Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Social Media Is a Buzz Killer

About once a week I will have the laundry done, folded and put away instead of its usual spot on the back of the couch and about once a week I will prepare a meal that everyone eats without bitching.  About once a week I'll have gotten all my hours in for the bookkeeper I work for, my kids will have remembered their homework every day and there are no poop stains in the toilet needing to be scrubbed out.  This day is usually Thursday but that's beside the point...when all of these things come together I feel pretty awesome.  I serve a homemade dinner that night without any violence in my voice. I get them in bed without threatening to call off Christmas (or birthdays, or Halloween or whatever the closest Holiday is). I walk around the house like freaking June Cleaver calling everyone, "dear."  I am the Queen and this house is my Throne.

And then there's every other day of the week: kids are eating toaster waffles for breakfast while doing last night's homework 30 minutes before school starts, last night's pans are still "soaking" in the sink, I'm screaming while running through the house looking for gloves, "I didn't wear them last! Why don't you take them off and put them IN YOUR BACKPACK FOR THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING HOLY?"

Kids out the door, take a deep breath and a quick check of Facebook.  Oh what is that?  Another picture of you and your perfect kids?  Oh what is that they are eating?  A raw vegetable?  Your husband did what? Another romantic gesture?  Isn't that like 4 this month? Look how cute your family is on that family outing...the last family outing we went on Thing 2 hit Thing 1, Hot Jeff lost his temper and I pouted like a sulky 4 year old.

Facebook, you are totally killing my buzz.

You know what pictures you just never see on Facebook?  I give you Exhibit A:

This was last night's dinner.  Not just any frozen pizza for the  We've got the cheapest, nastiest, fakest meat pizza on the market.  For the adults...a sophisticated Stouffer's grilled chicken and vegetable skillet.  To make it really sexy I served this with it:

When Thing 2 saw this box out she cheered.  Cheered.  For the love...

Here's the thing though, this was a total win for me.  I made this dinner LIKE A BOSS and my family ate happily.  Know why?  Because I baked it and served it with a happy, not stressed out attitude.  I went into this dinner knowing this was a win because we were going to eat and we were going to eat together.  Forget the insane day I had just had, the crap still left to do after the Things go to bed and the day tomorrow that will look just as crazy and non-productive.  I was buzzing.

I didn't get on any social media that night because, quite frankly, I didn't want to see anyone's pictures of their homemade meals made from crap they canned this summer.  That would have totally killed my buzz. 

A dear friend of mine recently took a sabbatical from Facebook. It was a real pain because we had to take to texting to communicate (don't worry, it never got so bad that we had to speak); when I asked her why she got off FB she said she needed a break from all the comparing she found herself doing all day.  She profoundly said, "Everyone puts their best self on Facebook and then I compare that with my worst self--the one I would never put on Facebook, and I just end up feeling terrible about myself."

Social media had totally killed her buzz.  

I don't think Facebook is trying to be a buzz kill.  I think Facebook is just showing off.  No ulterior motives. No intentional one-upping. No watch-this-I-can't-believe-how-much-better-I-am-than-you.  I think Facebook is just putting its best face forward because no one likes to go to the grocery store not wearing any makeup and run into someone they know. I think Facebook is just as impressed as we are that they have a freezer stocked full of freezer meals.  I think Facebook just thinks their kids are awesome and funny, not better than anyone else's, just awesome and funny. Yes, we all know total ass hats who use social media as a way to get the attention they are so desperately seeking because they have daddy issues or mommy issues or I'm-the-center-of-the-universe-issues but I'm feeling buzzed and generous and going out on a limb and saying the majority of Facebook isn't like this.

I'm not pretending to have any solutions for the buzz kill but I think it starts here: "Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ." Romans 8:1

Or here: "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation." 2 Corinthians 5:17

I'm not sure I'm buying the idea that Facebook is evil and trying to break us down one by one so it looks better.  I kind of think we break ourselves down; I think the condemnation starts with us, not someone else's accomplishment, or happy marriage, or really clean house.

So...the next time you're feeding your family a "freezer meal," one you bought not made, don't sweat it! Take the win (you did, after all, remember to make dinner), remember there is NO condemnation and enjoy the buzz until one of your kids throws up on you.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Versatile Blogger Award

What?  Who me?  You're kidding.  This is such an honor.

