Friday, July 8, 2016

Refusing To Believe

This week has been yet another week full of scary, heartbreaking stories in the news. Stories that I can't wrap my head around. Stories of hate and racism. Stories that make me want to cry and scream. Stories that make me unsure of what to say and think. 

                              *****

Every summer I go on a road trip with my kids. I love getting away. I love being free from routines and expectations. It always seems like I am on the road when the news is full of heartbreaking stories, or maybe there are just always heartbreaking stories. Whatever the case, it usually is a time when people feel uncertain and I feel overwhelmed and like the world is full of too much hate and that nothing will change and there's no hope.  Ultimately what ends up happening is that along the journey I find hope and humanity and good people.

My god, I'm banking on that happening this year.

                             *****

We leave on Monday for an 11-state journey that will include state parks, national monuments, a baseball tournament, a beach, hotels, motels, visits with family and a protest. We are making a pit stop in Washington D.C. for a protest. I am representing a group called Moms Clean Air Force (MCAF)--a bipartisan group that works to combat air pollution, including the urgent crisis of our changing climate. MCAF is a special project of the Environmental Defense Fund. The protest, or play-in, is a family-friendly event designed to raise awareness of MCAF's mission and urge members of Congress to take action to fight against climate change.

I can't wait to bring my kids to D.C. and have them be involved in activism and working for change. 
Lucy and JT went with me to D.C. two years ago.


I refuse to believe that a bad situation won't or can't get better. I want my kids to know that they can get involved and be a part of making the world better. I want them to fight a good fight--a respectful fight, be for something, know their power, inspire and educate and love and support and rally for equal rights and social justice and taking care of people and our planet. 

Climate change and pollution and poverty and racial injustice are all linked. Look at what happened in Flint which is just a little over 30 minutes north of where I live. It's all linked. We are all linked. And we can all do something to make it all better and safer and more just.

I refuse to believe things can't get better, that people can't be better and kinder and more compassionate and less violent and hateful. I also refuse to do nothing. 




Thursday, June 30, 2016

Grass Is Boring--A Pinterest Poser Challenge



I fell in love with my front porch a few years ago. I posted pictures all over social media in sort of a braggy way. But everything wasn't as perfect as it looked (duh, like everything on social media, HA!). I was hiding something, I had a secret. A secret that only my family, a few of my neighbors and a guy from TruGreen knew about. My secret was that we had the worst back yard in possibly all the land. Our back yard looked like a yard of an abandoned home--dirt patches, weeds, beat up trampoline, remnants from a tree that was struck by lightening (last summer!). It was embarrassing and awful and well, something we never talked about. 

One day, last spring, a guy from TruGreen was going door-to-door. I thought maybe it was time to let someone know about the secret. Especially someone that could maybe help. I asked him if he wouldn't mind taking a look at my back yard and see if he could help me. After he saw it, he said this..."Um, no ma'am, there's nothing we can do to help you with that, that's way beyond us, you need to basically start all over."

Yup.

I tried to convince Tim that we should just scrap it and make a giant sand box/sand volleyball court. I had big day dreams of beach parties in our backyard. I mean who needs grass right? Grass is boring.But Tim being the traditional kind of guy he is couldn't wrap his head around something so "out there" as he put it. He said he would try to plant and grow grass, like he had done the previous springs.

But I was determined to find a new way. I was a huge believer in the whole grass being boring and the day dreams of making our backyard feel more like vacation, not a shameful secret.  So I turned to Pinterest for ideas and pictures to support my vision when I pitched  it to Tim.

Here is what finally convinced Tim to ditch the grass...pea gravel! This pin:

This is the picture I found on Pinterest that convinced Tim to put pea gravel in our backyard and inspired our project! Click here to see more ideas on this site. 


So for this month's Pinterest Poser Challenge* (used to do it weekly! I can't even imagine weekly Pinterest projects anymore or blogging that much! I miss it, but that's another blog post), I will share how we got over our backyard shame.

*In an attempt at not being a Pinterest Poser,** every week-ish I detail a new project/idea/recipe inspired by Pinterest.
**My definition of a Pinterest Poser is someone who is all pins and no substance.

A few years ago during the infamous Polar Vortex, my kids sort of built a skating rink in our backyard. It was so cold they could only go outside for 15-minute increments or their exposed skin would get frostbit, but damn they had fun. Unfortunately our grass never grew back. We have tried to plant seed and have managed to grow a bit of grass and weeds, but it dies every year. Waaaa.


A few weeks ago, we put pea gravel, which is very inexpensive, in the old rink spot. We used the tree limbs as a border. The limbs were from a tree that had been struck by lightening last August. We dug a little bit around the edges to sink the limbs in slightly.




Pea gravel is pretty cheap...a few dollars a bag!


We put the whole family to work. We pulled the few patches of grass. We raked. We leveled. We put down weed matting. We spread pea gravel everywhere. We used probably 45 bags of pea gravel and still need to a few more.








