Grove Collaborative Giveaway: All the Good Stuff

 

It’s spring!  And, for some people – certain kinds of people, you know – spring means deep cleaning and airing out the bedding.

I’m not really one of those people.

But, living in a home with a half dozen humans, a dog and a new kitten (apparently) and a host of friends here and there, sometimes I have to sort of clean things up around here.  And if I am going to clean, I want to halfway enjoy the process and for me – that means using products that smell good and look pretty.  (Trust me, pleasing aromas and cute bottles go a long way toward motivating me.)

The Grove Collaborative is simply an online store that provides the supplies for getting the jobs done – also the supplies for necessary items like toothpaste and deodorant and shampoo and you name it.

 

 

The way it works is this:  

You sign up (and today’s deal is THE perfect time to sign up) on the website, and you fill your cart with stuff you want.  The box of goodies arrives at your door in the usual delivery style fashion that we’ve all grown accustomed to.  Each month you’ll get an email reminding you that you can reorder anything you’re out of, or anything new, and it will come to you.  If you need a new order before the month is up, go for it.  If you don’t need anything when your shipment date arrives, just log onto the website and push your order back a month – or two, or six, whatever works for you then.  (They’ll send you plenty of email reminders so all you have to do is read your email and respond appropriately.)

Here’s why I use Grove:

  • It’s a good deal on stuff I already buy.  (Prices are lower than Target’s, which is where I usually buy my Mrs.Meyer’s products.  And where I usually waste money buying stuff I just don’t need – I’m looking at you, Dollar Spot.)
  • It’s so incredibly convenient.  (I haven’t run out of dish detergent or hand soap or dish soap or sponges since I started using Grove Co. a few years ago.)
  • It’s one less thing I have to think about and plan for and take care of.  (The work of remembering is already being done for me.)
  • Their customer service is actually the best.  (They are speedy in responses and really nice and eager to help.  That’s unusual and I appreciate it.)
  • When I don’t need an order for the month I can easily skip it.  (They remind me routinely through emails and I’ve never been surprised by receiving a box full of stuff I forgot to cancel.  Unlike that CD club I joined back in college and I kept ending up with CDs I never wanted and never listened to.  What was that club called anyway?  It was harder to get out of than prison.  I think.  I don’t know.)

I mainly stick to my orders of soaps and sponges and dish soap and toilet bowl cleaner, but I’ve branched out over the last year and tried shaving cream and face lotion and sunscreen and laundry stain remover and I can’t even remember what else.  I’ve never been displeased.

I love it.  For real.

This month’s giveaway is a good one – it covers all the basics and is pretty much a sampling of what I always have on hand at my house.  (You have until Sunday to make your big decision and receive this deal!)

 

 

Here’s what you get:

  • Mrs. Meyer’s Hand Soap
  • Mrs. Meyer’s Dish Soap
  • Mrs. Meyer’s Multi Surface Spray
  • Grove Collaborative Bubble Up
  • Free Shipping & 60 Day VIP Trial

If you are already an existing customer, let’s be honest, the deals are never quite as exciting.  However, you do still get something for free as a bonus!

And, actually, this month it is a product I use every.single.day — Grove Walnut Scrubber Sponges.  Once upon a time my friend Rhonda told me to try these (after she tried them through my link here!).  I tossed out whatever I used before and became a die hard fan of these scrubbers.  They never stink.  It’s just true.  And they last a long time.  I use mine until the thicker brown side wears down and then I toss it and get a new one.

Order here:

 

Also a reminder:

Now, these offers today really are all free.  But, as others have pointed out before, on your first Grove order, you will be asked to purchase a certain amount of other items to add to your cart.  So, again, these items are completely free, but your entire order is not completely free.  (Just like to be up front about these little details.)  You can choose whatever you want to buy of course.  I’m pretty confident there’s something on the website that you buy regularly and could use a restock of.  Or – something that you want to try.  You need to buy $20 worth of products to get your FREE stash listed above.

 

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sunday reflections . . .

 

Once a year our church holds an outdoor service in May.  It’s loud and sometimes it’s hot (although today it was chilly by turns) and the field is slam packed full of people on blankets and in camping chairs and you have to arrive early if you’d like a chance to park in the actual parking lot.

