December's End

I made a list in my notebook of all the events in December that were extra, pertaining to Christmas celebrations. These were things I either made food for, planned, hosted or attended. As they finished I would check them off to feel a sense of "Ok, I'm getting through this bit by bit and look at all the fun I'm having." It has been very fun and BUSY especially since this all happens in the midst of 2 houseshowings a week, and Cyler travelling 3 days per week. I do remember one night I was so tired and Cyler's (weekend)snoring was incessant so I said in the dark, @2am, "Just shoot me now" and at the time I meant it. But today I feel great as all but NewYear's Eve is checked off.
Dallas Parade
Do Tree
Ward Party
Choir Party
Secret Santa (church and family)
Ellery dance parent visit (3 classes)
3 Family Advent dinners
Gingerbread houses
Ellery Choir performance
Ellery School Party
Cookie Exchange
Jared Hall's bday party
Ellery Christmas Tea Party
My dad's Bday
My bday trip to museum w/Becky
Christmas eve (Soren bday dinner)
Ward Christmas program
New Year's Eve (Soren party)
We get to go to Austin for a couple of business things today. I'm looking forward to seeing the new film "Warhorse" with the family while we are there. Cyler and the kids are coming home and for my birthday, Cyler is letting me stay in Austin for a 2day getaway with me, myself and I. I will use the time to focus on wellness, nutrition, beauty, (I have been off the wagon with my eating and I'm bringing my at home spa stuff) and planning a balanced life in 2012. And lots of reading.


Thinking in New Ways

Here are some things from the arts that are making me think in new ways:
Book: Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali



My hairlength has been how I have been feeling lately: "Where to go from here?" It's as long as I'm going to let it be without looking like I belong to a cult. I'm looking for new directions so I have started to see a counselor who I am choosing to call a lifecoach. I'm not batcrap crazy--just looking for more. Trisha is good at keeping me in the real world and helping me get to what I want to change. She says I'm good at change if it's exciting. I need to be good at change when it requires me to plan for real life or when it requires me to be quiet and still.
The good news is that I'm not a Narcissist. The fact that I admit it, am sad about it and want to change it means I'm not one. Whew. But my lack of maturity, while fun and cute in some instances, is not really helping me out these days. Gotta change it up a bit.
I'll start with a haircut. It's easier.
Maybe it will help me make some other changes I am planning. Being wiser with my resources, possibly working again, being a whole person.
Sometimes our life stories are hard tales to tell. I'm finding I am in a ditch some of the time. How much are my time/skills worth? What passions are worth my time? Which unhealthy habits do I want to tackle first? My shirt above is from HardTail. I would like my tail to be a bit harder. Tackling that is up on the list. So much to tweak and so many extremes to avoid.


Fashion Police2

I need to see why Zoe Saldana keeps popping up in my modest celebrity fashion scans. I wonder if she is consciously making a point or if it's just a fluke.


Fashion Police

Didn't know there was a Nigerian fashion week till now. I would totally wear this.
I like watching Fashion Police because I like Joan Rivers and Kelly Osborne. I don't share their taste in clothes much of the time but they know their style! One of the girls at church put together a modesty fashion show to display how to cover the body and still look stylish. Some of the choices I loved and some left me scratching my head. So I set out to find things I would wear that would make Molly Mormon and Kelly Osborne both proud.
Add a little cami and I love this. I love this. I love this.

Ok just kidding. You bothered with a cardigan, lady? Really?
Kidding again. This would work in places where they really do have 'fashion police.' I think they are called morality police. Serious. Not kidding.


Tennessee Insomnia

I can't sleep. Was it the dark chocolate I ate/Cyler snoring/stress about this week's impossible schedule? I don't know. So I will journal.
Tennessee was unexpected. Rolling hills and woods with leaves turnign every color. Now I know what true horse country looks like. Cyler had meetings so I took a couple of plantation tours while we were in Nashville. Andrew Jackson's home, The Hermitage, was more modest for it's time than Belle Meade, the famous race horse farm. The Hermitage was my favorite. I saw real cotton fields and smoke houses and sleighs and spring houses. I love the idea of a self sufficient family compound. Not the slavery part but the self-contained productive self-provisioning. It fascniates me how rural Americans made it work.

