Saturday, January 31, 2009

Office Makeover

One of the ways I have been spoiled as a homeowner is that I have always had an office. A whole room for my desk and my junk. They say you spread to fill the space and it couldn't be more true for me than with my office. I have often wondered what I would do if we actually needed the extra bedroom. Where on earth would I keep my desk, computer, file cabinet, bills, software boxes, craft supplies, etc. if I didn't have a whole room to house them. I am spoiled.

However, I have never had a pretty office. I don't have a fancy desk. I am currently on my 5th desk, none of which were new, all of which were given to us at some point or another. My file cabinet is 20 years old and was bought cheap because it already had a dent. I try to put nice things on the wall but it is a hodgepodge of whatever I happen to have on hand. I dream of feminine coordinated offices with nice wall color and accessories. Those fancy file folders the bookstores are carrying now would make filing my bank statement feel a little more glamorous.

Since moving into this house I have had several variations of desk spaces.

Number one: This desk came from a company John used to work for. They upgraded and gave it to him. It was in his office at the old house and I got it when we moved here. It was actually hand made by the father of previous employer. It has not moved but Jake moved into my office a few years ago and it now belongs to him. This photo is about a year old and reflects how I would like him to keep it and not how he actually keeps it.

Number Two: I then got a smaller desk but used an old door to expand the top. For a while I think I had 2 small desks under it but this picture was taken after I had downsized to just the one small desk. I think the idea of this location was that the sun would shine on my face and not the computer but it turns out the window leaks and I practically needed gloves on to use the computer in the winter.

Finally I decided that since most of my life was now on the computer I really didn't need alot of space and could get rid of the door and just have a small desk. I moved it to my current location and tried to keep it looking clean and organized even if it was a bit dull.

This Christmas a girlfriend gave me a dark brown wall frame. Not something I would have normally picked up for myself but I loved it. I decided to hang it next to my bulletin board and have ordered some pictures to go in it. I also got some cute ceramic hanging things in a pretty shade of blue which I hung on the other side of my bulletin board. They were all nice but not really speaking to me. I was dreaming of coordination, feminine beauty. Then it came to me. Blue and brown. I love the colors together. I have been wanting to paint a blue square somewhere in my house and hang a dark colored something inside, this is it. But I still didn't want to spend money.

As luck would have it our bathroom is dark brown so I used the extra paint to paint the cork board brown. I was going to try to find some blue paint in Home Depots reject pile but John called me one day and said he had 2 blues for me to choose from or I could mix them together for another blue. He was at a friends shop who had left over paint he donated to my project. Although neither blue is exactly what I would have chosen I felt they would work. I taped off a big rectangle over my desk and went to work. Afterward I realized my blue hanging things didn't look right on the blue background so I painted a small brown rectangle inside my blue one and voila perfection.

It makes me very happy and I think there just might be hope for the rest of the room someday. Now that I am on a roll who knows what I will do next. Of course I have to avoid turning around and looking at this:

I tried to convince Jake to let me put some blue and brown stuff around his desk but apparently he isn't dreaming of a feminine office. But maybe in Isabelle's corner...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My little job and my little girl

I have a little job, it goes in and out with me and what can be the use of it is really hard to see. Ha ha. OK I am telling myself jokes right off the start. Where is that going to lead me? That is a slight paraphrase of the poem I think by Robert Lewis Stevenson about his shadow. Probably called, "My Shadow". I know my mom knows what I am talking about here.

ANYWAY...I worked 4 days in a row this week and I am still alive and am not having a break down. Of course have done nothing but work, make dinner and check my facebook page this week but still I am good. I started working this past summer and increased my hours slightly in the fall. After 2 days in a row of working I would literally be on the verge of a mental breakdown and completely incapable of making dinner or caring for my family in anyway. Now before you feel sorry for me keep in mind I work less than 10 hours a week. I don't transition well. But I am now in the groove of working and I sort of like it. I changed my schedule this week plus picked up someone elses shift to help out which is why I ended up doing 4 days in a row. I know John was skeptical when I told the girl I would take the Sunday afternoon shift that I would still be in my right mind tonight but I have done it. I feel so powerful.