And every year I am so glad I attend this particular service.

People get baptized periodically all throughout the year at church but at this service there is usually a larger number of baptisms.

For a person who really likes words, I don’t know why but I always get a bit tongue-tied when I try to explain what exactly it is that I love about watching baptisms take place.

I believe that baptism is a sign.  A symbol.  It’s about something more than water and going under.  It’s not a salvation in the act itself and it can’t magically rescue you or heal your wounds.

But it’s still pretty incredible.

It’s important.  This picture of an inward change.  A external picture of an internal transition.  A sign.  A proclamation.

An identifying with Jesus.

It’s beautiful to witness and I’m never not moved by what I see.

I always think to myself, “Well, I won’t cry today.  There’s no reason for that.”  And then.  I always cry.

The outdoor service is a good one to let the tears flow unchecked, however, because it’s so bright outside that I’m wearing sunglasses and then no one can see the tears anyway.  (Maybe I’ll start wearing sunglasses indoors too.  That won’t be weird at all.  I’m old enough for that to  just be eccentric – right?)

The baptisms were varied – as they usually are.  Young children, teenagers, grown ups, college students.  A dear friend’s son.  An entire family of five.  (You can imagine that one really had me.  What a sweet memory – your entire family baptized on the same day.)  An adopted daughter.  I especially sense the rise of the tender feelings when I watch the children look into the eyes of their daddies as their parent undertakes this lovely and humbling honor and responsibility to stand side by side in the water with their children and declare life from death, hope from sorrow.

My family sat on our blanket in the field beside a group of ladies from an addiction recovery program in our town called Renewal.  Several women in the program were being baptized and the response from their friends on the blankets beside us was overwhelming and enthusiastic.  Shouts and cheers and there was a time that sort of overflow would have embarrassed me.  Not any longer.  Instead, it reminds me of what I am so quick to forget.

Recovery and hope are always worth celebrating.  

Ending self-destructive habits and patterns and claiming a rebirth is cheer-worthy.  It’s something we should all get loud about.

I leaned over to the sweet lady on my right and whispered in her ear, “I loved sitting here beside you today.  Your joy is beautiful.”

It’s beautiful for a child to stand on a stage and to say, “I can not ever recall not knowing about Jesus.”  And it’s beautiful for a young lady to say, “I was lost and desperate, addicted and alone.  And Jesus met me there.”  To hear a college student profess, “I am not the man I once was.”  And a former lawyer turned addict confess, “I was always in the driver’s seat.  There was no room in my life for Jesus.  And now that is no longer true.”  For an eleven year old to say, “My parents taught me to love Jesus from the time I was born.”

There are all these paths to hope.

And each one ebbs and flows in a different manner and when the myriad of trails and journeys merged together in that one baptism pool today, it was breath taking.

 

If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.

– C.S. Lewis

 

 

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Five Finds (potty humor & ill fitting t-shirts & irresistible creatures)

 

It’s Friday!

And it’s oddly cold in SC – but I am not complaining because it gives me an excuse to pull out the flannel shirt for another day.

This weekend promises to be as pleasant and as full as this week has been and that’s worth a high five or two.

 

 

funny

 

Piper came home from theatre camp last month or so singing a new version of the “My Little Pony” theme song.

It’s ridiculous and loaded with potty humor and of course, the occupants of my home found it endlessly amusing.  (They taught it to their friends.  It’s possible that their friends’ mother thought it less amusing.  Great – now I have those kids.)

For Bergen Hawkeye’s birthday present, London put her artistic skills to the test and drew a rendering of the altered theme song.  (Please sing it in your mind as you read it.)

 

 

Of course I have already framed it and hung it on the wall.

I guess if my kids are going to be those kids, I might as well be that mom.

 

fashionable

 

Leon’s shirt was really cool.  It said —  “It’s okay to not be okay.”

Jane found it online for me.

 

 

Turns out it’s FORTY dollars and the neck is extra …. open.

So I’m pretty sure I won’t be purchasing one from that website.

Also – there’s just something off about the entire cut of this shirt AND the ad for this shirt.  Or maybe that’s just me.

 

flavorful

 

Have I shared the dutch baby recipe before?

And why is any food called a “dutch baby”?

