on being real and genuine. and not stupid.

I know it’s been quiet around here.

It’s been intentional. Kind of.

I can’t really write what I feel lately. I’m feeling things too much, too raw, to write it out because then I’ll probably share way more than any of you are paid to read since you’re not my therapist.

I’m struggling with this stage of life that I’ve been in for too long. And there’s no “light at the end of the tunnel” moment in sight. Life is hard and I’m trying hard to live it rather than be stuck in it. But that’s hard too.

But I also want to maintain some balance here. Not only complain, but encourage too. That’s why I started writing: because it helps me and because I hope it’ll help you. But sometimes I write and don’t publish because it’s just to help me and those “letters” (because they’re more like letters than posts) aren’t really meant for anyone else to see. I imagine they might help someone but they’re too personal to share for the other 99% of you that it won’t help.

I kinda just want to live in one of two fantasy worlds right now. One would look like this.Fantasy World One

My family would live right on the canal in downtown Indy. The canal would be our backyard. The kids could just go feed the ducks and ride their bikes around the canal at anytime. It’d be perfectly safe with no strangers and the kids would never fall in the canal because this is my fantasy world.

My other fantasy world would be me with no kids. It’s okay. Pick up your chin and let me explain. Of course I love my kids and I wouldn’t ACTUALLY want them gone. It’s just that I’m tired. Physically and emotionally. Having four kids (which I totally understand how it happened thank you and that I’m blessed and that I’ll look back on this time and miss it) is kind of wiping me out right now. They’ve been sick and mouthy and sick again and again. Until the end of last week, I was having several really horrible tension headaches every single day for over three weeks. And I still had to parent my kids. There are no breaks when you’re a mom. None.

See? This is why I haven’t written. Because I’m not sure this will encourage anyone. Pregnant? Well don’t read this. I’m sure I could do the same with marriage. In love? Engaged? Well if I write about marriage at this point you won’t want to read that either.

Here’s the thing. I obviously wouldn’t want my life without my kids or my husband. But sometimes it would just be nice to be alone and have NO responsibilities. (Or someone to do them all for you at the very least. Like a husband that was also a maid, cook and nanny.)  To just run away for awhile and only take care of myself.

So what have I been doing the last two days to combat this inner crap running around in my head? Listening to Lead Me To The Cross (I prefer the version by Francesca Battistelli). This is the part that I’ve been hearing the loudest right now:

lead me to the cross
where your love poured out. 
bring me to my knees, 
lord I lay me down.
rid me of myself,
I belong to you.
lord lead me, lead me to the cross

This might not be your thing. And that’s totally ok. All I ask is that if you find yourself feeling stuck or lonely or uncared for (I don’t even think “uncared” is a word but I don’t care), don’t do something stupid. Don’t do something that’ll keep you stuck. Talk to a supportive friend, not one who will pull you down farther. Get off Facebook if you’re lonely and it’s making it worse or connecting you with someone you shouldn’t be connecting with. Write. Write and throw away your thoughts. It helps me. (Most of the time at least.)

I don’t know the point of this post. I’m not sure I started out writing this to actually publish it. I just wanted to keep it real I guess. To *not* write right now would feel less genuine than writing a crap happy holidays post.

Anyways, don’t do something stupid. And be real and genuine. That is all.

Winter Woven review

One of my favorite local Indianapolis artists is Kyle Ragsdale. We have two “Kyles” (as we like to call them) hanging in our home. So last month when I saw that he was the artist for a new children’s book I was PSYCHED.

The book is called Winter Woven and is about a nine year-old girl who receives a scarf as a gift and loses it.Winter Woven cover

The touching and vivid story about loss and a desperate search is written for an older child (8+ through adulthood) but even those younger will be drawn in by the amazing oil paintings gracing the pages of the book.

Winter Woven example

As you can see above, the words are even illustrated, lending wonderful ways of changing tone and rhythm while reading.

Winter Woven beautyI’ll be honest – I love this book mainly because of the scenes captured by Kyle. And of course, the scenes couldn’t be created without the lovely story written by local author Garrett Curry. Simply the fact that two local artists, one of painting and one of words, collaborated to create this book makes me love it even more.

You can purchase this gorgeous 11×11, 32-page, hard-back book on Etsy for $24.99. Go! Buy it now for your kids for Christmas! It’ll be a beautiful addition to your bookshelf or coffee table and you’ll be supporting local artists. There’s not much better than that.

 

Disclosure: I received a digital version of this storybook to write this review and will receive a hard copy as well. As always, ALL opinions written here are my own and are only influenced by my deep love for the work of Kyle Ragsdale. :)

 

Fresh Artistry Review

Sometimes I plan dinner for the week, go to the grocery and actually make what I plan.

