home, dropped the kids off, and then cried all the way to the doctor’s office.
I called Dan from the car just to talk me through it. I’d never experienced pain like that and I was so terrified they’d tell me it was normal and to get over it. I had packed my phone charger because if they told me it was nothing, I was planning to head to urgent care until someone found a way to make it stop. I was in this for the long haul.
At the doctor’s office they did the obligatory poking and prodding and I couldn’t hold back the sobbing, but everything looked normal. My IUD was still in place. There was some minor swelling on one side of my abdomen but they couldn’t see an obvious problem.
Then it occurred to me. My back had gone out two weeks earlier. My back rarely goes out. My back always goes out when I get pregnant.
“I’m sure it’s not that,” I said, “But what if it’s that?”
They brought a test. They usually bring a test when I have an appointment at this doctor. I pee on it. They look at it for two minutes while we make small talk and then they see it’s negative and toss it in the trash.
This time the small talk lasted longer. And then the nurse said, “I’m just gonna take this to the lab.”
I waited alone in the room. My phone was dead. I thought about charging it so I could call Dan. The Nurse Practitioner came back in and told me we needed to do an ultrasound because I was indeed pregnant but my pain level made it probable that it was a tubal pregnancy.
More poking and prodding. The ultrasound technician found a bulge in one of my tubes and a lot of bleeding. They told me I wasn’t going anywhere for a while because I needed surgery.
At this point I asked someone to plug in my phone so I could call Dan. And Laylee who was home babysitting. And a couple of friends who would have my back. And I cried and cried.
And I couldn’t tell you exactly why.
I wasn’t sad about losing the baby, not really. We hadn’t even been trying to get pregnant. I probably wasn’t REALLY sad that from now on I’d have to write a more complicated medical history on every form I filled out forever. Although that thought did cross my mind. I wasn’t even crying because the pain was still unbearable.
I was just sad. And I was alone.
They wheeled me across the street to the hospital, which was sort of excruciating, every bump like a gut punch, and prepped me and within a couple of hours I was signing a form saying I understood that they may have to take out a bunch of parts I felt fairly attached to. Dan was there when I signed the papers and when they wheeled me back.
And he was waiting for me when I was wheeled out of surgery. Everything went smoothly. But there had been more internal bleeding than expected and they’d had to go in three separate times with the laparoscope to clean everything up.
The good news was I’d kept all my parts. The bad news was I’d lost a scary amount blood and they’d never really found the source of the bleeding.
So I hung out in the hospital for a couple of days, eating bland food and drifting in and out of sleep as narcotics clouded my brain. Apparently, my sense of humor kicks up a notch when I’m under the influence because my nurse said, “You’re pretty funny for someone who tried to die yesterday.”
Friends visited me and watched my kids and Laylee cleaned my house from top to bottom as a surprise. We’re talking laundry, dishes, floors, everything. If sainthood were a thing granted to 13-year-old Mormon girls, she’d be on the list.
The second day they told me they would discharge me that night if my blood count was up and the pregnancy hormones were way down.
Well, the pregnancy hormones weren’t way down and my blood count was actually slightly down again but they said that was probably just because I’d been drinking so much water and they sent me home anyway.
Because they had me in the mother/baby ward, nurses asked me when I’d given birth or congratulated me on my new baby. It didn’t make me sad. We’d never been trying for a baby. It made me grateful I didn’t have to deal with that pain on top of the physical pain I was experiencing. I know women who have had an ectopic pregnancy with a much-wanted baby and my pain wasn’t the same as theirs.
But it was scary being wheeled out to my car to go home, wondering if I was still bleeding inside, knowing I couldn’t get around well or care for myself.
The house was clean and full of flowers from kind friends, friends who had lined up meals for my first few days home. I was on bed rest. Everything hurt and I was weak and dizzy.
But I also felt really grateful, grateful for good doctors and kind friends, grateful for my loving family, but mostly grateful for my amazing body.