 

Photo by Emma Joersz

 

I don’t know but it’s SO delicious and cute and sort of like performance art, for food.

It’s simple to make but it looks impressive as it fills and puffs up in the oven and then crashes down in cool wrinkles when you take it out of the oven.  (You can flavor it differently too and experiment a little.)

Then you top it with homemade whipped cream and strawberries and a drizzle of the real deal maple syrup and — oh my word –it’s a treat.

 

 

Photo by Emma Joersz

 

faithful

 

This song about kids growing up and all of that feels like my anthem for my girls right now …..

 

 

All the cliches about how fast kids grow are true
I woke up this morning eye to eye with you
The love songs and adages couldn’t explain the whole
Of all you’re becoming, body and soul

Your heart goes out I can hear your song
Your signal is getting stronger, your signal is getting strong
There’s no cliche when I hear your song
Your signal is getting stronger, your signal is getting strong

Many cliches about living this life are true
The path is worn but for us it’s new
There’s no way to know it without discovery
Marking our missteps with mercy

Your heart goes out I can hear your song
Your signal is getting stronger, your signal is getting strong
There’s no cliche when I hear your song
Your signal is getting stronger, your signal is getting strong

Yeah its all been said
But don’t be afraid
To throw back your head
And sing anyway

Your heart goes out I can hear your song
Your signal is getting stronger, your signal is getting strong
There’s no cliche when I hear your song
Your signal is getting stronger, your signal is getting strong

All the cliches about how much I love you are true
As big as the sky and up to the moon
A million a zillion, infinity plus one

 

feels

 

What is my problem?

When someone says “Hey, this kitten needs a home – we found it abandoned on the side of the road” it seems as if I think there is only one response.

Something like this — “Okay, I’ll take it home.”

 

 

 

 

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When Work Is Play and Play Is Work

 

This has been a week full of fun work events.  

First, there was our morning with Leon Logothetis from The Kindness Diaries.

 

 

When I had my phone interview with Leon, at the end of our interview, right before hanging up and doing my embarrassing-to-my-daughter cheer, I told the English chap that I only had one last question.

“Great,” he says.  “Let’s hear it.”

And then I asked, “Well, we have some friends here in our town who embody kindness, the sort of kindness that you travel across the world and promote.  And these friends own a restaurant.  They sell crepes.  Leon, can my kids and I buy you a crepe for breakfast when you are in town?”

He laughed.  A good hearty chuckle.

“Oh, absolutely.  I would love to eat a crepe with you all,” he said.  (And he called them “crepps”.)

 

 

So, Monday morning the kids and I – and Jane and Walter and Hannah – met Leon and his agent Erick at Tandem and enjoyed a lovely little breakfast together.  I suggested he order the Lumberjack with a fried egg on top.  He did not regret my decision.  Breakfast chatter was amiable.  Piper had her questions loaded and ready to fire.  He approved of the name choices my children all have and he even liked my t-shirt choice.  (I felt it appropriate to wear this shirt to breakfast.)  We discussed life and tattoos and travel and I also liked the quote on his t-shirt.

 

 

After breakfast we headed over to City Hall where we gathered with a good showing of people from TR and listened to Leon talk about his show and his life and his story.

 

 

 

After that exciting morning we headed back home where we cleaned our house, Bergen fought against fractions, London baked more scones and the kids played with frogs.  Or toads.

Jane swung by the house and asked the kids if anyone would go play outside for a few minutes because she thought the weather and the sky were perfect for photos and she had an idea.

Apparently only Bergen and I felt like running in the yard.  I wanted to show Jane my somewhat recently acquired skill of a single-handed cartwheel, but I was not dressed appropriately for showing off.

Instead the not-quite-a-teenager boy and I ran through the field.

 

 

Jane is such a fun photographer and that boy of mine is such a joy-seeker.

That was a good day.

Second cool work thing is this — Long before I ever heard of my new buddy Leon and his yellow motorcycle, I was sitting in college, I think,  (!) watching the first of its kind, a silly reality TV show that took a bunch of complete strangers and put them on an island together and the last one who made it to the end of all the games and all the challenges and all the voting out, was declared the winner of a million dollars and the sole Survivor.