Sometimes my son locks himself in my bedroom while I’m getting ready for work. And because our house is over 100 years old and still has the original doors which only lock from the inside, it’s cheaper to saw holes in the walls between closets to get him out (and get in to unlock the door) than it is to ruin a $400 door.Lucas in the wall

On those days, dinner doesn’t get planned. The meat doesn’t get taken out of the freezer. The 13 ingredients to make a nice, fresh dinner don’t get prepped. And we end up eating chicken nuggets and mac and cheese.

This is where Super Man should come flying in to save dinner with a great fresh meal ready for me to make.

But wait! That’s not Super Man! It’s Fresh Artistry!

What is Fresh Artistry? Fresh Artistry is a service that delivers locally designed recipes and fresh, proportioned ingredients to your home. Fresh Artistry helps you make chef-grade meals for your family without the hassle.

It’s pretty smart (and amazing) actually. You choose a meal (up to 3 per week) from their 7-recipe menu online and they deliver ALL THE INGREDIENTS to your door. And not just the ingredients, but measured and packaged separately with complete and SIMPLE instructions included. If you can read and follow a recipe, you can’t mess this up. It is SO CONVENIENT. And delicious.Fresh Artistry Ingredients

We were able to test out the service for a meal. We got the Peach-Chipotle Glazed Chicken with Smashed Potatoes and Green Beans. I was a little nervous about the glaze since my husband and half of my kids are pretty picky eaters. The meal was delivered to me the same day is was packed in a box with an insulated liner and ice packs. The ingredients were fresh and pre-measured for an easy and quick prep before cooking. Since the recipes are tested extensively and focused on short start-to-finish times, it was a breeze to follow and cook. Simply eliminating the shopping and prepping for a chef-grade meal made me feel like I could cook a fresh, local and delicious meal even on busy nights.

Even better? MY WHOLE FAMILY LOVED IT. Even picky Adam, who doesn’t like peach anything, asked for more of the glaze (which I put on the side just in case because of my family’s tastes). He actually even said he’d consider PAYING for the service! (If you know my husband AT ALL, you know this is a HUGE statement.)Fresh Artistry Meal

The website says the family plans should feed 2 adults and 2-3 kids, but it fed my whole family (2 adults and 4 kids ages 12 to 1.5), which will cost you about $30 per meal. They also have smaller plate plans for smaller households (which run about $20 per meal) and delivery is free for either plan.

Fresh Artistry is fully launching it’s services TOMORROW, Friday 12/5. I encourage you to try it out. Because I already make most of our meals from fresh, local ingredients, we probably won’t use the service regularly because of our budget, but we’ll definitely do it again. One of the things I loved is that my kids all wanted to try it – which is CRAAAAZY because usually when I make new things NO ONE wants to even taste it, but because this was kind of like getting carry-out (just cooked at home) my kids thought it was like eating restaurant food. Which apparently changes whether or not they even TRY new foods. (Whatever.)

Go here www.freshartistry.com/faq to read more about the company, how it got started and some details I haven’t included here. And give it a shot. I think you’ll be extremely pleased. And you’ll be supporting a local business which always a plus.

DIY Reaction Contraction (aka Ball Wall)

One of my favorite places in Indy to take my kids is the Children’s Museum. It never gets old to them and it gives me a place to take the kids when they’re bored at home. And while we’re there, It gives me great ideas of things to do with them at home as well.

Did I tell you that I’m writing a monthly post for the Children’s Museum about doing just that? Each month I get to write about how the museum exhibits spark ideas and activities for us to do at home. You can check out my posts by clicking Right! Here! (go ahead! Click!)

This month we decided to make our own Reaction Contraction, also lovingly known in our house as the “Ball Wall.” Reaction Contraption at Playscape

It’s my boys’ favorite part of the entire museum so we cheaply and quickly made one to play with at home. So I thought I’d share how we did it.DIY Reaction Contraction

So fun (kid-tested, ages 18 mos to 12 years). Super easy (um, do you know me?). Super cheap (under $7).

Here’s what you’ll need:Supplies

  • various sizes of empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls (I used 14)
  • a display board (mine was 36 in x 24 in)
  • enough felt to cover the board (mine took about 1/2 yard)
  • Velcro (we used about 22 inches of the scratchy side only)
  • hot glue gun (it took 2 sticks)
  • scissors
  • a small, lightweight ball (like a ping pong ball)

We started about a month ago by saving paper rolls as they were emptied around the house. I cut out a section running the length of the roll. On the longer rolls, I just cut out a small section of each end so that it resembled a tunnel, big enough that a ball could roll in and out of easily.

