Re-ordering my world…

I’m organizing.

 And it makes me cranky.

 I know some of you are  energized by this sort of thing, (and I am in awe of you and your label makers)  but it hurts my brain. And I struggle because I hate the mess and hate the stuff but have trouble finding solutions that work.

And I am learning that letting children be creative in a small space

takes some letting go…

but it helps to have systems in place in order to put it all back together again…

I found this blog and, for me,  it’s like visiting a foreign country in which I do not speak the language but love how it sounds. Check out her Ultimate Dream House of Organization. Can she come live with me? Her “before” pictures are my goal…

And tomorrow begins our 14 Days of Love (better title to come?) For those of you who dared to be impressed (you emailed me and please my laundry is not done EVER) know that I stood in Wal-Mart today overwhelmed by trying to find something to rig up a clothesline (what aisle is that stuff even on?) and decided that numbered pink hearts taped to the wall  will work just fine.

Each day I’m more convinced that parenting requires equal energy in both learning my children and learning myself. And this Self breaks into a cold sweat in craft aisles but feels unstoppable with a roll of masking tape. Per usual, we will be high on the discourse, low on the aesthetics…

Valentines Day is in 15 Days…

I’m sure you’ve been counting down.

 This year I would love for February 14 to be more than another opportunity for tooth rot…

So we’re going to do 14 Days of Love…And I swiped these pictures from Pinterest because  I haven’t put anything up yet… but I need to by tomorrow night. Which means it will be done tomorrow night…

I hope to make a chain or clothesline of hearts, and write on each a characteristic of love from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. There are exactly 14 of them. (How did Paul know?!!) Here they are:

Love is: patient, kind,

Love does not: envy, boast,

Love is not: proud

Love does not: dishonor others

Love is not: self-seeking, easily angered

Love does not: keep records of wrongs, delight in evil but rejoices with the truth

Love always: protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres

Mine will no doubt be haphazardly hung, with frantically scrawled words.  I will forget some days and dread others. But for two weeks I hope to mark our days with conversations about love – what it is and what it isn’t. As always, I am more about the dialogue than the visual…so I’ll leave the final product to your imaginations.

And I hope you are imagining that our 14 Days look like the above. Each and every one. In those outfits. (Those are not my children but it’s always this sort of image that drives me towards goals that land in our messy reality.)

Onward love (and Pinterest)!

My Most Recent Attempt to Homeschool…Myself

Confession: I’ve been on a Magazine Binge. Now, magazines are lovely and have their place, but in the past few months they somehow took over the bulk of my reading time (which is very small to begin with.)

I wasn’t worried until I found myself in the shower debating the choice of Botox vs. Bangs to cover those inevitable forehead wrinkles. (A decision every woman must eventually make.)

It was time to reclaim my literary life.

I began here…

I wrote about Bel Canto last year and “State of Wonder “matches/exceeds it in quality and story. Oh the story. If you need to renew your belief in fiction, read this. Now.

But because I like to give that pendulum a strong shove in the opposite direction, I’ve also put down my magazines to pick up this:

Somehow this book manages to be exhaustive without being exhausting, and seems to almost be written tongue-and-cheek. (As if authors knew that their readers would be recovering magazine junkies and those who were discussing the drama in their lives instead of paying attention in class.) If nothing else, An Incomplete Education will shed some light on those references in “Midnight in Paris“, that you have to admit you didn’t quite get.

And reading this reminded me of this other friend to the Self-Schooler…

Susan Wise Bauer was a professor at W&M and she wrote The Well-Educated Mind after writing a guide to classical education for homeshooling parents – realizing much of what these parents wanted to teach, they had never been taught. It is an excellent book with great lists. I realize I will never complete most of the reading lists but I enjoy the structure of at least working my way through them.

And if you are interested in compensating on your history knowledge, I love Bauer’s Story of the World Series.