And I’ve been watching this show, in its many consecutive seasons, ever since.  We’ve had weekly Survivor parties for years upon years.  When I was directing the theatre program at a high school in Virginia we had an annual Cast vs. Crew Party after the show closed in the style of Survivor.  I’ve never missed a season.

I’m not saying whether that is a praise-worthy truth or a cringe-worthy truth, I’m just saying it is the truth.

I think it’s safe to say – I’m a fan.

And today, I sat on my sofa in my house chatting with my friend Leslie, who happens to have once upon a time been a castaway on Survivor,   (China, if you’re keeping track) and we set out a plan for TravelersRestHere to promote a gigantic fundraiser that Leslie is hosting next week here in TR featuring a handful of her Survivor fellow castaways!

 

 

Ya’ll – how fun is that?

Isn’t life just comical?

You can read all the specific details on Travelers Rest Here.  The cause is a wonderful cause – Give Kids the World, a resort in Florida that gives week long vacations to kids with terminal illnesses.  And next weekend the kids and I get to meet the Survivor castaways and spend the day doing exercise events with them, eating pizza and playing Survivor style games right here in our town!

Who knew owning a website could be so much fun?

If you are a fan too, you should totally come visit me next weekend and hang out wth all of my new Survivor friends!

 

 

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How To Afford Adventure (When You Don’t Have a Fat Income)

 

There was a time, a very tiny sliver of a window of time, after college and before the onslaught of adoptions and births, that I was living in a two income, two full time employed people, home.  Two incomes is a pretty sweet deal.  Especially when the two incomes were both fair and generous and the debt ratio was nearly nil and the tiny home we were renting was quite the deal and our expenses were oh-so-low.

During that time we could easily afford to travel – and we sometimes did.  That was the year we made it to my only trip leaving the country (just barely) – Cancun, Mexico.  There are endless stories from this (mis)adventure we took with two friends.  A pink convertible VW beetle we rented.  The world’s most unfortunate sunburn I have ever received.  Parasailing.  Gigantic cockroaches.  Street bartering, a skill I do not possess nor do I enjoy.  A terrible decision to let someone braid my hair in those minuscule tight and painful braids.  (Directly before the sunburn situation.)  Accidentally discovering we were on a nude beach.  (Populated entirely by an elderly demographic.)

Shortly after that two income home situation, we left North Carolina and moved back to Virginia where we taught school and adopted babies and gave birth to babies and lost all of our income and all of our privacy and perhaps a great deal of our sanity.

Therefore, most of my adult life, adventures and vacations and journeys have had to be creatively financed.

It’s a skill set that I have developed over the many years of not usually having a free flow of spending money for extras.

And now, of course, with five children who eat as if they were thirteen grown men, and with there being no more free flights for under two or kids under 6 eat for free, it’s even more important to look for ways to make travel affordable.

 

 

I could always just choose to stay home.

(And I really like home, so it’s not as if that is a punishment.)

Growing up for a lot of my childhood on a dairy farm, our family stayed local pretty much always.  You think finding pet care for your dog is tricky when you head to the beach, try finding someone to milk eighty cows twice a day.  As a child, I had zero appreciation for that aspect of the equation.  I just knew I wanted to go to the coast or to the mountains or to my cousin Sherry’s house.  Anywhere, really.  Sometimes my mom would drive us to visit family by the shore and we liked that, but usually she just took myself and one brother, leaving Dad and my two older brothers to hold the fort down.  And keep the cows from bursting.

As the pendulum sometimes swings in the next generation, I hold vacations and adventures to be a priority and it’s important to me to make time and money for us to leave our home and strike out into the great wide open.

And that presents a challenge to ye old bank account.

Stuff just costs money.  Gas is pricey.  (Especially in a ride like ours.)  Lodging is outrageous.  Food prices can get out of hand in a hurry. Five burgers for five kids at a theme park costs more than our math curriculum for the entire year.  (This is not an exaggeration.)  Let’s not even talk about the cost of one admission fee to said theme park.

I am not a fan of debt, even though I think family excursions are deeply valuable.  I don’t think a good trip should mean your son can’t buy new shoes or your daughter can’t afford the math tutor she needs.

