Thursday, May 31, 2012

Commission Me!

Today Jami Nato, whose blog I heart with all my heart, gave me a little shout out and I realized that I should probably do a little intro into why I do what I do, which is draw.

I draw because I love it. But I also draw because getting paid to do what you love is an incredible gift. It blesses me and my family when I'm able to help out financially through the gift of art. Think of the thing you love doing most - now imagine getting paid do it. Amazing, right?! How grateful would we all be if we were given the opportunity to get paid to do what we're passsionate about.

If you like what you saw on Jami's blog and would like one of your own, commission me to draw something for you! Woo! It's so fun for you! Then all your friends will be like, "Wow, a hand drawn picture of you and your family wearing clothes that you actually own - how cool! I want one too"

That's what our friends Cameron and Ellie thought. Wanna meet them?
Shazzam...there they are in all their hand drawn cuteness (+ their dog Lady):

You know you want one :)
Email me (see here) and let me know how I can turn you into a cute little drawing!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

England 2013

My family and I celebrated New Year's Eve, 1992 on a British Airways flight to London. I was 7 going on 8 and it was my first airplane ride. I spilled orange juice on myself - I remember this because it was written in a diary I was keeping at the time. A few weeks later, while having lunch at my new British middle school, I had apple juice spilled on me (accidently) by a girl named Hayley that the teacher described as a "trouble maker" - she was kidding, but I didn't clue into the sarcasm, so I was terrified when I was assigned a seat next to her. The juice spilling was confirmation of my fears at the time.  Later that day I was introduced to Hayley's best friend Sarah who told me I was ugly (she still denies it, but why would I imagine something like that?) Twenty years later, they remain my dearest, most beloved friends.

In the two and a half years my family lived on Windsor Road in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, Sarah, Hayley and I gathered a myriad of strange and wonderful memories, playing games of our own invention. With Sarah a game we dubbed "vomit" which involved placing a bottle cap full of orange juice in your mouth and seeing how much you could keep from spilling out (weird). Hayley and I enjoyed standing on the edge of my tub looking into the big wall to wall mirror as we "shaved" toothpaste off our face with a wet toothbrush (I don't know).

Here we are back in the 90s (from left - Hayley, who hates this picture, Sarah and myself) getting ready for a school production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I was cast as a piece of corn (!) I was only on stage for about 3 minutes but was still required to go to early morning rehearsal to practice "waving like a piece of corn."

My family moved back to the States in 1995 and it would be another 7 years before the three of us would be reunited.  Hayley faithfully stayed in touch through letters and cards, while Sarah and I barely talked because we were lazy penpals.  But when I returned to England in 2002 as a graduation present from my parents, it was as if time had stood still and nothing had changed. And it still feels that way today. No matter how much time goes by between visits, we are still those little girls vomitting juice and shaving toothpaste off our face - in spirit, of course.

Life, naturally, has also brought a lot of change for each of us. In 2006, while I was living in England and working with an organization called Scripture Union, Sarah began dating Richard. I love this man (platonically) as much as she loves him (romantically) and love that he's in her life.The last time I saw them (as well as Hayley) was when they flew to Cleveland for my wedding to be bridesmaids. Even Richard was a bridesmaid! Just kidding. But seriously, that week was such a memory maker. Do you want to hear about it? Great. Now's not the time though.

Right now I want to tell you about how excited I am that after five long years Richard finally popped the question. Praise the Lord! That man will officially be in our lives for good. This also means a long awaited wedding. A long awaited reunion. A long awaited trip to show Tim the land that I love. It means being a bridesmaid of a friend I have loved for twenty years now (how am I even that old?!) It means walking down the aisle in the church of my old British middle school. It means so many glorious and wonderful things.

It also amounts to a whole lot of dollar signs. The wedding is set for July 13 of next year. If you know me personally, or you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that Tim and I have recently gone down to one income since (essentially) losing my job and having a baby. Finding the funds to make this trip happen isn't going to be easy. We're on a no-frills budget just to make ends meet as it is so we're having faith that our 2012 tax return will cover the cost of the flights (currently they're $1700 per person round trip) and maybe a little spending money. So the time to start saving, if we can manage it, is now.

