All the Modern Ladies, or, a Rant against the Ranters.

Why is it that people who are uncomfortable with change strive to make the change a moral thing? (If that’s the case, then there’s a special place in hell for Apple.) Look, anyone who uses the internet knows its pitfalls. It’s a time-trap, for one. You jump on to check the hours of your local Kroger and end up reading about the mating habits of the Duggars. Then there’s Facebook–which has basically put the divorce lawyers on an economic boom. And don’t get me started on the smart phone, which has robbed children of the mothers who before smart phones never read a magazine or watched a soap or talked on the land-line or over the fence to the neighbors or got really distracted trying to build a fire in their cave and actually paid constant and vital attention to their kids. You get the idea.

So the people rise up in protest, and the links go viral…viral…meaning online about the evils of the modern era. Which we read on our smart phones and cry “hear-hear!”

I recently read a thread (because I’m a glutton for self-punishment and bad blood pressure) online about Pinterest. This lady was freely bashing it, even though she admittedly didn’t use it, saying people should have original thought. First of all, you’re right lady, original ideas only. Glad you didn’t get your hairstyle off of Friends and that you hand-wove that shirt-form-thingy you’re wearing out of cat-wool. When I posed the question (it’s less offensive if it’s an interrogative, right?) asking if it were fair to bash something she hadn’t tried, she stuck by her guns. (Well, not guns… some other social-media approved thing you can stick by.)

The thing is, the internet has turned us ladies into 5 year olds. You know, some people post stuff on Instagram to make others feel bad. Who is this mystery lady, maliciously frosting ombre cupcakes to post on Instagram to ensure that Jennifer from small-group has a really crappy day?

“But it’s fake!” you cry. Ladies, please. You know our gender can’t use that argument. Pretty sure that padding in your push-up bra didn’t come with your birth certificate, and your eyelashes aren’t actually brownish-black. What, you think Cher actually has hair? As if the bad-food-pictures online aren’t enough, do you really want to see my pile of dirty dishes? You know, there was a time when showing your ugly was considered inappropriate. Then Wal-Mart came to town, and it got kinda normal. Here’s the thing, in an age where girls are instagramming their nekked fannies, and women are slinging around words like placenta, take the little bits of beauty and be thankful for it. We need more beauty.

What if those evil-posters are actually sharing their gifts to the world? What, the lady who raised chickens and then served it on her hand-thrown pottery to her natural-birthed-free-range baby isn’t allowed to share of herself with the world? Because she’s got too much going on that’s good? We were meant to share. Preachers and motivational speakers share their thoughts and gifts with the world. Musicians give of themselves and their gifts to the world. Where on earth would we even BE without Oprah? Nobody would be having Ah-ha moments! You think I don’t feel bad about myself by stuff I see online? Of course I do! I’ve got a Facebook friend whose post-baby going home outfit was a bikini. Ok, I’m exaggerating, but barely. Thing is, she took care of her body. She didn’t become BFFs with the Pringle can. And guess what? This isn’t the Mary Lekoshere show.

So take inspiration, not offense. Rejoice with those who rejoice. Band together as sisters and be thankful. Get that joint Facebook account with your husband, and make really sappy new-baby compliments under his name and confuse everybody over your siamese-twin-birthday.

In the words our the great modern-day poet, “Shake it off.”

