Four Foot Twelve

DSC09397Let’s get one thing straight.  I am not a tall person.

There are shorter people out there, but on average, I’m one of the shorter ones.  Standing a perfect five feet… even.

You don’t have to tell me this, though.  I’ve known my whole life.  This is a fact that most people don’t let you forget… especially family.  And old high school friends.  And tall people.

They like to remind me how short I am. (As if I don’t know by now???)

The funny thing about being short, and correct me if I’m wrong fellow short people, is that you don’t usually realize how short you are until you’re in certain situations where it is emphasized.

Take the grocery store, for instance.  On more than one occasion the item I wanted was on the very tip top shelf, and if there was no room on the bottom shelf for me to stand and stretch myself up, I had to boldly ask a taller passerby for help.

Or in pictures.  I never truly understand how tall the rest of the world is until I see a picture of myself standing next to it… upon which I stare in amazement and say, “Geez!  I’m really THAT short?!”

When I played basketball in college (yes… it was a really small college) the announcer would proudly start my introduction with “standing a tall four-foot-twelve…!!!”  That always got a good laugh.

And we won’t even talk about the times I’ve gone into a restaurant and been offered a kid’s menu.

cabinetsBut just like any physical limitation I have learned to compensate.  Which is probably why I don’t notice it so much anymore.  As in the grocery store example, I just step on the bottom shelf and can reach just about anything.

Trying to compensate for being short isn’t always easy, though, and doesn’t always have the desired results.

For example, once when I was very young, and very much shorter, I wanted to get a certain sweater out of my closet.  So to make up for my shortness I decided to climb the shelf up to the top and get it.  The metal shelf.  With sharp edges.  Let’s just say, that didn’t end well.

Which brings me to the point of this post. (finally?!)

There is no stepladder tall enough for short people to reach the very top cupboard in the kitchen.  Why do they even put those dumb cupboards up there?  No one can reach them!

Therefore, my entire life I have found it much faster to jump up on the counter to reach whatever I needed.  Did you do this?  When I was too little to pull myself onto the counter I would open each drawer up just enough to make a set of steps!!!  Shh… don’t tell my mom I did that.

But to this day, I still jump on the counter to reach the top cupboard or the top shelf.  It works.  And in my world where everything is tall, it’s necessary.  So I continue to do it… when my toddler isn’t watching.

Unfortunately, another habit came along with this counter climbing.  I found it easier and more comfortable to talk to people in the kitchen while I was sitting on said counter.  You know?  In the corner?  By the toaster?  Both hands, quick hoist, and up you go!  Sitting up high having conversations with even the tallest of people while staying out of the traffic in the kitchen.  Brilliant!

That was, until I got married.

We lived in Thailand a month before moving back to the States to prep for our next adventure.  During that time we lived at my in-laws.  It was nice.  We had a lot of space up in their extra room with a little attic loft and our own bathroom.  But, of course, we shared a kitchen…

with a lot of great counters.

So naturally, when I got into a deep conversation with my mother in law or my husband, I would hop up on the counter and make myself comfortable.

I even taught my niece to do it.

It wasn’t until much much later that I learned sitting on the counter is one of my mother-in-law’s greatest pet peeves… ever.

Oops!

Music.

Concert

Music has always been part of my life… whether I’ve realized it or not.

As a child, I remember my dad cranking up the oldies station in the car and all of us singing at the top of our lungs.  From that time on, whenever people asked me what kind of music I listened to as a kid I would sheepishly admit… oldies.  I hardly ever listened to anything else.  Maybe country, although now I can hardly stand any of it.  But I still listen to oldies.  And I love them.  And I still sing them at the top of my lungs.

They are heart-felt, poppy, make you wanna get up and dance kind of songs.  They were simple.  And fun.  And defined an era.

As all music does, I suppose.

But maybe, more than an era, they just defined me well.

Today when people ask me what music I like, I really don’t have an answer.  I can tell you songs from a million different genres that have all but defined my life over the years.  But I don’t really ‘listen’ to any type of music.  And I definitely don’t know anything that’s “in” right now, if we even still use that term.

So it’s an incredible thing when my head pops up from my computer and I look at my husband and say, “Hey!  Will you buy me this song on Amazon?!”  Because he’s the music guy in the house.  And he’s also the one with the well-worn Amazon account.

Last week he had something hooked up to something and something was flipped to some channel and something else… anyways.  Music from his computer was coming out of our TV.  I love it when he does that because I start playing jukebox… and somehow his Megadeth morphed into Michael Buble!

