Haiku Challenge: Paleo Diet


Haiku Challenge Friday!  

A Haiku is a three line poem with 5 syllables the first line, 7 syllables the second line and 5 again for the last line. 

My Dad is a BIG Haiku guy, he loves them and has compiled his into two books.  I do it randomly and rarely but always enjoy the process. It usually starts with an idea or a moment in life I want to capture.

Haiku Challenge participants...just write your haiku in the comments of the relevant post!

Please email me a Haiku Challenge if you would like to be a Guest Challenger. Include the challenge word and your starting Haiku poem.

Here is this week's challenge Haiku:

my Dad is thinner
though eating a lot
Paleo Diet?


Your challenge word to use in your haiku is : 

thinner

Let's hear your haiku!

You WILL Become Your Parents!

Melody Ross Art http://www.melodyross.com/biography.htm
I've written before about loosing and finding and loosing my sparkle.  I'm starting to understand why our parents were so "booooorinnnggg!!!" They were tired.  They had A LOT of responsibilities and when they were not taking care of those they were only hiding from them for a little bit.  We all say we don't want to become our parents, but...ummm...we will.  Not in every way.  Hopefully in some of their better traits.  

I laugh very loud and cook like a banshee like my Mom, but I also eat for pleasurebordeomsadnessanyreason and try to make it a celebration even if it isn't.  I'm creatively verbal like my Dad, eager to try new everythings and am thrilled with the homeless drummer on the corner in the same ways I adore opera.  BUT.  I am also a V.O.A. (go ahead and guess that one down in the comments, I will reveal later!) and shirk my duties at times to avoid the unfun.

So we become our parents.  Not as much as we nightmare but more than we'd like.  I watched a friend get out of her car and she looked soverymuch like her mother I didn't say one word about it.  It's not something we want to hear or admit in any way.  WHY?

We think we are so. much. better. and wiser. than. that.  Or we might been have in our twenties.

Do you see your mom's hands in yours?  Can you catch a moment when you sit or move and you can see a shadow of your parents? Part of who we are comes from our parents whether we like it or not.  They are our past and our DNA.  We will say some of the parenty sounding things they said, we will sound like them, and later when we are tired, we will begin to understand how they might have seemed "BOOORINGG!"

I'm reading a great book I will tell you more about later called "Cheat on Your Husband(with your husband)" by Andrea Syrtash and one of the parts I read yesterday talked about who you were when you were young and single.  What do YOU miss about yourself  and what could you do to bring more of the younger you into NOW?

Artist and Encourager Melody Ross
I read my daily upbeat email from Brave Girls Club.  That is one thing I do.  My friend Lori sent me to this site The Brave Girls Club and I get there "A Little Bird Told Me" affirmations email.  The colorful sparkly language is exactly how used to talk prior to the bliss of marriage and parenthood.  I really want to do their online workshops 'soon'.  I found one of the Brave Girls, Melody Ross' beeyootiful things this week for sale in a lawn and garden gift store.  I was almost in tears I was so tickled.  I picked out a plaque with their signature bird that said "Choose Happiness".  

And that how I remember myself, who I was and who I Am.  I choose happiness and sometimes it is work to remember but God adores me and my life is beautiful and I have great friends and my family and Handsome John and these two precious darling sparkly girlypies who will grow up to be just like me.  Will they want to?  (Probably not, but I'll give them a lot to work with!)  Be who you want to be no matter what your daily life looks like.  Find whatever you like most about yourself and haul it with you wherever you go.  Happiness is a choice.  CHOOSE.  

How about you?  What is one thing you miss from 'you' ten or more years ago?  How would you work to bring some of that into yourself now?

Bacon Before Husband- Life Priorities and The Happy List

You can listen to the NPR audio of this HERE.

"Bacon Before Husband" from Mothers and More Mother's Voices Blog
By Heather Curlee Novak

Do you have a daily list? I don't mean tasks for work or chores for home, I mean a Happy List. I have a Happy List running through my head most of the time. This list tends to be fickle and definitely changes with my mood. It is rare that something gets crossed off of it but I get immense satisfaction from my list just the same. My list makes friends laugh and strangers think I am...stranger.

