Sunday, December 12, 2010

To friends who are now famous:

Nashville is a funny town.  People come here with a plan, but Rock and Roll dreams either turn to bus-boy realities or rockets to stardom (after about 10 years of work).  I'm always a little sad when friends 'make it'.  Not because of jealousy, but because 'making it' often means that that person will grow a hedge between themselves and the people they used to know. 

I think of sweet friends who I played music with, wrote with, sang with, ate lunch at the street cafes with, who no longer return my calls.  It's odd.  Are they too busy meeting with record lables, stylists, producers?  Do they think I have some ulterior motive?  Are they too exahusted from driving from town to town and singing to carve out time for friends back home who knew them before the stylists, the lables, and producers?  Do we just not have anything in common any more?  Am I to busy with motherhood and my own life to be intentional with them?  Not sure.

It is hard to watch friends pull away.  It is a hard thing to miss them and to still want to tell them about my little girl, my expected son, how things are growing and changing with me and my husband, my life now, how the music I make now is mostly for kids under the age of 5 at the public library, and often is only heard by one little sweet baby girl (and how I much I love that!).  How I'm happy for them and thrill at seeing them in a music video when not to long ago, we were singing to the cakes (i.e. and empty room) together in some out of the way bookstore cafe.  To wish that we still could talk about our lives with the honesty and frequency of years past.

So to my friends who now grace the music channels and the radio: I hope you are well in heart, mind, soul, and body.  I hope that you have joy and peace in your day.  I hope you have time for quiet and rest.  I'm so proud to have known you, even for a little while. 

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The importance of a red cape

Every gal needs a red cape to wear.  It starts with some red flannel, 
Cape in the making

an imaginative mama (and a free tutorial and general pattern) and proceeds to costumes.
Little Red Riding Hood

Little Red Riding Hood

And snuggly warmth for cold mornings
Caped animal snuggler

And all sorts of other things.
Caped animal snuggler

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Thankful Heart

In my usual style, I planned too much for Thanksgiving.  My parents were coming to visit, there was a guest room to set up, food to prepare, a baby to grow and my daughter to care for, not to mention squeezing in a little time with my sweet husband.  But I decided that we needed to invite a crowd for Thanksgiving lunch.  I swear.  Sometimes I lose my mind!

In the end, it all turned out alright.  There was much food, much fun, the children played, the grownups ate until stuffed and our home was filled with conversation and laughter.  It was beautiful.  And then I took a nap!  I am so thankful for the gift of a home to share, a husband that lovingly tolerates my perpetual chaos (sorry babe!), for family and friends, for my health and so much abundance that I have to give it away, both in love and hospitality.

The rest of my parent's visit was spent in a relaxing way with pumpkin pie for breakfast, making cookies (pictures are from the cookie making), watching Christmas movies, decorating, and in general having good conversations face to face with my dear parents.
They brought my niece, who is 5, with them and she and Cora played so well together!
Actually, Cora was so independent of me that I felt a little at a loss without her constantly at my side talking to me and saying 'want up' and 'hold you' and 'Cora help you?'.

  So I am full and happy and grateful.  Happy (late) Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

In my own words


I spend a lot of time lately writing other people's words down.  I'm the secretary/ website editor and manager for my local MOMS Club as well as working part time (from home) as the personal assistant/web designer/graphic artist/ copy editor/ all around go-to gal for a friend of mine who has an interior design business that she wants to put on the web. (still working out kinks and adding info to the site, but she is a fabulous designer, if you ever need someone)  With all of this time spent with other people's words, I find that mine are the last to get written down.  I can't journal on paper any more because I've officially lost the use of my right hand for small motor functions (pregnancy related carpal tunnel - don't worry, it'll come back) so this is my journal.  And it gets left behind when I'm busy.  My darling 2 year old, when she sees me in this office chair, comes over, stands at my side and says 'want up?'  So she sits in my lap with her sweet questions and fiddlings, making it very hard to type.  So I give up and we go read books or play blocks or paint with her watercolors.  It's not a bad life really.

But my 34th birthday came and went without much of a blip this year.  Usually I throw myself a cookout, but I didn't have the energy to clean the house, so I settled for a quiet cup of cocoa with friends and then later that week, a movie with my hubby when we could get a babysitter.  I also record the date for posterity to go back and see who I was at the time, or at least a small snippet of me.  So here are some post birthday thoughts.  As was the case in my last pregnancy, I feel very strongly that I am not my own.  Not just because my body is currently inhabited and dictated to by a very small, but very bossy little boy, but because my life and days belong to my family and to others right now.  My home, my husband, my children, my groups, my work, my friends.  They own me right now, and by 'me', I mean my time, my body, my thoughts, and my heart.  It's a season and I'm not complaining, but just writing it down.  (p.s.  It is super frustrating to type with double wrist braces on that somehow manage to delete my words and open  random programs on my computer while I am writing!!)

