Thursday, June 30, 2011

Music Therapy Thursday...Fourth of July Edition

What song makes you feel all patriotic? "Born In The USA?" "God Bless the USA?" Surely, "The Star Spangled Banner" tops the list. As for me, I like to funk-tify my Fourth with a little Godfather of Soul. Plus, I'm a child of the 80's, so I had to go with "Living in America" for some music therapy today. Anybody got some totally awesome plans this weekend? Our weekend involves lots of swimming with friends so my kids are super pumped. As I lay on some sort of floatation device, drinking a cold drink, slathered in SPF 50, I'm going to be thankful for the freedoms that we as Americans possess and ask God to continue to bless this great nation of ours. And channeling a little James Brown, you might just hear a "HAH! I feel GOOD!" coming from the deep end of the pool...

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Front Door Gets A Patriotic Salute

Decorating for the holidays is something that I enjoy doing, but unfortunately, it can get costly. Lucky for me, I have an eye for bargains. While perusing the isles of a local decorating store, I spy these red, white and blue flowers that were marked down after Memorial Day for a cool two bucks.

That definitely fits Momma's budget! If you look closely, you'll notice that they were meant as cemetery flowers, but I saw a cute arrangement for my front door instead. Sometimes you just have to think outside the box, ya know? I also picked up two little picks of red white and blue "berry"-like thingies for a little extra jazz. Those little guys only set me back about a buck a piece. My bank account is loving me right now! LOL!

Combined with a little container I purchased last fall, some fake ivy and three little flags I already had on hand... now we have a lovely little door hanging that is pretty and patriotic! Stay tuned for more from the front porch as I reveal the before and after pics from our re-do and more Fourth of July decorations...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Changing the World...One Can of Spray Paint At a Time

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that bronze fixtures are where it's AT. From bathroom faucets, to ceiling medallions, bronze is boss in decorating circles these days. Crafty bloggers have been singing the praises of Krylon's Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint for evah. Naturally, I am the last to jump on the bandwagon, but better late than never, right?!?

I wish I could remember which blog I stole this from because I would give credit where credit is due. But alas, the brain has failed me again. Anywho... not long ago I noticed my floor vents were looking a bit shabby. Wanting to trade them for the ones with a bronze finish, I had decided that I would just buy one or two at a time until I had replaced them all, since buying them all at once would put a strain on the ol' pocketbook. But then I saw where someone had spray painted their vents and it looked fabulous, so I decided I would give it a try.

Exhibit A: Rusty, white, builders grade floor vent. Yuck.

And Exhibit B: Lovely, new-looking, fancy floor vents courtesy of ORB (that's Oil Rubbed Bronze for you newbies!)! You can't tell very well in the pictures but it's a beautiful brownish-black with just a hint of shimmer. Gawjuss!!!

Even the hubs agrees that they look mahvelous! And getting him to notice, much less comment on some floor vents, is a testament to it's fabulosity! All I did was wash them really well, sand the rusty spots with fine grit sandpaper and spray them down with very light coats until all the nooks and crannies were covered. That's it! One down... ten more to go! I'll give you one guess what I'll be doing in my downtime this summer... ;)

Here's another pic to show you how well they go with my black chairs. Lurve. Have you tried Kyrlon's ORB? I've seen it used from candle sticks and chandeliers to door knobs and drawer pulls. One blogger even sprayed her faucet in the bathroom sink! No lie! I'm hooked. Just wondering what else would look great in bronze after I finish up the vents... Any suggestions?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!

Seven years ago today we welcomed a feisty little red-head to our brood. The pediatrician we saw in the hospital said that she was the smallest baby in the nursery... with the biggest set of lungs! Not much has changed since then. ;)

It might sound strange, but I knew when I was carrying her that she was a strong spirit. I wanted her name to reflect her strength and to honor a family member (as we do so often here in the south). We decided on Jamie Ruth (after my brother who had passed away and my grandmother on my mom's side). I felt that since her name was unisex, it could hold it's own with her less than demure personality that was evident from the get-go.

Little Ruthie (as we called her in the beginning) was the antithesis of Anna's laid-back, easy going demeanor. She was a joy, don't get me wrong. But she always had this determined little furrow to her brow that accompanied her Frank-Sinatra-I'll-do-it-"My Way" attitude. It seemed that if I wanted her to go right, she'd go left just because she could.