I have a lot to be happy about. My husband John and I have great fun slogging through daily life together and he is an incredible gift to me. I get to stay home with our two beautiful daughters; Portia who is two and a half years old and Libby is is nine months old. They turned me from a Reluctant Mama (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1POILNZvSc)into only a Somewhat Bewildered Mama. I am healthy enough to run (very slowly) and I enjoy exploring new recipes fatty enough to keep me running! We live debt free except for our home and work really hard to live a richly simple life. I have a great network of friends including the Mothers and More Mamas and I am living in a town that offers lots of interesting things to do with my time. So I have a lot to put on my Happy List.

Here is an example of today's Happy List: 1) Mothers and More Blog and Readers, 2) bacon, 3) haiku, 4) my husband John, 5) bacon*, 6) fresh rain, 7) my girls and 8) bacon*. ("Not a typo, bacon should always make the list at least twice.) Sometimes God is first on my list. Sometimes bacon or blue cheese gets that holy and coveted spot. Many days my girls outrank my hubby, but like today they are sometimes in the middle. So this is my Happy List. Do you have one in your head too?

I have this kind of list in my head as a personal reminder to enjoy all the facets of daily life. There are lots of little joys to sink our teeth into and celebrate. The big hurrahs are not so plentiful. I had hard times as a young girl. My parents divorced when I was eight and we moved around a lot. My Mother was a warm funny person, but also an alcoholic. She died when I was thirteen and my relationship with my Father and stepmother at the time was rocky. I learned quickly to enjoy what was in front of me and to take charge of my own life.

Since we can never know what our lives will be like in the future, I have learned to live each day of my life to the fullest. This is why I chose "Farbrent" which means "On Fire" as a nickname for online groups and Twitter. It is also why I called my personal blog "Live Your Love Out Loud". When we love, we are so purely optimistic, foolish, joyful and real. I want to remind others to live their love, and to do it OUT LOUD! At the same time, I need to remind myself to do this too. My Happy List helps me live well.

Early in my marriage I would get so filled up with the simple joys in life I would rattle off my happy list to my husband quite often. He would smile and shake his head. Later after we had been married awhile and were used to each other, he told me it really bothered him that he was often outranked by food. OOPS. So nowadays I throw him towards the top as sort of a marriage insurance. (But you and I know where bacon really belongs.)

Would you share your Happy List? List the top three items on your Happy List down in the comments.

Haiku Challenge Friday: Bacon Love, It Can't be Wrong

Haiku Challenge Friday!  

A Haiku is a three line poem with 5 syllables the first line, 7 syllables the second line and 5 again for the last line. 

My Dad is a BIG Haiku guy, he loves them and has compiled his into two books.  I do it randomly and rarely but always enjoy the process. It usually starts with an idea or a moment in life I want to capture.

Haiku Challenge participants...just write your haiku in the comments of the relevant post!

Please email me a Haiku Challenge if you would like to be a Guest Challenger. Include the challenge word and your starting Haiku poem.

Here is this week's challenge Haiku:

how do I love thee?
I love you more than bacon
(now share that with me!)

Your challenge word to use in your haiku is : 


BACON!

Let's hear your haiku!

Haiku Challenge: High Gas Prices


Haiku Challenge Friday!  

A Haiku is a three line poem with 5 syllables the first line, 7 syllables the second line and 5 again for the last line. 

My Dad is a BIG Haiku guy, he loves them and has compiled his into two books.  I do it randomly and rarely but always enjoy the process. It usually starts with an idea or a moment in life I want to capture.

Haiku Challenge participants...just write your haiku in the comments of the relevant post!

Please email me a Haiku Challenge if you would like to be a Guest Challenger. Include the challenge word and your starting Haiku poem.

Here is this week's challenge Haiku:

biking everywhere
kids in trailer behind me
are gas prices high?

Your challenge word to use in your haiku is :

GAS!


Let's hear your haiku!

"Garbage Food" NPR (88.1 WVPE) Radio Commentary

NOTE: You can hear this on MP3 HERE.

Garbage Food
By Heather Curlee Novak

Today I sat down to a nice pile of garbage for lunch. I  didn’t eat with Oscar the Grouch.  I’m not talking tin cans and banana peels goat-eating-garbage scenario, I’m talking about the drive through.  The golden arches, the bell made of tacos, the redheaded square burger stepchild or the laughable king.  Fast Food is garbage food:  why do I delight in it so?

I never cared much about what I ate as a single girl.  Popcorn for dinner, McDonald’s cheeseburgers and fries far too often.  Now that I am older I have read too much, learned too much and aged too much to eat garbage food without thought.  I still eat it, but not as often and not without various levels of regret.   It started with the movie “Supersize Me” by Morgan Spurlock and the disgusting fact that a McDonald’s cheeseburger and fries today will look the same in one month or longer.

