a curious train of thought

{Scene: Charlotte and a feverish Asher on the couch watching the sixth consecutive episode of Curious George. The following is an except of Charlotte's thoughts as she watches this children's program with which she is now very acquainted.}

How are The Man in the Yellow Hat's friends and neighbors okay with his owning a formerly wild monkey?
Doesn't he know that monkeys will rip off your face?
He must not have Facebook.
Otherwise he'd know these things.

I can't believe TMINYH actually thinks that when he says, "Be a good little monkey!" that George will actually behave.
George is a wild animal.
When TMITYH says he's "going to work" what does that mean?
What does TMITYH actually do for a living?

His career--whatever it is--must be profitable.
I mean, he and his pet monkey live in a city penthouse and have a second home in the country.
That doesn't make George or his guardian very relatable to the target audience.
How many kids do you know that have two posh pads?
I mean, come on. I wonder if TMITYH is part of the "one percent."
He must be.
How else can he afford to pay for the continual damage inflicted by his monkey-child?

And how does George get away with so many antics?
Seriously, if my child broke the city clock, I wouldn't laugh and smile and make a fake-mad face.
Damaging major city property has consequences, George!
And what kind of parent/guardian just lets their monkey-child roam the city with no one but a dog as a companion? I would never let my kid roam busy streets unsupervised.
Why has no one called Child Protective Services?
Maybe CPS doesn't deal with primates.

And let's not even get started on George's space explorations.
Who authorized that? And why does TMITYH get to go to space?
I restate, What does he do?
Where are the regulations here?
Apparently, these days anyone can go into space as long as you know your shapes like George.

What's going on between TMITYH and Professor Wiseman, anyway?
I wonder if they'll ever develop that plot line.
Because we all think it.

And what happens in George's later years?
Like when his country friend goes away to school, leaving George at home?
He'll end up that weird, awkward monkey-adult with no education and no friends, because all of his friends are humans who live real human lives and don't like their plumbing taken apart.
How long can you keep this up, George?

George isn't a great role model.
But there are worse role models for children.
Like Hannah Montana.
Or any other Disney star monstrosity.
So Curious George isn't so bad.
He's a little naughty.
But maybe that bit of childhood is relatable.
I mean, if the kids can look past George's affluent lifestyle, that is.

{End scene, because Charlotte has to get up to refill the Gatorade in Asher's sippee cup.}


some endorsements

This Friday I present you with a list of my recent endorsements. No, none of these items are sponsored, though, if any of these companies should feel inspired to pay me retroactively, I will not complain.

:: Daily Burn.  I learned about DB during Hulu commercials, and eventually Josh decided to try it out. Then when I decided to kick my body into gear and exercise, I decided to try it too. And if I've ever come close to enjoying exercise, this is it. The trainers in my program are nice and encouraging, and the workouts are varied and effective. For the first time in a long time, I feel fit instead of just skinny. The number on the scale hasn't really changed (which can be frustrating), but my body has been changing, and that's what matters.

:: 24: Live Another Day. I thought that 24 had already had its hey-day, and I was intrigued when Fox announced a Jack Bauer comeback. And I really loved 24 back when it on. The last couple of seasons of 24 were extreme, even for 24, and this revival isn't the best, but it's fun to have Jack back and good enough for me to keep watching.

:: Fabric.com. Sewing purists will say that you can't buy fabric without touching it and feeling it. They'll say that buying fabric online is for amateurs. Me? I love it. Fabric.com is awesome. I can spend a good chunk of time browsing fabric online. I'd say that if you're new to sewing that buying fabric in a brick-and-mortar store is ideal, just so you can get a feel (literally) for fiber content, drape, etc. But once you know what it means to see a listing for jersey knit with 95-rayon and 5-percent spandex, then you can make pretty informed decisions. And shipping is free with a $35 minimum purchase. I'll often tack on a swatch or two to get me just to $35. And if you're not pleased with your fabric.com purchase, you had 30 days to return it, no matter what. I am certainly a sewing enthusiast, but I'm not above shopping for fabric online. It's great.

:: America's Test Kitchen. Obviously. The only magazine I have a subscription to is Cook's Illustrated, I have two Test Kitchen cookbooks, I have purchased several special CI issues at Costco, and I listen to the Test Kitchen's weekly podcast. Pretty much I'm an ATK fangirl. For someone who likes to understand the why behind what I do, the Test Kitchen is perfect. Now I know that when a recipe calls for Dutch-processed cocoa, I really can't use natural cocoa. That cheddar-monteray jack combo in the macaroni and cheese really is the best combo. And making your own chili paste for chili really does produce the best results.

:: Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2014 summer reading guide. I found Modern Mrs. Darcy a year ago when I followed a link to her 2013 summer reading guide, and her blog has been on my must-read-every-day list since. She released her 2014 summer reading guide last week, and it's the best place to go to find good reads for the summer months. She's broken down her recommendations into categories so you know where to find serious books or beach books or solid nonfiction reads. You can get your copy here. And if you keep reading MMD, well, I can't blame you because it's really that great of a blog.

