What If You’re Thankful for You?

Nov 30 2012

November is focused on fostering an attitude of gratitude, and I don’t have to scroll very far in my Facebook feed to see a friend with the status that starts “Day 30: thankful for…”

Although I didn’t participate in the meme, I love it when we’re mindful about giving thanks and when we choose to remember that we’re rich.

Now, gratitude certainly won’t stop when we slip into December later tonight, but these “Day 30’s” are serving as my reminder that November is at its end, and I find myself taking stock today. Did I give thanks for all of it? For home and hearth and health? I did, I think.

Except one thing.

It’s a week after Thanksgiving, and I have a persistent thought that pesters and pokes and won’t leave me alone.

See, it’s easy for me to be thankful for my messy, loud, horrible children. They’re my world.

And it’s easy for me to be thankful for Greg. I mean, sure, his steadfast, one-track mind doesn’t always let him notice the naked, bleeding, screaming child right in front of him, but he works hard, man, to keep this whole family ship afloat.

And it’s easy for me to be thankful for a home. And for food. And clean water. And indoor plumbing. And off-brand Spanx. And dry shampoo.

But what if I’m also thankful for me?

That’s the thought that won’t leave me alone. What if I’m thankful for me? 

I don’t know. Is that crazy? Totally nuts? Frightfully weird?

It’s just… what if, you guys?

What if I get invited to the Gratitude Ball? And what if I go? And enter as if I belong, announced at the door by the stuffy butler and everything?

What if I’m included? And not outside looking in? What if I’m not the but anymore, or the except for, or the not quite enough? What if I let myself in rather than list the reasons I should be left out?

And what if we do something radical like that? We mamas. Together and without apology.

What if we allow ourselves to be thankful for us the same way we’re thankful for our children? Or for shelter? Or for food?

What if we, just for today, forgive ourselves for being yelly or bitchy or consumed or spread too thin? What if, instead, we give thanks – noncritical, unequivocal thanks – for being us?

What if we let ourselves rest, for just a minute, from the ceaseless barrage of self-critique?

What if we nurture and soothe our aching souls? And tell our anxieties it’s okay, and we’re okay, and shhhh, we know you’re scared, but shhhh, there, there.

What if we compliment ourselves for our hard work? Without listing anything left undone.

What if we say,

Thank you, God — or thank you, Grandmothers, or thank you, Mystery, or thank you, Love — for this gift. That I am wild, and I am free, and I am, most of all, me, me, me.

And then…

Oh, and then…

What if we wake up tomorrow and do the same thing?

What if we practice radical gratitude every day without leaving ourselves out?

What if, mama?

What if we do?

Might we discover we’re worthy of love? And show our children by example how to love themselves, too?

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And so here’s the uncomfortable question. The bold and vulnerable risk. The triple dog dare. Will you share with us in the comments below what it is about YOU for which you’re grateful? 

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photo credit Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot at freedigitalphotos.net

“Santa, Baby” for the Modern Mama

Nov 29 2012

It’s not that Santa doesn’t mean well. He does. It’s just that the Big Guy seems to know a lot about how to fill my kids’ and my husband’s stockings, and, well, I think I’ve made it historically hard on him with my “oh, I don’t need anything” and “get me whatever” comments.

This year, I’m changing all that by providing the Jolly Old Elf with a tiny bit of guidance in the form of Stocking Ideas for Her.

What’s better than that, right? Why, having it as a musical, of course!

So here it is, friends:

Santa, Baby for the Modern Mama
or
Stocking Ideas for Her: The Musical

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Thanks, Credits, and Various Asides

Special thanks to Webb, who requested I rewrite Dear Santa, About My Stocking to this tune. I didn’t do it. But reader, Rochelle Deans, did. Which cracked me up and WAS AWESOME CAKES of her.

With Rochelle’s permission (after I did it, but whatever), I played with her work. And then I coerced my recording artist friends, Melissa Thomas and Nate Macy, to perform it for us. This recording was their first crack at it. FIRST ONE. Talented people blow me away, y’all. Unbelievable.

I should note, because I promised, that Melissa agreed to perform this song only if I published a disclaimer that she’s sick and her voice is shot. It’s true; she sounded terrible when we met to record. Hoarse voice. Strained vocal cords. Fits of coughing. Until she started singing. Then, as always, she sounded incredible. Five gazillion times better than I ever will. Le sigh.

