Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Just living the dream.

I'm not going to apologize for being away from my computer, hence ignoring my blog and all of yours, because I have been busy. I'm burning up with the Spring Fever. I've been outside sprinkling magical fairy dust over everything to make my life as fabulous as possible. I'm enhancing, sprucing up and bedazzling everything around me (except for myself) for the benefit of me, myself, I, my family, friends and neighbors (but most of all for myself)...because if you don't know by now how important beautiful things are to me then you either just started reading or you haven't been paying attention.

Here is where I add photographic evidence so that you can see how my life is rammed full of grace and beauty.

Exhibit A:

My clearly handsome and helpful husband.....

Exhibit 2:
My history of stellar taste in hairstyles
and fashion.
Exhibit 45:

Isn't mating BEAUTIFUL?!?!?!?
It's so NATURAL.
Shhhhh. Don't disturb them.

Sadly, it has been over 20 years since I have worn either that sweater or that hairstyle.... and I have yet to see Unicorns mating, but I have been around a lot of hornless equines lately. In fact, I even got to RIDE for two and half hours- two of them where on MY VERY OWN HORSE. In the last five days I have hauled my children up to Estes Park and then back home three times, with each leg of the trip adding up to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Seven and a half hours of my life in the truck with two small children and fortunately only one two puking incidents- one of which I actually caught in my hand! Seven and a half hours, a snow storm, countless incoherent tourists pretending to drive and $120 in gas that I would do again in a heartbeat for that small amount of time on horseback.

No love so much....

In the teeny amount of time that I have actually been home, I have been seen scraping oatmeal off the floor, doing laundry and cleaning toilets flitting gracefully around my yard planting flowers and seeds and purifying the garden beds. Of course I have done all of this in a hand beaded gown with perfectly coiffed hair while singing angelically as birds flutter over my head and woodland creatures sit mesmerized at my feet. In no way does my singing elicit, "Stop singing MOM!" and in no way has this planting, weeding and watering produced the kind of back pain that causes my to soak my sheets with sweat and slam three Ibuprofen at 2 a.m. Nope. Princesses don't do that shiz.  Uh uh.

With that, I leave you with some deep thoughts/words of wisdom/unsolicited advice:

1. Take advantage of every good opportunity that comes your way, especially if it involves something that you are passionate about (for me that would be spending QUALITY time with my family and friends, riding horses ~in the mountains, Hugh Jackman and gardening). I like to go a step further and fully immerse myself in said good opportunity.... perhaps to the point of wallowing.


2. Put a napkin over your hand before you catch the puke.

3. Tylenol PM. Do it.

4. Horses and gardening (and capturing vomit) make your hands look like crapolla, making it a good time to take up the guitar again. It also makes you smell bad, so don't skip the shower.

5. Sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

So the one on the right isn't MINE but I would totally take him.

Peace, Love and Unicorns,

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

No snark, just warm fuzzies. Barf bags are located in the seat pocket directly in front of you.

Something weird is happening to me. Recently I've been doing a little self-improvement jazz and I seem to be running out of snark. *insert noises of shock here* After years of dreaming of and praying for contentment, I seem to have grasped some of that seemingly elusive peace and I'm apparently super unprepared for it; as it feels incredibly foreign to me and I'm not quite sure what to do with myself. Then I sit down here to write and all I can think about is how adorable my kids are and how supportive Brock is and how grateful I am for my fabulous life which is so rich and full of wonderful people and I come up with nothing to tell you for fear of coming off as an annoying Pollyanna. So instead I paint my toenails and sing "I've been working on the railroad" with my kids. But, shit, I'm happy. So if you are still reading, try to hold back the vomit and bear with me.

In case you are living under a rock (or in a different part of the world), it is springtime here in Colorful Colorado. Springtime has always meant a few things for me: Baby animals (the only cute goose in my opinion is a baby one), lots of green things, beautiful weather with only a small number of mosquitoes, the PLANTING OF THE GARDEN, flowers, something of a tan, less cooking and more grilling. All of this also equals more time outside and less time in front of the computer. In my mixed up world, it also means that I gain five pounds, because that makes a lot of sense.



All the good stuff

So my German thighs, doughy ass and I are truly enjoying our surroundings, especially now that is is skirt season and everyone knows that skirts are forgiving of five pounds around the general region of the trunk.

