Tuesday, April 28, 2015

My Grandma

Last night, my Grandma Harvey passed away rather suddenly. Her body did. Who she is had been slowly passing for the last several years; eaten away by the mystery of Alzheimer's.

While I am grieving that she is truly gone, I'm also so thankful. Thankful she knows who she is now. Thankful she did not have a long battle with pain. Thankful for the life that she lead and that I got to know her, and be her only granddaughter.

It's almost as if now it is safe to remember her as herself. I'm afraid I've treated her more like a sweet stranger of late rather than upset one or the both of us trying to remember. Instead I let her think these sweet baby girls were whomever she wanted ... she enjoyed them all the same.

And I remember the way she would laugh. I remember how neatly she kept things - her home was organized to a T. I remember that her interest in homeopathy, through my dad, was passed down to me and is why I turn to things like essential oils today. I remember that she didn't think she was the cook her own mother was; but I bet she was. When we would visit her kitchen was a buzz of activity, usually centered around fresh fried shrimp. I remember that she and my Grandpa had been married for 67 years. And I say an extra prayer for him.

Several months ago, my Aunt asked me if I'd like to have her old sewing machine. With great delight it was welcomed into our home! I enjoy sewing and making things and was happy to have something she had taken care of. The table itself is old; it certainly has a mid-century-Modern look. The machine inside was one she traded the older machine in on less than a decade ago.

In its drawers are scraps of who my Grandma really was. Neat lines of practice stitching. Marked, with  notes as to what was too much or too little. My fingers trace them delicately, thinking "Her fingers played here too, when they were nimbler." While her mind was still organized and fit. While she knew the family she was making things for, I can only imagine thinking and praying over them as the needle bobbed.

Just a couple of months ago I made Shelby's "ok to wake" lantern on this same machine. I'm a storyteller, not a how to guru, but I'll share anyways - because I wish I could have shown my Grandma.

Basically, I used two embroidery hoops, yellow cloth, fusible webbing, burlap, a swag kit, and a light timer. I was inspired by toddler clocks ... neat idea, but ridiculously spendy.

My inspiration was the floating lanterns on Tangled. Yes, Tangled comes up a lot ... Disney princess movies do when you are raising two of God's princesses.

First I decided what my dimensions would be. If anyone is REALLY interested in that process let me know and I'll get into it. But I'm not going to right now. I cut my burlap, yellow fabric, and fusible webbing to size (I used this to stiffen my lantern). Then on the burlap I cut out and traced this sun symbol on printer paper, then cut that out of the burlap. I then fused the webbing to the yellow fabric and sewed them all together. Then I used a big fat stitch to go around my sun symbol. I could have done a better job but this was all done during a nap or two so I was flying.

Flat lantern in the making

Then I PAINstakingly hand-stitched the seam and around each of the embroidery hoops. It was a pain. I pierced myself with the needle multiple times. But I wasn't sure how to do it by machine, and I didn't want any frayed edges sticking out because ... it's a lantern. Lanterns can get hot. The last thing I wanted was to wake Shelby up by setting her room on fire. *shudder* Just had a "Firestarter" flashback.

There, now it is standing up, thanks to the fusible webbing inside.
Now the husband steps in ... he's the one who attached it to a swag kit from Lowe's for me. He also hung it all floating-like in her room for me.

Ok, so it doesn't look like much when it's off but ...

A warm gentle glow when its on!

We plugged it in to a good ol mechanical light timer and set it to come on for an hour at 7am and at 4pm every day.

Shelby had been getting up when she deemed it was "sun coming up" which could mean anything from brilliant sunlight to navy blue early morning sky. This is much more dependable; especially as the days lengthen with the approach of summer. And it takes the question of whether the sun is "up enough" out of her mind.

Amazingly enough, it is working. She generally doesn't get up until that lamp comes on! And it only cost about half of what the "toddler clocks" cost. I think my Grandma would have been proud. I miss her.

Sunday, April 26, 2015


Pee. Tee tee. Whatever you want to call it, God saw fit to make it one of the ways we flush toxins and regulate our bodies. But right now I really kinda wish once a day we sneezed out little butterflies instead.

It's what I often need to do but can't until I'm finally so desperate I can't stop Shelby from "cleaning" the rocks in my shower (and getting Dawn/vinegar in her eyes) and Victoria is clinging to my pants as if to life itself as I try to pull them back up.