In the end, Pickle and I were dancing up a storm, and while I spun my her around the room giggling, I thought to myself, “I should listen to more MUSIC!”

One day when I was in my first trimester and too sick to get out of bed, I sat there all day on my computer.  Checking facebook.  Reading blogs.  Typing about how sick I was in my pregnancy journal.  When I stumbled upon a blog where a woman shared some of her favorite songs that she listens to with her kids.  In that post, she introduced me (living in Thailand at the time and somewhat withdrawn from the American music scene) to Michael Buble’s “I Just Haven’t Met You Yet.”  It was love at first… listen?  I played it over and over and immediately had my husband buy it for me.

At that moment, a song captured my heart and life and spirit and season perfectly… and I was dancing with the baby girl growing inside me.

The other day during our jukebox time… I danced to that song with my two year old.

Music is a part of my life… whether I realize it or not.

****************

So, to return the favor of that blog post almost three years ago, here are some of my life-defining songs that I ALWAYS request when we play jukebox.  I’m sure you know a lot of these, but even those you don’t, I promise they will get your soul floating and your feet dancing!Music

I Just Haven’t Met You Yet by Michael Buble

I Believe in a Thing Called Love by The Darkness

Overwhelmed by Tim McMorris

Months and Years by Abandon Kansas

The End by Pearl Jam

Just Breathe by Pearl Jam

Unity by Shinedown

All I Want is You by Barry Louis Polisar (from Juno)

If I Had Words by …uh… some mice (from babe)

Hey, Soul Sister by Train

Busted Heart by For King and Country

Home by Phillip Phillips

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What are some of your favorite songs?

Pinterested?

You know… when you’re on Pinterest.  And you’re hungry.  And suddenly all the recipes with noodles, cheese or potatoes are jumping out at you?  Yeah…

That happens to me ALL the time.

Pinterest

I love Pinterest.  I call it my filing box of ideas.  Not that I don’t have great ideas on my own, but this sure does help get the creativity flowing.  Whether it’s in the kitchen, in the sewing room, in toddlerdom.

My husband always wonders why I like Pinterest so much and why I can sit at my computer forever and just browse.  Oh, and did I mention that he ruthlessly makes fun of me about it?

Well, you can imagine my delight the other day when he wanted to see a recipe I was thinking of making.  So I invited him over to cuddle up in my chair with me. (Actually, he invited himself)  He approved of the recipe, for the most part, and then I made a subtle move back to my ‘Fud’ board.

I would point things out here and there.  He would spot something that looked good.  I’d scroll a little more… and pause…. then a little more… and pause.

After a while he said, “Sorry… I really want to get up, but I keep seeing things…”  As his words trailed off, he shook his head shamefully.  His face said it all.  FINALLY he understood!

I literally Laughed Out Loud.

Are you Pinterested?  Let me tell you… we are not the only ones.

I’m proud to say that THIS was my Grandparents’ Pinterest Board.

Pinterest Board

It’s one of the things I loved about their house.  Even when my grandma was in the nursing home, these newspaper clippings and recipe notes remained taped to the inside of her cupboard.  Something new to try.  A trusted recipe.  Tips on making homemade wine (my Grandpa’s hobby at one point).

I don’t know what sort of things my grandma tried out on us.  To me, everything she made was good (except for the fruited Jell-O) and if I could go back again and stand beside her every time she cooked a meal, I would.

The thing is, she was a woman.  A wife.  A mother.  A Grandma.  And all her life she was looking for new ideas and trying new things.

Just like us.

I love trying new things.  I love finding new ideas, ‘taping’ them up on my cup’board’ and coming back to them one day when I need to shake up dinner or when I have the perfect piece of fabric but don’t know what to do with it.

Thankfully, I document some of these attempts.  Sometimes they succeed.  Sometimes they fail.  Either way, I’m excited to share them with you as we journey along.

It will be called “Tried and Tuesdays.”  And if I can actually keep a schedule, it will be posted every… Tuesday.  I’m inviting you to cuddle up in my chair and browse my Pinterest boards.  I am welcoming you into my kitchen, and into my sewing room, and into my toddler world and we’re going to try new things together.

Just like people always have… even before cell phones and computers and social media.

Just like Grandma.

Just like Yesterday.

 

Are you Pinterested?

 

just blog

Life beginsCan I be completely honest with you?

I have no idea what I’m doing.

I don’t know the first thing about blogging.  I don’t know what my theme is or my goal or my focus.  I’ve never been to a blogging conference.  I don’t have a clue why or how you would monetize something like this.   Really, do you see how random my posts are?

