Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Guess Who Found a Forever 21 Card?

pleated poppy

When Gottchalk's closed, I got pretty sad.
Where was I going to find great deals on jeans and no tax sales?

When I heard Forever 21 was going to take its place, I wasn't exactly excited.
I had never been to Forever 21, so I was definitely prejudging.
I just knew I didn't want to look like a 21 year old.
Not that I don't like clothes for 20 year olds... it's just that I'm almost 2 decades older than that.
I've got to be age appropriate...
I'm a mom who drives a sweet van for Pete's sake!

But I decided to give it a try... 
(because I was being such a trooper.)

I found HUGE amounts of clothing... almost overwhelming amounts!
So I bought some things, and didn't realize they have a crazy return policy.
I ended up with a gift card.
It had since been forgotten... buried in my wallet.

Until now...

Top: Forever 21; Tank: Ross; Jeans: Tommy Hilfiger via Goodwill; Earrings: Target

I love the pretty lace on this one, and its bright happy color.
I got my hairs cut that day, too.   First time in 6 months... boy did they thank me profusely! 

Top: Forever 21: Wide-leg jeans: Goodwill; Gold Bangle: gift; Necklace: good ole Mervyns 

(As long as I'm bellyaching about stores closing...
I'm also upset that Mervyns closed.  I took advantage of many $3-5 deals at Mervyns, such as this necklace.
Perhaps that's why they closed... hmmm.)

Isn't the top sweet though?  
It reminds me of my sweet mother... she loves blue and white!

Slouchy Tee: Marshalls; Capris: Eddie Bauer via Goodwill; Necklace: Forever 21 (about $4!);
Gold Bangle: Gift; Turquoise Bangle: Heirloom

There's a great story that goes along with the turquoise bangle, but because I have been grumbling about apparel stores, I do not have time to tell it.
Next time...

You know what I've realized after perusing these photos?   
Forever 21 ain't half bad!
You aren't going to catch me wearing one of their micro mini skirts... ever.
But their tops and accessories are pretty okay!
I'm glad I gave them a try!  

Monday, June 27, 2011

Saying No

The Valley: Part 6 

The day finally arrived.  We had been waiting patiently for two years.  Going through two certifications. Learning all we could in our classes.  Praying for our girls.  Praying for redemption.  Moving the boys into a room together so that the girls would have a place to call their own.  Preparing their hearts for sisters.  Preparing ours for daughters.

Linda, I have some good news.  We have found two sisters that need a home.  I think that this would be perfect for you guys.

I felt the lump in my throat and the nausea well up in the pit of my stomach.  Oh, Lord, no.  Why now? 

I prayed silently.  Please help me get through this conversation without weeping.  Please give me the grace to be able to say no.  I can't do this alone.

Please don't tell me anything about them, I said.  It will be too difficult.  You see, I am dealing with chronic illness... it is a glandular issue I have dealt with before, but I don't have the physical capacity to take any children right now.  Could you put us on hold for now, until I'm done with my treatment?

I listened to my own voice, full of hope, optimism and a blind assurance.  And then I hung up and collapsed in a sobbing heap.  Oh, how my heart ached.   Lord, why is this happening?  I know it is your heart to redeem these girls and show them your love.  I know your heart is for adoption.  Why have you allowed me to become so ill?  Why can't I take these children?

My whys were met by my husband's comforting arms, and we grieved over the loss together.  Could I just take a paternity leave at work and take them? he asked.  But we were barely able to care for our own pressing needs.  It just wasn't possible.  The answer was no... it was clearly no.

Along my journey, a friend spoke the oxymoronic phrase...

It is important to suffer well.

I have thought about this idea a lot.  More specifically, what do I want to gain from my suffering so that it is not wasted.  Do I want to be done with the season and move on, or in it, do I want to learn compassion and the heart of Jesus as I have never known.

The one vision that has remained in my mind about the way life will look when I am well is that we will adopt our girls.  They will complete the picture of our family.  It is a deep Shalom... a peace I can't even comprehend.  There is seldom any doubt or questioning in my mind about it.    And I wonder if they are the reason I have been allowed to travel through this dark valley.

