Resolutions 2012

I resolve to:

1. Not Retreat
I'm going to make it a point to be around more people more often. I'm also not going to shy away from my self because I'm afraid of certain reactions

2. Love More [Be kinder]
I really do love people - I want my thoughts to better reflect that.

3. Find Joy [more consistently]
Pray more, read more, meditate more

4. Make Dot Spot my very own
During Christmas break in Holdenville, while munching on some Chinese food, someone opened a fortune cookie that said, "Those afraid of doing too much often do too little." I know pretty much what I want every room to feel like, and what I want to the outside to look like, but I've yet to get anything completely complete. I'm not going to be afraid of how much I want to do. Fear in any form is paralyzing. Did you know someone wrote their name in our driveway and dated it 1940? Someone did, and I bet they were proud and could never imagine that some day in 2011, a little family like mine would belong to what they belonged to. They did their part to make Dot their own. It's my turn.

5. Lose the friggin' muffin top that is dun-loppin' over my jeans.
This is self explanatory. Like literally since Thanksgiving my midsection has been exploding.

Son of Mary. Son of God.

 Patty Griffin wrote a song called Mary. The chorus:

Jesus says, "Mother I couldn't stay another day longer." Flies right by and leaves a kiss upon her face. While the angels are singing his praises in a blaze of glory, Mary stays behind and starts cleaning up the place.

In the last few years, the significance of Mary has increased for me. I've lately been thinking of her when I hear the verse, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). Most people reference this in terms of the anguish that must have been God's at seeing his son's abuse and death at the hands of those he was sent to save. I think of Mary, the mother who grew this son in her womb, birthed him, raised him, the woman who bore divinity in both body and spirit, who lacked God's omniscient mind, who stood at the foot of the cross and watched her son, in agony, take his last breath.

I love her for allowing her son to live the life he did, play the role of teacher, be an example of charity and loving-kindness. I would have been so proud of his ambitions, but I also would have held him so close if I would have lived in the political/religious climate of the time. I'm sure she knew his life transcended this world, but I know it didn't make the sting in her heart burn any less.   

I was sitting on the counter in our kitchen when I was in late in my elementary school career, talking on the phone with one of my best friends. We started talking about Jesus, and she said, "God loves Jesus more than any of us because he's his only begotten, so there's really no point if we're always going to be loved second best." I'd never thought about that before, and it made sense because I really didn't know what "only begotten" meant.

This idea stuck with me into high school, and for a girl growing up without a father around, God was who I had. And if he knew everything about me and who I wanted to be, I didn't want to be loved less. When I was a sophomore, I finally had a discussion with my bishop, who was also my cross country coach, so we saw a lot of each other (in the LDS church, a bishop is like the head pastor of a congregation, only he doesn't preach every Sunday). The clarification for "only begotten" was a simple one. Everyone on earth has a biological mother and father, Jesus's biological father just happened to be God, hence only begotten of the father. The real magic was how this transformed Jesus for me if I didn't have to always be second best in the eyes of God. There's no competing with Jesus, right? Right. I was an only child, go ahead and call me selfish when it comes to love.

Jesus is my brother in humanity and brother in divinity as God is the father of all spirits.

I'm hoping to spend between now and Christmas writing about the roles Jesus Christ plays in my life and understanding.

After the Rain

This afternoon was warm and sunny. This whole week has been grey and cold and rainy, so we took advantage of the sunshine. After Cora got home from school....okay, wait, I can't go on without an omission:

I was up later than usual last night talking to a cousin, Magnolia's waking up ended our conversation, so I ended up going to bed sometime after midnight and before one. I took Cora to school, Goo and I came home and took a nap. My alarm went off at 2:40 like it does every day so I know that I need to stop what I'm doing and start getting everything together to go pick Cora up from school. I'm snoozing, my alarm goes off. I lie there for a few minutes and then look at the clock. 3:20!!! You have got to be kidding me! I totally fell back asleep and didn't even know I had. (Carpool starts at 2:55.) I picked up Magnolia, didn't even put her shoes on (but I did grab them), and we walk-ran to Staci car.

It's 3:26, and I'm stopped at 30th and Shartel when my phone starts ringing. It's Cora's teacher. And it's official. Carpool has ended, it's worse than being the last car in-line. There is no line. Which is kind of crazy, because some days I don't even make it out of carpool with Cora in tow until 3:30, and there are still several cars behind me. Anyway, on the day carpool goes by with super-human speed, I am late. I pulled up at 3:28. Cora is waiting with her teacher in the office. It's all good.

Ah-hem: After Cora got home from school, we loaded up in the stroller and headed off for the grocery store to get the two ingredients we needed for dinner. We really just needed black beans, but two cans of them. We left with black beans and pickles...and some plain ol' peppermint Orbit gum because it's getting harder to find. Wintermint is all kinds of taking over. We'd also packed some holiday treats to give to some of our neighbors.

The real fun was the park. The first friend's home we stopped at was before the park, and she gave me some towels to wipe the swings off with as it had been raining. I was happy to see that there was no wiping required when we arrived. As it turns out, lots of people had been getting out to enjoy the day just as we were. We spent a while playing and talking with new friends. When it was time to leave, the sun and wispy clouds were making a beautiful sunset. Cora loved all of the pink clouds. I loved the warm glow. We stopped in at some neighbors on our block, Cora raced with Pineapple (aka Megan). They love each other. I love being outside after it's rained.

When we walked to our home, it was all lit up and cozy. Jake was home early. I LOVE when I get to walk into a non-empty house. He'd made dinner. Sloppy Joes. They were great. I ate two...and a less than 20 minutes after I'd discussed the re-emergence of the love handles on my back with my afore mentioned neighbors. (Jenn Tupps, I have one package left for you, but I'd rather stop by when you're home.)

The girls went to bed easily. I have high hopes, as I do every night, that Magnolia will pull an all-nighter asleep in her bed. She had her 18-month check up yesterday. She is TERRIFIED of the nurse because of the whole shot thing. When she sees her, she falls a part. So, we didn't really get an accurate height and weight. Like I was weighed by myself and then with her because she wouldn't hang out on the scale. She's rollin' around 20 pounds, and she's just under 30 inches tall, but that was taken as she was lunging out to me. All that adds up to her still being right around the sixth percentile, where she's been since her two week appointment. She got one shot and had some blood drawn. The nurse called me with the results (right as I was drifting off in nap land) of the blood work and she is right in the middle of the normal range for her hemoglobin concentration and hematocrit levels (i.e., she's not anemic). She's healthy and happy and sassy as all get-out.

Eternal Flame

During our last year-and-a-half of undergrad, Jake and I lived in a teeny tiny apartment complex called Waverly Gardens just north of Nichols Hills. Every day we would make the trek from our little home to OCU down the same path. We'd make our way to Wilshire, over to Western, passed Chesapeake, and eventually onto Classen, rounding the big curve around a small neighborhood and Rose Hill Burial Park until we we saw Belle Isle Station. Every time we did this, we'd pay homage to small oil/natural gas site (I have no idea what it really is) marked by a flame. We lovingly named it "Eternal Flame" because it never went out.

When we were in Chicago, everyone started talking about the Classen curve. I had no idea why this stretch of road had become so significant to people. The most significant part to us was that flame. I mean, we gave it a sort of theme song and everything. When we moved back, we saw what everyone was talking about. Our beloved stretch of morning commute had been developed into a series of restaurants and stores called none other than the Classen Curve. There's even a counterpart across the street called the Classen Triangle that has a Whole Foods and will be getting an Antropologie.

