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Thursday, September 18, 2014

the tedious. the glorious. the everyday.

The kids are playing iPad. They've earned it, with chores and such, but its gorgeous out and these days wont last too long. So of course I feel guilty.

And we made it through school work today, without too much drama and whining. And I should feel good about it.

But instead I feel guilty. Because I am still lingering on how awful yesterday was.

Awful.

So this is it, I suck at juggling. And right now I am. Supportive business launching wife. Homeschooling mom. Board member and international attempter of projects. Book writer. And now, development consultant, again, with big projects looming. And I can do all of these things. Somewhat. But, perfectionist that I am I hate to be half-assed at any.

Then I get hard on myself.

Then I get crabby at everyone else.

Then I feel guilty.

Then I get up, tell myself all the positive gobbledy gook that I can muster.

Then I do better. Which lasts until lunchtime.

It is 12:50 as I type.

And I am feeling grumpy.

But why, Sara? Good grief! Happy family. Nice dada. Cute house. Land. Garden. A meaningful way to help people and earn money.

But.

I am tired.

Tired.

I could sleep right now. Little Green has been waking up at night - growing pains? Turning three pains? Not sure.

I could sleep all day.

Join a gym, Sara! Yes I know. Then its another thing I need to do. Another thing I wont do. Another thing to feel guilty about not doing.

Spiral.

Take some supplements Sara! Yes I know. Cod Liver Oil in the fridge. Magnesium drink supplements. Extra Vitamin D.

So I tell dada. About that retreat.....Yea. I need that. Maybe two this fall, in fact.

I have got to wrap my brain around the now. Turning....the age I am about to turn... Not quite the big age but near to it. And like, suddenly, OH, I will not - likely - get recruited by the CIA. Or live in a foreign city and sip coffee at cafes every morning on my way to enlightening work all day with inspiring people. Or learn to be a concert violinist. And the above list of things I AM trying to do seems hopelessly too much. One cant be a part time successful author whilst launching nonprofits and homeschooling and milking goats every morning at the crack of dawn, can one?

Can one?

One could, I reckon, if one never slept.

See above.

Tired.

So do I pick? Let things go? Am I clinging too tight to this list of things that will happily see me into my 40s? If only X, Y, Z, THEN I can turn 40 in peace.

Perhaps.

That might be it, in fact. This crabby looming feeling in my gut.

I need to let go. Let it happen if it should. If it will. Pursue, with wild abandon - as one might say poetically - but not letting it define ME as successful or not.

This is what I came here to write to myself.

This.

This idea of "success," that so destroys the middle aged (approaching) mother.

Do I love?

Am I loved?

Do I try to do good?

Do my children witness that struggle?

Do I smile more than scowl?

These are the important questions to dwell on.

Little man has been struggling lately. Turning eight? Feeling under the weather? Something. He sees my stress, I know.

"Mom," he says as I yell at the girls to come eat their dinner "Are you happy?"

I look over in exasperation. At the moment, NO!

But his eyes are filling with tears. "Can you be happy?"

I sigh. Guilt shooting like daggers into my heart. Oh buddy. SO much happy. For you. And your sisters. You are my happy thought! You are the reason I can fly!

But I just sit next to him, hold his hand, eat our dinner together as the girls run like wild animals.

Success. Is that success? Letting my stress eat into him? And, I SUCK. I think to myself.

But no. He is seeing struggle. Learning up close and personal what it means to be human. To have goals, to have dreams. To be disappointed. To be overwhelmed, but to keep at it.

But I want him to see happy too. Contentment.

This is success. Maybe. This balance. This is what I need.

And that letting go. That, giving it your best shot, but not letting the yes or no of fate determine the smile or scowl on my face each day. That doing of what needs to be done - the sink full of dishes, the pairing of socks, the writing for a client - doing it and doing it well, because its the task at hand. Because it is life. The tedious. The glorious. The everyday. What better lesson to teach them?

Okay so, whether you read all that or not -that was a lot - I needed to write that to myself. So thanks for letting me let it out.

And I hope that maybe it said something to you too, on this brilliant Thursday afternoon.

I think I need to bake some brownies now.

