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Saturday, July 31, 2010

silly.

This is what she looked like yesterday walking up to the house, dog hat in hand, thumb in mouth, eyes downcast.  She knew she was in trouble.  This kid, wearing her very too small halloween costume and her new cowgirl boots, was taking advantage of the long walk from the coop to the house to self-soothe and come up with a good story.  Something that would justify heckling a laying hen and locking her brothers in the hen house.  And instead of standing impressively on the deck, hands on hips, ready to dole out a consequence, her mother was choking on her smirk and snapping pics of this kid's crazy getup.  Frustration and delight were warring for seniority and what eventually won out was pity.  How can I be angry at this ridiculous, wonderful girl, really?  And yet, there had to be discipline.  There always has to be discipline mixed in with the grace.
Then it struck me.  How silly I must look to my Father when I'm caught with egg on my face.  How often Jesus must shake his head when I'm caught with my hand in the proverbial cookie jar and have to make the walk of shame to Him for my punishment.  Sometimes He lets me get away with it, all parents do and He's inarguably busier than any of us, but I feel most loved when I don't get away with it.  Discipline is hard, but it's good too.  It is the mark of being loved, when Jesus cares enough to not let me rot in my sinfulness, regardless of how much He'd maybe rather laugh and take a snapshot of how I look to show me someday.  So here's to egg on our faces and the walk of shame and looking silly.  And here's to a Jesus waiting to help us be better.  To leave our sinful nature behind and become really good P.R. for the kingdom.  I've failed lately.  Fail so often.  But this kid of mine reminded me that there is a high standard worth shooting for because at the top, well, lining the whole path to the top is Jesus and he died so I wouldn't have to get my just desserts, which makes me rethink some things I'm doing and thinking and should be doing.  And this is all to say that I'm trying to be real.  But it's ugly, sometimes and I look really silly doing the same rotten things over and over and not learning my lesson and choosing instead to self-soothe and drag my feet going to see my Father because discipline is hard.  But if it gets me closer to Jesus, I'm in.  All in.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

shallow.

This post brought to you by the letter I and the number 1 on account of it being shallow and about me.  I wish I would post about mental illness or the slave trade in Ethiopia or how hard it is to be a mother.  And I haven't read The Inferno, but I'm pretty sure my boy's bathroom is one of Dante's levels of hell so I should post about that and how hard it is to keep a house clean when it's inhabited by people other than me.  Or the arguments the boys have a million times a day lately that go something like, but are not limited to, this:
grant  "Peter, you're a baby."
peter  "Maaaah ahhhhhm!  Grant called me a baby."
grant  "I only meant that he has baby hair and chubby hands.  That's all."
And since this blog is about me, you know, being real, then you should know the whole dirty goings on of my mind so you can judge for yourself.  I can't find my favorite magazine.  Anywhere.  And it's time that the new issue arrive on the newstands.  So, if anyone knows what happened to Living Etc.. magazine would you please let me know?  Because I took a rare night to myself last night to get my toes painted (I swear she used a cheese grater to slough the rough skin off my heels.  Swear it.) and get my brows and lip waxed, then stopped at Furriest Foods for a box of Crispix and the August issue of the world's greatest magazine, Living Etc... and it wasn't there.  Schuler's doesn't even have it and I've only ever been able to find it in those two places.  I have few guilty pleasures besides dry cereal and chocolate, but british home dec magazines are a biggie for me and after finding only Wine Spectator magazine at my salon (who is the kill-joy who ordered that for the waiting room?!?), I was really looking forward to the monster bed with my pretty pink toes and the ceiling fan wafting the sweet smells of crisp paper dotted with photos of bespoke cabinets and the latest colors.  
So now on top of having Wondertime replaced by it's sleazy younger cousin, Family Fun (think Tiffanys vs Claire's Boutique) and Domino going out of print, I'm left with only Time, but just the Awesome column by Joel Stein, and Coastal Living every other month.  And I'm jonesing for some good eye candy.  So if anyone can find Living Etc... you'll be my new bestie and I may even invite you over to lay on the monster bed with pretty toes and eat dry cereal while we gawk like schoolgirls.  Unless you're a stranger.  Or a man.  Then you can just let me know where you found it and I'll thank you nicely and we'll forget this ever happened.
Kingdom stuff tomorrow.  I promise.  But I did warn you.

