Friday, January 30, 2009

At the Risk of Sounding Riske

Recipe for "Ben's Bunches" which B (almost 9 yo) named in honor of Ben Rothlisberger
They are her favorite candy and we will be serving them on Sunday at the Steelers beat those birds. Go Black and Gold!

4 cups krispie rice cereal
2 cups small marshmallows
1 cup peanut butter
1 block almond bark (chocolate is our fave, but the white "chocolate" was in the original recipe.)
1 cup dry roasted peanuts (optional)

Melt the almond bark in the microwave according to package directions, but in a large bowl. After melted, add the peanut butter and stir until blended. Then stir in the remaining ingredients. Drop by spoonful onto waxed paper or spread into a 9x13 pan. Allow to cool. If in a pan, cut into bars.

I do not know the origin of this recipe but we LOVE LOVE LOVE it.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sofa Cushions

I finished the cushions. I am excited, exhausted and in pain. My back aches, my fingers hurt and I think my eyes are crossed. It was worth it. I learned a lot, did something good for my house and tried something new.

I chose to do just the cushions because I was afraid of the work involved. But now I'm thinking I may want to tackle that as well. Thoughts?

Here are the results.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

More DIY Upholstery Tips

You will need many needles. Many. More than one package. And lots of thread.

And bandaids. Don't forget the bandaids.

So You Think You Can Reupholster?

If you ever think about reupholstering any piece of furniture in your possession, here are my tips.

First understand that this is a crazy idea and it will take longer than forty days in the desert. But know that despite the insanity of the idea, its worth giving it a go. Just for the experience, see. Since you already had the crazy idea, it seems clear that the doing of the project will in no way affect your present sanity. Since you have none.

Next you will need more materials than locally and easily available. You will run out of something and will not have the gumption to go get it because you will be covered with thread and sofa innards and will not be publicly presentable. For days.

Therefore, this little project of yours will take far longer than estimated. This makes you on a par with the cable company and the contractor remodeling your kitchen. This is okay. Now you understand their plight. Of course, you will have been working all day and all night in your fabric sweatshop, rather than standing by the side of the road in an orange vest smoking a cigarette and holding a sign while the other construction workers do pretty much the same. But that's for another time.

It helps to have a math major living in your house. This way when you've measured the zippers and the sides and the tops and it still doesn't fit you can have help, and someone to blame and yell at. A nice trait in this math major is kindness; cuteness helps too.

You will need a first aid kit. And lots of bandaids. And a high pain threshold. It is okay if you inadvertently stitch through your finger. Once. Any more than that and it's time to take a break. Maybe a long one. Go get a snack, or a drink, or beat something. Whatever you need to do.

Acrylic nails help with the sewing of the fingers, by the way; much stronger than regular nails.

Patience, grasshopper. You will need infinite amounts of patience. You will need the patience of a mother on a snowday when all the kids are sick, and there is laundry and fighting and dishes and fighting and, well, I think you see where I'm going with this.

When you have rounded up all of these things, put it all in your workspace and ignore it. Usually three or four weeks is long enough for the feeling to pass. If your insanity persists, and your will to work is not yet crushed, then be gentle with yourself. When you get to work, go slowly, breath deeply (remember birthing if you can) sing some good songs and have a pot of tea nearby.

Remember, it was your crazy idea in the first place. The craziest thing would be to actually do it. Pictures coming soon!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Do you Tweet?

I got a Twitter account this summer after reading about it on an airplane. Sounded silly and fun. Turns out, in my little circle, I'm the only one who uses it. (If you don't know what it is, visit twitter here.)

After using it sparsely for a few months, a long lost friend found me on Facebook and then I found her on Twitter. Now I use it daily. It's good for a giggle and some people use it to grow their online businesses. There are many who argue that updating Facebook status reports is challenging enough; these people are the same who think there is nothing they need to report that others need to know.