Just want to end with a Great Big Thank You to all of you who are willing to goof off and have fun with me here. Or who write with suggestions. Or who take the time to share yourselves with me in the comments. You have influence here, more than you know, and I appreciate you so very much for taking the time to treat me like a friend and to play!

xoxo,
B

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Dear Santa, About My Stocking…

Nov 27 2012

Dearest Santa,

I know you’ve had trouble in the past filling my stocking, and I want you to know I don’t blame you. Really, I don’t, and I almost completely mean that.

See, I know our communication isn’t always the best; it tends to be focused on the children, and I poo-poo you when you ask what I want, leaving you confused and wary, suspicious that I might not mean the “nothing” or the “oh, whatever” I tell you to purchase but without a clear path forward.

I confess, in my heart I expected you to just know what to do, even though my head loudly protested the unfairness of it all. Also, I wanted to selflessly not care.

Unfortunately, I failed, and, as a result, I haven’t made this easy on you. Except the years that I filled my own stocking, of course. I mean, that did make it pretty easy on you if I do say so myself. But then my subsequent not-so-subtle grumbling wasn’t really in keeping with the season, and that one’s on me, big guy. I’ll own my part.

This year, I want to clear the air and try again.

I want to somehow find the middle ground between good communication and maintaining a little bit of mystery.

A little balance between an empty stocking and one I fill myself.

A little compromise between the heart and the mind.

And I’ve stumbled upon a way to make it happen. A meeting of the heart and mind. I call it GUIDANCE.

What do you say, Santa? Are you in? You might be interested in a teeny, tiny bit of guidance, yes?

Guidance is good, right? Guidance is helpful! Of course, Greg insists on pronouncing it “guy dense,” but I think that’s a little much, don’t you? (Be nice, Greg. Santa’s trying.)

So. With GUIDANCE in mind, I worked with some friends to compile this list of inexpensive ideas. Options for you to consider. Ways you can’t go wrong. Little things from which to pick and choose to make your season bright. Because I care.

Stocking Ideas for Her:
a list that may save your bacon

    • An orange in the toe — it’s traditional, it’s sweet, and it takes up a hunk of space. That’s a win/win/win which everyone knows is 50% better than a win/win.
    • Chocolate — as my friends say, “Dove or above,” please, although I’m not opposed to Hershey’s kisses if you’re feeling flirty
    • A contribution made in my name to my favorite charity
    • A homemade gift certificate for 3 hours of You’ll-Take-the-Children-Away so I can have an obnoxiously long bath — if you’re feeling generous, include fancy soap or bath bubbles or a giant bottle of wine
    • A magazine — Real Simple, Cooking Light, People
    • Something from a friend who sells stuff — think small kitchen gadget from Pampered Chef or lip gloss from Mary Kay or fancy hair clips from Etsy or jewelry from a bazaar. Ask any of my girlfriends for help. They’ll know where to send you. They may even have you hand over the $ and shop for you.
    • Nail polish
    • Lotion, moisturizer, lip goo
    • Small gift certificates – coffee, Amazon, Etsy, etc.
    • Funny, funky, fluffy, ridiculous socks
    • A pair of giant googly eyes I can use to freak out the family. You know, something that screams “I’m watching you… alwaaaays watching” from inside the candy basket.

Also? Merry Christmas, Santa. You’re the best.

xoxo,
B

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photo courtesy of zirconicusso at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We decorated for Christmas.

Nov 26 2012

We decorated for Christmas yesterday.

By “we” I mean Greg and I decorated for 6 hours and four of the kids decorated for 6 minutes and one teenager decorated in absentia.

By “Greg and I decorated” I mean we pulled out the Christmas boxes, discovered that only half of every string of lights worked, debated the merits of our disposable culture, decried our participation therein, rejected the temptation to buy all new lights, committed to being better stewards of our resources, cozied up to Google for light management lessons, headed to Home Depot to purchase a nifty tool that actually repaired our light strings, and, in the end, felt satisfyingly superior.

When I say “the kids decorated for 6 minutes,” I’m not including their help stepping on the light strings or their fights over stocking placement or the number of times they asked if it was time yet. Is it time yet? Is it time? Is it time now? How ’bout now? they said. And we replied, NO! It is NOT TIME YET. We are SAVING THE EARTH one Christmas light at a time. Now go use too much electricity to watch another episode of Phineas and Ferb and I will TELL you when we’re ready.

And by “one teenager decorated in absentia,” I mean she spent the day hanging out with a friend and arrived home after the other kids were abed and the light strings were repaired and the boxes were removed and the floor was swept and the work was complete and the parents were ensconced on the couch in front of Downton Abbey, and she wondered aloud why we chose a red and green theme when blue and silver is clearly superior, and she sighed sadly at our decorating ineptitude.

Like every one of the past ten years, my mantle proclaims PEACE throughout this holiday season.

This is my subtle little joke to myself.

It makes me giggle every time. And, oddly, feel at peace.

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When do you decorate for the holidays? Last year, I put up my tree the day after Halloween. What can I say? I’m a weirdo. This year, I’m seriously considering following the Alaskan tradition of leaving my lights up ’til the Iditirod dog sledding race starts on March 2nd. It’s dark and dismal outside, so this tradition makes sense to me. Why do we take our lights down in January?? Thoughts? Doctrinal positions? Political statements?

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Thank you for YOU… a giveaway with LB Designs Jewelry

Nov 25 2012

This is the final day in the Thank You for YOU giveaway series.

Meet my friend, Leslie Brittell, owner of LB Designs Jewelry.

Truth is, Leslie’s a total nut job, which means I like her very much. She’s loud. She’s funny. She knows deep in her bones what it means to accept a life that isn’t easy and still choose joy and radical love… and also to beat her head occasionally upon the wall. Mamas of awesome kids with special powers, can I get a what what??

Leslie describes herself as a wife, mom, advocate, fitness instructor, and jewelry designer. She writes, “I love to find the humor in everyday life (it’s better than crying, right?), I love my family (even though I daydream about running away sometimes), I enjoy creating pretty things that other people think are wonderful enough to buy and wear, and I fully believe jewelry is a must for any day and any occasion (even for working out).  The jewelry design has taken on a life of its own, and I really enjoy repairing jewelry or redesigning pieces people don’t like.  I also can restring and knot pearls (an awesome skill I rarely get to use).”

Today, I’m partnering with LB Designs to give away this gorgeous set of earrings. 

I’m calling this one The Giveaway That Almost Wasn’t because I’m sorely tempted to keep these for myself. All I’m saying is, if a “Beth” wins you might want to double check to make sure it’s a different Beth and that I’m still walking the straight and narrow. Also, check my ears. I need accountability, folks.

Psst… I also love these LB Designs bubble necklaces which are available for special order now.

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This giveaway is now closed. Sandra-who-reads-from-Spain, you won!
Congratulations, Sandra!

To Enter:

Leave a comment on this blog post by 11:00pm (Pacific Time) on Sunday, November 25th. One entry per person, please.

This drawing is open to international participants ’cause this is my blog and I can do whatever I want. (Yep — I can even send stuff all the way to the Highlands of Scotland, Sarah Kohn. ;) )

The winner will be selected using a random number generator and posted on Monday.

Also: To keep up with the latest at LB Designs, like Leslie’s Facebook page. That’s not required to enter the contest. I just love Leslie, and I think you will, too.

Also-also: Leslie isn’t a sponsor of this blog. Or an affiliate. I get nothing from this other than a rad opportunity to thank you for reading here. Leslie donated the earrings. I’m paying shipping. Disclaimer, disclaimer, blah blah blah.

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And truly… thank you for YOU.

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Thank you for YOU… a giveaway with Ordinary Artists

Nov 24 2012

This is day 2 in the 3-day Thank You for YOU giveaway series.

Allow me to introduce you to Sarah, creative genius behind Ordinary Artists.

Sarah is cool beans. In addition to the crafts you’ll see here and on her Etsy site, Sarah’s a slam poetry artist. Dude, I am here to tell you I will never be that cool so I’m especially grateful to know people who are.

When I asked Sarah to tell us a little bit more about the how and the why of Ordinary Artists, she wrote, “When I was a little girl, my dad taught me how to make art. Now we make art together! We call ourselves ‘Ordinary Artists’ because we create beautiful art for every life. We love to use ordinary materials (buttons, fabric, ribbon, driftwood, doorknobs) to make little pieces of art that people can enjoy in their everyday lives. Personally, I love creating. I don’t think I could make it through life without the joy of making beautiful things. We started Ordinary Artists a year ago, and hope to continue making art and having fun for a long time.”

Today, we’re giving away not just one but both of these sets of Sarah’s Cute Little Button Cards. 

Set of 5 Reindeer Cards

Set of 5 Snowflake Cards

Ten cards to get you started on winter gift-giving!