Middle age is creeping up on me and I don't really mind.  I see my body aging and while I'm a little concerned about how far south my boobs are gonna go by the time I'm an old lady, I realize that not everyone can be medically reconstructed every other year to maintain some impossible standard of beauty. (and actually they never manage to.  Old ladies with lots of work done look strangely stretched and plastic and no longer human. I prefer wrinkles.  It's much more becoming.)  I also love my body when I'm pregnant.  Bulges and bumps and imperfections seem to fade in the face of this growing roundness.  I don't worry about the size of my rear end or whether I have 'muffin top' in my jeans because I have WAY more than muffin top right now. :)  And my hair looks awesome.  Thanks pregnancy!  Truthfully, I'd rather have the use of my hands, but I'll take whatever small concession I'm given and settle for a little extra beauty, at least in my own mind.  I know my puffy face will return to normal and the use of my hands will return and my round belly will (post baby) resemble a half filled waterbed, but for now, for what it's worth, I find myself beautiful.  It's an odd thing to say since most of my life I have looked in the mirror and thought the opposite, despite my sweet husband's vehement protests to the contrary.

I recently read the blog of a young girl who is living in Africa and has sacrificed everything she had to be there and serve God.  She wrote a post about giving everything for Him and how, in her opinion, most people aren't willing to do that for the sake of creature comforts.  I felt a little guilty since my life does not resemble hers at all, with her 14 (yes, 14) adopted daughters (she's in her 20's), her days spent caring medically for the poor, the neglected, and the starved.  And yet, in my own way, I can lay it all down for Him.  This season in my life is about giving myself to others and while I'm not serving the poor in Africa, I am laying down myself, daily, for the purpose I have been given (even when I whine about it).  I get the benefits of being in a place and situation where creature comforts are easily had, but how I choose to give of myself and the state of my heart is what God sees.  I pray that this year is about loving those around me better and laying my own self down in order that others may see the light of Jesus.  And to be unashamed about that.

Friday, October 29, 2010

You - only 2

You, only 2.

Cora - neary 2

This past year of your life has flown by to me.  It seems only yesterday that you were my little bitty babe in arms.  Now you are big and talking, potty trained (at least except for overnight) and doing things that I never even thought you knew how to do!  We celebrated your birthday in the park today with bright orange iced cupcakes that I bought instead of making. Boo.  Homemade things suffer a bit when mama is pregnant!  No one seemed to mind or care, especially you who ate cupcake to your hearts content and ran all over the park with Papa.  You even decided, after nearly a year of boycotting the swing set that you were going to swing.  I was especially shocked since I've been trying to get you to swing ever since you gave it up for no apparent reason about a year ago.  I guess all it took was a trip with Papa to the swings and to see your little friend Suzi do it.  it's been a big hit ever since!

Cora - neary 2

I am, in a sense, mourning the end of our time together, just me and you.  Your brother (at least I hope all the tests were right and he is a brother) is due soon and every moment with you seems precious.  Like I want to capture it in my heart or bottle it up for later.  Later on, you may never remember a time when you did not have a sibling, but I will remember with beautiful clarity the two (and a bit) years we spent as just you and me.  My little shadow, my little helper.  Everything you do right now is either 'like Mama!' or 'like Papa!'  Mostly Mama, since we are together all day long.  We paint our toe nails and finger nails (incentive to get you to not scratch your eczema) and talk about the colors you want to paint them.  Mostly blue or pink. Or green, because you know that is Papa's favorite color. 

Cora - neary 2

You 'help' me in the kitchen, meaning you put on the 'helper apron' I sewed for your birthday and push up your 'helper chair' (one of the tall kitchen chairs) and do your best to grab whatever I am working on, dump ingredients for me (mostly on the counter), play in the dish water and so many other things that make all of my household work take twice as long, but are so much more fun with a little you at my elbow.  We talk about so many things during the day.  We talk about emotions, since you and I seem to have a lot of them lately.  Me, because I'm pregnant, (We say 'Mama sad' a lot right now because everything makes me cry) and you because you are two.  Recently I was helping you into the house, but had to unlock the door first, which took way to long for you and you had a little tantrum right on the steps.  I told you to stop 'freaking out' and go inside.  Later on that week, when I sent you out of the kitchen for throwing another fit when I told you no about something, I heard you say 'I MAD!  I Freaking out!'  I just laughed.  Of course I taught you that, but it seemed so funny coming out of your little self.  You go from quiet and introspective to wild and wiggly.  I look for you when the noise stops and I find you in a sunny spot, looking at a book, all by yourself, content to just be there.  Then you get together with your little friend Liam and you two run around squealing and playing.  Often with you kind of bossing him around and him totally ignoring that and doing what he wants.

