Posts Tagged ‘family’

Sticks and stones may break my bones…

… but words will always hurt me.

Let me get to the crux of the matter.  There are days that I can barely lift my head because I feel like I am worthless in this world.  No amount of bags I make, things I create, kisses I give my child can change that. Often, I am crippled by the fear of newness and change, longing to remain behind the walls I have put -both literally and mentally- between myself and the world.

Some days I believe I am an amazing writer and that people like to read what I passionately and lovingly place on (digital) paper.
Some days I believe that I am talented with my artistic endeavors.
Some days I believe that I am beautiful with a nice outfit and a fixed up face.
Some days I believe that I am highly intelligent.

Then there are the “damn it all” days where a little voice tells me that nothing is true. “April, you’re past your “beautiful” years. You had them in college.  They are gone now.  There are much better writers than you. Writers that create stories that make you want to be their best friend in an instant. Writers that create beautiful tapestries with their words.  April, you are no longer in college.  There are much smarter people that you.  You are not intelligent.  If you were, you’d have a life. April, while you are creative, you create nothing new.  Face it, you are average. Forgettable. ”

I am not saying this because I want you to pity me.  I am saying it because these are the words that cause tears to fall from my eyes and roll down my cheeks.  These are the words that “win” in my mind. These are the words that cut me to my soul and render me speechless.

Tonight I spoke to my brother, asking him to help me lose weight by calling me every morning to motivate me to work out. He encouraged me to go back to school to take a class or two and work on my masters.

“You’re smart enough,” he said.  “I know that last church messed you up, but if you quit striving, you die.”

I told him that we needed to focus on Todd getting a degree, not me.

“But April, you and Todd are made for each other. Both of you draw people to you without trying. Look at these bags and things. You’re not even trying to create a business, and yet you are selling bags.”

I told him that what “I would love to do, more than anything is to write and blog and do creative stuff for the rest of my life.”

“Then do it,” he said.  “Who cares if you make another dollar off of it? You love it, right? So if it takes you sixty dollars to make and you sell it for sixty dollars, would you never make another one? If you love it, do it.  I’m just fortunate that I make money doing what I love, but I would do it even if I didn’t make money.  If I die without a dollar to my name, and not a dollar in debt, then I’ve lived a successful life. If you stop striving, you die. You can do more than you give yourself credit for.”

My brother, when did you become so much smarter than me?

Why do I allow the words of those who do not love me to affect me more than the words of those that do? Most of the most damaging words I cling to were spoken by people who do not think a single thought about me during their daily lives.  Quickly, I forget the professors, family, friends, ministers, etc who told me that they thought I held promise. Promise.

Promise.

“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Snow Day Project – Birthday Banner!

I’ll admit– I’m both sad and excited for my little Bluebelle to turn one.

I’ll also admit that I feel a little like a bad mama.  I don’t write her monthly letters or anything like that.  I don’t plan on making a huge production for her first birthday. I’m sometimes afraid that she got a defective Mama. Ha. I think of it, but I don’t get to it.  I’m just good to keep up with her baby book!

Even though her first birthday will mainly be family (and a few friends), I want it to be chock full of love and simplicity. I’m still trying to decide if I’ll make her cake or not, and I want her decorations to be homemade and reusable (for both financial and eco-friendly reasons).  I also just love how homemade things look!

I stumbled upon See Mommy Sew’s website while searching for a way to make a birthday banner for my Bluebelle and fell in love with the simplicity of this project.  I thought you might want to make one, too!

Yes, I’m aware that her birthday is 2 months away, but since we’re moving and everything else is going on, I wanted to complete this project before we moved!

Supplies needed:
Fabric (use what you have.  If you want to buy one of those packs of 5 18″x21″ rectangles of fabric, one pack will do quite nicely.)
Bias tape (I used single fold narrow.  I think mine was 8 yards, but I had excess left over.)
Felt (if you make 3×4 inch letters, you’ll need 2 -3 of the swatches)
Sewing machine
Thread
Scissors
Template (shown)

I bought way too much fabric, but I’m planning to use the striped fabric in some other projects, so it’s not a loss. 🙂

I began by making a template (I used cardboard from a notebook).  I used SMS’s measurements and I made a 4×9 triangle to use on the fold.

You’ll need 26 triangles (front and back) to write “Happy Birthday.”  I made 30 because I was on a roll. Oops.
I’ll just add them to the “Happy” part of the banner.

I then cut out the letters in felt.  I made 3×4 inch blocks and then I freehanded the letters out of that.  It helped me keep the letters consistent.