So that I could be given a glimpse into their fragile, broken hearts.

So that I would have a fresh understanding of pain and fear and uncertainty.

So that my limited understanding would be replaced with a deep perseverance and longsuffering.

So that my heart would learn to deeply love what is really important.

Only time will tell.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Fishy Sentiments

"Just keep swimming... just keep swimming!"
sage sentiment by Dory

by Jason

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Barren Truth

The Valley: Part 5

A couple weeks passed, and I realized I had crossed a physical threshold. First, I made an appointment to see my general practitioner. I think I have a hormone imbalance, I told the nurse. Tears welled up in my eyes as a result of the months of emotional distress that were now coupled with very real and debilitating physical symptoms.

We all go through these tough times, he said. "Everything is going to be ok." There was the message once again. Except I didn't feel like everything was going to be ok... I felt frightened and alone.

I left the office with referrals for lab work and a psychiatrist. Did I need a psychiatrist, I wondered. I knew a psychiatrist would most likely prescribe antidepressants, and I had wondered if I had clinical depression and/or an anxiety disorder. I didn't have an objection to taking SSRI's if I needed to address a chemical imbalance, but I simply did not feel a peace about going this route yet.  I prayed about it and kept feeling like my condition might have a deeper, physical core.

After I threw away the referral, I made an appointment with a local naturopath. He listened carefully as I explained all my symptoms and considered my history. He ran a panel of different tests.  For one thing, your adrenals are fatigued, he diagnosed.

No... no they are not. I have a hormonal imbalance. Please just give me some progesterone cream, I wanted to plead. It can't be my adrenals. You see, I had already dealt with severe adrenal exhaustion in my early 20's.  My cortisol levels had nearly flatlined back then, and I was dangerously close to Addison's Disease.  Done with that season, I was not willing to revisit it, and the havoc it wrecked on my life. I had lost a job, disrupted my marriage, and done the hard healing work associated with repairing my adrenals and dealing with candida issues already.  

The past fourteen years had swallowed up that story, and I didn't wish to ever talk about it again.  It made me feel like a hypochondriac... well-meaning people had spoken so patronizingly and never understood what was going on inside me, because my "healthy" facade never altered.  Maybe you just need a different type of job, dear.  Have you tried going to bed earlier?  You should eat a raw diet with lots of fruit juices (advice that was actually detrimental for my adrenals & would feed the candida).  If I could just say I had pneumonia or mono, it would be so much easier.

Figuratively speaking, I put my fingers in my ears and said "La La La" while the doctor spoke. This couldn't be happening. And yet it was. In my heart, I knew it rang true.  I was going to have to deal with an obscure chronic illness once again.  Oh Heavenly Father... please help me.

Thus began the difficult work of acceptance and change. We would have to restore my adrenal function and rid my body of some systemic viral activity this time around... and that would take time. A lot of time. My structure and routine would completely have to change if I wanted to get well.

I stopped volunteering at my kids' schools, 

I stopped ministry

I stopped social activity

I stopped taking my kids to the park, 

I stopped singing

I stopped teaching Bible studies... 

I stopped being the wife and mother and friend I used to be.

I stopped being ME. 

I felt completely barren and fruitless...





But by this time, I couldn't escape the fact I was very sick.  I was so overwhelmed with people and noise, I welcomed the opportunity to become a recluse, and I needed the rest.

Still,  it was not what my heart of hearts desired. I wanted to be well and thrive,  a vibrant part of my family's and friends' lives... I wanted ME back.

So I chose to grieve over the truth, and then, by God's grace, I accepted it. Unfortunately, I would later come to understand,  I only possessed part of the truth about my illness... the easier part.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

On Mumus, Pink, and Basics


Here I am... coming back for more.
Linking up with Lindsey 
at The Pleated Poppy

First off, we have a "dress" I'm not sure how to categorize.