I love the way you think about things and then we talk about them later.  Songs, books, things that happen.  You just kind of take it in and then I'll find you singing a song I thought you weren't paying attention to when I sang it.  Or you will say something from a book we happened to read.  The latest was a book called A Beasty story that you found so fun, all about colors and a prank Beast and dark dark brown or blue etc. You say little lines from that all the time and I am so glad that I am the one taking care of you, not someone at a daycare so I know what you are talking about!  I've thought a lot about that lately with so many of your little friends in Mother's Day Out programs.  I'd be missing out on big things if you were in school a couple of days per week.  I know it has to happen eventually, but it's too soon.  You are my little helper!  My little shadow.  You are MY girl. (and Papa's girl, you would remind me)

Cora - neary 2

I am so grateful for this time with you, even thought I don't get done all of the things I'd like to.  It has been such a sweet time.  A joyful time.  A test of who I am as a person, as a mother, as a woman.  You have brought me to life in ways I didn't know were missing.  I hope I can continue to be a light that points toward Jesus for you.  I pray beautiful and wonderful things for you as we cross into the next year.  Our family will grow bigger, you will grow bigger.  Mama and Papa will perhaps grow in wisdom and patience with you and your brother as we sort out what it means to be your Mama and Papa.   Please know that we are learning as you are growing.  All we can do is our best and ask for forgiveness when we mess up.  I love you so much and so does your Papa, even though he doesn't show it in letters to you.  You are a precious gift to us.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The battle for our bed

This began nearly 2 years ago when we brought home this wee little bundle who, after 9 months snuggled against my ribcage, did not want to sleep alone.  Early, tiny and so very dear, I willingly complied and she slept in my arms, literally, every night.  She outgrew it, eventually, and moved from bassinet, to pack-n-play, to her own bed in her own room.  For a long time she slept peacefully through the night in her own bed, but then began to wake up at 4 or so and wanted to be UP.  I put her back in our bed and she slept till an reasonable hour (6:30 or so), but we snuggled the whole time.  All this was working fine until I got pregnant.

Suddenly the need for sleep trumped all and she got the boot.  I still gave in occasionally but she has this thing where she can't just sleep beside me, she has to have one of my arms underneath her and one over the top of her and her face smooshed against my face.  For a pregnant mama struggling to keep feeling in her swollen carpal tunnel limbs, this does not work.  I have to sleep with my arms just so or they go dead believe me when I tell ya, 'just so' isn't under a 25lb nearly 2 year old.  I'm just sayin'. 

This morning's episode began at 5am where uncontrollable sobbing from my girl woke me up.  I got her, she said 'Mama's bed' and 'Snuggle you', so off we went where we slept for nearly 45 minutes until I HAD to move my arms.  What followed was a kicking, screaming fit which got poor Matt kicked in the sleeping kidneys and wide awake. (He usually sleeps through this drama.  Oh for that skill!)  He tried to hold her while I snuggled NEXT to her.  Nope.  It's IN mama's arms or nothing.  Screaming and more fits.  Finally after several warnings, she got plunked back in her bed to throw her fit.  9 minutes of raging fit later she fell back asleep.  I, however, did not.  I cried for my sweet snuggle baby and I cried for having to help her learn things this way, which is, in truth, the hard way, but good for her in the end.  I know I started it too!  Her desire to sleep in my arms is from a history of being allowed to.  I don't regret that time, (and would do it again in a heartbeat!) but it's just time for something new.  So the battle isn't over.  This is just a skirmish and one I am sad to win.  There won't be room for a newborn and a 2 year old in the bed and it's for the best, but I will miss snuggling with my girl.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

4am - 6am

I'm at 26 week now.  Just a smidge over 6 months for those of you who have never counted out your life before baby in weeks.  I'm at minus 4 lbs from my starting weight (don't worry, my midwife approves), eat a great diet, drink massive amounts of water, work out several times per week, avoid salt, and keep my blood pressure low and still, the carpal tunnel gets me.  I wake up some time before dawn with a dead hand that tingles and hurts and I have to get up to make it stop.  Something about lying down pinches off a nerve in my back and I feel the tingly pain start creeping back into my thumb and then my fingers and then my hand. 

So I get up, have a cup of chamomile tea, throw a load of laundry in the washer and wait.  If I get on the computer I wake up more, so I usually avoid that.  I wish I could hold a pen so I could write, but no, pens make it worse.   Then maybe a shower with no kid in the bathroom, then maybe a book.  Then fold the laundry.  After awhile I fall back into bed, determined to not feel the tingles.  Sometimes I get another hour to sleep and then I hear a little voice from the next room calling "Mama?"  And so the day begins.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I wanna rock and roll

I wanna rock-n-roll
I wanna give my soul
I'm wanting to believe
I'm not too old (or pregnant)

Save You from Matthew Perryman Jones' 2008 album Swallow the Sea (parenthesis mine)

This is the season where every part of me starts to rebel against being pregnant, where my fitful dreams are filled with longings and bits and scraps of my history.  And some little selfish part of myself starts whispering in my ear that if I give all of myself to loving these children and being in this season of motherhood, I will eventually lose all of the things that made me.  I know it's a lie, but the fears still linger.  Next month, my 34th birthday will roll around and I'll still be growing this little boy inside me.  My 30's seem to be destined to be focused solely on the raising of these children and I honestly don't know how music (at least the agsty chick folk rock that I loved doing before Cora) fits into that.

Not that music is gone from my life.  I find myself playing children's songs for wild gangs of pre-schoolers in the basement of the local library branch and loving every moment of it.  But that little fear whispers that when my children are old enough for me to go back to music as a job, then I will be too old.  Some of that is the reality of the music industry, but most of that is what I tell myself in the dark moments when I am sick of the monotony of washing the same dishes over and over, of planning meals and cooking for my family every. single. day., and waking up in pain because my body does not like being pregnant. 

