Katie has cancer. Katie has cancer. Katie has cancer.

Katie has cancer. Katie has cancer. Katie has cancer.

I still can't believe it.  But, it's true.  So I repeat those 3 words to myself, waiting for it to sink in.  It doesn't. I wish it was last Friday.  I wish it was last July.  When we were all at the winery in South Haven.  I wish Katie, and he sister, Kerry, and I were drinking wine and laughing.  I wish Katie and Kerry weren't sitting in an oncologist's office right now.  I wish I wasn't sitting on my computer typing out these six haunting letters... c.a.n.c.e.r.

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Unpacking My Thoughts From South Beach

Unpacking My Thoughts From South Beach

I arrived home from my girls' getaway weekend to South Beach well over a month ago.  I think I wrote the following post, like 3 weeks ago, and now I am just hitting "publish".  Good timeline right?!  No, I didn't lose my computer or go off the grid.  It's just, y'know, life.  Regardless of my excuses, here are my thoughts and brief reflections on my brief escape, finally..

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Mama is Gonna Fly the Coop!

Mama is Gonna Fly the Coop!

So, instead of putting a band-aid on, I am pulling one off!  I am doing something I have been too afraid to do... go.  I just had never gone anywhere since I first heard, "It's a boy!" almost six years ago.  I think when we get too comfortable, we need to make a change.  We need to challenge ourselves.  We need to buy the ticket.  As moms, we are always giving ourselves away, often to the point there is nothing left to give.  I don't want to get there.  I don't want my cup to be empty.

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A Mama Must-Have... BabyBin!

A Mama Must-Have... BabyBin!

Thankfully there is a new service that throws new parents a life boat during those foggy first weeks and months... BabyBin!  BabyBin is a monthly delivery service providing all the things you need for baby.  They anticipate what you need for each month of baby's development and ship it right to your door.  For FREE! 

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What I've Learned In a Year of Hearing, "Mommy, Somebody Needs You"

What I've Learned In a Year of Hearing, "Mommy, Somebody Needs You"

In the blink of an eye, they will be wriggling out of your arms.  And, before you know it, you will be called just "Mom", and then sometimes "Megan" and then "Grandma".  They are growing up.  By the day, the hour, even the second.  This morning may have been the last time my baby called her big brother "Da chi".  That may have been your last time sitting in the carpool line.  Tomorrow may be the last time your pre-tween son lays his head on your shoulder.  And we may have just been too busy to notice.  We may be so consumed with the craziness of life, that the "substance of life" just slipped through our fingers.

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How I Converted From a Vegetarian to a Happy and Healthy Meat Eater

How I Converted From a Vegetarian to a Happy and Healthy Meat Eater

Well, after I saw that video I didn't eat much of anything for quite some time.  It's painfully obvious this little girl is me, just sort of grown up now.  I still "talk" to animals, now I can just blame it on my kids if a rogue neighbor happens to appear in my yard.  Yes.  I was a vegetarian.  I couldn't bring myself to eat an animal that had lived a life in squalor and filth, perhaps never even knowing that sunshine existed.  I have always believed that some animals were created to be consumed.  I believe in the forces of nature and the cycle of life.  I know that animals must one day die, perhaps at the hands of man or another predator.  I just don't know how to justify treating living creatures as objects. I don't know how to enjoy eating something that lived a life of misery.

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Real Easy, 'Big Easy'. Last Minute Mardi Gras!

Real Easy, 'Big Easy'.  Last Minute Mardi Gras!

Even though we are stuck in frigid Indiana this Fat Tuesday, it's kind of like Bourbon Street around here; beverages spilled all over the floor, people with no shirts on, throw up, incomprehensible language, just general melee.  The culprits are all under age 6 so, pretty much the same thing.  No?  I wish I could escape to the "Big Easy", but instead I am going to throw together a real easy last-minute Mardi Gras for my little heathens.  And, BTW, Mardi Gras just means Fat Tuesday in French.  It's kind of a no-brainer.  Kind of like my 5 Steps to a Real Easy, 'Big Easy'... Step 1Everyone put on purple, green, gold, or at least a shirt.