The terrible twos were more terrible than I have time to write about here. And I'm only half-kidding. ;) She kept me on my parenting toes, so to speak, and because of that, I've read more books on strong-willed children and discipline than you can shake a stick at. I've joked in the past that if she had been my first child, she would have been my only! But as time has put a little distance between then and now, I believe that our relationship has become (among other things) a beautiful metaphor of "iron sharpening iron."

I've learned from this beautiful red-headed baby that a fiery disposition coincides with a passion for life like no other. I've learned that wearing your heart on your sleeve is really love in it's most innocent and sincere form. I've learned that though having "no filter" in your thoughts and actions might make you unpopular with others, it takes more guts to deal with the aftermath than simply being a wall-flower. I've also learned that the "wailing and gnashing of teeth" mentioned in the bible can be a typical Monday afternoon with a red-head after she's heard the words "no you may not!"

I've learned that six year olds can articulately explain the handicaps of their siblings to curious friends and neighbors as well as jump to their defense if they feel that someone is "staring" or not being sensitive enough. I've learned that when you pray to God for patience, He will send down as many practice tests as He feels is necessary until said virtue is mastered. I've learned to NEVER say "my child will never (throw a tantrum like that, eat chicken fingers morning, noon, and night, get a toy every time we go to Wal-mart, etc., etc.)... as she has inevitably done all those things and ten thousand more.

I've learned that sometimes we hurt the people we love the most because they are the ones that we can really let our hair down with. This helps me understand that I'm not always the target. Most times, I'm the safe haven. :) I've learned that letting my temper blow and getting down on a six-year-old level in an argument is lazy parenting and that you are never too old (and should never be too proud) to say you're sorry. I've learned that saying "yes" every now and again won't kill me. Sometimes it's down-right fun.

But most importantly, having Jamie has taught me that love never divides. It only multiplies. There's always enough to go around no matter how many kids you have, how many disabilities you have to deal with in a day, or how completely opposite your personality may be from your child's.

I couldn't be any more proud of my little Diva. She's following in the steps of her name-sake and exceeding all my expectations with her music. She loves the violin, plays songs on a horn by ear, and has been strumming Uncle Jamie's guitar since she was about three years old. She's inherited my obsession with Barbies and loves to cook like her dad. She has a flair for the dramatic, even with her wardrobe. I love picking out clothes for her when I shop. That girl loves her some bling! But her heart! I love her sweet heart the most. She loves deeply and openly and makes no apologies for who she is. In that sense, I wish I were more like her. Happy birthday to my sweet pumpkin pie! Momma loves you so!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sharing the Love

Ya know what I love? A product that lives up to all the advertising hype we as consumers are forced to endure during the 60 second commercial breaks from "Judge Judy" or "House Hunters International." I've found the "holy grail" of mops, peeps, and I just couldn't live with myself if I didn't share with you how incredibly awesome it is.

In the past I was a loyal Swiffer Wet Jet user. I liked the Wet Jet. It served me well. But Libman has taken the idea of the Wet Jet and made it better. Easier. Dare I say it... cheaper. Let me introduce you to the Libman "Freedom" mop. I'm in love with this thing. How so? Let me count the ways...

Starting at the top, the trigger is manual, so there are no batteries to buy or recharge. Ka-ching! There are no specific cleaners to buy either. The reservoir can be opened and refilled with any cleaning product of your choice. I've switched to using non-toxic, environmentally safe cleaners from a company called Shaklee, so I can just mix up a batch and add it to the mop. LOVE that. Also the cleaning pads can be thrown in the wash so there's zero waste. The mop comes with one pad, but I've bought a couple extra (about $6 each) as a back-up. They work really well, too, as they have these little scrubbers sewn in to the fabric. Sometimes momma's floors need that extra little scrubbing power!

The cost for a mop is about $20 which I think is a great buy. If you are still using a traditional mop (or a Wet-Jet) you need to RUN to your local super center and pick yourself up one of these bad boys. You can thank me later. And trust me... you will. ;)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Getting My Craft On

I'm a fan of the gift bag. Yes, there was a time when I meticulously wrapped presents and fussed with bows until they were "just-so." But now-a-days I'm a crazy-busy mom so I keep a stash of bags on hand (along with tissue paper, of course) so I can be ready at a moment's notice when a birthday party comes along.

