Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I saw this Facebook status update today.  "This week we remember all babies born sleeping ,or those we have held but could not take home or the ones that came home but didn't stay. Make this your profile status if you or someone you know has suffered the loss of a baby."  I couldn't bear to make it my own status update because it hit a little too close to home, this week especially.  This is the week, nine years ago, I lost our first son, Wilder.  And every year, starting September 25th, I get depressed.  Just sitting here, typing this (in the library of all places) I am sweating in an effort to not cry.  My throat hurts and I want to lie down.

When I tell people the story of our loss, I tend to gloss over a lot.  I just give the facts.  We found out about a month before he died, that he had Trisomy 13 and probably would not survive to term.  I didn't feel him kick on the evening of September 25th so we went to the doctor the next day.  He was stillborn the day after that, the 27th.  What I don't tell people is that I had believed so genuinely that God would never let me suffer through something so awful that when it actually did happen, I was lost.  Completely and totally convinced that God was punishing me for getting pregnant before I had actually gotten married.  That I was not worthy of being anyone's mother and God was showing me in the most awful way possible.

The week of pure hell did not end until we buried Wilder on October 1st, 2001.  So you see, I am still in the throes of my week of feeling melancholy and sad.  I will say this though.  I have gotten over my feelings of being punished by God.  We live in a broken world and it is filled with sorrow.  Filled to the brim.  It took me a long time to come to a place of acceptance and I am glad I have finally gotten to it but I still miss him.  There are some people I know that wonder why I still grieve the death of my child after all these years.  But they never knew him up close like I did.  He did live in me for 7 months after all. 

I know now that God is good and loving and just.  Exactly like we were taught in Sunday school.  He knows the grief of losing a child, to the cross, to the sin of the world.  And though I'm sure that some could argue that God could have stopped it, healed Wilder down to his DNA, I think that it doesn't matter anymore.  He's gone from me now and I have let go of what might have been.  "If" is such a terrible word. 

This year was the first year we, as a family, celebrated Wilder's birthday.  The kids understand that he is in heaven, waiting for us to join him.  When I mentioned that it was his birthday on Monday, Avery said, so excited, "Let's celebrate it!".  How could I refuse?  So we got cupcakes and a "9" candle and sang for all we were worth.  Alden asked me what age we got be in heaven.  That child loves to ask the stumper questions.  I didn't have an answer except to guess that maybe we can pick what age we love best. 

I personally think it doesn't matter what age I get to be as long as I finally have all my children with me, at last.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Craft Bric a Brac: Part Deux

cookie cutter


I would like to thank McDonald’s for putting a semi-useful toy in their Happy Meal this go round.  We got a Strawberry Shortcake doll that smells delicious along with a strawberry cookie cutter.  

So, using some break and bake Pillsbury cookies (that were 2 for $5, plus a $1 off coupon at Publix), my daughter and I tried to make some strawberry cookies.  This was not an easy task.  The dough was too sticky.  So I said forget it.  I baked the cookies as they were, straight out of the package.  When I took them out, I “stamped” them with the cookie cutter.  And, um, beware of the hot lava cookie dough burning the palm of your hand while doing this.  They looked so cute (though I forgot to take a picture)!  But Avery thought they needed jazzing up so we tinted a little bit of canned frosting red and green.  This is what we ended up with:

strawberry cookie2

We added jimmies to some of them for seeds.  We didn’t have chocolate ones though, so they didn’t look like I wanted them to.  I think these could also pass as tomatoes, but that sounds gross for a cookie lol.

I also got started on my heat embossing for Christmas presents.  After some experimenting with pigment ink pads and a better heat gun (take that Martha Stewart), I finally had some successful results. 

I bought some scrapbooking cardstock paper at the Hobby Lobby on sale (72 pages for $4.50).  The paper itself was really pretty and several patterns had glitter on it already.  I was also able to find some nice alphabet stamps at Michaels for about $3 on clearance.  Here is a sampling of the cards I have done:


bird card


I used a corner punch that also embosses part of the design to dress up some of the paper.  This stamp is so intricate and beautiful.  I was surprised the powder didn’t bleed together more.






k card


I had a few different letter stamps, but I really like this typewriter-style.  I also really like the black embossing powder.  It looks like patent leather.




m card



I figured out that the glittery powders are temperamental and do not melt evenly.  There is also a lot of static cling and it made specks on my finished product, even though I tried to brush the excess away.