Check out Ordinary Artists’ stocking stuffers section, too. And *ahem, Santa* if I find these flower bobby pins in dark blue and speckled earthy grey in my stocking on Christmas morning, I will be a very happy girl.

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This giveaway is now closed.
Congratulations to our winner, Terri! 

To Enter:

Leave a comment on this blog post by 11:00pm (Pacific Time) on Saturday, November 24th. One entry per person, please.

This drawing is open to international participants ’cause this is my blog and I can do whatever I want. (Yep — I can even send stuff all the way to the Highlands of Scotland, Sarah Kohn. ;))

The winner will be selected using a random number generator and posted on Sunday. Check back for the winner AND A FINAL GIVEAWAY on Sunday.

Also: Do check out Sarah’s store on Etsy, and like her on Facebook. Neither of those things is required to enter the contest. I just love Sarah, and I think you will, too.

Also-also: Sarah isn’t a sponsor of this blog. Or an affiliate. I get nothing from this other than a rad opportunity to thank you for reading here. Sarah donated the card sets. I’m paying shipping. Disclaimer, disclaimer, blah blah blah.

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And psst… thank you for YOU.

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Thank you for YOU… and a giveaway with Homespun Haley

Nov 23 2012

Yesterday, I spent the day with my family, grateful for their loud, whiny, funny, crazy, fussy, sweet, irritating, endearing selves.

Today, I want to take a moment to say thank you for YOU.

Thank you for you!

Thank you for accompanying me on the mom journey. Thank you for every comment, every laugh, every tear, and every moment of sweet mama solidarity peppered with authenticity, openness and vulnerability. I set out to write this blog to help normalize the mama experience. Turns out, you all do that for me every day, too. THANK YOU.

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By extension of thank you, I hit up three of my wonderfully creative friends who graciously donated items from their super-cool businesses for a Thanksgiving weekend giveaway. WOOHOO!

Every day, today through Sunday, I’m going to introduce you to a new friend, her awesome business, and a fabulous giveaway. Details on how to enter the giveaway are at the bottom of this post.

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Homespun Haley

Today, meet my friend Haley.

Haley is a self-described urban farmer, corgi owner, food lover, blogger, hard-core thrifter, sewer, loving wifer, Etsy shopper, scary movie lover, chicken mother, cleaning hater (word, sistah), late nighter, DIYer, decorator, and avid gift-giver.

Whenever I need a break from my own mess and a little bit of gorgeous vicarious living, I hit up Haley’s site. It’s pretty. So is she. My bitterness at Haley’s penchant to create beauty from everything around her is mitigated by the fact that she’s a total goofball and blogs using phrases like “I’ve been sewing my face off.” It soothes me.

Haley sewed her face off making this tote purse, and now we’re giving it away.

Everyday Tote Purse

Item Description:
Simple and vibrant tote bag, perfect for everyday use, weekend outings, beach trips, your farmers market loot, library escapades, etc. This bag will be your go-to bag for everyday needs.

Exterior is light weight home-decor fabric in fresh, multicolored, horizontal stripes. Fully lined in a charcoal gray cotton, which helps hide the dirt and grime that shows up in the bags we love and use often. Reinforced straps and interfacing make this bag sturdy and durable.

MEASUREMENTS
– Approx 16″ wide x 15″ tall
– Handles are approx 26″ end to end (13″ high)

DETAILS
– Exterior: light-weight home decor fabric
– Interior: charcoal gray cotton
– Easily fits wallet, keys, sunglasses, phone, sweater and other goodies.
– The bag folds up easily, so it is also the perfect addition to any vacation trip.

CARE INSTRUCTIONS
– Machine or hand wash cold. Line Dry. Iron (warm) flat if needed.

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This giveaway is now closed. Korie Buerkle, you won!
Congratulations, Korie!

This giveaway is now closed.
To Enter:

Leave a comment on this blog post by 11:00pm (Pacific Time) on Friday, November 23rd. One entry per person, please.

This drawing is open to international participants ’cause this is my blog and I can do whatever I want.

The winner will be selected using a random number generator and posted on Saturday. Check back for the winner AND ANOTHER GIVEAWAY on Saturday.

Also:

Do check out Haley’s store on Etsy, and her kickin’ blog, and like her on Facebook. None of those things are required to enter the contest. I just love Haley, and I think you will, too.

Also-also:

Haley isn’t a sponsor of this blog. Or an affiliate. I get nothing from this other than a rad opportunity to thank you for reading here. Haley donated the tote. I’m paying shipping. Disclaimer, disclaimer, blah blah blah.

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