Every time I drive through there now, I can't help but admire the great use of the curve and the fabulous architecture that makes that little spot in the city so interesting. In all of it's new awesomeness, the best part is still seeing that flame, and while not super hip, it survives.

Here's to you, Eternal Flame.
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If it wasn't this

I hate wishing away time. I am very aware of how fleeting it is, how one never gets it back, and how much I'll miss certain points in my life.

This week is testing all of the above.

I'll just talk about today and you can multiply that by the four, as it is only Thursday.

My Visiting Teachers were coming over this morning (in the LDS church, each woman is assigned two other women from the congregation (visiting teachers) to come and visit her, or at least check in monthly to make sure she's doing okay). The house looked like we'd been out running errands all week. So I was tidying up. That went all right. The girls were playing especially well with one another. I needed to take a shower because I didn't take one the day before (honesty, Folks). I jumped in, jumped out, got ready, and I walked into Cora's room.

It was insanity. Toys were everywhere on the floor. Cora had been in her closet on top of the bin I store clothes that Magnolia will grow into. She'd pulled down so many things from the shelves in her closet. I honestly didn't care about the mess. I cared about the little mouse bait block that was missing from behind the afore mentioned bin. It's in a completely childproof container, but I couldn't find it. Everything is falling a part.


Visiting teachers are here, children are crying. Cora is crying because she knows she did something she shouldn't have, Magnolia is crying because Cora is crying. After everyone gets in and sits down, I explain what's going on, and sweeter than sweet, they volunteer to help clean Cora's room to see if we can find the block. The room gets picked up. No block. We go and visit for a while. They leave.

It's lunch time and Cora is off to school. I come home and put Magnolia to bed, and then because Magnolia has been up a million times a night this week, I indulge in a nap. I went into Cora's room to do it. I move a stack of folded quilts, and go to lie down, and realize I'm on something. It's the bait block! Phew. I rest in peace until my alarm goes off that it's time to pick up Cora.

In the carpool line, I get a text from a friend that her girls will be caroling with their school at Whole Foods, which is close to our house. Great! It's in a fun area near Chesapeake with lots of gorgeous Christmas lights. We get home, have a snack, play for a little while. I make dinner and intermittently try to change the bulb in our headlight. That was a no-go, but we get through dinner and out the door in time to pick Jake up from work and drop him off to go Home Teaching (each family in the congregation is assigned two men to do the same thing as visiting teachers - they're called home teachers) and get to Whole Foods.

We got there a little before the caroling began and before all the kids were there. I asked one of the workers where the caroling would be and she said, "Oh, you must be thinking of the Chesapeake area right behind Whole Foods." and pointed me in the direction. There were no carolers there, but there was a gigantic winter wonderland full of kids playing on hills of fake snow. Of course, Cora wanted to do that. I asked another lady at a Whole Foods table about the carolers and she told me they were in fact in the store and someone was working on getting them organized. We went back, found a table, built some dollhouses out of napkins, saw some old friends, and then the caroling merriment began.

All was well. For two songs. And then Cora, who was dancing and having fun, burst into tears because she wanted to go play with the other kids on the snow. OMGee. The crying ensued. When we were on our way, I told her we were going to get a piece of cake while we were there. I brought up the cake, and after a minute or two, she decided we would go pick our perfect piece. She picked carrot cake.

We made our way back to the front to the check out and where the carolers were. Smiles and carrot cake. Phew. This was going to work out. I reach for my wallet. That's right.

NO WALLET. The eldest of my daughters loves gum and knows how to work zippers. When I was getting Jake's spaghetti together to take with us so he could eat on the go, I came back into the living room and found both girls huddled around my purse. I got them both gum, restored the contents of my purse that were on the couch, and we were off.

We walked our perfect piece of carrot cake back to where we found it, Cora cried more about the snow, and we just walked right on out of that store to the tune of Oklahoma Rising. Crying all the way home. We walk in the door, and I see the strap of my wallet peaking out from under my nursing cover, both on the floor. Crying Crying Crying.

Goo to bed.
Cora story.

Now I'm blogging. I'm trying to forget about the dishes. Magnolia has been sending out a little cry every now and again, but I hope she'll settle in for good. Jake has been out late each night this week. I don't want to be someone who is completely dependent on the idea someone being home, but again, this week is testing that. And really, I'm upset at myself that I find it all so frustrating. Sure I feel like a single parent, but at least I get to be a stay-at-home single parent, right?

And I can't stop thinking about my sweet friend, Ryan, who has two sick little girls. Like lifelong sick, and all she wants is a sense of normalcy for her family between hospital stays and weak immune systems. Her youngest daughter, Lucy, is two months and in the hospital right now. Her oldest, Ellie Kate, is six and was supposed to perform in her first dance recital, but she got sick. Both girls have NKH. As I read through this mother of four's blog posts, my heart breaks for her broken heart. She wanted her whole family to be together to decorate their home for Christmas. She wanted Ellie Kate to dance, and Lucy to not be completely ravaged by the disease that her sister has been. She wanted a normal holiday season for her two sons. She's one of the strongest, most faithful women I've known. She puts complete trust in God, that he as at the helm of their lives and struggles, but with everything going so crazy, she is hurting right now. Please pray for the McLaughlin family.

I want to not be frustrated by the whining and the crying, and blah blah blah blah blah. Here's the real deal:

I feel really lonely. There, I said it. I've felt that way ever since we moved back to Oklahoma. Something is so different. I don't have the same constant circle of friends I loved so much. I know I can't expect everything to be the same, and I know I'm naturally pretty introverted and don't require a great deal of social interaction to feel complete (I've always called myself a natural loner), but I need some people. And with Jake's regular schedule, plus all of the things on top of it like rehearsals and recitals, it's just's a lot. I suppose one of my resolutions for the new year, and perhaps before the year is out is to put myself out there a bit more. The funny thing about loneliness is the more you feel it, the more you withdraw which is the exact opposite of what makes lonely go away.   

A Late Autumn Night

I'm sitting in my front yard on one of our green retro chairs, admiring my handy work in the form of Christmas lights on Dot. She's covered in a few rows of warm white C9 lights. The big bulbs. She's vintage, you know. The front windows' blinds are open. The soft light and Christmas tree look so inviting. I love driving by homes that share their contents at night. Dot is generous. And oh so lovely.

I'm wearing fingerless gloves so I can type, but my fingers are freezing. According to, it's 32 degrees outside, feels like 26. I'm wishing my jeans didn't have holes in the knees.

Two of my neighbors just passed by. One is James. He reminds me of John Locke from lost. I like that he lives close and that we see him almost every day because he takes his dogs to exercise and train them at the school yard across the street from our house. The other is Jeanette. She has three little girls, all about a year and a half a part. The oldest, Megan, is a year older than Cora. When Megan found out that Cora's nickname was Coco, she nicknamed herself Pineapple. It's changed a few times. The last one I heard was Muffin. I like knowing neighbors. I want to get to know them better. I'm hoping someone majorly awesome will buy the house across the street.

As the leaves have fallen off the trees, more and more of the Devon Tower has made itself visible. I love it all lit up with its construction lights on every floor, and of course, the cranes. Some people have a view of mountains, others have a lake or the ocean, we have the Devon Tower, right out our front window. And it's beautiful. It's the biggest, brightest Christmas tree on Earth. Record breaking.

Well, my battery is running low, my fingers aren't very efficient anymore, and I'm still waiting for Jake to get home. But just on the other side of the yellow walls before me...there is hot chocolate.



