Well, so much for consistent blogging, huh?  I ended up being out of state and away from my computer since the first of August, but I'm back now, and ready to jump in again.

August 19th's Challenge was "To-Do," and I am very, very excited about what I crossed off my to-do list yesterday! 

Jeremy's Uncle Tom and Aunt Donna gave us a container full of plants last week.  Now, I know nothing at all about plants, but my heart loves them.  So, I decided to do what I do with all plants: give them lots of sunshine and lots of water.  After all, if I were a plant, that's what I would want.  I placed the container in my front yard which gets about 12 hours of full sun every day, and I watered the container daily. 

Then I called my friend LaRene, who is The Plant Whisperer, and I described them to her hoping she would know what they were and how to care for them.  I intended to plant them after I found out what they needed.  When LaRene couldn't pinpoint them from my phone description, she offered to come over in a few days to get a visual and teach me how to care for them.

She came over yesterday, and much to my dismay, she declared them to be houseplants.  She also declared them to be dying from over-crowding, over-sunning, and over-watering.  Wet blanket.  Since there is no way on God's green earth that any type of plant will survive in my house (trust me, I've tried), I decided to treat them like an annual and plant them in a perpetually shady spot outside my back door.  LaRene and I worked together to create a triangular garden bed where grass used to grow, and I planted my five plants.  Well, actually, I planted four plants because one of them looks like it's going to be a trailing kind of plant, so I'm looking for a shepherd's hook and a hanging basket to plant it in.  Then it will hover over my garden along with a pretty garden flag that Liberty bought me.  I'm just looking for a hook and flag pole.  Did you know Walmart and Home Depot consider those two items to be seasonal?  How rude.

Here is my new little garden.  I've decided to name it my TomAndDonna Garden, and I love it.  (Be like me and ignore the pathetic-ness of the dying leaves.  They didn't like my front yard, but I'm expecting them to perk up after a few days in my back yard.)

(I hope.)


 
My friend, Liz, is an inspiring photographer who participates in a monthly photo challenge.  I once participated with her and had a blast finding unique ways to photograph the prompt for the day, but since I've yearned to blog again - and can't seem to figure out how to start back up on my own - I'm going to use that monthly photo challenge and turn it into a blogging challenge for the month. 

See?  Genius at work, folks.  Step back.

If you want to play along, let me know in the comments, and I'll make sure I come read your blog that day.  :-)  Here's the August List.



So.  Landscape.

We've been saving up for landscaping around our house for the past four years, now.  We thought we were going to have enough to be able to put it in this coming spring, but circumstances have conspired against us, and we had to use that cash on an emergency situation that came up this summer.  Apparently, my brain is still processing that loss because I dreamed about my landscaping last night.

I was lying in bed when Liberty and Mercy came running in with their arms full of unplanted greenery, spilling dirt all over my bright white bedspread.  "Mommy!  Mommy!  Come outside and see!" they shouted at me in my half-wakened state.  Only the threat of dirt everywhere forced me to open my eyes.  "No!  Take that outside!" I tried to command forcefully, but my voice wouldn't obey. 

I shakily, still mostly asleep, followed their dirt trail across the carpeting to the front door, and when I stepped outside, I found my neighbor and friend, Trina, just standing up from planting the last bush in front of my house.

"Hi!" she smiled.  "I brought over some clippings from my landscaping for you." 

I glanced around.  My yard was littered with odd pots and plastic buckets all filled with dirt and spindly stems cut from flowers and bushes.  I started to thank her, but then I noticed a small plow with fresh, beige, Indiana clay clinging to its blades.  That's been used recently, my brain realized.  I looked around for evidence of its disturbance and found that all of my areas set aside to become garden beds had been tilled up and mixed with rich black dirt, then covered with peat moss and, in most places, planted with flowers and bushes.  "Wow!"  Trina had done more than just bring over clippings.  She had done all the hard labor to get my landscaping put in as well!

"Thank you!" I told her.  "Would you like to come in for a drink?"

"Sure," she followed me to the kitchen sink for a glass of water, and as I looked around my house, I was suddenly embarrassed to have her there.  The rooms were devoid of furniture, I'm not sure why.  Paint was peeling in large strips off the walls.  The ceilings were made of those square tiles you see in old office buildings, but apparently, our roof leaked badly because there were terrible brown stains on every tile, and some were hanging from the ceiling by their corners.  Our carpet was old and thin, worn bare in spots, and smelled awful.  Every light bulb in our house had been burned out, so I kept flicking light switches with no results.  I looked around, horrified for Trina to see the state our family had been living in. 