It took me being weak and down and incapable of doing nearly anything to realize just how much my body can normally do.
My body is a miracle.
I can train for and complete a sprint triathlon or bike 20 miles on a whim. I can run up and down the stairs to read a book to my daughter. I can move laundry from one machine to the other and cook and clean and sit up long enough to eat dinner with my family. I can hike and tour museums and sit through three hours of church meetings every Sunday.
I can wear cute clothes, even pants with a waistband. I can style my hair and wear flattering makeup and shower without passing out or feeling dizzy.
I can plant a garden and carry groceries. I can serve others and hug and carry my children.
My body is a miracle.
I found myself standing in front of a mirror the second day I was home. I had gotten over my fear of quietly bleeding to death after Dan spent a million dollars buying a blood pressure cuff and pulse-ox monitor so I could obsessively monitor my own vitals. And now I was standing in the bathroom about to take a shower.
My three incisions were bruised and painful, my stomach was swollen, and I was un-showered and un-made-up. My skin was pale and my eye circles were dark. And I couldn’t get over how beautiful I was. With all the imperfections, road-weariness, wrinkles, and authentic battle damage, I was beautiful. And I knew I could heal.
My body is a miracle.
And so is yours.
When you’re looking at a less-than-flattering picture of yourself or your hand brushes past that little top of the muffin you wish you didn’t have, remember all the things your body can do, how capable, lovable, beautiful and miraculous you are.
Your flabby tummy is just noise.
The Leprechauns must be stopped. That much is clear.
I think the unicorn blood we’ve smeared over our front door is working because we’ve been largely spared their antics, some green milk here, shamrock-colored toilet water there. It’s just harmless fun at our house.
But others are not so fortunate and sadly my kids have been affected by what Leprechauns are doing at their friends’ houses.
When fifth-grader Magoo came downstairs this morning, he looked intensely in my eyes and said, “I wonder what the Leprechaun brought us.”
“Um… I’m pretty sure nothing,” I said, “Leprechauns don’t bring gifts to this address.”
“Oh,” he looked deflated.
This surprised me because for the past several years, as Leprechaun activity around our town has escalated to the point of total Pin-sanity, we have been continually spared. It’s not as though last year the Leprechaun swept in like an abusive husband, trashing our house and leaving reconciliatory gifts, but then forgot about us this year.
That’s all she wrote.
So Magoo continued, “I’ll go check my shoes… just in case… to see if he filled them with Rolos or gold coins.” Again the intense eye contact, pleading, hopeful.
The heck? I bought you Lucky Charms and offered you spinach eggs (WHICH ARE GREEN!!). What more do you want from me?
I do not understand the magic of Leprechauns.
Santa and the Easter Bunny bring gifts, symbolic of the gifts of the Savior. The tooth fairy brings money in exchange for harvested body parts. These make sense to me. But Leprechauns?
They trash your house or school room and then I guess feel bad about it so they leave you gold or high fructose corn syrup or adorable hand-made prizes as seen on Pinterest.
What’s next, a Flag Day Gollum who burns your house down and then leaves you a new car or fills the charred remains of your socks with diamonds?
I’ve been thinking a lot about this and I’ve come up with a plan.
For St. Patrick’s Day.
I think I may go crazy and dye the milk green. I think the kids will love it.
My kids love Pi Day almost as much as I love Labor Day, and that’s saying something.
They have each memorized more digits of Pi than any sane person should know and every year we celebrate.
This year, in honor of Pi day on March 14th, why not make pie for dinner?
This recipe is a healthied-up version of a family favorite my mom used to make when I was growing up. Even with the changes, my kids love this. Enjoy.
