what’s eight weeks?

I have said it before and I am sure I will state it again:

I could never live anywhere that did not have the four seasons.

I am too restless for a mere two.

Summer in the Northeast is pretty much ten weeks.

Ten weeks of guaranteed heat, of no hectic school schedule.

That is what summer is for me: not feeling cold, not having school.

That first week school is out and the one prior to it revving back up again; don’t count.

Bumping up next to school demands sullies it.

So that leaves eight weeks.

Eight weeks as wide and welcome as blue skies over a waving meadow.

I have the added blessing of working for a public school so that means no work schedule as well.  I am a substitute teacher so it also means no pay.  We just call hot dogs and watermelon diner about twice a week and drink less wine to cope.

To help pay for our beach vacation we took the day after school was let out I worked nearly full time in June.  To many, that is like saying: I got out of bed in the morning in June.  So what?  But with four daughters still at home, a home I have to keep in order or I turn into captain scary crazy pants, I only allow myself to work part time since going back to work.

Ergo: working everyday all during the week drained the life force out of me.  And of course, keeping in how this world always works, this June had several extra stressers thrown in.  My continual motion, my ceaseless brain trying to organize, my seized-up then sputtered out Adrenalin glands, were all functionally poorly by the end.

Our vacation of four days in Maryland was very much needed, but I still had residual out-of-wack inner man issues.  I felt horrible for my struggling to relax and enjoy when everyone else was.  I should naturally too. The accusation of:

“There are billions of people right now who could not even fathom what a vacation is, much less have the luxury of escaping a beautiful home to travel to another beautiful place to stay”.

This is absolutely true of course.

However, my personal guilt over the validity of this, was very misplaced. It did not have to do, in reality, with the turmoil I was feeling.  I will have to tackle my privileged Western guilt for another day, I suppose.

So we returned. The unpacking and the buying of groceries done. I had those eight weeks staring me in the face.  I will be honest: I still had this invisible stifling pressure bearing down on me, like a swimmer going deeper and deeper down in the water.

I knew I needed a game plan of how to handle NOT having a game plan, if that makes sense.

This is what I concluded would be the most beneficial way for me to deal with eight weeks of warm freedom:

*Wake early to write every morning after coffee outside with chickens and the dog

* Work in the garden every evening after dinner and daughters are organized to do their dinner duty

* Spend that time between my am and pm bookends of writing and gardening maintaining the house, keeping animals alive, raising daughters, maintaining a relationship with the husband, keeping up with others in my life via texting and prompt text reply, emailing, and actual face-to-face interaction, usually over food and alcohol.

* A few times a week volunteer at the local library

* Allow myself to see how I can serve at church

 

That is pretty much it.

My writing/gardening is strictly weekdays.

My in between writing/gardening that allows home maintenance feels like a luxury of unprecedented time, that calms me more than I can say.

My volunteer times are at set times and days, otherwise the pressing, draining need that are the nature of volunteer organizations will drain a person until they burn out.

This leaves ample room to allow my relationships with others to expand, unfurl, send out runners, like cucumbers in July.

Not to say I only keep up relationships in the summer, that would be odd. But it is undeniable that it is easier and therefore more pleasant in the summer. It repairs the damaged widening riff of my winter silence.

Without breathing room for relationships human existence gets dwarfed, sometimes to the point of blight-ridden and shriveled so much so he or she no longer even looks like their real selves.  For the believer in Christ, this is especially damaging as the spiritual relationship with the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, is the springboard in which all our other relationships stay healthy, life-giving, bear good fruit.

Really, isn’t that what we all love about Summer so much?

It is the season of good fruit.

I’m no artist, but I love painting outside signs for my garden.

The fact that they soon get covered in nature and will be completely rotten in a few years, takes the pressure off to make it look like something I bought; lets me not be bothered by the fact it looks like something an elementary student did.

Cheers.

 

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jumping the gun on “screen free” & gratitude listing & stuff

number eight-hundred and ninety-seven

number eight-hundred and ninety-seven

That being on my gratitude list today of:

#897: Summer vacation brushing our fingertips.