I plan to make several sets of these cards and give them away as presents to teachers, friends and family.  And while it has been quite an investment (money and time wise), I have really enjoyed making these cards.  And since it involves no cutting or drawing circles or straight lines, then I can do it almost to perfection!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cotton candy and livestock, you say?

Yes it's time for the fair again.  I literally cannot wait to go.  We attempted to go to the state fair this year but since we have bad credit, we could not take out a loan to pay for the armbands.  It was ridiculous that they were charging to get in the gate and then $20 for a ride-all-you-want armband.  I mean, I know my kids could wear down the axle on a carousel but there was no way we could afford $100 plus for a trip to the fair.

So we have opted for the cheaper albeit smaller county version.  We go every year and though not much has changed over the past few years, it never fails to delight all of us and fill us up on trans fat, sugar and dizziness enough to last until next fall.  The only complaint I will have this year (and it was the same for last year) is the heat.  Who in the hell turned up the thermostat on September?  I remember not so many years ago breaking out the jeans and cardigans for this time of year.  Luckily, the fair isn't even open during the day so we will have a little bit of coolness and get to enjoy all the lights.

And as much as I enjoy the fair, the food, the people, I will say that growing older has really taken away my love for riding the rides.  For those of you who haven't heard the story of me, a Cook's Pest Control truck and the hysterically screaming driver, several years ago I was mowed down in a parking lot by said driver in said truck and suffered minimal injury but sustained a massive case of vertigo and pelvic discomfort.  So now, riding rides makes me so dizzy I wanna puke.  I actually turn several shades of green.  It's not a pretty picture.  Especially when you take into account that I've probably had a funnel cake and maybe a corndog.  I will ride a ride or two and get a thrill but even the merry go round will make me see double for a minute.  So I leave the riding to my kids and husband.

Maybe this year I will just resign to taking pictures and admiring the quilts and canned items of the good people of the county where I live.  Though when it's all said and done, I know that I will be melancholy for another fair and September that have gone all too quickly.

 "Oh holy prairie night. The music of the carousel and buzz of the electric lights:
Your benediction for a fading summer." --Kristie Woll

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Didn't your momma teach you manners?

The wonderful invention of cell phones has revolutionized the world as we know it.  Our friends and family are just a voice command or button push away.  We can watch movies or surf the net with the touch of a finger.  It thrills me to no end.  Even though I have a $20 dollar flip phone that doesn't even have a camera, I am just tickled pink over how technologically advanced those little do dads are.  I am not, however, thrilled at how the better phones get, the more rude people seem to become.

Just for my only little ranting and raving purposes, here is my list.

Things You Do on Your Phone that Make Amanda Mad:
  1. How about being in the library and the librarian is not only on speaker phone but on a push to talk phone that chirps every time she speaks.
  2. Pretending to talk to me or listen to me while you are obviously texting.
  3. Asking me a question in Wal Mart...yes, you complete and total stranger...and then while I answer, you go back to your gossip session on the phone.  I do NOT want to know that she had dinner on the table last night only to have him be an hour late because he was seeing his mistress.  Which takes me to #4.
  4. Just because you are on your phone does not mean you are in the Cone of Silence.  God have mercy, please be aware that everyone on the aisle or checkout line with you can hear what you are saying.  And going into detailed descriptions of anything bodily is simply not acceptable.
  5. Also, is cussing so profanely and loudly right by me and my children really necessary?  And this occurred in the school parking lot, during school hours. 
I realize that there may be a time or two when I fall victim to committing some of these crimes myself.  But for the most part, these things will continue to annoy me and make me scowl at people as I pass them with my cart (which by the way, will always be filled with organic produce and cruelty free products hahahaha).  Seriously, I do realize that no one is perfect and sometimes you forget where you are or you simply HAVE to have that conversation right then and there.  I just wish we still lived in a time where polite consideration for others came above our own agenda and personal needs. 

Thanks for listening to me vent.  I would have called you but I can't hear over the librarian.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Nosy Nellie

I am nosy.  I cannot help it, I’ve tried.  I literally have to bite my tongue or remove myself from a conversation if someone is going on about something I don’t know about.  I should learn to mind my own business better, I really should.  It’s what polite, level headed people do. 

I don’t want to know for gossip’s sake, I want to know to satisfy my inordinate level of curiosity.  I am like a child that sees an extravagant toy in the window.  I HAVE TO HAVE IT, the information that is.  For instance, if I find out my husband has a gift for me, I nag him to the point he tells me what it is or gives it to me.  And if he doesn’t relent, I get steamin’ mad.  It’s completely out of control. 