I don’t even read blogs.  Reading blogs for me means I have put some links under the little star on the top right hand side of my screen and once a month I go through there and catch up on the ones I like the most.  Reading blogs for me means I find one that’s gripping and I stay up til 3 in the morning reading… pretty much the entire thing.

So what am I doing?  I honestly don’t know.

I know that my journals from the last ten years of my life are buried by a lake in Thailand.  That I haven’t really journaled since I got married.  That I have adored writing since I was able to form letters with a pencil.  So here I am.

And it terrifies me.

Because blogging means you have to be honest.

Blogging means you have to write what you care about and what you feel.  It’s not like Facebook where you can filter everything you say to make yourself look good.

If you really want to make an impact.  If you really want readership (whatever that is) you have to be bold.  You have to be creative.  And you have to write.

Fact is… sometimes I don’t feel bold.  Sometimes I don’t feel creative.  And most days I don’t have the time or the energy to write.

The worst part of it all, for me, is blogging means you have to be ok with that.

In all my perfectionism and people pleasing tendencies and all-or-nothing mentality, I have to be ok with the fact that people might not like what I write.  People might not be inspired.  People might not agree with what I have to say.  And, really, people might get through the first sentence and decide not to read what I wrote that day.

I have to be ok with it.

So I guess blogging is a way to be on paper the person that I’m sometimes afraid to be in real life.  Blogging is a way to journal when otherwise I wouldn’t.  Blogging is a way to hopefully inspire a few people, while at the same time sorting through all the learning and experiences that God is leading me through.

Hopefully.

Blogging is scary.  And overdone.  And sometimes just not very interesting.  But I’m doing it.  And I hope I’m doing it for the right reasons.  And I hope that some day I’ll wake up and do it just because I love it and just because I want to…

even if not even a single soul reads it.

And I’ll be ok with that.

A Legacy

Soldier

My grandparents on my mother’s side were married in Kingman, Arizona while my grandpa was in the service.  They wrote letters every day while he was gone.  Once, he couldn’t find any paper, so he wrote to her on toilet paper.  She went to AZ, married him, spent a short honeymoon with him in Las Vegas and returned home alone while he finished out his time.  He trained to be a gunner, but thankfully never had to go to war… although he lived through many.

My dad’s father served in the Korean conflict.  He recalls leaving his foxhole once to go get food.  When he returned, the foxhole had been hit and his buddy was gone.  He was never quite the same after Korea.  It’s hard to imagine… had Grandpa been in the foxhole instead, I wouldn’t exist.  How many children don’t exist because someone was in the foxhole at the wrong time?

Bob's-Flight-14Desert-StorL[1]My dad signed up for the Air Force during the Vietnam War and left for basic training in the middle of his senior year of high school.  They wouldn’t even let him return home for graduation.  He and my mom were married in August of that same year and they moved into base housing while he was in tech school.  My dad served in the Persian Gulf during both Desert Storm and Desert Shield… flying refueling tankers.  I’ll never forget the day my mom and I were driving to town and we heard on the radio that a convoy had been hit and several Americans had died.  I’d never heard my mom cuss before, and I’d never seen her cry and hit the steering wheel.  I guess even when it’s not your own, losses during conflict are hard not to get emotional about.

My brother spent 6 years in the National Guard right after high school.  His engineering and mathematical skills were put to good use when they started installing glass cockpits on the airplanes that my dad flew.  We always joked that if he ever wanted to get back at my dad for something, all he’d have to do was rig the airplane that he was flying!  My brother was on contract in the Middle East as a civilian when a bomb hit the complex he was working on.  It was too close for comfort.memorial-day

A couple years ago a distant cousin of mine was killed while deployed.  They tearfully called my dad and asked if he would escort the young man’s body home.  My dad says that in all of his life, this was by far the most difficult thing he has ever done.

I love the military legacy in my family.  It represents the greater legacy of all those who have served our country.  So much honor.  So much sacrifice.  May we never forget why they died, why they served, why they gave so much.  May we never forget the hallowed ground on which we walk every day of our lives.

No, war is not the best option.  No, fighting and dying for a country full of imperfect humans is not as glorious as some people make it out to be.  No, participating in conflict is not always an easy decision for the leaders or the soldiers.  But all too often it’s necessary.  And when young men and women sign up, I hope to God it is because they want to love and serve the people of their country… even if we don’t love and serve them back.