I have an extremely sensitive sense of smell. I partially blame the intense morning sickness I've had with all three of my pregnancies on the amplified state of my nose's already amplified ability. I know this because things like trash bags and the scent of the kitchen floor (the glue under the linoleum perhaps - and no, I was not down sniffing it) sent me running for the bathroom. I still send up praises for Zofran in my prayers from time to time. I digress...

I love perfume. Beyond love it. And I'm in the market for a new scent. Upon graduating from college, it was between Light Blue (Dolce & Gabbana) and Princess (Vera Wang). I chose Princess. I liked its warm undertones. Most recently I've had Pretty (Elizabeth Arden), but my bottle has been dry for a couple of months.

In transitioning, I reverted back to an old standard, everyday scent: Sweet Pea (Bath and Body Works). It came out my freshman year of high school, and I thought it was perfect. It was a nice soft transition from the super fruity sweetness of Pearberry that had just been so popular, and that had been a major transition from the woodsy scent that everyone was wearing in the form of CK Be just before that. Sweet pea: soft, sweet, warm. It had been several years since I'd had any. It was like being reunited with an old friend.

Anyway, I have been taking home sample after sample from Sephora. I swear I'm going to have to start wearing disguises even though I've never asked the same person for a sample twice. I just haven't found the one yet. I really like Pretty, but I'm feeling restless.

Marc Jacobs Daisy and Lola have both been lovely. I like Daisy best, but only in its parfum form, the toilette version falls flat very fast on my skin. I also love Dior Addict, but it's very rich. I don't know that I could do it everyday. It's like Thierry Mugler Angel. I LOVE that perfume, but I feel like wearing it everyday would be something like eating chocolate everyday - too indulgent. The One (Dolce & Gabbana) had me at hello, but it's still a little heavy, though putting it on and going through the top notes through the bass notes makes me really happy.

Shout out to Happy (Clinique). You can't tell me you didn't love that one.

So on my last Sephora trip, I got a sample of Bright Crystal (Versace) on the recommendation of a friend and the girl working at Sephora. I also got J'adore (Dior). When I got home and put Bright Crystal on, it smelled so familiar. It only took me about two seconds to realize what it was. I received Pink Ice (Rue 21) as a Christmas gift last year. They are almost identical scents. I sprayed one on one wrist and one on the other, and the only difference was that Pink Ice was a little sharper and lasted a lot longer. Look at the packaging even (and both perfumes are tinted pink):
 (Photo by Cassandra Kiser)

I did a google search to see if anyone else had uncovered this phenomenon. Apparently, I'm the only one so far. They both smell good. Props to Rue 21 for a fabulous imitation.

J'adore, though, J'adore has won me over. This is only the second day I've worn it, so I'm not entirely sure yet, but I can't believe I've never smelled it before. I guess it's not too surprising because I've never smelled the most popular fragrance in the world: Chanel Nº5. I have to admit it came across my radar because of the Charlize Theron ads. If only my legs were 6 inches longer, um, maybe more like a foot longer. 

Is there a scent you swear by? Makes you feel ethereal? Pleases every little ounce of your aesthetics? Tell me.

PS: There is great irony in the fact that I am married to someone who cannot smell. Just the same as he in an accompanist married to someone who is afraid to sing in front of people. While the scent of my perfume gets lost on his missing sense, I get to pick his cologne: Perk. A couple of years ago, I discovered L'Homme by Yves Saint Laurent. It is heaven. Absolute heaven on a warm, beating neck. I've thought of wearing it on occasion.

PPS: Among others, I also sampled DKNY Pure. It was very creamy clean, and perfect for everyday (in case you're in the market), but I'm feeling a stronger floral component at this point in my life.

The Real Giver

Cora: "Mom, make sure you pray to Jesus to ask Santa for a pink scooter. Because pink is my favorite color."

If only she knew what was hiding away in the trunk waiting for Christmas to arrive.

Occupy Movement

I had high hopes for the Occupy Movement. The main premises of the movement are at the forefront of my ideals for social justice at the moment. Corporations should not be a powerhouse in government, and a nation cannot sustain itself if the gap between rich and poor continues to grow to rapidly, especially when the majority of a nation's wealth is in the hands of literally a fraction of a percent of the population. How did so few end up with so much? The correlation between corporations and the government seems pretty self-explanatory.

While I share the ideas, and was glad to see a movement come out with what I think is a big disaster in our society, Occupy's approach always rubbed me the wrong way. I didn't like that they were sleeping in parks. I didn't like that people were bringing them food. It felt like a waste of resources. I still want something to change in regard to the problems the movement presented. I want these things to be taken seriously, and more attention to be paid to them rather than tent cities. There was too much going on for a point of change to be made. With eviction notices popping up all over the country, I'm hoping that something meaningful can come. I just wanted to share a few thoughts on the issues. I enjoyed this talk that explains the pitfalls of a large economic gap on societies:

I feel there are misnomers thrown around that aren't accurate. I often hear that the government is money hungry, and I never know how to respond because I'm always like, "But wait, isn't the government a not-for-profit institution?"

Sure, there are shady politicians who like to slip a little extra in their pocket, but if they're in office, it's our fault. It's our fault in more way than one. The obvious reason is that they get our vote. But the less obvious one is being oblivious to where their campaign contributions come from. Corporations get so many people elected or in positions of power to secure the profits of the company. If we know where the contributions are coming from, we can see who that politician will ultimately be working for.

I've also heard a lot about how we're heading straight for socialism because of the government wanting to increase taxes on the wealthiest citizens. I believe the exact phrase is redistributing the wealth. And then I'm like, "But wait, that's part of what it [the government] does." That's how all communities have schools (even though there is drastic difference in quality), that's how there are roads across the nation, and how the elderly can have health care. Every little anything that isn't privately funded is a result of redistributed funds from the citizens of the country. The infrastructure of our country is aging, and with the present deficit and not much hope in terms of revenue, bridges will collapse, schools will crumble, communities will fail. Tax codes define how much is taken from what incomes, but those same codes that take also give breaks, and the breaks and loopholes in our country favor those with the most money, and those with the most money are a fraction of the majority of the American people.

This is a great video about the tax rate and prosperity of the 50's:

I feel like our lack of real interest in how everything works is how we got here. How did we let the power fall out of the hands of the majority of Americans and into the hands of those at the helm of profit driven companies who get all kinds of breaks but have no financial obligation to the country that has allowed them to get that way? How did we let really big things sneak by us? Why are so many adamantly defending 1% of the nations populace at the expense of the 99%? And if you think anyone you know is that 1%, you're probably mistaken.  I read a great quote the other day that I feel is fitting.

"There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."
--Isaac Asimov
And another one because I love it (this was said in protest to the recent budget plan congress would have been willing to pass if presented by the Super-Committee. I think we probably all heard that the plan did not pass):

"This country does in fact have a serious deficit problem. But the reality is that the deficit was caused by two wars -- unpaid for. It was caused by huge tax breaks for the wealthiest people in this country. It was caused by a recession as result of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street. And if those are the causes of the deficit, I will be damned if we're going to balance the budget on the backs of the elderly, the sick, the children, and the poor. That's wrong."
--Senator Bernie Sanders, VT 


I'm baking bread tonight. We had a simple dinner, a soup we call Winter Pottage. It's one of my very favorites. My favorite foods always seem to be the simplest combinations. The bread didn't get done to go with the meal, but it will be a nice treat for Jake and Cora when they get home from the Wednesday night activity with the youth of our church. Jake goes every week as part of what he does for church, but Cora really wanted to go tonight, and I'm glad she was able to. All I know is someone needs to bottle the scent of this bread baking. Dear Bath and Body Works, give me a portion of the profits. Thanks.