Monday, July 26, 2010

save.

Always looking for ways to save a buck and stumbled upon a biggie this morning.  I always order my diapers online through Amazon.  One click and two days later a massive box of Huggies Supremes lands on my doorstep.  And it's cheaper than Meijers or Target.  But here's the cherry on top: today I subscribed and saved an additional %15.  Subscribing means I get to skip the click.  My massive diaper box will arrive on my doorstep every month without me having to lift a finger.  And you know what I call that?  Staff.  I just paid $23.65 for 108 diapers.  That's .21 cents a diaper and for those of you who cost compare, that price blows it out of the water.  And I'm willing to share my staff with you if you click on the link below.  It's my gift to you for being an avid reader of this is me being real.  Both of you.


diapers


Now if I can unload my bedroom furniture to the nice retired couple driving over with a trailer from Portland to look at it this morning I'll be seriously in the black.  And I'll name a chicken after the guy who made it all possible.

Friday, July 23, 2010

fabric.

After the rain spoilt our plans for an afternoon swim, we took to the road in search of something to do.  And ended up in  Newaygo at my mom in law's fabric and yarn shop to stock up on projects.  The car just seemed to go there of it's own accord.  And aside from being perhaps the warmest, most welcoming shop in the world, it has a huge selection of fun fabrics and notions and I needed that yesterday.  So, the kids each got to pick out two fabrics, courtesy of Grandma, which were promptly turned into new pillow cases for sleeping with last night.  Probably the easiest sewing project and, in just under fifteen minutes each, the quickest too.  And, thanks to my sister in law who hated every math course she ever took and yet is an absolute whiz at figuring yardage and the geometry of patterns, all our little bundles came neatly labeled and tied with pretty red ribbon.  I love people who pay attention to detail.
Three new pillowcases for three sleepy adventurers.  Lulu's will have to wait.   

This is going to be an egg collecting apron when it grows up:

And this is going to be a quilt someday:

Oh, and I finally replaced my magnetic needle holder after years of having the magnets fall out and the pins spill everywhere.  Best thirteen bucks I've spent in a long time.
So here's my plug for The New Ewe in Newaygo (google it for driving directions): it's not just a store, it's an excuse to get out of the house, see the poopy credit billboard for yourself and make your kids laugh in the process.  And while you're there you can get everything you need for your next project.  Mention my name and this blog and get no discount, but who can put a price on fun?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

eleven.

Out of the blue, or perhaps due to the intervention of our favorite neighbors (you know who you are), another neighbor drove up and offered to take our two roosters off our hands.  So this is my can't-even-feign-sadness-cause-if-I-never-hear-you-crow-again-it'll-be-too-soon-you-rotten-birds-and-take-your-always-trying-to-mount-my-hens-and-terrorizing-my-children-selves-away-from-here-goodbye to 
this Kevin:

and this Kevin:

Uh, I am the teeniest bit sorry about this Kevin's tail.  It used to have long, iridescent, greenish blue feathers that made him look venerable and distinguished, but Dan pulled them all out trying to catch them for these pictures and now he just looks stupid.  But I only feel a crumb of sadness about it and mostly his stupidness makes me feel much better that he's no longer in our herd.
Chicks only.
No boys allowed.
You're out of the herd.
Eleven Kevins.
One smiling mom.
Being real (happy).

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

egg.


You can philosophize all you want about whether the egg came first or the chicken, but if you've ever raised chicks you already know the answer: the chicken.  After umpteen (sixteen) weeks of feeding the Kevins and cleaning up after the Kevins and waiting for a return on our investment, we have our first egg.  Found it tonight and broke into spontaneous dancing and caterwauling.  It's only one and it's really small, but it's here.  Our egg.