As many have said, freedom isn’t free.  It comes with a price.  Thank you to those who have paid the price-  be it time, comfort, limbs, relationships, or life- so that our child could grow up in a free country.  We are proud to be Americans and will forever be proud of those who serve on our behalf.

Tanker Touch n Go

Apple Curry Couscous

It’s a rare and precious thing when I have couscous and apples in my house at the same time.

So you can imagine my delight the other day when I was searching my cupboards for something to fix for dinner and made this connection.

Time to whip out a trusted recipe that we ate in Thailand (our first year of being a married couple in our own home…with a kitchen).

So maybe it’s not my husband’s favorite meal… he’s more of a steak and potatos kind of guy.  But it is definitely one of my favorite… and occasionally, women, you just have to make things that make you happy and let the rest of the world deal with it.

I apologize that I ate it too fast to get a picture… I’m new to this photo-blogging thing, but for your mouth-watering enjoyment here are a few pics I found online.

curriedcouscousrecipe

Mine did not look like this… but this is a pic from one of my favorite blogs 101 Cookbooks. Check it out! http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/001509.html

apple-couscous-2

Mine looks more like this. Mmm… this is from a blog I’ve never read, but looks pretty good. http://www.generationyfoodie.com/2012/01/apple-curry-couscous.html

So here’s my ever-tweaked, ever-changing, but oh-so-yummy recipe for Apply Curry Couscous (with Chicken):

APPLE CURRY COUSCOUS

Ingredients (serves 2 1/2):

1-2 Chicken breasts, cubed              1 C. chicken broth

1/3 C. chopped Onion                       1 C. dry couscous

1 Apple, cubed                                     4 Tbls butter

1/3 C. raisins                                        curry powder

1/3 C. nuts (if desired)                       1 Tbls brown sugar

olive oil                                                  Salt & Pepper

garlic powder

1. In large sauté pan, sauté chicken breasts & onions in olive oil until cooked through & tender.

2. Bring chicken broth, 1 Tbls butter, and 1/4 tsp curry powder to a boil.  Remove from heat.  Stir in couscous, cover, and let stand 5 minutes.

3.  While couscous is sitting, add 2 Tbls butter to sauté pan with chicken & onion, add apples, raisins & nuts.  Saute with desired amount of garlic powder, curry powder, salt & pepper.

4. Fold couscous into sauté pan with last Tbls butter and brown sugar.  Stir all ingredients together over low heat until brown sugar & butter is dissolved and ingredients are evenly blended.  Add more curry powder and s&p to taste.  I also stirred in some milk in the end to keep it moist.

Here’s the tricky part… I like mine with a lot of curry flavor.  When I use curry powder, I never know how much to use.  But there’s an answer to that!  Next time you’re in the grocery store, check out the Asian food section.  You should stumble upon one of these!

Just throw 1/2 block of this curry mix into your couscous broth and 1/2 block into your sauté pan IN PLACE of the curry powder, brown sugar and garlic powder.  It’s dreamy!

Then a few nights later, make this delicious Japanese curry according to the recipe on the box and serve over rice.  You won’t regret it.

Road Trip Survivor

 

 

Five loads of laundry later… I think we’re finally unpacked. Road Trip Buddy

My Sweet Pickle has been road tripping since she was 9 months old.  Her first big trip was to Kansas to meet the other half of her family.  A two-day, 12-hours-in-the-car trek and, as I recall, she passed with flying colors!  (aka. she slept most of the way)

As she’s grown, we’ve had to get a little more creative with our road trip strategies, as many of you have experienced, I’m sure!

This most recent trip was one of our greatest successes, however, and I’d like to share how we survived 14 hours round trip with a two-year old.  Take it and use it.  Love it or leave it. This is how we did it.  And, barring the fact that our little girl is just wonderful in the car, which makes it easy, I think these tricks worked well!

So maybe it wasn't always easy... but it was always memorable!

So maybe it wasn’t always easy… but it was always memorable!

1. PLAN IT OUT.  I needed to know when we were leaving.  “Why?” my husband asked, on the verge of annoyed.  Because everything revolves around what time we are leaving.  That’s why!  Because you need to know which meals to pack.  How many snacks.  Approximately how many diapers to have easy-access.  Because you need to think ahead and realize that naptime will hit just as you’re getting into the final two hours of traffic.  Because you need to know what time the poop will come and if that will be a good gas stop or not.  True, there is a lot of need for flexibility when traveling with a toddler, but the better game plan you have coming into it, the more prepared you’ll be for hiccups.