I work in at Lifetime Fitness in the child center. I watch other peoples kids while they work out. People tend to work out on a schedule so Isabelle has developed some regular friendships with the kids who come in. Watching her play with other kids has been one of the most rewarding parts of the job. I really feel like I am getting a glimpse of her personality coming out. This week I felt like I got a glimpse of the future as a little friendship issue came up. She decided she was only friends with one little girl, Tessa, and refused to interact with the other girls who came in, was rude and told them they weren't her friends. I wasn't really sure what to do about this. I guess I figured there would be friendship issues when she got into school because she is a girl and that is what happens but she isn't even 4 years old yet!

Sister with 4 girls to the rescue! (All those girls were bound to come in handy one day.) I called my sister who validated the fact that the behavior was not appropriate and then helped me problem solve the obvious. I told Isabelle that if she couldn't play with all the girls then she couldn't play with any of the girls. And I told her she needed to be kind and that God wanted her to love others because God loved her. Well wouldn't you know the next day I immediately see a change. I even hear her telling one of the little girls that she needed to be nice because God loves us. How thrilling to know that she was actually listening to me. Today was a little more challenging as all her little friends were there together but I still felt like the message was heard even as I saw her being torn between wanting to go off alone with Tessa and knowing she needed to obey.

Girl challenge number one conqured. Millions more to go.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


My sister and I enjoy quoting our mom. She has lots of little saying that got us through our childhood and now into our adult lives. She had the classics when we were kids like, "because I said so" but the ones that were just her are the bests. Two of our favorites continue to be in use today, "Well, I don't know what to tell you...". This is always followed by her admitting she did something that you are annoyed by. And, "I did what I had to do" which is usually preceded by her spending alot of money. Typically my dad hears them go together like this, "Well, I don't know what to tell you, I did what I had to do." And then she shows you her expensive new coach purse or tells him about the toy or outfit she just bought for one or all of her 10 grandchildren. (sorry mom I am telling your secrets.)

(I don't know what is wrong with my hair in this picture but sadly it was the best one I could find of us together.)

As fun as it is to use her momisms I have always wondered if I had my own and what my children would be laughing about when they were grown. Monday afternoon it hit me what one of them will be.

I had just gotten off work with Isabelle, it had been snowing all morning and it was time for lunch so we were getting a little grouchy. I had no food in the house so couldn't go straight home to hole up for the day but had to first hit the grocery store. I push the grocery cart into the parking lot and through the slushy snow to my car, grab a bag and go to open the door and start the car before putting Isabelle in. She starts yelling at me that I have forgotten her and she is still in the cart. (as if I could forget) I walk back to get her and say, "I am sorry but I can only do 12 things at once." Ha ha. That is it, "I can only do 12 things at once". I tell my kids that all the time when they are demanding things of me. I have been saying it since Jake was little. The moment it came out of my mouth Monday I knew it was one of my momisms.

So what is your momism? What do you say all the time? Don't be shy. Post a comment and tell me.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mentoring part 4-Into Africa--My final thoughts

I think God likes to mess with us a little. So he works in the life of someone like me, shy, insecure and easily intimidated, to work his purpose and push into challenges I would rather avoid. I like to organize ministries not actually minister. I will plan the women's tea but please don't ask me to teach the women. I would organize the discipleship ministry but do I have to actually talk face to face with someone?

We are going on a missions trip next summer to Kenya. I am busy organizing fundraising efforts and thinking through ways to involve our whole church. Yet in the back of my mind I am also starting to realize that when I get there I won't be at my computer planning something, I will be there doing something, seeing people and talking with them. That is frightening. What will I say? What will they say? How should I act? What will they think of me? I have never done anything even remotely like this trip. Do I have anything to offer someone whose life is so vastly different from mine? What if I say or do the wrong thing?