It's that old lie of finding my worth in what others think of me.  I play it on repeat like a cassette tape that automatically flips to the other side and just keeps going. (Remember that?)  I want some reassurance in the future that I will be worth something to people whose opinions, in truth, don't matter.  It's my reality today.  Even if, in the light of day, I can set it aside and say to myself, "that's not what's important". In the dark, between trips to the bathroom, it comes back in the yearnings of my dreams and how does one surrender their secret dreams?  I haven't figured out that yet.  I do my best to not let them bleed into the dawn and turn the sunrise to gray.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

In praise of innocence (ie, the unpolluted mind)

Some books, movies, tv shows, and a few other et ceteras have come across my path lately and I have been questioning why they need to be in my life.  At one point, I was told that it was just me, that I was just 'sensitive' to these things.  At the time, I was a little cowed and shut my trap.  Perhaps I am too sensitive.  But after some thinking, I asked myself, "Why not?"  What's wrong with NOT filling my head and heart and dreams up with the worst of humanity? 

Now, I'm no fool. I am not talking about putting on blinders and pretending that violent, terrifying, and horrific things don't exist so I'm gonna stuff my fingers in my ears and say "la la la la la."  What I'm talking about is using these things as a form of entertainment.  And in time, desensitizing myself to them.  The things that we see on television are full of murder, language, sex, gore, and anything else the writers can dream up to get people on the couch and watching.  Now I admit, I'm a sucker for murder mystery shows like Castle or Lie to Me, but I know that these are not things Cora should watch.  For the most part, I wait until she has gone to bed.  But, really, why should I be watching things that I know my child, with her wide eyed innocence, will be frightened of, or confused by or keep talking about why the 'man' was 'sad' when really he was terrified and being hurt, when a scene came up that I wasn't expecting and she happened to get a glimpse of it before I could turn it off.  It's one thing for me to stand guard at the gate of the world around her and explain things that happen and people's actions that I am not in control of, but it is another to read it to her, or let her see it on the TV because I'm too bored/tired/busy to take her for a walk outside and let her pick up leaves and acorns and talk about the rocks and the sky and I happen to be trying to catch up on Ugly Betty while folding a pile of laundry! 

I am thinking I need a major shift if I have to defend no only my child's innocence, but my own, from my own choices.  I have no idea where to begin, but I just had to say this out loud (so to speak). I'll leave you with this thought from my own faith tradition.

Philippians 4:8 (New International Version) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

In praise of dirt

There is something to be said for getting out in the wider more open spaces and just exploring.  I'm a big fan, personally.  So when a nice little day outing was offered at the infamous 'dirt pile', we packed our lunch, a change of clothes and a towel and hit the road!

Cora visits the dirt pile @ Warner pakr

Cora has never been much of a get dirty kind of gal.  Get wet and swim?  You bet! But stuff on her hands HAS to come off as soon as she can drag me to the bathroom sink.  So I thought we'd check it out and see if she liked it.  If not, we packed a snack and could just hang out.

Cora visits the dirt pile @ Warner pakr

Cora visits the dirt pile @ Warner pakr

I could be wrong here, but I'm thinking it was a hit.  And I'm so glad.  I hope to return there as often as we can and let her explore the world around her in this tactile way.  Mudpies, sandbox, a little log cabin, a spigot for making mud, a spigot for cleaning up.  Benches for mamas in the shade...Oh how I wish it were on our side of town!

Cora visits the dirt pile @ Warner pakr

Technically called the 'Nature Play Area', but lovingly referred to by mamas and kids alike as 'the dirt pile', this fantastic kids space is set on the fringe of huge Edwin Warner and Percy Warner Parks, just behind the Warner Park Nature center.  Directions and details can be found here.  I highly recommend this adventure!

Cora visits the dirt pile @ Warner pakr

 A word of warning to you though, don't let your kids wear anything you care about to the dirt pile!  See that hat?  Yeah.  It used to be white and no amount of soaking in Oxyclean has gotten it white again. Ah well.  Happy adventuring!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The line

I've been trying to find the line of late.  The place where I can say, this is where I stand on an issue.  It's hazy, it's gray, it's confusing.  I've been watching from the sidelines as a friend defends her beliefs and her right to practice them the way she sees fit in her own home.  Not only that, but limiting how others practice their beliefs when they come to visit her.  So, where does the sanctity of my own home become paramount, overshadowing my ability to be a gracious and understanding hostess to friends?  Should it be?  Should I force others to conform to my belief system, just because they happen to be in my house?  If not to conform, to respect?  And what does that look like? 

I'm being vague on purpose, because it doesn't matter what the issue at hand is.  Lifestyle choice, religious beliefs, food, sex, violence, language, dress...they all carry different weight in my mind, but in honoring a guest in my home and that guest honoring me, they are all the same.  For me, it comes down to how we respect one another.  And with all that aside, do I feel that my children will somehow be harmed by welcoming this guest into my home?  It's a heavy thing.  It divides.  It creates silent barriers that friends are unwilling or unable to cross.  Most of all, it makes me very sad.  I don't have an answer, just ponderings.  I hope that a middle ground where both parties can come together without feeling compromised exists, but are we willing to do the work to get there?  I hope so.

