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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Mindy Gledhill, yes please!

I fell in love with the music of Mindy Gledhill about three years ago.  After meeting with musician/song writer Kenneth Cope, he shared with me he produced her album.  That certainly got my attention because Kenneth has always been one of my favorite artists. 
(You can read about my friendship with Kenneth here.)

Mindy’s lullaby-like voice softly convinces you everything is right in this world. 

Last weekend she preformed here in Mesa and I had the pleasure of going to hear her. 
Is there anything not to love about that outfit, especially that skirt!

My first observation was the audience.  It was mainly teenage girls with their mothers.  I had dragged the counselor there and thought of sending him home to get Eden, but since he smelt so good and is so cute I decided he should stay.  I like to lean my head on his shoulder and hold his hand.

It’s amazing how much you learn about an artist when you watch her perform live. 

Mindy is a beautiful person who is a child at heart.  Her songs run with the same theme – seeing life and love through the eyes of a child, or with the innocence of a child.  You might think this makes her music for children, but it is very much for adults (although my kids love it too).

Remember the first time a puppy licked your face or holding a red balloon at a birthday party?  

What about the thrill of falling in love or your first Christmas with your spouse? The smells, handmade cards, how money didn’t matter – only love.  How good it feels when someone has there arms around you on a cold night or running through the last rays of a sunny summer day?

These are the messages of Mindy’s songs.  They make you feel happy.  She’s happy.  

They make you think about old memories and making new more meaningful memories, even going as far as drawing good things out of experiences perhaps you never saw as particularly good - because you can find the good if you look from a new perspective.  It made me want to find beautiful poetry in the everyday task we call ordinary.  Her lyrics draw out the best of life like playing in a tree house or realizing someone loves you just the way you are. 

There's a spiritual undercurrent mixed with the winding vines of true girl power.  Certainly not through sex appeal or materialism like so many other female artists portray, but through acceptance of self, inner beauty and gratitude for the gifts of a life.  She’s a true role model for me and all those teenage girls lined up out the door just for the chance to meet her. 

I officially love her.

As someone who loves to write, I was in awe of her ability to capture so many emotions in such few words.  When she sang “Little Soldier” from her Christmas album Winter Moon, I cried for my dad. My dad lives down the street and I see him every day and here I was bawling because I needed to wrap my arms around him!  Powerful lyrics, beautiful voice, piano keys played in just the right melody and wow!  Captivating.

I think it’s really important to understand why someone does what he or she does. Mindy’s passion for making beautiful music inspires, creates joy that provokes images of rocking your newborn babe and makes strangers reach out and grab the hand of the person sitting next to them. Not in a “Kumbaya” sort of way, more like a spiritual campfire with plenty of s’mores being passed around.  Delicious music that melts in your mouth.

The next day, I took Eden on my lap and showed her a few of Mindy’s videos I found on YouTube.  I ran my fingers through her hair and cuddled her cheek up to mine.  

Eden was mesmerized with Mindy’s music and together we created a beautiful memory. . . and yes, I cried again.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Is Life Meant to be Easy?

I was already grouchy when I woke up yesterday, shuffling through my bedroom in the dark to find my robe.  Enter kitchen:  bright lights, breakfast in full swing and the on-going discussion if we had anything good to pack for school lunches when I noticed a spill on the floor.

Cranberry sauce.
 (Read this blog post to truly understand the tragedy of this occurrence.)

Like a crime scene, the broken dish sat on the kitchen counter and I pieced together the evidence.  It appeared someone had opened the refrigerator and out crashed my bowl of cranberry sauce.  To add insult to injury, who ever had spilled it did a mediocre clean-up job.

“What happened to my cranberry sauce!” roared a tired momma bear.

The cranberry culprit was identified, lectured and reprimanded.  He apologized and completed a more acceptable clean-up.

The kids left for school, Eden and I cuddled in the rocking chair and I didn’t even know where to start.  I could go back to bed, clean my house, go to the gym?  Or I could sit and pout!  Option #4 was looking best for me.

I’m not proud of it, but I’ve had these thoughts more then once since becoming pregnant. 

I can’t do this.
It’s too hard.

Most times I can push such feelings aside, but yesterday, I decided to play with them for a while just to see how they felt rolling around in my mind.
Feel all the aches and pains.
Feel sorry for yourself.
Do not bake pumpkin cookies.