While I see the point, I can't deny the fun and amazement it gives me. There are people following me who are literally "rock stars" of their industries. Most of the people who see my updates don't know me, never met me wouldn't recognize me if I tweeted them silly. In theory, they should not care that I just had a honeycrisp apple with peanut butter down the center. And maybe they don't.

What is fun for me is the questions it raises about the kind of life we live now: separated, busy, disjointed, technified. It also begs the relational question of what makes one tweeter decide to follow another tweeter. Sometimes there are clues like common interests; other times it seems out of the blue.

More fun is the challenge of writing in 140 words something interesting, informative and maybe even reassuringly cryptic. Again, this brings me back to belonging, community, being a part of something. Don't have any answers, just more to ponder. And you can follow me on twitter, user name jenluit.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

In my life long battle of the growing and shrinking belly, I have done my fair share of workouts. It ebbs and flows with the pace of my life; I've never been a terribly gung-ho gym rat. After training for (and not running in) a 15k in October (thank you dear Ellen), I took some time to well, to sit on my hiney.

The effort to get back on the fit horse is daunting because really, who has the time? After completing the five alarm drill of getting the kids out the door, tidying up the clutter, and prepping for work days, I am barely motivated to stand much less make my legs move quickly and start to sweat.

Also, I'm cheap and I despise the idea of paying for gym membership.

In passing I picked up a booklet that listed all the offerings at the Tulsa County Parks. Less than a mile from my house there is a park center with a fitness center and it is open during reasonable people hours. And it's totally cheap. I bought myself a twenty visit pass and went after it. This will be a fun adventure.

The kind man at the desk said that MWF between 7:30 and 9 are the busiest times. Of course that's when I can go. What he didn't tell me was that this was the blue haired workout club. Yes, I was the youngest gal in the room, by a good three decades.

At first I was nervous and felt a little awkward, what with the lycra and the failure of my ipod to charge. But once I started my elliptical training, (yes, training, this is serious), I could listen to their talk and watch them in the full length of the room mirror. (And what is with those?)

One group of men near me were discussing the Super Bowl. This interests me as I love football and I LOVE the Steelers, who are in the big game this year. They must be coaches or former coaches because they were talking about packages and plays and x's and o's. Another man in his bald later years was actually strutting about with his muscle shirt and weight lifting belt. Then there was the precious woman in her matching pink sweatsuit and blue eyeshadow who came to bless me with "health and abundance." I blurted a thank you to her her through my gasps for air.

Finally, a rather large older man climbed aboard the treadmill near me. He started walking and was barely upright as his forearms rested on the handles. In the supremacy of youth I felt smug and fit and young and vibrant. The smugness wore off.

Walking in there was like entering the gym version of Cheers. They all knew each other so there was this light banter and cheerfulness. I could get used to that. I expected to be the new girl working off her Christmas in her thrown together sweats and coffee breath amid the perky cutie-pies in their matching sets.

I won't be dyeing my hair blue but I think I like this place. The more time I spend writing these posts, the more I am seeing community just about everywhere. Why does that surprise me?

As a side note, if you live in Tulsa, you must go here to check out the fabulous classes being offered around our city this spring.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What I Meant to Say

Since I'm newish to blogging I haven't carved out a mission statement or a theme. I just spill my guts for public consumption. My last post about belonging in an environment where I'm not sure I fit in was posted with naive confidence. I didn't really polish my writing. After I clicked the Publish Post button, I panicked. What did I just do? Were people going to think I was referencing them as the crazy parents? Was I saying I didn't like where my kids went to school? Was I revealing some kind of affluence prejudice? Yowza.

Here's what I really want to say. The majority of the people at my kids' school are fantastic. There are a few crazy loons, but you're gonna find that anywhere. I worried right after I posted that I was betraying the one rule I had set for myself, in sharing info that needn't be shared. The double edged sword of writing: wanting to say something without hurting or opening up a can of confusion and interpretation.

As for the fitting in thing, well, turns out, everyone struggles with that at one time or another. I heard from several readers who feel like outsiders looking in at others' much more glamorous lives. The thing is, once I started developing those friendships, the feeling of not belonging evaporated. Funny that. Its the logical progression. Being in relationship makes the outsider a "belonger."

Okay. That's not all but I'll save it for now.

Walking the Line

My sweet husband is a teacher and coach at a private school. He loves his job and I believe he is exceptional at it. Our three children attend this school and for this reason, I feel like I am daily walking a precarious line. Am I wife, mother or consumer? When is it okay for me to open my rather large mouth, and when do I have to bite my bloody tongue?

Lately this has become a more complex issue for me as I have sincerely begun to grasp adult female friendships and pursue them. This means that I am getting to know my kids' classmates' parents (so possessive I'm sure it's wrong). But I always have at the back of my mind the nagging worry that I will say something I shouldn't, tell someone the wrong bit of info, complain about the wrong homework assignment.

I joined a book club of women whose children are in my husband's class, and while they assure me that they love him and their kids love him, I am not naive enough to think everyone thinks his personality shines like the full moon. In fact, I'm sure that some parents think he's too tough on homework, too serious about uniforms and may not be playing their kid enough in the game.

And then there's the identity issue. I am happy to be affiliated with my husband. But I am not defined by his job, the respect or lack thereof people may have for him. I also am not living and dying by all things child related. So it's great they like him, great that we can get to know each other. But I would like to be known as me.

Finally there is a financial dichotomy. It is a private school; my kids are on financial aid, and I'm fine with that. I am happy, most of the time, with the decisions we have made, and it has been a sacrifice. There are times when I pull into the pick up line and marvel at the brand new latest model sports car or SUV, the designer clothes, the trips to the four corners over long weekends, the private jets. Most of the time, I don't notice, so I suppose there are days and times when I feel particularly susceptible to the financial madness.

I guess it boils down to the notion of belonging. Do I belong at this place where I parse my words and guard my friendships and pray like crazy for my kids? Who is to say I'm the only mommy with belonging issues? My feeling is that we all have the same struggles at home, the same worries and problems. Some of them just look better while they endure.

The one thing that really gets me is I don't feel I have the creative freedom to write about some of the people at the school. Like being the pastor's wife, there are times when you just shut your mouth and move on.

If happiness were a fabric

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

Differing Views

Sitting watching the big Steelers game yesterday (woo hoo, go Steelers), my sister in law asked me if I voted in the presidential elections. Of course I did, I told her. It was a momentous vote for our country. She told me she had become a big McCain fan in the months leading up to the vote, and I told her I had noticed the sticker on her car.

We chatted pleasantly about the election and the country and the inauguration scheduled for tomorrow. I know my entire married-into family is rife with card carrying elephants. And that is just fine with me. I often walk a thin line at family gatherings and have been known to leave the room when everyone around is making assumptions of my agreement. I just don't want to get into it.

During the discussion with my sister in law, I was happy that she let me have my opinions, even though I didn't come right out and "confess" my affiliations. I did tell her that I came to abhor Palin and her inability to string a sentence together. She on the other hand loved her, still loves her and is mad at Katie Couric for her treatment of her.

Which brings me to my point. Over the last year, amid all the vitriol and outrage and opinions, one thing seemed crystal clear to me; I knew who I'd be voting for and why. So if the "right" decision was so clear to me , why did so many in my circle seems to see things so differently.

It's like walking out of a movie laughing to turn and see your friends crying. How can so many people see the same thing in so many different ways.

I'm not suggesting we all think alike and look alike and be alike. I like variety and I like being different. In fact, I said that to my daughter yesterday when we ran into the grocery store for a few Steelers game snacks, with our Steelers jerseys on. She worried that we'd be the only ones in the store with Steelers stuff on. What a funny thing to worry about. But what I think she was saying is she is not always comfortable going against the grain.

