Monday, April 30, 2012

Faux Oil Painting Craft Project

 Last year I saw this and new immediately I wanted to try something like it. Someday. When I had time. As you can see, it took a while.

 I found this faux oil painting (just a bumpy canvas print from the 70's) for a steal. It was huge and had a bulky frame, so I knew it could look cool if I didn't screw it up.

I bought a bunch of these peel and stick letters at Michael's.

I played with the letters for a while to get an idea of what would and wouldn't fit in the space.

Then I stuck them on and spray painted the entire thing. I'll admit, when you get up close the letters aren't perfect. The spacing is a little off, and in some places the paint seeped under the letters. BUT, for a total project cost of less than $20, I'm pretty happy with it. But mostly, I'm just happy to have done a project again. I was outside spray painting, the trees above me were swaying in the breeze, and I thought, "I remember what this feels like! This is fun!" And it is, isn't it?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Sad Today

Remember my friend Mindy? I asked you to pray for her baby Noah? After a terribly hard year for her and her sweet family, Noah finally got to come home. He is the youngest of her three boys. This past week Mindy's husband, Mike, died of a heart attack (they think) at the age of 33.

Mindy was my roommate at Harding and introduced Matt and me. Without Mindy, there might be no us. Or Mabel. Or Jane. My heart is broken for her. Please pray for her today as she buries her husband. Please pray for her as she carries on as a single mom to three sons. Please pray.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


I finished a little project this week. It's not quite as I expected it would turn out, but then again, do projects ever turn out the way I expect? No. Why? Because this is how I do projects:

"Hey, I could glue this here. No wait! Here! No, maybe glue is a bad idea. What about hot glue? Or paper doilies, I could use those. Wow, that's a pretty bird over in that tree..."

I so admire people that meticulously plan projects out in steps.
With graphs.
And instructions.
I am not one of those people.
Oh well.
Maybe someday.

I'll share more tomorrow.

Thank You. Thank you. Thank you.

I wanted to thank everyone who was kind enough to send an email to me after I announced I was taking down my comment section. It was reaffirming to me that so many other bloggers felt the same way. Lately I'm finding that the word "simplify" means different things to different people. To me, taking down comments has been a step in that direction. During the past few months I've had an overwhelming need to simplify a lot of stuff. I'm trying not to be so hard on myself. I'm trying to clean out my house, purge the things I don't like or use from my closets, cabinets, cupboards. I'm giving myself a break from all those things I'm "supposed" to do. My floors are dirtier. Our bills are paid a little later. But I can't tell you what a difference it's made to my spirit.

So thank you to all you sweethearts who emailed and said you understood. Thank you for still being here, for still reading. Thank you for telling me my instagram pictures were perfectly acceptable. I appreciate all of you so, so, so very much. Mwah!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Walking Again

I've started walking again in the evening. I forgot how much I missed this. Yesterday I saw a tiny baby crane down by the lake. He was diligently pecking food with his tiny beak. It reminded me of Jane, carefully and meticulously picking up her food one piece at a time during dinner.

See how tiny he is?

There's something about a walk and fresh air. Even if it was only a couple of miles, I'm still ready for bed before nine. Or maybe I'm ready for bed before nine because somebody, and we won't name names, starts chirping like a bird at six every, single, morning.

But I find that I relax better when I've walked. With every step a little bit of tension falls from my shoulders. I come back to a house I love, a sleeping baby I love, a husband I love, and as you can see above, an equally tired dog that I love. Life is good.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Little Privacy

I made a decision this weekend. I turned off the comments on my blog.

Once you've been blogging for a while (this past March was my fifth anniversary), comments become something of a constant ticking barometer on your blog. If you get a lot of comments, it was a good post. If you don't, maybe it was an awful post. Someone doesn't like you? They can sign in anonymously and say awful things in a public way. People can get into fights with each other in the comments section. Readers get offended if you don't comment back on their blog. Spammers from India insert links that read "buy many good rugs here" and the link is pornography. The comments go straight to email, dinging on your cell phone, demanding immediate attention.

Don't get me wrong, there are lots of good things about comments too. But privacy is a bit lost when the entire world can say whatever they want about you, at any time, in a hugely public way. I realize that writing about my life isn't the epitome of private, but that doesn't mean I don't deserve to call the shots on my own blog. I want to simplify things. Jane deserves to have all my attention, not a mom with her face buried in her cell phone, checking comments.

I've come to a point that in order to continue blogging, I need to change things up a bit. I use my Instagram pics in posts. It's so much easier than toting a big camera around all the time. I may or may not post every day. And now, I'd like a bit of privacy. So the comments are turned off.