Trina just hugged me.  "Looks like we need to work on the inside, next!" she said cheerfully.  "I have leftover paint from when we painted Cait's room."  She bent down, pulled a crowbar from her back pocket, and began pulling the carpet up at a seam.  "Help me out with this.  I'm sure everything will look and smell much better when this is gone." 

I bent next to her and began pulling, grateful for this wonderful friend.

When I woke up, the dream lingered with me.  My brain was having a hard time telling fantasy from reality, and I began doing math in my head, trying to figure out how much we could spare in the budget for paint and new flooring.  So I was pleasantly surprised when I entered my bedroom closet and noticed the walls and paint in good condition.  Whew!  One room that doesn't need to be included in the remodel.

I walked out to the kitchen to start breakfast for the girls, and the presence of furniture and beauty surprised me.  I took a good assessing look around.  "Wow!  My home is beautiful!" I said out loud.  The walls are in good condition.  The carpet is stain and odor free.  The ceilings are a perfect white, with no ugly squares to be found anywhere, and we have plenty of furniture.  It honestly shocked me, and I've been periodically stopping my activity all morning to look and admire what God has done for us materially.

I've been going through about a month of ungratefulness.  In fact, just yesterday I told my friend Denissa who I bumped into at Walmart, that I needed to copy her habit of updating her facebook statuses with thankfulness.  I hoped making a practice of that might encourage thankfulness in my heart and help change my attitude in general. 

Looks like God took care of that.  With one dream He changed the landscape of my heart.

(Like how I tied that in?  Landscape?)

(Uh-huh, I'm that good.)
I've been thinking lately...

(No comments from the peanut gallery, please.)

I miss blogging.  Miss it like crazy.  There's something about organizing my thoughts into an orderly
(ish) few paragraphs that makes me sleep better.  Also, I'm missing the documentation of all the hilarious and creative and thoughtful things my children do.  There is an entire nine months worth of life that has been crammed into my dusty memory banks and will most likely never again see the light of day, but if I'd only blogged them, I'd be able to re-read those memories and remember them all over again.

So what do I want to tell you all?

Well, I want to tell you that God is good.

I've been through quite a lot these past months with Him, situations I've never been in before, paths of growing that I've never traveled before, and it's become obvious how good God is in the midst of the uncertainty, in the midst of humanity, in the midst of the convolutions of life.  He's there.  He's full of peace and joy.  He's in charge.

What a lovely beginning!
Happy June everybody!  Only two days left until our baby girl is visible to the naked eye!  (I don't count today; then there's Monday and Tuesday, and I don't count Wednesday because we have to be at the hospital by 5:30 IN THE MORNING.  I won't even have the mental capability of counting that early anyway, so Wednesday is definitely out.  Therefore: only TWO days until our baby is born!!!)

WHOOP!  WHOOP!

I'm determined to finish that challenge from way back in March, so, ahem, I now present to you the JUNE CHALLENGE!  I'm on day 27, lucky you.  We're close to being finished.

Day 27 wants me to tell you about three online friends whom I have never met.  I'm not big on online friendships.  At least, I didn't think I was until I considered this question.  Last year, when I weeded out my facebook friends - who were only people I know in real life - I had a few rules.  1. The ones I kept were family.  2. Or friends whom I interacted with through facebook on a regular basis.  If there was no regular interaction, they were weeded out - not because I didn't like them, but because there was no reason for me to keep them as a name on a list.  That's when I realized something that surprised me:  I did have a few "online friends" in my facebook list whom I had never met.  Somehow, my online vs. real life lines have blurred. 

So, who have I never met but feel like I have?  Let me tell you. 