 What feels like a lifetime ago, I taught these books to 3rd and 4th graders…Before you turn your nose up in “I’m an adult reader” snobbery, ask yourself if you think you’d actually understand what happened during the Ottoman Empire if it was geared toward an eight year old…

 The narrative form of these books are the real sell. History told as a story that reads well aloud. Brilliant.

 A glance to my bedside last night also revealed a Jodi Picoult novel, and, yes, an issue of Vanity Fair  (I’m just finishing that one…)  I’m kind of all over the place, but now that I’ve bought back our upstanding status at the library, I have big reading goals for 2012. (Target report: twice this month, both times spent under $15! I’m calling it a win: more time for reading and more money for library fines!)

 What book in the past three months has made you gush “You must read this!”?

Umm…Do Her Shoes Do that on Purpose?

Yes, yes they do. And these days, I barely notice.

Olivia proudly wears her Squeaks everywhere. They’ve received a mixed reaction from adults and a  consistent reaction from Golden Retrievers. I enjoy knowing  when she’s on the move, and she’s empowered by making an emphatic statement with each step.

 Life is short I say. Squeak while you can. (Which is until you reach a childrens size 12 ).

Noisy or not, the Wee Squeaks site has some of the cutest little girls shoes…and yes, each pair arrives with plugs to silence the squeaking when you see fit or upon teacher/librarian/Fancy Colonial Williamsburg Shop Employee request.

WWG Part Last: How Many Wonders Can One Cavern Hold? (and some links)

Back in November, Sophia expressed her main birthday/Christmas wish to explore the crawl space of our house. Yes. ‘Tis true. So naturally, I, her equal opportunity, progressive mother said, “Daddy will take you.”












 And he did.

I don’t go under houses. I associate that space with Dads and dead animals. I remember my Dad making that journey when our house had been infiltrated by a horrible smell, only to discover some poor creature had met its demise directly under where we watched TV.

No, thank you.

But, the expedition proved a huge success. Sophia got to be the Explorer, Travis got to be the Hero, and I got to stay inside.

For your inside reading this week:

Design Sponge had a post on Turning Your Passion into a Paycheck. I’m not a business person but I love processes that break dreams down into steps…and I love people creating their life’s work out of what they love.

This is a from a few weeks ago, but I just found Flowerchild Dwelling and I loved her tribute to Meryl Streep.  I think Meryl is the best. Ever.( Especially for those of us who still secretly believe in Movie Stars…)

Discovered a great resource for new Moms over at Your Baby Booty. Search and shop for the gear you need based on your particular lifestyle/Momitude (did I just say that? I’m sure there’s a blog called that out there…)

Sent this from Juliana Morlet to a friend this week, and want to print and hang it in my locker.

 And I, like some in Congress apparently, have had  mixed emotions about the internet this week. But may we all continue to have our voice. And may we all always have access to Recipe Finders because when I enter “14 Frozen Green Beans” into a search engine and get a delightful side option, my hope in the web is renewed.

 I  use AllRecipes when I need an idea fast but realize I could be  missing out on a better site.Where do you search for recipes?


[Love and] R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Beware:  long-winded, over-thought, unpaid endorsement below. We took this course with a group of couples two years ago, and it transformed my thinking. Most commonly known as a marriage conference this course is applicable for anyone who happens to be in a relationship of any kind. It’s about people, people!

Seven Reasons You should Attend the Love and Respect Conference

 (A List Compiled for both the Generously and Critically Minded)

1.Captivating Presentation. Emerson Eggerichs is a COMMUNICATOR. Like-next-stop-The-Second-City-level communicator. This is important because when there’s great content, with boring communication often all we remember is being bored. (Thank you PBS documenteries…)

2. Perfect Length: Friday night. Saturday morning. Just when you would be skipping a  session to go shopping (we all do it) it’s over.