Beef Broccoli Cheddar Pie
1 lb ground beef
1/4 cup of chopped onions
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
8 oz of tomato sauce
2 egg whites
2 oz cheddar
6 oz low-fat cottage cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp dry parsley
1 cup small-cut broccoli florets
Steam broccoli until just tender enough to stick a fork in. Set aside. Brown beef and onions and drain well. Mix beef and onions with remainder of filling ingredients. Mix topping ingredients except broccoli. Fold in broccoli. Spoon filling into pie plate. Cover pie with topping and bake at 350 until the topping is bubbly and cooked through, about 30 minutes.
I love celebrating. I mean, you know I celebrate 100 times each day when I do something amazing like make my bed or unload a dish from the dishwasher. Drops of Aweseome! But the ever-escalating pinterest-amplified expectations for holidays leave me overwhelmed.
Here are a few tips for making Valentine’s Day special without going Pinsane.
1. Wear something red or pink – You don’t need to clean target out of very specific matching Be My Valentine holiday wear. Dig something red or pink out of a drawer and consider yourself festive.
2. Make heart-shaped pancakes. If you want to get really epic, add red food coloring to make them pink. Do you need a special As-Seen-On-TV heart-shaped pancake tool? Not so much. My special tool is called A Spoon. I use it to drizzle the batter in a fat V shape that then oozes into a sort of heart. And the crowd goes wild.
3. Write a love note. It can be on a sticky. It can be on a napkin. It can be on a text message. In a pinch it can be verbal.
4. If you have a couple of doilies, some metallic paint and about fifty heart-shaped plastic beads… oh… you don’t have any of those things? Never mind.
Have an Awesome Heart Day!
Maybe it’s because I snuck out of my room to watch the Thriller video when it premiered on TV even though my parents told me I wasn’t allowed to watch it and then I bawled all night because I was so terrified. Michael Jackson with yellow eyes dancing in a horror movie within a horror movie within a horror movie. I mean. Come on. Vomit-inducing fear.
Maybe it’s because someone once told me I looked like Jennifer Garner, who once did the Thriller dance in a movie.
Maybe it’s because all the best flash mobs involve bridesmaids dancing like zombies.
It’s possibly because I love hip hop dancing about as much as I am horrible at it. Which is a lot.
Whatever the reason, it’s long been on my bucket list to learn the choreography to Thriller.
And dance it in a group.
This weekend I did it! Dressed as a zombie princess with my daughter, her friend, and yes, my chiropractor, I danced Thriller with 250 other people at the mall.
Our makeup wasn’t all that epic.
I smiled way too much because I could not help myself.
I was more jolly than creepy.
But I seriously had the time of my life.
Apparently every year, people all over the world gather in the name of charity to Thrill the World. They all learn the dance and then perform it together at the same exact time, setting a world record for something.
So Laylee and I headed to the Senior Center Saturday mornings in September and October and dialed up the YouTube in between times to learn the heck out of this dance. Every time the music starts up and we get ready to dance, I tear up. Because that’s what I do. Dance makes me emotional.
During the first class we both just kept looking at each other like, “What did we get ourselves into?” It was way harder than we thought it would be, especially considering half the people in the class were senior citizens and they were rocking it.
The second class was better. We were almost up to old people hip hop levels and by performance day we nailed it. Mostly. My goal for next year is to make it look a little more like dancing and learn how to move my head from side to side like they do in the music video.
I’ve rarely had more fun with my girl and despite the fact that I don’t actually like pouring fake blood on myself and dressing up as a gory brain-eating zombie, I’m willing to pay that price in order to dance like Michael Jackson for a world record and to help disadvantaged kids learn golf. I am that selfless.
You should join us next year. Or should I say, “Next year join us… or we will nom nom your gray matter!”?
I’ve been working for months with Wanda.
“When someone asks you what you’re being for Halloween, what will you say?”
“Um… I forget.”
“You say, ‘I’m Judy Haines.’ Okay, now you try it.”
“I’m Judy Haines… Wait. What am I again?”
So she’s Judy and Laylee is Betty, the mother hen. Dan is Bing Crosby or Bob Wallace due to his buttery voice and smallish hair. Magoo is Danny Kaye aka Phil Davis due to his hilarity and dancing skills. I am the nosy housekeeper played by Mary Wickes. There is no resemblance in any way.