Today is the last full day of school that my first grader, fourth grader, and fifth grader have to endure.

Three more half days ( two and half hours on movie watching) wait in the wings for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Then a cruel, cruel 30 minutes, just for maniacal kicks from the state education department I am pretty sure, this Friday.

Then its Summer Vacation Baby!

Oh Summer, Summer, Summer…kinda conflicting emotions I go through every year.

Of course I love it.

Of course I am looking forward to the girls being off of school.

Summer is a whole new seasonal phase for us.

New survival mode.

New schedules.

New rules.

New routines.

New experiences and old acquaintances re-visited.

This summer is going to be unique in that come that miss bag of blessing of: September, I will be waving a:

“Bye!  Have a good day at school!  See you at 2:40!”  to my little ones, who will be attending the same school, entering all day Pre-K and 2nd grade.

My big girls, however, entering 5th and 6th, get to be my educational guinea pigs, as we three explore the murky, and somewhat Hippy-ish sounding, {add eye roll  here}  of  an Un-Schooled  Home Schooling Experience!

Still tipping my big toe in and so I can’t explain too much, and am fairly certain  I would do a poor job anyway.

Like they always say:

“Experience is the best teacher”

Well, I’ve found experience is also the best blogger.

Rambling theories are boring and are nearly incapable of not coming off judgmental.

So that’s that.

On top of more computer problems from my evil operating system, I have simply been zapped of too much emotional energy to focus and execute much of anything, including a coherent blog post.

This has been a particular hard season in my life.

I call it a slippery season because I keep reaching out and grasping with happy and relieved hands what I think is “it”.

“It” being that grand purpose, that final destination, that struggle ended.

Only to have it  dribble down white knuckles and tense muscles; tying to hold water.

This post could simply go on and on in endless hazy metaphors so I will just stop right now.

I will say that in this slippery seasons of so many questions and vying voices and versions of the truth bogging me down, some days so bad it’s a struggle to even remember that life is supposed to be enjoyed,

I have heard some simple truths resound louder.

Truth that is as firm and concrete and as a hand in my own.

For my intense feelings of:

I am totally stagnant and unsatisfied because nothing is happening:

“Your situation may be stagnant, but I am the Living Water and flow in you new and everlasting.

Like the woman at the well you can drink from Me and never thirst again

because I daily supply you with my fresh water

For the days when it feels like:

I am in the dark, not knowing what to do or even think about anything big or small

” You can trust your Good Father to lead you by the hand, like a child in the dark”.

For the days when my mind was bogged down on:

philosophies

& theories

& historical relevance

& American thinking vs. Biblical thinking

“Stop living in the abstract and return to being simple and present.

That is where you will always find Me.”

You can read between the lines and come to the conclusion that these are not swell places to be.

And yet,  it is pretty much unavoidable to not tread these waters at some point when you start to wrestle with Christ-likeness and God’s will in your own life.

So, to my fellow perfectionist personality readers,

my followers with a propensity for depression,

those who can’t help themselves by getting sucked into analyzing the crap out of everything,

and fellow believer who has gone through this life bogged down with the heavy weight of God-imaged legalism that everything is a test and He is a your narrowed- eyed teacher, waiting to see if you get an F or an A this time.

You and your thoughts are always going to be your own worse enemy.

I hope the words in italicized bold, that are His words, spoken by His Spirit, not mine, give you that solid stepping stone to get you out of the muck one more time.

I find myself today, on the stepping stone today, with shaky legs but solid ground. Looking back. Relieved. Looking forward.

Lastly, before I unleash on you all a copious amount of photographs, I will simply state 3 spiritual disciplines I fell inline with this 2013, that have not necessarily made my life easier, or given me exact concrete answers, but has supplied those very real stepping stones as I climb, with my family, to where Christ calls us to follow.

They are:

*listing of gratitudes {crucifies that complaining tongue}

*working on memorizing Romans 8 , as prompted my Ann Voskamp Romans project {gives clarity to the Spirit & Flesh boxing match that is always duking it out in our minds, words, actions}

*and fasting once a week {its just important, and does something real in the spirit realm. Okay. Even though all you usually feel is hungry and cranky and can’t really complete full sentences by 5 o clock}.