Self absorbed, overwhelmed and tired.  It was just enough to keep me in my crabby mood.  Oh, did it feel good to have the arms of gloom wrapped around me!  It meant I didn’t have to do anything but wallow. 

Until 3:00 o’clock, here comes my oldest son Chandler.  He rides his bike home from high school and enters the back gate; happy, smiling and rushed to greet me with a hug.

When did he get so tall?  He’s strong, independent and cheerful.  My son puts his arms around me and strength enters my heart.  

I let his love gently heal my heart, like the first pump of air in a flat tire when later Mayer showed me his completed homework, Reef overcome with delight when Grandma offered to take him to play with a cousin, Payson making a mature decision about a choice he’d been struggling with and than Eden – who spent an hour on artwork delighted to show me her completed painting of princess Ariel. The counselor calls to check in on me and my mom stops by with the gift of a stretchy skirt (Lord knows I need more of those).  Each positive task provided another pulse of much needed encouragement.

Slowly, slowly, my heart began to feel with little breathes of hope, like optimistic CPR feeling my lungs with oxygen.  The "pouting me" wanted to fight it off, but the energy of all the good things in my life was too strong.

My children and family provided an actual physical healing to my weary heart.  Later that night, we gathered to have family prayer when I had the idea:

Life was hard today because I believed the false premise “life should be easy?”

Certainly there are choices and consequences, hard work and discipline, miracles and fate; but there’s no promise anywhere in the universe that life is going to be easy.

The belief “life should be easy” had left me incredibly discouraged.

Discouragement - opposite of gratitude had got to me again!  Now that I know what I was battling, I think it will be easier to combat next time.

“Discouragement is not the absence of adequacy but the absence of courage.”
― Neal A. Maxwell

Courage, faith, hope, love, persistence, determination – these life-changing gifts from God can be found all around us and they are the enemies of discouragement.  (Insert imaginary sword fight between discouragement and hope).

What a blessing to find love and encouragement in the hearts of my children; although I still need to get out and buy some more cranberry sauce.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

More cranberry sauce please.

On Monday I craved cranberry sauce from the depths of my maternal soul. 
I would have crawled to Egypt (ok, maybe just down the street, maybe next door –  who am kidding, into my kitchen was far enough) for cranberry sauce.
Cranberry sauce, not the cheep stuff with corn syrup, it had to be pure and perfect.

Real Cranberry Sauce.
(image found here)

I think this baby’s first world will be cranberry sauce.
“Goo goo, cranberry sauce.”

Everybody knows you can’t eat cranberry sauce plain, that would be gross, but with a Thanksgiving meal – cranberry sauce reaches its potential.

A Thanksgiving meal it had to be.

I started with yams and marshmallows, than green bean casserole, cheesy mashed potatoes when on a whim (since it takes like all day to make a turkey and my craving had started late in the afternoon) I made cornbread stuffing meatloaf out of ground turkey. 

The table was set, we’d invited my neighbor the caterer and her sweet family over because really, I’d made enough food to feed a family of 14.

Personally, I started with a couple of scoops of cranberry sauce, and then the rest of the food piled on my plate.  Every bite was better than the next.  It was everything I’d dreamed and hoped for.  I was in cranberry heaven

But later, I became nauseous and comatose; a lovely condition saved only for the old and pregnant.
The kids were watching a Disney show on Netflix and the fake laughter after every punch line was more then I could handle.  

So, I went to bed for 12 hours.

The first 6 hours I dreamt I was on a military helicopter, swerving here and there as we traveled an across country flight.  The next 6 hours, I dreamt I was sitting in a shopping cart while someone whirled me from isle to isle.  All sorts of food blurred past my vision.
It was no fun.

But, I survived.  Today I’m craving whip cream.  

Real whip cream, not the cheap stuff!  

Friday, November 7, 2014

Vintage Furniture and My Man!

If it wasn’t for my darling husband’s passion for furniture shopping, 
for searching, scouring and finagling, 
for all the hours on craigslist and the down-and-out thrift stores in the slums of Phoenix he frequents, 
the garage sales and estate sales he ventures out to, 
my days of restocking my shops with vintage dressers, mid-century desks and French chairs might be coming to an end, but . . . it appears the counselor likes the hunt.  Typical man!