I'm also going to do something totally crazy and unheard of: I'm going to ask if you would be willing to help us. Now I know this probably seems a little audacious and self-centered. I know lots of people could ask for money for way more important things. I know a lot of people out there are struggling. I know lots of you could use a kids-free trip to England right about now.  But for us, this isn't so much a vacation as it a once in a lifetime opportunity to see one of my best friend's get married and to be a special part of such a special day. Let me assure you that I wouldn't ask for your help if I thought we'd be able to come up with the funds on our own.  This trip is deeply meaningful and I really want to be there to celebrate Sarah and Richard's wedding day. If you don't like the idea of giving money to something like this, I totally understand and please don't give. Save it for something you truly feel called to donate to like this or this or this. But if you want to bless Tim and I - as well our friends - then you can donate a little something towards our trip by clicking the PayPal "donate" button at the top of the page in the right hand sidebar.

Or just donate your prayers.
Because we need those too.

Sarah and I at the height of 90s British fashion.
We loved those puppets.
Such an awkward picture.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Box of Joy

This post was written at the beginning of April, when we had that crazy heat wave. I don't know why I held off publishing it. I think I was waiting to take a picture of "the box" and it never happened. Now it's nearing the end of spring and as temperatures rise, so does the amount of sweating going on around here. It's 80 degrees in our house because I refuse to turn the AC on (money-saver!) and it's just sticky and blurg. So here's my spring post from two months ago as I think on cooler days....

Spring/Autumn  >  Winter/Summer

Take that summer people*! 

I love spring.
I love the temperatures.
I love the greenness.
I love opening the windows to let the fresh air in.
I love the sunshine.
I love that it means a return to the outdoors.

You know what else I love about the winter/spring transition (as well as the summer/fall one)? The clothes box comes out. You know the one I'm talking about.... that big box of all your spring/summer clothes that were put away once the cold weather blew in. We drag it out of the closet (an old moving box that's torn and busting at the seams from holding too many clothes too many times) and with great anticipation I open its tattered flaps to greet my clothes like old friends. Oooo I forgot all about you (umm, except I'd never say that to an old friend, I'd just think it). Or Wow, I totally remember why I love you so much. Of course.... there's always a few "old friends" who aren't as forgiving with how you've changed since the last meeting. Oh you had two kids since we met? Well forget about ever fitting into me again. This happened A LOT this year, so the clothes box wasn't quite as welcome in my home as it usually is. It was a box of tears, rather than a box of joy {since april, thanks to our plant-strong diet, I've lost eight pounds and my clothes are more forgiving}

If you get anything from this post, get the part about how great the clothes box is can be. And if you don't have a clothes box because you have one of those massive closets that fits everything all the time, you're missing out my friend. You should try packing up your seasonal clothes just to experience the thrill of being reunited with them 6 months later. 

Ode to the Spring: A Haiku by Lauren Myers

                                                          Spring, here comes the sun
                                                          Warming my white window panes
                                                          The clothes box comes out

* I always seem outnumbered by fans of summer. Cleveland is full of people wishing for hot temperatures and the chance to live in an arid climate like Florida or Arizona. No thanks. All that amounts to is sweaty armpits, air conditioning jacking up the electricity bill and dreading the first day I have to put on my swim suit. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Today's Word

About a month ago, I posted about my brain's strange habit of getting fixated on a particular word, of which I rarely know the defintion off-hand (such as diatribe) or at the very least, have not used the word in conversation (or for any reason at all) for a long time - if ever.

So I'm going to start a log (a blog log!) of what these words are, for no other reason than to see what I come up with at the end of the year and see if there's some strange Touch-like pattern (I dislike that show, by the way) except with words, not numbers. Not really. I just want to write them down, ok? Don't hate.

Today's Word
(time stuck in head: 10 hours)

spanakopita |ˌspanəˈkäpitə|

(in Greek cooking) a phyllo pastry stuffed with spinach and feta cheese.ORIGIN modern Greek, literally ‘spinach pie.’

I have never made or eaten spanakopita. I wasn't even sure how to spell it.
Do you see why this whole thing is so weird for me?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Art Love

A while ago, I ran out of unused picture frames. This is no small accomplisment as I had about 12 lying around the house. I was an unashamed frame hoarder. However, now I've run out of frames and there is still more art out there begging to be hung on my walls. If you have any frames that you aren't using, I will happily take them off your hands so that I can fill them with the goodness of Sarah Goodreau:

I could go on...