It can be a lonely place.

But what I mean is I was surprised that so many I love and care for didn't see things the same way I saw them. We watched the same interviews, read the same reports, looked at the same web sites. And while I thought Couric did just fine interviewing Palin, my family thought she was skewered.

So, I suppose as my friend Kristin writes, variety is a key to community, and disagreements can be handled with grace and compassion. I do so hope that those who feel like "their guy" didn't win can become involved in the process, and be agents of change rather than vocally angry, relishing a perceived disenfranchisement.

I will still have my opinions and I will share them appropriately, and I will be thankful that we live in a place where dissent is not only allowed but a vital part of how we live.

Friday, January 16, 2009

If Loving You Is Wrong...

You know you're a homemaker when this makes your knees buckle and your breath come quickly.

My friend, who shall remained unnamed, just got a new LG washing machine and dryer. She and I are kind of in love with it. It is enormous, and it sings and it has steam and allergiene (whatever that is) and it is fast and quiet and I'm going to start doodling its name on my notebook!

I'll never forget (cue soft music and focus) the first time I laid eyes on this ingenious machine, this homage to domestic bliss, this glorious wonder. I walked into her laundry room as she stood proudly by, smile plastered to her beautiful face. We caressed the machine. We touched all the buttons. We listened to its quiet hum.

She began inviting me over for regular washing dates. Now, I have a washer and a dryer, and they work and they get the job done, and they are right in my very own house. Imagine the convenience. But hers, well, hers are worth a drive across town. I've done three sets of sheets, at the SAME TIME. I've done a huge comforter. I've come to her home with armloads of gross and left with sanitized mountains of clean.

Stepping back into the reality of my own life, my own less than beautiful but utilitarian machines, I am shocked, really, by my envy. When one gets excited about a washing machine, what on earth does that say about one's life?

I'll say it again, if loving that machine is wrong, I don't want to be right.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Things to do in the pickup line.

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The Artifice of Intimacy

Social networking seemed at first to me like its target audience would be the tweens and teens who clatter away, communicating with their flying text fingers instead of their mouths. But since my husband is a teacher, we wanted to see what the younguns were up to on the old internets. We each got Facebook accounts, and we have officially joined the swirling, hyping horde.

And I love it.

I love that my kids' classmates moms are on there and I know what they do when they're not being "moms." I love seeing what former classmates are up to, who's married and who had kids and who moved. It is like a huge online reunion.

Which is also what makes me squirm.

When I accept a friend request, suddenly, someone I haven't seen in ages knows exactly what I'm doing, what I'm thinking and where I'm going. My friend can't imagine anyone would care that she is now shopping for doggie diapers or listening to piano practice. Writing my status updates, on the other hand, are the highlight of my day.

That is until I realize who has access to it. The cute boys I crushed on, the popular girls who loathed me (or vice verse), the friend who fell through the cracks, the drifter no one really knew.

It seems strange to me that items intended for people who know me now are being passed along to people who knew me then. And yes, they are two different people. Same name, different ideas. The mommies I talk to in pickup line want the deets on the new yarn store I checked out. And so do the friends from science class who didn't know I know how to knit.

Does having someone in your friends profile mean they know who you are?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Cloud feet

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What is a Burgh

We left our home church of over 12 years recently, which was sad but necessary for reasons not relevant to this posting. In an exciting twist, some dear friends at that same time were called to plant a church here in Tulsa. It is called the Burgh. A burgh is a fortified community and that is exactly what the Burgh is striving to be.

The newness of it begs the participant to ponder what it means to be in community. Is community simply the people around you or is it something deeper? And for it to be deeper, does it mean the biblical model of shared purse and food and all that? Or can it be something deeper but in the middle between the two?

There are plenty of others out there desiring to live in a community and I think the common thread is "doing life together." Whatever that means. In college, a group of us spent the summer living in community at the beach. It was by turns confrontational, inspirational and frustrating. And I still, after almost 20 years, know and care deeply for some of these people.