Does anyone out there see running a booth at an antique mall as masculine.  It really is.  With all the moving, lifting and heavy work this type of job requires, my manly man does almost everything and I do next to nothing but say “Ewe, this dresser needs to be painted gray.”  With a misaligned floor dolly that moves like a squeaky grocery cart, this man moves 100 pound pieces of furniture about as easy as I carry in a bag of groceries.

Like this piece.  It's a hefty 12-drawer solid-wood dresser.  He will move this with the ease of toddler pulling a wagon I tell you.

The only time we ever fight, with the passion and determination of two polar opposites is when we try to move a piece of furniture together.  16 years of marriage and I finally know how to push his buttons.

What I’ve learned about my man:
1)    do not offer suggestions, directions or warnings when driving.  The stereo-typical joke about men and driving is alive and well.
2)    do not try to convince him something is dark navy when he thinks it’s black.  It will not work.
3)    he is perfectly capable of moving various types of large furniture without your help.  I think it makes him feel like He-Man.

With his manly attitude, it seems he’s really turned this little hobby of mine into something more.  I like to restore furniture while I paint and hum the latest uplifting song on KLove. 
Here's one of my latest favorite songs from FOR KING AND COUNTRY:

The counselor does nothing in this business passively.  He stay abreast with restocking and what paint colors we need.  I really like him.  He’s done good.

Here are our latest creations:




It seems I like the creative part of this business and the counselor likes everything else.  Way to go, babe!

And a few little things?
I'm in love with this chalkboard I made with an antique silver platter.

And this jar with a chalkboard lid.

And a few Fall decorations.
Vintage shutters

More candlesticks! This one stands about 2 feet tall.

I remember my grandma had little frames like these.  I found a bunch of them and painted them heirloom white, which is an antique white.

I don't sell everything I make.  I painted the lids of these little Mason jars to make a candlestick display.  I shared these with Mayer's and Reef's teachers at parent/teacher conference.

If you want to check out any of my shabby pieces, I'm at Merchant Square in Chandler, booth #73 or Antique Plaza in Mesa, booth #52.

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Monday, November 3, 2014

A Book Review of The Shoemaker's Wife

Last night I finished The Shoemaker’s Wife and fell apart.

I’ve been crying all day over fictional characters.
Ciro Lazzari and Enza Ravanelli.  My, did I grow to love them.

The Shoemaker’s Wife starts in 1905 in the Italian Alps on a mountain top when the two Lazzari brothers are left by their widowed mother as orphans in a convent.   The story moves along as a sermon with highs and lows of personal trial and unspeakable strength for these young men.  Reverently stirring, you eventually meet the Ravanelli family and their oldest daughter Enza.  At the burial of her baby sister Stella, Enza meets a young gravedigger named Ciro Lazzari and here starts their love story. 

Author Trigiani perfectly captures the hard work and innovation of the immigrant character in the early 1900’s. She does this like a dancer moving around a staged scene; emphasizing certain parts of the characters strengths and weaknesses at just the right points.  She portrays an immigrant who cherishes the tradition of her old country, but loves the freedoms of her new America.  Self-reliance, religion and family are the motivation behind sacrifices and an uncertain future with WWI threatening all they’ve worked for.  I can’t believe The Shoemaker’s Wife is a true story.  There is so much depth and drama, usually not captured when one is writing about her grandparents lives.  I think we see our ancestors of the past as different from us and we can’t relate to them, but Trigiani is right inside her grandmother’s heart and mind.  She really knows her and that allows us the same privilege. 

 (a photo I found of little Italy here)

Author Trigiani shows there is a strength that comes from really knowing the trials, sacrifices and strengths of those you come from; plus it helps she’s a great writer.  Here's just a small sample of her delicious words.  

“Every son thinks his mother is beautiful, even when she isn’t.”

“The eldest daughter in a family with many children never has a real childhood.”

“There are two kinds of people in this world.  Those who want to know the facts, and those who want to make up a nice story to feel better.”

“”If you look around to find meaning in everything that happens, you will end up disappointed.”

“A shoemaker’s children never go barefoot.”

“It seemed to Ciro that so much of life was about not holding on, but letting go . . .”