It's what I've spent the last eon several months trying to convince Shelby is best done in the potty.

Whatever my expectations were, emotional wasn't one of them.

We got the potty early, because sometimes she waited to pee till we were changing her. Hooray, so many little mid-air dangling successes!

She's never been afraid of the potty. She's never cried when we threw a diaper away, thinking some part of her was going away (no really - I've read some kids feel that way about it).

It felt like she was getting ready around 20 months old. But we were living in someone else's home, and Tori was coming. I was big and pregnant and tired. I knew that, even if we succeeded, she'd probably regress once little sister arrived.

I am not exaggerating; I think potty training has so far been the most frustrating, annoying, and hard thing I've ever done. And personally, even though I'm a spoiled American, I think that's saying a lot. Ain't no spring chickadee here.

First we tried just kinda noticing the potty, hey look this is what mommy does, isn't that diaper yucky? Here, have a jellybean! YAY I'm so proud of you (and I really am).

Then between Thanksgiving and Christmas I said WE. ARE. DOING. THIS. I was so psyched. I read the book. I read the blogs. We were doing three day potty training. Boot camp, basic training, Navy SEALs, Momma's not taking no for an answer, we aren't leaving the house or wearing pants until this is done potty training.

I'm done with this ... lets go outside.

Tell that to my stubborn, strong-willed Shelby. She's too much like her momma.

At first, it was exciting. YAY panties! YAY potty! OH HURRY you're going pee pee that means its time to run to the potty! Praise praise, nothing but positive.

While inside I was dying. It'll click any minute, right? We're running out of time. It's been almost three days. I don't see the light at the end of the tunnel. I can't stay in the house any longer. I can't slip and almost fall in any more 10 foot rivers of urine.

Finally, I sat Shelby down and asked "Where does pee pee belong?"

Shelby, dutifully "Pee pee on floor!"

I'd take a picture of the face I probably made, but somehow I think a reenactment wouldn't do it justice. Forget that. I broke the number one rule I had made cheat-sheet notecards for and went back to diapers. I gave up.

I bought pull-ups. Look at the cool color-changing picture! Look at the princesses! Try to keep the princesses dry!

Shelby, (with a butt-dragging, obviously soggy, sagging diaper), is your diaper wet? "No I dry!" Thanks a lot, sodium polyacrylate.

Even when I let her choose the pull ups (she wanted the boy ones, with Sulley, Lightening McQueen, and Buzz Lightyear ... what can I say, she has good taste!) she simply does not care that Sulley is sopping wet. She doesn't even care if her nightgown is wet. Or pants. Socks, wet pair? Don't care.

I sat her down for the 10 millionth time and told her ... pee pee and poop go in the potty. It isn't normal to have them against your bottom all day. It will feel better and be quicker to use the potty! Potty potty potty! Big potty, little potty ... pick one!

Yes, I have an ancient picture of myself with an ancient potty in Seattle. I wouldn't be smiling if I knew what was coming...
If you aren't going to use the potty, we are going back to cloth diapers - mommy and daddy don't want to spend ALL our money on pull ups ... do you want to go back to cloth diapers? No?

Yes. You do. Because you just will. NOT. USE. THE. LAVATORY.

Other bloggers and friends talk about how they "potty trained" and how it just kinda happened. Yeah we showed her the potty and panties and she had a couple of accidents and now we're potty trained!


But every time I try to give up, she does something like tell me it is time for a nap, ask to go sit on the potty, and pee pee.

Maybe she and Victoria will potty train at the same time? Or never? Right now it feels like never.

She won't be going to prom in Depends ... I know that. But ugh. Maybe soggy diapers never bothered me anyway.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Tell Me a Story

As I've written on this blog, lately there's been a lot of soul-searching and crying out to God about what He wants me to do with my writing in my heart. And I have an answer.

I am a storyteller.

I am not a Bible Study writer ... you can't paraphrase the Bible, but I tend to translate things into "Amanda-ese" in my mind as I read. And the best scholars do extensive historical and language research - I find that interesting, but it isn't something I have a passion for. I truly believe God gives us passion for the good works He has predestined for us (Ephesians 2:10).

I am not an evangelist. I'm probably closer to the "Hey, that's sin you dope" attitude of a prophet. Why? Because I'm really good (when I'm not in God's Word) at justifying almost anything. To myself at least. If I try to make something more palatable to you, well ... its a slippery slope for me. I don't know how to make it tasty without making it wrong. I'd end up serving up chocolate covered bacon instead of making you want a nutritious salad as much as you want the chocolate covered bacon. Really that is a horrible example - but ... chocolate covered bacon!