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Story of Mother's Day (with videos)

Dear Jack,

For Mother's Day this year I received no gift from you. I was also not at the receiving end of any acts of service (breakfast in bed would have been nice). It's ok, I forgive you in light of these circumstances:

  1. Your brother also failed in these departments.
  2. You are only two and have yet to learn the functions of a stovetop.
  3. Someday in the near future, you and your brother will consider Mother's Day to be the best day of the year (as all children do) and will respond accordingly.
However, May 13 wasn't a total bust thanks to your kind and loving father who made sure I need not lift my little finger too often. After he made us all a delicious dinner, we decided to go to the park because the weather was nice and a family outting seemed appropriate for the occasion (it was Mother's Day, in case you've already forgotten). When we got there, you spent the first five minutes getting across the wobbly bridge - as it turns out you are a very cautious child when it comes to playground equipment. 

After this video was shot, you stood around for a long time not doing anything. It got very boring. I mean, here we are at the park, it's Mother's Day (!) and you aren't even trying to pretend to have fun. What's up with that? Well apparently, it was because you were trying to have a bowel movement (yes, I caught it on video and you were not impressed). 

So after standing there for a good few minutes, wind blowing through your hair, silently gripping the bars for some leverage with a blank but flushed look on your face (concentration), you finally finished your business and decided you'd like to try out the rest of the place. In case you were wondering what your brother was doing the whole time we were at the playground...

He was making his serious face. Then he blinked. Then he made his serious face some more. 

I feel like this last video here really says it all about how much you and Daddy love me:
  1. Because Daddy really didn't want to go down this slide but did just to humor me.
  2. You went down while sitting in your own poo. 

Here's to many more special Mother's Days together!
(this post, if you couldn't tell, is all very tongue in cheek)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Patience & Hope

If ever a devotional spoke directly to my heart, it's this one. This week left me feeling as though life has been drawing us down into a dark hole - one that keeps bringing us further and further into darkness. This hole is laden with trials that Tim and I have been facing both together and individually {physical pain, financial stress, lack of the joy of the Lord, spiritual dryness} and those troubles seem endless and reoccuring. Last night I asked God to not take us any further into this hole; the darkness was beginning to feel consuming. And He responded this morning through this devotional that Tim shared with me:

Patience and Hope

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning– Psalm 30:5
Weeping does indeed endure. In fact, the night of weeping can sometimes appear to be endless. When sorrow comes over us in waves, when disappointments follow hard on the heels of each other, when physical pain wracks our body — the night stretches on and on.
But here is the great consolation of Scripture. Joy is coming! It may seem to linger, but it is irresistibly moving toward you and will reach you with the darkness-shattering power of the dawn. Now matter how severe the shadows, no matter how stormy the darkness, once the dawn comes the night is easily and quickly forgotten. No darkness is so great that the coming of the Son does not drive it away.
For the Christian, the best is always yet to come. Is the energy and beauty of youth behind you? The best is yet to come. Has health and strength left you? The best is yet to come. Have you lost a loved one to that old enemy Death? The best is yet to come.
Weeping may endure; there are sorrows that simply cannot be faced without tears. But joy is coming…dawn is approaching…the best is yet to come.

How crazy is it that this touches on my exact thoughts {as bolded}!! Well, that's just God for you. He hears us. He is for us.


I even changed our Scripture board to remind us :)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Guest Blog

Today I'm also guest blogging over at Our Nest in the City, which belongs to one of my favorite people - Emily! I've gotten hooked on her blog and I'm sure you will too once you check it out.

Head on over and read about my experience as a Canadian-expat living "abroad" :)

The Bad Honey and The Old Pancake Mix

Let me just preface this story by pointing out that Tim has been suffering with a lot of intense muscle/joint pain lately and the last thing he needed were the following incidents, but such is life!

Offense #1: The Bad Honey

A while back, Tim mentioned we needed to buy more honey. I pointed out that we had an unopened container of creamed honey (the solidified, spreadable kind) so we should use that first. Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I receive a text from him at work saying, "I think that honey we have has gone bad." I didn't think honey could go bad, so I asked why. "Because I had some for breakfast and I've thrown up five times this morning." Now keep in mind he'd only been gone a few hours, so that's pretty intense. Thinking I better check out the suspect honey, I grab the container down from the shelf and see to my horror that the honey that was once a solid is now completely liquified. My sister, who was with me at the time, also noticed the lid was puffed up which usually signals the presence of bacteria. No wonder, since it was not a new, unopened containter but an old, half used container that had been sitting down in the basement pantry for months. So of course I start freaking out, thinking I accidently fed my husband botchulism-infested honey and called posion control. They assured me he'd be fine.

Turns out (as he later reccounted) that the first time he threw up, he was sitting in the company truck, with his foreman, on the highway. He had to just roll down the window and barf in front of him. I found this hilarious.