1.  Tiffany from In Pursuit.  I've told this story before on my blog, but way back in 2006 or 2007 when I was still new at blogging, I clicked the "next" button at the top of my page.  It took me to someone else's blog.  I read a few posts, and then clicked "next" again.  Several blogs later, I ran into Tiffany's and enjoyed what she had to say.  Back then her blog had a different name.  In fact, she's been through a few names and genres.  When I first "met" her, she was single and hoping to start college.  Now she is married and a model/professional photographer among other revenue enhancersThe Farmbell which hooks up local food growers and raisers to local consumers.  (Which I am totally thrilled over.  I can't wait for his site to grow big enough that it affects MY area!)  Through it all, Tiff's heart to follow God in her everyday life shone and enticed me.  I don't remember this, but at some point, I must have been brave enough to stop stalking and start commenting, and she began reading and commenting back on my posts.  One thing led to another.  We emailed each other through some difficult times.  We prayed for each other through ups and downs.  I feel like I have met her.  She even mailed me a present from her Etsy shop (back when she had an Etsy shop) just because I seemed down.  See?  That's the kind of friend she is. 
.  She and her husband, Mike, have bought and renovated their own home, and Mike has recently started a website called

2. Donette from Our Corner of the World who rarely posts anymore, but I still love her!  I'm trying to remember how we "met."  I'm pretty sure it was through the blog posts of a girl named Callie who went to the same college I did.  I then started reading Gretchen's blog, because Gretchen commented on Callie's blog, and then I read Donette's because Donette commented on Gretchen's.  Did you follow all that?  Because it might not have been like that at all.  I don't remember.  I no longer read either Callie or Gretchen, but somehow, Donette and I became friends.  We went through some similar life experiences around the same times (switching over to more natural food, baby experiences, family things, and right now a desire to garden/landscape combined with a serious lack of knowledge), and we enjoy similar thought patterns.  Just like with Tiff, Donette and I have emailed and prayed for each other quite a bit, and somehow we became facebook friends.  I really don't know how that happened because we are both very careful about letting "strangers" into our lives, but I sure am glad.  She'd be hard to stay in touch with otherwise!  :-)

3.  Beth from Beth's By Grace.  Let's see.  Beth and I "met" in quite an interesting fashion.  My parents were very good friends (in real life) of a couple named Roger and Sheryl when I was a child.  We spent quite a few evenings at each others' houses, and I played with their children.  After a few years, our families moved to different states but always kept a warm spot in our hearts for each other.  Our lovely Sheryl has since gone home to Heaven, and Roger married Beth.  Now, you all know how facebook is.  It suggested a few years ago that I become friends with someone named Roger, and when I followed the link I discovered it was our old family friend!  Hooray!  Roger and I did friend each other on facebook, and that's how I began communicating with his wife Beth.  Well.  Beth and I, our hearts beat the same, you know?  We laugh at the same things.  We cry at the same things.  We pray at the same things.  We're kindred spirits with the same extremely quirky sense of humor (which comes in mighty handy).  Someday, I am going to meet Beth for real - we only live two hours from each other - but in the meantime, I just love reading her status updates and blog posts, and laughing together over all the fun and tragic complexities of life.
I'm totally cracking up over the subject matter for today's March May Challenge post.  Favorite food?  Seriously?  My favorite food has been changing second by second during the last nine months, and sometimes my favorite food is non-existent.  Food?  Nasty stuff!

In the past, tacos have been my favorite, but they have to be homemade tacos.  I'm picky.  Any traditional breakfast food has always been a safe bet as well.  Eggs, bacon, biscuits, hashbrowns...yum! 

In fact, is it lunchtime yet?  Cause I just made myself hungry.

Hmm, upon further analysis, never mind.  I am NOT hungry.  Blech.

I've been thinking about my pregnancies, and how different they all were in food cravings.  With Liberty, I craved only raw fruits and vegetables, and the thought of meat made my stomach turn.  I never could fit an entire meal into my tummy while she was in there, so I ended up snacking every couple hours.  I lost close to fifty pounds while I was pregnant with Liberty, and I felt so energetic and full of vitality. 

With Mercy, I craved meat and potatoes and all manner of desserts, mostly chocolate (which was highly unusual because prior to Mercy's gestation I hated chocolate of all sorts).  The smell of salad or any type of vegetation sent me running for the nearest receptacle.  I paid the price for my eating habits, too.  I ended up with gestational diabetes with Mercy Jane, and I gained thirty pounds.

This little girl, on the other hand...well, I've been all over the board with her.  Most of the time, I don't want to eat ANYTHING.  And when I do, it just comes back up again anyway.  Then there are times when all I want is a plate full of deep green crunchy vegetables full of refreshing, watery goodness.  Some days I cannot get enough sugar, and I've lived on drive-thru milkshakes for every meal of the day.  Other days, potatoes in any form take control of my brain.  But I'd have to say chips and queso have been my number one craving throughout this entire pregnancy.  Chips and queso and fast food breakfast sandwiches.  Don't judge!

And I've only gained six pounds so far.