Could the mentoring that God is beginning to teach me in my life here be related to this trip to Kenya? As I am learning to encourage and listen to others I am gaining confidence I can bring with me to Africa. God is standing by me and preparing me here to do his work so why would he abandon me in Africa? I am going to trust God to give me the right words and to bring them right where they need to go. So now 28 years after that nice 5th grade girl took time to mentor me in the art of coloring, I am opening my heart up to do the same both here and anywhere God might lead me.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Not Me! Monday

Welcome to another addition of Not Me! Monday. Apparently the link with the picture isn't working today but if you click the link above you can read about lots of other people who did not do anything strange this week.

I did not get 101 Dalmatians from the library last week and the proceed to let Isabelle watch it 5 times in a row. Nope I wouldn't do that. I would never realize after 2 watchings that she was re-starting it and decide to let her keep going so I could continue to work around the house uninterrupted. Nope I would never prioritize cleaning and playing on the computer over my daughters well being. I limit screen time at my house.

I did not let my 3 year old eat tortilla chips for dinner last night because it was the only thing in the house she would eat. I have never put her to bed without dinner because she doesn't like anything and wasn't complaining that she was hungry. No way. Nutrition is a top priority for me.

I did not give my girlfriend a Christmas wrapped banana bread that I had left over just to get rid of it. And since I didn't do that I didn't have to confess to her that I was doing that. I wouldn't do that because I would want her to feel special. I did not suggest to my husband the next morning that he eat the last bread I had made for Christmas gifts. He did not discover that it was all moldy and uneatable. I did not then have to quickly email my girlfriend to apologize for giving her moldy banana bread and promise to make her a fresh loaf. She then did not email me back that she had already eaten the bread and it was great and she hoped she didn't eat mold. If I did do that I would be amazingly grateful for the wonderful friend I have who is so understanding of my crazy quirks. But since I would never do that I don't have to worry about that.

I did not send my son on an overnight winter retreat with our church wearing only a lined fleece coat even thought it is January in Minnesota. I did not do this because I am still mad at him for loosing his leather jacket and refuse to get him a new one. I have not been hiding this fact from my mom because she bought the lost jacket and she is not now reading this in horror. She did not give him the fleece jacket he wore for Christmas or otherwise he would be stuck with no jacket at all. Jake is not a stubborn teenager who refuses to acknowledge the fact that it is January in Minnesota and admit he might be cold walking to and from school. Nope none of that happened because my son respects and values his possessions and I care enough for him to prevent frostbite.

I did not pack my clothes and makeup in a backpack and drive out to the club by my mom's house to work out and then shower before bringing Isabelle over to play for the day. I did not realize as I stepped onto the elliptical trainer that I forgot to pack my bra and therefore was going to either have to spend the day braless or go home before heading to my afternoon appointment. I was not talking on the phone with my sister while rushing home and got pulled over by a cop. He did not tell me that I drove past him and then drove around another car without signaling either lane change. I did not realize that I was so into my conversation that I had no recollection of ever changing lanes and certainly didn't notice myself passing a cop. Since none of that happened I didn't have a whole conversation with God while waiting for the ticket about the fact that we are really trying to be careful with our money this month and could not afford a speeding ticket, and I didn't have to then admit to Him that I knew it was totally my fault and so I deserved the ticket. God did not then bless me with a warning instead of a ticket. And since none of that happened I didn't have to gush like a big dork to the cop when he gave me the warning. He was not looking at me like I was a lunatic.