What have you been endorsing lately? Anything I should know about?


coasting with my other people

So I have my people-people. You know, my people. And then I have my other people, my people who aren't technically my blood, but who might as well be--my friends, my lovely, wonderful, uplifting friends. And last weekend all of us went to the coast for the night. It was just what I needed.

Most of us piled into a van Friday afternoon and drove to Lincoln City. The rest of us followed in separate cars. We stayed in our friend's parent's beach house and slept on air mattresses and futons. Most of us left the babes at home, though we did delight in the two little littles who tagged along.

We ate at this delicious seafood place right on the coastline and basically drowned ourselves in buttered fish. Later that night we ate cake and cookies and pie and Hi-Chews. Don't you know calories don't count on girls' weekend?

We walked on the beach and breathed in the air. We talked and laughed and then talked until we laughed too hard to talk.

This weekend was beyond rejuvenating. We talked about silly things and spiritual things and life things and so-so-funny things. We connected over so many facets of our lives that you sit there thinking, "I'm never alone! They know what I struggle with and they struggle too!"

The weather couldn't have been more wonderful. The sun was shining, the wind softly blowing, the ocean continuously roaring. You couldn't help but close your eyes and breathe it was so perfect.

I've never known such a wonderful group of women. They make me feel like my efforts are enough, that what I have to offer is exactly what they need. We have such reciprocity in our friendships. These friendships are the ones that endure.

I needed this getaway. It fed my soul. I left filled with such gratitude for my other people. These women are gifts to me. And you can bet that we'll be doing this again.


a too-early summer

I'm sitting here at the computer sweating because the sewing-slash-computer room is a full-on oven when Portland decides to do summer. And this week Portland has jumped ahead by two months and has treated us to 90-degree weather. I'm not amused.

I'm making a pie for a girls' weekend at the coast, and someone please remind me next time not to roll out pie crust when my kitchen is 80 degrees. (Ladies, this time I cannot guarantee pie crust quality.) 

At Target this week I stocked up on shorts for the boy, because I can't in good conscience dress the boy in jeans and socks and shoes when it's so hot and humid. So now Asher has five pairs of shorts, even more t-shirts, and a good pair of sandals, not to mention the clothes Grandma Karen brought over. 

We bought a grill this week, and I can't wait to pump out summer meals with that thing. I even picked up the Cook's Illustrated special edition of summer grilling. 

I have several summer dress projects on my sewing docket, and I may have to pump them out quick next week during the rainy days before the weather turns hot again. Even the sewing experience is affected when you're sitting there in a 90-degree room with sweat dripping down your shirt. 

I have a darling toddler calling for me from his room, because now he's awake from his nap. I'm not sure what we'll do. Maybe draw with sidewalk chalk. Maybe eat some fruit snacks. Maybe read some stories.


5 ways Pinterest has changed my life

I've read so many articles and blog posts about the pitfalls of Pinterest. Many of them have valid points: Pinterest paints perfection, sets impossible standards for decorating, travel, wardrobe, parenting, and cooking. And sure, I'll buy that. I go on Pinterest, and I'm instantly flooded with images of must-see vacation spots, the perfect baby shower decor, 20 healthy snacks to feed your toddler, and the five best secrets for a healthy marriage. And I guess if Pinterest is your life coach, then yes, it could be daunting, overwhelming, and discouraging.

For me, though, Pinterest is none of those things. In fact, Pinterest has changed my life--in good ways. 

:: I look through pins and see projects others have completed, and I feel my creativity unlock. I'm not the type of creative who spontaneously generates ideas. I'm good at recreating what I see, and I'm good at adding or subtracting what I like. Pinterest is an endless fount of springboard ideas!

:: I can dress up any day! This concept is something I grew up with, but sometimes I still feel like I should have to justify wearing a dress or heels or flashy jewelry. With all of those outfits trending on Pinterest, though, I re-realize that I can dress up any day I want! For no reason! I love that.

:: Contrary to what Pinterest amateurs think, you don't have to like everything you see on Pinterest. At first I thought that every pin I saw in my feed I had to love and repin and embrace. And that's just not true. I try to cull my feed to stuff I actually like and pin only what I'm serious about. (I need to go through my boards and weed out all those pins I pinned because I thought I was "supposed to.") No one says you have to like anything. Even chevron. (Which I do like. But ombre and nail art and jumpsuits? Pass.)

:: In the same vein, Pinterest has helped me define my personal style. As I scroll through my feed, I decide what I like and what I don't. And in that process I define what's me when it comes to style. I may like the super rustic look in a home, but when I think about me, that home style doesn't fit perfectly. So I take what I like and leave the rest. Using Pinterest as a tool helps me find trends and ideas that speak to me. I don't think I'd have nearly as Charlotte a home or wardrobe as I do without Pinterest to give me options.

:: Pinterest is a serious problem solver! Need ideas to entertain a toddler on rainy days? Ask Pinterest. Wondering what to make for your gluten-free friend when you make only exclusively gluten-y food? Ask Pinterest. Need ideas for that church activity? Pinterest. Obviously. (I should mention that when I say "ask Pinterest" what I really mean is "search Pinterest for sources and follow those pins to the original source because Pinterest wouldn't be anything without the devoted bloggers and content developers who are the brains behind your 10,000 pins.") I have found many solutions to problems using Pinterest.