I am not a self-help/how-to guru. I'm great at DOING how to, but I don't take pictures along the way or write down the steps in sequence. Sure I share something on here now and again but its never worth publishing in a way that's really going to impact the way someone does something. I'm to EFPN to keep up with and share the minute details for you. Besides, you might have a better way to do it and I don't want to be here telling you what to do and squelching your creativity.

But telling stories ... retelling true stories or making them up as I go ... it makes my heart flutter and my mind explode open with a rainbow of ideas pouring out in such gushes that I often lose some pretty good ideas before I can get them nailed to the floor. Since I was old enough to write I've enjoyed writing stories. I recall several times in elementary school taking off on a writing prompt and instead of the one page others were painfully filling I was trying to make myself stop around five or six. Many times I missed the transition into another subject, like math, because I was so caught up in my story. I never did finish those multiplication tables.

Plus, in looking at which posts to this blog get read the most - its the stories. Y'all ... all three of y'all ... (ha ... ha ha ha) really like my stories.

So I've started.

I started writing Butterfritty.

You'll just have to wait and see what I mean by that if you have no idea what I'm talking about.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Hair Confessional and other Soul-spillage

It happened Thursday. I couldn't stand it anymore and just had to do it.

I went back to shampoo.

I've never taken part in one of those dramatic break-up-make-up relationships (I'm a bridge burner, I tend to disappear) but this is what I always imagined they feel like. I thought about that bottle of shampoo all day. And the shower was glorious and my hair felt and smelled amazing!

Conditioner just didn't work out for me; you could say we weren't right for each other. My hair was clumpy with grease even as I blow dryed it ... and letting it air dry was even worse. I felt like sebum was building up and making my hair oddly stuff on top of being a gross oily mess. I ended up doing an aloe vera juice soak for my scalp and and egg wash (cold shower, if you try this you have to be careful not to end up with a hair omelette) over everything to reset my locks. Then I anxiously awaited that box with the little smirk from Amazon with my new John Masters lavender and rosemary shampoo.

After the aloe-egg "reset" - already happier

Lessons were learned from my no-poo experience so I don't regret being a dirty hippy for a few months.

1. You DO NOT have to "Lather. Rinse. Repeat." every day. My hair behaves better when I don't.

2. Sulfates can be a scalp irritant. I may not be tender-headed but my scalp is sensitive to chemicals (which included baking soda).

3. Other than Jesus, there is no such thing as one size fits all. No-poo was not for me, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't work for you.

Other confessions.

I have talked about writing books my whole life, but my "little" brother beat me to it. Part of my silence the last few weeks has been because my snippets of free time were spent helping edit (and enjoy, as it turns out) his novel. His zombie novel. It sounds like he might set up something on Kickstarter to get publishing underway.

He recommended a few books to me that helped give him the kick-in-the-pants he needed to just do it: The War of Art and Do the Work (both by Steven Pressfield). Perhaps I need to read them.

Sometimes I think that the people who have told me I write well are just being nice. I think that the lack of traffic to this silly blog is evidence that my writing is just a dream and should stay that way. There are people who have known me for years that don't know I write and want to write. That shouldn't be; it is at the heart and soul of who I am but for whatever reason I don't allow myself to be vulnerable about it even though I am about most things.

Speaking of being vulnerable, I need to find an "accountability partner" ... I had someone in mind to ask, but she might have too much going on in her life. There are some tough questions I need to be being asked on a regular basis. Tim encourages me, but the more the merrier.

On some occasions it is fear of success. You read that right. I'm afraid I'll write something and succeed and be stuck writing in that genre. Hello Amanda - ever heard of a nom de plume? Your own success would be easily remedied.

Finally, for now, I'll confess that I've jumped on the essential oil bandwagon. Actually I've been using essential oils for years - with limited success. Turns out not everything labeled "pure" is what most would expect "pure" to imply (thank you, FDA - huge surprise there). We have some Young Living oils now and I'm quite impressed so far ... Lavender is quickly becoming "and medicine too" (Shelby always says this after having a boo-boo soothed) and a little foot-massage with some Valor is quieting Tim's nocturnal nasal serenade. Young Living owns their farms, and has a "seed to seal" promise, which is important to people like us who have seen Food Inc one too many times.