When I saw it I thought...
This is sort of 60's, a bit like a comfy mumu
and I couldn't get Pippi Longstocking out of my head.
Not necessarily something Pippi herself would wear, but maybe Annika. 
I love Annika.
Maybe my left pinkie is partly Swedish.

Anyway, no one was brave enough to tell me it puts on 10 pounds.
Will this deter me from wearing it?
No... I will just suck my cheeks in and carry on.

Dress: Ross; Jeggings: L.E.I. via Walmart clearance; Necklace: Gift/Lisa Leonard

If this is wrong, I don't want to be right.

I don't wear pink a lot, so this next outfit is rare footage.
It makes me think of college days when I really had a thing 
for pink and green... 
as in my entire dorm room was pink and green. 
Good times and donut runs! 

Shirt: Gap/thrifted; Skirt: Express (from last century... literally); Scarf: don't recall
Locket: Bought with my allowance at Pic 'N Save when I was little 

Jason's favorite color of all time is orange.
Do you ever colorblock with bold colors like orange and pink?
I think it looks great on other people, 
but I just can't bring myself to be so bold!

I feel much more comfortable in basics...

Velour Hoodie: Ross; Striped Shirt: Ralph Lauren Outlet Sale; Tank: Ross;
Skinny Jeans:  L.E.I. via Walmart sale; Necklace: Gift/Lisa Leonard

Guess who's at the door again...
bringing a little crazy to my basics!!
 Jazz hands!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hi ho, hi ho... it's off to camp he goes!

My darling son went off to camp for the first time this morning!  He wasn't quite ready last year, but this year he wanted to give it a try!  

So we signed him up and dropped him off...

Using the same duffle I used for 15 years or so.

He was immediately at home and ready to join his cabin mates in anything and everything!  He stopped for a brief moment to give me a hug goodbye, but he seemed so very grown up!  He was more than ready to be off on his own.  Tear. Sigh.

Could these boys be any cuter?

Such a bittersweet stepping stone... but I know this is how it needs to be!

And I'm sooooo very excited for him!  I absolutely love camp and I'm hoping he makes some amazing memories this week.  Playing in the creek, singing campfire songs, eating s'mores, chapel time, skits, quiet times with Jesus, playing crazy games, KP duties, giggling in his bunk at night... I hope it is just fantastic!

A brief, still moment checking out his cabin space.

We hid a little blanket and stuffed animal in his sleeping bag just to take a bit of home with him!  I think he's going to do great though!

Please can I go to camp, too?

My little one wanted to stay so badly, but I'm not quite ready to let him go just yet!  He did manage to throw enough large rocks in the creek to make the water rise before we left though!

When we got home we started working on letters and postcards to send during the week! He is certainly going to know he is loved and missed!!

I decorated the envelopes with all kinds of stickers, silly jokes, riddles and such!  He's even getting a postcard from the dog!  I hope he feels a ton of love when his name is called!  I always waited in such great anticipation and got such a big goofy grin!

Do you love camp as much as I do?  
Do you have a favorite camp memory?

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Friday Favorite

Burt's Bees Lip Shimmers

I discovered these little guys recently,
while trying to be more cautious about health stuff.
Have you ever checked out your makeup products on the Skin Deep Database?
It's rather disturbing!

These Shimmers were a 3 on the toxicity scale, but it was mostly due to allergens.
Since I'm not allergic to any of the ingredients, they are a much safer bet for me.

The stuff I was using before had all kinds of
dyes, aluminum, parabens, fragrances, and chemicals I couldn't pronounce.
And I thought it was supposed to be"natural."

Did you know that parabens can mess up your hormone balance?
I certainly don't need any of that!!
I'm crazy enough as it is, thanks!

My favorites are Caramel, Champagne, Watermelon, & Cocoa.

They color like a light lipstick, but feel like a lipbalm.
And they tingle like peppermint.
And they are generally less expensive than lipstick.
I picked up a 3 pack at the drugstore for $10.

Definitely a favorite!

What are your recent favorites?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

"We must be willing to let go 
of the life we have planned, 
so as to have the life 
that is waiting for us."