Now faithful readers of manyslices through the years {thanks you two guys} know that I and my girls go “screen free” come July. {Mr.MS says he is exempt for professional reasons}.

A sorta kick start to the Summer, the old fashioned way.

That equals no bloggin for Big Mama in July, and then come August, I participate in Susan Conway’s August Break on flickr.

One photo post a day for that whole month, with just a sentence or two of text.

Last year I titled it: WE DIG SUMMER, and think I will again. A month photo blog highlighting our Summer.  I loved doing it last year.

July is two weeks away, but my written online affair with manyslices is going to cool down…take a break…give each other some space… starting now I think.

I am asking The Lord for a great Summer.

A blessed and joyful one.

One with sunshine and memories and relationships.

Hikes in woods & wine on the porch

Early mornings on the porch swings & evening in soft twinkling deck  lights

Gardens &  fresh produce

Community Service & Curriculum planning.

And of course there will be books…lots of books.

So I leave you with photos { of course }.

Taking pictures of pretty things and special people I see every day in just the right light, at just the angle, till it looks right and “I got it”, floods something good and simple and joyful in me. As I click, words like invisible captions float from my mind up to the atmosphere.  I name it.  I load it. I look upon it. And then the gift is mine.

number 873

number 873

cowgirl boots,a violin playing “you raise me up”, and some serious talent

number 871

number 871

My big girl’s beauty, talent and confidence as she plays “Fur Elise” and “When I Survey” on the piano at her first recital.

number 891

number 891

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Roses everywhere in my garden

number 888 & 870

number 888 & 870

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERApicking our own salad greens from our own garder

&

picking the first ripe strawberry with the babe

okay, okay, I did not really write this one down, but I should of

okay, okay, I did not really write this one down, but I should of

 

it would of went something like this:

the girls drawing there Summer list of inspiration from a well worn book I bought them two years ago.

{Here’s the link if your curiosity is roused}

number 900

number 900

The Babes’ love of Look and Find books

number 875

number 875

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Getting back into the sewing room after months of inactivity to sew a curtain that I made from an altered flouncy rummage sale shirt

 

number 901

number 901

Quietly observing a young squirrel make a little nest in the crook of our Maple tree that towers over our deck with The Babe

number 904

number 904

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAConverting weedy grass and a tiny tomato patch into 4 gardens of veggies of herbs with gravel path ways in between with Mr.MS over the course of two months.

 

 

Linking up with Ann Voskamps Multitudes on Monday and saying a farewell CHEERS  till September (except for  my “We Dig Summer” photo journal I will also post here in August).

Joyful, simple, healthy, blessed, Summer to all of you.

 

 

light hearted anticipation: CHRISTMAS EVE

 

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{a group of jolly joggers early this morning going down my street}

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{the  nativity scene displayed every year at our neighborhood's local Catholic church, also down  my street}

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It's why each year I think I enjoy the 24th of December more than the 25th.

It's why I set the alarm clock to 6am this morning {Mr.MS was not impressed}.

To make this day of light hearted anticipation last as long as possible.


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To enjoy a semi-lit pre-sunrise morning in my silent living room.

 Gazing at my multi-colored twinkle lights draped over the piano, weaved between my Santa collection.

Tomorrow will be the grand culmination of Christmas chaos and revelry, of course.  Christmas morning with a home full of children stands alone like no other day or experience.

But Christmas Eve is like a bright copper kettle: simmering, steaming, wafting, heavy laden with spicy mulled scents.  Your big empty Christmas mug is clutched in both hands and you're making your way to the stove, licking your chops.


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And even though the sky has looked like this all week without the white stuff- making the scene as I look out our window look more like something described in
a Leo Tolstoy novel, instead of a Robert Frost poem-  outside Christmas lights and decorations still maintain their charm today.

I drove to the grocery store early this Christmas Eve morning, getting those last couple things, hoping to miss the crazy rush and letting the two big girls tag along.  We picked up Long Island bagels fresh from the bakery; a holiday gift in itself.