Then I mapped out my colors and letters to get an idea of what it would look like.

Then I sewed the felt letters onto the triangle. I started with an applique stitch, but I quickly realized I would STILL be sewing.  I’ll save that for one of baby girl’s clothes!  So, I just used a zig zag stitch for a little pizzazz! (You could use a straight stitch if you wanted.)

 

Then, I sewed the triangles’ front and backs wrong sides together.  Yes, I know this creates a raw edge, but I like it.  I may go back and pink the edges, but my pinking shears are MIA and I’ll have to buy a new pair if this is what I want to do. I also wanted my fronts and backs to be different from each other.

Then, I pinned the finished pennants to the bias tape.  I didn’t do anything special with the tape.  Actually, I’m sure you could even use ribbon or something if you would rather.  I just laid the tape on top, pinned it, and started sewing with a wide zig zag stitch.

When that’s done, you’re done!  Super easy!

I can’t wait to use this again and again! Hopefully, I can find some other projects to add to the birthday festivities!

Enjoy! Let me know if you make one too!

Life Update

Shh! Stay quiet. It’s 6:36 am and I’m afraid the baby will wake up any minute now.  I’d like this next hour to myself if it’s possible.

Stillwater.

It’s getting closer. Yikes!

Not to say that we aren’t ready.  We are. We are so ready.  The fact that we are moving again (no matter how inevitable) is still daunting.  We have truly loved living with family these last 14 months.  Todd and Grandpa working in the yard together — taking trips and spending time together.  Hanging out in the sewing room with Grandma … learning how to sew and make anything. Sitting in Grandpa’s “office” (two chairs under a large shade tree) with the baby.  Grandpa coming over to “check on that baby” no less than twice a day.  Having my Grandma there at all times. You see, she really helped raise me and I rely on her more that my own mom.

This will truly be a time that will be treasured by us.  They’re not sure they want us to leave.  There’s a little part of me that wishes I could freeze time as well.

We still have a lot to do for Stillwater as well.  Pack (yuck!), find a house, set a moving date.  We do have a washer/dryer, table and chairs, and possibly a recliner! Such a blessing.

Starbucks.

Todd has taken to Starbucks like a duck to water.  He gets to make gourmet coffee drinks all day, be super cheerful to customers, and caffeinate himself. (I know, caffeinate is not a real word, but it should be.) His first day on the job, he came home quite anxious and panicked about the job.  Then he told me that he had 6 shots of espresso. Ha. No wonder he’s panicky!

Now that he’s adjusted to the caffeine rush, he’s loving it.  I think that this job was pretty much made for him.

The baby.

She’s incredible.  Really incredible.  She’s a very happy and social baby. The doctor was amazed at her 9 month checkup that she wasn’t screamy and mad.  We went through a short separation anxiety, but she’s adjusted beautifully (even though she still prefers Mama).  She’s into everything.  If she sees it, she wants it.  We have this table in the living room that she walks around (hanging on) and she clears everything off of it.  I put something in the center of it yesterday and she was really mad that she couldn’t get to it.  She kept going around and around the table and then she would squawk at me in frustration! It made me laugh! She’s not really talking yet… her favorite “words” are DaDa and Behbeh (Baby).  She’s cruising the furniture but crawling is where she’s fastest, so she’s not interested in fully walking just yet.  She is standing on her own more and more though! Gosh, I love her.

This mama.

Eh, you know. Same ol, same ol.

I’m just trying to be a better person. Trying to enjoy more, stress less.  My goals for this year include: meal planning, save a ton on money with coupons, find a home church in Stillwater, join a Bible study/mom’s group, be awesome.

Hope you have a great week!

It was one of those weeks.

This is the first time I have sat down in front of a computer in quite a while.  I honestly can’t remember when, probably when I wrote my last post.  I’ve been thinking of things I have wanted to write down, but now that I have the chance and a few quiet moments, my mind is like a chalkboard that has been erased.  I can see fragments of the words that were originally written, but they are too blurred to make out the complete message.

I was thinking about whether I should tell you about my weekend (and my complete lack of graciousness) or my spiritual longing. Since I believe that they intertwine, I’m going to attempt to share both.

Last week, one of my grandpa’s cousins died. Charlie. He was older, late seventies/early eighties, had diabetes, low mobility (yes, he did have one of those power scooters), and was a very sweet man.  He also let everyone mooch off of him for his SS check each month and his prescriptions.  He has two sons: a self-reliant individual who has washed his hands of him because of son #2 – a leech.  I don’t use that term lightly.  I can’t begin to express my feelings of distaste for this individual’s actions.