I sincerely hope this doesn't up set you. If it does, I'm sorry. Sincerely. And I always try my best to return all my emails (mabelsblog(at)yahoo(dot)com). I hope you'll understand, just as I hope Mabel will forgive me for posting a picture of her pooping during a rain storm. She could tell you first hand about a lack of privacy.

Love to you all.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Harding, A New Project

I went to visit Harding yesterday. It was great to see the English Department again. I attended their department chapel and a lunch later that day. It was a blast. I was off work and wasn't sick or taking care of a sick baby. I talked with people who love to read, people who teach literature, and my former boss, Floyd. I won't divulge his age (because in the south that's a fighting offense), but let's just say he'll never retire. He cares about his work too much. When I left he hugged me and told me he loved me, and I him. He's perhaps the sweetest man that's ever walked the face of the earth. With the exception of my Dad. Oh, and Matt. Oh, and my father-in-law... this could take a while so I'll stop here.

While I was there, I had this project on my mind. It's one of those 1970's faux paintings (really just a print with some bubbles on the canvas) and I got it for $15. It's huge. I had no idea what to do with it, and it made me wish I had a better brain for things like this.

Anyway. That night I went for my walk. I always put Jane down for bed and Matt stays home while I grab my earphones and head out the door. I never knew I could love 30 minutes so much. The breeze blew and the ducks flew across the lake. The trees swayed above me and I thought about how the English department has a wonderful quote on the wall of each landing in their stairwells. And then I realized one of those quotes was the key to my old faux painting project.

We'll see how long it takes me to actually do it.

Last month it took me two weeks to re-pot a plant.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Gallery Wall = Liz Goes Bonkers

So, we have a Honey Do list around here. Which is really just a "*whistle* Hey, you guys? Seriously. Do something besides watching that Justified marathon" list.

Something that's been on my list for months: finish the gallery wall in the living room.

It. Is. Not. Going. Well.

I've always heard that half the battle was accumulating things over time (when planning a gallery wall). Well, I have been. And it's still not looking right. I've arranged and rearranged. I've used butcher paper to figure out different arrangements. And still. Nada.


I suppose I should go out and buy things that will "fit." But doesn't that negate the whole "accumulated eclectic" notion?


So instead I'll just kick stuff.


And glare at the wall because it doesn't look remotely like these rooms.


And ignore the "my wife is soooo bonkers" looks I'm getting from Matt.

A Little Business

This post is all about business. Or...

... taking care of business.

I couldn't help myself. Is this vanity plate not a hoot? I was like, "Elvis?"


Tomorrow I'll be at my alma mater, Harding University. I'll be in chapel (9:00 American Studies) and then later in the day visiting with people about my book. I'm looking forward to seeing the professors in the English department and hanging around campus. Hopefully I can hold intelligent conversations about writing and books without sounding like this, "Oh. Yeah. Um. Like. Yeah." I really hate when I burble like that.

Also, yes, the old blog got a face lift. How do you like it? I'm in love. I wanted something brand new and simple. It was time for a change, and I want to thank Dionne at Studio Chic for making it happen (and for putting up with me).

So that brings today's business to a close. If you'll excuse me I'm off to find a TCB vanity plate online. I'm thinking this would make an excellent stocking stuffer for Matt at Christmas. Just seeing the look of total horror on his face would make it worth it. He doesn't quite share my love of Elvis, even if he does rock some awesome side burns.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Some Things (8 To Be Exact)

1. Yesterday, while using a public restroom (these story beginnings never end well), I watched a woman come out of a stall, adjust the contacts in her eyes, and then wash her hands. I wanted to grab her shoulders, shake, and yell, "This is how plagues start!" But since that kind of stuff will get a gal arrested, I made a really big show of using a paper towel to turn my water on and then to open the door to leave (all the while she was picking food out of her teeth). Later I asked Matt if he thought she got the hint and he said, "You have the subtlety of a chain saw. I'm sure you freaked her out." Good enough.

2. You know that whole ombre hair color thing going on? I'm pretty sure every girl in my high school did that back in 1996. Except it was because our "Sun-In" hair had grown out. And it wasn't cool then.

3. While walking into work I stepped on a ketchup packet, which exploded all over the side of my pants leg and my new shoes. Then I called Matt on his cell phone and he said, "Go away, you're interrupting my Settlers of Catan game." Double whammy.

4. Jane scowls at strangers. I mean, really scowls. I spend all my time in Wal-Mart apologizing to people as she glares at them. It's so weird. At home and in daycare she's all smiles. But not with strangers. I guess that's a good thing.

