Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A note to future me


Today, things are good.

My health is good.  My kids are healthy.  My husband is healthy.
My marriage is fun.  It's happy.  We're communicating.  We're intimate.
My parenting is under control.  For now.
I have friends who love me and support me.
I'm seeking the Lord.

But thats... today.

Life is far from perfect, but with how things stand today, I can face tomorrow.  Sure, there are rooms in my home that aren't clean.  Of course there are things in my marriage I'd improve.  One kid has bad eczema that she itches until it bleeds.  I just wish it would go away.  One kid peed her pants THREE times yesterday.  I've had a headache for a few days now.  But those things?  I can handle those things.

There have been days, lots of days recently, that I just didn't know if I could do another day.  Seriously. I couldn't seem to see past the end of the day, and see that things could ever be different.  Sometimes I tend to get stuck in a deep hole of doubt; I convince myself that this bad day will last forever.  When you're in the midst of a string of bad days (weeks, months... years), it's hard to imagine life ever being happy again.  Or easy.  Or different.

I remember being pregnant with my first baby, and laying on my bedroom floor in tears because of sciatic pain.  The pain in my back and legs was so stifling that I cried, imagining myself never being able to get down on the floor and play with my baby because of the pain.  I'd never go to the park with her, I'd never ride a rollercoaster with her, and piggy back rides?  Forget it!  But oh, that pain was temporary.  However, in that moment, I couldn't imagine not feeling it.  I thought sciatic pain would be my constant companion through pregnancy and beyond.

I've had dark days as a mom, where my yelling and impatience got the best of me and I wanted to give up.  I was sure my kids would remember a childhood marked by a grumpy mom.  I imagined every day of my life being filled with anger towards my kids who wouldn't listen.  There have been times I resented them for turning me into such a grouch.

And marriage.  Ohhhh marriage.  I've had days when I wanted to throw in the towel.  It's hard.  We've gone through those phases where we're just roommates, coexisting and sharing few words or loving glances.  We've confronted tough stuff that would've been easier to avoid.  It's in the midst of those conversations that I have to fight the urge to run away because I just can not imagine it ever being fun or light-hearted again.  I've caught myself believing that it will always be a state of misery and feeling stuck.

I've walked the dark road of depression.  A heavy fog surrounds you and suffocates you.  You feel alone and scared and without hope.  I honestly couldn't remember how it felt to be happy, and I couldn't imagine feeling joy again.  

Today... things are good.  But I don't know what tomorrow has in store.

And so I'm writing my future self a note to remind her that things can be good.  That the bad doesn't last forever.  It's a cycle.  Things felt good... things felt bad... things turned good again... things WILL feel bad again.  Repeat.  

I don't have this false sense that life is good today and always will be.  John 16:33 says "In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world."  It's not a surprise that life isn't easy.  But today I'm recognizing that there is HOPE.  Hope that the God who brought me through it before will do it again.

- - -

Dear future Angie who feels like life is going to swallow you whole,

You've got this.  God's got this.  It - whatever that may be - won't last forever.  Remember that day not too long ago when things felt good?  When you realized that you'd made it through dark days and emerged triumphant?  You will again.

Things might feel yucky today.  Tomorrow might be another story.  Hang in there.

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.'"
Lamentations 3:22-24

From the Angie who made it another day

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

You won't die if you buy your valentines. It's true.

'Twas the week of Valentine's Day, when all through the town,
Moms stressed their little hearts out, for what was about to go down.
Pinterest was open on laptops and phones,
And cutesy ideas earned eye rolls and groans.
The children were oblivious to the anxiety brewing,
Because all they wanted was more Rainbow Looming.
The day was soon coming when to school kids would bring
The most perfect Valentine ever, an impressive thing.

When all of a sudden, mom said "This is it!"
She forgot to make dinner and ignored baby's fit.
She'd combed every blog, Pinterest board, and web page,
And at last found the one that would set the stage.
A Valentine with words so witty and punny,
Glitter that sparkled and glue that was runny.
"But no! I want Planes! I want LEGO or Mickey!"
Said the kids whose mom was really quite picky.
Mom was on a mission, it would surely impress!
(Wasn't that the goal? She'd never confess.)
She stayed up til midnight, til one and til two,
'Til her masterpiece was finished, the bags under her eyes too.

And so her kids took the Valentines to school,
They ate candy hearts and got things that were cool.
The truth is no one cared about the Pinterest bash,
And within 24 hours, they were all in the trash.
Oh sure, they were cute; they were funny and sweet.
But in the end, did her expectations they meet?
She stressed a lot over something so petty and dumb,
When her kids would've loved just handing out gum
(With a card saying "I'm stuck on you" -- no STOP!)
It's easy to get caught up in the comparison game,
And you know what?  It's really rather lame.
Let's stop trying too hard and feeling bad in the end.
Let's be real with each other.  Let's not pretend.