So when you find yourself talking to me and I seem to be asking too many questions or being too personal, do one of two things.  Pity me for being a slave to my ridiculous nosiness (and give me the scoop) or remind me to mind my own beeswax.  I will try really hard not to be offended or die from the sheer horror of not being able to know what I don’t know.  And above all, if you do decide to let me in on the story, know that I will take it to heart.  I will pray for you when you ask, I will have sympathy if you need it and I will not blog your business all over town.  Because one thing can override my crazy need for knowledge and that is, to be a dear friend.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Women of the South and Why I Love Them

I just finished reading a book called "Crazy Ladies" by Michael Lee West.  It wasn't until the end of the book that I realized the author was a woman.  That peeved me slightly, because I thought a man had finally cracked open the psyche of a woman.  Anyway, I digress about that. 

I am relentlessly nosey and reading helps satisfy my unnatural wonder for how other people live.  I generally lean towards biographies or historical drama type books with one exception.  Southern Woman Fiction.  I can hardly get enough of it.  I think I actually cried when I realized I had read all of Rebecca Wells' books. 

Obviously, the writers of said books have talent or else I would not get past the first few pages, but what draws me in is some deeper level of understanding.  These women say "ya'll" and kitchy things like "hells bells" or "Lordy Jesus".  They drink iced tea and never have to include that it's sweet tea (it's just understood here in the South).  They wear cotton dresses and look effortless, even if they spent an hour doing their hair.  They talk about butterbeans, babies and being crazy as if each were a rite of passage. 

There is rarely anything more important to a Southern woman than her family and in these books I love, family takes on every form of cohesion.  Whether it be the family you were born into, the family you marry into or the family you make for yourself, out of friends and sister women, each of these characters clings to them for better or for worse.  Of course, in most of these books, the family you were born into is full of crazy drunks, the one you marry into is full of snotty people that never accept you and the one you make is full of gay men or women that are tragically ill/beaten/crazier than you (and any combination thereof). 

I love how these Southern women just take it all in stride.  Nothing is too big or too awful to handle.  Granted, there is a lot of bourbon and "nerve pills" swallowed down with the gravity of the situation, but to me that is the mark of a tough as nails kinda gal.  One that can down a jigger of Wild Turkey, swipe on some lipstick and say "Hells bells that was a close one".  I guess some would describe it as gracefulness.

So why do I love Southern women?  The way they talk, the way they look and the way they handle life.  I was born and raised in the South.  I once took a minor detour to the Pacific Northwest, felt like I was a catfish out of water and promptly returned to the heart of Dixie.  And even though I can feel the roots of the South deep in my bones, I am still working on being a true Southern woman.

A high station in life is earned by the gallantry with which appalling experiences are survived with grace.   -Tennessee Williams

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Craft Bric-A-Brac

I love to craft.  Here’s a secret though…I am not artistic.  I cannot draw or cut a straight line.  I also have a hard time inventing ideas myself.  I’ve bought tools over the years to disguise my downfalls.  A hot glue gun, pre-cut easy peasy kits, even ribbon with stick um already on the back.  I also have things that seem silly…corner punches, rick rack scissors, forty kinds of ribbon.  I also have scads of gorgeous papers for any occasion.  The whole thing has become pretty ridiculous.  My husband, fortunately, indulges me in this hobby.  Mainly, I think, because it keeps my attention from using him as a project.  I will post projects I plan to undertake or have recently completed here from time to time.  And since my poor, poor camera has died, I will post links to similar projects, etc until I can go back to snapping lovely photos.

So for now, here are some items that have piqued (why is this word spelled this way?  Why can’t it just be PEEKED or PEAKED?  anyway…) my crafting curiosity:

1)  What can you do with a used toilet paper roll?  First guess, throw it away.  A close second would be, make a kid a telescope.  BUT, did you know that for the low, low cost of some contact paper or clear coat spray paint, you could have some fabulous pillow box style containers?  I have enlisted family and friends to save their empty rolls so I can make some of these beauties for class parties.  Below is a pic and a link to a great how to:

Pillow Box from TP Rolls...who knew?


By the way, to give credit where credit is due, the owner of this how-to has a wonderful blog called Skip to my Lou.  She has all kind of dandies like free downloads and gift ideas.  Check it out!