I do think, however, that there are some compromises worth making.  And this might be just where you find your pocket of money to be able to afford next summer’s trip if it matters that much to you.  Playing team sports adds up in a hurry.  Perhaps one year everyone steps back from the baseball diamond and you visit the Grand Canyon that spring break instead.  When you pitch the idea just right and you get your gang on board, you might find your kids are more than happy to delay their gratification in one area for a season to have a memorable experience with their family.

Here’s a few other ideas.

Credit Card Points.  IF you are responsible with credit card debt and IF you pay off your cards every single month, this is a fantastic way to pay for bits and pieces of your travel costs.  This is a major way that I personally use.  I pay for pretty much every single thing that I can on my card and pay it off immediately and store up those points all year long to pull them out of hiding for a trip.  You can use your points to cover flights, car rentals or hotel stays.  It takes a LOT for me to get enough to afford six plane tickets so I mainly focus instead on using these points for hotel stays on the road.  But it’s super helpful and takes a giant chunk out of our expenses as I find lodging to be the priciest part of a vacation.

Use What You Have.  In other words, think of your own particular skill set.  Can you trade work for tickets or gift cards?  You know you better than I do.  Creativity is king.  Think outside the typical – rent a beach house and go on vacation – ideas.  (Not that I don’t value the beach house rental.  I love that too.)  For me, this has been through writing.  On every vacation we’ve taken since I started the blog probably a decade ago (!!) I have bartered with companies, restaurants, inns, tourist spots, rental agencies, you name it.  I offer to write a review in exchange for tickets or a night’s stay or a deep discount.  All the companies can do is say no.  And plenty do.  But enough say yes to have made this the absolute essential way that I have been able to take frequent adventures as a mom traveling with five kids.  So maybe you don’t have a blog, but you have other valuable skill sets.  Think about using those to barter and share costs in creative ways.  (Maybe your friend has a mountain cabin and you install their kitchen cabinets in exchange for a week’s stay.)

 

 

House Switch.  I have a friend in Nashville and we have kicked around this idea for a while but have yet to actually make it happen.  Trade houses with someone in a spot where you want to vacation.  That way you also have a kitchen and your costs get lower immediately too.  And an added bonus is that your friend knows her hometown and you know your hometown so you can share recommendations.  You might even be able to share special deals or zoo memberships to make each vacation more affordable – and fun, with the insider scoop.

Plan Food Well.  Besides lodging, food can get pretty expensive pretty fast.  The thing is, it shouldn’t be such a big deal, this one.  I mean, if you were not on vacation, you would still be eating food.  So – really, it seems as if food should be a negligible expense.  Your kids are going to be eating at home or at the campsite.  The problem is our expectations.  When we travel, when we take a fun adventure, we expect our food to meet that standard of fun too.  And, as caregivers, we want a vacation from cooking and prepping food.  I get that.  My word, do I ever understand that dilemma.  But I think there are some basic ways around that.  (Maybe this should be its own in-depth blog post later.)  Wth a tiny bit of planning, you can not spend your time cooking, food can still feel vacation-y and like a treat and you can spend about the same amount of money as you would spend on your regular at-home non-vacation grocery budget anyway.

Wait til the Last Minute.  This might make you nervous.  You’ve taken off from work.  You only have this very exact time.  What if this falls through?  Well.  It is a risk.  But there’s usually enough back up plan that the risk is rather limited.  There are so many places with last minute deals that can really save you money.  Now, not everything should be saved tis the last minute.  Certain spots need months-early reservations and you’ll need to do your homework to know if you have to reserve that campsite in Yellowstone a year in advance or not.  But, as for your basic trip to say – the beach – waiting until the last minute might be exactly what saves the day.  The best place to try this last minute plan is the website VRBO.com.  You already know your dates and you wait until about two weeks (or one week if you’re feeling lucky) before you are going to leave.  You pick about three beach houses that are still available your week.  You simply send the owners a kind email saying something like this, “I see your beach home is available next week.  I know it’s last minute, so would you be willing to rent us the home for half the price?”  And you know what, that sounds crazy – right?  Except, they are about to have no one rent their beach house and make zero dollars.  Half of their rental cost sounds far better than zero dollars.  And there you are, suddenly able to afford a beach-front house for the same cost as the house six blocks back because you waited until the last minute.  Now, again – there’s the risk factor.  You could get burned.  You might have to stay in a hotel instead.  But if you are flexible – especially if you don’t mind if you land at Fripp or Savannah or Charleston or Harbor Island, just any coastal town will do, then you really can save a lot of money with this method.