Here are pictures of my latest post-worthy school moment. Teaching the kids to sew. Good grief that made me happy to see them stitching away.

Okay. Brownies. But maybe first I will force the kids to unglue from iPad and get out into the sunshine with me.









the buttons on his branches represent the seasons - his idea -
with the fifth one being the time between summer and fall :)


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A is for apple, a-a-apple


 






So, you know. It's all going on... Clients, manuscripts, dada on work overload, etc. And school. And now two kids to school.

And you know, it's surprisingly ... not easy but, it's happenining, all the juggling. I'm surprising myself maybe. 

Or I'm less hard on myself. 

Or I'm failing miserably and I'm too tired to notice.

That might be it too.

But, you know, little miss is kindergarten first grade-ish...can you BELIEVE IT?? Yikes 

And so, we begin. Alpha phonics and line copying and capital letters last year, with an alphabet fairy story, and now on to small letters. I did small letter introduction with little man with a great chapter book, the story of four kids going on an adventure, saving the wisdom. And each chapter is a letter. 

So yesterday we read the A chapter. And today, this story. And little man says, remember when I had the flu when you read that story to me? And I say, yes, yes, I remember. (Link here. Here is our first weeks of homeschool. ) 

And then we cut an apple up, and saw the star inside, and then she says, "Let's plant it!!" And I say, yes, let's. So we do. Then we paint an apple tree. And then the girls go out to play in the bright sunshine, and all is well. 

Also. This story. It said something to me too. Look at the section I have in italics. Heart.

WHY APPLES HAVE STARS WITHIN

AND you did not even know an apple had a star within, you say? Why, then, I am afraid you have never eaten an apple in just the proper way.
The next time you have one, cut it round into three circles, and just in the very centre of each circle you will find the picture of an apple blossom, and in the centre of the blossom you will find a beautiful star—each one of the five points holding baby seeds. How did the star get there?
Well, that is a story that Old Mother Nature told the other trees, and I will tell it to you.
A long,long time ago the very first apple seed lay in the ground fast asleep. The raindrop fairies carried her water to drink, and the sunbeam fairies kept her warm, while a little worm ploughed the ground and made it soft about her feet.
One bright spring morning the bluebirds sang, "Wake up, wake up," and the baby apple seed stretched, rubbed her eyes, pushed right through the brown earth, and was very much surprised to find herself a small apple-tree.
She thought the outside world was a very beautiful place indeed, and wondered and wondered about the clouds and the birds and the sun. She thought the day was very beautiful, but when night spread its canopy over the world, spangled over with the silver moon and thousands of sparkling stars shining like so many candles in the sky, the little apple-tree reached out her limbs as high as she could and longed with all her baby soul for just one star of her very own.
Now the little apple-tree had hardly made the wish when she heard the tinkle of tiny silver bells, and there, close to her side, stood the fairy princess of all the orchard trees, a star formed of rare diamonds sparkling in her crown.
"I have heard your wish, little tree," she said, "and the star shall be yours if you are willing to wait and work for it. Beautiful things come only through striving, and if, as you live, you seek to grow both strong and beautiful, the wish shall be granted you and the star shall be your own to do with as you choose." And then the fairy was gone.
For many days the little tree could think only of the fairy and the promised star, and as she thought, she worked, sending her roots deeper and deeper into the ground, and trying hard to keep her trunk and branches straight and strong.
This was not always easy to do, for the wind often blew roughly against the little tree, and the rain storms beat upon her, bending her body almost to the ground, and shaking her limbs from root to crown.
Still she did not forget or cease to try, and when the wind and rain had passed she lifted her head to the sunbeam fairies and waved to them for help, and little by little, inch by inch, she raised her body up again, and each time found herself stronger than before.
"It is the way of the Storm King," said the sunbeam fairies, as they danced through the leaves of the little tree. "He bends you back and forth and up and down to help to make you strong. You have only to try, and you can always rise again—straighter and stronger than ever before."
So the little tree learned not to be afraid of the great Storm King, and at night when she looked up into the spangled heavens, the twinkling stars smiled down on her and she was very happy indeed.
One morning a happy surprise came to the little apple-tree. She found when she awoke that all of her branches were filled with exquisite blossoms of delicate pink, and as she looked with joy into the heart of each wee bud, she thought she saw a star fairy, smiling back at her.
Day by day she gloried in the richness of her treasures, though now her work seemed only just begun, for there was pollen dust to make and nectar juice to prepare for the bees, who so kindly helped her to care for the dainty blossoms.
But the little tree grew happier and happier—not so much because her blossoms were so beautiful, as that she knew the blossoms would soon change into apples, and that every one would hold baby apple seeds, which would some day be planted and grow into apple-trees like herself.
And so she did not grieve when, one morning, as it happens to all orchard trees, the pretty pink petals fell from the blossoms and drifted away to play with the wind.
Indeed, the apple-tree became so busy caring for the little apples which held her baby seeds that she forgot all about the fairy princess, who had promised her the beautiful star, forgot about herself, forgot everything but the baby seeds, and feeding and caring for them.
That is just the way it is with mothers, you know,—they often forget everything, but loving and working for their children.
And so, day by day, the apples which held the baby seeds grew large and round and juicy, and when the sunbeam fairies came to kiss them they blushed a crimson red, while the apple-tree rustled her leaves with laughter, so very happy was she.
What did she care for stars, now that she had her baby seeds? The earth-children were welcome to the red apples—she had made them juicy and red on purpose that they might be eaten,—for how else were the baby seeds to get out, I should like to know?
So, you see, the little apple-tree had grown very wise in her love for her baby seeds, and she was very much surprised one night when again she heard the tinkle, tinkle of silver bells, and the orchard fairy stood smiling at her side. In her hand she held, not one, but a whole bagful of stars.
"Strong and very beautiful have you grown, little tree," she said,—"strong because you have forgotten yourself for others, beautiful because you have lived for others.
"Many months have I watched you battle against rain and wind storms, heat and drought; every time you have fallen you have risen again, stronger and more beautiful than before. Behold, here are your stars. Shall I make you a crown?"
"A crown oh, beautiful fairy? Not for me," said the tree. "That was a foolish wish of mine. But if stars you have to give,—give them, I pray you, to my baby seeds."
A smile passed over the fairy's face, and bowing her head in the moonlight, she replied, "It is ever as you say, little tree, and I grant to you your wish."
So it is that the earth-children find stars in their apples to-day; and tucked snugly away in each tiny point, you will find the brown seed babies, which the apple-trees delight to have you plant.