Then we bought cheap plastic chairs, a few plants, an umbrella for our long neglected picnic table on the porch and BOOSH! No more backyard shame. It's not perfect and we ran out of money for the fire pit (hoping that will change in August), but it's so much better than the abandoned/dirt look we had before. And it's way less boring than grass! 



We bought a new grill and that is AWESOME!

Tim bought me a projector for my birthday and we watch movies outside now! Movies in the moonlight in our vacation-y backyard. It's the best!






Yeah, that's right, I don't need grass or the TruGreen guy to have a pretty rad back yard. Thank you Pinterest for having my back!


Have you made anything inspired by Pinterest lately? Got any favorite holiday crafts? Let me know in the comments or over on my Facebook page.


Here are some of the Pinterest projects I've done/made/attempted:

Cheap (But cute!) Valentine's Decorations/Celebration- click here
DIY Snowman Ornaments- click here
Milk Carton Halloween Luminaries- click here
Fall DIY (Painted Acorns)- click here
Kale Smoothie- click here
Power Tools- click here
Painting Sticks- click here
Homemade Pesto- click here
DIY Map Craft- click here
Homemade Chalk Paint- click here
A Flower Crown- click here
The Rainbow Challenge- click here
DIY Trundle Bed- Click here
DIY Artemis Costume- click here
Taking Pictures of Your Kids- click here
Gluten Free Pretzels- click here
Cinnamon Sugar Doughballs- click here
Painted Lockers- click here
Melted Beads- DIY Suncatcher- click here
Tissue Paper Pom Pom Garland-- click here
A Delightfully Simple Birthday Party--click here
Make An Awesome Omelet--click here
Outdoor Lights Inspired by the show Parenthood- click here
Herb Garden with Chalkboard Pots- click here
Backyard Graffiti Art with kids- click here
Happiness Notecards- click here
Gluten Free Rainbow Cake- click here
Fruit Roll-Up Fortune Cookies- click here
Make Your Own Magnets- click here
DIY Painted Clay Necklace- click here
Dixie Cup Lights- click here
DIY Ornaments-click here
Gluten Free Clay- click here
Make Your Own Stamps- click here
Birthday Shirt- click here
Gluten Free Pop Tarts- click here
Front Porch Kid Art Display- click here
Door turned into Table- click here
Summer Wish List Chalkboard-click here
Peanut Butter Nutella Cookie Sandwiches-click here
Painted Mason Jar Vases-click here
Cinco de Mayo Paper Flowers- click here
Earth Day Cupcakes- Click here
Nail Art-click here
Homemade Photo Booth Fun- click here
Fake Bangs- click here
DIY Subway Art- click here
Furniture Painting and Bench/Chest Makeover- click here
Thanksgiving-y Project/Gratitude/Holiday Countdown- click here
The Smoothie-click here
The Free Printable Turned Artwork in a Boring Hallway- click here
The chalk board-click here
Seven Layer Dip in Individual Cups (my favorite so far!)-click here
The pumpkin address-click here
The Kitchen Dancing Sign--click here

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Less Phones More Nature



Recently I announced to the kids that this was going to be the summer of meditation and smoothies. Less junk more veggies. Less phones more nature. I told them I was determined to find shakes they loved with spinach in them and that if it meant trying a million different recipes I would do it. I told them together we would learn to meditate and calm ourselves in this hectic, fast-paced world. I told them we would work on focusing on our breathing and that it would all help them when they grew up and even before tests in school. By August, I told them concluding my fiery speech, we would be totally zenned out and healthy and ready for the rest of our lives!

The older kids rolled their eyes and groaned. The younger kids ignored me because they had stopped listening long before my fiery conclusion.  

Even though they all think I'm slightly (or majorly in some cases) annoying, it's my job to teach them life skills. And dammit having recipes with more vegetables and fruit and knowing how to calm yourself is freaking huge. Right?! Well I can tell you from experience they are hugely important because these are life skills I do not have and I desperately need.

So, whether they like it or not, this IS the summer of meditation and smoothies! 

This is our first week of summer vacation. It has already been busy and full of camps and friends and sleepovers and football conditioning (what?! yes) and staying up late and movies and more. Yesterday we went to pick strawberries. It's the first time we have gone since JT broke his arm berry picking (story here, remember?). He elected not to go so we went while he was at basketball camp.  It was a beautiful day. It was relaxing. No one fought. No one had their phones out. It was our first attempt at/version of meditation.

I want the kids to understand that meditation and finding ways to be calm isn't always about chanting and doing a formal meditation. I want them to know going outside and taking care of nature and being phoneless and quiet is a form of mediation--it is mindful and deliberate.

So together we will learn and we will be healthier and happier...at least we will try. Happy Summer!




















I had to remind Wade that even though he picked those strawberries we were going to dump into a collective strawberry bowl and share. He wasn't too thrilled.