There you go.  There's my obligatory shocked and humbled response to being nominated as a Versatile Blogger.  Perhaps I would be more shocked or more honored if this nomination didn't come from my Bestie, if my blog was older, than say, a month old or if this was a real nomination for a real award for being awesome.

Don't get me wrong, dearest, sweetest, bestest Mia would have been in a hot pot of water had she not nominated me for this award ( if you're nominated you have to nominate 7 more blogs--which is insanity to me and proof that this is not a real award and just some not-so-sneaky way of trying to get people to read more blogs because if it were a real award with a real red carpet there would be no way people would be adding to the nomination pool.) because I'm her Bestie and I have a blog.  Duh.  And not to spoil anything for anyone but I will, in turn, nominate her right back when I do the nominate-7-blogs-that-changed-your-life thingy at the end.

I don't know who is doing the judging, picking or awarding but I can bet I'm already out of the running just for making fun of the award in the first paragraph.

One of the fun things about this not-a-real-award is that in your "acceptance" (I know) you have to write/confess 7 things about yourself.  Again, I think this is just a not-so-subtle way for bloggers to try and get dirt on other bloggers so they have something to use against them if bloggers ever unite and elect a president.  I'll play along because I was in need of a writing prompt anyway and because Mia is making me.

1) I was not raised to be the bleeding heart Democrat I am today.  In fact, when I threw a big John Kerry nomination party and had all my like minded friends over for 2 Buck Chuck and Lil' Smokies fancy wine and catered hors d' oeuvres my Mom actually said to me, and she was not kidding, "I didn't raise you to be a Democrat."  Its true, she didn't, but she did teach me to think for myself.  I clearly remember watching Bill Clinton accept the 1992 nomination for President and being completely awestruck by his speech.  I was so inspired, "We meet at a special time in history, you and I.  The Cold War is over.  Soviet communism has collapsed and our values--freedom, democracy, individual rights, free enterprise--they have triumphed all over the world.  And yet, just as we have won the Cold War abroad, we are losing the battles for economic opportunity and social justice here at home.  Now that we have changed the world, its time to change America."  That night, in the living room of my mother's house, somewhere in my 16 year old heart the seeds of my political beliefs took hold and I haven't looked back since and to quote one of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott, I am now "an old, yellow dog democrat--which means I'd rather vote for an old, yellow dog than a Republican."

2) I don't eat cold cheese.  The exception to that is that I will eat cold cheese once it has been melted.  For example, cold pizza.  And while we're on the subject of cold pizza--go ahead and throw a turd on it because I freaking love cold pizza and I'll eat it with a turd on it.  I'll eat it cold and straight out of the fridge, I'll eat it cold out of the box after its sat on the counter too long.  I just don't care.  I love me some cold pizza.  Do not, however, ever try serving me crackers with cold cheese on them, a sandwich with cold cheese on it or just a hunk of cold cheese.  Gross.  Throw that crap on some chips and melt it already; that is why God gave us microwaves.  Here's a free one for you: I also don't eat fruit pies.  Fruit pies are just cutting a little too close for my taste to healthy and pies shouldn't be healthy.

3) Country music makes me really nostalgic. There is something so wonderfully depressing about a really good country song.  I was born and raised in Montana where there is no shortage of country music. Coupled with that, as a child, I spent a lot of time with my Mom's brother who was a real-life cowboy who drove a truck, drank beer and rode a horse.  Uncle George listened to the really good stuff: Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Charlie Pride, Conway Twitty...oh be still my heart...George Jones. Now that right there is some country music royalty and there is nothing like one of their songs to get me feeling all melancholy and mournful.  Come on, "He Stopped Loving Her Today" by George Jones.  Stop. Stop right there and get me a kleenex because I'm gonna need it.  Follow it up with some of Willie's, "Always On My Mind" and well, I'm just done.  Done.  I'm remembering some boy who broke my heart in high school and driving to the cabin with Uncle George listening to "Smoky Mountain Rain" by Ronnie Milsap.  Sigh.

