Archive for December, 2010

Happy 35th Birthday to Me!

35th Birthday

Mark and AngMy Honey and Me

Birthday SignSophia and Gianna made a birthday sign for all to write on!

Flowers from EmFlowers from Em, B, and Savannah

Texas Hold 'Em | Dad's DealDad’s Deal | Brian (bro) Wins

Disco Karaoke BallKaraoke Disco Ball to Set the Mood

Everyone Loves KaraokeEveryone Loves Karaoke at my Sister’s House!

Jen and ToddJen and Todd (sister and bro in law)

My birthday fun began around 2am on the 30th.  Mark was on my side of the bed.  Me: What are you doing on my side of the bed? Him: Getting it warm for you.  Nicest guy, ever.

Slept unitl noon – yes, yes I did.
Wild mushroom and chicken gnochi for lunch (blissfully ate every bite)… with Mark and Nordstrom Cafe.
Goodie bag from Mark.
Read “Hand Wash Cold” in the afternoon.
Pizza, cake, and ice-cream with parental family for dinner.
Flowers from Em.
Texas Hold ‘Em and Karaoke in the evening.  B was the big winner, swindled us all.  Jen was an amazing singer, as always. Vincent rocked the house with “White and Nerdy”.  So wish I got that on video.
Sewing machine from family. Yes!!!  No idea how to use it, but VERY excited to learn :-)
Big B-day sign from my nieces.
Tons and tons of facebook birthday wishes.
Call from my step-son.
Birthday voice mail from grandkids.  So bummed I missed the call – but SO stoked to have the cutest voice mail EVER.
15-year-old step-daughter called me, “mom.”

I talked with the two younger kids, who were 11 and 14 when we got married, and encouraged them to call me whatever they felt comfortable calling me, that I knew they already had a mom who loved them, and I would never try to replace or be their mom. I never expected them to call me mom, though, even with the age difference of their father and I, I technically would have been old enough to be their mom (barely Brett’s).  So they’ve always called me ‘Ang’, which has been just fine with me, and natural for them.

The older three were so much older, all over 18, and living on their own; the oldest just 8 years younger than me. So I wouldn’t even be any kind of guardian to them. A friend only, who happened to be married to their dad. Though not without awkward moments, it’s worked. Over the last year, Christina (24) has referred to me as her mom. It couldn’t bless my heart any more than it does. I count Christina as a friend – one that would be a friend, regardless of the fact that I am married to her dad, had we met another way. She is a beautiful, complex soul, who loves deeply and lives passionately. When we get together, we often talk into the wee hours of the morning – which I count among my favorite experiences.

So yesterday, Carrie, my 15-year-old step-daughter, wished her “Mommy #2” (me) a happy birthday on her facebook status. After many, many trials of me being her step-mom, her being my step-daughter, and together desperately searching for a groove in our relationship, it just feels so wonderful to have come this far where, uncoerced and unprompted, she calls me “Mommy #2”.

Voicemail.  You have got to listen to the cuteness of this message… Anela and Landon, my grandkids, wishing me Happy Birthday. I’ve listened to it a dozen times between last night and today.  Melts my heart…

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Finally, I couldn’t be more thrilled that my husband bought me a spot in Misty Mawn’s Art Workshop: Stretching Within.  Starts Jan. 10, which can’t come soon enough.


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Captain of My Ship? Master of My Destiny?

Gustov Klimt: The Tree of Life

Gustov Klimt: The Tree of Life

This morning I shed some major tears over my battle with infertility.  I cried because tomorrow I will be a 35-year-old, childless woman.  I cried because I also realized, for the first time, that I’m scared to have a baby.  I have so many fears surrounding having a child, that I’ve kept hidden from myself.  But it’s all surfacing now.  And I’m wondering how much of my own fears have blocked my body from doing what is most natural.

Because I’ve always wanted children so badly, I’ve always had a fear of not being able to have children.  I have fears about not actually being the mother I intend to be.  I have fears about being an old mom, and especially about Mark being an old father (he’s 16 years older than me).  I have fears about giving birth to an unwell child.  I have fears about not being able to provide for my child the way I want to.  And the truth is, since I’ve been married, life circumstances have not been all that favorable to bring a child into.  Do I have a subconscious block from getting pregnant and keeping a growing fetus in my womb?

If this is true, then I want to throw a tantrum right now.  Well, the truth is, I already threw a tantrum this morning.  Many, many, many mothers have children intentionally, and unintentionally, wanting the child they carry, and not wanting the child they carry.  So why should I be any different?  Why would my thoughts contribute one way or the other, when so many other mother’s thoughts were irrelevant?  Yet somehow still, I am open that my fears are a contributing factor in my struggle.  Am I that powerful?