- - -

I started writing this poem out of frustration, and I know it's kind of extreme.  I'm all for creativity.  I run a business that thrives on creativity, and my hands and brain always have to be coming up with something.  A week ago when I realized Valentine's Day was right around the corner, I took a deep breath, pulled up Pinterest and began my obligatory search.  And then NO.  NO!  I looked at all that's on my plate right now and realized I didn't need one. more. thing.

I had to stop and question my motives.  Why did I feel like I needed to make creative, unordinary Valentines with for my kids this year, especially when I just plain don't have it in me?

We feel the pressure to, that's why.  Every year it seems like the creative Valentine ideas get bigger and better and more creative and more, more, more.  We feel like we need to keep up or be left behind in ordinary land.  If we succumb to pre-printed, generic, store-bought Valentines, we're sell-out moms who clearly don't love our kids.  We're moms that don't have the time and energy to devote to helping our kids tell others that they need "s'more friends like you!" or "you rock my world!" We're moms who are lazy and boring and need to put down our phones (oh, except let me get that Pinterest idea real quick) and pay more attention to our kids.

But who tells us these lies?  It's not the other moms.  It's ourselves.  It's not likely that another mom has ever marched up to you and belittled the Minecraft valentines you bought at Target.  We put it on ourselves.  We compare and we judge.  And we're afraid.

I ran into a friend at WalMart today.  I caught her red-handed.  She was buying - BUYING - Valentines in the holiday aisle.  Immediately she blushed and apologized and said, "I feel so embarrassed!  I'm buying Valentines this year."  I had to mask my shock and disapproval -- just kidding!  I WAS THRILLED.  She's like me.  A busy mom whose life is real.

So guess what?  For the first time EVER, I bought these the other day and I didn't die:

Store-bought Valentines.  And I didn't even influence my kids' choices.  Sure, I flinched a little and grimaced.  These will never be on Pinterest.  They will be forgotten in a month.  But my kids picked them out and were more excited about these than any of the amazing ones we've made in the past.

Because you know what?  We I have made some pretty cute Valentines in the past.  LET ME BE CLEAR:  I absolutely 100% support making cutesy, creative, over-the-top Valentines.  I've done it, I love it, I love seeing them, I love coming up with ideas, I love blogging about them, I love making them, I love getting them, I love getting excited about them, I love love love them.

BUT.

Not at the expense of life falling apart.  Or making myself feel like crap because they're not as good as someone else's.  Or forgetting to feed my family dinner for days on end while I make them.  Or breaking the bank buying all the supplies.  Or finishing them up the morning of the Valentine's Day party IN THE SCHOOL PARKING LOT.  And these things have all happened!  And for me, it's something that comes easily, so I can't fathom the stress moms feel who are stretched in this area.

Sometimes you just have to say no.  This year I said no.  And it feels good.   

Monday, January 27, 2014

Illegal Formation

My sisters and I had a strict rule growing up:  no dating until we were 16.  This rule was always accompanied by stories of guns by the door and applications to date us, and we knew there would be no bending it.  

But then one summer, there was this cute boy at youth group.  I kinda liked him and he kinda liked me.  And I was 15.  I knew not to get my hopes up, but maybe, just MAYBE my parents would make an exception if he asked me out.  And then, one wonderful day, he did.  He asked me to go to the zoo, and so with great trepidation I asked my parents if I could go.  They said NO.  

My 15-year-old-not-old-enough-to-date heart was crushed.  It looked like my first date would certainly be when I was 16 after all.  Or maybe I'd lost my chance.  Maybe I'd be 17 or 24 or 39 or never and I'd end up wearing sweatshirts with cat appliques and dangly cat earrings.

But lucky for me, he did not give up.  He asked me out again, and this time, I felt like there was a glimmer of hope.  He asked me to a Denver Broncos game.  I repeat: this cute boy who I was crushing on asked me TO GO TO A BROCOS GAME.  I'd been a Broncos fan my entire life, faithfully brainwashed trained by my Dad to bleed orange and blue.  The zoo?  Meh.  Broncos?  My dad might be on board with that.  



And so with a deep breath and my love life hanging in the balance, I asked my parents if I could go on a date.  To where?  Oh, just Mile High Stadium to watch the Broncos play.  My dad's eyes lit up and I could see the inner struggle.  Or maybe it was jealousy.  Either way, it wasn't an immediate "no" and I was so excited.  My mom and dad talked about it and decided that YES, I could go if another couple went.  We'd start with group dating since I was a mere 15 years old.