4) I haven't been able to write a darn thing.  I started listening to my "Country Croonin'" playlist on Spotify and I'm just sitting here all teary eyed and nostalgic.  For the love.  Alabama's "Forever's As Far As I'll Go"  I think I'm gonna take a break and go make Hot Jeff a mixed tape...

4) I have Type II diabetes.  I was diagnosed in June of 2012.  It didn't come as a huge surprise as I had gestational diabetes with both pregnancies and I have a family history of diabetes.  And while it wasn't a surprise it was a shock.  I think what was even more shocking than the diagnosis was how ashamed I was of it.  At first I only told my very closest family members, Hot Jeff, my Mom, Hot Jeff's parents, Hot Jeff's sister and 2 of my closest friends, Mia & Maryanne.  I was embarrassed as if something I had done or not done had caused the disease.  Their love and support allowed me to open up and be more forthcoming to others. Actually writing it on this blog is a huge step for me because there are still close friends and beloved family members who I haven't shared the news with.  I'm at a place now that I don't want to try and be someone I'm not.  I struggle with my weight.  I have Type II diabetes.  These are 2 separate things but in my mind I haven't been able to separate them until recently and so I was embarrassed and ashamed, feeling if I were "skinny" I wouldn't be diabetic.  Not true.  There are lots of overweight people that don't have diabetes and there are lots of skinny people who do and while weight plays a large part of diabetic care it is neither the cause nor the cure.  I have a person in my life whom, when she found out about my diabetes, tried to make weight the issue. Instead of motivating me to lose weight and live a healthy lifestyle it broke my heart, left me feeling betrayed, ashamed and has taken me months and months of work to get over.  You cannot take a complex disease like diabetes and make it about one risk factor in your life.  Now that I've realized that truth I am no longer ashamed of my disease but actually proud of how I'm defying it.  Most days I'm actually thankful for the diagnosis because it has made me get serious about my health and stop acting and eating like I'm 22.

My doctor is a rock star.  He's my biggest fan and cheerleader and my diabetes is pretty much no big woop (seriously, has it been a decade since you've heard someone say 'no big woop'?).  I had an "incident" this last month where I indulged too much on the sugar treats when the Things and I discovered Gingerbread Oreos and we ate the whole bag in an afternoon.  Other than that I keep my numbers under control by diet, exercise (ok, so exercise is supposed to play a factor) and the smallest dose available of a diabetic medicine called Metformin.  And really, the whole Gingerbread Oreo thing wasn't my fault because seriously, what is in those things?  Cocaine?  Eat them or grind them up and snort them--whatever--just get in my belly.

5) Holy crap.  Am I only on 5?  I either need to shorten these up or make a Part 2.  My friend Traci and I have been best friends since the 4th grade/9 years old.  I'll do the math for you: that is 28 years my friends. 28 years.  Her little brother was 1 when we met and he's all grown up now and has a job and lives in Washington.  Whenever Tommy hits a milestone, Traci and I get all sentimental about how long we've been friends, the passage of time and how normal Tommy turned out after all the crazy-ass stuff we did to him when we were babysitting him.

6) I am not a dog person.  I am, however, freaky about animals being abused or getting hurt and will not watch animal movies for fear that there will be a sad part in them.  News stories and articles in the paper about animals being neglected or such--I stay completely away from them.  That stuff messes me up for days and I can't get it out of my mind.  Back to dogs.  Not a dog person.  Dogs kind of gross me out.  They are all slobbery and always trying to sniff your crotch and...well, I guess I don't have any other reasons but those seem good enough for me.  The exception to this is puppies because oh my heavens how cute are puppies and Casey, my 2 year old Chihuahua-Pomeranian mix (heavy emphasis on the "mix" because we rescued her from the Humane Society and there's no telling how much neighbor dog she has in her pedigree). Casey is named after the famed Oregon State baseball coach, Pat Casey.  If I had my druthers I would have named her Daisy or something else really girly but Hot Jeff said the only way we were keeping her was if he could name her.  I totally should have called his bluff because there was NO WAY he was not going to let us keep her (we got her while he was away on a fishing trip--oops) because the Things and I were so bonkers crazy in love with her but oh well.  She's Casey.