Now I have two children and that journey from pregnancy to being 100% responsible for feeding other people has again reshaped my view of food.  My husband and I listened to Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food as a book on audio on our way out to Colorado last year.  You need thirty hours in the car to get through that sucker but it is worth it.  His newer book Food Rules  is more direct and even comes in an illustrated version. He talks about “real food” versus “fake food”.  Pollan says eat all the junk food you want, just make it yourself!  He suggests we avoid any food product that has more than five ingredients because it is more likely to be a “food like” food item rather than an actual food.

This book changed my husband and I, and thankfully at the same time.  We still eat garbage food, but we know that is what we are doing and so choose it less often.  He takes his lunch to work most days and I bring snacks with me everywhere lest hunger should give me an excuse to “drive thru”.

Yet I do still Drive Thru.  When I should keep right on “driving past” I don’t.  We don’t go inside to eat either.  A fast food restaurant is more a side note as we drive somewhere; it is never the destination.  It is food designed to eat easily in a car.  Food designed to eat in a hurry.  To eat guiltily?  I feel guilty feeding my two year old daughter McDonald’s.  It’s marginally ok if I put it into my body but she has little choice.  What I put in front of her is what she eats. 

As we drive home eating steaming hot French fries, I think of our full fridge at home.  It contains whole grain mac & cheese, leftover from scratch split pea soup, scalloped taters and ham.  I could quickly produce almond butter sandwiches, cheese and crackers and fruit.  Healthy lunch was easily had in our home, yet I cruised through the good ‘ol drive thru.  I have a lusty desire for the sugar-salt-fat trifecta and only a few bucks could easily buy us a fast food lunch.  What is it about the pleasure and ease of garbage food that drags me into the gutter of “food like” food?  How can I drag my  growing daughter in with me?  When I am careless about our food she becomes my scapegoat, eating garbage beside me in a thin veil of comraderie.  I seem to have lost my appetite.

On the up side, there is a growing public awareness and desire for better food.  The website “100 Days of Real Food” offers a variety of challenges, recipes and forums for  people interested in improving  their food choices.  I have pulled recipes from there, shared posts on Facebook and have even tweeted their messages to my followers.  We have begun juicing to increase our intake of the good stuff.  I have actually ordered salad or grilled chicken from the drive through.  I plan what we are eating at home before we leave the house so I am better prepared against quick, easy and greasy choices. 

We keep making better choices and changing our habits.  More and more we keep the car on the road and drive past blinking neon signs.  As Sesame Street‘s Elmo tells my daughter, cookies are  a “sometimes food”.   I have been telling both of us that fast food is a “sometimes food” too.  We will leave the garbage for Oscar, OK my Dear?

Organizational Fashion Fiasco WIWW

 What I Wore Wednesday
AKA "Lucy...You got some s'plainin' to do!"

Picture me in this instead of Portia!



Now picture me wearing this while talking to about ten different folks.  Yeah.  HOT!

I've been working hard to be more organized, but really it seems I am just more tired!  It seems one day I am on top of being "Fun Mom" and experienceing life with my girls but the laundry slides.  The next day my kitchen would make The Fly Lady beam but my kids are in time out for hours and hours and I'd like to have a time out of my own.  With a drink andIdon'tmeanicedtea.  

If I am trying to be organized in my life in order to have less stress and be more fully present, but it is hard.   There are a lot of plates spinning and so many rules to follow.  (Or not!)  

Part of being organized means you are also dressed first thing in the morning.  I usually am.  Although there was that one morning not too long ago when I wasn't.  Bathrobe & a turbie towel means that during breakfast while I am talking to my neighbor Steve through the window about a new dog he was walking, a friend who buys Dad's honey came around the corner of my house with two empty jars.  I  then greeted a daily dog walking neighbor,  Lisa, and our next door neighbor Linda from the other side of our house pops out to join in the frey.  Nice.  

FOUR witnesses to my less than glamourous getup.  And then the landscapers came as I began to write this post, so add SIX more men who witnessed my loveliness.  

And let's be honest, I am not the woman most folks want to see in a bathrobe.  (Sorry, I just like food too much!)

Can I get credit for at least coordinating?

How about you?  What is your worst public display outfit?  Extra Credit for Pictures.