I then cut about 1.5 inch pieces of the scratchy side of the Velcro. (See how uncrafty I am? I don’t even know what that side is called.) I hot glued one piece on the small toilet paper rolls and two pieces (one of each end) on the longer rolls. Make sure to secure the Velcro to the side of the roll and not the side opposite of where you cut. Remember, it needs to stick to the board so that the open side faces up.Track pieces

We also had some old display boards the kids use to paint projects on while inside the house. Any kind of sturdy display board or cardboard will work. I laid the board on top of the felt and cut around the board leaving a 1-2 inch border. Work your way around the board, squeezing the hot glue in small sections onto the board and then folding over the felt onto the hot glue to tightly secure it to the back of the board, fully covering the opposite side of the board with felt.IMG_7493

Now PLAY! I started by setting up a pattern that I thought would work and let Lucas (4 years old) put the ball down the first time. He attempted to fix the places that failed and kept maneuvering the track pieces so it would go all the way down.

Then I took them all off and had him create his own track. It was super simple but he was so happy and proud of himself when it worked.IMG_7503

Then Cami (8 years old) and Alaina (12 years old) lined up for turns. I had to make Alaina stop to go to bed. I had NO idea either of them would even look twice at it, but they had a great time trying to out-do each others’ designs.

So the next time you’re at the museum, look to see how you can bring those favorite exhibits home with you. We had so much fun recreating our own Ball Wall. :)

reflections and changes

Today I saw myself in the reflection of the car window. This isn’t something new. Obviously. But what I saw made me realize that I had been living the days of the last month in a complete fog. Not reflecting on what I was seeing, hearing or feeling. I was just doing.reflectionI stopped writing. I stopped choosing to love. Not intentionally, but I just got… sidetracked. October got busy. Days and nights and weekends were full of scheduled activities for the kids. Adam and I were leaving for a 6-day trip to London so I had to get things done at work, childcare planned, directions, phone numbers, medical release forms written and signed. Adam was working through his busiest month of the year at the office.

And then we left for six days last week on a whirlwind trip to London, with a day in Paris thrown in because when will we ever have the chance to go to Paris if we don’t go now? (Our trip is a whole post for itself. That’ll come soon.)

But then we came back this last Tuesday night and I swear I can’t hardly remember what’s happened the last 2.5 days since we returned because reentry is a bitch. Let me say it again: REENTRY IS A BITCH. Being on that kind of trip, for that long, with no responsibilities, just walking and touring and more walking around an amazing and beautiful city full of grand sights and rich history is stupid hard to come home from. Eating and drinking and laughing with 21 other people for six days? Not doing dishes or making your bed or being woken up in the middle of the night or tending to a crying child for six days? Those were good days…

Don’t get me wrong. I missed my babies like mad. But not the responsibility of being an adult that comes with real life back at home. That I could live without for a few more days…

See, reflection is tough. Sometimes it’s really good. Really, really good. Like reflecting on a wonderful trip to London. But when you really see yourself for the first time in a month? Tough. It’s just hard to see your reflection and not really know who you’re looking at. Going through the actions of being a mom, a wife, yes. But I feel like maybe I’ve lost a bit of ME in that time. I’m not sure exactly why. I think maybe I’ve taken a step back and have just watched life play out in front of me rather than being an active participant in it. I just haven’t felt like playing I guess.

Sometimes when things get hard it’s just easier to step back and watch because you don’t have the energy or desire to do anything about it.

Sometimes you realize you need to change those things but don’t know how. Or don’t want to admit how.

Sometimes you realize you need to change those things but don’t want to because it feels comfortable and because you wonder if maybe the pain of figuring out why it’s hard isn’t worth the change.

And sometimes you write a post that makes you realize that that’s exactly when you need to change those things the most.

So here’s to making hard changes. Cheers…

 

 

choosing to love

Sometimes I’m too naive. I like to think I’m just optimistic. Thinking the best about people/situations. But I’ve learned recently that I’m also very naive.

I recently reconnected with an old “friend” via Facebook. He wasn’t my boyfriend. We never actually dated.  But I fell for him hard my senior year of high school and we had a deep connection. He became a very close friend by the time we graduated but our relationship, whatever it had evolved into, ended abruptly, shortly after the start of college.

Abruptly and completely. And I was heartbroken. I had lost a friend and more than that. With no explanation and only my own thoughts and emotions swirling around in my head telling lies and truths and not knowing which was which.

Years passed (18 to be exact) and we spoke maybe twice. The last time we spoke or had any interaction was 13 years ago. I’ve actually written about it before here. It’s interesting how you hold on to memories when you don’t have closure…

So when we became Facebook friends last month I had a naive expectation about how it would look. I’d browse his Facebook page, see who he’d become, where he was. He’d do the same. We’d say “hey, good to see you again” and sporadically like each others’ pics and posts.