I went Christmas shopping after I dropped Cora off at school. I was going to look at something in particular, a bike, but we're going to hold off and get her that for her birthday. I spent over 30 minutes wandering around Target, and when I was getting in line to check out, I looked in the basket and saw that it was empty. It was a miracle.

I did run into a mom of one of Cora's classmates. I was telling her I had no idea what to get for Magnolia (Cora got a kitchen and an easel for her second Christmas, but she was four months older than Magnolia at this point - which is a lot). She told me her daughter loved a little dog called Violet, and I asked her to take me to it! It was love at first sight. I didn't get it because I didn't want her to know we had it, but it is on sale right now, so I need to sneak away childless before the week is out. I also wanted to look at the reviews on Amazon (I'm crazy like that), and apparently all children who have this little dog love it. If you're still looking for the perfect gift for your little tot, Violet by LeapFrog. I think it's going to be a hit. [There's also a green one named Scout.]

Winter Pottage

2 TBL oil
1 large onion, diced
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
pinch of salt
5 1/2 cups broth or water
1 large sweet potato, cubed
1/2 cup rutabaga, peeled and chopped
1 cup cabbage, sliced
1 cup broccoli
1-2 dashes of garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil over medium in stock pot. Add onions, carrots, celery, and pinch of salt. Cook 7-8 minutes to soften.
Add broth/water, sweet potato, rutabaga and cabbage.
Simmer 20 minutes or until sweet potato and rutabaga are tender.
Add broccoli and cook 5 minutes.
Salt and pepper to taste.

Simple Whole Wheat Bread


My great uncle is dying. Dementia began invading his mind a few years ago. Last week he had a stroke, and because of his DNR and his now inability to feed himself, he is in his final days. He hasn't had any food since Saturday, so it's just a matter of time. I keep hearing things about his heart. They say it's strong. It's keeping him alive.

Magnolia was lying across my lap tonight as I was rocking her to sleep. I put my hand on her chest to feel her little heart beating. It was there so strong and consistent, doing just what it's supposed to do. Doing what Uncle Bud's has done so well for over 86 years now. The heart that started beating before he took his first breath, when he occupied the womb of his mother. The heart made by his mother and father. Beating and beating and beating away. It's such a strange feeling that everyone is waiting on it to stop doing the only thing it knows how to do. But its time will come, his time will come. And the hope I carry with me is that his mind and spirit and body will all be restored to a perfect form.

I've been working on a piece of writing for years, all centered around something Uncle Bud asked Grammy in a letter years ago, "When did we become the oldest generation?" All of my great aunts and uncles are my "gentle giants." I love them deeply and dearly. And they are all falling. I know I've been lucky. They've all lived long full lives, and no one can dwell on earth forever, but the world feels a little sadder without their presence. I miss them breathing the same air as me. I am without words to describe my gratitude for memories, and I hope that nothing will take them away from me.

A Cake.

Yesterday was Jake's 27th birthday. I wanted to do something great for him. I had an idea for the perfect present, but decided to hold off a bit. After some thinking about what to do instead, I had it!

I was going to make him a German Chocolate Cake.

It's his favorite, and he hasn't had any in the almost year since we've adopted a vegan diet. I made my weekly menu because we were in desperate need of a grocery shopping trip, and then I started searching for the perfect recipe. I found it really fast. I knew it was perfect because it was from the recipe book of a tea room in New York called Alice's Tea Cup.

[Click on the picture for a link to the recipe]

As soon as we got to the store, the girls went into meltdown mode. We had to get in and get out, an they didn't even have the Christmas lights we wanted, so I coaxed Cora into going to Target to see if they had any lights. Nope. I called every store I could think of in OKC, and nobody has white LED C9 lights. I digress, needless to say, a trip to Whole Foods to get unsweetened dairy-free chocolate was out, so I didn't make the ganache that the recipe calls for. It was okay.

I was literally in the kitchen for over 3 hours between dinner and this cake. My perfectionist streak was going full force. Luckily Magnolia took a long nap. I've never been a fan of German Chocolate Cake, mostly the coconut frosting, but I can't even begin to describe how amazing the frosting was. I could have eaten the whole bowl full with a spoon. Who needs chocolate when you have that frosting? Yes, I just said that.

Cora was in charge of decorating our house. We made paper chain garlands. Just before he got home, we turned out all of the lights because Cora wanted to surprise him. Surprise, check. We ate one of our favorite chili recipes as per Jake's request. I ate mine super fast. I was so giddy about what was waiting in the fridge.

When the time came, Cora spilled the beans, Jake's jaw dropped, and we feasted on this cake that was literally worth its weight in gold, though not before we sang Happy Birthday and he blew out the candles. In the midst of cake eating, I asked Jake a question...There is an amazing bakery in his hometown, Kalico Kitchen, and they make the best of everything...I asked him how this cake compared to theirs. Without hesitation, he said, "It's way better."

And I decided that was a good way of describing Jake. Of all the things in the world that are great, he is way better.


All the things we talk about
You know they stay on my mind.

Good Charlotte was pretty much the it band my senior year. Aside from the songs that made it big, two that didn't were my favorites. They were both tied to random afternoon encounters with different people I went to school with. The first is Say Anything, and the second, Emotionless.

I was a self-proclaimed radio junkie back then. I don't listen to music all that much anymore. I mean, I do, but nothing like back then. Maybe it's because the freaking bad you-know-what women of my adolescence are no longer injecting me with their lyrics. I miss their voices: Sarah McLachlan, Jewel, Paula Cole, Fiona Apple, Natalie Merchant, Lisa Loeb, Lauryn Hill, Shawn Colvin, Tracy Chapman, Sinead O'Connor, and others. I'm glad Sheryl Crow has managed to stick it out. And I try to branch out, really, I do, but today's artists just don't do it for me like the ones who led the 90's into the 00's. It wasn't just the ladies. Counting Crows, Coldplay, Hootie and the Blowfish, complete awesomeness.

I guess I'm just stuck in a time warp. I'm okay with it. Except that I'm not. My generation completely lost the ball. There are a few great artists out there, but for heaven's sake, we literally became adults as the Iraq war was born, and where were our civil unrest anthems? I've been listening to Woody Guthrie's Dustbowl Ballads. We have way more to be singing about than the superficial buzz that everyone buys into.

I miss songs that I actually want to have in my head for decades because they mean something - they added meaning to my experiences. Some of my best memories are unconsciously set to a soundtrack. I guess I should finally really learn how to play guitar.

On My Mind

Five years ago, on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, I found out I was pregnant for the first time. I was overflowing with joy. I told everyone I saw. I even told random strangers because I couldn't help myself. We'd been trying for a little while, and the negative results in the previous months has been devastating.

The timing was perfect. Tell all of the family on Thanksgiving. It was what we were grateful for. In early December, morning sickness sank in and stayed with me for weeks. We were able to go to Arizona for Christmas, and it was wonderful to share our joy with my family in person.

On New Year's Day, everything started to come a part. I wrote about it back then, so I won't relay the entire experience again, but I've been thinking about it a lot. I'm sure part of it is the time of year. In the midst of these thoughts, I found that two sweet couples in our families have miscarried. For one couple, it's still very new, they're still waiting on the results of the last blood test. That was the worst part. Not having a definitive answer for several days. Two ultrasounds, two rounds of blood tests, dopplers, hours and hours in hospitals and doctors offices.

