you don't need a trail to feel the magic

last september i wrote a post about trail magic.  in it i spoke about how even though we were struggling with a job loss and worried about finances - my husband and i found peace and refound each other on the trail.

since then he's gotten a new job - and lost that one too.  we did manage a hike or 2 since november to just chill out and reconnect...but then the snow came...........and it stayed.  forcing us to forgo the trails and search for another place to find magic.

and we did - at the movie theatre

my husband and i aren't sitcom people - or 1 hour drama people.  we couldn't tell you the latest shows on primetime tv or recognize any recent tv star.  its movies we love....and especially going to see them in theatres.   since having kids we don't go as often alone as we'd like....instead now that they are older we go see more family movies.  that is fine and can be fun - but what we miss is being able to see the R rated ones.


a couple weeks ago my husband suggested we blow off the day's "to do" list and sneak to the movies while the boys were in school.  we did and it was great!  very few people in the theatre - food all to ourselves - and when it was over - we picked up the boys and we finished off the rest of the day with them - happy, relaxed and rejuvenated.

last week - giddy with anticipation - we did it again. 

even though i'd love to make this a weekly event - or even bimonthy...i don't really forsee it happening.  since we planning on starting up our business with no income coming into our household.......let's just say money will be quite tight!  but that's ok - b/c soon enough the snow will have melted and the trails will be clear...and biking is free...

and so is the magic - regardless of where you find it


4 things you cannot recover

i've pretty successfully gotten rid of junk emails.  occasionally one or two will slip through but nothing too bothersome.  once in awhile i'll get a joke or story forwarded to me from a friend or family member.  i used to just delete them but now i'll give them a glance to see if i catches my attention.

this morning i received one of those "life lesson" type stories and it was short enough that my glance over it actually covered the whole story.  i had heard it before - the one about the lady who takes out a package of cookies and starts eating it - and the man next to her starts eating them too.  the lady becomes increasingly more frustrated b/c this stranger is just eating her cookies without asking.  cookies finished she gets on her plane and goes through her purse only to find her cookies in there.  she then realizes it was the man's cookies SHE was eating and not once did the man complain......corny yes but a nice little lesson.

it was what followed the story that grabbed my attention.

4 things you cannot recover:

the stone...............
              after the throw

the word...............
              after its said

the occasion.........
              after the loss

the time................
             after its gone

its funny how you have principles you try to follow in your life - and even try to teach to others.  you live and preach them daily until they are a part of your everyday routine.  but then you'll see them printed somewhere or hear them spoken by someone else - and they make a huge impact all over again.


the powerful emotion of home movies

i am not very good at pulling out the movie camera.  its the last thing i think of grabbing when i go to an event.  i have taken some movies over the years - but they sit in a box b/c i don't know what to do with them.  the movies were recorded on those outdated tiny vhs tapes that need to placed into a regular sized vhs tape contraption thingy in order to watch.  i'm not techy by any means so i have no idea how to convert them to anything else.  my current camera takes short video too but i tend to delete them b/c i can figure out what to do with them or even to upload them correctly.  it didn't really bother me b/c home movies aren't really a big deal to me.  its photographs that i gravitate towards - thinking they are the perfect way to capture the past........

that is - until this morning

my mother showed us a home movie from 1976.  she had just gotten it transferred to dvd.  my grandmother had come to visit from italy.  all of my aunts, uncles and cousins were over for a celebration at my childhood home. 

i was eager to watch it - wanting to see how i was at 8 years old and how everyone looked 34 years ago.  however, i truly wasn't prepared for the powerful emotion i felt as i watched it.  there i was - an 8 year old girl - laughing and being silly with my brother.  my parents were so young and fashionable!  even hip!  my father was very handsome and charismatic.  so young and charming.  my mother was a young mom in her 30s..thin, hard-working, put together.....  my now deceased uncles - alive! laughing! their names still come up quite often - in stories and other memories about them.  we see them in pictures and remember how they were......

but the movies - seeing them talking and moving and breathing...........living! 