My best friend lives in a deliberate community in Pittsburgh, where they moved into a block of deteriorating homes and reclaimed the street for the glory of God. They play together, eat together, and worship together, but not always. And by her accounts, her experience is much like mine. It can be incredibly annoying to have people you know around you all the time. But the benefit of ever present support outweighs the downside.

I am mindful of when our last child was born, at home by design. We had the midwife and her assistant, as well as two dear friends from church. These women came and had a great time, ministering to us the entire time. They took care of our daughters, cooked all our favorite foods, brought me tea as I nursed my son for the first time, even decorated the kitchen to celebrate this new birth. They showed up in the morning to take the kids to school.

It was everything I wanted. A burgh is a group of people with common values fortified by the strength of their faith in each other as well as the blessings of a loving God we serve. Is it easy? No.Does it simply happen? No. Is it worth pursuing?

In a time when text messages are sometimes all that bind us to family and the common dinner is rushed through for the next event, I think we could all use a little genuine community. Facebook and MySpace boast large numbers of participants, chat rooms are always filled with thousands of people. I think they are all looking for the same thing: commonality, friendship, love and support.

What if we could get that with real human contact? What if we didn't have to search the web for friends but they were right were we needed them, whenever we needed them?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Cloud feet

Tomorrow I plan to add the sweetest little booties to my etsy shop. Watch for the new listing and great pics. The following day, Tuesday, look for boys' flannel ninja skull pjs. Can't wait to snap the photos.
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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Fw: Birthday cake

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-----Original Message-----

Date: Sat, 10 Jan 2009 22:40:11
To: <>
Subject: Birthday cake

Happy birthday to my sister in law. Hope she has a great day. The cake looks gorgeous. I hope it tastes good.
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One Minute Writer

If I could hire one person to make my life easier it would be a live-in housekeeper. She would do everything I don't want to do, and I would never walk in the door to a pile of dishes. Actually, what I really need is the wife and mother I am.

Daily writing prompts from the One Minute Writer blog.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Five Things

Another exercise in this week's journey through The Artist's Way is to list five things you would be in an alternate life. Here are my five things:
Rock star
Modern dancer
Pro athlete
Graphic designer

What would you be?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Broken Stone

One of the exercises in the first week of The Artist's Way is to list enemies and friends of one's creative process. I am a rule-abider (as long as I agree with the rule), and so I dutifully did my little exercise in my pretty little brown leather embossed journal.

I had an incredibly hard time coming up with enemies of my creative process, with one glaring exception: my very own little self!

What a discovery. This had never occurred to me before. The only person getting in the way of my artistic discovery is myself. Without a doubt, each person I've ever held dear, each person who has bee the beneficiary of my goodies, each friend, family member, or friendly stranger, has edified my craft.

This is extraordinary. It makes it so much easier to try the things I really want to try. I have been liberated from the thoughts that have become more like feet in concrete than simply passing ideas. Well, I qualify, not so much liberated, but the gates were unlocked.

Now I can make my slow progress across the way to the gate and push my way outside. There is some fear, some defiance, some complacency. But there is a tiny little feeling in the pit of my tummy. I believe it is called joy.

The lesson was to be to put off those people who could not encourage one's artist. What if that person is yourself? If everyone else believes me capable of beauty, then why would I not have that same expectation for myself?

I suppose it can be difficult to erase the tape recorder in my head that says all those mean and nasty things to precious me. But, at least I know it's false and that I am endlessly capable of re recording that loop.

I like this feeling of joy.

Hot cocoa

After school snack with hot cocoa from penzey's. Thanks grandma!
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Saturday, January 3, 2009

Denuding the tree

Time to take Christmas down and put it away for another. I greet this time with less than enthusiasm.