Thursday, September 11, 2014

today, a declaration

Today I remember those moments that morning long ago with such a heavy heart. The days of wondering, asking why. 

But then I also remember the violence I witnessed in Iraq, as a country struggled for democratic birth under the sounds of gunfire and mortar launches. 

And I think of the people today, running from violence and terror in too many places around the world. The children uprooted. Impacted by violence for their lifetime. 

And I can't help but think. My God. Enough. Please. Never again. No more. Let's be the global generation to end it. No more September 11s for any country.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

homemade shower gel

So it was 9pm. Kids in bed. I had just taken a shower and AGAIN used the kids baby shower wash because AGAIN I had forgotten to get myself my OWN, BIG GIRL, shower gel.

And I was scrolling through Pinterest on the IPad and saw it.

How to make homemade shower gel.

And you know what I did?

I put down Pinterest, mid scroll, got up off my fanny, glass of wine in hand, AND FREAKING MADE SOME.

That's right folks. Proactive Sara strikes again. You never know when, nor how, but when she strikes, look out! DEADLY.

Deadly, er, shower gel.

That didn't really work.

In any case. SO EASY. SMELLS SO GOOD. Yada yada...

And really, when you think of what good shower gel costs, totally worth it.

Here is how.

Grate a bar of soap into a pot. The "recipe" I saw (in quotes because it was more like a suggested method) Was for using Dove soap. I have a load of Costco Dove knockoff, so that is what I used.