My mind stirred with imagery of early America.  One of my favorite scenes was Columbus Day in New York City Little Italy 1914.  Can you imagine being an Italian immigrant in America on Columbus Day?  The traditions and heritage rang strong through little Italy and they celebrated this Italian and American hero with much fanfare.  I'd never envisioned such a thing.

I loved getting to know these beautiful Italian families and all they endured together.  I laughed out loud and at other times cried my eyes out.  It makes me curious about my own great-grandparents who migrated from Prussia (now Germany).  I have just one request - please turn this book into a movie.  I'll be the first one in line to see it!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I've been waiting, but it hasn't happened!

I’m waiting.
I’ve got my emotional boxing gloves on.
Who wants a shot at me!

When we were in Durango, the counselor and I along with the kids took some time to ride the free trolley.  It takes you through downtown, then up the hill towards Purgatory, than loops back to town.  Days earlier we’d spent 8 hours in the car driving from Phoenix to Durango so why an hour long excursion in a non-air-conditioning trolley was fun only a kid would be able to answer that one.  At one point, we were the only passengers until the trolley stopped and picked up a woman.  She walked onto the trolley, looking for a place to sit.  I could see her taking inventory on the kid to parent ratio when she looked at the counselor and I and said “Are all these yours?”
Here it comes.
Prepare yourself, Laura.  Emotional boxing gloves in place. 
“They sure are, plus one on the way,” the counselor said patting my tummy. 
That man has a way with words.
She did a head count and watched for a moment as Mayer and Reef wrestled over a seat.
Those boys were not helping.
She walked down the isle, and sat right behind me. 
“Oh my gosh,” she said.
I might need an emotional crash helmet for this one, I thought.  Ready for impact!
“I would love to have another baby,” she said.
Wait, what!
I turned in my seat and comfortably faced her.  Did this woman really just say what I think she did.
“I have three daughters and would love to try for another, but I’m too old.  You’re so lucky.”
I’m not sure if she saw my face light up or not, but I was beyond touched.
“Thank you,” I said.  “It’s a lot of work, but worth it.”
“Do you know what you’re having yet?” she asked.
I explained to her we are going to wait a while, I wasn’t that far along yet.
“I can tell you’re having a girl by the wrinkles on your face,” she said and leaned into my ear.  “I had the same wrinkles.”
Compliment or insult, I decided it was pretty cool to be told I was having a girl by a stranger.  What a cool lady.

But, really where are the people waiting to tell me I’m in over my head?
The world’s overpopulated?
But you've already got your girl!
We don’t have enough resources?
Children are a nuisance?
It's too difficult in this day and age to raise children.

Or the dreaded sexually explicit comment -
 "You do know what causes that, don't you?"

Really, I’ve got this.  
I’m prepared – as soon as I find someone who wants to take me on.

Right after I found out I was pregnant, I went to the vitamin store in search of the best prenatal.  I asked an assistant for help and she started asking all sorts of questions. 
How many children I already had? 
How old was I? 
Was this baby a surprise?
Finally!  Somebody ready to fight me on this when she started “compliment gushing” all over me.  It was really quite disgusting; praising me, telling me how gorgeous I am, what a blessing this was and she felt a beautiful female spirit near me. 
“You’re having a daughter,” she said.
Then she had the nerve to sing “Happy Birthday” to me (I told her I’d just turned 42) in the middle of the store in the most angelic voice I’ve ever heard.  Where are these nice people coming from?  I’m just not ready for all this!

My neighbor the caterer brought me this beautiful ”BLESSING” banner after she found out then news.  
It’s made with pages from an old Bible that was beyond saving.  She even used pages from the book of Psalms.  PSALMS!

I’ve had meals brought in by family and friends.  My mom made me acorn squash and organic chicken.  I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.

When I was really discouraged one day, my sister-in-law Heather spent some time with me talking about the blessing of babies; how once all this passed I would have a little treasure to hold and I really felt it.  She was so sincere.  It's helped me keep perspective ever since.

My friend Melanie gave me all her maternity clothes and let me tell you, they are cute. 
Not one shirt in strawberry or sailboat print, nothing pastel pink; nothing polyester either. Just cute 100% cotton maxi dresses, skirts and ruffle shirts.  Things I would really where even if I wasn’t pregnant. 