3.  Destination: Williamsburg.  Stuff like this is what this town LIVES for. Hotels, restaurants, horse drawn carriages, outlets, bed and breakfasts, pro sports (just getting your attention…)

 4. Live Action. Now I love a good HD satellite telecast as much as the next girl, but you know that moment during a conference when you really start believing the speakers are in the building? This time they will be.

 5. Striking Relevance. I just have this sense you will find the material applicable. Travis and I have known each other since we were six. I beat him in a spelling bee in first grade (spelling p-e-o-p-l-e, no less.) He (and Erin) beat me for Class Mayor in 2nd grade.  He taught me how to change lanes using my mirrors when my parents had given up and I coached him on his high school graduation speech.

  After 25 years of friendship, and nine years of marriage, we are relatively familiar with each other.

 Yet, there are moments that we think (no, really, we yell) “Who are you?” …I confess this only because I suspect that you, no matter your history, probably face days (or weeks or months) in your marriage where there is more mystery than magic. And if you are like me you’ve spent some serious energy asking “ What’s wrong with me?”, or “What’s wrong with him?”

The Love and Respect conference generously and graciously explains what’s right with both of you and how to understand each other.

6. Freedom from Oppression (and the fear thereof) Like any 80’s-born, liberally –arts educated female, I entered marriage with one core fear: my husband would oppress me and lord his chauvinistic ways over me, trampling my spirit, and overriding my rights. (My husband is not a chauvinist and on any given day values relaxing over  trampling my spirit and most other things.) But this kind of thinking went as far as to make me distrustful of words such as “respect,” dismissing concepts such as  “Love and Respect”  as “gendered” and inequitable – and getting me nowhere in my marriage.

My brain needed some rewiring. This was not a step backwards in women’s progression, it was a step towards a marriage that was loving (for all parties involved.) Imagine that.

7. Hope. I think somewhere along the way we give up hope. We don’t necessarily stop loving hard or trying hard but we give up hope that this could be better. That the sum of these two parts could equal more than just the two of us together, circling each other in chaos, with the occasional nice dinner out. And we give up hope, not because we don’t know where we want to be, but because we have no idea how to get there.

 “Love and Respect” provides  steps – steps to get us from here to there, steps to understanding our differences and our needs, steps to common language, and steps to conversations that can restore and heal and allow us to begin again.

 Won’t you join us? February 24-25 at the Williamsburg Community Chapel. Bring your marriage – with your dreams, your dysfunction, and your disillusionment. Bring your friends. Don’t bring your kids, you need a break.

 There will be fun. There will be laughter. There will be snacks.  (For some of us, it’s the simple things…)

Be sure to say hello…I will be up front, furiously taking more notes.


Register by February 13 for an Early Bird Discount

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day…

… I always think of the time my Mom and I toured the Margaret Mitchell house and Gone With the Wind Museum, in Midtown Atlanta.

Once in the movie museum, if you push though the pictures of Clark Gable, and throw aside the dresses of Vivien Leigh, there is a framed photograph of the 1939  “Gone with the Wind Ball” a gala held the night before the movie premiere in Atlanta.

Guess who’s noticeably not there? Hattie McDaniel (Mammy) and Butterfly McQueen (Prissy.)Even after their critically acclaimed performances in major roles, black actresses were not welcome at the high society event.

But guess who is there ? Present at the premiere, and standing right there in the far corner of the picture, on the fringes of Hollywood Elite in their furs and finery, is a very young Martin Luther King, Jr. The boys choir from King’s father’s church, Ebenezer Baptist, performed at the event, clothed in “period costumes” from the movie. They are dressed as slaves.

It’s a simple, black and white,  framed photograph, hanging on a wall in a museum, with a caption next to it. But to the eyes of the present…the pictures screams out in ugly irony.

 What harsh ironies will our pictures scream out to our grandchildren?  What has normalcy made invisible to us that will cause the next generation to implore, “How could they have missed that? Wasn’t it  so obvious?”


*photo credit: