Pioneer Day Part One or "Gone Country"

If you had told me on Thursday of last week that I was a repressed farm girl, I would have thrown my cell phone and bottled water at you. No way. I am 100% committed to the convenience and comforts of the city. I love log homes and country music, but I really enjoy being a bonifide city girl.

But experience being the very best teacher, I may have to admit the possibility of farm girl genes.

Kingdom Academy of the Arts in Bell Buckle, TN. KAA is the family farm of Ron and Malinda Tuggle. It’s about 65 miles from our home, down into Rutherford County where the hills roll a little softer and the neighbors are close but not *that* close.

The Tuggles are a Christian family who have home-schooled their four children for the last 14 years. Periodically, they open their farm and their home to friends from far and near thru the Pioneer Day Experience. J and I attended last Saturday and even though the weather was unseasonably brisk for late April, we both had an awesome time.

J has an abiding fascination with cement and when he heard that Mr. Scott would be working on layering rocks onto the block chimney, J was a happy dude. Sure enough, Scott gave J plenty of instruction on choosing a rock that fit, using a trowel to apply mortar, filling in gaps and letting it dry. At one point, while sloshing his trowel through a wheel-barrow of cement, J commented, “I could mix mortar all day.” The Tuggle’s new chimney has at least one very special rock applied by JCD. I’m sure he’ll point it out next time we go too. He was very proud.

KAA is the home of a lone sheep who (lucky for us) was due for sheering on Saturday. I wanted to watch the shepherd, Mr. Gordon, sheer her, so I pulled J away from Mr. Scott’s stone masonry project just long enough to witness this. I was surprised at the amount of wool she was carrying around. Mr. Gordon is an old-time shepherd by trade and he shared all sorts of interesting things with us about sheep and shepherding as he sheered her. Sheep’s wool contains lanolin, a natural skin softener. It was neat to run our hands across the newly-clipped wool and feel the lanolin in its natural state. Did you know that sheep have sections of their wool that looks like it has a perfectly crimped perm? We didn’t either.

After the sheep sheering, J discovered his preferred trade of the day. Wood Chopping, complete with an axe, a wedge and all the oak logs he could handle. There were some older boys around, chopping the logs into sections and seeing their success pushed J to want to do more. He gave this task his all and pushed himself to succeed. The axe was pretty heavy but that didn’t stop him from giving it his all. My boy likes to chop wood. What a great, heart-pumping, muscle-building, aggression-relieving activity! I’m filing that away for future reference.

The baby chicks and kittens were cute and cuddly. Unfortunately chicks and kitties don’t hold near the rush of wood chopping, so we only visited them for a few minutes before returning to the wood pile.

Just before lunch, J and wandered over to the carving station. Any excuse to play with knives, right? J enjoyed carving random patterns into a bar of soap…which he later informed his father was a bird. OK.

The front porch of the house was the old-fashioned ice cream cranking station. J spent some time cranking while I worked on our lunch.

Lunch was my favorite learning experience. I’ve grilled plenty but cooking our whole meal over the fire was new to me. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I chopped potatoes, carrots and onions and cooked them in our iron skillet over the fire. We mixed Johnnycake mix (similar to cornbread) and cooked it in the same pan, alongside the veggies. Over a separate fire, a chicken and a roast had been cooking throughout the morning, thanks to Mrs. Tuggle, Krystal and Courtney. We cut our portion and J and I shared an excellent meal together. After all that wood chopping, I think J would have eaten anything. J He was especially impressed with the ice cream that he had helped make.

J traipsed down to the lake for a bit of fishing after lunch but soon returned to the wood chopping. Apparently, the boys who were fishing weren’t too fond of people who wanted to throw rocks into the pond. (Imagine that.)

The Tuggles love animals, especially dogs. They have several big friendly dogs and J took to one in particular. On more than one occasion throughout the day I found J sitting on the steps of the porch, petting the big white dog. Doing something so calming and gentle by choice is such an unusual activity for J. It was a nice change of pace. It also brought up the “I think we need a dog” topic on the way home.

part two of our farm adventure coming ASAP.