I'll always be glad my doctor said he wanted to see what my body would do on its own before we scheduled a d&c. My body handled it perfectly, and it was a great part of my healing. I was able to see the form that would have been my baby, and because of that, I was able to disassociate what actually was from the idea that it was going to be my sweet warm pink cuddly baby.

The reality was a little walnut-sized fetus, curled up inside of its sac. Still in "seahorse" stage (around eight weeks if you have an embryonic chart handy), but about the size of what an eleven week fetus should be. I actually miscarried at 12 weeks. Something had gone wrong. I knew it. And seeing it for myself made it all less mysterious. Having a visual was also pretty traumatic at the time, but like I said, it was a big part of my healing.

A few days before it actually happened, I told a friend that we were more than likely miscarrying, and she told me the thing that brought me the most peace, especially after being able to see this little thing I'd had such high hopes for. She told me God was just waiting for the right body for my baby. I felt less like I'd lost a child, and more like I just had to wait longer for Cora.

When I got pregnant with Cora, there was less fanfare. We were so cautious with who we told. I started spotting when I was ten weeks pregnant with her, and for as well as I thought I handled everything emotionally when I miscarried, I completely fell a part at the thought of losing her. I already knew she was a girl, I felt a connection to her. I knew she was alive inside of me.

Last night, I walked out of the bathroom after starting a bath, and I looked out to two beautiful sets of eyes staring right at me. It was so touching. We stayed there for several seconds. Their eyes locked with mine, and this Thanksgiving season, I can hardly comprehend the the ways I've been blessed.

I guess the growth that has come in the nearly five years since I miscarried has transformed its meaning for me, especially now that I'm a mother, and in the throes of motherhood with small children (one night this week I got 5 hours of sleep, another night 3.5 - and yes, all the while fighting a sinus infection). A while back a friend posted a quote from an advice blog of a mother of 11 children. It's talking about how every little thing we do as a mother is important.

"They all add up to beauty -- your little touches, moments of eye contact, stories read, cookies baked, laundry folded, legos picked up (again). Your presence means security. Your are the sun -- the center of their world. A lot of responsibility, I know -- but a warm place to be."

These two sweet girls are the babies I prayed for. The ones I toiled over, fought for. They're here, and they're mine, and they sit at my dining table every night.

Day of Observance

Today I went and observed Cora's class. This is one of my favorite days so far as a mother.

Each parent has an opportunity to come in throughout the school year. Cora's PT conference was last Friday, so I thought I'd see if I could get in my observation before Thanksgiving because Cora had been asking if I could go to school with her.

Parents are supposed to be a sort of fly on the wall. We have a special chair we sit in, and if children come up to us, we softly remind them that we're just there to watch. From the moment we stepped into the room, Cora was beaming over me being there. She did all of her work just as she should, and all the while, she would look over and find me and smile. She was SO PROUD of herself, and especially proud that I was there to see all the things she could do.

I don't quite know how to put the feelings into words other than I hope she'll always be so glad to show me the things she can do, and that she'll always be able to feel the pride and love I have for her and all that she is and does.

She is just the sweetest, most darling girl. She is so attentive and perceptive. Sensitive and loving. She knows how the world ticks. She knows how to read people. I am so in-love with her and happy I had the opportunity to see inside her world of independence.

PS: Before we officially knew that Cora would be at her school, I said how much I wanted her to be there. Several people said not to worry because she would do great wherever she was. I have no doubt about her greatness, but I'm thankful she gets to be in such a great learning environment that compliments her so well.

Clean Sheets...sort of.

Today my goal in life was to clean the bedrooms.

I stripped each bed, mattress protectors and all, gave my self three extra loads of laundry on purpose, and went to work.

I had a migraine last night and it stuck with me through the morning. I look my medicine laced with caffeine upon rising, and while I can't attribute it solely to caffeine as it's never done much for me, when my migraines go away after my meds, I do, in fact have a burst of energy. Couple that with more than 6 hours of interrupted sleep, and...

I really can be productive.

I didn't finish all of the rooms. Cora's took me almost three hours. Like I started it when I got home from taking her to school, and I wasn't quite done when I went back to get her. And I still have to mop the floors and finish my ongoing top of the dressers quest of cycling through their clothes. I did go through all of their toys and two sacks are ready to find a new home. [Meemaw - If you read this, does the resource center take toys? I'll probably forget to ask you.] And I cleaned out all of her little toy cubbies. They were dusty/grungy inside.

I also weather-proofed the windows almost all the way. So, remember how Dot has a ton of windows? Right, and remember how she's 90 years old? Well, it just so happens that her windows are 90 years old, too. We're talking wavy glass. One of our conditions when we bought the house was that all of the windows be able to open (they'd long since been painted shut), and that all of the windows have screens. We didn't really think that one through as far as paint being a sort of sealant. And just in-case you were wondering, because Dot is in an historic preservation neighborhood, the rules about the windows go against the good sense of sustainability.

While filling gaps around the windows with the most amazing thing called rope caulk, I saw some crazy stuff. One of the windows in her room is only touching three sides of its four-sided casing. I'm going to have to get my caulk gun after that one. I couldn't believe the space between some of the upper and lower windows where they slide across one another. The rope caulk has 8 little coils/ropes all together, and you can peel however many you need to fill the gap. We're talking some three coil gaps.

I loved making the beds. When you just change sheets, you pull your old ones off and put the ones in the closet on your bed, right? Well, I always want to put the same ones I just washed and dried back on in all of their warm Downy splendor. I could be perfectly happy with one set of sheets with the exception of emergency situations, like when babies barf in my bed at night.

Anyway, I put boring old sheets on all of the beds, BUT, I'd washed all of the blankets and quilts. It's amazing how fresh linens make a whole house smell better. I suppose that coupled with the fact that sewer water is no longer leaking under our house account for the joy my sense of smell knows. It's a good thing we're tight on fundage this month because I got Bath and Body Works's email letting me know that wallflower sets are $6 right now. I could go crazy on good smelling stuff as a celebratory measure that Dot no longer has an odor issue. I'll just celebrate under a clean quilt tonight.

Tomorrow I'll see what more I can get done on my fall cleaning kick, and hopefully the spurt of energy I had today will be return tomorrow without stimulant intervention.

I Have to Remind Myself

Money is tight this month.

1. We're making repairs to Dot's sewer line and cleaning up the mess it caused under our house.
2. Cora's tuition for the spring was due.
3. Jake's student loans went into repayment.

I never wanted money to be the issue. It was a big issue for most of my growing up life, and I didn't want it to be something I worried about.

Jake's job makes ends meet (barely), but it's lacking things like retirement and health benefits. Because of the (barely), it's hard to put extra away. It also has the craziest pay periods I've ever heard of. The official school year starts mid-August, but he doesn't get paid until the end of September. His last paycheck for the fall semester is in December, and then he doesn't get paid until the end of February. His last paycheck for Spring semester is the end of May. That's right - June, July, August, and basically all of September are paycheck-less.

He works gigs throughout the summer, but it isn't steady income, so every thing we save throughout the school year goes to make it through summer. Basically, it's hard to see this job with any sort of long-term sustainability.

We don't live beyond our means. We've only ever used our credit card to rent a car. Actually, that's why we initially got a credit card. We also got a Best Buy card when we bought our house so we could spread the cost of our appliances out interest free. (If you qualify for a BB card, you get 18 months of no interest on anything you buy - so if you ever need a new appliance stat, keep them in mind.) That's it. We don't have smart phones, data plans, or unlimited texting, our car is six years old, our computer is four years old, we haven't had cable/satellite in almost seven years, etc. I think about these things a lot as a sort of reassurance that we try our best to keep our spending in check.

