Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Latest Project

Since the cleaning bug hit, I've rearranged my room, turned the Ball jars into candles, sewed valences for my windows and bought tension bars (one of which I've broken already.) After sewing the curtains, I decided I didn't like how it looked with the tension rod so I went back to the drawing board. Last night I stopped at Jo-Ann Fabrics and picked up 6 unfinished wooden birdhouses. I gave them a multi-colored base coat, a thin layer of crackle paint and a top coat of white paint. The colors underneath show through the cracks, but overall the birdhouses are white. I'm going to put one at each top corner of the windows in my room, then drape the valences over them. Here are the birdhouses...I'll post what they look like in my bedroom when I get everything done later tonight:

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Dork Alert

Notice anything wrong with this picture?
Yep, I went to work like this today. Didn't even realize it until 2 p.m. Went to the grocery store like this, TJMaxx, gas station...totally oblivious. Gonna send this to my doc and tell her I think I might need stronger medicine! Haha.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Fresh Cuttings

From Our Yard

My Girl

My girl is growing up. I can't believe the difference in just the few weeks since I last saw her. She's talking up a storm, understands pretty much everything I say to her, has the cutest little personality that just bubbles over and is FINALLY saying my name. I'm "Tee." That is the part that comes out when you ask her to say "Auntie." So last night it was "Tee" this and "Tee" that. I think she figured out that if she said my name in her sweet little voice, she'd get whatever she wanted :-) Theo-boy is a doll baby, too, but I couldn't get any pictures of him yesterday. Every one I took was either blurry or he wasn't looking at the camera. So this post will be about Baby Girl, I guess. She woke from her nap first, so we did her nails before Bubba woke up. (BTW, Auntie chose her clothes and did her hair! I found the clothes Momma set out for her after she was already dressed. I love piggy-tails on little girls and she sat so still while I played with her. My own live doll!) We painted our nails the same color and put white dot-dots over the blue polish. I painted flowers on MJs thumbs and my toes. Look at her, sitting so nice and still.

Showing me her nails. See how they match her outfit?

Blowing bubbles

Coloring a picture for Auntie

Putting together a puzzle while Bubba swings contentedly in the background

Counting to ten

My beautiful nail art

I read this on a Savvy Auntie website:
All the ways that aunties interact with their young "nieces and nephews":  playing alongside them, reading to them, baking cookies with them, playing ball outdoors, even bathing them or changing that dirty diaper — can be critical to their cognitive, social, and emotional development and future academic successes. Whether or not we realize it, we’re teaching them language, science, math, and social skills simply through play. In fact aunties (uncles, grandparents) may be one of the few adults in a child's life who can provide that playful early education because our visits are set aside to spend uninterrupted time doing just that. And the best part is that it works whether or not we realize it. They know they are safe with us, physically and emotionally, and that we will always do our best to inspire them to be their best. It must be added that the way they run toward us, jumping up and down with excitement, when we come to visit them is the very best feeling on earth.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Funny Sayings

Since I spend the majority of my time with ESL kids, I get asked for clarification about lots of different things. Here are some things we say all the time that you can imagine are quite confusing for someone just learning our language:

Make no bones about it
Mind your p's and q's
Cry wolf
Fly the coop
Down to the wire
Head in the clouds
Clean as a whistle
By the seat of your pants
In the nick of time
Spitting image
Your name is mud
Spill the beans
Raining cats and dogs
Missed the boat
Throw in the towel
Bee in your bonnet
Get your goat
Beat around the bush
Turn over a new leaf
Chip on your shoulder

There are so many more...I'll make another list later if I remember.

Curtains and Candles

I wanted to make valences for my bedroom windows but decided I am not a fan of how they turned out. It looks like something out of Country Living Magazine. I feel like I'm living in a farmhouse - which is not a bad thing - just not the look I'm going for. I already have the material, so I'll probably finish the valences for the other two larger windows but as soon as I have time I'm going to do some more work and experiment with simple white material. I already have another idea. Much better. MomMA will hate it because it involves the wavy bleached wood pieces I used in my old apartment bedroom.