And okay, grating soap is a pain. I just put the bar down, take a break, or just keep at it. In any case. Two cups of water into the pot. Bring to a soft boil, hot enough to melt the soap. Stir. So, I have wicked dry skin so I added lavender-infused coconut oil. I know, I know, this makes me sound like Martha Stewart or something. But yes, I did it myself. I happen to have a lovely little lavender plant and a ton of coconut oil bought bulk. I dried the lavender (takes several days), chopped it, and added to melted coconut oil in a small mason jar, and then let it sit. It smells lovely. So I added a tablespoon or so. Then the same amount of glycerin. You can get this at Walmart or somewhere like that. Its an added softener and gives the mixture a more gel-like texture.

(So, two year old is attacking me right now. I am having a hard time typing. She thinks its hilarious to try and wrap herself in my shirt and pull. I am going to lose it at her in 3, 2, 1............ AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKK!!!!!!!!)

Okay, now that that is out of the way.

Gel like texture. Okay, yes.

So then I wanted a nice scent. Something other than "baby fresh."

I added the following oils: Ylang ylang, rose geranium, and, because I am a hippie mama, patchouli.

YUM.

So. Stir. Let sit. It took a few days to set up. I put it in an old (expensive) shower gel bottle.

VOILA. Shower gel.

You should try it.
instead of a picture of a bottle of homemade shower gel. BORING. here is a pic of my lavender plant. PRETTY!

maybe you cant see it, but its tucked back in there. :)



Thursday, September 4, 2014

where i am at

That place where a bad week starts to turn around. Where a bad mood bubbles away.

That land of flowing milk (wine) and honey.

And everything feels like its gonna be alright.

THURSDAY.

I hug you.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

BOOK REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY - Storm Siren, by Mary Weber (EEK)

EEEEEEEEEK.

This book makes me want to girly squeal. Mostly because it is written by my high school bestie (see photo below) and I am so super proud of her. Homeschooling, chicken-raising, Cali surfing, high-school mentor mama who just rocks.

But really. This book.

You know my requirements for books, right? ESCAPISM. It can't have 1)kids/mommying reality 2)relationship drama 3)sad stuff. I can do scary, intense, mystery, thriller, fantasy. And along the way I need 1) beautiful writing 2) happy something or other 3) no plot holes. Plot holes make me insane.

I can do plain sparse writing actually, if necessary to move the story along. And I guess happy isn't so SO necessary. Mostly its resolution I need. Witness: Jack Reacher books. Plain ass writing. Fascinating plot lines. A guy who travels with only a toothbrush (sounds so liberating and free! Unlike the absolutely stuffed car we need to go camping for 24 HOURS!) And everything gets neatly wrapped up at the end of each book. GUARANTEED. Love it.

This book is not plain writing, it is BEAUTIFUL, nor does the story get wrapped up neatly (as a trilogy) but OH so fun and lovely. This book is seriously the soul of its author. I can see her in it. And that is special.

So...an official blurb of the book...


"I raise my chin as the buyers stare. Yes. Look. You don’t want me. Because, eventually, accidentally, I will destroy you.”In a world at war, a slave girl’s lethal curse could become one kingdom’s weapon of salvation. If the curse—and the girl—can be controlled.

As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn’t merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth — meaning, she shouldn’t even exist.

Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed.

Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she’s being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.

But what if she doesn’t want to be the weapon they’ve all been waiting for?

Set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, Storm Siren is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win."


Now, to say, this book is probably a tad more romantical than my norm (er, Jack Reacher being my above example) and inhabited by teenage lover types that made me want to throw up my hands at times (I think I actually did throw up my hands once and as noted above, I try to stay away from complex relationship drama, ha!) and also, I desperately wanted it to be MORE. More pages. More explaining. More of this world. I got to the end and was like NOOOOOOO...not fair. But forgiveable - because I know for a fact its the first of three books. So I am trusting that my girl Mary will get us MORE in the next few.

Other than that.

Beautifully inventive language.

Exciting plot line.

Interesting cast of characters.

And a message about loving yourself and believing in yourself, buried in there, that I found myself savoring in the midst of the battle at the end.

So. You need a non-mommying fun read?? Or a great book for your fav teen? GET IT! (Find it here on Amazon)

Or hey, WIN IT!! Leave me a comment here, on my blog (NOT FB, please), with your favorite kind of escapism book and enter to win. No anonymous entries, pretty please. I will buy the winner a copy on Amazon and ship it your way. Entries are open until, um, MY BIRTHDAY, October 1. SMILE.