An interesting headstone carved to look like a tree trunk. People on the tour were quite judgemental of Andrew Jackson--the informational movie suggested that even though he was a man of his times, a slave owner/architect of the Trail of Tears, he was the first 'common,' self-made man to ascend to the Presidency and that every group (women, African Americans, Native Americans) after him used principles of Jacksonian democracy to demand full citizenship. I saw it but it is hard for many to get over that slavery issue. We read about Paul today in church and I feel much the same about him. He was a slave owner, a man of his times. He was taught in the the classical Greek tradition which informed the Greco-Roman culture he lived in, hence his penchant for celibacy. But these people were the next step on humanity's way to full personhood, liberty and agency. They didn't live in a vacuum sans cultural limitations or personality quirks and we shouldn't judge them by the ones we live with. I am full of admiration for the good things people have done in the past without having to agree with all of their belief systems and perspectives.
We visited Shane, Cyler's friend who was Bestman at our wedding. He is a musician/composer who works at home teaching online courses for Boston's Berkely School of Music. He is writing a book about home sound studio design. To hear him sing and play is pure joy. His wife is a dark-haired pistol with a tattoo on her finger. MauraLee is a negotiatior for the Service Employees Union. She is a raging democrat/feminist. She has cut down her work hours to 35 per week since the 3 girls were born. They are actively trying for a fourth. Shane is in the bishopric and MauraLee is the RS president. They are awesome example of authentic individuals doing authentic service.
Since Tennessee, especially south of Nashville is Walking Horse Mecca, I visited a trainer who doesn't do soring and who incorporates classical dressage and Parelli style natural horsemanship in her training. Carol Camp reminded me slightly of a tougher blond version of Scarlett O'Hara and Christina Aguilera in an Aussie hat, jeans and a red coat. She talked about the old days when the good ol' boy system thought she was nuts. They were used to using harsh bits, rollers, heavy shoes, burning chemicals, overchecks, tie-downs, you name it to get horses to gait. We didn't ride at all-I watched her teach from the ground. Desensitizing gradually, expecting young'uns to ground tie. Bending and going over poles and moving from small circles to larger ones. She got on a 3yr and rode him in a halter-no bit. Doing all the above--happy, not scared, not compelled. I was amazed. I have a lot to learn. She took an old mare out her stall to show me what a good back end looks like. This mare had a loose deep overstride like I had never seen. It was a learning experience I feel fortunate to have had. I'll never forget watching Carol takes notes after each little exercise, each tiny improvement so that she knows what to work on next time.
Colby was kind enough to take off work to watch the kids. I left him with a schedule, food prep instructions, directions, insurance cards/permission letter, cash, a car and my life. He did good for a bachelor.
We have had to let him go like only parents with adult children know how to do. We are so happy with his accomplishments, and wish so badly he would tweak and realign where we feel he is off. My heart breaks knowing I have to let go two more times. It is hard to teach my kids how to find the balance between lawless selfishness and blind obedience to authority. I don't want them to engage in self-destructive behavior but I also don't want them to succomb to black/white thinking of religionist/fascist thinking where rules become more important than loving neighbors. They are underserved both by their parents' weaknesses, and by the cacophany of voices they hear but that are from sources that don't love them.
I love them. Period.
Why does Cyler always hide in the back?
It's 2:30am. I have always been the one to fall asleep anywhere. I fell asleep once on a bale of hay with the barn dogs in back of a pickup truck on the way to Regina Canada for a horse show. But I can't sleep tonight. Is 40 when life starts to look unrecognizable from what you thought or planned it would be like?


6Flag Chicken and Derby Dip

Ellery wanted a repeat of last year's bday so we went to 6Flags. So fun but this was the first year I was not stoked to do coasters. I was happy to read a book while they went to and fro and to and fro. For picnic I made:
4strips bacon
1.5lb boneless skinless chicken
2C buttermilk
2 Tbsp hot sauce
2.5C flour
1tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp paprika
1tsp garlic powder
1tsp salt
1tsp pepper
2C canola oil
(have on hand lots of paper towels, ziploc bags, cookie sheets, wax paper)
total prep time:2.75 hrs serves 6
Cook bacon, reserving 2Tbsp of fat. Cool and crumble, set aside for dip:
Derby Dip
3/4C sour cream (I use greek yogurt)
1Tbsp mayonnaise
1/4C bleu cheese
Mix all with bacon and serve as dip for chicken, celery and carrots
Cut chicken bite size. Combine buttermilk, hotsauce, and chicken in ziploc bag. Marinate in fridge 2hrs or overnight.
In glass baking dish or on wax paper, whisk rest of dry ingreds. remove chicken from buttermilk, dredge in flour. Place back in buttermilk and then dredge again in flour. Reserve on baking sheet or wax paper.
Heat canola oil in large skillet to 350degrees. Pan is ready when you sprinkle water drops and they crackle. Add reserved bacon fat. Work in batches, fry till golden brown 3-4min per side. Transfer to paper towels.

T'aint low fat.
I added pasta shells to crab, olives, green onion, and tomato for quick salad mixed w/yogurt-mayo and salt/pepper.
I am no longer a spare tire virgin. For the first time in my life I got a flat tire. Coming home from dropping kids at school. In my pyjamas. Changed the tire myself I did. I am wise like Yoda.

I felt happy I did it. I have never had such respect for what lugnuts do on a daily basis.
Today I am off to my horse show--crockpot dinner for family is going. Decorations and snacks from last night's Scout court of Honor cleaned up. Packed and ready to go. It's chilly today and I miss Cyler. We are too busy for our own good. I want November to be a family at home month. So many things I need to say no to. It's hard to do that. But a highlight--Cyler and I get to go to Nashville together next week--we need it. Too much like roomates right now. Thank heaven for Colby coming to play mom and dad for a few days!!