Making a House Feel Like a Home??

I was listening to Dave Ramsey on the radio yesterday, as I often do in the car. I like Dave for many reasons but one of the main reasons I listen to him is for his insight into marriage. I know it sounds odd to say that I gain marriage insight from a financial advisor on the radio…but I do.

Dave tells it like it is in an easy-to-understand way. When he talks about his marriage to Sharon Ramsey, his devotion and commitment to her flows thru that microphone and out onto a radio audience of bazillions. You can tell just by the way he talks about her and their marriage that he adores her and that they have a very real relationship.

Yesterday, one of Dave’s callers was a woman who was having a “discussion” with her husband about their home. From the story she told, the husband, wife and three small children have a 1200 square foot home. Needless to say, they are cramped. Husband is gazelle-intense about having the house paid off in 6 years. Wife (a SAHM) is feeling the need for space and wants to buy a larger house yesterday.

Dave, in his wisdom, unravels more than just a financial situation with this caller. He understands that a home to a woman, especially a home maker, is vitally important. The condition of the home is a direct reflection of her, much like work is for her husband. Since she spends the bulk of her time with the three kids in the small home, she feels this issue in a more pressing and personal way than her husband.

It’s then, that Dave shares something that struck me. He said (I’m paraphrasing) “I’m a guy. I have no use for d├ęcor. I could live under a bridge and be happy. However, my wife, Sharon needs our house to feel like a home. She needs our home to be warm and well-decorated. She needs our home to be comfortable and inviting to others. These things identify her as a home-maker.”

Home Maker

That term makes me feel like a failure. I don’t think I have ever felt like I make our house a “home”. My mother was and remains a true home-maker…so it’s not like I don’t have an understanding of the concept. I know what a made home feels like…I just don’t know how to get there from right here.

I thought that would change when we moved from an apartment into our own house a year ago. But now, I look around and I feel like we live in boy-world. Pure function. We have yet to shake that “college dorm” functionality. The things that make a house “homey” are still missing. The thing is…I can’t even put my finger on what those things are exactly. I just know it feels like it’s missing to me.

In my head, I know that “homey” and warm can not be achieved by hiring a professional decorator and re-creating the latest Pottery Barn cover, even if my budget had room for that…which it certainly doesn’t.

J and I have discussed this…well, I talked through it with him sitting across the table from me…I don’t think he “got” it, but he was kind enough to listen and nod at appropriate times. He knows I love this house, even with all its quirks and those things we lovingly refer to as its “character”. In a sense, maybe this isn’t about the bones of the house, but about its nature and its people.

So here and now I admit that I haven't tried as hard as I should have to pursue this. Today, I am resolving to become more of a home-maker. Even though I don’t have much of a clue how to start.

It’s just one of those things…I’ll know it when I feel it. And then, we'll all be home.


There's a Strange Woman Sitting at my Desk

There's a strange woman sitting at my desk.
She's writing in my Blog.
She's scrapbooking using my stuff.
She's wearing my clothes.
She's even drinking my coffee.
She slept until 9:15 am in my bed on my pillow.
She took far-too-long in my shower first thing this morning.
She dressed in my clothes today...the nice outfit that had to be ironed.
She went to the mall and she browsed alone.
She bought things for herself using my debit card.
She browsed a-l-o-t. No one interrupted her to announce the need for facilities.
She ate lunch at my favorite resturant, Baha Fresh, for only $6.
She went to a craft store and an art supply store.
She played my favorite CDs in my Jeep, with the windows down and the volume turned up way too loud.
She came home to my home, although it was unusually quiet.
She sat on my sofa and read my magazine untill my husband came home.
She kissed my husband.
She and he went to a quiet dinner out at another favorite resturant, and sat at a table for only two.
She and he came back to my house.
And like I said, now she sits at my computer writing in my blog.
All day I have been followed around by this strange woman. She's familiar but forgotten. Like an old friend I haven't seen in eons.

She's the strange me.

She is me... but a different me. A me without them.

Me, without them, makes me feel like a strange woman is in my place. It's funny. I never realize how much being a mother defines me until they go away.