E.M. Forster

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

An Angel on my Doorstep

Hotel Majestic, San Francisco

The Valley: Part4

When I returned from my walk, I felt lighter and encouraged. I was full from fellowship and had a little spring in my step. I had no idea that the next day, an immovable force would descend upon me and take up residence in my body.

She would crawl upon on me each morning like the weight of a lead shield.
She would accompany me everywhere I went.
She would weaken my muscle tone and leave a Jello-like frailty in its place.

Her presence would envelope my head and inhabit my body.
I would no longer be able to think clearly or process my thoughts and ideas.
The simplest tasks would feel like marathons.
There would be no more walks, bike rides, hikes, or travels.

Simply existing each day would require all my effort and conviction.

My life would be completely altered because of her...
Fatigue... chronic fatigue with a capital "F."
So the sisters have a malicious cousin, do they?

God knew she was coming, so he sent a messenger that afternoon. Whether or not he was an angel, I cannot say, but he most definitely delivered a message from a heavenly realm.

This mysterious "man" knocked at the door and asked if he could show Patrick some paintings. Patrick agreed, but said he wasn't interested in purchasing any paintings at the moment. No, buying a painting wasn't at all necessary. He just wanted Patrick's opinions.  Which paintings did he like best?  The paintings depicted scenes from Israel... Jerusalem, the Mount of Olives and such. Peaceful settings in the Holy Land.

Curious, Patrick asked the "man's" name.  Are you from Israel?  Yes, that was his home... Menachem's home. What does Menachem mean, Patrick asked.

Hmm... how do you say in English... like "everything is going to be ok." Later, we looked up the name in Hebrew.  It means "comforter."

Menachem disappeared as quickly as he came. When we looked out the window a couple minutes later, there was no trace of him. But the message he bore has been hidden in my heart as I walk through this valley. A message God gave me twice that day... once in English and once in Hebrew.

Even through the darkest days, in the back of my mind, I cling to those words as a promise.
And I ask God to fulfill His promise to me.

I've reminded Him repeatedly... as if He might forget.

Because that's what children do.

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Friday Funny

The Blue Tooth Group

Coming to a theater near you...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Embroidery, Long Sleeves, & a Maxi, Oh My!

 Last week was fun!  Here I am for another round! 

Linking up with The Pleated Poppy
(I can't get the link up button to work!  Help!!!) 

I just love embroidery!
 It makes me think of The Sound of Music, 
even though there probably weren't any embroidered clothes in that movie!
Maybe it reminds me of those sweet damask curtain clothes! 
Anyway, the hills are alive... 

Embroidered Tunic: Ross; Mustard Cardigan: Carole Little via Marshalls; Belt: ??; 
Jeggings: Walmart... thanks mom!

I'm sorry about this next outfit for those of you living in places like the desert and Texas.
I know you are going to cringe at the wintery look.
The coast is just so unpredictable.  
One day the sun is bright and shiny and the next it's fog, rain, and shivers.

Top: Old Navy via Goodwill; Tank: Ross; Scarf: Marshalls; Belt: Bass Outlet
Jeans: Tommy Hilfiger via Goodwill; Necklace: gift/ Lisa Leonard

And last but not least...

Top: Marshalls; Maxi Dress: Ross; Belt: from a pair of pants
Ring: a family heirloom

This ring came from a distant relative named Olive.  
When I was a teenager, she generously bestowed upon me a box of very unique jewelry.
I remember thinking that someday I would wear the pieces when I was older and eccentric. 
Guess who's older and eccentric??

Do you wear any special family heirlooms?

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Mini Affair

My Mini, the Summer of 2010

This may be the most controversial post I have ever written.
Are you ready? Can you handle the drama? Sparks may fly... I've duly warned you.

I would like to admit right here and now, in this public forum, that I LOVE my mini van.

Scandalous in this day and age, no? How could I cheat on the mindset of the modern mom?

I know it's hard to believe, but it's true. I love her. Let me count the ways...

I love driving my kids around in her, listening to their silly conversations and giggles.