Now we have two roosters for sale to a good home (who are we kidding, we'd sell them to KFC if it meant some peace in the morning).  Not only are they starting to mount our girls, they also are fertilizing the eggs, it's what they do, so that every time we cook one we'll wonder if we aren't performing a little chicken abortion.  So if you are interested in a really pretty Araucana rooster or an equally handsome Wyandotte or some little chicken tenders for dinner next week, let us know.  Until then we'll be out in the coop.  Harvesting eggs and being real.

porn.

If the point is to be real than I have to share this happening with you.  A dear friend and I (you know who you are) were hanging out last week, watching our kids running around and catching up when she noticed my stack of library books.  Among them: two smut novels.  For those of you who are new to my scene, I cut my reading teeth on romance novels in high school and college and only began reading worthwhile literature after meeting Jesus in the bathtub 10 years ago or so.  I can argue that I read them mostly for the history, which is true, but rings as false as reading Playboy for the articles, so I'll spare you the excuses.  Anyway, this friend (you know who you are) and I trade books back and forth, devoured These Is My Words and it's sequels together and in general, spend a fair amount of time talking about worlds we're discovering in books.  So when she caught me with the romance novels I stammered and turned red and I think I may even have tried to change the subject.  She was having none of it.
I think she may have looked me straight in the eye.  I couldn't tell cause I was looking at my feet.  I think she said something to the effect of, "Megan, wether you have to go in a back room of the video store for it, or order it on your computer, or read it in a book, it's still porn.  Just because it's porn with a story doesn't change what it is."
She nailed me.  Then just as quickly moved on in her graceful, wonderful way and let me chew on that for a bit.  And so I've been thinking about it a lot lately and she's right.  There is a certain movie store (you know who you are) in Ada where I refuse to go because they have the back adult-only room and, aside from being terrified that one of my kids will unwittingly go in there and I'll have to retrieve them and I'll emerge from said room just as the principle from our school is walking in the front door to pick up some nice family movie with his kids or something, I also just don't want anything to do with a business that promotes something that sucks the soul out of people and drives them deep into a dark world of addiction and escapism.  So I take advantage of the time I spend waiting in the checkout lane by turning over the trashy magazines so my boys aren't bombarded by the filth on the covers.  I recycle any underwear catalogs I get before even looking at them because I don't want to provide temptation for my husband (well, that and because I'm still wearing nursing bras so what's the point, really?).  And yet, I've failed to protect myself.
There is a scary battle going on for the purity of our minds and our marriages and our children.  Our men are fighting it constantly and if you think yours isn't have another think, please.  He is.  They all are.  We all are.  Satan is so pleased by the crap we read and watch and the jokes we tell and the million other ways we compromise our minds and hearts and in doing so invite the influence of the world to affect our judgement.   The church is just starting to get a whiff of how deep this problem runs.  Estimates are that %100 of men struggle with pornography, so let's just do ourselves a favor and stop thinking it's the weirdo from down the street and realize that it's our husbands and our sons and ourselves.  And if we don't put a stake in the ground and pitch all the magazines and catalogs and books that romanticize illicit sex to the other side of the line, we're doing the kingdom of Jesus a grave disservice.  
So today I'm doing that.  I'm taking the hardcover romance novels I've been hanging on to for ages just because I'm too cheap to throw away a hardcover and I'm pitching them.  Pitching them all.  And I'm ready to link arms with anyone willing to stand at the line and protect our men by watching very carefully what comes into our homes.  And the song that keeps running through my head just now as I'm praying for a verse about purity is this:
You are stronger
You are stronger
Sin is broken
You have saved me
It is written 
Christ has risen
Jesus you are Lord of all.
It's called Stronger and Hillside does a fantastic version that you have to download from itunes so that you can play it over and over and remind yourself that the Christ of the Universe for some crazy reason thought you were worth dying for and as the recipient of such a gift, you'd better start living like it.   Me too.  Me more than anyone.
So in the war of porn versus chocolate, chocolate wins on account of anti-oxidants and yum.  But Jesus is the best escape.  So I'm going there.

Monday, July 19, 2010

home.