Lists, Lists, Lists

Scrapbooking Goals for the Remainder of the Year
1- clean off counter/workspace with a little more regularity
2- finish more pages than I start
3- complete my Bazzill Zippered Wallet project
4- complete my design team application entries asap
5- buy a new album to house all these finished layouts
6- crop regularly with friends
7- buy a new pair of Fiskars Easy Touch Micro Point scissors and guard them ferociously
8- take at least three classes to learn new things
9- begin a new stage in Julian’s School Years album…the home school era
10- start on my “Our Journey Home” album about our journey to this house and how it’s been for the first year.

Twenty Scrapbooking Things I Love (because ten wasn’t enough)
1- Bazzill Paper…razzle, dazzle, Bazzill!
2- Hot Potatoes Chunky Stamps
3- Ribbons…can’t get enough ribbon
4- the new Debra Beagle Performance Art Stamps
5- photos printed with a white border
6- DYMO label maker
7- journaling on vellum
8- black brads and photo turns
9- Paper tearing
10- using song titles and lyrics
11- “Scrapbooking Life’s Little Moments” by Rebecca Sower
12- Scrapbooks etc magazine
13- the feel of sliding a completed LO into a page protector
14- when my favorite Pea Artists add new stuff to their galleries
15- metal rimmed circular tags of all sizes
16- alphabet stamps of all kinds
17- oversized foam stamps, alphas and shapes
18- incorporating elements of nature into my layouts
19- a catchy, memorable title
20- making my own idea sketches

Ten Things I Love
1- mail-order catalogs
2- colored pencils
3- Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
4- freshly bathed 2-year-old feet, especially if they are prune-y
5- freshly primer-ed walls (about to be painted)
6- Diet Sunkist poured from the can over a cup of ice from Sonic
7- a clutter-free kitchen (it happens so rarely)
8- something old being repurposed and becoming functional again
9- Mason Jars (they have so much potential)
10- the smell of fresh-cut pine lumber

Ten Discs in rotation Right Now
1- One Good Friend - George Canyon
2- Becoming - Christine Dente’
3- Sticks and Stones – Wes King
4- The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack for The Phantom of the Opera
5- Cross Road – Bon Jovi
6- Born to Fly – Sara Evans
7- Scribbling in the Sand—The Best of Michael Card Live – Michael Card
8- All About Love – Steven Curtis Chapman
9- Songbook: A Collection of Hits – Trisha Yearwood
10- Come On Come On – Mary-Chapin Carpenter

Seven Books I am Reading Right Now
1- The Gift of Dyslexia by Ronald D. Davis
2- The Gift of Learning by Ronald D. Davis
3- Real Love for Real Life: The Art and Work of Caring by Andi Ashworth
4- Why You Can’t Stay Silent by Tom Minnery
5- The Connecting Church: Beyond Small Groups to Authentic Community by Randy Frazee
6- Bringing Up Boys by Dr. James Dobson
7- Better Late Than Early: A New Approach to Your Child’s Education by Raymond S. More

Seven Things I Have Noticed Lately
1- My most cherished scrapbook pages have tons of journaling and a great illustrative photo. Embellishments are nice but secondary.
2- I will never be able to keep all my laundry done and in it’s place at once. Somebody is always messing something up.
3- Whenever I read certain passages of the Bible, I “hear it” being read in my father’s voice. (My father became a minister when I was 6.)
4- Boys and girls are very different. And that never changes.
5- There’s nothing wrong with scrap-lifting.
6- It’s easier to look like you are organized than to actually be organized.
7- Tamika Tyler was robbed.

Definition of a Lucky Day

According to Julian

Julian: “Mom it must be my lucky day.”

Mom: “Why Jules?”

Julian: “Because there are two cherries in my Diet Cherry Lime-Aid!”


A Witness to Saturday Morning Moments

Ever have one of those days where things just go right?

I don't have them very often and it's probably mostly my own fault. My fault because I forget to look for the perfection in the ordinary. It's so easy to neglect the little things of life that can bring simple joy, if only I remember to look closely.