Tis the Season

I can smell it in the air. And a box from Rod's Western Palace confirmed this feeling in my bones.
A horseshow's coming. Athens TX Oct 21-22.
More bling. White and raspberry on a dark sorrel with flaxen mane.
Cattlemen's crease in my hat. It may seem like I'm a rhinestone cowgirl with this getup. Would I be my parents' daughter if I didn't like to dress up? But Glory knows I'm the real deal and that matters the most in the arena. I am sort of really excited.


Bryant, My Remedy, Sickness & Turkey Rollups

Bryant my nephew lives with us on weekends when he is not compelled to stay on base at Ft Hood. It's nice to have him around although I've never seen his hair this long. He jogs a lot.
Here is my non-surgical remedy for the "what-are-you-talking-about?" wrinkles I have between my eyes. They don't cover the ones above that area or my heavily lidded Grandpa Ence eyes (no one told me that the older I get, the more I would remind myself of my Grandpa) but it's the best I can do with a trip to the scrapbook section of Michael's where they sell craft bindi.
I have been sick this week with the souvenir cold Cyler brought home for me from NY. My daughter has missed the lunches I pack, especially since after her whining 2 weeks ago, she has been making them herself. A note inside the bag means more when you don't write it to yourself I suppose. I missed being a mom eventhough I did enjoy catching up on my Bollywood movies.
The freak-of-nature aka "14 year old bottomless pit for a son" has a weird schedule. And an insatiable appetite. He leaves Thursday at 640am comes home 11pm then leaves 540am Fri then I see him 5pm. I don't like it. My mommy love aside, what is this about when Soren has eaten his stuff, some of Ellery's, some of mine and the extra I was hoping to save for lunch tomorrow--then he looks at me with that "come hither--I WANT MORE FOOD" stare. It's stressful--like how I felt when I taught daycare preschool and would wake up in my bed, sweatily dreaming that I had run out of engaging things to occupy the kids.
One way I am coping is portable freezer foods. I have made spinach/beef hot pockets and good ole breakfast burritos. T-day turkey rollups were last week's attempt. 24 turkey lunchmeat slices sliced at a "4" (Walmart has a numeric guide for thickness now at the deli counter. I like it.) Then I prepared a batch of herbed Pepperidge farms stuffing with lots of extra onions and celery. Sliced cheese, 2 packets of instant brown gravy and a can of cranberry sauce. Spoon stuffing on turkey slice. Spoon a bit of gravy over and top with cheese then cranberry. Rollup. Freeze in batches. He can eat them cold or warmed up. Done. Don't look at me like that anymore Soren.
So a prospective-buyer lady came to the barn yesterday (when I was on my sick bed) to try Glory out. The horse I try not to love but do anyway. Yeah that one. Dub told me that she took him out in the pasture and, . . .he bucked. 3x. He has never bucked with me so I had 2 conflicting thoughts in my head. "No, no bad Glory. No buck. That is not good manners. Have you forgotten what I have taught you?" AND "Good boy Glory. That's right you love only me and cannot stand to have any other on your back. Good boy, I'll love you forever and I'll wear raspberry colored chaps as we gait into the sunset together." I miss him after not seeing him for a few days, I love his sweat and how he rips the velcro viser off my head. How he canters and how he flexes at the poll. I like that he is left handed. I do realize that I am ridiculous.


Corrie Ten Boom

Last night Ellery was in a play for the premier of the International Ballet Theater, at the Irving Arts Center. The play was about the Dutch Christians who hid Jewish orphan babies from Nazis, and were sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp.
Ellery was the understudy for both children's leads, Corrie Ten Boom and her sister. Corrie survived and has told her story over and over. And shook the hand of her oppressor, who was responsible for her sister's death in Ravenbruck, in a gesture of forgiveness.
Ellery was great on stage, but the backstage hussle and bussle was truly her place to be. She loved it like I love the barn. It's fun to see the light click on in a child's eyes when they are doing what they love.
Instead of giving her flowers, I took her to Central Market to pick out her own,
and gave her some tips on how to arrange them herself.
Today in Sunday school, the silly (I mean Greek patriarchal hierarchal), tired (I mean old-school traditionalist) view of gender-based segregation was dusted off and shown to everyone again. I respect Paul so much, but as a Greek celibate I don't really take my relationship cues from him. I just don't. I know who I am and the girl in the above pictures will never be told in my house that God is the head of man and man is her head. She has a head and with it, along with her heart and God, she will find her way somehow. And she won't be told that she is the glory of the man while the man is the glory of God. She along with all the children of God is glorious in her own right with all the promise, capability and authority of someone who lives for doing good and tries to be like Jesus. Like Corrie Ten Boom. And if she's like Jesus and Corrie and Paul (without the tired cultural notions of gender), she will be a great mate.


Sewing Not Sewing

I got to sewing and found I needed to spend some sewing-time not sewing. I cleaned out a drawer.
Decided which projects I wanted to finish. I decided not this one. I like the deconstructed knot--it makes me finish the pattern in my mind. Who am I kidding? This pattern is hard and my eyesight is going. Finishing would blind me for sure.
And figured out a layout for blocks that Cyler's mom had done before she passed away. There's a baby coming on his side of the family. Maybe these amish inspired blocks would work for a baby.