I don’t want to throw tantrums.  I don’t want to think life unfair.  I want to surrender to life and it’s curve balls.  Or at least, what I perceive to be curve balls, only because I had other plans that life did not have for me.  I know I sound like a I’m open to being tossed around by circumstances.  Maybe I am.  Maybe I finally am.  Maybe I’ve held on too tightly to the idea that I am the one and only designer of my life.  Boho Girl recommended this book some time ago, and this morning I read this passage from “Hand Wash Cold: Care Instructions for an Ordinary Life“, and it kind of shifted something inside me:

“[Life] is the last word.  Life interrupts us when we are at our most self-assured.  Life diverts us when we are hell-bent on going elsewhere.  Life arrives in a precise and yet unplanned sequence to deliver exactly what we need in order to realize our greatest potential (I know this!).  The delivery is not often what we would choose, and almost never how we intend to satisfy ourselves, because our potential is well beyond our limited, ego-bound choices and self-serving intentions.”

Since I was an adolescent, I started believing that I was the Captain of my Ship, Master of my Destiny.  Now, I am only sure that I am Captain of my response to life, Master of my emotions and clarity.  I think this is good.  I think this is right.  Life does have a way of throwing curve balls.  Life corrects our course when we go off track of what we intended to accomplish before we were born.  It supports us, whether we recognize that support or not.

Here is another passage from “Hand Wash Cold” that speaks deeply to me now:

“You might think, for instance, that the life you have is not at all the life you had in mind and so it doesn’t constitute your real life at all.  Your real life is the life you pine for, the life you’re planning or the life you’ve already lost, the life fulfilled by the person, place, [etc], of your dreams.  This is the life we are most devoted to: the life we don’t have.”

The life we don’t have… ouch.  It’s true.  I’ve been devoted to the life I don’t have.  The life I pine for every day.  The life with my husband and two kids, self-sustained, living on a rural farm, homeschooling, learning, and crafting my days away.  Instead, I’m a childless woman, living with my husband in my parents home after economic devastation to our business, and in the early, struggling phase of a new business.  That is my life.  I’ve lost the 4000 square foot home, the Cadillac Escalade, the Utopian neighborhood.

My life can’t begin again some other day – the day I have my children and my farm.  My life is here, now.  And so is yours.  We’ve got to accept it and live in it.  We’ve got to find our home in it.

Jill O'Flannery | Cherry Blossoms

Jill O'Flannery | Cherry Blossoms

I surrender.

*Update: This post was syndicated at BlogHer on February 13th, 2011!

I was syndicated on

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The Best Christmas Gift Ever

Anela Pink TreeAnela, Christmas 2009, by her new pink tree

Gift from Anela

This Christmas I was surprised with the BEST Christmas gift ever, from my adorable grand-daughter, Anela.  Anela is four-years-old.  She calls me ‘Grandma Angel’.  She got me an ‘Angel’ stocking, a small bread pan with a candy cane, a Mr. Goodbar, Smarties, and a Starburst inside, and a sweet necklace with an angel charm, which I am wearing now.  The randomness is darling.

Mark went to Utah to visit the kids without me this time.  The night he returned, I came to bed to find this stocking full of goodies on my pillow.  I knew he did stockings for his kids while he was there, and so I assumed it was from him – thinking it was so sweet of him to have a stocking for me, too.  I hugged and thanked him before proceeding to look through it, when he chuckled and said, “it’s not from me.”

When he told me that it was from Anela, my eyes filled with tears.  It is so good to be loved by her.  As much as I love Mark’s kids, being a step-parent has its challenges since there was no bonding when the children were young.  With the grandkids, I’ve gotten to experience them as babes, and they know me and love me as grandma.  Loving them helps with the void in my soul from not having my own children.

Anela CheeringAnela, cheering on Real Salt Lake

This little girl has got so much personality and spirit in her little body.  She brightens my heart, and lights up a room.  She’s fun, playful, and passionate, just like her mama, who I also adore.

Anela Tiana, a real PrincessBeautiful Anela, dressed up for Halloween

Little did Christina know, when she named her daughter, that it would be the Hawaiin version of Angela, her soon to be step-mom.  I love it.  Anela’s middle name is Tiana – Hawaiin for ‘princess’.  How apropos.

I love this girl.

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Pixies, Peace, and Secret Missions

Blessing Boxeshipstamatic photo: Blessing Boxes

A blessing box is simple and sweet, and well, a blessing to those who receive them… secretly.  My niece and nephews and I had a little pizza and blessing box making party just before Christmas.  After hours of painting, stuffing, and ribboning, we made the rounds to some houses in their neighborhood after dark, and anonymously left these little blessings for people to find on their porch!  It was a fun way to get the kids in a giving mode, when so much of Christmas for kids is all about receiving.  The thought of running around after dark, being secret agents, has its allure with kids (and adults, alike).  This idea came from a blog I read regularly, Kindness Girl.