Oh man that did not feel good to get off my chest. :)

Have a great day and go check MckMama's blog for more fun.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Weekly Menu number 2

OK I know you are all dying to know what I will eat this week so I thought I would share again:

I am repeating a couple recipes from last week that I never made. I also thought I would share that I found a spelt pizza crust at Whole Foods for Pizza. And another old recipe that I can still eat: Mix chopped up baked chicken with a chopped red pepper and a chopped red onion and pour bbq sauce over the whole thing, mix, pour on crust, top with a little rice cheese and bake. Yummy. OK OK I admit that after eating it I looked at the ingredients on my Famous Daves bbq sauce and discovered that the first ingredient was high fructose corn syrup and it also contained soy and wheat so clearly I will have to find a more natural brand or learn to make my own but none the less the pizza was great.

On to this week:

Curried apple and cauliflower soup—I got a book from the library called “gluten free vegan” so I am going to try a couple recipes from there this week.

Mushroom and Olive Pizza—also from the gf vegan book. Has a recipe for pizza crust that I might try.

Chicken Thai lettuce wraps from last Sunday.

Cornbread bbq chicken bake—from last week that I didn’t make. I did find a cornbread mix that I can eat.

Tilapia with the broccoli/ginger salad.—again from last week that I didn’t make.

Turkey Tacos-Jake and John like soft shelled tacos but I prefer to make a salad with corn tortilla chips.—I wonder what is in the seasoning packet I usually buy? Will I have to make my own seasoning? We shall see.

John and I are having an “off-site” meeting this coming weekend, staying at a friends cabin, so we are going to go out to dinner Saturday night. Don’t know what I will eat but they do have a couple nice restaurants in town. I guess if I am not eating anything we can afford to go a little fancier. I have planned a few snacks and lunches to eat while we work. I am going to cheat a little with some banana bread during the “tea time” break that I have in the agenda for the weekend. I did buy some gluten free flour from Bob’s Red Mill but it looks like I need a little xanthum gum to go with it and I bought date sugar but it is still sugar so I still shouldn't eat it (that is the cheating part). I was also wondering if there were any recipes out there for gluten free bread in the bread machine. It is one of those things I haven’t brought myself to purge from the kitchen even thought I haven’t used it in years. Maybe it will come in handy now?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Mentoring Part 3--raising children

While I feel like I have been avoiding mentoring for years when I really think about it I have been mentoring 2 very important people for 14+ years now, my children. Having children forces you into a mentor role. You have little people to mold and develop. The responsibility hits you like a truck shortly after you bring your first child home. While ultimately they make their own choices, when they are born you feel like the full responsibility for their future rests solely on your shoulders.

When they were born I thought about who they might become and how I could prepare them to be ready for whatever purpose God has for them. Children also help you become a better you as you try to model the attitudes and behaviors you would like to see develop in them. How do you do all that? Maybe the first Titus woman in my life, that 5th grade girl, influenced my parenting a little.

Over the years I have tried to be patient with my children as they try new things and mess up over and over. I remember to not assume they know how to do things but take time to teach them even the simplest of things when I see them struggling. I believe in my children and their ability to improve. I encourage them to pursue their dreams. I try to show my children kindness. Make them feel special and loved at all times. And I try to never make fun of them but to always make them feel they can be themselves at home. It isn't always easy but I believe it has made a difference.

Mentoring part 2--The Titus Woman

The bible talks in Titus about older women teaching younger women (and older men teaching younger men). It is the basis of many women's ministries. When I was in MOPS they referred to the woman who taught us as the "Titus Woman". In each stage of my adult life there has been someone who in a big or small way has encouraged me along the way. I think of Bonnie from MOPS who encouraged and inspired my inner homemaker and Mary and Carolyn who model for me what it is to be a homemaker after your kids have gone to school and grown up. They have inspired me in my home and ministries as well as in my faith. So I rarely think about needing to teach because I am still young and being taught. But I do love getting older, love distancing myself from my foolish and awkward youth and embracing the wisdom and maturity of my age and the contentment and self assurance that, for me, has come with it. As I come in contact with those who are still behind me I am seeing an opportunity to help them through those challenging years, the years I have past. Both the teenagers I encounter through my son and the 20 somethings I encounter in other parts of my life. Surely God has put them in my life for a reason and surely I have something to offer them.