Chocolate Caramel Cracker Bars in a Tiny Red Kitchen

I've got Firefighters to bribe. We have our annual block party which is more like a 'thirty block' block party and we love to have the firefighters bring their truck, whoop the siren and spray the kids with the hose.  (NOTE:  they spray it up in the air, not directly at the kids...but some days....*bad mama giggle*)  I found bake sale cookies in my Taste of Home magazine that of course I cannot locate right now to cite properly. *bad blogger giggle*  I wanted to make them and eat every single one, but I am trying to be healthier....and thus needed a worthy excuse to make them, eat them, and get the rest of them out of the house.  Fireman bribery seemed and excellent cause.

Chocolate Covered Caramel Cracker Bars from Taste of Home

You can find the recipe and ingredient list here!

A standard caramel/toffee poured over whatever crackers you have and do not usually eat (saltines, club, graham) covered in chocolate.  The last time I made something like this for Christmas gifts I unfortunately ate an entire batch.  I have sugar addiction issues.  Well.
SO here is the caramel in process.  The recipe said it would take seven minutes.  Since I added an unneeded extra stick of butter, math never my strong suite, I of course had to add another cup of brown sugar, so we will say it took longer because of me.  I wanted it to be soft ball stage even thought the directions didn't really cover that.  
They used Club crackers, which we do not buy so I used up some whole wheat saltines we buy but don't eat (dontcha love eating healthy?) and the rest is pretty simple, and after time in the fridge...two hours or longer (it really did need that much time because believe me, I tried to rush it!) VOILA! 
I gave some excess to my neighbors, they said the firefighters would definilty come!  I delivered them to the Administrative Goddess Debbie/Rosie("I never remember which name I give people!" she chuckled) with another package for the Fire Chief and the fire station where their offices are located.  Then I dropped another package at my downtown fire station where the men who would actually visit our block party would come from.

As long as no one's cat gets up a tree, Timmy isn't in the well, and no one plays with matches....I hope to see them there.  Think they will come?

















Bodacious Blog of the Week: Huffington Post

I'm not particularly clever.  I'm smart, but no Mensa candidate.  I've never been super deep or all that well rounded and I am OK with that.  I am an encourager. I live well.  I love loud and I have few regrets.   But...

I feel smarter when I listen to National Public Radio (NPR).  I'm so humbled and proud to be able to write personal commentaries for my local station....it is still something I do that keeps my brain on while I stay home to parent little crumb-snatchers.  

I also feel smarter when I read The Huffington Post.  I'm not too political, I don't care about movie stars.  That Much.  Unless they are thinner, or have great life change stories like this.  Change fascinates me and about one billion other fine folks.  I learn about customer service revenge, and personal stories about curbing spending or anything else I am interested in.

But The Huffington Post keeps me abreast of whatever is going on in short snippets I can absorb between butt wiping, vacuuming and laundry laundry laundry.  

Do you read it?  Do you love it or hate it?  I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Haiku Challenge: Olympics


Haiku Challenge Friday!  

A Haiku is a three line poem with 5 syllables the first line, 7 syllables the second line and 5 again for the last line. 

My Dad is a BIG Haiku guy, he loves them and has compiled his into two books.  I do it randomly and rarely but always enjoy the process. It usually starts with an idea or a moment in life I want to capture.

Haiku Challenge participants...just write your haiku in the comments of the relevant post!

Please email me a Haiku Challenge if you would like to be a Guest Challenger. Include the challenge word and your starting Haiku poem.

Here is this week's challenge Haiku:

oh, The Games are on;
am I unAmerican
if I do not care?

Your challenge word to use in your haiku is : games

Let's hear your haiku!

Perfect Moms Back to (pre)School List at Mumbling Mommy



Back to school?  Oh yeah, as a mom I should be thinking about school.  My sweetest, rottenest child is three and will be attending preschool formally this Fall.  She has gone to a month to month  preschool here and there, but this time we pay tuition and register and visited and will have a bucket tote.  There will be a schedule and everything.  Maybe I should start putting the dates into my Cozi Calendar? Hmm.  

You can find my hilariousBack to School Lists for Perfect Mom, Normal Mom....and then Moi in this guest post.  Read the entire post at Mumbling Mommy!

SPOILER ALERT:  I may go to drop off nekkid.  Maybe not.  Head over there and see!

How to Buy a Used Car (Thanks, Dave Ramsey!)