when i think about my childhood i don't seem to remember the happy times.  once in awhile a memory will surface that makes me smile....but generally my feelings about my childhood are..well...neutral.  but seeing these movies - seeing my childhood self happy and playing......seeing my cousins hamming it up for the camera.......seeing the women working together - cooking, serving, tending to needs, zombies......and seeing the men - the kings! being waited on hand and foot - arms around each other - smoking - proud to be men and rulers of the roost......seeing all this was extremely powerful. 

what a gift - the gift of home movies.  i need to remember this and pull out my movie camera more often.  for my children and my children's children.  yes a picture can capture a moment - but a movie, a movie captures a life

(there is still time to join the Easter/spring swap!!)


spring/Easter swap! come join in the fun!

with talk of more snow tomorrow i am desperate for some signs of spring.  everything is so brown and gray and white around here its beyond depressing!  but spring is right around the corner - and so is Easter.  i thought it would be fun to host a swap for homemade items for either spring or Easter!  if you want to join either respond here or email me directly.  since i'm online only once a day during Lent i may be slow to get back to you - but don't worry i will! i also want to make it more personal.  so here is what i propose:

1 - you can choose whether you want to be in a general spring swap, a strictly Easter swap (religious theme), or an Easter basket swap (items for an Easter basket). once you sign up i'll send a questionaire for you to fill out.

2 - i will match up partners based on number of children and what type of swap you want to be included in.  if you really don't care which one then please let me know b/c my guess is that it is unlikely i'd get an even of participants in each swap!  

3 - then you are responsible for mailing your swap to your partner by March 26th!

please spread the word too!!!  sign ups close March 3rd!!

(edited to add:  please send me an email directly b/c i am having a hard time responding to comments here!  my email address is mcmrymoon@comcast.net)


a hodge podge of things

first off happy birthday to my sil!!  i know it looks like its my nephew's birthday b/c he is blowing out the candles but what you don't is that if he doesn't get to blow out the candle he completely falls apart and will throw himself on the floor and just lose it.  it is the funniest thing to watch - and i will admit we (well actually me) will sometimes not let him get the first blow just so we can see him do it.  horrible no?  yes but how much longer will he actually do it?  so why not enjoy those moments while we can.  but my sil didn't want to see her son freak out again (imagine that) and she let him blow out her candles........

my son had his blue and gold banguet and officially earned his tiger cub badge.

and finally we are taking a huge leap of faith - filled with hope for the future and ensconced in love......ok corny but its true.  with my husband being laid off twice within a 12 month period - and no jobs in site - we have decided to take matters into our own hands and go into business for ourselves.  we are going to buy a franchise.  we have it narrowed down to 3 and hopefully we will make a decision within the next 2 weeks and get started!  we are very excited and nervous too...but we are optimistic.  i am so proud of him.  and he is leaving for a week long mission trip too!!! so good for the soul!!  i know there will be rough times - probably many rough times - but we have a strong support system around us and a large pool of wise entrepreneurs at our disposal (almost every male in my family and extended family has started his own business).  it feels good and it feels right. 


Third - discoveries!

well - so far i've made the following discoveries......

1 - a nice cup of strong black tea w/cream makes a very nice substitute for your morning coffee

2 - if you only log online once a day - you tend to not miss the computer during the offline times

3 - facebook?  what's that? (don't even miss it)

4 - the house is cleaner...........without the computer on

5 - you can make, craft, cook, bake a lot of things.........without the computer on

6 - provide healthy snacks (even for a chips loving husband) and they'll eat it

not bad for 6 days in........