It would be so "easy" to double our income if I worked. And this is where the two-part reminder comes in for me.
1. Being able to stay at home with my girls is a luxury, blessing, something I'm so glad I'm able to do. I don't think it would have been a possibility if we would have had Cora at a different time and become dependent on two incomes.
2. Choosing to stay at home is a sacrifice.
When I think of these two reasons together, they help ease the burden of finances, knowing that this is our choice and that we had a choice.

I mean, I don't need to be like some of the stay-at-home moms around my age with kids around my kids' ages who drive 80,000 vehicles and live in million dollar homes [this isn't a judgment on them, more power to them for being able to]. I just want my little Dot Spot and Staci Car, and a little cushion so sewers and tires don't break the bank. It's hard to know what you love to do, but try to figure out a way to "make it" comfortably on the income society has deemed that job to be worth.

End Times

We've been having earthquakes in Oklahoma. The big one was on Saturday night. [5.6]. Jake and I now have a grab our girls and get out of the house plan.

It's Monday night, and tornadoes have been roaring through southwestern Oklahoma. The storms are just about to come through Oklahoma City. There's talk of flooding.

Okay we just had another earthquake. No joke. It was smaller. My heart is pounding though. Let's see, it would have been 8:47 PM. This is a perfect segue into what I've been thinking about.

What happens if an earthquake happens at the same time a tornado warning is going on? Being in a basement during an earthquake isn't a good idea, and being outside during a tornado is a definite no.

[and the earthquake that just happened was a 4.7]

This wasn't going to be all about the apocalypse taking place in Oklahoma, but I mean, really. I'm afraid if I keep writing on the topic, a category five hurricane will spawn itself over Lake Hefner. Be nice to my 90-year-old Dot, you crazy natural disasters.

[and the thunder rolls...]

I guess I'll come back tomorrow to talk about what had really been on my mind [tantra]. I mean, I hope I'll be back tomorrow.

A Case of You

I can't believe I've never heard this song before. Joni Mitchell, you've got a way about you. [And James Blake, thank you for this cover.]

Just before our love got lost you said
"I am as constant as a northern star"
And I said "Constantly in the darkness
Where's that at?
If you want me I'll be in the bar"

On the back of a cartoon coaster
In the blue TV screen light
I drew a map of Canada
Oh Canada
With your face sketched on it twice
Oh you're in my blood like holy wine
You taste so bitter and so sweet

Oh I could drink a case of you darling
Still I'd be on my feet
oh I would still be on my feet

Oh I am a lonely painter
I live in a box of paints
I'm frightened by the devil
And I'm drawn to those ones that ain't afraid

I remember that time you told me you said
"Love is touching souls"
Surely you touched mine
'Cause part of you pours out of me
In these lines from time to time
Oh, you're in my blood like holy wine
You taste so bitter and so sweet

Oh I could drink a case of you darling
And I would still be on my feet
I would still be on my feet

I met a woman
She had a mouth like yours
She knew your life
She knew your devils and your deeds
And she said
"Go to him, stay with him if you can
But be prepared to bleed"

Oh but you are in my blood
You're my holy wine
You're so bitter, bitter and so sweet

Oh, I could drink a case of you darling
Still I'd be on my feet
I would still be on my feet


This Halloween was great. The girls and I had a relaxed day at home. We went grocery shopping in the morning, came home and ate lunch, Magnolia took a nap. When she woke up, we had a little snack and then we went to the park. Cora rode her bike all the way there and all the way home.

We ate a scrumptious dinner and then the girls got in their costumes: Cora a cupcake, Magnolia a strawberry.

We went outside just in time to snap a few pictures and see Jake riding down the street on Scoot - home a whole half-hour early.

Then the real fun began: TRICK-OR-TREATING

Cora wasn't shy at all. She walked right up and said, "Trick-or-treat." After getting her treat, she always said, "Thank you!"

Magnolia walked up to her first stop, holding her purple pumpkin bucket, and was amazed when someone just handed her candy. We showed her how to put it in her bucket, and she was sold. It is a pretty remarkable thing, Goo.

Grocery Store

This was not my first trip to Whole Foods.

But this was the trip where I fell in-love.

The new store in Oklahoma City was less crowded, so I was able to take my time. I picked up the most beautiful bunch of kale, half of which I turned into Kale Chips this afternoon.

That was all fine and good, but the really amazing thing happened right after I put some vanilla and chocolate [soy] milk in my cart. I glanced up and there is was:


I almost cried. I did a little happy dance, and there may have been a shriek.

Oh but wait, it doesn't end there.

I walked down to admire the desserts to go. I eyed an oreo cake right away. Upon closer inspection, there was a big yellow sticker that said VEGAN on it. And next to it was a vegan chocolate cake, and next to that, a vegan carrot cake, and a little ways down was some vegan chocolate pudding. Each large piece of cake was $2.99. That's less than a small cupcake from Green Goodies, which is our go-to dessert place.

The stickers really did me in. I'm so used to looking at every ingredient label, but to have food advertise that it's vegan for me. That's all.

Whipped cream is what I've missed most. I loved making it, watching it fluff up, finding any excuse to make it, and using it in unconventional ways just because.

When I got home, I put all of the groceries away, and then I sat on the kitchen floor for a minute [or two] with my new found can of creamy goodness. I used my fingers as the utensil to get it into my mouth.

A Quick Note

This is just to say...

I love Chicago.

There is an energy in that city unlike any place I've ever been. It's invigorating, and it enlivens my soul.

Parts of this trip that are on my mind tonight:

1. Millennium Park - It's an amazing gathering place
2. Roosevelt University - Dedicated to the enlightenment of the human spirit - It's housed in an amazing building. I could spend hours wandering the halls and looking out every window.
3. Late night conversations with friends - though late has been redefined with small children who don't care what time you went to bed.
4. Chicago Temple [First United Methodist Church] - the tallest church in the world, and I've been to the top - I was thinking about Christina and what it would have been like if her dad was the Senior Pastor there. Their home would have been on the top three floors. No joke.

And I'm also randomly thinking about Christina's wedding and how I almost got to drive one of the church vans until someone asked how old I was and I didn't meet the age requirement for insurance. Bummer because it would have been some great early practice for...

5. After riding several buses, my desire to be a bus driver, if only for a day, has been reaffirmed. Make it an accordion bus, please.


I cannot wait for Thursday to roll around.


Because we will be in CHICAGO!

Dot's First Transformation: Paint

Picking the perfect greige to adorn Dot's walls was a painstaking process. When I had the colors narrowed down to two choices, I still couldn't figure out, so I did the only reasonable thing and googled Benjamin Moore Halo vs. Ashwood. I came across a blog called for the love of a house, and Joan happened to have Halo in her dining room and Ashwood in her living room. My dilemma was between night and day. I liked Ashwood more at night and Halo more during the day. I sent Joan an email explaining the situation and then said,

"This color will be throughout our entire house, and I was wondering if there was anything you could say about either one that might help make the decision a little easier. (I love adjectives and imagery.)"

She was awesome and gave me just what I needed. These were her descriptions:
"Ashwood is like a warm hug."
"Halo is like a beautiful soft smile."

We picked Halo.

The following are pictures we took of our freshly painted walls.

Our room looking into the hall and living room

Our room looking into the sun room (currently Magnolia's room - someday office-of-sorts)

Sun room/Magnolia's Room

Sun Room/Magnolia's room looking out to the deck

Jake hard at work on a second coat in the living room

Hall from our room looking into Cora's room

Living room into the dining room from Cora's perspective. Let it be known that this is the only known picture of me nursing a baby. I thought it was funny. Perfectly placed ladder.