I love driving a load of their classmates and telling them to "be quiet and think light" as I try to make it out of a driveway without bottoming out on the hitch, and then laughing hysterically when we hear the "scraaaaape!"

I love loading her up with mountain bikes and canoe equipment and heading out for an amazing, outdoor family adventure.

I love the looks we get on the freeway when we do this!

I love clearing out the back and sitting criss-cross applesauce on a blanket, eating Costco pizza, listening to the wind blow outside, while we are in our safe little den.

I love it when we fold all the back seats in, blow up a queen size mattress, heap on a mountain of fuzzy blankets and pillows and camp out at the SLO drive-in. We park backwards, flip the hood and have a 2 hour family cuddle.

I love her fourteen cupholders. Enough said.

I also love automatically opening her side door across the parking lot, so she'll be a tad cooler when we get there! She's got some amazing physical features, I tell you!

I love the little Kermit the Frog ball on her antennae that we search for each time we return from the grocery store. I loved the Nemo one, too, for obvious reasons.

I love to climb in the back to console feelings that have been hurt at school.

I love that she lets me have kid music in the back and adult conversation in the front. Or kid music in the front, too, when I'm in the mood!

I love loading her up with chairs, towels, and an umbrella and heading out for a day of sunkissed fun at the beach.

I love that sometimes the kids disappear into the garage and use her as their high tech space ship, traveling to a far reaching expanse of space and an undiscovered planet.

I love to sit with her in a dark garage all alone... we listen to Norah Jones together.

Most of all, I love that she lets me fully embrace this season of my life.  I don't have to yearn for another season when the kids are gone and I have more "freedom." She lets me be the mom I want to be for now. She helps me to live for this moment, fully embracing my mom to young kidlets era.

So it can't be helped... I love my mini-van. She is a memory maker. I will cry when I have to give her up! It will mean that I am closing the chapter on a treasured part of my life. Oh no... I'm getting teary-eyed just thinking about it.

Is there anyone else out there that feels this way? Can we share the love and declare it together?

C'mon... someone's gotta represent!!
Haters back off... just kidding!  Well, sort of! :)


Friday, June 3, 2011

Friday Favorites

Little Sophie got a summer haircut!

She is so clean and soft... we can't get enough snuggles.

A sweet friend of mine just had a birthday.
So on Wednesday, we had a little get together and did some crafting. 

Just a little Mod Podge and some pretty scrapbooking paper, 
 and now I have some beautiful journals.
I can't decide which one I like better.  And it was so fun to create!
Do you like to journal?

My little J-Bear is finishing up Kindergarten!
Here he is singing his little heart out in a 70's Songwriters Show!!

Concentrating on some "air piano."
Notice the sweet tattoo on his face.

Oops, you caught me with second dessert!!

My sweet baby boy!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Military and A Cute Horsie


I said I didn't think I'd ever have the courage to post on 
I also said I would never dye my hair or start a blog.
We all know how that ended up!

When you have a chronic illness, you wear a lot of pajamas.
Lately, I've been starting to have some better days.
I've actually been getting dressed more often than not.
I'm ready to celebrate!!
Yay for rejoining the human race... at least on some days!

Sorry for the poor photo quality!
 And the fact that I don't even have a full length mirror.

Military Jacket: Hurley, gift from my brother-in-law; Tank: Ross; V-Neck Tee: Old Navy;
 Light Blue Jeans: L.E.I. via old Macy's sale; Necklace: good ole Mervyns

Thanks to your encouragement, 
I kept the "Horsie" T.
Here's the first wear!

"Horsie" T-shirt: Marshalls; Tank: Target; Jeans: Paris Blues via old Macy's sale; 
Necklace:gift/ Lisa Leonard;  Scarf: Mother's Day Gift via Ruby Rose

I think the shirt worked out ok.  I didn't feel 12.
Feels a bit more grown up with the scarf!

Oh, and today marks the 21st anniversary of the day my hubby and I DTR'd.
You know... defined the relationship! 
Yes, I keep track of those still, cause I'm a romantic nerd!!
Love you, Patrick, my forever boyfriend!  

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