As I go forward I am finding it takes a more purposeful thinking to do for others what that 5th grade girl did for me. When I leave my home I am still that insecure little girl intimidated by everyone around me afraid of rejection. Yet I am learning to suppress those voices that question my abilities and want me to continue to be afraid. I am learning that those voices are much quieter when I shift my focus from myself to others and in doing so I am able to see their needs. I am praying that God will use me to encourage and support other women I come in contact with. It is a little scary thinking God might ask me to do something too big but He meets me where I am at and is letting me start small. So far it has been as simple as encouraging another woman having a bad day or sending a note to a friend or just listening. I can do that. And when God is ready for me to do something bigger I will be ready.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Closets and Mentoring part one--The 5th grade girl

I have been getting tired of doing everything for Isabelle. Do I really need to hang her jacket and clothes up all the time? She is almost 4 years old. It is time to learn a new skill. The problem is her height. She can't reach the hooks at the back door or her clothes in her closet. Lucky for me I have a handy husband. So this weekend I harassed him until I had a new hook by the back door and a lower closet rod in Isabelle's bedroom.

First was the hook by the back door:

She was so thrilled to have something her size and couldn't wait to hang her jacket from it. I am sure the thrill will wear off for her but my thrill of being able to tell her to hang up her jacket when she tosses it on the floor next to me will likely never die.

The closet bar was next. I had wanted it to go all the way across the closet but we didn't have a bar long enough so I had to settle for a bar on the side:

My thought was to just put her dresses on it since she has entered the stage where she changes dresses 3 times a day. Isabelle's thought was that this was the greatest thing ever and she wanted every item of clothing she owns on the bar and is working on getting her dolls clothes there too. It is a little too crowded and now I think I will have to convince my hubby to put a bar across the other side as well. This will mean finding a new location for the luggage which is on the other side. I had suggested putting some shelves above her new lower bar but he didn't think we had shelving material hanging around the house like we do hooks and closet rods (what you don't have a couple closet rods in your basement?) I bet I can find something to turn into a shelf. I know we have plenty of brackets.


On to something a little deeper. I thought I would do a little series on the thoughts I am having on mentoring. Here is part one:

One of my earliest but probably most impactful memories I have of someone taking me under their wing occurred when I was in 4th grade (might have been younger but we will say 4th grade). My mentor was a much older and wiser 5th grader. I was at a classmates birthday party and she had invited a neighbor from a grade above us. I was immediately intimidated by her as I was by practically everyone at that time in my life. One of the gifts my friend got that day was a large poster sized coloring board which she opened up and we all began to help her color. I was never a good colorer, I knew this, my pages always looked sloppy when compared with everyone else. That day I colored with the others trying hard to be neat and stay in the lines as best I could. This wonderful 5th grade girl noticed that I was struggling and stopped, came over to me and suggested that if I colored all my strokes in the same direction it would look neater. OH! I had never noticed that about the prettier coloring pages. All in the same direction. It changed my life. I still think about that advice every time I am in front of a coloring page with my children.

But besides learning to color I learned alot from this wise 5th grade girl.

1. She was PATIENT with me. She didn't freak out when she noticed I was going to ruin the picture.

2. She BELIEVED in me. She believed I could do better and wanted to help me do so.

3. She TAUGHT me. She met me where I was at in coloring and showed me how to do better. While coloring in the same direction seems obvious she didn't assume I should know better but pointed out the obvious to me in a kind and gentle way.

4. She showed me KINDNESS. This was something I didn't get alot of during my awkward years at school and to receive it from someone so unexpected meant so much to me.

5. She DIDN'T make fun of me. That is what I would have expected from her. That is unfortunately part of the elementary girl experience for many and was the experience for me.