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A quick Seasonal Creation update:

The only one I actually completed.  A shabby framed sign made from an old pink chippy mirror,the mirror shattered and long gone, fabric, chip board letters, a little bit of hand stitching and a lot of hot glue. {the chip board phrase I used last year, and altered it this year to this}.  Below it we nailed up a long board with old fashioned hooks drilled in, and our now SEVEN STOCKINGS {our kitty Mr. Bo gets one of course} hang below my creation: the next best thing to having an actual old fireplace mantle.  Maybe the next house.  Would love to share a photo but the lighting is just too terrible. Tonight they will be carefully filled by Santa, who decided to scale back a wee bit on the candy this year.

Lastly Christmas Eve means a bit of reading while we wait.

The marshall law of "screen free" has been instituted for today.

Cruel and unusual punishment for four children who are forced to wait extra long this year for Christmas Eve's at Gramma and Papas.  Not till 5pm this year.   Then the food, drinks, presents, candy, games,& repeat till exhausted and bloated shall begin.

I started and finished the book Christmas Shoes yesterday.

{My goodreads review is on the left side bar}

Reading O. Henry's The Gift of the Magi this afternoon to my family.

And our favorite Christmas book we pull out every year,the pop up edition  of A Charlie Brown Christmas:


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And so Merry Christmas Eve!

Will be back in 2013.


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The Christmas Post Is Here

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Why I spend the weekend after Thanksgiving decoration not shopping…


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Feeling the silver and blue and white sparkle love this year.

Every year I treat myself to just a few new Christmas decos to dress up our beautiful window seat.  This window seat being the only nice looking thing our horrid home could boast of way back in 2001 when we bought it. Today our home is no longer horrid but I always take a careful amount of time each season dressing it up. My way of honoring that bright spot that I think persuaded us to buy this place. Come December it becomes my home's ultimate homage to the Yuletide.

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This year's hand made decoration extraordinaire.

The brilliant thing about it is that it is a favorite old oil painting that I simply slipped old Christmas hymnal pages under the wooden frame of; covering the painting up without damaging it. I then added on top of those pages some additional favorite Christmas hymns. "Grudged them up" with ink stamp pads, more  "gold shimmer" modge pod and stamped on a few images.  Added just a few embellishments…not many. And presto!  Come January 1st I can just slide the whole thing out and the original artwork will be waiting for me to hang above our piano for the next eleven months.

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How to adorn a sleeping garden at Christmas.

Remove all Summer/Spring garden whatsits and thingies.

Leave only a few empty pots and urns.

Buy lots of little super cheap plastic shiny bulbs.

Don't cut back your butterfly bush no matter what anyone or any book tells you. {For the first year I have two pretty bushes in my front garden, and was able to hang my blue and silver bulbs from the dried boughs}.

Buy super cheap bendy artificial 12 inch evergreen trees.

Arrange as the Christmas spirit moves till it looks right to you.

Simple. Understated. Outside garden Christmas bling.

I have forever done the lights and ivy and big red bows wrapped around everything for the outside of our home.  The effect is beautiful.  This year however, I could not muster the enthusiasm.  Found "putting up outside decos and lights" sliding into my menial to-do list.  Right after scrub shower and before clean out the closet.

Then it came to my attention that our brand new, just off the ground small church we have been attending for 3 months is having a Christmas Eve service. Our church has no decorations.  No money to purchase any. In a flash, as I sat in our pew {our family takes up an entire one} I thought of my three over-sized blue totes getting unused and dirty on my porch.

I am letting the girls skip school this week and we are going to decorate the church with the same stuff packed in plastic totes I purposely avoid eye contact with every time I walk through the front door. I can't wait to simply decorate our old fashioned sanctuary with my girls.  It is something we are really looking forward to now.

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Three Christmases ago this lady spent a really long time making a large quilted advent calender.  {The 25 pockets were made from folded re-used wine bags…come on!… that's just cool}  For two consecutive Christmases I tried to sell said advent calender.  It did not sell.  Proving that yes, the world really is out of whack.  So this year I brought it out of the large cardboard box labeled "to sell" and put it to use for our family. 