Blessing Box Stuffing

The insides are stuffed with fun little sayings, or blessings, like: ‘Embrace Your Life’s Passion’, ‘God loves you’, ‘Your Trials Are Blessings in Disguise’, etc.  My Sunday School students helped me make and cut out all of the sayings.  Then we topped them with a piece of candy.  I’d like to believe that all the blessings find their way to the right person.

My Niece and Nephews

Of course the kids took breaks to do what they love to do most when they come to my office… :-)  They are all imaginative and artistic.

Enzo's Wish For Peace

My nephew Enzo (the one in the middle of the picture of them drawing) asked for ‘Peace’ on his Christmas list.  He’s eight.  His heart is as big as the sky.  When asked about it, he said he wished that no one would have to get picked on.  He is a peacemaker, usually thinking of others, even when they are unkind to him; and usually taking the high road.

Secret Mission

Jen Lemon put a call out on her blog for some secret agents in a covert kindness operation on behalf of someone she knew who was in need of some serious encouragement.  Tons of people mailed Jen with a line of encouragement.  Something we knew to be true.  Something we’ve gained from our own trials.  I wrote and told her that “our trials give us the opportunity to become our BEST selves.”  I do *know* this.  She put all the lines of encouragement in a glass jar, and secretly gave it to the woman in need.

I also know that when we give to others, we lift our own spirit in the process.  It’s a sure way to pull ourselves up out of our own despair, if even for just awhile, until the next time.  I’ve learned to take life only serious enough to realize that it is our temporary school, to learn about ourselves, serve others, and stretch and grow.  We graduate this school life when our physical bodies die, and our spirits’ live and move in other realms.  I believe we take our knowledge and experience with us.  It seems easier to face our trials when we know that without them, we can’t become better.  And it sure is rewarding and fun to encourage others along the way.

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Christmas Ornament Swap!

Christmas Ornament Love

Every year for the last 10, I’ve made Christmas ornaments for my nieces, nephews, and now grandkids (did you know that I’m a 34-year-old grandma?  yes, yes I am.  one of the perks of marrying a man with grown kids!).  This year I stumbled upon a blogger’s ornament exchange.  I was psyched when I read about it, and of course signed up.  The lovely Louise Gale organized it.

The instructions were to make four ornaments, mail three out to your assigned people, and keep one for yourself.  And you, in turn, would receive three ornaments from other bloggers.  It’s a fun way to connect and share a creative Christmas spirit.  And so fun, to find a new ornament in the mail over several days!  In the above picture you can see my three that I received.

Unfortunately, the little ball ornament on the upper left came anonymously, which is too bad, because I don’t know who to thank! The ‘sing’ snowflake ornament is a beautiful gold color with green sparklies, given to me by Keya, and the precious girl on the right came to me by the ever lovely Juliette Crane.  I am so in love with this girl.  Juliette does amazing artwork which can be seen in her etsy store.  Thank you, thank you, thank you to you lovely people!

The props holding up the ornaments are some of my new favorite things.  The wire purse and the black vintage jewelry box came from a consignment store.  I love, love, love them.  They make my heart happy.  The jewelry box is lined with a funky turquoise velvet, and when you open the bottom drawer on the right, it plays a song!  The red poinsettia’s came from my local dollar store!!!  :-)

My Handmade OrnamentsHandmade Ornaments

These are the ones that I made.  I almost love how they turned out.  With a few slight tweaks, I would love them.  I didn’t follow any pattern or idea, so I was completely winging it.  The main issue for me is the color of the wool for the felted ball.  It looked way more subtle and less vibrant of a green in the picture I ordered from than what it actually is… (not even captured in these pictures. think neon green.)

My first thought after making the felt balls was, oh, they look like tennis balls! My kind hubby says, “no, they don’t!”  When I showed them to my niece, she said, “oh, they look like tennis balls.”  So yeah, they look like dressed up tennis balls.  What can I say?

What I do love is the beads, which I wish I could have captured better in the picture.  I love the ribbon, and love the wire detailing around the beads.  Look here to see…

Beaded Wire Detailing

In any case, I hope they will make the people I made them for smile :-)

Here is a close up of the girl I love… (sorry for the poor picture quality)

Fresh From the Ocean by Juliette Crane

She’s perfectly pouty and sweet.

What are your favorite ornaments?  Describe what and why; or better yet, post a picture to your blog and comment with a link to it!

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