Folks, I'm so nutty about this dog.  She's like a little baby that I can just pack around and snuggle all the time.  I'm her favorite of the 4 of us and she follows me around and always sits by me.  She sleeps with Hot Jeff and me (of course she does) and sometimes I go all ugly cry just thinking about her getting old and dying. I finally understand why people are so weird about their dogs and now I find myself pinning random pictures of cute dogs (mostly puppies) on Pinterest.  The Things have totally stopped asking me if I like her better than them because they just know I am going to say 'yes' without even BATTING AN EYE.

7) Oh my gosh, for a girl who couldn't think of anything to write I am now at a point I don't know which of my things to write about and which ones to leave for another blog post.  You already know I invented Elf on the Shelf... I'll tell you about how I got "saved" as a kid only to really fall in love with Jesus many, many years later.

When I was 9 my Mom came to know Christ as her Savior and our lives completely changed (I'm understating but you get the idea).  We started attending a Southern Baptist Church where the Pastor preached fire and brimstone.  Grace wasn't a part of the equation, any equation, and you got "saved" by walking the aisle during an alter call and asking Jesus to forgive your sins, all your many, many sins.  Getting "saved" was simply that: saved from hell.  So one Sunday after church I asked Pastor Willis if he would pray with me so that I could ask Jesus into my heart so that if I died I wouldn't go to hell.  Fear.  Fear drove me right into the arms of Jesus.

I have no doubt whatsoever that Jesus did save me that day and I have no doubt that had I walked out that door and been run over by a bus I would have gone to Heaven.  Here's the deal though, I'm so glad I didn't because I would have gone to Heaven that day and met Jesus thinking He was only big enough to save me from Hell.  I would have never been able to get to know Him like I do now; I wouldn't be in love with Him like I am now.  Now I know He's big enough to transform.  He's big enough to heal.  He's big enough to make Himself small and come to earth to walk among us.  He's so much more than a Savior from Hell.

Jesus isn't only my Savior; He's my Redeemer.  He has taken this life of mine and redeemed it for His glory. He has made me new, not just Christian talk new but like NEW!  I have new purpose, new desires and yes, a new destiny but Jesus didn't just save me from Hell, He purposed me for Heaven.

I'm no where near close to having it all together.  I am such a work in progress and I have to much to learn about how to love and live like Jesus.  Its getting late and I'm starting to jumble my words so I'll leave it with this: there is this great song by Casting Crowns and it sums up how Jesus has changed my life and how He's changing my heart to look like more like His.

Jesus Friend of sinners we have strayed so far away
We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to
Jesus friend of sinners the truth's become so hard to see
The world is on their way to You but they're tripping over me
Always looking around but never looking up I'm so double minded
A plank eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided
Oh Jesus friend of sinners
Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus friend of sinners break our hearts for what breaks yours
Jesus friend of sinners the one who's writing in the sand
Make the righteous turn away and the stones fall from their hands
Help us to remember we are all the least of thieves
Let the memory of Your mercy bring your people to their knees
Nobody knows what we're for only what we're against when we
judge the wounded
What if we put down our signs crossed over the lines and love like
You did
Oh Jesus friend of sinners
Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus friend of sinners break our hearts for what breaks yours

Ok, now you've read my 7 facts.  Well I'm assuming you read my 7 facts but I'm sure there's a very good chance you got bored after 1 and have now just scrolled to the bottom to see who I'm nominating as my 7 favorite blogs.  Here's the truth though, in order to do that I fee like I need to provide links and that just takes so much effort and Hot Jeff is sitting here looking at me with dreamy eyes and wanting to watch "How I Met Your Mother" and friends, that's just not something I can turn down.  So check back later and I'll list my all time, life changing, favorite read blogs (eye roll).

Friday, December 6, 2013

Buddy the Elf

And now boys and girls I will tell you the untold story of how all this "Elf on the Shelf" business started.  I'll wait while you get yourself some hot cocoa, slippers and a cozy blanket.  Feel free to make a crackling fire;  I've got time.

You see, Elf on the Shelf, as it is known now, actually began in the 1960's although he wasn't called that at the time.  Yet, Santa's helper, who found a new spot to observe and listen and then report back to Santa began way back when my Mom was a girl and my Grama brought this sweet little guy home.

