Friday, January 21, 2011

I L ? ? E You

In high school I had a boyfriend who would send me notes on graph paper and in each one there would be one written portion that was the same:

"I L ? ? E You

This "relationship" didn't last long.
Two weeks into the graph paper note love/like affair, he decided my endeavor to Australia that upcoming Summer would leave him too lonely for three weeks & I decided that this clearly wasn't worth it.
As I lay awake thinking about what God's been telling me to move on in my life in the last 72 hours, I remembered this toying two week relationship that existed over a decade ago.

It became clear to me as I pictured those old hand written notes that my God will never make me question how he feels about me. He doesn't fill the Bible with doubt, confusion, and strings. He's not asking me to earn his love or fulfill Him. He's not saying if I stray, I can't come home.

He is like NO Human Relationship on this Earth.

He says,
No questions & no games.
He loves me!
He loves You!

Monday, January 17, 2011

How To Make Vanilla Extract

I've been holding off on this post for awhile since this was our Christmas gift to our Family this year: 30 bottles of home made vanilla extract!
We really wanted to do something for everyone and with a limited budget, we wanted what we did to be home made and usable.
This fit the ticket at about $6.00 per bottle.
You'll be able to find tons of "how to make vanilla" resources online but I thought, why not add one more? ;)

Cooking Shears (or clean scissors)
Vanilla Beans
Vodka (Costco: Sky Vodka is $20 per bottle. I needed 2)
Glass Bottles with Lids

Step 1:
-Cut each vanilla been in half
-Cut each half down the middle to tip of stem leaving about 1/2 to 1 inch at the end
*make sure each bean is left connected at one end

Step 2:
-Divide the split vanilla beans amongst the bottles
(I put 4 half, split beans in each bottle)
-Pour the vodka over the split beans through the funnel
-Seal & Shake
-Store in a cool, dry place
*Allow extract to cultivate for 2 months taking the bottles out to shake them a couple of times during their fermenting process.

And so you've done it!

In 2 months, you'll go from this:

To this:If you want to know some alternative uses for vanilla, check this out, too!

And one last little tip:
Have your labels printed through a professional printer and on water-resistant paper to prevent the drips from usage ruining the look of your gift!Enjoy!

Saturday, January 15, 2011


"You know, when you have kids, if you have kids, there's something you should know--very confusing thing they don't tell you. You see so much of yourself in them. You see your ironic take on the world. You see your smile, your walk, your sense of humor, whatever--and you think they're you but they're not you and they shouldn't have all of your baggage and your fear and your insecurity and your life experience because that's not fair--they have their own." ~Parenthood

This quote from the show Parenthood's episode, "Meet The New Boss," struck me. It also stuck with me through a few conversations this week and a few stolen moments to look within.

I have a beautiful "baby" boy. He came into my life two and half years ago and changed how I saw the world and what I did in it. Everything my husband and I work so hard for became about him. What could we give him? And I don't mean what toys, clothes, or material items could we fill his closet with, I mean, what opportunities could we afford him? How could we pave a road for him that would take the best of where we had been and improve upon the worst of what we'd walked and give that to him?
As his mother, it haunts me in both beautiful and breaking ways.

I grew up in a house of three and while I may have two siblings, you would never know we were raised in the same home--ever.
My life experiences included getting my first job at 16, buying my own car, taking out loans for school (even though my mom & step dad helped so much), working through college, renting a room in my parents home when I graduated from college.
Their life experiences included getting their first jobs in their twenties, being given car(s), having college paid for, living rent free.
I know this sounds like whining but what it is is an acknowledgment of gratitude that I was taught to stand on my own but it also became a marker for: I will do things differently.

My husband and I grew up in two different worlds.
While I was not given everything, I was exposed to a lot. I had opportunities that he didn't.
In our five years of marriage we have shaken out the good and bad of both of our roots and while I still may believe College is a must and he considers it to be an option amongst many for our son, our desire is to give our son a foot up in this world.
Our dream is that he won't enter marriage with an unbelievable amount of debt from chasing dreams, independence, and miseducation. Our dream is he will be set up for success.

I watched the show this week and I heard the quote above and I froze a bit and I heard myself think,
"I am trying to correct what went wrong and hand him the best of what my life has been so far and he's only two."

I talked with a co-worker this week and our kids came up and she admitted, "I can't afford more than two," and I thought, "Can I even afford my one? Can I afford the dreams I have for him?" --the dreams that are really about me.

I watched Oprah this week and the "Octamom" episode and I went from judging her to criticizing myself. Providing for your children is just NOT easy. We parents love like mad and dream big but I know that what I need right now is a step back because I'm missing something.

I'm working my @$$ off in the name of provision and I'm gridlocked: I don't know how to give more and I don't know how to give less. My truest of all hopes is that I, every day, will learn a little more about how to keep my baggage, my fear, my insecurity, and my anxiety far from imposing it on him. He deserves his road and I should be his number one fan and encourager handing him the tools along the way.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Here's the thing about parents,
they're human.
Why does it suck so much to realize this?

Perhaps because we grow believing they are infallible, or because their love defines us, or because their belief in us can make us.
Whatever the reason is, growing up means learning more truths than we want to.
Not only do we learn that Santa is just a myth and the Easter bunny would actually be a terrifying thing to run into, but we learn that our parents aren't perfect. They don't just teach us things we want to be, but they also teach us the things we don't want to be.When I first got married five years ago, you couldn't convince me the way I was raised and the truths I held were anything but the right way.
I battled within my marriage to establish what my traditions were as our traditions.
I had beliefs that how I grew up was normal and correct.
I wanted to repeat most of it.

Two years later, both my husband and I started to let our walls down: maybe our parents didn't have it all right. Maybe there was some crazy in there we wanted to abandon and we lay awake asking each other, what was the good we wanted to take with us?
And now--after the years of my childhood traditions have all but disintegrated and I've walked through the traditions that were my husbands, we face each other and admit:
It sorta sucks to grow up.

More and more we realize, ain't nobody else really done gone an' matter except for the three of us at the end of the day: Me, the man, and the babe.
No one should come between us, no one should be allowed to break our dreams, no one can rob us of any joy unless we hand it over, and we can't change a thing about who our families are. We can take what we like, discard what we don't, and add a little bit of our own.

I think the only truly hard pill to swallow about it all is knowing...
one day, my son will also look at what was his parents best and say,
"It's not the best for me."
Because that's truth and it's right and good and factual.
We should always want a little more, try a little bit harder, and do a little bit better than those that came before us.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Word

I've been mulling over this idea of a word.
A word that defines your outlook for a year you can't predict.
A word that defines a goal, a projection, an anticipation.
The power of that ONE word and it's weight looms heavily and circles my thoughts.
Last year, I went in to 2010 with one word.
That word was INTENTION.
In the wake of a rough start, I wanted to pursue the year with passion-- with INTENTION.
I feel like I succeeded...for six months, and then I bottomed out.
I feel like I succeeded in one breath and failed in another.
My intention for choosing a word last year was because I felt that lists didn't work but one motivational thought could inspire and direct.
I can't seem to find that word this year.
Or--I can, but I just don't want to adopt that word.
It actually keeps haunting me, coming back to me, poking me between the ribs but to be honest, the word feels like too much work.
Ever feel like that?
Like you just don't want to take on more work?

Oh, life, what do you want from me this year?
Actually, what do I want from YOU?!