Making Strawberry Shortcake for dessert last night helped Wade get over his not so share-y feelings.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Stop Watching


"Stop watching," Tim told me the other night. He's concerned about my anxiety. My anxiety in general is worse as I get older. He gets worried that I will not stop worrying after watching the news about Orlando.  

He's right, about a couple things...I will not stop worrying and I should stop watching.

I want to turn my worry into action. I want to stop watching and start doing. But what do I do? What do we do?

Like a lot of other people I've been scrolling through my social media accounts the past few days and reading story after story of heartache. I've also seen really interesting posts from people who are processing all of it. 

Like my friend who has a daughter with Down syndrome who posted this message on Facebook:

"It's not about being gay....we need to be sad because they were people!" Agree about the being sad part. Any loss of life, at the hands of someone else, is horrible. So many lives...even worse.
But ya know what? I had a strange vision for a moment of a building filled with people with Down syndrome... 
It IS about being gay, and that should make us even more upset. It can be hard to see that if it's not "your" group of people."

It is about being gay.

It is about hate.

It is about terror.

It is about gun laws having loopholes.

It is about so many things. So many things that make me horrified and anxious and want to stop watching. 
I want to stop watching and start doing. 

Here's my to-do list:

Reach out to my LGBTQ friends and make sure they know that they are loved and supported.

Listen to those friends and learn what ways they feel most supported and respected.

Call my Senators and tell them I want changes in gun laws. (I called yesterday, and will call again and again and again.)

Teach my children about love and acceptance and encourage them to love and accept and be kind to EVERYONE.

Get angry, but not hate.  

Speak up. I will not be silent. I will not pretend to not care or not be horrified by all of the hate and terror and loopholes.

Post my opinions on Facebook, opinions that are respectful and proactive.

Vote. Vote in local elections and national elections like I've done since 1992.

Support my Muslim friends. I will listen to them and learn what ways they feel safer and most respected.

Hug my kids and my friends and my family more.

Strive to be more forgiving and more grateful.

Fight the good fight for freedom and safety and peace and love and civil rights. I don't want to get in a hate-filled debate with everyone. I want to talk about ideas and progress and listen to other sides and other ideas. I will not stoop to levels of some of our politicians, I will not call people names, I will not discriminate or hate. I will not get stuck in my own fear and anxiety. I will stop watching and do something to create change.

A dusty chalkboard & a rainbow Wade painted last yr.--this my living room and the messages I want my kids to feel everyday---love, hope, acceptance, joy and more love. I want it for everyone. Before Orlando that was my message and now after Orlando it's my message. I pray and hope and scream for more love, more hope, more acceptance. I am so sad for the lives lost and the families that are grieving. I am sick over the hatred and violence. I will pray for peace, look for lessons and fight for change and not be silent. #morelovelesshate


What will you do?

Here are some places to get information about what we can all do:

Ways to Help Victims of Orlando-click here

Ways To Get Involved In Stopping Gun Violence- click here and here






Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Parenthood

The other night nothing was going right. Tim was at prom (the high school where he is the assistant principal was having their prom, so he was there making sure it was all going okay). The little kids were exhausted. The big kids were annoyed. Even though I had lowered my expectations (I wasn't expecting board games and snuggles and kids thanking me for everything I did for them...just slightly polite was all I was hoping for), the night was a disaster. 

Parenting is hard. Parenting kids with their own schedules, friends and mood swings is ridiculous. It's exhausting. Way more exhausting than when the kids were babies and toddlers. Back then we had routines and structure and no iPhones or hormones. Back when the kids were little all I had to do was make funny voices and turn on Disney Channel to make them really happy.  

Now the funny voices don't work so great. But you know what does? Patience. And love. And not getting too worked up or too sucked into the drama and the mood swings and not taking it all too personally and ahhhhh. 

The other night I was ready to send everyone to bed before dinner, but after dinner it all worked out.

"Want to play pickle?," one kid said after complaining that the chicken was dry.

"Okay," said another kid who was unhappy that we were having chicken and said she wanted to become a vegetarian.

The other kids followed the older ones out to the front yard. They all left their dishes instead of taking them into the kitchen, but I didn't care because they were playing together. Not just playing together, but laughing together and not complaining or fighting. It was amazing. It was more than I ever expected for the night.






Sure everyone had to go in when the game of pickle got too rough and one kid had a bloody nose, but they had fun. And they showed concern for the bloodied kid which gives me hope that the tween and teen really do care and have a little compassion.

"It's an absurd journey." That's a quote from Ron Howard referring to the journey of parenthood and why he produced the movie and TV show with the same name. He also called adolescence "a white knuckle experience." Yup. I loved that movie and that show and gosh, Ron Howard. I love my kids. I love my family. I love parenthood. So, I'm riding the ups and downs of parenthood...lowering expectations for perfect family time and being surprised and grateful when it goes really well... going to continue to be impressed by their compassion and do the best I can on this journey.

Tim and I are re-watching the show Parenthood from the beginning because we love it. Here's a video about the show and the interview with Ron Howard that I talked about.


(watch the video here.)