Saturday, September 04, 2010


It's only the 4th of September, but already the weather is pulling my thoughts on to colder days.  I'm getting all the knitting I can in before my hands become disabled by swelling like they did last time I was pregnant.  Still there is so much to make and do.  Curtains for my kitchen with this lovely fabric, (it's the blue one of the below set)

Alexander Henry Apples Pears Fabric

Plus all of the things that will make this house cozy for the winter months with no carpet down on the floor! Including slippers for all, fingerless gloves for the Geek and a snuggly flannel robe for me. I feel like the days until this baby's due date are both forever away and rapidly approaching. (We find out the gender this week!) There is just so much to do.  I have a list that I think we may accomplish about half of, but even if we don't get it all done, this home is still more than ready for another sweet bundle.  With one newborn experience on our belt, we are much more confident about this upcoming one.  Things that I thought HAD to happen with Cora either didn't or didn't matter much once she arrived.  Lessons learned.  I'm sure this next one will bring a whole new set of lessons with him or her.

In the mean time, I make, and wait, and make some more because I love to make!  What are you makin'?

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Nesting FOR me

The Geek has had sympathy pregnancy symptoms with me both (3 really) times I've gotten pregnant and this one has included home repairs.  (Hurrah!) A weekend or two ago, he pulled up the carpet while I went out with some friends.  I came home to furniture shoved in the spare rooms and our living room empty with wood floors.  I wish I had taken pictures before we put the furniture back in!
floor refinishing

Floor refinishing

Then the next day, the dining room got emptied out and had the same treatment.  We were disappointed  to find a large patch of water damage in front of the (walled in) fireplace, but all in all, they are not too bad.  They are overed in paint and plaster and some random other stuff, but not horrible!  We plan to live with them as they are until spring time rolls around and I'm not with child.  Then maybe I can help with the refinishing!  I'm investigating some craigslist rugs currently to keep little feet warmer this winter.

On a very good note, it appears that with some elbow grease, the floors in the worst spots go from this:
Floor refinishing

To this:
Floor refinishing

So there's hope!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cinderella gets put to work in spite of her fancy dress

I have a little copycat who wants to do and say every little thing that I do. This includes stuff I don't want her to do (like swearing and putting on deodorant) as well as stuff that if she were old enough, I'd totally let her do.  This for example:  (dressed in her favorite fou fou dress, of course! The wicked (real)mother puts Cinderella to work scrubbing dishes!! Muuaaahahahah!)




Friday, August 06, 2010


This little wiggler is making it's presence known.  I feel little pushings from something that is too small to BE pushing.  It's very early to feel this.  I know.  I've tried to convince myself that it's in my head, but it's not.  This little one wants to remind me, every day that he or she is there and on it's way.  And I can either surrender to the growing or I can pretend that I have all the time in the world.  If I do the latter, I get a headache.  I am waiting, hoping, praying, standing with baited breath for the first winds of autumn.  I am not sure it exists.  I have forgotten what crisp air tastes like in the muggy hot of August.  I hide underneath the shade of my roof and venture out in early morning or after dark.  Waiting for that first breath of cooler air and growing.  Always growing.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Better and Better

Cora and Mama
I've said this almost every month of Cora's 21 month life, but this is my favorite age. (I'm sure the next milestone will be my new favorite too)
Cora's grin

Budding photographer

How does this work?
Every day is an adventure of words, discovering, doing, making, and learning.  Half the time she is running around like a bedraggled street urchin because I can't be bothered to get myself out of my p.j.'s before 10am, much less her!  But we do have the best times.

At a recent baby shower, we talked a lot about second babies and what to expect.  I already know I'm going to be missing Cora when I am with the new one and she is with family or with her Papa.  I miss her when she sleeps or is in the nursery at the Y! 
Caught for a squish!

She is my little buddy and we do EVERYTHING together.  Some things I wouldn't mind having to myself again, like going to the bathroom, but the dynamics will be different.  I'm curious and a little anxious.  I know it will be beautiful however it turns out.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

In the dark

In the dark

After an amazing show of electric skies we spent the evening in the dark.  I can't say it was a total loss. I really like reading by lantern light and candle light.  I hung on to this favorite pitcher in spite of the fact that it was broken and I couldn't use it for any beverages.  I think it works well as a candle holder.

In the dark

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Cinnamon-Blueberry Whole Wheat Pancakes

The last bite

That's what's was for breakfast around here today.  I generally don't make pancakes because a.) I don't need that much carbs, butter, and syrup to start my day and b.) by the time I'm done making them, everyone else is finished and I have to eat mine all by myself.  I've tried keeping them warm in the oven, but it's not the same.  In spite of all this, sometimes the urge hits me.  I usually do a basic whole wheat pancake (don't tell the Geek it's healthy for him!) and add stuff (blueberries, bananas, chocolate chips etc.  Today's version was awesome!  Here it is.