Dining Room looking into the hall

Bathroom. So much better than the black/gray sponge painting that we initially thought was wall paper.

On for the love of a house, Joan calls Halo a whisper of color. I think she's right, and I love it for that.

When We Bought Dot

These are the realtor pictures of Dot when we bought her. These are the official before pictures.



Living Room

Dining room


Girls' Room (Currently just Cora's)

Office (Currently Magnolia's Room)

Deck off of the office
Back yard

Behind the Garage


The thing about sleep is that I miss it so.

For the last 16 months I've gotten approximately 6 hours of interrupted sleep each night. Note interrupted.

I have a sixteen-month-old, but she might as well be a newborn still, except we're used to one another. And she doesn't poop as much.

She's teething right now, like major teething. This past week has been worse than usual in the sleep department.

It started on Saturday (you know 8 days ago). We were in Holdenville at Jake's parents. I went to bed at 10:30 after a riveting International House Hunters. They have cable, we don't, but I'm still addicted to HGTV. I can't help myself.

So just as I went to bed, Magnolia woke up. And stayed up, until 2:30. At 2:15, Jake and I hit the streets of H-ville with Magnolia in her car seat. She was out surprisingly fast. By the time we got home and her in bed (yes, she miraculously stayed asleep between the car and her bed, though I was completely prepared to sleep in the car), and fell asleep, it was around 3:00. We woke up around 7:30. 4.5 hours of sleep. Nice.

One night during the past week, she only woke up once, it was a miracle, but since then, she's been waking up about 3 times a night. Just about every 3 hours on the dot. Newborn baby sleep pattern for sure.

She's still nursing, but we're in the weaning phase, I thought. I think it comes down to this: She doesn't have the ability to self-soothe just yet. She gave up her paci, that thing she was never too interested in, before she was 1. Cora kept that for a really long time. She doesn't have a little animal or blanket she's completely attached to. Cora loved to rub the little tags on beanie babies. She has me, and like I said, she is majorly teething, like 3 molars plus another tooth just for fun.

I'm just way deep down tired. My reserves are just about empty. I can feel it. I've been fantasizing about a cool room with a soft hum and a fluffy white comforter on a big bed that is all mine. And hours and hours of uninterrupted sleep.


I'm a perfectionist who practices the art of avoidance because failure is obviously not an option.

Let it be known

On the twenty-first day of September, in the year two thousand eleven, Magnolia Jane McInnes Johnson walked across the living room unassisted for the first time.

There was a lot of cheering on and laughing, and she fell down when she was almost to me, but got right up and made it the rest of the way. She's a really big deal.
We had a well-child check with the doctor yesterday. She weighs 18 pounds 13 ounces and is 29 inches long. She's healthy and happy and her eighth tooth just broke through. She got three shots. It broke Cora's heart as much as Magnolia's.

She's a super flirt with everyone she sees. I get caught up in her kisses and lovey faces all the time. If she sees you, she's waving and saying hi, smiling, and telling you that you are important. Take notice - it makes you feel good. She can make a day better in an instant.

She still yells pretty much all throughout a meal (usually just at a restaurant because she wants a little bit of what everyone else has), but we're working on that. Or just getting used to it. She also really likes feeding herself and will not so shyly snub you if you try to feed her. She's perfectly capable.
She's into pointing out parts of a face: Nose, eyes, ears, mouth. And she really likes eye brows, too.Her hair is getting longer and fluffier. Yes, she can now pull off pigtails. She is definitely sporting a mullet, but it's cute, and the ends of her hair curl a little.
I love her. I love her - I love her - I love her. Oh Goo, I can't wait to see your face in the morning.


I've been thinking about my grandparents. I hardly ever [if ever] ate a dinner at their house where the table wasn't set. And I ate a lot of dinners there. I pride myself in knowing how to set a table properly. It's ingrained in me. I appreciate them for that. I don't think we ever ate buffet style either. The food was on the table. Last night, I made an old standard, enchiladas, but Cora and I set the table, and brought all of the food from the kitchen to the dining room. There was something so lovely about it.

I loved it when my grandma made pancakes. She followed the standard recipe using Bisquick. They were the best pancakes in the world. My favorite breakfast was pancakes with scrabbled eggs and sausage - the eggs were scrambled in with the sausage. And when the syrup mixed in with all of it. Wow. If there were left overs, which there always were, my grandpa and I would go out into the back yard, tear the pancakes into bite sized pieces and throw them to the birds. We'd watch the birds come and eat our offerings. He also did this with any left over bread.

They taught me that you could make something out of nothing. When I ran out of glue for a school project in elementary school, I learned that flour and water together make paste, and it's just as good as glue. I made a shoelace clamp-a-mid in fourth grade [to keep your shoelaces tied] for an invention fair from things I found in their shed, or "dryer room" as Grammy called it. Some old paneling, scotch tape, rubber cement, and voilà. I can't remember if I did the cutting or Grandpa did, but he was out there with me giving me direction when he thought I needed it. My invention made the Mesa Tribune. I remember wondering if my biological father, Lance, saw it, and if he would know it was me. [Random tie in.] Grandpa read the paper every day, and was the one who spotted it. I would have given Irl and Betty Lund credit for helping that brilliant idea come to fruition.

Sometimes I miss those times. I love my grandparents. My grandpa passed away in 2001. My grammy is 87 and will be 88 on April 25th. They taught me about simplicity. I don't need a lot. I know that, I'm happy for that, and I'm so glad they're the ones who shared it with me - even if I'm sure they spent much of their lives wishing they had more.

Hi, I'm new here.

Tonight was Cora's school carnival. The carnival came complete with a bake sale. I made our favorite cookies and sent them in. I thought about individually wrapping them or grouping them, whatever, but then I thought it would be nice to have individual cookies to sell for .10 or so each. Really, I had no idea, I've never done this before.

We'd been at the carnival for a while when we passed the baked goods. I saw our cookies still wrapped up and didn't think much of it. After we ate dinner, I went back to survey the table for dessert. I looked at the cookies and saw something that caught me off guard. $10. Flattering, right?

Panic struck. They're selling the whole thing! Those cookies are on my Fiesta platter! [Can you tell what's about to happen?] I walked briskly back to Jake and let him know what was up. He said, "Do you want to buy it?"

I swallowed my pride that I was one of those people, took a twenty over the the bake sale, looked at a few things so I didn't look suspicious, then said I want that one. I left with a ten and my beloved Fiesta platter full of Chewy Chocolate chocolate chip cookies. At least I know they're vegan, right?

Here's the cookie recipe because I know you're curious [the dough is so good]:

3/4 c canola oil
2 c sugar
2 tsp vanilla

1 TBL + 1 tsp flax seed
1/2 c soy milk
(this replaces one egg)

Oil mixture and flax mixture

2 c flour
3/4 c cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Mix dry ingredients with wet ingredients

1/2 c - 1 c chocolate chips

The dough is super thick and fudge-y. [And did I mention delicious?] Roll into 1 inch balls and flatten a bit.

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Don't over bake! 10 minutes does it. Be there to count down the last few seconds.

Let cool on pan for a minute or so and then move to rack to finish cooling. Makes about 3 dozen.