Resolutions, or, How I Intend to Improve Myself in 2015, or Dream On

I hesitated to “publish” my resolutions. It seems a little presumptuous at this point. Kinda like telling someone about the dream you had last night. Why do people do that? Why would the listener care to emotionally invest themselves in something that never happened? But, this is a blog, and it is personal, and you, dear reader, are not forced to read it. 🙂 Of all the dreamers in the world, I am chief. So giving someone like me a new year is basically forking over a narcotic. Nevermind that I have a terrible track-record for resolutions. There’s always 2015.:)  Would love to hear what yours are! 1. Read my Bible through. Never have accomplished this one. Even tho I have a Bible that conveniently breaks down the reading for me. Mothers of young kids don’t have time for this you say? Tell that to my Netflix que. No more excuses! 2. Stop biting my nails. If for no other reason than to remove this resolution from future lists. And to make my fingers look thinner. (See resolution #6) 3.Will not participate in any controversial status or debate on Facebook. In other words, I will improve my blood pressure in 2015. If someone is honestly asking an opinion, then I will PM them. Stop cheering. You’re welcome. *Disclaimer. it is possible that my humor in a status may cross the line into controversial. 4. Interactively play with my child/children 1 hour a day. Gasp! You Don’t already! No. But I produced and maintain one-of-a kind playmates for them. So that’s something. 5. Do art for 1 hour a day. This is a goal, not a life-sentence. There will be days that are not art-friendly. 6. No list would be complete without some dream, I mean goal, of fitness. 🙂 A few months ago I went on an insane diet. It worked beautifully. I got thin. For like 12 hours. Then I climbed climbed climbed to even greater heights than I would have imagined. Sigh. Now, when I put my arms to my side, I feel squish. My jeans keep getting all passive-agressive on me, “You know, your thighs and I would be better friends if you’d put down the Cheeze-Its.” Some women, when they put on weight, just get more lush. When I put on pounds, I look like I should be the bare-bellied star of a painting in the Met. And it’s not because I’m putting an extra tablespoon of greek yogurt on my avocado at lunch. It’s because I’m making poor choices all.day.long. Because food is my drug-of-choice. Another consideration, given my time of life and desire for more kids, is another pregnancy could be looming. Maybe when 2016 hits I will be monstrously pregnant. But this time, I hope that I don’t fat-out of my clothes and go shopping for a Christmas tree in lesbian shorts. So this is my crazy plan. For a year, I’m saying no to bread and sweets, except on special occasions. Don’t give me too much credit, “special occasion” is used pretty loosely. The exception is one piece of chocolate a day, and the food-group of Lattes. So, tonight, when I watch the glittery ball descend, possibly on time, I will feel challenged and hopeful.

The Most Wonderful Time

Guess who had three cups of coffee tonight at the party? This girl.

The big man and the mini-men are a-bed. The big man finished up his ER rotation tonight, and the mini-men partied hard. The miniest (am I losing you?) napped mid-party, but Kingston…well, the guy knows how to socialize. Hanging with the kids freaked him out so he stayed up with the adults, flirting, chatting, drinking eggnog. At the end of the night he was happily camped out on the sofa between two ladies, having a blast. Hoo boy.

This is our first Christmas here at the new place. Have to admit, I wasn’t too fond of the idea of decorating, since I’m still just decorating the house for, you know, the other 11 months of the year. Turns out this house looks quite charming with her hypothetical halls bedecked.

It’s so interesting seeing people’s trees on my newsfeed. Christmas trees are like handwriting:  personal, tell-tale. My tree has colored lights, because that’s what I grew up with and it just seems more warm and familial. Here’s some snaps of my decor this year. Enjoy the dying days of Christmas beauty before the LED craze brings the entire country down… the visual equivalent of “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer.”

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Admired my friend’s little birds, so she gave me one. 🙂

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The strand of stars and the little ornaments are from Germany. My Mother In Law just brought them.

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The bark reindeer and candle, also gifts from Germany. The white deer head from my friend.

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And angel from Kenya

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This ceramic tree is from my Grandma. She loved Christmas. I love having a piece of her Christmas in mine now.

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“Come Adore”

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How awesome are these guys? From the same friend mentioned above. 🙂 Where would my Christmas be without her? 🙂 The mushroom is from Ikea.

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The mantel. Stockings hand-knit by an aunt. Pictures of my babes at Christmas-time. Nativity from-guess?? My Christmas-loving friend.

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the Treeeeee!

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A Monster Birthday Party for a Wildman

I wish I had one of those houses where people could wander in at any moment. Instead, my house regularly looks like the floor of the Duggar family van after an extended road trip.

The most obvious solution to housekeeping woes is: invite guests. The social pressure to pretend you don’t get down to using serving spoons for the sugar bowl, or that you actually put dirty diapers in the trashcan is immense.

We had two rounds of guest, back to back. The first, friends, who we dragged out in the bitter cold to go hiking. Then, my Mother-in-law from Germany, who wanted to experience an American Thanksgiving. Bingo. Enter my family, who’s girth enables an excessive amount of holiday chaos. So we watched The Macy Parade, and squeezed into a waaay too small of house for 31 warm bodies and about as many dishes. On Friday, we went Black Friday Shopping–to Old Navy, that was sporting half-off everything. We got stuck in a traditionally-appropriate-Black-Friday-length-line next to a Chatty Cathy who, about six-months before, got inspired to do a home-dye-job, then immediately gave up the trend. Saturday, was party-day, and the pressure was on. My mother-in-law–bless her!–was such help. She cooked up the hamburger for me, stuffed candy into Crochet’d monsters and put stickers on tables. (Nothing says “Welcome to America” quite like cooking 10 pounds of sloppy joe meat.)

Sunday, we drove back up to Virginia, and Monday went to our favorite Christmas tree farm, Lowe’s. Tuesday, we drove down to Charlotte, where my Mother-in-law flew away home, to content herself with experiencing future American Holidays via The Family Stone and Miracle on 34th Street.