Basic Whole Wheat Pancakes (and I'll put the added ingredients at the end)

1 cup flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup sugar (I often use a little less than this)
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 cups milk
1/3 cup veg. oil
(For Cinnamon-Blueberry ones add):
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup blueberries.  You can either mix them in to the whole batch or put 5-6 in each freshly poured pancake.  For these pancakes to come out right your batter needs to be pretty thick.  If the pancakes are not rising high, add a little more flour to your batter to thicken it up.  Runny batter = thinner pancakes

Sift dry ingredients and then mix wet ingredients together separately.  Add the dry to the wet, beat to a smooth batter.  Pour small circles on a hot UNGREASED griddle (or frying pan).  When they are ready to be flipped, they won't stick to the pan.  Serve with powdered sugar and butter, or my favorite, blueberry syrup.  Yum!

SOOO good!

These were a great way to start a hum-drum Wednesday morning and as you can see, they were much enjoyed!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Adventures in Tennessee - Cummins Falls

I'm a huge fan of hiking and swimming and in general spending the summer months getting dirty and then rinsing off in a nice pool, either man made or natural.  After some coercion, I convinced the Geek, who is not very outdoorsy, but loves and humors his wife, to take a family outing to a nearby swimming hole.  We got our info at (or .org), and packed up for an adventure.  Matt was skeptical of our ability to do any serious climbing around waterfalls to find secret swimming holes with a 20 month old, but we went anyway.  Because I'm stubborn and hey, the worst that could happen is that we get there, take one look and decide to swim in the upper part of the river rather than climbing down a cliff with the baby girl strapped to my back.  Which is what happened. provided directions and this description:
"Take the trail down to the overlook then switchback to the river. Wade cross the river (it's only ankle deep) and look for a trail that begins as a steep scramble up to the ridge top. Follow the ridge top trail for a few minutes until you see a rope and use the rope to (safely) get down to the river. Walk back up river to the hole. It sounds like a lot of work but it only takes about 15 minutes and its worth every minute!"

These falls are about an hour and half from Nashville, but most of it is on I-40 and an easy drive.  When we got there there were lots of trails, no switchbacks that we could find, until later.  We never did find the overlook on the road side of the gorge unless they meant the place where the waterfall begins to fall.  We scrambled to the ridge top with Cora in arms, got lost, wandered around in the wrong direction since we had no idea which way the falls were.  (They were downriver)  There were markers, but they led to something else and we eventually found a hunting or logging road that was on top of the ridge (it was not the trail).  Finally after much sweating, some mild swearing and sending Matt ahead to scout where the various rabbit trails went, we found the trail. Then we took a lunch break.
I wish I had taken a picture of the rope that you are supposed to use to "safely get down to the river".  Umm.  We took one look and said nope.  It was nearly straight down for at least 75 feet with a rope tied to some roots at the top.  True there were lots of rocks to climb down, but with me pregnant (and easily exhausted because of that) and a one and a half year old to get down the rocks (even in a baby backpack), it was just not worth the risk.  (And I'm usually a risk taker!) We played in the upper part of the river which was rocky and very chilly where there was a rope swing and lots of minnows to chase
My final review - great for a day trip with older kids who are experienced at climbing and hiking.  Go early before the beer cooler crowd shows up.  We left about 1:30 and they were headed in.  All in all, it was beautiful.  We will go back either when I'm not preggo and Cora is bigger and can climb on her own, or when I'm not preggo and we have pawned our children off on relatives or friends for the day.

4/13/13 *Edited to add*  Last year Cummins Falls became a TN State Park!  I have not gone back with my family to check out the new park and if they have added a safer way to get down to the swimming hole, but you can find more details at
Enjoy the outside!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Sparkly Stars

This 4th of July, we decided to not take Cora to see any fireworks displays for several, supposedly good reasons. (she's to young, it's too loud, it starts at 9pm blah blah blah)  So she went to bed as usual around 7pm, and woke up, as usual, around 11:30pm, thirsty, or cold, or wanting Mama. (The result of traveling.  It happens every time) After a drink and a snuggle I was attempting to get her back to sleep, but outside our window, our neighbors were having a little fireworks display of their own.

Cora sat straight up and started talking about stars.  In my groggy haze with no glasses on, I looked at the window, confused.  Surely she can't see stars.  We live in the city.  But she insisted. 'Spark-ly stars!'  I realized what she was seeing and put on my glasses.  She was transfixed.  She was riveted.  She was amazed.  She talked and talked about it, using sentences I didn't know she was capable in an effort to communicate her wonder.  Matt came and joined us and we watched her watch the fireworks, enjoying her joy.  The next morning as she hopped in bed with us, she talked about it again, for 10 minutes straight until we went downstairs for breakfast.