Dear Ashleigh Lorene Sorrell Rose

I have this fiery little friend named Ashleigh. She's a red head. And I don't know if I loved her first because she was one of the few people I'm taller than, or if it's because I felt like I knew her before I knew her when Jake described his first BYOP pumpkin painting experience at her parents' home in the fall of 2003. But I do know that I've loved her for a long time.

Today is her 27th birthday. My first experience with an Ashleigh Birthday was when she turned 20. She sat at the head of the table and said "Thanks for coming to my birthday soiree." I'd never heard anyone use soiree for real before. I was happy to be there, and every year on her birthday, I think she's a big deal. So, dear friend, here's to you:

I've enjoyed being with you for many a big event in your life: Getting an internship in D.C., and when you had to respectfully decline it for some important reasons. Listening to the stories of you with a gimpy Christina wandering around D.C. while she was super packing her pocket knife - ready to ward off anyone who looked at either one of you the wrong way. Your first grown up job at Project Transformation, your struggles elsewhere, and you finally landing at United Way...even if I sometimes miss the good ol' days in Financial Aid in our super sweet work study spot. You were a ridiculously fun co-worker. It floated my boat to long-distance house hunt with you. And it was a great honor to stand with you when you married Andrew.

I appreciate your passion for good food, your love of other cultures, your slippage back and forth between English and Spanish, how you make a joint effort with everyone and anything you come across, that you still have Rita, your desire and effort to make the world a better place in whatever way you can, that you bought sunny yellow sheets for Cora at your house, that you came to see us in Chicago and sent your husband up to help when we left, the way you seem to balance so many things effortlessly. This list could go on and on.

One of my favorite things about us is the way you were around so much when I was in the hospital in labor with Cora forever. I'll never be able to tell you how much it meant that you came to see me so often, parking fees, crazy wheelchair driving and all. And then there was the night during the week I was able to go home, and you took me to (dare I say it?) McDonald's! And we ate cheap hamburgers because I really wanted one. Maybe I ate two, I can't remember. Stupid irresistible chopped up pickles. But the moral of the story is you are always there.

Of all the things about you, there is one simple thing I appreciate the most: your friendship.

Much Love,

Reflection from a very tired woman about a very important thing

Sometimes the Oklahoma City bombing seems like it happened so long ago. It was a long time ago in my life. I wasn't quite 10. I was already married and living in Oklahoma when the 10th anniversary came. I watched the service in the living room of our apartment, just 3 miles from the actual site of the bombing. At the completion of the service, a bagpiper led the families of the victims and former president and first lady, Bill and Hillary Clinton, from the church across the street to the site of the memorial. The bagpiper slipped and fell on the steps. The camera crews looked elsewhere as he got up, and when they showed him again, playing his tune, I cried. Ten years. So many lives affected. A city completely transformed.

9/11 seems like it could have happened yesterday. I was a junior in high school. One of my best friends had been killed in a car accident less than a month before, my grandpa had passed away in January of that year. I don't really know what ten years feels like, but if I had to guess, it's something like the distance I've placed between the two latter events. There are times when they are still painful, when I miss them so much my emotions overcome me, but the constant sting of loss has dulled. The same kind of distance cannot be placed for the way our world was changed 10 years ago. We are reminded of the atrocities carried out by human beings against human beings almost daily in the new way we our securities must be guarded. In the wars being fought against terrorism. In the acts of terrorism that occur around the world.

I rode passed the OKC Memorial today on the scooter.I thought about both days, April 19, 1995 and September 11, 2011, and how different the passage of 10 years felt between them.

I guess I don't really know what to say. What happened was unfathomable, and trying to imagine a world where 9/11/2001 was just an ordinary day is impossible too. What if everyone would have gone to work, made it home, and to their destination without incident? Not only would the victims and their families not know what it's like to hold that title, but there wouldn't be victims of the aftermath either - no casualties of war, no children left without a parent because of the ongoing fight against terrorism. There was a finality to the bombing in Oklahoma City. It was local, the perpetrators were caught, put on trial and punished accordingly. 9/11 left the world with an impossible task. The only thing that is possible, in my control, is to remember.

So today, just like everyone else, I am remembering, but I think memory inspiring an action would be even better. In a message, President Obama said:

"With just a small act of service, or a simple act of kindness towards others, you can both honor those we lost and those who serve us still, and help us recapture the spirit of generosity and compassion that followed 9/11."

I still feel anxiety creep in when I see a plane and a building in the same field of sight. I still remember seeing the first plane in the sky leaving from Sky Harbor in Phoenix after planes were allowed to fly again. I was on the band bus on the way to a football game. The bus driver told everyone to look out the window, that we were witnessing something historic. It made something inside feel normal again. For the record, I still feel weary of yellow moving trucks, too. But I can't lose hope that with all of the bad stuff that happens at the hands of a few, there are always so many more who would do something good, and that all of those good things can have the same type of everlasting impact. I guess my resolve is one I've made over and over: I'm going to try to be a little bit better.

Random Palooza

The weather has been beautiful. I find myself thanking God several times a day for the reprieve of the heat. I love being outside - basking in the blue skies and sunshine - without fearing heat stroke.

And then I was watching the news tonight, and apparently the heat is coming back next week. Ummm. Bright side...bright side....Ah, I haven't laid out a single time this summer. We have reclining adirondacks. Early next week, I will be on our side deck in my swim suit next to no pool, baking my skin. Everyone needs at least one good bake right? I am from Arizona. It's not like I'm going to be out there for 5 hours with no sunscreen. And I'm trying to figure out how to cover my face adequately. The melasma on my face never went away after I had Magnolia. I don't want to aggravate it. I mean, I'm religious about applying my moisturizer with 30 spf in it every day.

Dot has an issue. A gas issue. A smelly gas issue. For the last little while, every time we run any sizable amount of hot water, whoa. Knock out sewer smell. From what I've read, I've deduced that we have a venting problem. The sewer gasses aren't properly venting and the steam from hot water carries the smell into our house. So...what to do..?

You know how sometimes your kids go through stages where it's like "Who are you?" I do. And I know that when those stages have run their course, you fall in-love with that little person all over again - and even more in-love than you've ever been before. This will require its very own post. But let it be known that I am so in-love with my darling daughters, and this crazy awesome trip called motherhood never ceases to amaze me.

Cora is enjoying school. A lot. I was getting worried every time we rolled up and she wouldn't get out of the car to go to the car teacher. Then last Wednesday (approximately three schools days ago), she just got right out and that was that. Now instead of tears and talking about how she doesn't want to go to school, she can't wait until it's that time. She especially enjoyed PE this week. Tomorrow we're meeting her best school friend, Lillian, at Douglas Park for lunch and then they're walking to class together. I hear they like to hold hands. Cora and Lillian have both been talking about spending the night with each other. In good time.

I've been making a to-do list for Dot, aside from her gas issue of course. Her yard is so sad looking. This summer=drought. Our lawn was in bad shape when we moved in. Hopefully this fall will be the answer. She also needs a new fence along the street side of the backyard. I'm feeling a 5-foot white picket. I have done so little in the way of decorating. It is time. I need to tackle painting the ceilings and the trim. The stray marks of wall color that landed on both are finally bothering me enough to do something about it. I've thought up the girls room, and the winner theme is: Bohemian Bazaar. I love pinterest for the ability to accumulate ideas. No more gobs of emails with links in them from me to me. And when Jake gets paid again, we're tackling going to start tackling the list. He goes from the end of May to the end of September before he gets consistent paycheck. No joke. And it's not even a full paycheck until the end of October. I was incredibly impressed with our ability to save throughout the school year to make it through the summer. Go team!

All right. There's always more where random came from, but I'm capping it off for the night.


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