I also brought back old blue Ball canning jars that were in Gram's garage. I filled the bottom with white sand and seashells and added glass votives. They are really pretty and remind me of my grandma. I miss her. The pictures aren't great. I had to take them with my phone because my camera battery needs charged. I will try to get better ones when my room is finished.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Dear Toby

So, I wasn't excited about the decision to get you. You are a dog. A little dog. You yap. You have hair. You have skin so you have dandruff. You pee and poop in front of people. You lick your butt and then in your excitement will try to lick my face. You have your own odor. You will live in a carpeted house. Your hair and your smell will become part of the carpet. You will take time and attention and training. You will tie down my momMA. It will be like she has a child to work around and she was my only friend who didn't have that responsibility. I will constantly be thinking about the fact that your breath is floating in the air I breathe. Your hair and germs will be on my skin. Small dog owners are strange (except for you, Megan). I can see the WA parents being one of those couples who takes you everywhere and expect you to be treated like a family member. I resorted to drugs for anxiety. It's not that I haven't been around dogs before. I had my beloved Chessie growing up. I couldn't have asked for a better pet. I have a rat, birds and fish in my own house. There are plenty of animal germs and feathers floating around but momMA's house was different. It was clean. It was quiet. It smells good...ALL. THE. TIME. It was a haven where I didn't have to think or try to compartmentalize dirt and mess. It was home and peace, whose value -- for this misfiring, rapid, tumultuous, chaotic brain -- can not be underestimated.

Then, I started thinking about little. black it's hard to know if you are looking at us...according to momMA. You've been taken away from your momma. You jump at painted toenails. You have your own little personality. You will bring happiness to my WA parents. You will be a companion, loyal and loving, even when your people don't always behave. I will see you and you will worm your way into my heart. You will have me wrapped around your little paw, just like Sadie and Daisy. You might get sick. You might even die before I think you should. My heart will hurt. I will be angry that I allowed myself to love a dog. I sobbed through Marley & Me and that was just a movie. I refuse to watch Old Yeller, Where the Red Fern Grows, Homeward Bound, Lassie, Fox and Hound, Bambi, Dumbo...any movie that has anything to do with animals that might get hurt, sick or die. I've had five fish. Fish have a short life span. Every time one dies, I cry. 

So, here you come. You are on your way into my life. I can't avoid you. Well, I could but that would be living a closed, small life. You have caused a lot of turmoil. You have dredged up a lot of obsessive-compulsive thinking. You have created conflict. You were also the trigger that finally made me get help. I have been slowly regaining control of my thoughts. My brain is quieting down. I am able to focus. I am getting things done. I am taking small steps toward talking to God. You are intended for WA Dad but I have an idea God's intentions might be more complex. No, I wasn't excited about the decision to get you but you might turn out to be one of the best things to come my way.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


There is no sweeter sound in this whole wide world than the words, "I love you," out of the mouth of a baby. Auntie heard them from her girl today. Awwwwwwwwww. Be still my heart.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Okay. As I begin my 40s (there, I said it) I have done a lot of self-reflection. People say age is just a number. I know that is true, to some extent, but age is also a measure of how many years you have lived. Each year under your belt is one less to be lived again. I wouldn't trade the first two decades of my life for anything. The same can't be said of my 3rd decade. That was a hard one for me. I don't want to dwell on it but I don't want to repeat it during my 40s, either. Here are some things I would like to work on:
1. I am in a church that doesn't feed me. Its goals are not my goals. The things they have chosen to emphasize and focus energy on are not where my heart is. Do I need to change churches or do I need to re-evaluate my own life?
2. My health. Much of it is out of my control but there are things I can do to make it more manageable... more regular contact with my doctors, more frequent blood tests to make sure I'm within normal ranges, less burying-my-head-in-the-sand (hoping everything will go away).
3. I need to make time to exercise more frequently and choose exercises that don't exacerbate joint inflammation.
4. I need to drink less soda and more water.

Steps I've taken so far:
1. I've talked to my doctor about various health concerns and am in the process of getting things checked out.
2. I began a low dose of antidepressants to help with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive thinking patterns.
3. I have researched eating plans similar to Medifast (the only plan that has ever somewhat helped me lose weight while I struggle with fluctuating TSH levels).
4. I am starting a homemade protein shake regimen, with lean protein and lots of greens for dinner.
5. I have quit going to church. I know, this doesn't seem to be a step in the right direction, but I haven't quit for good. I'm giving myself a break and not doing what I "should" do. I want to talk to God without anger and guilt and the high blood pressure that results whenever I have to listen to the men of Alderwood. Not feeling like I'm going to hurdle the chairs in front of me and tackle the preacher each Sunday has been a huge relief. I'm feeling much calmer and much less angry at God.

Last night, I made my first batch of blueberry/banana protein shake. It was surprisingly simple. I made enough to drink throughout the day. One serving consists of:
1 tsp. fiber
1  cup water
1 cup crushed ice
2 T. casein protein
1/6 of a banana
1/4 c. fresh blueberries
Put it in a blender and puree til smooth. I bought an insulated big thermos to put it in and brought it to work today. It is nice and cool and refreshing. The casein protein helps to make you feel full.