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"One of Those Days" Leads to One of Those Nights...

Warning:  Zombie typing on computer... Many of you were in contact with me yesterday via text, and it seems I was not alone in having "one of those days".  Something about a 2 hour delay here in blustery Central Indiana just seemed to set everyone's day off on the wrong boot.  After a real adventure-of-a-day, I decided I better get to bed early to avoid having anything else ridiculous happen.  The last thing I thought about before lights out at 9:00pm was a sleepless night I had back in October of 2013.  I chuckled to myself, "Hah. Good thing I don't have to worry about nights like that anymore!" Not so fast lady...

I was up. all. night.  People were crying, laughing in their sleep, coming into my room to tell me they had to pee.  The wind was howling as the Polar Vortex settled over the Midwest and created a "monster" noise here in our new house(we've checked and have yet to find a beast of any kind chained in the basement.)  Babies were beating on their cribs with pacis, people needed re-tucked in. Again.  I was starving around 3am.  So on and so forth...

Funny how things work out!  Just when I am confident I have a cozy deep slumber ahead of me, life has other plans.  This is that night from long ago which originally appeared on another blog I used to write pregnantcrazylady.wordpress.com  I don't update it anymore since I am no longer pregnant.  Still crazy though.  Read if you dare.  Just don't jinx yourself like I did.

Good Night and Good Luck.  Good Luck Sleeping.

October 15, 2013

Aaaaahhhh, bedtime.  A warm bath, a little story, a quiet song.  The children nestled all snug in their beds.

Yeah, well it’s nothing like that at my house.  It’s more like someone is face down on the floor refusing to go potty one last time and the other someone is scrubbing toothpaste all over the hallway since I didn’t put enough on their toothbrush.

Eventually they do fall asleep and stay asleep.  I feel very fortunate to usually be the only mouse about the house, most nights.  I believe I have established a beneficial bedtime routine.   Which I feel I have the  maturity level to actually handle like a responsible adult.  Others may disagree.  Since my bladder is under assault right now from a very active little boy or girl, I start my evening routine by eliminating most liquids after 6pm.  I eat a healthy dinner.  Light candles.  Go for a walk.  Unwind with some television.  20 minutes of relaxing yoga poses.  Lightly spray my sheets with lavender.  Say my prayers.  Read briefly.  And out I go.  And then up I go.  To the bathroom.  But some nights, it’s not just the loo calling my name.  Here is what happened last night during the wee hours…

10:45pm Lay down in bed.

10:46pm Open my book to read.

10:47pm I’m sound asleep.

11:30pm  I am up for bathroom break #1.

12:30am  Bathroom break #2

1:22am  Quiet “Mommys” coming from Little Brother’s room.  I go in and administer a breathing treatment for his wheezing and asthma symptoms that have been acting up.

2:49am  “It hurt!!!!!  It hurts!!!!”  coming from Little Brother’s room.  I run in his room assuming he has a dresser or ceiling fan laying across him.  Nope.  He is just laying in a pool of pee.  I change his sheets as quickly as my carpo tunnel fingers will let me.  He sits there watching me drop the sheets over and over.  An older man would assume I was drunk, not just a numb-handed zombie.

3:39am  “Hoot.  Hoot.” The giant barn owl my kids were harassing earlier this evening is back to haunt me.  I turn my sound machine up louder, but not too loud.  I wish it could be “too loud”.

4:01am  Bathroom break.  Might as well go in and do Little Brother’s breathing treatment early since I’m up.

4:30am  “MOMMY!!!!!!!!!”  “HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”  Big Brother this time.  He tells me he had a bad dream and that if you “play quietly in your room the sun will actually come up faster”.  Nice try.

4:35am  I nestle myself back in bed and hope I can get a wee bit of slumber before my alarm goes off.

4:44am  “Woof.  Woof”  Not you too dog!  I get up and look at him at the foot of my bed.  He is requesting that I lift him onto the bed even though he has a step stool.  Is there a conspiracy against me?

4:45am  Finally, I hope finally, back in bed next to my snoozing husband.  Did I mention there has been a peacefully snoozing husband this whole time?