Since Charlie has passed, we have been in limbo. We don’t know exactly how he died.  Speculation includes: overdosing by one of the moochers that lived in the house with him, a delayed reaction from the accident he had on Monday (and was busted out of the hospital with his hospital gown still on), and old age.  His body was up at the coroner’s office for nearly a week.  His son stole the money out of his wallet after his passing and spent it on who knows what. He has no immediate family members willing and able to take care of arrangements in a timely manner and will have to be cremated.  We can’t put it in a nice urn, because Son #2 would likely hock it.

I’m not joking.

So, on Sunday, we had family from California come in to see Charlie’s body (before we knew about the cremation, although the body had been in the morgue for 5 days already) and to be a part of the funeral.  They parked their camper in our front yard, which I’m totally cool with, and walked in the house.  For two days, all Grandpa, Todd, Belle and I heard was yelling, cussing and extreme ruckus.  Belle didn’t get to nap.  My mom comes over, we get upset with each other, and before we can finish talking it out,  they come knocking on the door wanting to use our showers and take over the kitchen.

I didn’t say anything negative, but inwardly I was done. I wasn’t gracious. For the first time in my life I didn’t want to be welcoming, I wanted peace.  I didn’t care that they had traveled so far and would like a hot shower in something bigger than a camper.  I was tired of listening to yelling. I wanted my baby to nap.  I wanted to be able to do my laundry and sit in silence.

They left Monday.

My week hasn’t really improved so much because it’s been hectic and I’ve been feeling guilty for being selfish.

How do I get to feel entitled?  This isn’t my home.

This morning I decided to read a little from the gospels.  I’m so far from where I should be, and my lack of graciousness is the tip of the iceberg.

Luke 18:9-13 (New International Version, ©2010)

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

For many years, I have been the Pharisee, regardless of whether I intentionally planned to be or not. I justified so much of my own behavior based on what I did as a Christian.  I’m at a point in my life that I don’t believe that I have the justification to act that way, despite of my education or training.

Have mercy on me, a sinner.

That’s my prayer this week.  This lifetime.  I’m in such dire need of grace.

Associating with Job

I’ve been thinking about Job recently. I have a sweet aunt
that is considered the “Job” of our family. She is one of the
sweetest, most cheerful, loving women you will EVER meet and she is
the Godliest woman I know. Every time she and her husband
have obtained something that would be considered “successful,” it
has been taken from them. They have served in numerous
churches, some with some horribly nasty results. She still praises
God for everything and you believe that she believes in Him with
all her heart. How can I explain to you how loving and sweet she
is? Just take my word for it. Watching my aunt made me think.
Everything I think and do now is tinted by a cynicism that I have
never held before. I used to think I was heavily shielded to
the hardships of life — that I could survive like Job — because I
had dealt with blow after blow as a child and teenager. I
would still praise God because He loved me and while He could deal
with the people who have hurt me, He chose to love me and take care
of me. When the place that I associated with love, comfort, and
hope decided to act in a way that was unbefitting to itself — it
crushed me. Legally, a corporation wouldn’t do what the
church did, and it seems so unthinkable and
ungodly that the church acted in this way. In
my mind I had decided, “God, you can allow life to be tough.
You can give me struggles. Please, You cannot take away my comfort
with You.” When that was taken away, my foundation was
shaken. It’s easy to be grateful when your “non-negotiable”
is still intact. Money has always
been tight for me.
I remember welfare and
WIC, my grandparents paying for everything, and secondhand
clothing. While it made for some hard times with other kids, I feel
like I appreciated what I received and that makes me more
appreciative as an adult. I have had a shaky
family.
It doesn’t scare me or break me down if Todd
and I are having a rough time. It makes us stronger and we are a
better couple for it. For some people, that’s a
non-negotiable. I’m always a little scared when I hear of a
female referring to her man as a “knight in shining armor” or their
“prince charming,” placing him on such a pedestal that will surely
get shaky. My kid will break my heart one day. My
family will always be a little too dysfunctional. That’s
life. I don’t have the nicest home, cutest clothes,
or skinny body.
I would like them, don’t get me
wrong. I would love to be in my old jeans again (when did a size 12
become a desire? ha!), I would LOVE to have a home that people want
to go to. Heck, I would just like a home, but the pressure of
meeting those are too much for me. When my comfort with God was
taken — it shook me to the core. My non-negotiable. Job had
EVERYTHING taken away from him, even his comfort. In fact,
that was the thing that struck me most about his story. He
couldn’t feel God, or see or hear Him. He felt abandoned, yet
he didn’t “Curse God and die.” My aunt hasn’t either. She
still praises Him with a gentle passion that makes you want to curl
up in her presence, if only to soak Him in through her. Can I be
that way? Can I get there? I’m trying. I hope
so. My aunt gives me hope. Do you have a
non-negotiable? Are you or have you been in this place in
your life? Can you still praise God if your non-negotiable
was taken away? The baby you always longed for, that church
position, finances, a nice home, a marriage, your family, your
talent/ability… could you still praise Him as you do
now?