Tonight's menu:
Grilled salmon
Kale sauce (kale, onions, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper)
Seasoned zucchini slices

I'm also drinking lots of water. Here is proof (my protein shake thermos and my ice water thermos!):

So, since today's blog is kinda like a confessional, here's another picture. This is what my fit body used to look like - before health issues wreaked havoc. I realize I'm not in my 20s anymore but it's not bad to have a goal, right? I mean, look at those legs and arms. That's a body that is cared for and disciplined. This is the me that's inside. Maybe it will one day be the me that's on the outside again, too.

And, finally, a quote from one of my favorite people...John  Wooden:
It's the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Lake 22 Hike

JP didn't have to work today until 5:30 so we decided to go for a hike not too far away. We drove about 11 miles beyond Granite Falls to the Lake 22 trail head. The online description said it was easy and kid-friendly but many of the comments from hikers said they disagreed. Several stated that the hike was "more" than they expected. I should have paid attention. It was 2.75 miles of continuous uphill switchbacks. The trails were well-groomed except for the last .75 was very rocky talus. Everywhere you looked, people were taking breaks and sitting on whatever rocks looked stable enough to not roll over the incline. Once at the lake, it leveled out and you could walk a 1.5 trail around the water's edge. We packed a lunch but ran out of time to eat it, so saved it for the ride back. Did I mention that I passed a kidney stone at around 1 a.m. this morning so wasn't feeling great? I spent most of last night in the bathroom with my head in a wastebasket. I dry-heaved all the way up the mountain today and felt like an idiot. Fortunately, it was always at times when people weren't around. When we finally reached the car, we stripped off our shoes and socks, rolled down the windows, drank every drop of water from every bottle we could find and felt very proud of ourselves for completing an almost 6-mile round-trip hike. Not bad for the first one of the year.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

We're Starving Over Here

So, someone (who shall remain nameless) had the brilliant idea of making growing, teenage boys wait until 2:30 each day for lunch. It's more like a smorgasbord in the classroom than a learning environment. The boys are hungry and snacking and grazing all the time. At any given moment, you can smell fish, seaweed, spice, chocolate, cabbage and/or green tea. We are protesting. We want lunch at noon. We are hungry!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Well, I've only blogged once since I've been back in WA. Part of me has been in mourning (having left the U.P. behind), but I've also been busy. My computer bit the dust so that hasn't helped. Here's a snapshot (or two) of what I've been up to. MomMA picked us up at the airport over a week ago, our new roommate moved in, I got my hair cut, momMA and I walked and picnicked and explored, I split time between my house and hers, and now I'm back at work.

Walking the path at Ballard Locks

 Walking the path at Green Lake

 Walking the path at Seward Park

Walking the boardwalk

Spotting an owl while walking the Mill Creek park path

 Back at work

I read this the other day in my study about prayer:
"Suppose you were given one piece of a 5,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. Imagine that you were asked to look at that piece and tell what the whole puzzle looks like. You couldn't possibly do it. Standing alone, the puzzle piece seems random and without purpose. Only when it's placed in its proper context does it begin to make sense. So it is with life. Each circumstance fits into the big picture. Don't waste your time trying to make each piece make sense by itself. We tend to try to define God's will incident by incident, happening by happening, as if each occurence in our lives stands alone. Instead, everything is being blended together into the whole.

God is working out His will according to an eternal strategy. Each individual piece is part of His big plan."
~Living a Life of Prayer
"The Lord works out everything for His own ends." Proverbs 16:4

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Thursday, July 4, 2013


Today was our last day at home in the U.P. We are both very sad to be leaving and it is not made any easier by all the people who keep telling us to move back home. We finished up all the odds and ends at my parents' house, which included the dressers, the trim in the bedroom and putting in a new toilet. It was hot, sweaty, dirty work and when we were done we went out on the lake and swam for awhile. Our day started with breakfast by Mom, then a second breakfast of sausage and biscuits at my Aunt Betty's. We didn't know we were supposed to be there for that because JP forgot to tell us. To finish off our day, we went to Uncle Joe's for a cookout and fireworks. The boys were trying a new way to make trout which is very similar to how they cook salmon over a flame in Seattle. We nailed the trout to a soaked piece of cedar, stuck it in the campfire and roasted it. Mine was delicious. We had s'mores while Jake lit the fireworks. So much fun. I don't have the pictures from our evening but JP will send them to me when we have better phone service so I'll add those later. 

P.S. There are a lot of pictures. Be ready.


The Process of Toilet Replacement

JP is in the yellow t-shirt on one side, I'm in the brown shorts on the other side, and Michele is holding the toilet down firmly so we can screw the two pieces together.

Sausage Gravy and Biscuits
(with Aunt Betty, Sheri and Paige)