5. Rebecca skyped me from China and told me about how she found the biggest shell ever... in a "poop pond." Then she went on to explain how she had gloves and disinfected it. She also told me that everything in the poop ponds grow extra big, including the plants on the banks and the fish. And apparently shells. And then I begged her to come home where she can't dig around in poop ponds.

6. Mabel tried to bite Jane. Matt spanked her. It wasn't pretty. Looks like our two girls may need separate corners (rooms) for a while.

7. I always promised myself I wouldn't be one of those women who had "special pillows" on the couch that no one was allowed to lay all over. And then I got these. Now I'm a pillow Nazi. I want them to last until I was 90.

8. This last weekend I went to a movie matinee all by myself. I got my very own popcorn and root beer and watched The Hunger Games. I never knew I could enjoy going to the movies so much.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Mommy Wars. Really?

This whole Hilary Rosen vs. Ann Romney thing makes me so sad. And a little queasy. Hilary said Ann (a stay at home mom to five boys) had "never worked a day in her life." Ann came back by saying "Some of us prioritize family over a fantasy that we could one day be as successful as a man." Uh-oh.

I never really understood the whole "Mommy Wars" thing until I became one. And how could I? It's perhaps one of the most divisive and hurtful scab anyone ever picked. But why do we do it? Why do we lash out at each other and criticize and try to make a woman feel bad about the most important role she'll ever play in her life?

My mother was a stay-at-home mom. That was the only way I ever saw "motherhood" happen. So when it became my turn and I had to work, I was thrown for a loop. I'd always assumed daycare kids were sad little creatures, sitting in a lonely corner with green boogers matted on their faces. It turns out, as I've discovered, this is not the case.

Here's a quick example of the arguments given on both sides:

1. Pro-Stay-At-Home: "I've made sacrifices to stay at home. I didn't want anyone else raising my kids. Women who work just like to drive nice cars and go shopping."

2. Pro-Working-Mom: "I want to set a good example of a work ethic for my child. They get so much valuable socialization out of daycare. I can't sit around and bake cookies all day."

And here's what each side hears:

You don't make sacrifices.

Someone else is raising your children.

You work because you're materialistic.

You don't set a good work ethic for your kids.

Your child isn't socialized and acts weird.

All you do is bake cookies, you're not valuable.

That smarts doesn't it? WHY do we do that to each other?

This is the lesson God has been teaching me for the last year: the Lord asks different things of different women. For some of us, it's crystal clear that if we don't work our homes will end up in foreclosure. For some, it's crystal clear that they can't be at a desk all day.

Somewhere deep down (and it's probably because I didn't grow up with a working mom) I thought that being working mother wasn't as fulfilling and noble as staying at home. I was wrong. I've found great contentment in doing what I do. I don't second guess whether I'm doing the right thing. Why? Because I trust that God's will in my life is good. He needs me to help pay bills and contribute in that way. It also doesn't hurt that Jane is the most social baby in the world and is thriving at her daycare.

So why would we argue and back bite and make other mothers feel badly about what is perhaps God's will in their lives? It's because in the dark of night we worry. We're insecure. We wonder if we should be working. Or not working. Or home schooling. Or feeding our kids only organic food. Maybe they should go to preschool? Maybe they should be breast fed? Bottle fed? Given a bath every other day? Every day? What if shots cause autism? What if their car seat isn't tight enough? What if...

The what if's eat us up.

The reason that I sleep well at night, the reason that I enjoy every second with Jane, the reason that I'm totally content as a working mother isn't because I don't struggle with the what if's. It's not because I'm some testament to supreme self confidence. It's not because I "have it right" and you don't. It's because the Holy Spirit has given me peace. It's because of the realization that I am right where God wants me to be at this moment. And God's plan, God's will, is always good.

I encourage everyone reading this to think about that. Think about what you do as a mother. Are you staying at home and homeschooling and growing a garden and looking into happy smiling faces every morning? Are you working to keep a roof over your head and spending every waking moment sucking in the joy of being a mother and watching as your child tries to kiss everyone at daycare (Jane is more of a hugger, but I'm sure the kisses are coming)? Are you praying and asking God to have his way with your life? Then enjoy it. Don't be insecure. Don't worry about what the mom next door is doing. You are a mother walking in God's will, and that's a beautiful thing.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Alien Warrior Visits at 3 a.m. and a Big Thank You

This week Jane decided that her favorite play time is 3 in the morning. Every morning. She cries until we put her in bed with us and then proceeds to giggle in the dark, jam her pacifier in our mouths, and rock back and forth to some invisible music.

This morning (at 3) Matt groaned from his side of the bed (as Jane's foot pummeled the side of my head), "I think she's a tiny alien warrior sent from the future to torture us."