6:00am  My alarm goes off.  Shower and head downstairs.  Tiptoe downstairs.  Make kid’s school lunches, unload dishwasher, lay out everyone’s medicine, make coffee, get breakfast ready, start a load of laundry, etc, etc, and so on…

7:23am  Down comes sleeping beauty.  Husband performs an overly dramatic stretch/yawn combination.  I swear he is standing extra close to me, showing off that he doesn’t have dark circles or even a hint of a bag under his eyes.  He scans the kitchen, appears satisfied with himself and asks,

“Did you elbow me last night because I was snoring?”

“Yep.  That’s it.  That’s all that happened last night”.

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Adventures in Decorating...

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"The painters are like magicians!" I concur, Big Brother!  They are indeed!  And these magicians transformed our house with a wave of their magic brushes.  The morning we closed on our new home, Bo and Ramon were already waiting on the front porch, ready to tackle this big job of painting... everything.

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It is always said that "the easiest way to makeover a room is with paint".  True. In theory.  Not so much when there is more pine in a home than there are walls.

Before

Baby Girl and I had a blast putting together our and color pallet.  I'm not so sure the painters were quite as thrilled when they saw my design board.

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The Brothers and I smoothed things over with weekly treats; Jimmy Johns, homemade cookies, and my Dad often stopped by with surprises for the contractors too!  They were, after all, magicians.   First, they began by sanding every inch of trim, door, cabinet, mule post, hand rail, you get the idea.  We pulled up the old 1986 carpet to help speed the process.  Then came primer, and then the paint.

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The Brothers and Baby Girl and I came to the house every day to marvel at the progress.  And little by little the pieces of cocoon fell away, and the transformation was revealed.

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And then... I became obsessed with painting anything I could get my hands on.  Brick, air vents, old vases, brass, even bar stools from Target weren't safe.  I was often seen aimlessly wandering the house with a can of Rustoleum Oil-Rubbed Bronze in my hand, hunting for my next victim.

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The kids had fun new activities, like... sanding and priming.

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A little leftover paint and some fun distressing transformed these $15 Target bar stools...

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Then I locked myself in the pantry to paint it.  Literally.  They were installing carpet and kept walking by with roll after roll of materials.  So, I spent my afternoon in a tiny little closet full of sticky August air and paint fumes.  Totally healthy, I'm sure.

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It was a whirlwind summer!  We would actually grow bored if we weren't expecting the carpenter, plumber, electrician, carpet guys, granite guys, painters, or anyone from Lowes.  It was quite the adventure.  Common things heard echoing through these halls... "How are we going to fit the oven in? We are going to have to cut that granite!"

"Why are you closing the garage door on the minivan?"

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"How many men does it take to move a concrete block onto a trailer?"

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"Ummmm, why doesn't the dryer even turn on?  It's brand new right?"

"You expect me to poop in this bathroom?  There isn't even a door!  What kind of house did you and Daddy buy?"

Never dull.  Always fun!  And, always an adventure in progress...

15 Signs You May Not be Ready to Have Kids...

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15.  You say things like, "I don't think we could make it there by noon on Saturday.  That's a little too early." 14.  You like your house to be clean and organized.

13.  It takes you a while to realize that when your sister said 3 different people needed her assistance last night, at varying intervals, covered in their own feces, she wasn't on a shift at a nursing home.

12.  You believe that Pottery Barn Kid's diaper changing tables are so expensive because they actually change the baby's diaper for you.

11.  You are confused to find out that you really can't take a baby into a bar.

10.  You see a haggard-looking woman with 2 kids in their pajamas and another screaming on the curb outside the grocery store and believe that she is homeless.

9.  You think a case of diapers costs less than a case of beer.

8.  You are not aware that there is a chance that words like "cervix", "mucous plug", and "hooter hider" may be part of your daily conversation.

7.  You think that when your friends-with-kids say they "Had a blast in Disney World!" that they are joking.

6.  When you hear others complaining about potty training issues with their 3-year-old, you boast how you had your dog potty trained in 3 weeks.