The big sign is for a future quilt--each invite included a  quilt square for the guests to contribute.

The big sign is for a future quilt–each invite included a quilt square for the guests to contribute.

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The culmination of 12 months of “chalkboard updates.”

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Monster Cake

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Smash cake. Hypothetically, as it never got smashed.

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My mother crochet’d these! They are filled with candy.

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The Chalkboard Progression

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These were supposed to have Twizzlers out the top. Guess who didn’t do a trial-run first. The Twizzlers were too short!

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You can only plan so much about a party…:)

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Quilt squares

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Quilt squares

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A Place at the Table

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Tonight we had hand-breaded chicken, corn, cold-pea salad, and cornbread stuffing. The kind from a box, but laced with dill, making it even nicer. If you can even imagine that.

I read that it’s good for children to eat dinner with the family around the table-gives them a sense of belonging. We eat dinner around the table…a table that spins, and people buy vowels off of. Sigh.

We do eat properly, now and then, and it’s warm and familial. Not so much tonight, since I was hangry, and Sawaya was trying to fix the speakers for the record player. Kingston likes to listen to “Yots of Chocayat for me to eat” on the record player. I’m so proud. (He also likes Aloe Blacc’s “I need a dollar” on YouTube. We keep him musically balanced like that)

Growing up, we always ate dinner together, all eight of us, the person sitting in the middle of the bench seat completely at the goodwill of his captors on either side. We ate rice flavored with margarine and soy sauce on blue plastic tupperware plates. We drank weak sweat tea. (My parents were from the North. We were lucky it was sweet.) We had to ask to be “excused.” Leftovers  from our plates went to the cat.

My in-laws, in Germany, eat together religiously. Sit down, have a glass plate on a place-mat. Have coffee in a carafe. Don’t scoop your food from the pots on the stove, dish from the food set on the table. Have a nice salad to polish off your hot dinner. When I think of my in-laws, I think of a place at the table.

One of my fears is being alone in this world. I’ve long had that fear, but have come recently to realize that until you grow-up, you don’t really understand what being alone is. Growing up, being loved by adults, being guided, being cared for, nagged, instructed, taught…we are surrounded by those who are invested in us. Through college, friend come, go, whirls of people every day in your life. As an adult, you come to rest, to rotate in a regular pattern that involve the same people. Your circle tightens, shrinks.

And suddenly you realize that there are only a very few people in the world that care deeply about the intimate details of your life. I have three. Three people.

There’s many more than that, because I am so very blessed, who claim me, who would stop what they’re doing to help, to listen, to pray. But there’s only three that care about the new sweater I bought, and the way I feel that day. When you think of that, and know that relationships change, people go, they die, they stop caring–then you know what it is to fear. That one day, you can buy a perfectly amazing sweater at a steal, or have the bluest of blue moments, and there will be no one.

Of Salt and Sand, Vacation Part 1

We human kind consider ourselves creatures of the land, even though our first existence was one of liquid. Maybe those first slow, quiet months of awakening are the reason that we now, as a whole, crave to be submerged in water. The reason we find ultimate peace in the salty embrace of ocean water, or the warmth of a bath.

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We camped in Charleston, on the opening days of our vacation. I’d been craving the beach for months.

It was a Saturday, and the beach was populated by bathers, and later, by a wedding party. We went on a long walk, the damp sand working the tiredness of hours out of my feet. Later I went for a swim alone. Nature has always seemed like a quiet, wise old friend to me. Somehow it belongs to me, it’s personal. Swimming takes you away from the world, brings the thoughts of your mind to the forefront, to be heard. I paddled about in the salty water, the sun glinting brightly on the water, on my wet face. The breeze was warm. Out in the deeper water, a fishing boat waited patiently for a catch. In the surf, a stunningly beautiful dark-skinned woman stood talking to a woman who looked as if a marble statue from the Met had come to life and escaped to the beach.

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I took some pictures, with paintings in mind. I took some pictures, of my sweet boys, who are just making friends with the world.

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*for book nerds only

There’s an annual book fair in Blacksburg at the YMCA. The first year we went, we dropped $200. They put these white stickers with amazing stick-power on the books. Some I try to remove, some I leave on. 40 years from now, when I pull a book off the shelf and see either a yellowed sticker or the remnants of one, I will remember the trashy building with tables laden with used books.

I grew up without tv, so naturally, since human beings love being transported out of our real lives, (no, reality tv didn’t invent that, we’ve been doing that ever since cave paintings) books were a big part of our family. Trips and bike rides to the library were a regular thing. 6 kids equals a tall stack of books. Thankfully, i did not inherit my passion for incurring library fines from my parents. People who use ringer-washers do not believe in library fines.