It didn’t quite work that way. It’s too easy to go back to the past, remember those feelings. I was naive in thinking that wouldn’t happen…

A few days later, a friend invited me to pray for Adam every day during the month of September. We had spoken about this a week or so before and the timing couldn’t have been better. Adam and I were in a fine place in our marriage, but at the same time I was reconnecting with someone I had loved and cared for very much in the past. I knew I needed to proactively protect my marriage in every way possible because no one else would do that but me.

So I made a strategic choice to love Adam more. To love him better. To love him purposefully. To pray for him each day. To pursue him lovingly. And it has worked.

I feel more connected to him than I have in years. Actually, I’m not sure that I can remember the last time I felt like this. I have (re)found a love for him that feels alive and real.

I keep asking myself why I haven’t done this before? Made a CHOICE to love my husband? We’ve been through rough times. Where I wasn’t sure I could picture living the REST OF MY LIFE *together* with him.  Why didn’t I choose to love him in those times? To protect and guard my marriage then like I am now?

Let’s be honest. For most of us, it’s not another person that is coming between, or causing problems in, our marriages. It’s disagreements about parenting, money, hormones, the way we speak to each other, lack of respect, not loving ourselves… I could go on and on.

But we can make a choice EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. to love our spouse more. Because after this long, it HAS to be a choice. The butterflies go away and day to day life, STAGES of life, get in the way and change dynamics. Kissing him goodbye in the morning and goodnight before bed becomes a ritual. But let me tell you. CHOOSING to love someone? It changes all of it.

So I challenge you to make the choice. The choice to love your spouse. Love him better. Love her more. Love him deliberately. Love her purposefully. CHOOSE love in all the moments of the day. And look at him like you love him. Like you really, deep-down mean it.

Because you *will* mean it. And it’ll feel amazing. I promise.

confessions

Today I shared on Facebook that “I shamelessly admit to loving Enrique Iglesias’s new song “Bailando.” And I first heard it on Radio Disney with my girls. So there.”

So I thought I might as well fess up my whole new gym playlist I created on Spotify last week since it includes several more songs I could “shamlessly admit to.” And since apparently I didn’t ask the right questions when the cable guy came today, I’m hanging out by myself while Adam’s on the phone trying to figure it out…

Here’s my dancey little list of songs I work out to now (in no certain order). And do dishes to. And fold laundry to. And make dinner to. You get the picture.work out songs

  1. “Really Don’t Care” by Demi Lovato : Man I wish this song was out when I was in high school. It is a great break-up moving on song.
  2. “Love Never Felt so Good” by MJ and JT : I mean, MJ and JT. Nuff said.
  3. “Not a Bad Thing” by JT : Will someone please pay him to sing this to me for my birthday?
  4. “Bailando” by Enrique Iglesias : I can’t stop doing the two Latin dance moves I learned from a Columbian friend at my first job out of college. This song makes you move.
  5. “Shake it Of”f by TSwift : “It’s like I’ve got this music in my heart saying it’s gonna be alright.” Girl, I can’t control my shoulders when this song comes off. I really love it. And Lucas thinks he can break dance after watching the video, so it makes the song even better.
  6. “On the Floor” by JLo : You know my obsession with JLo, right?
  7. “Suit & Tie” by JT : Noticing a trend here?
  8. “Take a Walk” by Passion Pit : Seriously one of my new favorite songs at the suggestion of a great friend. Like, you have to go listen to it now. It’s so great.
  9. “Little Secrets” by Passion Pit : Another great new find to me with a fun tempo that keeps you moving.
  10. “My Love” by JT : An oldie but goodie. Oh, so good. Maybe one of my favorite JT songs of all time.
  11. “Love Runs Out” by OneRepublic : I saw them in concert this summer thanks to my mom and it made me love this band. (Along with The Script who opened for them. Amazing live music, these two bands.)
  12. “Don’t Stop the Music” by Rihanna : I’m generally not a big fan of Rihanna, but this one reminds me to keep going.
  13. “Timber” by Pitbull and Keisha : I seriously about barfed when I found out that Keisha was the one singing in this song the other day, but oh well. I love the song and it reminds me of one of my favorite routines from Zumba.
  14. “Let it Go” from Frozen : Because Let it Go from Frozen.
  15. “Can’t Hold Us” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis : I feel like their music reminds me of good rap music that made me love it when I was a teen rather than most of the crap rap they make now.
  16. “White Walls” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis : This song just makes me feel cool when I listen to it. Let me pretend.

What’s on your work-out playlist? As much as I’m listening to these, I’m sure I’ll need some additional songs soon.

And if you live in downtown Indy and want to join me at the gym, I’d love a partner. :)