So, Pinterest. I like you. We will definitely stay friends. Except that I'm the friend who basically uses you, and takes only a fraction of your advice. So I guess I'm that friend. But we're friends nonetheless. Now I'm looking to change up my mantle for summer. Any ideas?

Do you like Pinterest? Is it as evil as some say, or do you like it for what it is--a tool for creativity? 

PS: all images were taken from my Pinterest account. You can find me here.


limitless love

One night last week Asher wouldn't kiss me. He kissed everyone else--grandparents and great-grandparents--but not his mama. And it broke my heart. In fact, it threw my entire evening into a funk. I felt so rejected. So unwanted. And nothing Josh could say could make me feel better, because nothing he could say could remedy the fact that my baby boy refused to kiss me. I moped all night. I cried and eventually retreated in the far recesses of my mind, almost daydreaming.

(I wonder if this is how our Father in Heaven feels when we turn our backs on Him. Is this how He feels when we rebel? When we turn away? Because if it is, then I never want to do anything to inflict that hurt ever again.)

I know this instance is minor in the scheme of things. I know that later in Asher's life he might say hurtful things intentionally, that he'll turn his back on me occasionally. I know this, though that doesn't change the hurt I feel when my baby boy refuses to give me a kiss. That pain cuts deep, even when my son is a mere toddler.

Then, my consciousness came back and all that pain I felt was gone. Gone. All I felt was love. I don't feel that hurt anymore.

 I don't feel it, because love crowded it out.

I wake up in the morning with love in my heart and actions, because love is great. Love is greater than self-pity, greater than hurt. In the span of 30 minutes I felt all of my pain and hurt and rejection replaced with limitless love. That's what motherhood is: limitless, unbounded love, grace enacted. What I felt that night was literally miraculous. Miraculous.

Motherhood is miraculous.

No matter how many kisses he won't give, I will love him. I will keep giving and giving because, when it comes to my babe, that's all my soul knows how to do. My Savior replaced my hurt with limitless love. I feel like I reached a new understanding of Jesus Christ, an understanding that literally erased my hurt and filled it with grace overflowing.

Now I'm going to tip-toe into the nursery and gaze on my child. He is so wondrous to me, and I am so in awe of everything he is and we are together. He is mine, even when he pretends otherwise. I am his, even when he doesn't notice. We are divinely designed and divinely paired, he and I. I am his mother, kisses or not. 


the secret to being a happy introvert

My time in Denver is typically very social. Even if it's just family time. (My social limits are far greater when I'm with my people. That said, it's still social interaction, and I still need recharge time.) So, that Friday the girls had popcorn for dinner and watched Frozen. We had some extended family in town briefly and they took my dad to a basketball game. Soon after we finished the movie, a friend asked to come over and chat. (And I love this friend. She is delightful, and I am so glad I got to see her.) 

By this time it was late, and I was tired and feeling close to my limits. We sat in the living room and laughed and talked. Then the guys came back. And it was noisy and busy and very high energy. And this introvert reached her limit. My sister could tell and leaned in to tell me it was okay if I wanted to excuse myself. So I did. Want to know the best part? As I stood up this friend gave me a big hug and said, "You're my favorite introvert!!" I sighed relief and literally ran to my parents room where I snuggled up on their big bed and watched TV alone.

You read that right: I ran to my parents' bedroom to watch TV while a whole crowd was having a party in the rest of the house.

So, introverts: you want the know the one secret for how to be happy and maintain your energy balance as an introvert?

Know your limits.

It's so simple, right? 

When I excused myself from the fray, I was so much happier than if I'd have tried to extend myself when I didn't have the mental bandwidth for it. This anecdote also proves that the people who love you will understand. Somewhere you are somebody's favorite introvert! (I can't even tell you how much that delighted me. I felt so accepted and loved, even in my quirks.)

For anyone--and especially for introverts--knowing your limits is key. When you know your limits, you know when to say no and when you can afford to say yes. You know how to budget your energy and how to maximize your recharge time. Limits are everything. And really, they're freeing, because when I know my limits my social decisions are intentional and purposeful. I have the energy to be fully present and can retreat guilt-free when I need to. It's so much better to step back when you need to than to continue exerting yourself. When I choose to go beyond my limits, I almost always regret it, because I'm the one who ultimately suffers for it. I am so much better at my jobs--as wife, mother, church-goer, friend--when I work within my limits.

Introverts, this not-so-secret secret will change your life. Really. Know and accept your limits, and you will be all the happier for it.


the gift of the year

Ladies and gentlemen,

I have arrived.

Yesterday, I drove 30 miles south to test drive a Bernina sewing machine. And then I wrote a check and took this beauty home with me.

I know that it's superficial to place life satisfaction in material things, but I'll confess that in this moment, I feel complete. (Dramatic much, Charlotte?) I told Josh it is his present to me for all the holidays of 2014. All the holidays

So if you can't find me this weekend, you'll know where I am. 
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