I am a neurotic mess! Seriously, I’m crazy.

I am laughing at myself this morning while I am panicking.

Yes, I am excited that there will be 20 people here TOMORROW.  I am excited to play hostess.  I have been cleaning for 2 weeks.  I am going to move Christmas decorations in the spare room today while it’s warm so I can put it up when it’s cold and I don’t have to be outside getting the decorations.  I will be roasting the TURKEY, making rolls, making ambrosia salad, gravy, and green bean casserole. With an almost 8 month old. Yikes!

I WANT TO DO THIS.

Yet, I am panicking cause the house can’t get clean enough!  What if I screw up the turkey?  Because I not only want to roast a turkey for the first time, I want it to be the best friggin bird they have ever eaten. I want people to tell me how awesome it all is… and it hit me this morning…

I am crazy. A complete and total lunatic.  Neurotic. Nuts. Off my rocker.

Why can’t I just be content with everyone coming over, and with my genuine effort?  Because I’m a type-A, grade-A, annoying, psychotic PERFECTIONIST, that’s why.

Is there anyone in the world as absolutely bonkers as I?  I’m such a glutton for punishment.

Imposer, Imposter.

Let me begin by apologizing.  I am afraid that you think I only complain, that I live in a world of melancholy.  That is not true.  I just pull from the inmost recesses of my heart when I write, and that is a place of messy corners and tangled emotions.  I have also been displaced from anything that is considered “normal” for over a year.  I think that justifies me a bit in my grumblings. 🙂

The holidays.  My favorite time of year.

I live for this time of year.  I pull out my autumn garlands, homemade wreaths, my sparkly arrangements and I light my “Home for the Holidays” candles.  I keep a fire in the fireplace.  I bake spritz cookies with holiday jam centers, pumpkin pies, and anything cinnamon.

This will be my second holiday season without these things.

We found out this week that we will not be moving out of my grandparents home this month the way we had hoped to.   We will be keeping them displaced.  They don’t mind — they genuinely like us here — but we feel so awful.  Moochers.

I wanted to have a home this holiday season.  I wanted to invite family over for a holiday get-together.  I wanted to bake goodies and play hostess.  We will have Thanksgiving at my grandparents (our) home this year.  It’s not MINE, but it’s something, at least.  Still, it feels like I’m just a imposter, playing hostess to a home that is not mine.

This Christmas will be equally unsettling.  All of our Christmas decorations are still packed away.  I always wanted to give my baby a picture-perfect Christmas, even though it’s just for me.  I wanted to put her “baby’s first Christmas” ornament on our tree.  Her stocking next to ours.  It’s just weird.  Nothing’s the same, anymore.  Last year’s Christmas at the in-laws was strange, because we were snowed out and we had to come later.  It was a gathering of just my husband and I opening gifts a week or two after Christmas while his family watched.  It was awkward and sad for me… it just seemed like a reminder that nothing was the same.

This year, we’re traveling to our BIL and SIL’s house.  It’s going to be Christmas in a new place (although it’s for our traveling ease, and I am thankful for that) and that’s going to be so weird for me.  I’m also a little jealous (yes, I just admitted that).  My SIL, who has been in the family for 9+ months will get to play hostess in her home.  I will have nothing to do.  I will be at loose ends, feeling like I don’t have a role, and therefore feeling like I’m not quite belonging. I already feel like I ceased being me when the baby was born.  I feel so second-rate.  Doesn’t feel fair.

Ha.  Haven’t I learned that already?  Life’s not fair.

That’s my confession.  One of my desires is to be the hostess in my home.  The center of the family like my grandmother has been for years.  I know this year isn’t going to be awful.  It will be sweet and beautiful in its own way.  I just struggle with the changes, and mourn the fact that I don’t get my own personal pride-booster of being told that I’m the perfect hostess, that people love being around me.

See? I’m both and imposer and an imposter.

Is this a normal reaction or am I as crazy as I sound?