Twenty-five little pockets. 

Twenty-five little individual letters stamped to spell out a Christmas message to suspended over our door way.

Twenty-five pieces of chocolate candy…{its the good stuff too}.

Twenty-five pretty Christmas papers to be hung up.

Yes, it took a really long time on Sunday to fill up.  {We were a day late}.

Yes, I was getting pretty annoyed by the end, thinking to myself I would much rather be finishing up The English Patient in front of the fire while the family watched football.

But it is a really nice simple tradition I hope they will always remember.

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Our collection of Old World Saint Nicks we, without really being aware of it at first, have collected every year.  {Except for the year we forgot}.  Many have special meaning and reflect what our little family was experiencing that Christmas.  Lucky for you I have a  handy-dandy little link right here that will plop you right on over to last year's post were I wrote a little poem-like narrative about each Santa titled: Twelve Santa's: A Tale of our Christmas Past.

We have not bought 2012's edition yet.

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Finally, festive ware for our house and yard always means one thing around here:


Seeing red…


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Cheers

 

 

 

 

Lazy Girl Creative

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The little birdie asks:

"What do Charles Spurgeon, Queen Elizabeth, bleach stains, and red birdie fabric have in common?"

Well nothing.

Unless you were me yesterday, and got a sudden surge of energy despite feeling sick all  week,  and needed to get several little projects done that have been stacked for half a year on on my old ironing board: my  teetering"future project pile" .

My Slice of Spurgeon:

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I love this quote and have had it lamely scribbled out on a piece of patterned paper, for close to a year. 

Some gesso, red ink stamp, blue marker, blue paint and glued down paper flowers, and about 10 minutes transformed it to a pretty little paper plaque perched on my favorite blue barn star.

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My slice of Queen Elizabeth:

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Money in the UK and Europe is so much more prettier.

Mr.MS picked up these 10 and 20 pence pieces at a coin show a while back (and yes, I did make fun of him mercilessly for like three days for actually going to such an old man event as a coin show).  He picked up these pieces, thinking I would like them, and could use them for my "crafting"…so sweet… and yet I still make fun of him…we have a complicated relationship.

I originally thought I could make them into a sort of pendant for a necklace.  But nay…too much work.

Hot glue gun applied to old clip-on earrings, with the gaudy original decoration ripped off, is more up my lazy girl creative alley.

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My slice of bleach mishap:

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Tell me:  Why is it some cheap-o sweatshirt you pick up for like a quarter at a sale to just "bum around the house in" stays in mint shape, but a new nice sweater
instantly gets some permanent stain?  Mine tend to be in the form of splattered bleach.  (i am a real zealot about using bleach in the kitchen after we cook with raw meat…I think it stems from the fact that while waiting in the Dr's office while pregnant for my first born I read an article about a little girl dying from eating meat with ecol-i…things that upset you during your pregnancy stay with you).

Wow, way off topic.

Anyway, this mishap was acquired this summer.  I never got a chance to wear it in public.

It's been sitting…you guessed it: in a pile in my sewing room…another future project.

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Come on, if you squint, and
think of a rose…you totally think that  it is a rose.

This is what's  currently attached to my lovely unworn sweater; slyly disguising a bleach splatter.

I did take a picture…actually like 12, of my wearing the sweater, with affixed rose-ish decoration.  But to get the picture I had to stand on the stool in our bathroom and take a picture of my mirrored reflection.  The blasted mirror is so gross and splattered with something, that even after scrubbing it with glass cleaner it was all murky, making my sweater look stained everywhere.  Anyway, I could not get a shot without our lovely toilet looming in the back round.

So use you imagination.

It looks better than a bleach blob.

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And finally my slice of red birdie fabric:

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I love this bird fabric…bought a yard and half not knowing what I would do with it…and at nearly 10 bucks a yard (the going rate for good quilting fabric these days) people who know me and my cheapness know that that is more money than I usually shell out for a "some day project".

These little birds, perched on  light floral circles is the perfect fabric pattern for little and quick pretty home sewing projects.