Now, why can't that happen when I'm not pregnant?



"What is queso?" you ask before thinking yourself bilingual, "Oh you mean cheese."
"NO!" I shout with bitter indignation, "Queso is the golden currency of heaven above,

flown down to us by nude cherubs so that we might find a small plot of happiness in our lifetime."
This photo and quote are both from www.dishola.com created by Dano
who is dedicated to finding the best and most wonderful queso alive in Austin, TX.
He is clearly a man after my own heart.
I saw a woman the other day.  She was about my age, in her early thirties.  She hobbled slowly as she walked because she was probably close to eight and a half months pregnant.  I saw her take a step and wince, one hand putting pressure on her lower back, presumably trying to alleviate an angry sciatic nerve in her left leg.  She wore a wrinkled turquoise maternity top and stained khaki shorts - most likely because the waistband on those shorts was the only waistband left in her closet that fits around her tummy.  Her brown hair hung limply waving of its own accord in various directions.  Her bangs were pulled back with a metal barrette away from her face in an unflattering way.  I wondered if her pregnancy hormones were getting the best of her wayward bangs, too, thus prompting the desperate barrette move.  Another glance at her face confirmed this presumption on my part because I noticed a large red zit to the left of her chin.  Yep.  Score another point for the hormones.  Poor lady.  She looked miserable and downhearted.

I wondered if waiting the final weeks for her baby's arrival was causing her a slight depression the way it does for me?  I've never been good at waiting.  I wondered if she felt as unattractive and unnecessary as I do?  Eight and a half months of inability will do that to a person's psyche. 

As I watched her attempting to put on a brave front and walk without too much wincing, an older gentleman approached her from the opposite direction.  He glanced at her face as he approached, and she glanced at his.  She halfway smiled/grimaced at him while once again her left foot touched the floor.  She self-consciously took her hand from her back and held it loosely at her side, attempting to look normal.  Then her smile brightened perceptibly.  It became genuine and lost most of the grimace.  I'm not sure what caused the change, but I wonder if it stemmed from her desire not to look so pathetic to others?  A desire to spread joy rather than misery?  Or maybe even a realization that she wasn't representing her true state of mind to someone who needed to see God with her?

Whatever the cause, it had a dramatic impact on the white-haired man.  He did a double-take just as he passed her and said, "What a beautiful smile!" 

"Thank you!" she responded.  Her voice reflected appreciation and surprise.

The two of them continued on their opposite paths.  I could no longer see his face, but the pregnant woman's reflected equal parts pleasure, surprise, and pondering.  I have no idea what she was thinking, but the misery and downheartedness I had noticed earlier was erased even though her left hand returned to supporting her back at each step.  She glanced in a nearby shop window and smiled big.  At first I thought she was checking out her own "beautiful smile" reflection, but then I realized she was smiling at two people inside the store.  I watched them.  They did not seem to know her, but one hesitantly returned the smile.

The lady passed from my sight, and I was left pondering the difference a gentleman made with four words, and the difference the lady made in her own life with her choice to truly smile despite her feelings.
Day 25 of the March May Challenge asks me to describe my location for you.  Well, that's boring.  I'm sitting at my computer, typing a blog post.  I suppose I could go into great detail about my surroundings.  But really.  I'm tired. 

I could take the assignment up to a higher plane and describe my mental location, but that's way too introspective for my mood today.  And besides, don't I do that almost every day on this blog?  That gets old!

So what other kinds of locations are there to tell you about? 

Go, go, Creative Juices.

....

It didn't work.

So...uh, how about I tell you something else.  Like...

Now, see?  I had so many posts written in my head a few weeks ago, and they were all amusing.  Speaking of amusing, I got bored on my way home from dropping the girls off at school this morning, and I started scanning through the radio stations.  I landed on one where a whiney sounding guy was singing about how sad he was that "you" were gone.  He said, "Every time I think of you, it feels like this," and he proceeded to howl mournfully into the microphone.  "Ooooooooooooooooooooooh." 

I couldn't help it.  I laughed so hard I couldn't see through the slits my eyelids had created.  The song sounded like something Liberty and Mercy would make up if they were into the dating scene.  (Which will be never.)  Thankfully, for my driving skills we were close to the end of the song, but the next song that came on caused me to cry with laughter.