My mother read to us at night, something I do with my sons and hope to continue. She would read, and fall asleep reading. She read us Sugar Creek Gang and Little Britches and Little House on the Prairie. (Probably something to do with the fact that I now have a son named Wilder) And, because she was a clever woman, she read us Jeanette Oak love stories. And we loved them. If mommy blogs were a thing back in the 90’s, my mom shoulda had one. “How to read romance novels to your kids and make them think it was for them” would have gone viral.

Here’s my loot from this year… it’s a small loot, but has some treasures none-the-less.

A book of Van Gogh's drawings

A book of Van Gogh’s drawings

detail of the Van Gogh

detail of the Van Gogh

just one more...

just one more…

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detail of Cassatt

detail of Cassatt

One of my favorite Artists.

One of my favorite Artists.

detail of Lautrec

detail of Lautrec

Got this for $5. It was a hot book a couple years ago. This man's mind...

Got this for $5. It was a hot book a couple years ago. This man’s mind…

Willa Cather. I know someone who names their daughter after her. If you're wondering why, read her.

Willa Cather. I know someone who names their daughter after her. If you’re wondering why, read her.

Great.Literature.  for Kingston :)

Great.Literature.
for Kingston 🙂

*Not pictured, F.Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night. The cover art is terrible, so don’t feel left out.

The Day the Lekosheres Went for a Hike

Reality TV gets a bad rap. I, for one, like to indulge. I personally find the Bachelor mentally stimulating… it’s fascinating to watch human reactions to being rejected (a common response is “*sob*I put myself out there *sob*.” What does that have to do with anything? This isn’t k-5. You don’t get a star. If I went to Britain and put myself out there to be the next queen…guess what.It ain’t happening. And I wouldn’t get a limo drive back to the hotel.) And, of course, it’s always awesome to watch unvarnished female cattiness. Where it dives into silliness is the unrealistic setting of “falling in love” where the biggest challenge facing the contestants is making sure your particular giggle and set of DD’s creates more chemistry than the live Barbie next to you. If I were running this show, I’d create a level of scenario. (None of which my husband and I would have passed) 1. Play Settlers of Catan against each other. 2. Do a task together. 3. Go to a location where neither of you have been, or know how to get to. Rely on a GPS that takes you two wrong towns away and tells you you’ve arrived. Send the woman (who is notoriously terrible at anything directional) to get obscure directions from a gas station clerk and come repeat them to you. ***show over. Chris Harrison out of a job. 

#PSL

#PSL

The beginning of our trip, since it included a buy-one-get-one Autumnal drink from Starbucks, was brimming with potential. We were facing a bit of a late hike, since the days have been growing shorter, and we were going after the football game let out. We were due to meet up with friends and after figuring out the extent of our lostness (see challenge 3) told them to go on ahead. Perhaps due to the pity party I hosted in the car, we went on, and hiked anyway, both of us toting a child. We hustled up that mountain, hoping to catch our friends. At last we came to the waterfall. It was a lovely waterfall, even though it presented no friends.

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We paused for a few minutes. After the long car-ride and a nap, my 25 pound carry-on needed to eat. Nature had worked it’s natural valium on my frazzled nerves, the air was cool and pleasantly damp. The water really was beautiful. I perched on a tiny stone step facing the falls and fed my baby. It was like a scene out of Tarzan “I have carried my young up a mountain on my back and nursed him at the base of a waterfall.” Well, it would be like a scene out of Tarzan if Tarzan had in fact been female and a member of La Leche League.

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Then, down the mountain, while the forest slipped into the dimmest of light, the rough spots of the river beside us gleaming white, the night songs sounding around us. Sawaya walked ahead with his iPhone flashlight on, his legs cutting dark shapes agains the bloom of light.  I walked with my head down, eyeing the rough trail, my feet hurting because I picked shoes based on what I was wearing, not where I was walking. Wilder slept in his hot little hammock. We sang “Yundon bridge is fah-ying down, fah-ying down…” because Kingston was humming…not a song, just one note. One.Note.

We reached the parking lot, and our car, and made contact with our friends who had just sat down at a Mexican Restaurant just a hop skip and a jump away.  We joined them, in an outside covered patio, and ate chips out of a plastic basket with little bowls of salsa and white cheese.  We were served by a slim, young waiter who’d much rather be working on Project Runway than his Uncle’s restaurant. We ordered chimichangas. We talked and laughed. It ended well.

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when i said it…

May 2017
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2/4 got done. Now it's pack pack clean clean. Excited to return to art when this is all over! Prints will be available of these--either as a group or individually. Not yet tho...😁 Now back to cleaning windows!

what I’ve said before…