Lazy girl creative showcase number#2~

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I picked up a single very "shabby chic" looking pillow case at an estate sale…probably for a nickle. 

Realized after I washed it and tried to put it away in our linen closet, that consists of an old dresser in our upstairs hallway, since we have hardly any closets, that…."hmm I have like 10 more pillow cases than we have pillows and can barely close the pillow case drawer".

It looked like it would make a good curtain.  So, into the obligatory sewing room "for a  future project" pile it went.

Did you know that if you rip the one long seam, and one short seam of a pillow case you have a perfectly- sized short window curtain panel?  Already hemmed, with a pretty edge, and a contrast fabric no less.

I sewed my little birdies (as shown above) right onto my pillow- case- turned- curtain.  Like I said, the design on the fabric has each bird image centered on a perfect circle.  No need to even trace a circle with a template.

And raw edges…yep…I just keep 'em.

I did fancy applique on a quilt exactly once…it took so dang long and I kept burning my fingers with all the blasted ironing… I said: (through gritted, cursing teeth) never again.

Lazy girl creative.

Its the way to go.

Cheers.


 

 

Re-Used & Re-Painted: my pink, macro, shadow shots

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These shots; my link up photos to Pink Saturday at how sweet the sound   and I heart Macro at  studio water stone , are my first ever attempted  submission idea to my 'oft mentioned and beloved Somerset Magazine publication.  The  beautiful "Somerset" magazines have several publications.  Their Somerset Life, and Somerset Home being my favorite.  What make these publications so great are that these beautiful magazines are full of reader's submissions of beautiful art, ideas, and photos.  With no ads, and every featured article is not centered around some merchandise they want to sell you.  Usually at the wonderful  affordable price of…oh I don't know matching candlesticks for a steal $295…for the pair, not each…{ sign me up for a couple pair} !

All right, all right enough cynicism.  

I had to wait all crummy week because our weather was….well crummy to get any pictures.

Not even a drab yellow stain of sunshine in the sky till Saturday.

If you could not tell, this is an old quilters cutting mat, well worn, and stained from me cutting and piecing together all of my girls' baby quilts, our King-sized bedspread, numerous gifted baby quilts, and more quilted table runners and mats than we will ever have tables for.

I bought a new cutting mat when my rotary cutter kept getting stuck in the half inch grooves.

Decided it would make a good craft mat, now that I am into more smaller mixed media crafts…these produce an abundance of  messes.

The bright green cutting mat was as ugly as sin however, and so I got the revelation to spray paint it, and stamp "pretty matters" all the way around:  That is my home's theme.

Now don't go stealing my idea to Somerset.

I am still working on my Query letter.

My Shadow shot at shadow shot Sunday 2  are a result of all that energizing sun that suddenly descended on us yesterday.  I re-painted my daughters bedroom, and touch-up painted all her doodled upon bedroom furniture.

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Spray painted her dresser drawers over in gloss white, and then just dabbed some pink paint on the heads of the dresser knob; which when painted, looked exactly like cheeky little mushrooms, don't ya think?

Here's to motivation(as opposed to naps, like my last post…I'm such a yo-yo)

Cheers


Journaling

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I don't know about you but I can't resist buying journals.

Blank pages.

Pretty covers.

So much more than a diary- the teenage bearing of secrets and angst that we  immediately associate with journals.

I have about a half dozen  journals sitting on my shelf right now.  Eight years' worth of archives recording the good, the bad, the ugly.

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My "mommy journal" that has morphed into a type of day to day reflection of important things that happen to our lives. The original intent being a place to record not only milestones of my growing tribe, but my own feelings and experiences as a Mother.  My mommy journals are to serve as reading/training for my girls, and not to be even peeked at till they are pregnant for their first born.  This practice of journaling has been a refuge in times of troubled waters.  An outlet, cheaper than  online shopping therapy, more productive than watching chick flicks, and less destructive than getting drunk.

I also have a journal which records long term dreams, ideas or aspirations.

The front cover reads: When My Girls Are Older. 

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This is an interesting one to flip back through.