And then, a similar thing happened just a few days ago - what are the chances?!

Offense #2: The Old Pancake Batter

We recently switched to a whole foods, plant-based, no-oils diet. I know, it sounds crazy. But I explain a little bit about why we made the switch here.  Needless to say, we're still experimenting with different recipes and for Tim's birthday (May 9) I decided to try and make him pancakes. Working without eggs was easy enough, but not having oil for the pan caused some issues in the flipping and sticking department. I ended up with one half successful pancake that tasted mildly like a good pancake on an ok day. However, I decided to save the batter until we owned a better non-stick pan. Because everyone knows pancake batter lasts a long time.....I think you know where I'm going with this.

A few nights ago, Tim made potato tacos with refried beans. There was quite a bit leftover so he decided to take some for lunch the next day. But instead of pouring what he thought were the refried beans on top of his potatoes, he accidently used the now week old, not good to begin with pancake batter. How he couldn't tell the difference between the two is beyond me, but as it turns out he ate the whole thing anyways with the sense that something just didn't taste right. Let me just say that again - Tim ate a whole serving of potatoes with old pancake batter poured on top. It made him throw up after work (once again, while he was in a car). Of course, we didn't figure out why until the next day when he heated the "refried beans" up in the microwave and ended up with a rubbery pancake. 

I told my sister this story last night and we laughed till we cried. And when I got off the phone and looked at Tim, I laughed until no noise was coming out of my mouth and I was out of air.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Light Sleeper

The boys started sharing the "nusery" a few days ago. We wanted to wait until Moses was sleeping through the night, which happened a while ago, but then it just seemed easier to keep them separated since Jack is such a light sleeper. I mean, you crack the door and his eyes fly open and bam he's awake and you have to settle him back to down. Such is the current situation - Jack is bawling his eyes out at top volume because I dared to try and put Moses down in the middle of his nap. His door should have a sign that reads "Woe betide you who enters whilst I slumber." Somewhere in the recesses of Jack's REM cycle, my presence set of alarm bells and now here we are. The thing is, I hate having to go in and coax him back to sleep with some sort of bribe: "Jack, you've got to go to sleep so you can eat crackers later." It's easier if we have somewhere to go because that's easy motivation but today we have no such agenda. So all I've got going in there is "Jack you haven't slept enough, you still need another hour at least" but because I've spoiled him with bribes, sense and sensibility is just not going to be enough to convince him I'm right. A two year old wants something worth going back to sleep for - and rest for rest's sake is not going to cut it.

So now I have two options. I can let him cry until he realizes on his own that "Hey, I'm still really tired, I should settle back down into sweet peaceful sleep" - which has never happened - or I can go in and do my best bargaining in the hopes he'll buy it. Right now I just want to go in and yell, I'm not going to lie. Yelling would be wrong of course, but there are times when I know nothing is wrong with him and he's just crying because he knows it produces results in his favor.

Well apparently I misjudged him - since writing that last sentence all has grown quiet. Apparently his reasoning skills are maturing. Sorry Jack - I underestimated your ability to make wise decisions.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Reusing that Giant Gift Bag

Today is Tim's birthday (celebrate!) This morning I tried making vegan-oil free pancakes. The first one worked out ok, the second stuck to the pan so I saved the batter until we can afford some better cook ware. The batter may be there for a while...

This afternoon the boys and I picked up something small for him and as I was preparing to wrap it I realized the gift paper was in the closet with the creaky door of the room Moses was napping in. Poop. Then I remembered I had a giant gift bag sitting in my kitchen that the green side of me was reluctant to throw out. That said, it was (severely) smashed and wrinkled and not really reusable as a gift bag. I mean, even if the bag was still in perfect condition when would I ever be buying someone a gift that large unless it was for myself? (jk) Why not just cut off one side and use it to wrap the gift in? Genious! And use the handle as a bow? Even more genious! Thanks brain!

Ok so there's no denying the giant crease going down the paper. But frugality is king, so creases are overlooked. Plus I'm not trying to impress anyone here - just Tim, who would be happy if I handed it to him in the plastic bag it was carried out of the store with. But I think there's something to be said for getting to unwrap a gift on your birthday - it's just more special, no? I also saved money by making my own card (going with the owl/whale theme for the boys). Total cost of this delightful little gift and card? Less than $5. Win!