Nothing but love.

You people out there are all just too nice. 
What is this world coming too!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Pregnancy over 40

So, here I am – unable to drive by a Pizza Hut without throwing up. 
I can’t stand the taste of the filtered water that pours out of my faucet.
Once I wash and cut an apple up, I can no longer eat it.
Don’t even get me started about sweet potato fries.  I didn’t see that one coming.

On my 42nd birthday, I stared at myself in the mirror doing that self-inventory we all do on birthdays. 

“Do I look old?”
“Anymore wrinkles this year?”
“I have got to get my roots done?”

And then we’re reminded how blessed we are to have another year and that we really have no control over if we get older or not.

I noticed a few gray hairs and plucked them out of existence.  That will teach them! when something inside felt different.  Maybe I should take a pregnancy test?

It read negative.  Ok, so everything is normal.  Everything goes back to normal when  few days later that voice came back.  “Maybe you should take another pregnancy test,” it said. 

Positive again.

Two pregnancy tests couldn’t lie simultaneously.  Oh my goodness.  Another self-inventory while staring in the same mirror. 

“Can I do this?”
“Am I strong enough?”
“Oh my gosh!”

At 42, I will say this baby was a planned surprise

Planned: because the counselor and I have been wanting another child for several years now,
blame it on these precious people,

particularly this little one.

So, we’ve wanted another baby.  I just have been unable to get pregnant.

Surprised:  because after all this time I didn’t think it would ever happen!  Oh my!

I did great the first few weeks – good attitude, stayed busy, wasn’t too sick and then WHAM!
I’m in bed and the room’s spinning.  The counselor, bless his heart wants to make a grocery list and I can’t even mention the foods we need.  He throws out ideas for quick and easy dinners and I ask him to stop.  It makes me too sick.  He’s on his own at the grocery store.  Hopefully no one will starve.

I have my moments and those moments sometimes can to turn into entire days were I don’t move, but I’ve found if I have the strength walks around the neighborhood, bike rides and cuddle-a-thons in the bed with the kids are getting me through.

And of course the idea of a baby!  Wow!  I am so blessed.

As I get older, I marvel at the joy my children bring me.

I never considered myself a sentimental person, but my oh my – count me into that club. 

Dandelion bouquets, lullabies, teaching a child how to swim, family prayer – the good times can be really special.

(Yes, those are wild horses.)

I can share this because with five somewhat older children, I’m on the other side of exhaustion.  

No longer am I in the really hard physically demanding days of child-rearing.  The diaper bags, nursing blankets and the dreaded car seat transfers; the lifting from tub to changing table to crib, sleepless nights and broken nap schedules.  I survived. Now my oldest is my best baby sitter and my youngest is so capable, she can practically run things around here.  I won’t have to chase a toddler with the pregnancy.  Do I dare say I'll have a lot of help with this next baby?  I think so.

My children are so excited.  We’re looking though names, they’re going the extra mile to keep the house clean while I spend the day eating bon bons and taking bubble baths (ha ha) and they don’t seem to mind another night of waffles for dinner (that seems to be something I can make without hesitation)!  I should probably mention my neighbor the caterer I’m stalking.  Kristin’s the best cook; everything's homemade. I’m just going to sit outside her house with an empty dinner plate and beg for scraps.  If I don’t have to prepare the food, I can usually eat it.

Before the morning sickness turned wicked, the family and I spent a week in Telluride; hence all the gorgeous fall photos.  Considering my on-going pregnancy hot flash, the cool 50 degree days of Telluride left me sporting a permanent smile.  

That place was the perfect start of what may not be the easiest pregnancy.  I could reflect, share and embrace the joy and chaos of my family, so here we go again!  I know what I'm in for.  I may have an uphill battle to climb, but I put my trust in God because at the top of that hill is one of His precious children waiting to call me "Mommy."

Friday, September 19, 2014

A rainbow of dressers

We had a beautiful rainbow here in Phoenix this week and I had an idea to create my own rainbow with furniture pieces I've painted over the years.  

And, last but not least!  

These furniture pieces are from the past, but to see my latest furniture up-dos you can check me out in Mesa at Antique Plaza, booth #52 or in Chandler at Merchant Square,  booth #73.  You can also follow me on facebook and pinterest.
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