I remembering shaking as I called the boy back and told him that I could go, as long as another couple was there, explaining the group date mandate.  "No problem!" he said. I couldn't believe it.  I was going to a Broncos game.  My first.  I was going on a date.  My first.  My first date would be to a Broncos game?  It was like the beginning of a Denver-based fairy tale. 

It's hard to believe my mom didn't snap a hundred pictures of me leaving for my first date, but I have no doubt I was decked out in Broncos gear, complete with blue and orange ribbons in my hair.  I remember being so nervous and so excited.  I remember waving to my mom and dad standing on the front porch as we drove away, and I'm sure they were just as nervous as I was.  We were meeting the other couple at the game, so we went straight there.

I don't remember much about the game.  I know I had my eye out for #7 and couldn't believe I'd be seeing John Elway in real life.  I think we were playing the Raiders, and I think we won, but I can tell you one thing for sure:  this group date was not what my parents had in mind.  

We found our way to the seats (his season tickets), and I was surprised to see two of his guy friends from youth group there seated next to us.  THEM?  THEY were the other couple?  Yes.  A couple of other people.  Four of us equaled a group, it's true.  No, of course they weren't on a date.  They were just there to enjoy the game alongside us.  As a group.

Oh, my parents loved that little detail when I got home that night.  I think they thought it was a little bit funny (maybe? Mom? Dad?) but they made it clear that it wasn't the GROUP DATE that they intended.  Lucky for me, they have a great sense of humor and tease me about it to this day.  And I learned that when it's time for my kids to date, I need to be very specific.  Especially if they're asked to go to a Broncos game.

But that wouldn't be my only date to a Broncos game.  Stay tuned...



Sunday, December 08, 2013

Don't pin this--pin this!

I recently tried two dinner pins from my Pinterest board. Fail and fail! 

The first was this one: http://pinterest.com/pin/284500901431495730/ "The World's Best Chicken."My family disagreed. I'd eat it again, but I don't think my family would. It was kind of bland and not what I expected. I had high hopes for this. The WORLD'S BEST chicken?! Big claim. Big let down. 

The second was this one: 
http://pinterest.com/pin/284500901430205014/ "Three Cheese Pasta Bake."


It says it all right there--can you go wrong with three cheeses? I say no. But apparently...yes. Allow the tiny food critics to tell the story:

So there you have it. We give it three out of four thumbs up. I didn't think it was all that bad. Not the best, but not the worst. I doubt I'll make it again though. 

But the night of the "Three Cheese Pasta Bake" was not a total wash! No! Get your pinning fingers ready because the night ended with Brody's Super Special Snack Dessert. (Official recipe title.) He made it all on his own (I'm sure you are stunned), and was so very proud of his culinary skill. 


What's that? You want the recipe? Of course! 

Brody's Super Special Snack Dessert
A Handful of pretzel sticks
A Fistful of Oreos
Crumbs on the bottom of the Pringles can
A smattering of raisins
A grab of Wheat Thins
Sprinkle in some Nilla Wafers
Toss in a few dried apricots and cherries

Mix. 
Eat. 

Go ahead, I'll wait while you pin this amazing recipe...


Bon appetit!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Dusty


It's time to blow the dust off this blog. It's been too long. 

I have projects to share, project FAILS to share, a little bit of random gibberish (because would you recognize this blog without it?), family memories I don't want to forget, and a whole bunch of stuff on my heart that I need to get out. It's good, it's bad, and some of it's ugly. 

And frankly, blogging is cheaper than therapy. Trust me--I know. 

Here's to new starts. And blowing off the dust and getting real. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Caine's Arcade: A 2012 Highlight!

The other night I watched the Google Zeitgeist 2012 Year in Review which features some of the most Googled things and highlights of 2012.  I was tickled to catch a quick glimpse of one of MY highlights of the year:  Caine's Arcade.  (It's at 2:23 if you watch.)





Our visit to Caine's Arcade is old news now, but it's worth blogging about, because it really is one of the most heartwarming stories I've heard this year and one of coolest things I've gotten to see.

For a little background, you MUST visit cainesarcade.com  to watch the short film about Caine's Arcade and get the whole story.  I've watched the video more than a dozen times and can't watch without getting choked up.  I won't do the story justice, but the gist is that 9-year-old Caine Monroy created a small cardboard arcade in the front of his dad's auto parts shop in L.A.  Customers came and went and never took a chance on Caine's arcade.  But one day, a man came along who became Caine's first arcade customer and has changed his life.  Through a viral video, Caine's arcade became an overnight sensation and has inspired creativity all over the world, and has generated hundreds of thousands of dollars for Caine's college fund.  Watch the video - it's amazing!