I think I may have witnessed one of those perfect morning today. It's Saturday. The weather in Nashville is absolutely perfect today. It not cold but not hot. Sunny with a few clouds, slightly breezy. The yard is finally approaching mostly dry after several days of rain this week.

Joal and I have very different ideas on what the most wonderful Saturday looks like (so what else is new, right). His awesome Saturday starts around 7 am...far earlier than I wish mine started. He goes for a walk and make his daily pilgrimage to Starbucks, where He drinks coffee and reads for a while. By the time he gets home, the kids and I are up and about (hopefully). In the life of Joal, Saturday mornings were built for tackling small home improvement and repair projects.

Of course, the boys love this Saturday feature too. It's a regular Tim-the-Tool-Man festival around here when Daddy's working on something...festival complete with arrrgh-arrrgh-arrrgh in three different male tones. It's a good thing he's a pretty patient man cause Little Boy and Big Boy are on-the-job-learners. They constantly steal tools, ask questions and say things like "Move Daddy, I can't see."

So, the project of the day today was the serious un-jamming of the sink disposal. Earlier in the week, I turned on the handy dandy disposal and was rewarded with a wicked metal-on-something-really-nasty grinding sound.

I did what I do best. I went to my three favorite fix-it-yourself websites and learned about disposals. Very interesting stuff, lemme tell ya. I did the minor cleaning out and found out it wasn't going to be enough. There was definately something deep inside causing a problem.

For future reference, it's not a good idea to wash muddy cups, bowls and equipment in the disposal side of the kitchen sink. You see, mud may can contain small pebbles...and apparently, our mud did. Small pebbles and disposals do not get along. Trust me on this.

So I did the next best in the big gun...who, in this case, is also called "Daddy". Daddy has, in less than one year as a homeowner, become the perfect home repair specialist. That's not to say that he knows how to fix everything that breaks. It's to say that he finds incredible joy in the attempting. (How very "Tim" of you, honey.) He fiddles with the offending part of the house. He mulls. He reads whatever handy relavent guide I happen to find on the internet. Finally, after much debate, he says those magic words that thrill the souls of boys, Little and Big:

"You wait here. I have to go to the tool shed to get my tools."

In come the beloved tools. Boys everywhere dive for the toybox in hopes of locating matching tool belts, in which to hold Daddy's "real" tools for even the briefest moment.

Off comes the disposal. More fiddling and mulling. More reading. I pace a little but hope it goes unnoticed. Little Boy is loosing interest (he's not into mulling much) so we dig out the fruitie snacks and he's agreeable again. The internet guide shows a service phone number. Daddy finally decides to call the service line. They chat a bit and Daddy gets off the phone and says the most beautiful words ever uttered in the English language:

"Get you shoes on, son. We have to go get a whatchamacallit at Home Depot."

Shreiks of delight echo thru the house rivalling any rendition of the Helleluhjah Chorus. Afterall, NO self-respecting Saturday morning home repair project can be complete without the requisite trip to that orange d-i-y man-land known as Home Depot.

Big Boy and Daddy are elected to make the trip. Little boy swears loudly that he didn't get an equal vote. Half an hour later, Big Boy and Daddy return triumphantly from their trek, bearing the needed whatchamacallit. A little while later, the whrrr of the newly cleaned and repaired disposal can be heard followed closely by cheering and more arrrgh-arrrgh-arrrgh! Crisis solved. Saturday morning home repair project completed and enjoyed (for the most part) by men of all ages.

The mess is cleaned up and the crew is happy. The grass has begun to grow again and needs attention. Maybe after lunch.


Mountain Memories Calling to Me

I mailed the check today!!

After a heartbreaking fiasco last year that ended in my missing out on the annual scrapbooking pilgrimage to Townsend TN for Croptoberfest...I am thrilled to say that I am going to be able to go this year! Yes, I's months away (October--hence the name), but it's always such an amazing time...I'll enjoy looking forward to it for months.

The very first Croptoberfest is where I met Anita...and yes, I'm still going back...hehee.


Choose to Be Creative

I wish I could be a hat-wearer.