The Norwegians have been home for six days now and we couldn't be happier.  My sister and brother in law live on a magical island off the coast of Norway in a magical house at the foot of a magical mountain my sister has climbed 67 times since Easter (it's easy to keep track of this when you have a magical little box on top of the magical mountain in which is kept a magical notebook and a perfectly ordinary pen so that you can log your visits to the top).  They are only here for two weeks, so we're sucking the marrow out of their visit.  In this brief lull while the kids are outside catching ants for Peter's ant farm, I'm remembering the million and four things we've done lately.  We've...

Continued Tessie's riding lessons every Wednesday morning, even while reminding her fourteen times a day that she's likely not getting a pony for her fifth birthday next month.  This will have to do for a while:

Dressing little girls up in paper and ribbons at a bridal shower for my cousin who is getting married in a couple weeks and making us all sigh at the thought:

Eating Norwegian candy like gummy mens and marshmallow cars.  Things we look forward to all year. But not as much as being with the people who bring them to us.

Being at Nana and Papa's beach with cousins and dogs and sand between our toes.

Eating yummy things like first fudgesicles at Aunt Molly's stone cottage:

Taking care of Uncle Ty's new puppy and, despite 8 pee accidents and a chewed up pair of flip flops (not my Havaianas, thank goodness), sort of thinking about getting a puppy of our own.  Sort of.

The boys are both off to camp cousin tomorrow for a couple days of latrine building and dirty socks with Papa and Uncle Ole-Kristian (Uncle O.K.).  More about that later.

So if we are a bit distant for the next week or so, please excuse us.  We're enjoying time with family who are more precious to us than just about anything and with whom time is fleeting when we can only be together two weeks out of the year.  Hope you are enjoying your family these days too.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

sugar.

I didn't realize until I logged on how I'd missed writing on my little blog.  And you, mom, my faithful reader.  But I was determined to stay away while on vacation and so I did.  Only using Dan's laptop to look at Goldendoodle puppies with Grant.  And only twelve times a day, I swear.
In case you've never been, Sugar Island is one of the most magical places in Michigan and probably one of my favorites on this planet (behind Britain and Schulers and the beach at my parents and the monster bed.  Oh, and the orange and white rocker in Lulu's room while she's nursing.)  And as much as I hate HATE road trips, when we pull into Clyde's Drive In Burger Joint in Sault St. Marie for a the best darn greasy burgers, (I swear I'll take you there someday Dad and order one for you with green olives, raw onions and crisp bacon),  when you pull in the last six hours of "are we there yet?" and sweat in your bra goes away.  Poof.
You hafta eat a burger at Clydes before getting in line for the car ferry.  It's like a rule or something.
Then the ferry.
Then you're there.  
And the thing that makes it so great is, well there are a lot of things that make it so great.  
Like fishing with daddy.
and your cousin.

And on Sugar Island you get to have your hair french braided by your Aunt Cyndy which pulls and hurts but is worth it because you feel so pretty and everyone makes a big deal of it.
Or you can go to Walmart and buy new hair clippies and wear them all at the same time.  With a dress that is buttoned inside out and shows your princess panties when you run.  You can do that on Sugar Island.
And you can walk to the store and buy a makeup cell phone for your souvenir and spend a lovely afternoon helping your mother remember why she stopped wearing makeup after the blue eyeshadow incident of 1988.  

If you visit Sugar Island, you can drive a Johnny Popper.
and a Kubota
and a Gator.  
All in the same day.


If you're Grant, all the fresh air and lack of sleep make your lips even curlier.  And you can sit around with crap on your face and make Grandpa proud by being the best eight year old catcher ever and building great fires with birch bark and a lighter and doing other dangerous stuff you can only do if you visit Sugar Island.


If you're Peter you can do this:
and this:
and this:
This was the only snake on the island and we shipped him to Ireland so they wouldn't feel left out, so if you're in my family and I ever invite you up for a week, you don't have to worry.