We had some visitors last week. My aunt, uncle and cousin were in town for the night and they stayed with us. This provided us with a few things: people to drink and laugh with (because my family is awesome) and inspiration to present our lives in an functional light, which meant that Brock and I kicked it into high gear and completed a shit ton of projects that we had left unfinished. For instance, it is normal to paint a room the night before people show up to stay in it, right?

My aunt and uncle. They're the bomb.

We bid farewell to our guests but said hello to new friends when we dropped a mortgage payment at Lowe's and purchased the goods needed to beautify our yard. We spent last weekend amending the soil in my garden and planting seeds for vegetables and flowers. I added some new perennials to the beds around our barn and an adorable gnome for whimsy (because I can't justify $200 for the 6 foot tall metal chicken). It was heaven. The new dirt smelled so fertile that I almost wanted to eat it, but we're civilized so instead Brock opened my bottle of Strongbow with his Buck knife and we drank together next to the freshly planted, fragrant garden beds.

It's all good.

I call this "Real men open bottles with Buck knives".
I don't even feel like I need to tell you how much I love this picture.....

In case you haven't noticed, I uploaded Instagram onto my pink phone and I have been busy ever since spamming facebook with pictures of my precious treasures and other things that I deem photo-worthy. If you are my facebook friend, I will not apologize. I'm just branding my page. I'm going for something like "dirty kids look cuter with retro post processing" or "the photo journalistic version of the life of Johi". It's my new thing and I will probably be overzealous in my love for Instagram until I get sick of it and move onto something else. It's what I do. Just ask my college roommate how she feels about James Taylor.

A leaky hose is a world of fun for boys.
This was our morning today (followed by an afternoon bath-- followed
by me cleaning the bath tub.)

I've also finished up a couple of personal challenges that were looming over my head and I feel really great about that. For instance, my inbox for one of my emails is *almost* entirely cleaned out and I recently reorganized my jewelry with plans of moving on to my scarves next. Winning.

The worst thing that has happened to me (other than slamming a dumpster lid onto my finger) is that the Things spent 50 minutes the other night racing their trucks around the house. It doesn't sound that awful, does it? Put this video on repeat 200 times with the volume at max and then tell me how you feel. I may or may not have yelled and/or cried a little. Oh, and I keep finding fleas on one of my children. That's not awesome. I'm probably going to have to sell the dogs, shave the cat and burn the contents of my home.

See? Nothing funny-bitchy to say, just that I am still here and loving life right now. Don't worry, someone stupid is bound to show up and annoy me and my snark will return soon enough, but until then I'll just be here sending out love, light and a butt load of Instagram photos into the Universe.

If I can get enough of this kind of thing, I may be able to erase the
pi symbol that is engraved into my forehead.

Peace, Love and Unicorns,


Monday, May 14, 2012

Mutha's Day- A brief recap. Part one.

My dearest second husband,

Brock, Brock, Brock.... haven't you learned yet? There are TWO days a year in which I believe with every fiber of my being that you should treat me like a princess.

Day 1: My Birthday (because on the inside I am nine years old and I still expect people to want to make the glorious day on which Johi was born a National Holiday)
Day 2: Mother's Day (especially since those two babies that I birthed blew out my uterus, gave me stretch marks, wear me out and fill my head and heart with worry on a daily basis)

I know that this is probably a lot of pressure for you to handle, seeing as you rarely plan ahead for anything , like seriously EVER, but I am steadfast in this expectation. So figure it out now, because armed with this knowledge, dark chocolate and red wine, we can blissfully live together until the end of time; and I won't ever have to propose to Hugh Jackman.

Thanks for the breakfast. It was delicious. And a big thanks for siring those two boys of ours. They're the best Things ever. The check for your stud fee is in the mail.

Your doting wife (who folds your underwear, scrubs your toilet and rolls your socks),

Here's the deal, peeps. I plan ahead, especially when the upcoming event has anything at all to do with me, because I'm a giver like that. So as Mother's Day loomed on the calendar, I was prepared to "help" Brock succeed in making it special for me. Let's face it, the Things are 2 and 4. A kiss from them is plenty. Brock is... older... and wiser, which distinguishes him as "the responsibility guy".