And Mary. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY! So proud girl!




Monday, September 1, 2014

September and organizing and sunflowers


Oh, September. I could sing a song about you.

I won't though.

Someone else should though, definitely.

Cool mornings. Soft breezes. The occasional storm shower. The garden is at its peak of glory. And finally my sunflowers and zinnias are blossoming. (Yes, these pics are those flowers. Aren't they GORGEOUS?? I love September.)

And then there is the organizing.

Because, as you may well know from past posts(here, here, here, here), September is my official GET SHIT ORGANIZED month.

No more of the summer chaos. Throw it in the closet! Deal with it later! Quick, get outside and absorb that sunshine! Get to the lake! The zoo! Camp! GO GO GO!

No. We are done with that. Because now we are putting up cans and cans of produce. Jellies and jams and pickles and three bean salad. And we need room to can. And to put the jars up. And plants start coming back inside. Some ferns. The tall quirky aloe. Its a little too cold at night for some of them.
And I start to think about winter. Not without a twinge of dread. But only a tiny twinge. And I cast on stitches for a fuzzy winter hat for baby Green. And school is underway. Bringing rhythm to our day.

And I am ready.

And. Fall. Winter.

And I am ready.

GET SHIT ORGANIZED.

Do you do this? I've already talked about why I do. I think. Years and Years and Years of SCHOOL. Fall is new classes and new ideas and professors and experiences.

I think a lot about daily routine in these months. What I want to accomplish. And a list starts forming in my head. Because I am list girl.

Here is what I have so far.

1) Become adept at making gluten free bread. Bake more. I need to take Green in for an official diagnosis but I am pretty sure she is celiac....ehhhhhhh.
2) Get up early EVERY MORNING. I still struggle with this. Getting up before the kids makes a WORLD of a difference in my attitude to take on the day. But, man am I tired. So tired. Zzzzzzzzz. Still, I gots to try. Gots to gots to gots to.
3) Finish revising book. Send out book to agents. Get rejected. Send out book to agent. Get rejected. Repeat ad nauseum. (Fun times ahead!)
4) Start next book. (OOOOOO. Such a good idea for my next project. I mapped it out this morning actually. Writing fresh stories is much nicer and funner than revising and getting rejected.)
5) Get kids into 4H/Cub scouts/and etc. (This is part of Operation Don't Sit at Home and Be Lonely All Winter. I read somewhere this winter is going to be just as harsh and long as last year. Must. Find. More. Friends. I suck at this.)
6) Um. Join a gym? I hate to write that on the list but. I need to not be a jellyfish by next spring. Which is how I felt this spring. Also. See above.
7) Paint. Knit. Sew. Create. This is part of Operation Be Happy.
8) Geez. I think that is probably enough. I should probably put something here about school ambitions. I've got other lists for that though. HA. One more thing might be a new resolution. Stop stressing out about stuff I can't control. A lifelong item on the list perhaps. For certain. But, my gosh, entering into fall and a new school year this stressed out about stupid things beyond me is really....stupid....oh yes...
9) Blog twice a week. I am going to start a book-ish section, with my sisters, EEEEEEEEEK. I am excited about this one. "The Johnson-Sisters Talk Books." Also old time anti-recipe attempts from my favorite new cookbook. Also. More crafty things. Fall is for crafty, for me anyway, not so much summer.

That is all I can think of.

I feel like I need a number 10. To round out the list.

10) Oh yes. Um. ORGANIZE. Purge crap. Fabric scraps exploding out of the closet. Clothes I "might wear some day." Baby things. Old kid toys. Books in boxes. Random kitchen things we never use. Clean. Efficient. Simple.

So. Yes. A year of peace. Creative energy. Writing. Simplifying.

This is the year I need. So I am gonna make it happen. You know?

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand GO.

Except maybe later. Because its gorgeous out and we are going to the lake. Quick! Drop everything! Cut up that watermelon! Get in the car! GO GO GO!






 

 




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