5.  You enjoy sitting down with your family and friends for a meal without screaming, crying, child-wrangling, cleaning peas out of bodily crevices, or vomit.

4.  You think only surgeons are capable of pulling a craft fuzzball out of a toddler's nose with tweezers, while scanning through the DVR.

3.  You have mailed holiday cards with your pet in an outfit on more than 4 occasions.

2.  You occasionally park in the "Expecting Mothers" spot at the store, stuff a sweater in your shirt, and run inside to buy vodka.

1.  You enjoy sleeping.

Post15Signs

Before and After - The Bar.

A few moments inside my head upon truly getting to see our new home for the first time after a lightning quick "showing-offer-bidding competition-accepted" situation... "This kitchen has 2 ovens!!!  Wait.  What is that?  That isn't an oven is it?  Is that a microwave?  Is this the movie set for Sixteen Candles?

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Can we get rid of that oven?  What I would really like is a little bar area?  Like a little Butler's Pantry.  Maybe a book-case, a place for drinks, and beer.  Y'know, something I would actually use.  Definitely not that microwave.  I think I will donate it to the Indiana Historical Society."

So,we talked to our trim carpenter, Jerry Sawyer.  Even though he already gave us a great quote and has an amazing reputation, I had to definitely say yes when Baby Girl let him hold her and she smiled.  This is opposed to her usual reaction to, well, pretty much everybody... ferocious screaming.  With the stealth of a professional jigsaw artist, Jerry had dreamed up a plan and before we knew it, kitchen demo was under way.

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The microwave and oven was removed.  A book-case was put in its place.  Bo, our painter patched the drywall.  'Yours truly' removed the glorious linoleum flooring that lines every. single. shelf. in the entire kitchen.  After a good 20 minutes hacking away at the top shelf linoleum with a putty knife, I decided that the tiles throughout the rest of the kitchen cabinets would remain and be hidden beneath new shelf liner paper.  I had run out of elbow grease.

 Linoleum in a cabinet???

Linoleum in a cabinet???

Next came new counter tops.  New wall and cabinet paint(more on all these transformations later).  And to complete my vision, Jerry made a wine rack to fill the vacant top cabinet and hung stemware.

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Voila!  A new bar/butler's pantry!

 After!

After!

Complete with a bookcase full of breakable decor items for Baby Girl to destroy.  As long as she doesn't hurt my "Chinese Lucky Cat", (Maneki-neko) from my days working for PF Changs.  It has brought much luck to me in 6 kitchens across the country.  We pray this is the cucina where it retires.

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Cheers!

 Before

Before

 After!

After!

Before and After... The Fireplace

When you picture a brick fireplace, one likes to envision a roaring fire, a cozy hearth, stockings awaiting St. Nicholas on Christmas Eve. "That fireplace looks like poop."

Ok.  So not that.

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Well, that was just a 3 year old's opinion.  Having not had the pleasure to experience the home styling circus that was the 80's, you can't really blame him for his comment.  The fireplace itself is not bad at all.  With a little vision, and a few supplies... it can time travel to the present day!

Mission:  Whitewash the brick

Supplies:  White paint, water, bucket, paintbrush, rags, baby wipes(best for fixing an oops), painter's tape(if you're messy), sponge, paint stick, cold beer(optional).

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Time to Completion:  2 hours

Step 1 - Dilute paint with water.  I used Benjamin Moore's White Dove which was our enamel color.  I used a 2/3 paint, 1/3 water mixture.  This can be adjusted depending on what kind of coverage you would like.  All brick is different and will absorb much of the paint.  Please test a portion of the brick before you go crazy painting!  You can always add more coats of the paint solution, but you can't go back.

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Shutter2

Step 2 - Brush the white wash solution on the clean brick.  Since the solution will absorb quickly, I worked with about a 4-6 brick section at a time.  Brush over the mortar in each section first, then lightly paint over each brick.

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Shutter3

Step 3 - "Wash" the brick.  Use a damp paint rag or old T-shirt to wash over the bricks until you reach the white wash look you desire.