A couple of weeks ago Brock kindly and thoughtfully asked me, "So, what do you want for Mother's Day?"
I looked at my cell phone, the one that basically shit itself then imploded, and said, "I want the phone that Verizon is advertising for Mother's Day. The Droid Razor for $99."
He looked like he was thinking about cheese or the last episode of Lawman, so I repeated myself, just to be safe, "I want that phone. It's important to me."

About three days later, we repeated this conversation verbatim.

Three days later, again with the same question and the same answer.

I finally asked him, "How many times am I going to have to tell you that I want a new phone?  My old one has been eating texts like Jabba the Hut at an all you can eat buffet. I need a new phone. I'm probably missing calls. I can't use the picture funtion or check my email. I don't even recieve texts anymore. My friends all think I am an asshole because they send me texts and never get a response. So how many times should I repeat this?"

He earnestly said, "Probably a few more times."

I shrugged my shoulder and said, "Okay. I can commit to that..."

Finally, after a few more informative conversations, he wrapped his head around the phone. I knew he had the "new phone concept for Johi" firmly planted in his mind when he asked me what color I wanted. Then he said, "Pink?" and I said, "No, I do not want pink. What colors do they have? Do they make green, because green is my favorite color." (i.e.: Eleanor (my green chair), Spring/Summer (green leaves), the violently green leisure suit....hello!)
He said, "I think that they make make a green case but the phone comes in pink, black and white."
I said, "I'll take white."

And then I went on some rant about the color pink and how I may like it occasionally but it is not my favorite color, nor has it been since I was seven; and I mentioned how I was neither Barbie nor Elle Woods. I babbled on and on about how he always buys me pink when everyone knows that GREEN is my favorite color!
Whew! I thought I had made myself abundantly clear.

And then he and Thing 1 left the house for four hours to complete the phone acquisition. I stayed home on Mother's Day weekend and had a positively dreamy time cleaning the house from top to bottom.

Brock returned home with a white phone and a pink case.

Such is my life.

But I can text! Woot woot! Thanks honey.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

It might be time to pick out a gravestone

Things are serious around here, ya'll.

There have been a lot of complaints lately....

" right ear is TOTALLY PLUGGED!"

"....I can't focus- everything is BLURRY!"

"....I'm so tired I could fall asleep RIGHT NOW!"

"...Ugh! My chest is the most congested chest IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND!"

I thought that I might have to call an ambulance, but then I found the NyQuil. You see, Brock has a man cold and he is most likely dying.
Send prayers, ASAP. I'm setting up a charity fund, just in case.

Of course, I'm sick as well, but no one in my house is even aware of that fact.

" don't have anything even CLOSE to what I am dealing with!"

Please, keep Brock in your prayers. I need to keep him around. He's pretty useful and I like him and stuff.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The House That Built Me

When I heard the gravel crunch under the tires I knew that we were there. It also meant the glorious end to the 30 minute truck ride where I was trapped in the cab with the competing smells of my Mom's scented lotion, my Dad's cologne and my sister's Lady Stetson. I catapulted out of the truck and ran past the white clapboard garage and up the well worn sidewalk to the back of the house. I pushed the button on the storm door, yanked it open and shoved my body into the heavy white door that opened into the paneled walls and flecked white linoleum floors of the dining room.

Grandma and Papa's house.

The noise was always coming from the kitchen. There was either music playing, mostly jazz, or the small television that sat on a cart against the wall was on, playing one of her favorite programs. I would yell, "Hi Grandma! We're here!" and I would pass through the doorway of the painted white brick wall; the wall that was the original exterior of the farmhouse that was built in the 1930's. This was the wall where three decades of my artwork was proudly on display. This was the wall that I couldn't pass by without running my hand over it and enjoying the feel of the cool, smooth, painted bricks. This was the wall where, among other special things, the picture of my great great grandmother hung. Even though it seemed to me that I looked like no one in my family, I saw a resemblance to my own narrow face and sharp cheekbones when I looked at this woman. This fact gave me (the fragile artsy girl who loved shoes and reading, yet was being raised in a no-nonsense, back breaking agricultural environment) a much needed sense of belonging. This was the wall that symbolized pride, acceptance, and love... of me, no less.