These are just a handful of ways that help make trips possible.  Of course there are plenty of other options – staying near home, visiting relatives, camping, you name it.

If you have any additional tips and tricks, add them in the comments section.

 

 

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the plan we’re living . . .

 

Sometimes I know I can be a sub-par mother.

We continually go to bed without taking the time to change into pajamas.  I forget to have my children brush their teeth, especially in the mornings.  That shower after swimming rule (and shower before swimming rule) has never been enforced strongly at our home.  The kitchen lives in a perpetual state of dishes needing to be loaded, floor needing to be swept.  It’s easy to let things slide when your plate is so very full.  It’s hard to be the only grown up enforcing all the house rules.

 

Photo by Aunt Emma of Paper Story Photo + Design

 

Early on in the Aftermath of the earthquake that shook our home apart, I remember a friend telling me that my life was not suddenly Plan B.  My kids weren’t living the Plan B either.  They were just living The Plan.  I still waver a little on how I see that entirely, on how that breaks down in my own mind.  I do firmly believe in a God who neither instigates nor creates chaos, but who does, in fact, redeem and bring beauty from the broken, the hard, the impossible.

Sometimes I see other families living the life that I wish I was living.

When we visited the ranch last summer I watched the family that lives there.  Husband, wife – looking every bit like a team.  Five children.  Educating as we do.  Living and breathing Colorado mountain air.

I think of being able to give that experience to my children and I feel the familiar pull of emotional pain of What Is Not Possible and I ache a little and I train my heart to trust in a future that includes my present story as the Exact Plan God Will Use To Make Men and Women of my little men and women.

 

Photo by Aunt Emma of Paper Story Photo + Design

 

 

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weekend rambling

 

Here’s what I have for you – weekend thoughts, as discombobulated as my life is.  (And it’s not even been an especially busy weekend or an especially discombobulating couple of days.  Go figure.)

The smell of scones has been ever present for the entire weekend.  (It’s a delicious smell, for certain, but I don’t want to consume any more scones for a while.)

I have encouraged the kids to find ways to earn their own funds for our Beyond Wildwood road trip.  (I guess I’m going with that name, ya’ll.)  London is a handy scone baker and she’s had a little Scout’s Scones business for a couple of years.  She pulls it out of hiding whenever she is in need of money.  It’s strawberry season so strawberry scones are the flavor of the day and she’s whipping up batches left and right.  (I think it’s wonderful how people support young entrepreneurs.  Thank you guys!  Buy the lemonade, people.  Support the kid cooking or baking or crafting her way to being independent.)

 

Photo by (Aunt) Emma Joersz of Paper Story Photo + Design

 

I am getting pretty excited about hitting the road.  This weekend I found out that the kids and I get to fit in a visit to the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado. They look incredible.  Like – you have a river and giant mountains of sand and snow capped mountains behind that.  What?  That’s so very cool!  And – you get to SLED down the sand dunes.  Like we are in an episode of Star Wars or something!  (They probably don’t sled down sand dunes in those movies, do they?  Whatever. I’m still going to channel my inner Princess Leia or Luke Skywalker.  Or Stormtrooper.  Depends how I’m feeling.)

We’ve already planned to partner with Kristi Mountain Sports to rent a few sand boards and sand sleds and tackle the piles of sand any which way we choose.  (We’ve seen these sand dunes in an Okee Dokee Brothers video and that makes us even more excited.)  I’ll be writing a review of the Sand Dunes and the rentals after our trip so I’ll let you know how fantastic it is.  (The kids are discussing which surface will be more difficult to sled on and to land on – snow vs. sand.  What’s your guess?)

I. Cannot. Wait.

 

Photo from the National Park Service

 

Speaking of Star Wars.  I watched one of the movies a week or two ago with my three older kids.  Maybe it was Rogue One?  I don’t know.  I DO know that I fell asleep while watching the movie and I kept waking up and it was just the same thing every time my eyes popped open for a few minutes — weird creatures, fighting, shooting, weird creatures, was there sand?, weird animals, maybe more fighting.  (That’s my official review.  You’re welcome.)