Unfortunately I had few other mentors in my life. My parents were wonderful and did their best and I did get through because of their love but I am sad that I can't think of any teacher who ever challenged me to do better or a parent of a friend who asked about my life or a church leader who challenged my faith. I am sure there were a few people here and there that encouraged me and validated me in brief passing moments during my childhood as this 5th grade girl did but none that have so significantly impacted me.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A new group of bloggers

I have been on the Endo diet for a whole week. No wheat, dairy, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, etc. I feel good and it really hasn't been a significantly challenging experience. Yes I had to endure 3 parties where I couldn't eat 90% of the food offered but I was prepared for that and it really didn't end up to be a big deal. I left the parties feeling healthy rather than bloated and remorseful. I was sure I must have already lost a couple pounds but today I found my favorite guacamole at the natural food store and it didn't have any of my taboo foods in it so I bought it and a bag of corn tortilla chips and, well, let's just say if I did loose any weight this week it is sure to be back. Apparently I can over indulge even when I am on a restricted diet.

Before I started this diet a friend led me to a blog called Frugal Granola by a woman who has been eating gluten free and that led me to other web sites devoted just to gluten free cooking with recipes and more. The mommy blogs I have been stalking have led me to more mommy blogs so now I am finding a whole new area of the blogging world in food and healthy eating. As if I needed more ways to squander my time on the computer.

I though I would share a couple new recipes I am adding to my life which are delicious and would not require you to be on an extreme diet to enjoy. I found both recipes at Gluten Free Mommy.

First is Wild Rice Salmon Cakes. Now anyone who knows me understands that I find following a recipe exactly to be challenging. I don't like to get alot of bowls or measuring utensils dirty and if I don't like or don't have an ingredient I just skip it. So with this recipe I skipped the Parmesan cheese which I can't have and I didn't feel like making 2 kinds of rice so I just did the wild rice. It was still delicious and I think I will bake all Salmon patties from now on because I have never had them turn out so well before. I ate 3 of them. John agreed we needed to add this to the rotation.

Second is Thai Chicken Wraps. Again I can't follow a recipe so instead of the veggies she mentions we just julienned up the veggies we had in the house which happened to be carrots, cucumber, red onion and pea pods. Also I hadn't shopped for these rice tortilla shells she mentions so I make it a lettuce wrap and finally I used "some" maple syrup in place of the sugar in the peanut sauce. Oh and I was about out of the creamy so I used some crunchy peanut butter in the sauce. It was delicious although a bit messy but my 14 year old son ate 3 of them as did my husband. Jake used regular tortillas instead of the lettuce but John braved the messy lettuce. I picked up some butter lettuce today which I think would work better for wraps because it doesn't have as thick a stalk running down the middle of the leaves. We just had some red leaf lettuce around.

The other thing I thought I would share is from the Frugal Granola site. She does some Monday Menu carnival thing and posts her weekly menus each week. It is fun to see what she is eating and so I thought I would post my menu for this week.

Today: Thai Chicken Wraps
Monday: Spaghetti with Quinoa noodles
Tuesday: Seafood Chowder
Wednesday: Cornbread BBQ Chicken
Thursday: Wild Rice Salmon Cakes
Friday: Pizza on Spelt flour pizza crusts I found at Whole Foods
Saturday: fish (I think I bought Cod?) with a Broccoli and ginger side dish.

I am also going to try to make home made apple sauce this week because I accidentally double bought large bags of apples and then we didn't eat either of them. Normally I would be making an apple crisp every night but a friend suggested apple sauce which would be perfect for sweetening the plain yogurt I can eat

I also picked up a gluten free flour mix and some alternative sugars to make banana bread or cookies but think I will try to get a little more detoxed before I try those. I did have a mild headache for the first 2 days of this new diet. I was amazed at how quickly my body realized I wasn't eating these things. Could it have been the holiday binge?

Finally, I am proud to say that I managed to exercise 3 days this week. Exercise is one of the suggestions along with this diet that is supposed to improve my Endo Pain. So what we are learning is that if you eat healthy and exercise you feel better...Interesting. Who knew?