How easily I forget to marvel at the beauty around me.  Fireworks are old news.  I've got them figured out.  I have a pretty good idea of how they work and while they are enjoyable, they don't mesmerize me.  Much like so many other things around me that I think I have figured out.  I'm so grateful for new little blue eyes to see through and remember the pure joy of life, the wonder, the beauty, the gift of it all.  And that fireworks are really sparkly stars, falling in the night sky.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

The real reason I feel like puking all of the time

I can't keep it a secret any longer.  If you see me and I can't remember your name or that we were supposed to get together, or if I mention I feel like puking all day except this golden little window around lunch time, or I am in bed by 9pm, you will know why.  Yes, # 2 (#3 technically, but we hope this one will actually come out to see us).

At this point I am about 10 weeks along.  We have been keeping it quiet since I was a little fearful from the loss of our last baby.   Family knows and is rather excited, as are we.  I am patiently waiting for about week 12-13 when the fog will lift and I'll be able to remember things for longer than 5 minutes.  I know it's coming. Until then, forgive me for blundering through life.  A baby is eating my brain.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Bath-time for Bunnies

Cora has this favorite bunny and since she and I are packing up for a long trip to Texas, I thought it was time for Bunny's first bath to wash off nearly 20 months of snuggles, snot, and whatever else this bunny has become covered in.  I'm so glad she agreed to snuggle her Bear for nap-time today since Bunny wasn't yet dry.

Also, just to mention in passing, we have been accident free for days!  Cora loves her new panties that she got in the mail from Potty Patty.  My goal was to be done by 18 months and we are very, very close.  All that is left is night-time training and nap-time!  I'm so glad we started this journey early.  There is no bribing with candy or tears about potty time, she just accepts it as part of her life and it's pretty nice to not have to wash diapers any more.  Well...not as many.  We are down to one a day, if nap-time goes well.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Chore Chart

{Greetings friends.  I hope to be back here more often but if I'm not as regular as I used to be, please understand that I am probably not taking my blogging fiber enough or that life is just moving too fast to grab a moment for this.}

I am attempting to get my home life organized.  I am killer organized in an office setting and our finances are so spick and span they practically shine, but the carpet, sadly, is coated in dog hair...again.  I had a great conversation with a friend recently about my inability to be a good, even passable housekeeper.  My house is either gleaming (and I'm collapsed on the floor while Cora whines around my ankles because I've been ignoring her so much) or it is a total wreck and I'm contemplating renting a bulldozer.  There is no in between!  The reason behind it all?  I get totally overwhelmed by my house.  I know what it takes to get it clean and instead of doing it a bit at a time, I want to do it all at once (which is HUGE job), so I avoid it. 

So this week I wrote out what needed to be done on a weekly or monthly basis and made a chart.  Much like the one my mama had for us when we were kids.  (Hmmm.  I find more and more nuggets of Mama wisdom embedded in my brain)  It divides up the house and jobs into days, so no one day feels overwhelming.  Now I can clean the bathrooms and for that day, ignore the hairy carpet because I know that vacuuming day is just around the corner and it WILL get taken care of, but just not today.   My favorite day?  Check out Sunday.  All it says is REST (and think about the menu for the week).  I can sit here and be in the moment, knowing that tomorrow I will tackle one bit of the huge mountain of chores around here.

Friday, May 21, 2010

And so begins the battle for my garden

I planted my first garden this year.  It took some working up to because, I'm one of those weird kind of perfectionists that if I can't do something perfect, I won't try.  It's strange.  I know.  You'd never guess by the state of my house!  But in an effort to work through that, I planted my first garden and didn't do it perfect.  In fact, I made mistakes that continue to irk me.  For example:  The only great garden spot in my yard that is not paved is right next to my house.  I measured, built a raised bed all by myself, bought a truck full of dirt, filled the bed, and planted my little seedlings in spite of wild weather and so much else.  Then I realized that I had put the back foot and a half of my bed UNDER THE EVES.  Yes.  Under them.  So every storm that fills up my gutters so they overflow makes water beat down in a waterfall.  Sigh.

Today Cora and I went out to 'garden' ie she plays in the water and the mud and I weed.  Not that there are many weeds, but I noticed that my squash plants are being devastated by some little critter or insect.  The leaves are munched on and/or clipped off!  Why??  Why??  A wise woman in my garden club once said plant one for the weather, one for the critters and one for your family.  At this rate, the critters and the weather are going to get them all!!  I've got some calls and emails out to wiser garden folk than me, but I'm no fool.  I recognize that the battle for my garden produce has begun.  Slugs, squash bugs, cutworms.  Whoever you are...your name is mud. (or diatomacious earth)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Photoshop and the death of imperfection

We all long for perfection.  They human eye, from birth, seeks symmetry, and contrast.  The long written about, never obtained state of nirvana.  Call it what you like.  We long for things to be as we imagine them in our mind.  I'm guilty myself.  Lots of the photos I post here have been, well, tweaked.  I amp up the saturation or contrast, or make it a bit warmer.  I try to make the photo show what I remember when I took the picture.  But a crappy old digital camera can never capture what I see in my head, for a camera cannot dream, or imagine.  It simply measures the light that will come in through the lens and records the image accordingly.