Second - temptations

surprisingly they haven't been too bad.  but then its only been 4 days.  there are still 36 more to go.  actually 43 days left.  i just found out that there are actually 47 days in Lent but only 40 "fasting" days. can you imagine being a catholic for 30 years - going to catholic school for 12 years - teaching catholic school for 3 years - AND NEVER LEARNING THAT??? i find that insane!  oh i remember as a kid saying we didn't have to give up whatever we gave up on sundays.  i never knew why - i thought it was some rule some kid made b/c he wanted to eat candy on sunday!  anyway - i find that fascinating.

went to a diner today.......and brought my own tea.  that one hurt a little.  how can you go to a diner and NOT order coffee??? but i did it.

my niece gave up soda.  she is 5.  she had soda the very next day.  that made me smile - i love the enthusiasm of kids - their willingness to just do anything and not look back if they "fail".  why do we forget that as we become adults?


i heart snow!!

actually i don't
but maybe if i say it enough
i'll think that i do
then i won't mind the massive amounts we still have all around us
just waiting for it to melt

we made a few birdfeeders this morning out of grapefruit halves filled with peanut butter and seeds. i need to get some corn for the wild turkeys too.  you know its pretty bad for them when they have to come onto our porch and peck at the regular birdfeeders for food.  i should set some out for them in the shape of a heart.  i think they need a reminder too.


parenting for others

i have never quoted scripture before - mainly b/c i have never had to memorize scripture and the only time i read it is during mass.  this was yesterday's Ash Wednesday Gospel reading

Matthew 6: 16-21
"and whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting.  Truly i tell you, they have received their reward.  but when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret: and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 

"do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.  for where your treaure is, there your heart will be also."

while i believe the message of the reading can be applied to many areas of our life - what i thought about immediately after reading the first paragraph was the people i run into day to day who parent loudly - you know the ones....you are in a group of families and suddenly hear a voice above all the others disciplining their child.

"no you can't have that - do you think we are made of money?"

"i told you you can't do that and that's that!"

"i said stop right now and i am the boss!"

usually there is uncomfortable laughter (i don't know about you but i always feel like i have to laugh at something i am appalled at - like a racist comment or loud parenting.  its like i don't want to offend the person who is being offensive!), sideway glances, subtle movements away from the "scene".  i feel horrible for the child.  i am not suggesting that children don't need some "gentle reminders" (lol) now and again in public - but what they don't need is to be humiliated in front of everyone.  i don't want to be treated like that!  but nonetheless - it happens. 

this can also happen with praising loudly too.  there may not be uncomfortable laughter or sidewards glances - but you might find some eye rolls!  of course - i doubt many people object to being praised in front of people....but i can imagine it can be uncomfortable for some.

so what is the message when parenting loudly?  does the praise mean less to the recipient when its put on display for all to hear? do wounds cut deeper when they are not private? my guess is yes - absolutely.  what is the parent's goal in being so loud??? are they masking their own insecurities?  maybe they are thinking the following:  if my child is acting horribly - is this a reflection on me - oh no its not and i'm going to let everyone know that i don't approve!-or-if my child is so wonderful - THIS must be because of me - so i am letting everyone know!

really what can you do when you find yourself in this situation?  not much really - except hopefully realize tht that isn't the best thing to do and avoid it doing it yourself.  some of the best experiences are ones that show you what you DON'T want to do!  nothing good comes out of parenting loudly.

take the time to think of all wonderful things that could happen if everyone stopped trying to put on a show for others to see. 

head on over to the heart's campaign to get info about sending in your blankets!


First - the give ups.......

oh well now where this picture yesterday?  this was my mardi gras mask from last year.  not very flattering on the nose....and kinda freaky overall......but nonetheless it would have worked perfectly for fat tuesday. 

ok - so part of the 40 days and 40 nites of change are the give ups.  its neat to hear what everyone is planning on giving up - what they consider such an addiction that they want it out of their lives - at least for a little while.  every year my brother gives up practically everything - booze, junk food, chocolate - you name it.  he says its all the "fun" stuff we eat.  he makes up these crazy rules too - like he can't have a granola bar b/c its too much like a treat - but he'll eat banana bread b/c its fruit and bread..........he loses a ton of weight too.  of course come Easter he adds it all back into his system.  its fun to watch.  

so this year there are a few of us on the "hefty" side so we are having a contest....sorta like the biggest loser...actually just like the biggest loser.  everyone puts in $10 and the person who loses the most weight percentage wins it all.  see - Lent can be fun!