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Step 4 - Repeat Steps 2 & 3 until you are done.  You may choose to do additional coats.

  • Use more water or less solution to achieve a more "rustic" look.  Or apply heavier solution sporadically in sections to achieve a more weathered appearance.
  • You can color-wash too!  It doesn't have to be a white wash.  Grey looks amazing, light green tones, you name it!  Just be cognizant of your brick tone when choosing a color-wash.

So, now the AFTER...

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And, the happily ever after...

 Before

Before

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Live by the Season! A Guest Post.

My friend and neighbor, Sara Sterley, shared this helpful guide to gardening basics last year and I want to revisit it this summer as we prepare to move to a new home with a flourishing vegetable garden!  Her green thumb can help my muddled one maintain the beautiful garden I will be responsible for.  I am sure the plants are very nervous!  Her knowledge and expertise of seasonal eating, preserving, and sustainable living is beyond valuable!  Visit her website, www.sarabytheseason.com for amazing tips and recipes and be sure to take the time to enjoy some "real food" this summer!   You can find additional resources on this amazing blog...http://gracegarden.wordpress.com

Gardening Basics

by Sara Sterley

I’ve been one of those tree-hugger hippy types for as long as I can remember. I made my parents compost our kitchen scraps growing up, I go around collecting recyclables from trash cans, and I cringe at the sight of plastic water bottles. I’m a woman of many causes. My friends know better than to get me started, and my poor husband will definitely be rewarded with a very special gold star upon entering Heaven for putting up with me.

But, really, the one thing that I think every single person should do is to plant a garden. It doesn’t take much, but growing even one tomato plant’s worth of your own food is a truly revolutionary act if you care about preserving and conserving this Earth for your children. You don’t want to miss out on a chance to be a rebel, right?

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So, because I love lists, here my top five tips for beginner gardeners:

  1. Just plant something. Even if all you have the time, space, or energy for is one small pot in the windowsill, just do it. Plant a bush bean from seed (so easy) or a compact tomato plant or a jalapeno pepper.  Here is a helpful guide to help you decide when and how you should plant various plants in Indiana. Check your local extension office if you’re outside of Indiana. Just plant something!
  2. Start small. Gardening is so simple: put a seed/plant in some dirt in a sunny spot and water it every once in a while. But it can also get quite complicated, especially when you start reading what all of the “experts” say. So keep it simple. Plant just one thing this year and see how that goes. Add to it next year, and the next.
  3. Get your kids involved. Our three-year-old helps us plant, water, and weed. The kale seeds he planted came up all in one giant mound all together, and yesterday he pulled a bean plant that he thought was a weed. So I want promise that the kiddos will do the gardening thing well, but that’s one of my favorite things about gardening: you can’t really screw it up completely. Our little guy will try anything that comes out of the garden, so there’s that too.
  4. Plant stuff that you like to eat. Now that we’re a little more experienced at the gardening thing, we venture out and plant some crazy varieties of stuff, but in the beginning, you need some confidence, so plant what you know that your family will eat. Here are some easy varieties to start off with. For beginners, I’d recommend buying tomato and pepper plants, especially at this point in the season.
  5. Ask questions (or Google). Gardener types love to talk gardening, so make friends with one and ask for their advice. Or if you’d rather not, just Google your questions. There is so much (free and decent) information out on the interwebs (stick with the more well-known sources if you’re nervous, like Organic Gardening, Vegetable Gardener, or BHG).

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I hope you’re motivated to just plant one thing this year – it’s not too late. My favorite writer is Wendell Berry (read everything he has ever written), and I’ll leave you with his far more eloquent words:

"A person who undertakes to grow a garden at home, by practices that will preserve rather than exploit the economy of the soil, has set his mind decisively against what is wrong with us. He is helping himself in a way that dignifies him and is rich in meaning and pleasure. But he is doing something else that is more important; He is making vital the contact with the soil and the weather on which his life depends. He will no longer look upon rain as a traffic impediment, or upon the sun as a holiday decoration."

-Wendell Berry

Guest Blog by Sara Sterley

www.sarabytheseason.com

http://gracegarden.wordpress.com/