I used to sell cars.  Yup.  Used cars. (I was thankyouGod terrible at it) And because I think I am particularly funny I even wore a pink and navy blue plaid jacket a few times.  I use what I learned in my car sale days...all sixty of 'em,  to teach sales and customer service everywhere.

My sales experience serves me well when I shop for cars.  My Dad also trained me up to be a wise and savvy car shopper jumping hurdles of  Consumer Reports and Kelly Blue Book and being willing to walk away if the sales deal wasn't perfect for me.  I know not to fall for the 'car payment is only $$$' line but to look at the numbers if financing.  Even though I do not understand them.  At all.  I know leasing a car is setting money on fire and driving away from it in a gorgeous new car.  I drive my cars until they are almost Fred Flinstone cars with the bottom gone and my pretty little pedicured feet peddling 'em.

So my much loved and driven through cornfields and cross country and paid for dearly 'Carl' needed to be replaced. My Honda CRV is a twelve (almost thirteen) year old car with 204,000 miles on it!  I have owned it for ten years.  I loved that car.  When we paid it off with our inheritance and went to zero car payments, we celebrated. And we kept making car payments.  We made a large car payment to ourselves almost every month. We have been following Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover pretty closely for about three years, so we planned to replace our next car by paying cash for a new used one.
Although we do live very well, we make a lot of choices in order to become debt free.  We do not buy a lot of things we want.  We budget in advance for each month's expenses using Pear Budget online tracker.  Currently we only owe our mortgage.  Everything else is paid for or we plan to pay for with cash instead of credit.  It is very freeing to just not buy things.  The things we do buy matter more because we have to plan and save and consciously choose them.  We do not fight about money as much as we would with more bills.  

Sometimes we just strain against this simple living thing, and want to go buy a new set of living room furniture or an imac or a vacation where we take a plane and get massages and room service every day.  Or we want a Honda Pilot.

Hondas are so stinkin' awesome.  In ten years I have barely had to do any mechanical work on my CRV.  When we started looking to replace 'Carl' we thought we might get the same car over again.  We looked at lots of cars and finally found the Honda Pilot.  

LOVE.  

TOO MUCH MOOLAH. We wanted to avoid a car loan and pay with just cash.  We had a large chunk of money saved, but it started to feel like too little. I started to reason we should just do a partial car loan so we could get a newer car with fewer miles.  John reminded me how hard we had worked and how deeply we believed in getting off of the commercialism treadmill. Oh, right.  Plus he just said flat out NO.  And he is my hero and the boss.  I am ever grateful for his wisdom.  

To afford a Pilot with our hard saved cash, we had to settle for a much older car with higher mileage. We wanted a bigger car so our family of four plus ninety-two pound dog Steve and gear could go camping or drive cross country to our Colorado Dreamland cabin.  I was interested in a minvan, but I knew part of me would die a little. Probably the part who wears lingerie and puts on mascara.  But I was considering it.  A Pilot could do all of the things we wanted AND take my friends AND their kidlets to Chicago or the park in one car.  I hate driving a bunch of cars somewhere.  I like group adventures that are environmentally friendly.

After two weeks of exhaustive car shopping and fitfully sleepless nights, I met Joe Orosz Jr.  at South Lake Auto Mall.  He was only the second of SEVEN car salesmen I talked to and liked.  The poor thing and his wife have six year old triplet girls and their 8yo big sister to manage.  I am pretty sure his wife is a saint.  Anyway, he and I had witty banter and I was very direct with him about what we wanted, what we could afford and that we were paying cash, Dave Ramsey style.  Or mafia style, if it was a really unsuccessful mafia family.  

Joe was going to drive the Pilot I found to my house for my test drive! This man UNDERSTOOD having small children.  When I ended up on his car lot to test drive, with a one year old and a three year old. Joe HELD MY DAUGHTER's HAND to help her down the steps.  And put a BANDAID on the other daughter's skinned knee.  And Joe put my car seats in and BUCKLED MY GIRL IN when I drove the car to my husband for a visit.  We both had an insider's laugh when as he stuck out his finger for my baby daughter to grab onto for a big step I quipped, "Look at all those cars being sold!  Right now, as we stand here, cars are flying right off this lot!"  The thing is, as funny as it was and as cheesy as it could have been, I believed him.  Maybe he only plays WII at home and belches beer when he asks his sainted wife to bring him a sammich, but I saw Joe as a charming family man.  Well played or real, I hope I never know.  