When we put the tree up, and get out all the ornaments and the sweet little decorations we've picked up over the year, we have fun. It is exciting to watch the kids look at their little selves, to remember my own past Christmases, to recall where and when certain items came from.

It sits in the corner over the season, an object of expectation. Gifts pile up underneath, friends come and admire, the lights glitter and flicker with impatience.

Christmas morning arrives, the tree gets less attention. After the initial lighting, the tree stands alone while underneath its limbs, the kids have removed everything for them in little stacks and begin ripping into gifts.

Later that same day, the tree, once such a symbol of promise, even just yesterday, now is obsolete. Of course you can't take the tree down on Christmas day so it stands. And stands, and stands.

The next few days it is still kind of cheery but mostly an wanted guest you're not sure how to get rid of. Finally, you tell yourself you'll take it down. And still it stands. You can't quite summon the energy to take it down. You know it means cleaning, and rearranging and organizing, and really, haven't you done enough of that already?

Down it must come. After the initial complaint of motivation, you quickly get the job done. And slowly you realize you like your house normal, without the tree, without the Santas, and the red and green and the extra stuff. It looks clean, tidy, kept.

I wonder at how fickle we are.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Artist's Way

I was given The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron ten years ago. Over the years it has alternately been a valuable resource and a neglected book on a shelf of neglected books. Something urged me to pick it up again today and I signed the book's contract for another twelve week walk through her interesting course on unblocking the inner artist. I will be recording my thoughts about it in the coming days. Maybe I'll finally get through it this time. The last two times I could not get through the media fast. Must have media. Me likely media.

Super Cool

I think this is so clever. I probably am not close to hip enough to wear them, but check these out!
Boots made from recycled plastic shopping bags.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


I have a dear friend who is living apart from her husband and divorce may be rearing its complicated head. This causes us, her friends, no end of sadness for her, for him, for the thing left between them. Her situation is new to me. I am not a product of divorce or blended families or any of that. So I am learning to navigate this new situation.

As a young and arrogant Christian girl, I always assumed marriage was bliss and divorce was b-a-d. Only people who didn't try got divorced. You just make up your mind to make it good and there you go; if not marital accord then at least some semblance of happiness.

In my post-young adult years, I have come to realize that black and white solutions are best left in the black and white days of youth. Where things are easy and we don't know it yet because we think perfection is on the horizon. Whether from that ideal job, or partner or whatever, we think we're not quite where we want to be.

And then we get there. The beautiful tinge of looking forward turns into the mess of the present, with laundry and garbage, grades, teacher's conferences, bills and slab leaks. The gorgeous life of our dreams, the one we may be living in, is actually only beautiful in memory. It is hard, it is ugly, it ca be a real drag.

Of course this does not in itself mean the death toll for marriage. Most couples find themselves in a pit of despair at least once in their married years. Many climb their way out of the valley and back into the warm sun on the rocks. But for my friend and her husband, the valley has become a permanent residence and their hiking gear was lost along the way.

I don't know all the details and I don't really want to. I remember when I found out that the man who gave the message at my very Christ centered wedding was divorced. I felt stunned. That man had stood up there and talked about how marriage is a journey and you hold hands and tell each other of your love, you work through divorced. I was sad for him, the kids, for me, really. I felt betrayed. How could he do this to me?

I have amended my thoughts on divorce. Well, that's not totally true. I don't know what to think about it. But the expectation of marriage that spouses are to make each other happy is naive and trite. If it were that know how it goes.

Now as I think of all my friends who've had this experience, of divorce, I think more along the most base of humanist responses, "Do what you need to do." I know all the arguments Christians make for staying in a marriage, and I know all the "secular" talk about how it affects kids and all that. My mom once said people make all kinds of compromises in marriage and another couple might find peace in doing something that would make me cringe. And that's okay. I don't really know what is going on in someone else's marriage and I sure as heck don't have any answers. The best I can do is pray and listen and hope. And get out of the way.