But what has the 'tweaking' created?  I see images and I no longer trust that they are real.  I assume perfection has been created on someone's computer.  I also have become so used to seeing images without blemish that an awkward photo is painful to the eye.  I delete every blurry or bad photo of me and my family and all that gets recorded is the beautiful.  There are benefits to this, of course.  You never see a picture of me where I have not done my best to hide that double chin and that 'days since my last shower cause the babe howls when I get behind the curtain' hairdo I'm sporting.

Pondering this today as I am unable to take pictures.  My camera has become stuck on a high exposure setting and everything is washed out.  I'm also pondering how often I scrub the image of myself that I present to others so they won't see my imperfections, not just photos, but words, facebook updates, ideas.  Food for thought.  By the way if I could take a picture of Cora right now, it would be amazing.  Seersucker top and pants, my black and white slouch purse over her arm and a purple safari hat from the Nashville Zoo.  My girl has style!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Nashville Flood - the story behind the story

In case you haven't heard due to oil spills off the coast and bomb threats in NYC, Nashville flooded over the weekend.  Torrential rains fell for two days filling reservoirs, lakes, rivers, and creeks then spilling over into neighborhoods, downtown business districts, everywhere.  The death tole climbs as the flood waters recede.  It's all over the news.  You can watch it here.  Read about it here.

There's a story behind the story, though.  It is in the volunteers that mobilized and helped those in danger, and those in need.  The local East Nashville (our little neighborhood) google group was abuzz with posts asking how people could help.  Alan Murdock and Tracy McTamaney had neighbors rally to the Art House Gardens and organized teams with buckets pumps, shovels, and manpower to head out into the neighborhood for recovery efforts.  Our house was flooded, but by comparison to some of our neighbors, we got off easy.  Still the volunteers came yesterday and removed a massive pile of debris from our basement.  It would have taken Matt and I weeks by ourselves and who knows what mold would have festered there in the mean time.  We have been blessed and cared for in abundance!   Here's another story about volunteering in our area.

As homes become accessible, the cleanup efforts will continue.  Your sweat equity (and trash bags!) are needed.  Want to volunteer or make donations?  Here are a few options:

Hands on Nashville -a great way to help locally
ArtHouse Gardens - local East Nashville effort, collecting supplies, mobilizing teams Call Alan at 243.5499 
Check with your church!  (City Church folks can call Catherine) Many local churches are sending out volunteers with supplies, food, and provisions.
Donate to the Red Cross at their website, or text message "REDCROSS" to 90999 and make a $10 donation to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. Donations will appear on customers' monthly bills or be debited from a prepaid account balance.
Head over to Do Something. org to organize your own local effort.  We've heard of former Nashville residents organizing clothing drives to bring into Nashville.  Right now, the needs are for bottled water, camping supplies etc.
Martha O'Bryan Center Emergency Food bank - needs volunteers to deliver meals to homebound folks. If anyone can volunteer, please call our Volunteer Coordinator, Judy Gaither, or Meals on Wheels coordinator, Jennifer Milam, at 254-1791

Here are a few more options posted by Nashville's local paper - the Tennessean

Monday, May 03, 2010

The Great Nashville Monsoon of 2010 - our little bit of it

Greetings from Nashville!  Over the past two days, we like many others in our area were  flooded with the heavy rains that fell.
Flood May 2010

Flood May 2010

Our basement was a grubby swimming pool, and we had (and still have) minimal power in an effort to turn off the basement electricity (which, in some places, is on the same line as upstairs!! Ug!) , and no gas (which means no stove, no hot water, etc.)  But the day dawned bright and clear Monday and we are slowly pumping out the estimated 15,000 - 18,000 gallons of water that filled up our large basement starting on Saturday night.
Here's what it looked like Sunday night and it got about 5 inches deeper before reaching it's final level.  You can't tell, but the water comes to the top of my thighs in this picture.  (About 2.5-3 feet)  It's not totally level, so some areas are deeper.
Flood May 2010
I wasn't able to get into the 'finished' room to take pictures in there, but the sheet rock in there is ruined.  It'll be a job to pull it all out!

Since most of the area was hit by this as well, sump pumps, fans, and dehumidifiers are going to be in pretty sharp demand for awhile.  The local DIY tool stores are not able to keep up with current demand.  We do have a plan, and thanks to Dave Ramsey, an emergency fund for events such as this

Today, after many, many promises of pumps, one finally arrived and in just a few hours, the floor of our basement was again visible.  "Carter" and his "water team" entertained us while they pumped water out. 

Huge mother of a pump!

Libby - a member of the 'water team' entertains Cora
Libby shows Cora her mermaid doll

Later "Carter's" wife and third child joined us and we had a nice little chat on the back yard  lawn.  Cora enjoyed playing with one of the "water team's" mermaid doll.  Did I mention that the water team was two little girls?  Yes.  It was.  And they had so much fun!

Matt on 'Cora Duty' while we sweep water toward the pump
Cora hangs out with Papa we slog around in the 'pond'.

Water levels
 You can see how high the water got!  We are hoping our hot water heater and furnace are OK, but it looks doubtful.

So tomorrow we will rent dehumidifiers, borrow some more fans and start demolishing the soggy sheet rock.  Sounds like fun huh? If you want to join in, bring a hammer, a shovel and some work gloves!
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