I have been wanting to watch LaLaLand – should I?

This weekend I got to see this wee baby man of a grandson a little bit.  He’s so cute.

 

Photo by (Aunt) Emma Joersz of Paper Story Photo + Design

 

Last night I had the three youngest kids make dinner while London finished her scone factory and Mosely had some other task and I worked.  We ate delicious broccoli, almost done hot dogs, and a blend of two varieties of nacho chips.  (Why two varieties?  I have no idea.  I don’t ask those kind of questions.)  Oh – and a smoothie that was rather thick and extra blueberry.  But hey, I didn’t cook the meal and they were pretty pleased with their efforts and I call that culinary parenting success.

Today we get to meet my new British friend Leon Logothetis.  (I’ll let you know how that goes.  I’m sure we’ll be best friends by the end of the morning.)

The frogs are back and the kids are obsessed and they keep wearing them on their heads and naming them.  Currently there is Ace and Boss and Hungry and Bub and Curious George.  They have a pool made out of a blue mason jar that I did not sanction and they create Olympic-styled games for their amusement.  (They say it’s for the frog’s amusement, but I think we all know who is really being entertained here.)

 

 

We’ve got THREE weeks left of school and everyone at our house has their eyes solidly on the prize of completion and break and sleeping in and No More Numbers.  (I have one child who likes math.  One.)

South Carolina already feels humid and my house that was just so cold last week is now rising in temperature and stickiness and all around general gross feeling.

Happy Spring from the South.

 

 

 

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Five Finds Friday (good and bad drinks and one of my favorite novels)

 

This week has been less speedy, but not less full.  Maybe it was the rain.  The rain sloooooows me down.

I’m sure the boys’ tomato plants are grateful for the rain, but it’s not my favorite thing.

In the end, though, we made it to Friday . . . .

 

 

funny

 

This week we made iced tea for our weekly community dinner.

Everyone had served almost all of the contents of the pitcher into their glasses when I poured the final glass of tea for Otto.  Setting down the empty pitcher, I took a sip of my son’s beverage before I handed it to him.

It.  Was.  Terrible.

I completely forgot to put in the sugar.

I totally failed as a Southerner.

 

fashionable

 

This week I’m thinking western fashion, because the west is on my mind.

Look at these beauties …..

 

 

Can I just be the spokesperson for Frye boots?

 

flavorful

 

The tea was a non-success.  (That’s the polite way of saying it stunk.)

But I served up another beverage this week that was not a non-success at all.

Do you remember the mall in high school?  Well, it was probably awful then, just as it is now.  But there was this one shop in our mall in Virginia that only sold a drink called an Orange Julius.

I loved those drinks.

This week I recreated the Orange Julius.

 

 

I’m not an exact recipe following type of person, so — you know — good luck.

In my blender I poured orange juice, milk, ice, vanilla and sugar.  (Yes, sugar.  I like sugar.  Whatever.)

In the end, my Orange Julius was delicious and quite the crowd pleaser with the crowd I hang out around.

 

faithful

 

I like this video.  It’s imperfect in its full logic, so don’t think too deeply about it, if you’re a more analytical type of human.  But I think it helps to paint a picture of why marriage matters so much.

 

 

 

feels

 

Some books are like friends to me.

To Kill A Mockingbird is that way.

 

 

One of London’s other names – Scout – is taken directly from the pages of Harper Lee’s novel because I love that spunky and wise heroine.

For years London has asked to read the book for which she was named after.

I waited. (I had my reasons.)

Recently, I handed her the book and gave her the go-ahead to see her name in print.  To read about the Scout who inspired her own name Scout.

I held my breath while she read it.  Tried not to ask questions or direct her reading experience in any fashion.  I just waited.

Thank goodness, she loved the story too.

How wonderful to introduce my children to my novel friends.

 

Photo by Emma Joersz of Paper Story Photo + Design

 

 

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I see you ……

 

I knew when I saw her, ran into her in the bank. I was leaving, she was entering.

I knew then, that she was being brave.

That waking up that morning, assembling a coordinating outfit, that was bravery.

When I looked into her eyes, I saw the carefully placed eye liner.  That was brave.

Have you lived that kind of life yet?