The kids asked what the housekeeper’s name was and I said, “Emma.”
Laylee said, “Emma Waverly.”
Me – She’s not married to the general. She’s just the housekeeper.
Laylee – Okaaayyy….
Later to Dan, I said, “Oh my word. They think housekeeper and wife/mom are interchangeable. I am like a housekeeper hired by God to clean up after them. And a spy.”
From Bob and Phil, Betty, Judy, and Emma the nosey housekeeper, Happy Halloween!
I have the hardest time every year choosing what picture to put on our Christmas cards. From the time school starts pretty much until Christmas vacation we simply do and do and do some more. We don’t really take time to document the doing. So the years when I get around to printing Christmas cards I often struggle. The summer pictures are too summery. The spring pictures are too outdated already. The fall pictures look like a ninja or witch, or a What Does the Fox Say, which aren’t very Christmasy.
So, this year I decided to kill two birds with one stone. For Halloween our entire family is dressing up as characters from White Christmas. Then we take a picture at the Halloween party and BAM! Christmas card pictures! The girls are the Haines Sisters, Dan and Magoo are Bob and Phil, and I’m the nosy housekeeper.
We’ve been buying fabric and feather fans for weeks and now, and the church Halloween party is just a couple of days away. I’ve been getting more organized, thanks to the fabulous Power of Moms, and I’m pretty much on schedule with this project. Today is the day to sew.
But I find that since I know I need to sew today, it’s the last thing I want to do. In fact, I’m Grumble-Sewing. Sew a seam. Growl a little. Pull out some pins. Sigh.
I am sitting at the table surrounded by gorgeous blue clouds of fabric and wonderful sewing machines that I’m blessed enough to own. I’m creating something amazing that I really want to create because I somehow convinced my entire family to dress up as characters from my favorite Christmas movie for Halloween, and I’m whining.
Have you ever done this? Have you ever found yourself whining internally or externally because you have to do something that you technically really love and that you chose to do but that suddenly when it’s time to do it, it feels like a chore?
Ugh. I have to read my book club book.
Ugh. I have to pick out an outfit for my date night.
Ugh. I have to sew Halloween costumes.
Ugh. I have to make dinner.
Ugh. I have to walk upstairs and sing Wanda a song for bedtime.
I love reading, getting dressed up, sewing, cooking, and spending time with my kids. But there’s something about a deadline or a sense of necessity that squash-slams my attitude.
However, noticing how annoying I was being, I was able to turn my day around by changing a few things:
1. Make a mental list of why you love what you’re doing – Today as I was sewing, I tried to remember why I love this hobby. I made a mental list.
-I get to make something beautiful.
-My kids love it.
-It makes me feel creative.
-I love finding cool new ways to put pieces together.
-It’s one of the few things I do that gets recognition from other people . (It’s like grown-up show and tell.)
2. Watch your wording – Whenever I chatted with someone, I was careful about how I talked about what I was doing. Instead of saying, “I have to sew costumes today,” I said, “I get to sew costumes today.” It helps to think of the task as a privilege, rather than a burden. I should never forget that I chose how I spend my time.
3. Take breaks – So instead of pushing through with my usual sewing sweatshop, a marathon process that makes sewing extremely unfun, I broke it up by doing other tasks like cleaning and grocery shopping. That way sewing was the recreational activity I could return to in little chunks and actually enjoy it.
I find that this process works even for tasks I don’t actually love. If I make a mental list of things I love about mopping (the smell of the soap, the way the floor looks and feels when I’m done, the game I play where I break the floor up into shapes and scrub them one at a time), talk about it like I’m lucky to have a floor to mop, and reward myself with a little break when I’m done the kitchen, mopping is less of a suck.
How do you motivate yourself to do the things you hate or remind yourself that you actually love the things on your schedule?