Behind the wall was the best thing on the planet, for there in that tiny kitchen with the cabinets painted seafoam green and the brown linoleum floor, was my grandmother. At 5'3" she was tiny in stature, yet fierce in her dolman sleeved sweaters with shoulder pads and her cropped silver hair. She always jingled in a way that seemed a little magical, as her delicate wrists carried her much beloved charm bracelet. Her glasses hung from a beaded chain and seemed to nestle in with the long necklaces that she wore. There was always a scarf around her neck and some cute shoes on her feet, because Grandma had style. With her jewelry chiming, she would reach out her arms for a hug, and that is when I would inhale her wonderful scent.

There was always a lot of catching up to do when we showed up for a visit. I would pull up one of the sturdy oak stools, put my elbows on the counter and rest my chin in my hands. Grandma would offer me some food and something to drink, and I would sneak a few Jelly Belly's out of the tin that sat above the counter on the shelf that held her collection of cookbooks. If I was really lucky, there would be home made coffee cake or "adult" brownies. Sometimes it would be the wonderful chicken and grapes over an English muffin that Papa would make. Sometimes it was chili or "rodeo stew". No matter what it was, the food at Grandma's house was always delicious.

I spent thirty years of my life walking through that heavy white door and being welcomed into that old farmhouse. The memories flood my head and heart whenever I think of that time. During the many hours spent at my grandparent's house in my youth, my sister and I would usually wander off to explore the big old house with its creaky wood floors and white painted trim. We often wound up in the dark cool basement, where we spent hours playing ping pong and Foosball. The basement freezer always seemed to be stocked with Dreamsicles and Rocket Pops, and we would help ourselves to refreshing frozen treats. Sometimes we would climb the dark, creaky staircase that lead to the top floor and dig through a bin of old clothes so that we could play dress up in my Grandmother's old dresses and hats. Other times we would pour ourselves onto the comfortable couch by the brick fireplace where we would spend hours reading through the hardback collection of children's books and watching old black and white shows like The Addams Family and Mr. Ed.  But the best times of all were when Grandma would invite us into her bedroom. Her bedroom, early on was small and dark but full of her beautiful things. Later it was remodeled into a large, light filled space with tons of windows, a fireplace, feminine green and yellow floral wallpaper and the thickest, most wonderful celedon green carpet that felt like you were walking on pillows. The room was always filled with her sweet scent, and she always seemed to have something special and thoughtful tucked away that was just for each of us.

I realize that I was one of the lucky ones. I grew up loving my family, all of them. And they loved me. As the second oldest of all the grandchildren on both sides, I watched all my little cousins receive that same attention, connection and love from our grandparents. We were all made to feel special and important. We were all seen. We were all loved. Every single one of us.

My grandma passed away over 10 years ago in that very house. With her passing, came a great void in my life, just like the lives of so many other members of my family. I hold my memories of her close to my heart and I feel great honor and pride that I am her granddaughter. Going back to her old house would make me feel like I was walking into her loving embrace. That old house was my deepest earthly connection with my grandmother.

Grandma and her jingly jewelry.

Papa grew old and ill of mind and body. The family had to move him to a full-care facility, which left his home with the glossy white brick wall empty. The old farmhouse, with its paneling, floral wallpaper, worn wood floors and white brick wall was never meant to be empty. The old house sat there, alone. Three years passed and during that time the family had to make some tough decisions regarding the house and the six acres on which it sat. Papa's health continued to decline and the cost of his care continued to rise. During that time, my husband and I spent nights sitting awake in bed, pen and notepad in hand, making lists upon lists that mapped out our future. We wanted to buy the old farm house with the painted white brick wall and restore it to its former glory. We wanted the doors to always remain open to family. We desired raising our children within those walls, but making a move back to Iowa during a sluggish economy was frightening. We told the family what we could pay, but it was under the value, and we knew that. We prayed. We waited for a sign: like a job offer or anything that would indicate that moving back to Iowa was in our best interest. Nothing happened, so we continued our lives here in Colorado with my grandparents' empty house always tugging at my heart and the 'what-ifs' taunting my head. I still question if we made the right decision or if we let an opportunity pass out of fear and immobility.