2) Hand sewn journals.  Seriously, this is about the simplest idea I’ve seen in a while.  You know how you have odds and ends of wrapping paper, scrapbook paper or cardstock after finishing a project?  Well, here is THE idea for it, mainly because it doesn’t matter what size you have left.  I have already done some of these for my kids and I was extremely happy with the results.  It only took a couple of hours to cut the paper (I didn’t have any scraps), fold and sew the books.  I also stamped the outsides and put decorative tape on the binding.  Below is a pic of one that looks really similar to what I did.


The woman that made these has some gorgeous pictures of the insides and other journals she has created at her blog, Dispatch from LA.  She has some more embellished version that I cannot wait to attempt.  Also, here are the instructions to sew the bindings, but I did not have an awl or special waxed thread.  So I used a heavy duty needle and doubled the cotton thread I did have.  I poked the needle through the pages using a template and then just went back through with my thread (and the same needle). 

3) Heat Embossing.  As in for cards or stationary.  I bought this Martha Stewart kit and the ridiculously expensive tool and had some pretty disastrous results. 

embossing kit

Luckily, I got both items at about half price but still thought I had spent too much money for the craptastic images I was left with on my paper.  They looked runny and splotchy.  So I googled my little heart out until I found this video review of the kit and realized it was the “special” stamp pad including in the kit.  I also found this step-by-step tutorial and realized that a little cornstarch would help get rid of the hanger-on embossing powder that was ruining my background.  So I now intend on buying a better stamp pad and using that baby sock idea to emboss some PERFECTION.  I can’t wait!

That’s all for now.  I’m giving myself a headache and it’s time for dinner anyway.  Please let me know if you have done any of the projects above and what tips you have.  I’d also love some new ideas.

A diva is someone who is a perfectionist, who does her best in her craft.
Patti LaBelle

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Mornin’ Glory: Two Weeks Later

Attempting to smooth out the wrinkles of our morning routine has been a s-l-o-w process.  Our bedtime routine has gotten relatively easier but the mornings, well, they just might kill me. 

I am still having a five minute conversation with myself over what I can do (or rather, not do) to just lie there for a little while longer.  I’ve tried to convince my husband to make me coffee in the morning or get the kids dressed for me but that is not going to happen.  At first, I thought it was because he secretly did not love me anymore and knew this was the way to let me know.  I soon realized though, that he leaves the house in a bleary eyed state of semi-consciousness and is not capable of remembering to clothe or feed anyone but himself.  So I end up playing the horrible mom card on myself to get out of the bed.  And this morning, I noticed that something had actually changed.  Though I was dog tired (and I even fell asleep before 10pm last night), I was not grumpy.  What a feat!  I felt sure a morning of small miracles was about to unfold and all my work would be rewarded!  (I hear the Chariots of Fire theme, don’t you?)

Then Avery woke up. 

That sentence gets to stand alone so you can absorb the gravity of it.  Because you see, that girl is possessed.  If your kids acted better than usual this morning, you can thank Avery.  She vacuumed up all the ill tempered grouchiness in a 100 mile radius, I swear.  She shouted at me from the bed that she didn’t want to go to school.  She stomped to her shoes, put them on and stomped in them to the kitchen.  I asked her what she needed for her lunch and she promptly threw herself on the floor and began sobbing.  I asked her what was wrong and she answered me in a scream that I think only mothers and dogs can hear.  She got a spanking for that one.  Then she stomped out on the front porch and slammed the front door so hard behind us that the windows shook.

I was fit to be tied, I was so mad at that little girl.  Then we get in the car and as I am shutting my door, my little miracle happened.  She handed Alden our morning devotional book. 

Even though she frowned with her arms crossed over her chest in a huff and did not speak a word the entire ride to school, she listened to the devotional.  I realized that all my hard work at making our mornings smoother was not about time management or getting enough sleep, it was about starting them with comfort and assurance that I cannot provide.  I hope that they both will keep that in their heart.  That so many mornings they will wake up and not want to face what’s ahead but through devotion, they can find peace and promises.

Peace is not the absence of affliction, but the presence of God.  ~Author Unknown

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Wait…did I say for better? or for worse?

Marriage is the toughest job I’ll ever love.  Forget the Peace Corps.  There are some days when I definitely feel the work outweighs the rewards but most days and even times on the bad days, I feel like I won the giant bear at the state fair.