Joe worked for me.  He knew my parameters and mooooostly stayed within them.  There was a flub about a second key that didn't exist and will cost me to replace, but really, he did well.  At the end of the day, all that matters is that I feel I got a good deal, and I do.  I am not giving details in fact, I think my deal was that good.  I might have even gotten my sales person to dance on a table to close the deal.  If you know you you will laugh and not be surprised.  If you know Joe, you will be doing the same.   

There was some tension when a pleasant but overly thorough floor manager tried to walk me through every point of why I should pay more.  I told him I wasn't stupid and had been through the numbers sheet and could read just fine so he didn't need to read it to me again.  Especially since he knew I had been in the car business.  Even though I said "Yes, you can get more for it, in fact you probably can get sticker for this car but I am willing to buy it right now for THIS amount.  Even though I stood firm (ok, we did give in another $200 in the end, but Joe danced, it was worth it!) there was a wheeling and dealing to it, as always.  And in honor of my Joe, I won't be giving details out unless you get a hold of me directly.  The car does have a huge scratch on its rump, so they probably got it for a song on trade. I am ok with it because my trade was hobbling and wearing dentures, so John and I are very pleased.

I strongly reccomend Southlake Auto Mall Nissan Kia in Merrillville Indiana and Joe Orosz Jr. In particular.  Let him know that you know he dances on the desk and you won't even have to say Heather sent you!

I am happy to coach anyone buying a used car towards a better deal. I asked Joe if he had some insider tips for me to share. He said always get the car checked out through your own mechanic and always look into warranties available for the car. Here are a few quick tips on how to get a great deal on a used car:

1) Check the Kelley Blue Book value online for YOUR car and the car you are looking at.  BEFORE you go see it. Aim for middle prices, but expect to pay a bit more and receive a bit less. It is just reality, your car salesperson does intend to make a living, after all. 

2) If you use Auto Trader, Carmax and the Kelley Blue Book sites to search for used cars online, you can get a larger view of what is out there and what you can expect to pay before you start hoofing it from lot to lot.

3) Never Never Never pay sticker price.  NEVER.  Even if it is a 'no haggle' lot like Carmax, ask them to sweeten the deal with services, extra keys, increasing your trade value  or warranties.  A car bought by a dealer as a trade in will ALWAYS be bought at less than it is worth.  Then they can sell it for a lower price and still make a tidy profit.  Plus they do the same with your trade in.  

4) Don't ever lease the car.  You did not get a good deal.  It doesn't matter what your payment is.  A nice car for a little payment only means you are paying too much to look wealthier than you would be if you bought a car with cash that you could afford.  It hurts.  I am sorry.  It is true.

5) Car dealers  and salesmen do put money into the process and want to make a profit.  It is a business and they should make a profit. BUT if you are sending their kid to a semester of college on your purchase because you didn't do the research, well that is kind of foolish, right?  

Soooo big and pretty and big and shiny and BIG!
Do you have any stories to tell?  What is your best or worst car shopping tip or adventure? Do you know Joe?  YOU SHOULD!  

Getting my Boobies Back: The Wean at Mumbling Mommy


I'm getting my boobies back!  

In a few weeks, I might even be able to buy a bra that really fits.  I have too big bras.  I have TOO SMALL bras.  I have previously lacey now ratty around the edge nursing bras from Target I bought for both girliepies.  I want more sexy stuff.




Read about my weaning adventure over at Mumbling Mommy blog.

Cottage Bliss Angels Made Me Buy It!

"But Honey!  Cottage Bliss angels made me buy it!"  The small black sign I gave John for our July 4th sixyearsofdating anniversary was awesome.  I seriously couldn't have created a better one.  It said:  "I LOVE YOU MORE THAN BACON" in huge white block letters.  


Oh Yes.  I have written of my love for bacon here and here.  And how it sometimes trumps my love for my husband or even God here


This the much anticipated story of all the stuff I bought at a little store called "Cottage Bliss" in Estes Park, Colorado.


I don't know what you believe.  All of you are welcome here.  One of the quirks in my Christian faith is I am not too worried about your soul if you do not believe what I believe.  I was raised Unitarian and didn't think much about God until my thirties.  I respect other religious beliefs and have no ulterior motives towards yours. You won't have to worry about me turning to you some day, putting my hand on your arm and asking, "If you died today, do you know where you are going?" or "Do you have a personal relationship with my Jesus?" Not going to happen, so breathe easy.