Recently, the house sold. Unfortunately it sold outside of the family and for not much more than what we offered. The new buyers said that they had many plans for remodeling. Apparently their remodeling plans quickly turned into a different strategy, as just a few weeks ago they completely demolished the house with the white brick wall. It was clearly theirs to destroy, as they bought and paid for it. Still, that fact does not ease the pain from our families' loss of their literal and physical foundation. I know it doesn't ease mine.

My mom and I have had a few really thought provoking discussions because of the demise of the old farmhouse, which has been a blessing since we are both insanely "busy" in our own full and demanding lives. During one of our talks my mom reminded me of a quote from the movie Hope Floats.

“Beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it's what's in the middle that counts. So when you find yourself at the beginning, just give hope a chance to float up. And it will.”

The book of the old farmhouse is over. The house is gone forever, it's doors eternally closed to all who found grace and recognition there. The white brick wall, with its uncanny capacity to represent the ultimate love, acceptance and belonging is now nothing but dust and rubble. All that remain are photographs, stories and memories. The time has come to open a new book..... and start writing.....

I know now that that house, specifically that brick wall within the house, was merely a symbol of the greatest things in life: Giving love and hope to those around you. Accepting people for their truth, and showing support of them. Building a solid foundation for your family. Being steadfast and supportive. Maintaining the beauty and dignity around you and within you. Remembering where you came from but never forgetting who you truly are. Living with intention and integrity. And making the middle really count.

Grandma once told me that she watched Gone with the Wind in the theatre
and she loved it so much that she called her mom and asked if she could stay and watch it again.
 Her mom said no.
Grandma wanted white pillars like Tara had in Gone with the Wind.
Papa gave them to her.... naturally.

Have you ever been loved unconditionally? Have you ever really been seen and then still accepted by another? It is truly a blessing to have people in your life who do this for you. It is truly a gift to be able to feel this for someone else. I am one of the fortunate ones, for not only have I been given love regardless of all my nonsense, I have also been able to give it, regardless of other's nonsense. I learned that from my sturdy, tiny grandmother and one sturdy, glossy, white brick wall.

Every day brings a new realization, and every day the wound heals a bit. I am rebuilding a foundation, keeping in mind my past but also embracing the future and the unknown. I inherited all of my grandmother's "junk jewelry" after she passed. I wear something of hers almost every day. It keeps her close in my thoughts and actions. In fact, I jingle a little myself now, especially when I'm in the kitchen.

This video is dedicated to my mama.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

An Ode to Wind

Wind oh Wind,
we go way back.
Although, most of the time
I've felt under attack.
For we both know that you can creepily stalk
and surprise me out of nowhere with your element of shock.
Like the time you came up behind me fast
and slammed my truck door into my ass.
That wasn't very cool.

Wind oh Wind,
why must you hate?
You whip my hair into my face...
my mouth, no less?
When you do shiz like this,
you make me hate lip gloss,
which I normally think is awesomesauce.
And I also gagged a little.

Wind oh Wind,
you can be a nasty goon,
a tornado, a hurricane, a great monsoon.
With one mighty howl, you tear apart homes and dreams.
You can devastate and destroy- with ease it seems.
Yet you leave hideous structures like my garage be?
Have you no soul? Or are you just into irony?

Wind oh Wind,
sometimes you can be like a Swiss army knife
useful and versatile, giving me life...
like when you lifted up my sweaty hair
and let my fivehead get some air.

Wind oh Wind,
Your kindness does not pass me by
For a keen eye have I.
Ask my kids, I see everything.
I saw you gently lift the butterflies' wing
and also when you stir the seeds of beauty
and sow them like it's not the farmer's duty.

Wind oh wind,
But then you stir other seeds as well
don't you?
like thistle, ragweed and men who wear puka shell.
And when you lovingly huff
and stir the dandelion's downy puffs
high into the day
so that down upon my lawn they spray,
You make me think,
"huh. that's stupid."

Wind oh Wind,
we have a love/hate thing.
Sometimes you make my ears ring.
You dry my clothing
You fill me with loathing
You blow up my skirt
You fill my house my house with dirt
You cool the days
and you make me feel crazed.

Wind oh Wind
I must be honest.
Not all of my love for you is lost.
Yet, some true disgust for you I do store,
when you blow just like that dirty whore.
And you break my mothereffing umbrella.

The end.

I'm expecting an award for this, because I love poetry so much and I'm clearly an extremely talented poet.