I'm Sexy And I Know It

Seriously, you guys!  Who wrote this song?  A thirteen-year-old?  I've heard parts of the song before while I've been out shopping or as a montage in a cheesy movie, but I've never heard the entire thing start to finish.  Here are just some of the amazing lyrics.

I'm sexy and I know it.
(I work out.)

Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, Yeah!
Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, yeah!

When I go out with no shoes and no shirt, I still get service.
I'm sexy, and I know it.
(I work out.)

Oh my goodness!  I had tears dripping down my cheeks!  Forget about who wrote the song.  I want to know what major recording studio decided it was good enough to be made into a real song and then broadcast to people who might accidentally hear it on the radio? 

Has anyone ever paid cash to own that song?

Um, never mind.  Strike that last question, because I know people who have paid cash to own The Pants Song by Five Iron Frenzy.  See lyrics below.

Aieee....I love my pantalones.
They fit me oh so tight.
They make me smile with delight.
Do you.....?

(Track 10 - Easy Listening style)
I'll never forget when I saw you standin' there wearin' pants.

You were all alone, and I thought to myself "Man I wish I had those pants!"
But the problem was
Those wearn't my pants.
I dunno whose pants they are
But I want 'em.
I only know that I want 'em.
So why don't you come over here
And rock baby.
Oh hold on to me tight, and keep wearin' them pants.
Cause I love you....

(Track 11 - Country/Western style)
These are not my pants.

I don't know whose they are.
They smell a lot like Bobby's
Cause he likes to fart.
These are not my pants.
How did they get here?
And I'm fillin up with fear
Cause these are not my pants.
Thank you, I'll be at the grand ol' opry tonite.

(Track 12 - Rock style)
WWWWWWWWWWAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

These are not my pants!
Whose pants are these anyways?
These are not my pants!
Whose pants are these anyways?
Are these Bobby's, or Timmy's, or Billy's pants?
No, NOOOO!!!!!
These are not my pants!

WOOOOOHHHHHHHHH!
BBBLLLLAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!
GAAAAHHHHH!!!
Are you listening to what I say?

(Track 13 - Sorta Rap style)
Pants.

Don't a look at my pants.
Now I got my pants on.
An' I'm chillin, but they aren't my pants,
These are not my pants.
That's what I gotta say.
I ain't wearin' no pants.
I got Billy, Bobby, Jerry, Filly, Illy, Ooh, Chilly, mmmm pantsooh....little bit o' oooohhh
Hhmmmm ah my pants.
Whose pants are these?  They're not my pants.  They're not your pants.
They're not Billy's pants, or Bobby's, or Timmy's.  What's goin on? Whose pants? Ohhmmm (door)
That's what I'm tryin' to say, but yo don't step this way cause I got my pants on yeah.

(Track 14 - Inspirational Interlude style)
C'mon people now

This is the time to unite
A little revolution of the pants.
Right now is the time.
Now who hold the pants,
And whose are these pants?
Will we ever found the home for the pants?
C'mon now....unite a little revolution of the pants.
Yes...right now.

(Track 15 - Bert & Ernie style)
These are not my pants.

These are not my pants.
These are not my pants.
Bobby....BOBBY! Bobby's pants!
Woohoohoo!
These are not my....PANTS!

(Track 16 - Censored Rap style)
---Check one check ----

Uh, Yo! Bobby and Billy, You out ---- what's up?----
Yo me and Bobby we was walkin' down the----
And yo we didn't have nothin' to ----
But we had our pants on
But yo these ain't my pants
Uh, I get 'em off now-----
Um, tight, oh they so tight-----
------Ouch, ooie, ooie eee -----
Um, Billy, Timmy, ah, hello there.
Yeah....cause we in the street ----
Uh Talkin' bout the Bobbys and the Billys out there
And they tight pants on
Ya to loosen ------ loosen 'em up----- Know what I'm sayin'?
Wassup?
-----HUUUU HUUUUU ------WASSUUUU ------
Hey wassuuuu this is Bobby and Billy
-----uuuuuuuuuuu ------- --- --- --- --- wassuuuuu!!!
(too high-pitched to understand)


But maybe all those lyrics were too much for you?  Here is a seven minute YouTube video of The Pants Song.  (Warning: you might hate me after this, but it is appropriate for children of all ages.) 

(It was probably written by children of all ages.)

 
 
See?  Now do you see why I'm Sexy And I Know It was able to become a song that actually played on the radio?

It all makes sense now.

And maybe, just maybe, this post WAS all about my mental location these days. 

Hmm.  Deep...