I have always loved pretty hats and admired the rare women who could wear them gracefully on an ordinary day. A woman who wears a hat makes people look twice and remember her.

Hats are just one of the many things that speak to me on a creative level. I am fascinated by creative personalities and have recently been encouraged to become more personally creative. While shopping recently, I discovered a quote that spoke to me, right where I was.

“Life is not about a destination.Life is all about the journey.”

What does it mean to be creative?There’s really no one definition that truly encompass the term “creativity”. I believe it’s easier to define creativity by examining a few thoughts.

“Creativity is that which takes ones spirit from an ordinary and mundane existence to a place of sincere delight in the ordinary-ness of life and the enjoyment of getting there.”

“Creativity is continually developing and changing. One does not arrive at being creative as if it were a destination. One experiences creativity on a moment-by-moment basis.”

“Creativity is like a muscle. To be developed and defined, it must be used.”

“Creativity is choosing to think outside the box.”

“Creativity is choosing to alter your own perspective as well as your own habits.”

“Creativity is an acknowledgement of the beauty of life, without regard to the prettiness.”

Creativity is an intentional expansion of one’s ideas and perceptions.For me, living creatively, means focusing more on finding a joy in the journey of everyday. Focusing on “just getting through the day” is admitting to a defeated attitude and involves very little long-term goals. Living each day creatively means actively breaking through the monotony and seeking out those experiences that encourage, strengthen, and uplift.

I hear people often say "I'm not that creative." I just want to shake them and say "Well, of course you aren't, with that attitude." Living creatively takes practice. You don't expect to become buff and muscular if you don't work out. You don't become creative without excercising your creativity.

So, stop thinking of yourself as dull and uncreative. Stop speaking un-creativity into your world. Don't think--DO!

Do Creatively!

Moments...Enlightened Scrapbooking

Scrapbooking Life's Little Moments by Rebecca Sower (a Tennessean, I might add) is a monumental advancement in the world of scrapbooking and has been open on my scrapdesk, providing endless nourishment to my scrapping soul for months now. I'm in awe.

This is the scrapbook artist I want to be when I grow up.

The very first page is striking. On it, Rebecca (hereafter known as RS) shares an incident from her life as a mother and how a scar on a newly-refinshed wood floor in her house should have been something that she wanted fixed...but it's not. She came to realize that this mark made by her exuberant son was a mark of his young life and livliness on thier home. What would have been treated as a scar or a mistake by some became a rich reminder of his youth.

“That is exactly what we scrapbook artists are doing every time we create a
meaningful layout for the people we love. We are leaving our marks. Marks on
their days. Marks on their futures. Marks on their hearts.”

“And for me, that’s what scrapbooking is all about.”

Me, too. or perhaps, more appropriately…Hoo Yah!


How Long Until I'm Finished Scrapbooking?

“How long until you are finished with this scrapbook thing?”

A few years ago someone asked me this question. I admit it—I was stunned. I think it was probably that question that set me to thinking about this process and its importance. Many of my scrapbooking friends have been led to believe that we are only as good as our scrapbooks are current.

I refuse to believe this.

I will not give in to the notion that I should not rest until I am officially “caught up”. I choose to do what I can, when I can. If I never scrap another page, I will have left for my children a collection of illustrated love letters that is perfect in its incompleteness. If I never scrap another page, it will be enough. It will have to be. After all, how can I ever really get “caught up” when I will continue to make memories worthy of preserving for as long as my story is continuing? The endless striving to be “caught-up” turns this hobby and passion into a chore…one more thing I feel I must accomplish.

How sad is that?

This is not a race. For me, scrapbooking is not about quantity, but quality. I want my pages to express my feeling and memories to the viewer.

Finished? I hope I am never finished. I plan to create memories as long as my story continues…and I want that to be a long long time!

Why Scrapbook?

I believe that God gives each of us a unique and stunning story—one that deserves and needs to be shared with those we love, those we are surrounded by and those who will come after us. In the grandest detail, the story of my life is written by my heavenly father. It’s a journey of His continual pursuit of all of my heart, complete with all the damaged places that I have and all the good I am capable of being. We “write” or share our stories in many ways—thru everyday living, words and deeds, choices, children, journals…and, for me, scrapbooking.