Back then he wasn't that exciting; he was pretty much just a Christmas ornament who came out after Thanksgiving and got put away after Christmas without any fanfare. Later when my Mom grew up and she had me a little magic began to happen around Christmas.  The Christmas Elf began to move around a bit; he began reporting back to Santa at night what he had seen. Of course, what he reported to Santa was that he saw a perfect angel who was never naughty and should get the Barbie convertible she had been dreaming about.  Of course. The next morning he would be back in our tree but in a new spot or cockeyed position.

When I moved to Oregon Mom thought it fitting that The Elf come West with me.  He found himself in our Christmas tree perched next to gold bulbs and shimmery cream ribbon.  Every Christmas he began hounding us like everyone else in our lives about when we were going to have a baby and we would shut him up with egg nog and candy canes.  Little did I know that The Christmas Elf had been waiting 2 generations for his full potential to come out.

Thanksgiving 2006.  Thing 1 was 7 months old and we were all unaware of what that evening would bring. We celebrated at my sister in law's and came home early that evening.  When we came in everything looked as it did when we left: the cat sitting by the window, a few dishes in the sink and Thing 1's blocks strewn about.  I walked past the dining room and what did my eyes behold?  Why there on the table were Christmas jammies in Thing 1's size and The Christmas Elf was hanging upside down from the chandelier.

As the years passed every Thanksgiving night Thing 1 (and later Thing 2) would find Christmas jammies on the dining room table with The Christmas Elf hanging upside down from the chandelier.  It was a Christmas miracle.

The Things decided to name him Buddy and each year he became more and more entrenched in our Christmas traditions.  He delivered the Things' letters to Santa, he took selfies of himself with the Things while they slept and he was always getting into the Christmas cookies.  The Things described him well when they said he was "mischievous."

Word started to get out about a Christmas Elf who came to life at nighttime and either visited Santa at the North Pole or put toothpaste on all the toiled seats. Soon a copycat "Elf on the Shelf" was being sold at every department store in America.  By 2011, Pinterest (oh yes, Pinterest again) was covered in pictures of elves getting into trouble and delighting children.  Guess who hasn't made a dime off of "Elf on the Shelf?" That's right--Buddy.  Guess who hasn't gotten famous?  That's right--Buddy.  Buddy Henderson is the most unfamous Christmas Elf you have never heard of until now.  He is a trail blazer.  He is the Steve Jobs of Christmas Elves.  He is the original.

And now you know how it all began.  Some other time I will write about how when I was in the 4th grade I coined the phrase "Cool Dude" only to have it stolen by the Cheetos Cheetah.  Stupid Cheetah.

Buddy happens to be a wicked smart card player.
No matter what came on 4th street or the river
 he had Buzz beat with his pocket aces.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Pinterest Moms

My Mom just got back from spending Thanksgiving with my cousin and her family in North Carolina. She had a wonderful time and I loved listening to her recount all the special and funny times on our way home from the airport. Traci, my cousin, is way crafty. She makes homemade decorations, homemade food...she home schools. There's nothing to do with home-hominess that she can't do. My Mom, who is just like me, was dazzled by all of Traci's homemade wonderfulness. It was DIY shock and awe. While there, she sent me no fewer than 4 texts showing me all the crafty goodness--snowmen made from empty coffee creamer bottles and Christmas trees made from twine.

Traci is a Pinterest Mom. She pins delicious recipes and then actually makes them. She grows vegetables in a square foot garden and her children eat them. She has a Christmas village made solely out of gingerbread. We all know Pinterest Moms don't we? I know several. Thing 2's Kindergarten teacher happens to be a Pinterest Mom. When you walk into her classroom you immediately want to be 5 again just so she can be your Kindergarten teacher. (Consequently, I think a prerequisite for being a Kindergarten teacher should be that you are a Pinterest Mom. Can you imagine a non-Pinterest mom teaching Kindergarten? "Please have your parents collect empty toilet paper rolls so we have enough to do a project that will never happen.")