Back in April, we kicked off Gary's sabbatical by taking a week-long trip to California to visit family.  We had just watched the Caine's Arcade video a week before and knew it was on our to-do list for our vacation.  We made sure we knew the arcade hours, got our directions together, and loaded up the family in the van to head to Caine's Arcade.

We drove through Los Angeles looking for the auto part shop.  The gray buildings and streets were a sharp contrast to the blue sky... and to the bright red auto parts shop with the hidden arcade that we spied as we turned the corner.





We parked the car a couple blocks away (the arcade was gaining popularity by now) and passed several sidewalk vendors along the way, who were taking advantage of Caine's success.  The girls had watched the video with us, and were anxious to meet Caine and try out the games.






How fun to walk up and see Caine's Arcade exactly as it looked in the video!  The same signs, the same games... and CAINE!



I felt like I was meeting a celebrity.  And actually, he's as close as I've come to meeting someone famous.  I was a bit starstruck.



We waited in line and bought our fun passes.  It's a good deal, you know.









The games were so simple and fun.  Emma even won a special toy from the claw machine!


And of course I had to buy a Caine's Arcade shirt.  I was SO excited.  AND... guess what?  Jack Black and his family visited Caine's Arcade the day after we were there! So fun!


If you're ever in the Las Angeles area, take the time to visit Caine's Arcade.  You'll be so glad you did.  And get the fun pass.  It's worth it.


After watching the video so many times, there are still two things that really strike me:  First, how awesome is Nirvan, the man who "discovered" Caine?  I hope I can see a glimpse of something amazing in someone some day and help them see it too.  Secondly, Caine's dad.  I think he's awesome.  It would've been so easy to make Caine put away the arcade because it was making a mess, and crush his dreams.  He didn't do that.  I need to remember to encourage my kids' creativity and dreams, and not pack them up out of sight because they're silly or inconvenient.

Finally, last month, I read this article about a preschool that temporarily got rid of traditional toys and replaced them all with cardboard boxes and other common materials. The kids loved it and it really encouraged creativity.

I think that's a great thing to keep in mind as we scurry around the malls this Christmas season, don't you?  I'm fairly certain that Brody won't be creating any cardboard arcades with his nose stuck to my new iPad mini.  This weekend we're doing some SERIOUS thinning out of toys.  I'm so excited, and I can only hope we get a few new good boxes for Christmas!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Because Saturdays Should Be Fun

In an effort to make Saturdays fun again, we've made a big decision at our house.

It is with great excitement and reservation, that I am here to publicly announce that...

We are K-State football fans.


But hold on to your horns, Buff fans!  We are not giving up on our beloved team.  We have always been, and will always be Buffaloes.  Should the Buffaloes and Wildcats ever face each other again, we will be cheering for our Alma Mater.  We are not fairweather fans, we just need another team to get excited about. K-State is our Plan B.

But seriously, you guys.  Waking up on Saturday mornings is accompanied by a sense of dread when we turn on College Gameday.  There is never any mention of "our" team.  The College Gameday crew will never congregate at Folsom Field.  Lee Corso is never going to don Chip's head.  Poor Buffs.

And so we had to take drastic measures.  We need a team to cheer for that might actually win.  It would just make weekends a little bit better.  After careful consideration, K-State was the obvious choice.  And yes, it's EASY to pick the #1 team right now.  But there are other, bigger reasons.

Reasons Why We Picked Kansas State:

  1. We've spent a lot of time in Kansas.  A detailed tally determined that Kansas is the state we've spent the 3rd most amount of time in as a married couple.  98.3% of that was in a tent not far from Manhattan.
  2. Bill Snyder is a family friend.  No big deal.
  3. Being Colorado Rockies fans, we already have a lot of purple in our closet!  Hooray!
  4. My friend Brooke is a Wildcat and taught me how to say "Go Cats!!!"  Gary and I already cheered for K-State from a hotel room last weekend with Brooke and some other K-State friends.
  5. Our buddy Jack McDonald ran track for K-State and bleeds purple.
  6. Kansas isn't Nebraska.
  7. Manhattan is within driving distance to see a game.
  8. We love K-State's prayer chapel.  We've taken many a nap there because it's air-conditioned (see #1).
  9. My friend Jenn is a professor at K-State and she let my kids do cool experiments in her lab a few summers ago.  That was SO fun!
  10. The Buffs still have a winning record (12-6-1) over K-State under Bill Snyder, which helps to justify cheering on the Cats.  So we can still cheer, GO BUFFS!  
See?  Those are all very valid and well thought out reasons, don't you think?  Sorry, Buffs.  But you're killing us.


We need sweatshirts or t-shirts to make this official.  So if anyone has a good reason why this team allegiance shouldn't happen, let him speak now or forever hold his peace.

GO CATS!  (okay, that hurt a little bit.)


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