My husband and I met each other in March of 2001.  By July, we were married and expecting our first child.  Our first year of marriage was not a whirlwind of new romance and feathering a nest.  Instead it was plagued with sadness over losing our first child and wrestling with trying to conceive again.  But our love was held fast by the Lord and instead of untying our devotion to one another, it was cemented in place.  If we could survive such sorrow, we could put all petty things aside and live happily ever after, right?

By our first anniversary, we had news of our second pregnancy and a new hopefulness in beginning our family.  But again our wedded bliss was put on hold because of complications.  Bedrest for twelve weeks and then a four week hospital stay led to the early birth of our second son.  The challenges of being new parents were doubled when I learned of my third pregnancy around the time our son turned five months (and right around the time of our second anniversary).  I am laughing to myself as I type this, because I know what you are thinking.  And yes, we did know what was causing all of this. 

So it went, baby number three arrived a few months before our third anniversary.  And we were deeply in the throes of keeping up with a seventeen month old and a two month old.  Everything seemed in order.  I was staying home with the children and slowly pulling out my hair.  And my husband was working hard to bring home the bacon.  Then the bottom fell out.  My husband lost his job.  We were devastated, again.  I found myself wondering what I had signed up for.  Was this what our married life would be like forever?  Where were all the promises God had made and the ones we had made to each other? 

By our fourth anniversary, we had decided to make a fresh start.  We packed up our family and moved thousands of miles away to live in a place that would never be home to me.  We were closer to my husband’s family and that brought a measure of solace to him that I could not give him.  But I was pregnant again and things were unraveling quickly.  The baby was not developing and my pregnancy hormones were literally going up and down and up and down.  I was having a hard time adjusting to our new home and I was lonely staying at home with a one year old and two year old.  I ended up having a emergency surgery for an ovarian cyst and my pregnancy was finally declared a miscarriage.  I was at the end of myself and left that place to come back thousands of miles to Alabama.  My husband had to stay behind and tie up loose ends.  We were apart from each other for four months.  I believe that some people thought I had left my husband.  But I did not.  I missed him terribly and felt as though part of me was missing and could not be found.  But I just could not survive so far from the south.  The heart of dixie is the heart of me, I guess.

Then we were in our fifth year.  Reunited and settled, once again.  Another pregnancy came and ended in tears.  I was riddled with health problems over a few months and we finally decided that I should not have any more children.  I was faced with another set of doubts about being married.  Would my life have gone drastically different if I had married someone else?  Should I cut my losses, which seemed so great, and find a new beginning?

In year six, we bought our first home.  It was modest but ample.  And we thought we had finally reached a plateau in chaos.  Life filled up with the everyday stuff.  Getting ready for school, bath times, paying bills and what’s for dinner.  This is what I had been striving for.  What we had been fighting for.  Life.  Sweet married life with two precious kids in tow.  I gave God a pat on the back for finally getting it right.

But there is not an up without a down.  Year seven brought a change of jobs for my husband and a mounting set of financial problems.  We are not people that live beyond our means.  We don’t have credit cards or new automobiles.  But suddenly, it became expensive to live. 

Those problems flowed into year eight and despite months and months (literally ten months) of back and forth with our mortgage company, we faced foreclosure.  We were working frantically to get assistance from a government program, but it came too late.  On Christmas day, we left our home for the last time.  I thought it was such a nice touch that the company who had delayed and postponed the proceedings for nearly a year, would not concede to wait another week.  They seemed nonplussed over evicting us on Christmas day. 

I am sure you are wondering what year nine has brought upon us.  Or you might be wondering how long this story can go on…enough already, right?  So far, it has brought nothing but joy.  I have taken a long look at my ingratitude and bitterness.  God has never forsaken me.  He has never abandoned me.  He was right there weeping with me and feeling the pain that I felt.  He was lifting up my husband, when I was putting him down.  He was knitting back the bond we have when one of us was ripping it apart.  I look at my husband when he walks in the door after work and know that he is the person that survived all of this with me.  No one else knows my secrets like he does and no one loves me in spite of them like he does.  Well, maybe my mother but you know what I mean.

As we work our way towards a decade of knowing and loving each other, I hope that this will always be what I have.  Circumstances will change and the world will try to overtake us.  But the promises we made to each other, before God, will be what holds us together. 

Live happily with the woman you love through all the meaningless days of life that God has given you under the sun. The wife God gives you is your reward for all your earthly toil.  Ecclesiastes 9:9

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