At that moment, in a state of total sleep deprivation, his theory made perfect sense to me. So that's what we'll call her now. Our tiny alien warrior. But actually she's just a fuzzy headed kid who's figured out how to play her parents like a Stradivarius violin.

Also, I wanted to take time to send a big thank you out to Ashley for not only reading my book but taking the time to blog about it. She's a real sweet heart, a super-mom, and is also currently in the process of adopting a daughter from China. If you haven't already gotten hooked on her blog, you will!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"I Need Another Kid Like I Need a Hole In The Head."

I was shopping in Target when I heard this loud and clear from the next isle:

"I need another kid like I need a hole in the head."

I couldn't help but stop and listen, as a woman explained loudly that one child was enough of a burden and she didn't want any more. And then I started crying in public.

It's always a challenge to cry in public and hide it. My go-to procedure is grabbing for sunglasses and making sure I don't have any visible snot bubbles. That always attracts unwanted attention, and not the "aw poor girl is crying" kind, but the "ew, she's gross" kind. Either way, when you're boo-hooing in a public forum, strangely enough, all you want is your privacy.

You see, the honest truth is, I don't know if I could have another child. It's a health thing, and it's a long drawn out story that I don't really want to wade into right now. Don't get me wrong, I'm beyond thankful for our little family of three. To be honest, rationally I know that my poor body doesn't need another round like its had this last year. But, in the darkness of night when I lay in bed, there's a part of me that wishes we could have just one more.

Last night I was putting Jane to bed. Every night we do the same thing. She drinks her bottle, I rock her and sing to her, and she tries her very best to jam her entire fist down my throat. I have no idea why, but she seems to like it so I let her. So I was rocking her, and she was rubbing her eyes and picking at her ears while I tried my best to sing "Jesus Loves Me" as she also tried her best to twist the lips off my face. And then I tasted something strange. Something awful. All of a sudden my brain identified the taste from a far away childhood memory. It was bitter. It was a gross nuclear taste explosion as Jane's ear wax filled my mouth and nostrils. The little stink had picked it out of her ear and carefully deposited it in my mouth.

The Lord spoke to me in that moment. I knew that I needed some Listerine. I also knew that all my life I've been in his hands, and that hasn't stopped just because a doctor declared I would need to be on a Category D drug indefinitely. I feel like there is another baby out there for me, somewhere, somehow. Whether it be from my body, or from an orphanage in China, or a foster home across town... I believe the Lord will provide us another family member sometime down the road, just as He provided Jane, and just as He provided me with the strength not to lose my dinner as Jane's earwax taste clung stubbornly to my tongue all night.

Maybe that woman in Target sees children as holes in the head. Everyone could debate that view for days. But I guess it's a good thing she's never met Jane, or she would declare them "destroyers of taste buds."

Monday, April 9, 2012

It Was Party.

Jane turned one this weekend.

Everyone keeps asking me if I'm sad, and I am, sort of. I know she's getting bigger every day, but she's so much fun it's hard to be too sad.

It was a nice party. The house was packed with loved ones and kiddos and babies. I asked for no presents. Obviously my family ignores me.

Jane wasn't at top form though.

She's in teething city right now. Plus she came down with a sore throat and refused to sleep all weekend. Now THAT was a party.

But even on no sleep, we wouldn't change a thing about her. This last year has been the hardest, sweetest, most life changing year of all time. We love you sweet sunshine.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Party Prepping

We're prepping for Jane's first birthday this weekend. It makes me a little sad, but not too sad. She's so much fun right now and everything is an adventure. I wouldn't trade this time for anything. Good Friday indeed.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Sister Fun

This is my sister Rachel. She and her hubby came to eat dinner with us. We showed them around our favorite part of town and then I nearly stole Rachel's button sweater.

Me: "Give me your sweater."
Rachel: "No."

Me: "Come on. You can make another one."
Rachel: "Liz. No."
Me: "Come on. Remember when you were little and you bit me?"
Rachel: "Which time?"
Me: "My point exactly. Now give me your sweater."

But she didn't. I guess that's ok. I'll try again another time with a whole new guilt-inducing scheme to make her cave.

We went to my favorite store.

And then had dinner at our favorite place.

Actually, it's Jane's favorite place.


Matt is teaching Jane how to drink from a straw. She looks like a sweet baby bird, until she decides she's done, at which point she slaps the straw across the room. She's nothing if not decisive.

It was a good, good day. I miss my sisters. I've never been apart from them as much as the last couple of years. Especially that one over in China who may never come home. Sniff. Sniff. Sniff.

See how good I am at using guilt? Now if I can just get that sweater...