On Sugar Island you can let your baby eat sand
and licorice
and no one cares because no one is worrying about nutrition much which is why you have to bring all your fruits and vegetables with you because they are hard to find.  It's also why I consistently lose a couple pounds each visit, despite eating margerine and being in charge of the chocolate for smores.
Licorice and sand are staples on Sugar Island.
And yes, mom, I could hear her hair growing.


The one thing you can't do if you visit Sugar Island anymore is take the boat to Richard's Landing to the only decent restaurant around.  You can look at Canada off in the distance.  See it?  But you can't go there because you're not allowed unless you pay a lot of money and jump through a lot of hoops and if you have four kids that will seem like too much trouble despite the lure of good food, so you'll just make spaghetti and stay in America.



When you are on Sugar Island, you get to ride your bike to church.  If you don't have a bike you can take your golf cart or your tractor.

On Sugar Island you get to decorate your bikes and ride in the Fourth of July parade from the store to Grandma and Grandpa's cottage.  And if you had gone this year, you would have been able to ride behind a real live horse and a female marine in uniform (despite your misgivings about women in the military).
And you get to ride in front of all your neighbors who, on the mainland are serious people, but on the island are not.
If you don't want to ride a bike you can decorate your tractor.  That's ok too.
You can even throw your ninety year old grandparents in a homemade float, prop shotguns in their arms and make everyone laugh.  Your nephew who desperately needs to live on a farm can pull the float with his own tractor.
Then you can eat a potluck dinner with three hundred strangers who quickly become like family.  Afterward, if you're on Sugar Island you can lay a blanket down and watch the best firework show in tarnation, thanks to Grandpa.  He and his minions set off hundreds of them with names like "Imminent Danger" and "Texas Hold 'Em" and "American Intensity".
The next morning, your brother in law Al, will have a hole in his leg from firework shrapnel and the beach will look like this:
While you're taking pictures of said beach, neighbors will roll up on their four wheeler and tell you to come to breakfast cause Tam's making pampcakes and she has lots.  And you'll pile into the bed of the pickup in your pjs and with really bad breath and head over, wiping the fur off your teeth with the cuff of your sweatshirt and while you're doing that you'll thank God for the millionth time that no one cares what you look like on Sugar Island.


The neighbors cottage, aside from being just about the most charming place around, once belonged to Jimmy Hoffa.  While you are eating your pampcakes with whipped cream and fourth of july sprinkles and made-to-order eggies, you can look up and still see the cigar smoke stains on the mahogany ceiling above where Hoffa's bar used to sit.
Mr. Hoffa was supposed to be on the island when he disappeared, so this place and the woods surrounding it have been combed many times over looking for his body.  It hasn't been found.  But if you're on Sugar Island on the day after the fourth of July, you can eat at Maple Lodge (www.maplelodge.blogspot.com.) in your pjs and listen to the lore and wish your dad who loves history was there too.
Afterward, you might lay in the hammock and rock with your babies and whisper a breath prayer for this place and these people and this gift.
Then you might walk down the dock and see where past visitors have signed their names and left a quote in the dock boards.
Even Great Grandma DeWitt.
And lots of other people.


If you visit Sugar Island, you can spend really good time with your in-laws and remember why you loved them in the first place, beyond giving birth to your favorite person in the world, I mean.  It's because your mother in law is the most unassuming, down-to-earth creature and she makes you feel very comfortable in your own skin.  It's because when your in-laws get the chance to just sit and watch your kids play in the water and make believe with their cousins, their eyes sparkle and you know they are in love.  It's because your mother in law says stuff like, "cucumbers are dumb" and you realize it's true, you just would never have thought of saying it out loud and certainly not when you are trying to get your child to eat his vegetables.  But grandmothers can do that.  They are allowed.
They are also allowed (but just barely) to take your kids to the Walmart in the Soo and buy them a new polyester basketball outfit so you can stop washing the orange one they got last time and just throw it away.  They are allowed to echo the kids asking for "just a little longer?" as bedtime nears and to be the last face you see in the rear view mirror as you head back home.
If you ever go to Sugar Island, be sure to go over the fourth of July because we'll be there.  We wouldn't miss it for the world.