Scrapbooking is my way of telling my story—a writing of my own history, if you will. The pages of my scrapbook are dedicated to the memories of our family—the times we have shared and the people and places we want to remember. A scrapbook is a simple place to combine all the things I love…my family, my faith, photos, art and journaling. I create because I enjoy the process of scrapbooking as much as watching my children enjoy the results. I scrapbook today, in part, so that they will have something tangible that connects them to their role in our family throughout their lives.

My legacy is more than the pages of a scrapbook, but these pages speak of the people I love and the things I value. These pages are meant to illustrate the feelings I have for those I love. Captured in the images and the words of my scrapbook are the stories of our lives—a mingling of joy and pain, happiness and sorrow, accomplishment and failure, ordinary and remarkable, laughter and tears, family and friends, each one and all together.

Breaking all the Rules: My Philosophy of Scrap

I am about to celebrate the beginning of my tenth year as a scrapbooker. I must say, this has been an amazing journey. I started out very simply and have wandered my way thru quite a few trends and habits, finally to come to what I consider my true style. I am grateful for those who have influenced this journey so far and I hope it continues for many more years. With these things in mind, and after a series of conversations with new friends about scrapbooking, I thought I would share my personal philosophy about scrapbooking.

My little "Philosophy of Scrapbooking" has four tenets:

1. Journaling is vital.
I know, I know...I just lost about half of my scrapbooking friends because they aren't into "the journaling thing". But wait. Journaling is to a scrapbook as water to a swimming pool. Without the story, a scrapbook of photos is just a big gaping hole. I want my scrapbook to be a journal with photos. Illustrated love letters, if you will. (Have we seen this somewhere else?) What good will photos do if no one knows the story behind them? A photo is just a photo until the story gets told.

Journaling is not something to be dreaded and does not have to be prosaically perfect. Kinda like blogging. It just has to be real. Just write what you feel or what you want to express.

2. This is not a race.
For me, scrapbooking is not about quantity, but quality. I want my pages to express my feeling and memories to the viewer. I refuse to be pushed into hurrying thru my hobby just to conquer the ever-increasing stacks of photos like they were a stack of dreaded dirty dishes in the sink. No way. I scrap as I want. Whatever I get done before my days are done will have to just be enough. I seriously doubt that my children will ever be heard saying "I'm so mad at mom. She didn't scrapbook all those 6 rolls of film from the Christmas of 1997."

3. Not every photo has to be scrapbooked!
Wait! Don’t stop reading yet. I haven’t lost it completely. Not every event has to be painstakingly preserved in detail. As the key scrapbooker/memory preservationist in this family, I am the one who takes 99% of the photos. If quality photos are going to be taken...I'm behind the camera. Unfortunately, that sometimes means I am missing out on the actual event.

Last Christmas I found I enjoyed the holiday experience much more by taking only a few requisite photos and then *setting the camera down* (and, yes, that was h-a-r-d.) I learned from that experience that while I love the scrapbooking process, I don't want to loose focus on the life around me. I'll make do with the photos and still be able to preserve the memories.

Did you know that the popular page protector brand, C-Line, makes a 12x12 page protector that is sub-divided to hold (6) 4x6 photos per side (total of 12 photos per protector)? The discovery of this product thrilled me far too much! I now have four years of unscrapbooked photos organized chronologically into a single 12x12 ring binder, inside these nifty photo holders. Anybody who cares can browse thru my photo collection at any time. The photos are in a safe environment and are dated. When the mood strikes, I can easily pull photos from the album and scrapbook them to my hearts content.

Wanna hear something ironic? My boys love this album just as much as my scrapbooks!

4. The quality of the scrapbook is not measured in dollars spent on supplies. Scrapbooking is a hobby that I love and in the past I have spent plenty of money on it. P-l-e-n-t-y of money! No more. My scrapbook is about my stories, not about my gadgets and embellishments. Those are secondary. I am resolving to go with the less-is-more concept and focus the pages back on the photos and the stories.