my give ups are as follows: 
no coffee - oy vey this is the hardest for me - hands down
no soda - i'm not a soda person in general but lately i've been drinking it a lot!
no cakes or cookies or chips or pretzels or anything junky like that.
oh and the computer.....once a day and that is it.  of course i can't put a time limit on it b/c some days i have a lot to do on it) - but once i shut it down - it is shut down for the nite.

for most people this isn't hard.  for others its too extreme.  but i need to be this strict so i can feel a temptation - some discomfort and longing and work through it.  lately i am all ID driven...if i want it i eat it.  i want to rewire that part of my brain.  i love food and trying new tastes and flavors...but lately i'm loving the bad stuff.  i want to love the good stuff again.

my husband is giving up similar stuff.  the boys are even getting in on it (my oldest is giving up cake).  the youngest is limiting his computer/video time.
so that is part one.  so far so good. 

but then its only day 1

......out of 40

what i was thinking with that pic?  :-)

check back tomorrow for an update on hearts for haiti!  its time to send the blankets!!!


Fat Tuesday! Fastnacht Day! Mardi Gras!

if you celebrate and however you celebrate - its a time to have fun!!! i took a great picture of my son with a HUGE white powdery donut smile with my cell phone this morning and i have no idea how to download it.  i left my camera at my parent's house last nite...........sigh.....so i am picking a random pic from my harddrive to post........

i guess it'll work....its kinda mardi gras-ish..ok maybe not - but at least its colorful.

anyway - there is so much excitement over here - tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent - and we have a huge competition starting...

40 days and 40 nites of change!!!

in the spirit of Lent - it is time to spring clean our bodies, minds and souls.  we are giving up stuff, making postive changes in our lives, pushing ourselves to the limit.  we are seeing what we are made of.  we will be feeling discomfort, wanting to give up - but we will push through it and succeed. 

there are a bunch of us involved - some things we are doing together.  other things are being added on by different individuals...........

i'm not going to spend every day talking about our progress - but i will keep you posted once in awhile.


preparing for Lent: part 2

i stumbled upon this PDF while googling Lent.  beautiful words that shouldn't be limited just to the season of Lent.....

Lent should be more than a time of fasting. It should be a joyous season of feasting. Lent is a time to fast from certain things and to feast on others. It is a season in which we should:

Fast from judging others; feast on the Christ dwelling in them.

Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on the unity of all life.

Fast from thought of illness; feast on the healing power of God.

Fast from words that pollute; feast on the phrases that purify.

Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.

Fast from anger; feast on patience.

Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.

Fast from worry; feast on hope.

Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.

Fast from negatives; feast on affirmatives.

Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.

Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.

Fast from discouragement; feast on hope.

Fast from suspicion; feast on truth.

Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire

another website calls the season of Lent simply, a time to examine ourselves carefully
so, from what i gather its a spring cleaning for our soul.  i really never thought of it that way and i like that idea.  perfect time of the year for it too.  its the time to look inward - see what is working and what is not - and make the changes necessary to be the person you want to be and are meant to be.  what i think is helpful about doing that type of soul searching is that you can do it along side Jesus - meaning if you need a mentor and guide...you can follow His journey, His struggles and temptations and periods of self doubt and find strength in His success.  with that type of support - you can then embark upon your own journey and revel in your own success. 


preparing for Lent - part one

i was raised roman catholic.

i went to catholic elementary and high school.

i got my teaching certification from a catholic college.
i taught in a catholic school.

do i consider myself religious?  no

i am now a lutheran and my children go to public school.  we don't pray before meals or even before bed.  i was amazed when my son recited the Our Father during mass b/c i never taught him it.  i teach high school sunday school - but i'd hardly call it teaching.  i'm lucky if 2 kids show up and we just sit and talk.  my boys go to sunday school - but not regularly.  they are there to receive their sacraments - but i think its mainly to satisfy my catholic parents.  the other day my oldest son told me he didn't believe there really was an adam and an eve that started civilization.  i told him he was right. 

i teach my boys to respect differences and to help others.

i believe in sitting quietly and looking inward for answers.

i think a lot of problems can be solved by simply being nice.

do i consider myself spiritual? yes

but i will admit - i really miss the "religious" part of holy days.  i have very fond memories of all the rituals and excitement leading up to Christmas and Easter.  don't get me wrong - at the time it was a nitemare - weekly mass, confession, incense so thick you thought you'd faint (and often pretended to just so you could leave mass and go outside), constant prayers and endless songs, and so much kneeling!!

but when Christmas came - it meant something. 

and so did Easter.

and honestly i miss that.

Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent.    Lent starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter.  Lent runs for 40 days.  it is that long to symbolize the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness before he began his public ministry.  during that time Jesus prayed and fasted and was tempted by Satan. 

i remember Lent being a time to give up something.  it was like the opposite of a new year's resolution.  on new years day you came up with a list of stuff you were going to do - like work out and eat right.  during Lent you gave up stuff - like candy and soda.    what they do have in common though is that they are both usually broken after a couple of weeks.  i remember not eating meat on friday and stations of the cross every thursday.

as i got older i didnt like the idea of giving up something.  i became a vegetarian so giving up meat was hardly a sacrifice.  so i decided i would DO something good instead during those 40 days.  but lets face it - i'm really a good person anyway - so that didn't work either.  i found myself searching for the meaning of Lent.

and that is where i still find myself searching for what Lent means to me.  i've been thinking about this for a couple weeks now.  i figure i have 2 more days to figure it out..................



turn an old kid's t-shirt into a dog shirt!

this is our yorkie-poo.  he is about 13 years old and missing a LOT of the hair on his body.  its such a shame too b/c his face and legs are still nice and fluffy.  poor guy looks like a total mess.

i really want him to try and keep his core warm b/c its cold both inside and outside our home!  but i didn't want to spend $20 or more dollars on something i wasn't even sure he'd keep on (he can be quite finicky in his old age) so i found an old t-shirt of my sons and played around with cutting and sewing........


and now our dear old morty has a new shirt to wear!  he even looks like he is pleased with it!

i kept taking it on and off making adjustments.  i cut out a section underneath for his little peepee.  the next one i make will be alittle longer on his back.  i must warn you though - they are quite addicting to make.  he may just have a new wardrobe by the end of the weekend!


a proper birthday and homemade fire starters

well we did it.  last nite the boys and i got the belated birthday celebration ready for this morning.  we made a photo book, a banner and cards....

plus we made some brownies from martha stewart's baking book and honestly - blech..........but still we made them from scratch

they got up early, snuck downstairs and brought up breakfast in bed

the boys had fun and daddy was very happy.

now in keeping with my desire to make products i normally buy - i made some firestarters for our fireplace.  we just ran out of a box of stick things we had and i didn't want to burn tons of paper since our fireplace is double sides and the ashes are a nitemare..........so i googled and found some that were easy to make and didn't require me to go and buy anything! 

what you need:
cardboard egg cartons
old candles (or any old wax you have)
dryer lint
some household string

very simply stuff the egg carton with lint
melt the candles in a double boiler

pour the wax into the carton
i cut some string into about 3 inch pieces and just kinda squished them in there.

when they are cooled just break them apart!
each one should burn for 6 minutes and can be used for camping or your fireplace

i have been trying to find a good mold/mildew cleaner and all purpose cleaner and hope to have something soon!


i don't even know where to start!

what a crazy couple of days!  we had a major snow storm last week - and another one yesterday....so we are a bit nuts trying to dig out and stay sane around here.

don't get me wrong - the snow looks beautiful when you are looking at it through a picture window

but its not so pretty when your plow gets stuck, the tractor can't make it up the hill, and a neighbor's tree falls onto your property and blocks your driveway - further hindering the snow cleaning.

but with the help of a cousin and my mom (who at 62 really shouldn't have to help!!) - we shoveled the driveway enough for the tractor to make it up to our house.  unfortunately the truck is still stuck.......... 

with the driveway cleared and the sun shining brightly - we finally had a chance to enjoy the snow.