I'm also a fan of re-using the bags we get throughout the year. Doing so keeps unnecessary trash out of landfills and keeps more moolah in my wallet! But lately I've become interested in using reusable shopping bags and wanted to start giving gifts in bags that could actually be used by the recipient for a long time to come.

I purchased this little gem of a canvas tote at Wal-Mart (for $5!) to house the gift I'm giving to one of Jamie's sweet little friends from church. Sure, it's adequate and cute enough... but it needed something more. What's a momma in need of some quality craftin' time to do? Bang out some embellishments on the sewing machine, that's what!

Ahhh... much better. No matter the crafting question, ruffles and a cute monogram applique is always the answer! Add a pocket and you're good to go! I hope sweet little Katy likes her new bag and all the goodies inside. Spoiler alert: this may be my "go-to" gift this year. I mean, what's not to love? So easy. So fun. So eco-friendly. And most importantly, so cute!!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Meet Jasper!

Welcome the newest addition to our family! Yesterday we gave Jamie her birthday present early and drove to Arab, AL to pick up this adorable little yorki-poo puppy!

Pardon the blurry photos. I'd like to blame the camera, but I'm afraid it's the photographer- not the equipment- that's the problem! With the help of our friend Olivia (who hung out with us all day yesterday and gave us awesome pet-owners advice!) we named him Jasper James. Jasper, because it's just a cool name, and James after his momma, Jamie. Yep. Baby girl is going to be most of the work...I mean pet care. So far so good! Of course, it's only day two!

You can tell by that smile that she's enamoured with him, as we all are. Well, everyone except Ginger the cat We're hoping in time she'll warm up to him. Right now she's not happy with ANY of us! LOL! It's been a long time since we've had a puppy and it's almost like having a baby in the house again. You know, without all the spit up and the worry for college fund! Can't wait to watch this little guy grow. Summer is off to a fun start!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Thoughts From a Burden Bearer

Something happened yesterday that happens to me quite often. So much so, in fact, that I'm tempted to start keeping a tally. It was brought to my attention a while back by friend of mine who said it happens to her all the time too. Sometimes it's a stranger, sometime it's not. But inevitably, for whatever reason, people seek me out to help them bear their burdens. Strange, right?

I'm starting to wonder about this unusual draw I have on people that enables total strangers to tell me their whole-life story in gory detail without batting an eyelash. And it happens EVERYWHERE. At a child's birthday party. While getting a pedicure. At Wal-Mart in the greeting card isle. In the office at school. For a split second, it's as if I've morphed into this person's long-lost friend and they begin to pour out their soul to me. I've heard stories about abuse, kidnapping, upcoming trial dates, in-law disputes and mental illness... Just to name a few. And that's just the four scenarios I listed above. These aren't just your usual gripes about your husband not helping enough, or how badly the kids are behaving. These are stories that will wrench your heart out. Like being homeless and jobless. Like being beaten by your boyfriend. Like watching your baby turn blue and stop breathing, unable to resuscitate her. And there I sit (or stand) wondering why this person has chosen me to divulge such secrets to. Why me? Why now?

Perhaps it's because I've stopped to listen. Perhaps they would tell their story to anyone with a willing ear. Or perhaps it's a divine appointment with a hurting soul that God has planned for in advance. His name gets brought up in the conversation at some point, by either them or me. The lady waiting for the attempted murder trial of her boyfriend said, "If you're a praying woman, remember me." I almost lost it. I told her I was and that I would pray for her. I wonder how she's making it and if she's sitting next to someone right now telling her story.

Chuck doesn't get it. It angers him that people "dump" on me (his words) when our life is FAR from a walk in the park. " Tell them you've got problems, too! Let one of THEM walk in your shoes for 24 hours and see how sane they'd be!" And he's right. We've got problems. Problems that all the money in the world can't fix. We hurt. We struggle. And maybe that's why I listen to these people. Because I know hurt and loss and frustration and fear. We ALL have our crosses that we bear in this life. But somewhere along the way, I've chosen Light and maybe people in the darkness of their situation are drawn to the Light I've chosen. Perhaps like the sleepy-eyed child they blink at It's brightness and reach for the warmth of It's rays. And if that's the case, I'm honored to be a conduit for the life-giving, burden bearing, one, true Light. "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2