2. PACK NEW TOYS.  (or ones that aren’t played with as often)  We loaded up on new stickers, notepads, an assortment of toddler-sized books that she could “read” herself, and some of her old favorite activities.  She loved looking down into her bag and spotting something exciting!  (My favorite Tip: Carefully peel all the border off of the stickers before you give them to your child.  This makes it a million times easier for them to get the stickers themselves so they won’t be bugging you to do it for them.  Toddlers love independence!)

These homemade felt dolls are a favorite travel activity!  Look for a link to the etsy patter soon!

These homemade felt dolls are a favorite travel activity!  Check it out at www.etsy.com/shop/charlaanne

3.  BE INVOLVED. I know.  You want to nap and read your book and listen to your iPod and sew those last few buttons on her beach dress (oh.. that was me).  But if you’re involved in the toy rotating and the interest-catching, there will be much less crying and much more activity!  When I saw she was getting bored or frustrated with a toy, I would pack it up and pull something else out!  This made the time fly.  She was constantly busy doing something, reading something or playing with something.  And as I prompted self-play she would carry it out long enough for me to turn around and sew another button.

4.  BUSY BAGS!  Thanks to my wonderful playgroup, we had an assortment of fun, handheld learning activities to keep her busy.  I purposefully keep these in the closet at home, pulling only one or two out at a time.  This keeps them fresh, interesting, exciting, and from getting little pieces all lost in the toy baskets.  This particular trip we packed our lacing cards, button ribbon, Velcro popsicle sticks, foam bead stringing and color squares.  She had not paid much attention to the lacing cards before, but on this trip they were her favorite!  She played with them for probably half an hour!  I have some ideas on my board here or type “busy bag ideas” into your Pinterest search and get busy!

5.  HAVE A BACKUP PLAN.  Through no fault of our own, we ended up in a vehicle that did not have a dvd player.  Now, to some seasoned parents traveling with toddlers this may be heretical.  But to me, first time toddler mom that I am, I didn’t have a problem with it at all.  I believed in my girl that she could make it seven hours without a movie.  And it was a comfort knowing that my Kindle Fire (with one episode of her favorite show) and my cell phone (with her favorite game) would serve as a good backup should we face any meltdowns.  I would much rather have screen time be plan B rather than plan A.

Techie6.  STRATEGIZE.  As a mom, I know my girl.  I know when she’ll get tired.  I know when she’ll get hungry.  I know that if she’s not kept busy she starts munching… and munching usually means whining… and I don’t like whining, so I have to keep her busy.  So I strategized.  I packed her lunch and got it out at our normal lunchtime.  It was an assortment of new, special foods that she was excited to eat! (thanks to a tip from a friend)  The trip worked out just so that our ETA was right at the end of naptime.  So we played with some activities until 1 or 1:15.  And only then did I get out the Kindle Fire and let her wind down with an episode of her favorite show.  You can imagine how thrilled she was to see it!  And how NOT whiny or bored or distracted she got while she was watching it.  After her show, I took it back.  Gave her her blanket.  Told her to rest.  And with very little crying, she fell asleep.  When she abruptly woke up with still an hour to go on our trip (and in her nap), I was able to resort to plan B.  That got her as far as the beach road, where we could spend the last few long minutes looking for the ocean between the sand dunes!

7.  BE WEIRD.  Our trip home was a little different.  We left at 4:30 in the afternoon, knowing good and well that we wouldn’t be home until midnight.  But again, we planned it out the best we could and ended up only making one stop on the way!  During this stop, as planned, little Pickle got changed into her footie pj’s and crocs.  (Can you picture this?)  Then she was permitted to run around Zaxby’s just a little with her new bouncy ball.  People looked at her like she was either the most adorable thing they’d ever seen, or we were the weirdest, most pathetic parents on the block.  Regardless of what they thought, it worked for us, and she slept the last 4 hours of the trip.

8.  BE FLEXIBLE.  She slept the last 4 hours of the trip…except when she didn’t.  And she woke up.  And she cried.  And was mad that she was still in the car.  But even then, we looked out at the full moon through the mountains, we sang nighttime songs, we talked about the beach and our family, we watched for the sparkle of the first stars.  And she fell back to sleep… until she woke up again…Sleeping

It was one of the sweetest road trips I’ve ever been on.  And while the next ones might not be nearly as easy.  Or she may not be as happy.  Or she may be potty trained and we’ll need to stop every hour.  I look forward to new road trip adventures as she grows and we grow as a family.

What were your favorite road trip memories as a kid?   What are your favorite road trip strategies with your kids?