Pinterest Moms are the ones whose children have piggy banks made from empty 2 liter soda bottles. Pinterest Moms make adorable bracelets from shoe laces and braided headbands from t-shirts. Pinterest Moms have entire closets devoted to mod podge. Burlap, wood pallets, and hot glue are to the Pinterest Mom what a matchbox, a bobby pin and duct tape are to Macgyver. Pinterest Moms use the word "upcycle."

Non-Pinterest Moms support their schools by collecting Box Tops (10 cents at a time, baby). Non-Pinterest Moms save shoe laces to make bracelets but then they lose them in their disorganized closet. Non-Pinterest Moms have Pinterest boards devoted to hot actors who could play Christian Grey. Non-Pinterest Moms use the word "Digiorno."

Know what else Pinterest Moms do?  They don't ever wish to be a Non-Pinterest Mom.  Know why? Because Pinterest Moms rock it.  Who doesn't want to be a Pinterest Mom?  Its totally unfair I tell you. Non-Pinterest Moms never say things like, "I stayed up too late playing Mario Kart."  Non-Pinterest Moms...yep, that's totally why they are tired in the mornings.  That or they stayed up pinning things they will never make.  Non-Pinterest Moms love Pinterest too--its a source of hope.  Its a shining beacon on a far away beach keeping the dream alive that they too will someday have an entire backyard lit by hanging mason jar lights.

Here's what I love about Non-Pinterest Moms: every now and then they put the Wii remote down and knock out a Pinterest project/meal.  And man when they do, look out Facebook because you're gonna see some pictures of that baby.

*Freaking Pinterest Moms...
who puts adorable bows on their
homemade bird feeders?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Welcome to Pinecones and Peanut Butter...

My Besties and I have been trying to come up with a name for my new blog for about a week now, ever since I decided to bite down, rip off the bandaid and start a new blog.  Fresh. Clean.  No dead Grama stories.  No messing with "Sorry I haven't written in a year." Tabulas Novas.

Last night Thing 1 was sleeping with us due to a belly ache and at about 3:00am he woke moaning and groaning and carrying on.  I covered him back up, soothed him with a tender whisper and tried to go back to sleep.  Sleep didn't come and BAM, out of the blue, clear sky 4 words came into my head: "Pinecones and Peanut Butter."

When my journey into motherhood began I truly believed I would be this organized, crafty, long-suffering type of Mommy.  I would be patient, never say "dammit", follow routines and always serve vegetables.  It was like I believed pushing a human out of my vagina would completely alter my personality.  So one day when Thing 1 and Thing 2 were about 2 and 4 I decided we would have a craft time of making bird feeders (WTH, right?).  I had saved some pinecones from Christmas and we would swather them in peanut butter and sprinkle seeds on them and it would be fun and educational and they would remember this day fondly for years to come with music playing in their head when they did. That's not what happened.  What I had planned to be a totally fun craft turned into 15 minutes that nearly pushed me over the edge in to full blown alcoholism.  Peanut butter was everywhere but the pinecones, bird seed was being eaten by the Things and I wasn't having any fun.  Pushing the Things out of my vagina had not changed my personality and I still didn't enjoy crafts.  I certainly didn't enjoy them with kids.

Fast forward to a few years later.  Thing 1 is 7 and Thing 2 will be 6 in February and we haven't tried a craft since that day without me having a shot of tequila first.  Crafts aren't me.  I'm creative but not when it comes to felt and popsicle sticks.  Most of all, I've accepted this (so have the Things) and we're happy.  I'm sarcastic and crass and they are turning into little Mini-Me's who make me laugh all the time.

Pinecones and Peanut Butter is my fresh start.  My reminder that motherhood to me doesn't have to look (or sound) like motherhood to others.  Writing this blog, loving Hot Jeff, (husband and co-creator of the Things), parenting, living life, loving Jesus is MY journey.  If you don't like messy me, that's ok, you can stop reading right now.  I won't take it personal and we can still be friends.  However, if you want to read my musings of real life, messy faith, debilitating depression and screwing up my kids on a daily basis then welcome to the ride.  Keep coming back.  I'll read your comments, I'll keep writing and we'll figure it out as we go.  We'll be real, we'll be kind and we'll try to honor Jesus even if we say "shit" now and then.

That's how we roll.