Interesting to see how I as a person have changed, reflected in the things once upon a time I envisioned myself doing.  Many things have stayed the same. The exhausting yo-yo-ing of emotions I go through as my children swing and collide into me on the highs of absolutely charming and fun, bringing forth tears at their raw beauty, to the lows of the appallingly destructive and annoying; bringing forth tears of raw stress.  My relationship with Mr MS- oh the highs and lows.  The mountaintops of good times, the plains of perseverance, and valleys of "this is not what I signed up for".

  Looking back at what I have recorded gives amazing perspective.  The struggles of four pregnancies that put my body in a constant state of sickness and fatigue for nine months are past.  So are nights of sick crying babies. Pregnancy woes and the tension of constant little demanding mouths made for a bevvy of raw emotions and a marriage in need of constant maintenance.  Tiredness makes for cranky spouses.  Not that four daughters, ages three to ten, is just one big magical experience of good times.  Ten years of God's merciful patience with this broken vessel as He molds me, gives me wisdom, and opens my eyes to see everything I ever wanted is in this room right now, make for a happier, more sane Mama… most days. Not to mention popping a Lexipro every other day, and a glass or two of wine every night… (just keeping it real, folks).

Questions.  Constant questions.   That is what I see when I flip back on eight years worth of scribbling.  Sometimes with joy, sometimes with tears.  On weary nights, on angry days.  Always trying and pushing for the best.  Wanting to know all the right answers. Right now.

I still do.

But I am a lot more relaxed in my pursuits.

Perspective.

I still do my "Mommy Journal".

But my journaling pursuits now expand to my creative pursuits.

I started my "While I Was Reading" journal this Summer.

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I love the cover- a present from my Mother in law.

Once I decided what I would journal in these lovely brown kraft lined-papers I made customized title pages:

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Drinking in words, aptly stated, beautifully expressed is a great renewing pleasure.  So many times I have wanted to recall a line I loved, that perfectly expressed something true.

Now I have a place to record them:

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Samples of copied lines I came across "while I was reading".

And on my creative horizons?:

A photo journal.

Having this digital slew of pictures is lovely to have stored in the hidden murky archives of our Dell's hard drive to then share with all of you.

But it would be nice to have a collection of my favorites, to have in my hand, to look upon, perhaps textured and layered with lovely affects, a doodled or embroidered quote scripted alongside.

Patricia, my mother in law, at not sitting it out and Esther at E makes art  have wonderful artful journals.  While their own raw artistic talents outshine my own they have inspired me to start my own art journal none the less.  Done the Many Slices way.

Lastly, on two separate occasions friends on facebook have sent me links to Ann Voskamp, the author of 1000 Gifts, and her personal blog A Holy Experience.  It is one of the most wonderful and moving blogs I have ever read.  I dare you to read her words, coupled with stunning shots and set to beautiful piano music, and not get choked up.  Speaking of dares:  Her book is based on something called "The Joy Dare".  A gratitude challenge to list 1000 things you are grateful for in one year.  Three things per day. Her book has been a best seller for over a year.  Much more than just a generic challenge to "be more grateful".  Each month is a challenge list of sorts, of things to be thankful for; joys to seek out.  A mindful practice to recall what matters. Also on her blog is a link to  pages of moving personal stories; testifying how this simple practice has indeed given Joy, even in the midst of terrible heartache.

Twenty-four days behind, but not too late, the year is still young.

Here is this week's list of Joy Dares to challenge your spirit, to seek, and be grateful for; posted in her Holy Experience Blog and in her book: 1000 Gifts:

January:

22nd ~ one grace wrinkled, one grace smoothed, one grace unfolded

23rd~  3 gifts found in Christ

24th~ 3 things blue

25th~ one grace borrowed, one grace found, one grace inherited

26th~  a gift before 9am, a gift before noon, a gift after dark

27th~ 3 gifts that might never have been

28th~ 3 graces found in your friends

 

Pretty exceptional.

See how it makes you work your brain to dwell on all the gifts we have, that come from God, as a gift to us.

I have a Barnes and Noble coupon coming my way and with it I am getting Anna's book, and a new journal too. (they are marked down to 75% right now).

Here's to remembering.

Cheers