And that's my handy dandy tip for reusing giant gift bags that are laying around. 
You're welcome :)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Tour of the Boys' Room

This room used to be an office. Then it was our friend Cameron's makeshift bedroom when he lived with us for 6 months. At that time, there was really no insulation so needless to was like sleeping in a garage in the winter (he was forewarned). Once the boys moved in, the walls were insulated but it still get's pretty cold in there so we remedied this with a huge area rug and a top end space heater (thanks mom and dad!)

I have to admit, even though it's taken me a long while (roughly 5 months) to get to the point where I feel the room is complete, it's still not exactly how I would want it. I think its good for me though because I need to be reminded that while a pretty home is a blessing, striving to create the perfect, straight out of a magazine house can end up being expensive and all-consuming. Honestly, between the many things my parents (and others) have gifted us as well as the magic of repurposing, it probably cost me less than $100 to decorate this whole room. Not bad I say!

So here... let's take the tour:

This is the view from our bedroom door (it's an adjoining room).
The bunting is one of my favorite things because it incorporates my original color scheme. I made it with super glue (I don't sew) and scraps of fabric from my sister. Speaking of my sister, you should check out her etsy shop! She makes lots of beautiful things - especially children's aprons.

This is what's to the left of the dresser (Moses' side). I made the little height chart with a piece of green ribbon I had lying around and color sample cards from Lowe's. It cost me $0. The pictures above the closet are representative of the boys - I don't know why, but when they were born we associated certain animals with them - for Jack it was an owl and Moses a whale. The Dollar Store in Ontario is incredible and I was able to get the canvases for $1.25 each which is a total steal.

The owl painting is a complete replica of something I saw on Pinterest. The whale I kind of winged. 

Moses' crib. Fabric hoops are such an ingenious way to decorate a wall space.

This side of the room is the part that kind of grates against my aesthetic nerves. I would have preferred to use white picture frames - I feel like there's too much dark wood - but this is what we already had so I saved a lot of money by just going with it (I could always spray paint them white, but I'm nervous I'll ruin them). The curtain - which my talented mother made -hanging on the inside of Jack's crib is annoying me, but I'm too lazy to retake the picture and that's how it usually ends up anyways. Keepin it real. It's hard to see but two of the prints are from my shop, one is from Etsy and the biggest frame has the print out of Psalm 91.

I love everything going on with this dresser. It was refinished by my mom (because again, she's amazing). I also love the picture of the bird's nest above the dresser as well as the little Colossians 3:12 clothes line - another free project. I was originally going to cover that door (which we never use) in the corner with chalkboard paint, but it never happened and probably would have cost too much money anyways.

And that's that. Is it always this clean? No
Do I always have to vaccum the carpet to keep it from collecting dust balls? Yes
Is it cheerful, welcoming and a place Jack loves to play? Definitely
That said, I think it all looks way better in person, so you'll have to come over for a visit. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Last Week in Pictures

After my dad's heart catherization and watching Forks over Knives (its a must see!) 
some of my family and I are going on a whole foods, plant-based diet.
Tim and I are following the Engine 2 plan. So far we feel great and there's no going back!

Here's what we made for dinner on the first night. 
It was my first time trying collard greens - let's just say they taste healthy :) 

For the second time in his life, Jack fell asleep in his high chair. 
It was adorable.

These beautiful people came back into town for a short visit. 
They are so many things to us. We love them dearly.

Oh and I finally finished the boys room. Pictures coming soon!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Say What You Need to Say

My dad will be going in to the hospital this morning for a fairly routine procedure, but it could result in open heart surgery if need be. So...not so routine.

We are believing in faith that God will bring him through this unscathed but it's hard to not let your mind wander; it's moments like this where the "valley of the shadow of death" feels tangible. I was sharing with my sister how unsettling it is to see our dad, this pillar of strength and stability growing up with rarely a moment of weakness, suddenly in a very fragile situation. After all, it's usually me in that operating room...not him.

It reminds me of the time our family was hiking a mountain range back when we lived in England. I was probaby nine years old at the time and as we were descending a steep slope, my dad slipped on a rock and fell. It wasn't a serious fall and he got right back up - but just seeing him in such a vulnerable, potentially perilous situation was enough to make me start crying. When the man who has always been a source of protection over you suddenly gets taken out, it shakes you.

My dad is not a perfect man of God. He is not a perfect father, or husband, or son, or brother. But he is devoted in all these things and he is dedicated to looking out for the needs of others. He has done so with a determination and selflessness that leaves me humbled as well as grateful to be his daughter. I have never doubted his love for me nor his willingness to be a source of help in times of need. He is, quite literally, a God send to my life.

He is also one of my best friends. 

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