we made a snowman

and created some snow art w/food coloring filled bottles (what i didn't take a picture of was the butt and penis my youngest son painted on our snowman LOL)

we even took a mini-hike down the driveway to see the stream completely filled in with snow - and gather some much needed twigs for our fireplace

if you notice - most of my outdoor pics are of my youngest son - that is b/c out of my 2 boys - he is the one who likes to hang with me outside and actually DO things...the oldest - not so much.  he bailed within 30 minutes...

but sadly - what got completely overshadowed by the blizzard
was my hubby's birthday

there was no birthday cake (he desperately wanted to eat it the nite before - so we did)
no singing happy birthday
no decorations, or cards or presents......
no favorite dinner

and he didn't complain about that at all

but that is going to change today. 

he was able to pick up some hours of work so he'll be gone all day and most of the evening.  so while he's gone we will decorate
and make some cards
and make a present of some sort........
and find some type of cake to make that only requires one stick of butter.......b/c that is all i have......

then tomorrow we'll make his favorite dinner
and sing happy birthday

b/c he is great husband, dad, uncle, brother-in-law, brother, son and cousin to many
and he deserves a special day


stained glass heart banner

i needed a quick craft to do to add some valentine cheer to our home.  this one was easy and fun to do.

grab some crayons and sharpen them over wax paper

cover with another sheet of wax paper.  carefully place them between larger pieces of paper to catch the wax in case it oozes out the edges.

carefully iron the paper.  if you run the iron along the paper you will smear the colors together.  if you lightly press up and down you'll melt the colors but they will stay mostly individualized.

cut out heart shapes once the wax paper has cooled.

punch a hole in the tops and string them on some yarn.  we hung our largest one in the middle - then on either side we strung our hearts from largest to smallest.

easy peasy and beautiful!


homemade cleaning products......................laundry detergent

having a green household is important to me. i've managed to either completely eliminate some cleaning products (like bleach and fabric softener) or replace others with natural alternatives.  now my goal is to take it one step further and make all (or at least as many as i realistically can) of my own products.  i do use baking soda and vinegar, dr bronners and microfiber clothes for most of my cleaning - but there are 2 specific products i always buy that i am wanting to try and make....dishwasher tablets and laundry detergent. 

yesterday i made my first batch of laundry detergent and it was super easy.  this time around it cost me next to nothing b/c i already had the soap and washing soda.

1/2 cup borax
1/2 cup washing soda
1 bar soap (i used fels naptha. but you can use any pure soap like ivory)

    first grate the bar of soap

next add the borax and washing soda

finally mix well!

and that's it. i use just about 1/4 cup per load.  i'm thinking about adding some essential oils for some fragrance.  this was a powdered detergent and i want to try an make a liquid detergent too.  not sure why though - b/c this worked perfectly (i tried it with whites too!).  maybe i just want to try it simply to try? 

so my advice is give it a try.  it took me 10 minutes tops and works just fine!


did my pre-nor'easter prep help?

we actually did get the predicted snowfall.  (this photo was taken while it was still snowing pretty heavily so i am sure we got a few inches more) this has been a very weird winter for us.  the areas south of us - the ones that rarely get snow - have gotten huge amounts of snow.  the area north of us usually gets large amounts of snow - and they have been pretty much spared.  my area is usually hit or miss.  this winter its been hit.  but then it is winter afterall - and we should get snow - but after years of not really getting much...when it comes it is almost an annoyance! (well once you get past the initial beauty of it!!)    so when we woke up this morning - there was a lot of snow around.

as for my prep last nite?  well, i guess my intentions were good

the firewood was covered with snow
(and this was under a covered porch!)

the birds did have plenty of food
they just had to wait until it stopped snowing to find it!

luckily the sleds weren't completely covered with the snow
so after a quick brushing off - they got plenty of usage

even our tiniest family member ventured out
that is after we cleaned the walkway for him

i will admit - i didn't bother putting my snowpants on
so i just hung around and watched
and took lots of pictures

then it was back inside for hot showers and hot chocolate

its all good.......