Where, to get out of bed, to put feet to the floor, to look in the mirror and apply shiny substances to your lips and dark trimmings to your eyes equals a legitimate act of bravery.  Of hope.  Not of Pretend – but of Promise.  Not of Wishful, but of Trying.

And not trying to put on a show or gloss over the terrible.  Just —- trying.  Trying to gather one’s self to face the next day, the next step, the next breath.  To believe the mantra – fake it till you make it.  Which, is sometimes a death sentence and sometimes the only way to cope.

It’s both.  Sometimes.

 

Photo by Emma Joersz of Paper Story Photo + Design

 

And I wanted to hug her neck, which I did.

And I wanted to say all these words I was thinking, which I did not.

So I am saying them now.

You are brave.

And I see you being brave.

 

 

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garden variety hope (that isn’t actually garden variety at all)

 

For what is most assuredly the first time in the past two years (and longer), I feel something quite foreign to my heart.  Something I am terrified to touch, something that scares me and thrills me and makes me long to stick my head in the sand instead of look it square in the eyes.

I think it’s called Hope.

Hope.

Your regular, garden-variety brand of Hope.

Not just the hope I’ve clung to tenaciously with the most precarious of grasps, the only deep abiding actual hope option I want – that eternal and perfect hope in Jesus and heaven and no tears and all things made right and ultimate healing.

(I’m still banking on that hope and I refuse to let go, however slippery and sweaty my fingers become.)

No.  I mean the hope in the normal – life is fun, people are interesting.  My heart is drawn to a new kind of hope I am nervous to name out loud.

The hope of possibility.

 

 

I know it has the potential of being fleeting.  That’s part of why it’s so scary.

It has the sharp edge of fear because it is paired so closely with potential hurt.  The type I’d rather avoid from this moment until my very death bed.

And I can tell you that I don’t even have a firm handle on the variety of hope of which I speak.  It’s undefined and it’s unpredictable and I don’t even know what type of clothes it wears.

It’s the sort of hope that is brave enough to Look Forward Without Fear.  (Or, well, with less fear, anyway.)

The sort of hope that thinks a little bit about next week and next year and next (sigh) decade and doesn’t choke or run away or weep or gnash its teeth.

That’s the bit of hope I’m talking about.

It isn’t situationally inspired.

I didn’t win the lottery.
My dream house in Travelers Rest didn’t come on the market $300,000 under price so I can afford it now.
I’m not moving to Virginia.
Jack from This Is Us didn’t materialize in my kitchen and cook dinner for me.
I didn’t land a book deal.

None of those things have happened, nor are on the horizon of happening.  Shoot, most of those things aren’t even potential ever-could happens.  (Wait – do one of you know a farmhouse for sale in TR where Jack serves dinner every night?  Are you holding out on me?)

And that is precisely why this sort of hope feels ……… fleeting, scary, mirage-like, make-believe, of the vanishing variety.

It’s not hope IN some thing.  Not hope in a perfect job or a perfect house or details lining up and stacking together like tidy wooden blocks.

It’s just Hope in a Future.

Let me speak plainly.

It’s hope in a future that doesn’t suck.

For a good long awful while, I haven’t thought too deeply about the future.  Or, rather, I have – and it’s looked terrible.  Hopeless.  Sad.  Always at a loss.  Always at a deficit.  Always without.  (It’s a pit that still threatens to pull me in.)

Nothing outward has changed.  

I’m divorced and in my forties.

That’s one of the worst sentences I could write, I think, for me – personally.

I don’t want that to be my sentence.

But, the change is this —-

That’s not ALL that is true.

That’s not ALL my future holds.  My future is, in fact, hopeful.  More hopeful than that sad little sentence up there implies.

Maybe it’s simply the hope that Spring brings with it.  The green variations bursting forth.  The hope that a summer break and a trip to the western skies can rev up.

But I am convinced that it’s more than that.  More than the season and the upcoming adventure.

I’ve spent more days with my sunroof open and happy songs blaring through the speakers.  More days laughing and baking cookies and looking at the stars.  More days making future plans that don’t sound depressing for a life that doesn’t feel wasted or used up already.

And that’s Hope.

Maybe hope a little better than your garden-variety hope after all.

 

 

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