What I will do at some point if we spend any time together is share things God does in my life.  I went kicking and screaming into my faith so I feel my relationship with God, or "Ol Padnah" is pretty animated and He uses lots of humor to get through to me.  Ask me about the "Well, kill your own spiders!" story. Or the one where he talked to me about not having hot sex anymore.  Or how he wakes me up at ungodly hours (I only just got that humor!) to write.  This story is like that.  


I am sometimes an awful mother. I adore my kids but I am still forty years old and selfish and bossy.  The demands of fighting against myself in order to be the creative, loving, fun mom I truly want to be is tough.  Who wants to put down her novel and the chocolate covered bacon bar to play "Toy Story 3" or "Yogi Bear" with a two year old?  Who wants to take three times longer to bake bread because of two 'helpers' who eat flour, raw dough, pick their nose and then touch everything on the counter?  UGH.


During our Colorado vacation I was not relaxing and enjoying myself.  My husband and I were both with the kids all the time so neither of us was refreshed.  I was so irritated stressed and frazzled I could barely pray.  I like author Anne Lamott's prayer and used it a lot that day,"Help me, help me, help me!"  Managing small children on vacation was proving really challenging for me this particular week. I asked for the afternoon off and when John agreed I hopped into the car and headed away from our precious Rocky Mountain cabin retreat in search of real relaxation: retail therapy.


The shop caught my eye earlier that week,  Anything cottagey is great and they had pink pastel chairs out front.  I stepped into the door and almost cried.  You know the marvelous girly stores with a jajillion things to look at and aisles to wander through?  Retail Therapy Heaven.  I sighed and felt tears prick my eyes. I said, "Ohhhh.....I needed this store!" The cashier laughed and said they loved to hear that.  She offered me some blueberry iced tea and I started to cry.  The two women working there, the owners, came around to me in an instant.  I was so embarrassed to be crying in public.  I have a wonderful life, my husband and girls are really wonderful, but I felt so wrung out and miserable.  The women,  Sherie and Bonnie offered to pray with me.  I wept more and agreed.  They prayed for my parenting, my heart, my peace and patience.  I was so humbled by their gift and so refreshed.   
At last my tears were dried and with iced tea in hand I wandered the store.  
Everything was marvelous.  I selected gifts for John, friends and of course, poor ol me!  I noticed they had several displays with sassy pink"Cottage Bliss"  bibles with a "Free, take one!" sign. I already have three bibles of my own so I didn't take one  (But I wanted one!)  
I took some pictures and bought wonderful things and left with a light heart.  It was Bliss!
I knew God was loving me through these two ladies and they were angels to me. I am not too into angels as knicknacks or otherwise, but that is what these two women were.  I find God will often meet me where I am to smack me into reality or soothe my hurting days.  I am so grateful for the ways I can see God, and especially when He goes shopping with me. 


(Hey God, do you have a credit line at Target?) 


Have any of you gone shopping with my Friend?



FABU Haircut from RJ at Vanis Salon, Valparaiso



A woman of a certain age, body shape or overweightedness cannot do much to make an immediate difference.  And sometimes, she just needs a CHANGE.  


So the hair.  



The hair can change right. now.


I got a haircut last week by my wonderful RJ who works at Vanis Salon in Valparaiso.  She is the only one other than my long time friend and stylist Kelli Wise (now Haines CONGRATS!) who "gets me".


RJ has been cutting my hair for about a year, and she is great.  Not only is she darling to look at but she really knows what she is talking about, or makes you feel like she does!  She understood what I wanted, what I didn't want, and worked with me to grow out the worst haircut ever (thanks beauty school in Valpo I won't mention)to grow my hair longer than it has ever been.  She encouraged me to indulge in Aveda products once again, which REALLY have helped the texture and happiness of my locks.  She wouldn't cut my hair off unless I had a picture and was very certain I wanted to go shorter.  All this is no small task. Two of my girlfriends have gone to her now and both of them are happy with RJ's work.


I am the client who goes in every time for YEARS and says:


"I need a change! Can you cut it shorter, but keep it long?  I want it really piecey and choppy and messy, but not  like a mullet or too crazy.  I need a really big change but not too different."


Both of these women 'get me'.  Lucky me, poor them!  
So I needed a change, and three inches later, VOILA!




I asked my hubs if he wanted me to get a sitter after my haircut so he could take my new hair out for a drink....