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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

weigh in 9 - better late than never

This will be short.   My body is totally ticked off and my hands are swollen and my limbs are sore from the shoulder down.  While this feels like a food reaction, it also happens simply from over using those muscles.  Leftover weakness from months of pain and immobility from food reactions.


The hopes of continuing to lose great amounts over the holidays have been dashed to pieces with yet another gain - BUT - it is a minimal gain.  +.2    Which I think I could frankly chalk up to water retention and being a girl at that "special" time.  Thankfully that still means I'm holding steady at 169.  YES!

We've had a great Christmas here!  Still no snow which is simply crazy and a total bummer.   Today is shopping day, we are going to a local outlet mall to spend our Christmas money - both Mr and I are in need of new clothes big time!  So we've been waiting for this week!

Hopefully I'll burn lots of extra calories walking the miles of shops today! :)

Blessings to you as we move out of 2011 and into 2012 - for hope and confidence in His good plans for your future!
the Mrs.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Negative Nelly's Receptical

The happy place is not where I have resided recently.   The last couple of days I've been trying to be purposeful about grabbing onto His grace and promises to keep my mind from being dragged down into those dark places where I think I'm in control.

He is.  I am not.  ....this morning as I was getting ready and I was pondering all this, seeking Him out as I washed my face and did my hair....He offered me a glimpse of my error.   As I looked out the bathroom window, silently conversing with Him, the view of the back yard faded.   I saw myself with my arms loaded to the brim, posture tall and confident but pridefully unaware that, with that much in my arms, there was no way to hand something off without dropping everything.  Making a huge mess of all of it.   Next to me He walked, arms at the ready.   Then it morphed into Him joyfully carrying all I had before and there was only one item in my hands at a time.  He, always close, always helping.   I realized what He was telling me.....I have been making it about me.  I've been grasping for control and not wanting to let go of anything.  Here, He gently reveals why I've been so overwhelmed.  

I asked His forgiveness and help to remember, to change my focus and mind set.  More than once there was music or a FB post to keep this fresh.

As per usual a purposed change of focus brings out challenges, things and people who poke and prod at that peace.   I started to message my husband with my most recent thought and decided perhaps it was more suited to just blog out.  Processing as I ponder.

Often I reflect on my need to have more grace for people, to be kinder, more understanding, talk less/listen more, more encouraging or more positive.....qualities that lift up.    This morning made me wonder if I need to be tougher....less open, more rude or just what on earth I project that gives people the idea that I am a receptical for their negativity, their baggage, gossip about people I don't know or simply their need to talk about themselves as if - like a garbage can - you only throw things in, you don't take things out.  

In this moment I'm unsure if this is due to some positive character trait that just makes people feel safe around me to be who they are, for good or bad, OR if somewhere along the line "Toss Here" was stamped on my forehead.  Perhaps it's due to the fact that I've simply been exhausted and not in the most peaceful state of mind lately that this line of questioning is coming to me.   Quite honestly, if I think about it, most of my communications revolve around me listening to others......helping to shoulder burdens, counsel them through tough moments, pray with or for much going out in various directions.  Quite honestly, I should probably stop thinking about it.  Like I said before...Jesus came not to be served but to serve.  The depth of me wants to live like this and the humanity of me struggles with the What about me?   It's an ugly place to get stuck in though.

The balance of it is a struggle.  We are human.  Jesus knew the human limitations of this body and mind, He retreated regularly from the crowds......going off to find solitude in the mountains.   I wonder if we had a daily account, a "Dear Diary", if He would do this daily or often would He seek out this kind of solitude?  Was it for hours, or did He sometimes need days, weeks?   It would be interesting to know.

He made me a nurturer, a mother hen to anyone in arms reach and He made me strong.  Able to withstand great trials, refining fire, and know that I know in the end I will come out like gold.

But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come out like Gold. 
~ Job 23:10

"The key phrase in that statement is "when He has tested me."  You see, there is no hurry-up process for finding and shaping gold.  The process of discovering, processing, purifying and shaping gold is a lengthy, painstaking process.  Affliction is gold int he making for the child of God, and God is the one who determines how long the process takes.  He alone is the Refiner."
~ Charles Swindoll

Blessings to you of love and grace, refined and purified by Him alone, 
the Mrs.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

the most un Christmassy Christmas EVER

According to the rest of the world we are supposed to live in the frozen tundra of the north.  People say "Minnesota? It's so cold there! Don't you get like dozens of feet of's like Canada right?"

Well, at this is as brown and gross as ever.  Not a trace of snow.  Temps are in the 20's but we were actually stuck in the 50's with RAIN for a while.  Last year we had a foot of snow for thanksgiving.  Mr has pointed out that the lack of snow has really brought out the lights.....its hard to drive down a road and not see several houses lit up this year.  They were few and far between last year because the snow was so early.

The Dude has taken his plea up with God.  This morning he came out, said good morning and then said "I asked God to make a blizzard last night.......He didn't return the favor."   HA!  Had to explain that there wasn't a favor to return but he wasn't totally awake so he gets a pass for that one.  Still funny tho!

But seriously.....people are getting snow everywhere and we are stuck in this brown, dead wasteland.  Christmas must be white!  There must be an abundance of snow and slippery roads to complain about!  Snow balls and ugly boots needed so we can't wear our cute shoes.   THIS is winter people!

Winter is the Dude's favorite season.  He LOVES the snow, the more the better.  He doesn't really slide or do any winter sports but there is something about the snow - he just adores it.  Lord, if nothing else will you please dump some snow on us just for him??  Maybe do it at a time and in a way that shows him that you heard HIS prayer??  Otherwise he's going to continue to drive me crazy! :)  

This week continues...lots of cleaning and some baking to be done.   I got the DVD The Nativity Story from Netflix for us to watch before Christmas.  As a parent I struggle with explaining things in a way my son can understand.  I am looking forward to seeing how he processes this movie, the questions that he might come up with.....the conversations that it might inspire.  Perhaps moving his faith into something more personal.....he is a technical kid.  Literal and specific.  His faith is still in the details, more knowledge than relationship.

I'm excited to see what else is birthed this season.

Well, I'm off to TJ's today for hopefully the last trip of my own and then back home to clean, work on laundry and make more toffee, chex mix and probably some cookies.....or at least the dough.

Blessings for a fresh, new, swaddled faith this season,
the Mrs.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

not just a tuesday

Today is shopping day.  Groceries and home supplies, anything that needs to be "shopped" for is done on Tuesday.   Normally that means about 3-4 stores and if I need to go to Trader Joes I slip that in on another day in the morning.   Most of the stores I visit each week are clustered near each other and TJs is in a whole other city.  So it gets its own day to save time and gas.  

I try to organize my shopping in a kind of loop, conserving time and gas so that I'm not running a crazy zig zag pattern all over town.  Bringing my own bags helps, Aldi charges for them and Target gives you a 5cents per bag credit on your total.  It's like a coupon!  I love it. 

Yesterday I spent the day in list mode.....I currently have 6 lists going.  A grocery list, a "gifts left to buy" list - which will go with me and the grocery list today to be taken care of; a list for Sam's Club later this week for Christmas dinner essentials; one for regular household things that need to be done and another for all the "company is coming the day after we will be running around for 2 days" list - this is the planning ahead to keep my sanity list; and finally there is the list of dinners and what to expect in the evenings...mostly a "will dad be home or not" list.

These are all posted on the kitchen wall so people can help out and so I have a central place to look - an IN sight IN mind kind of thing.

My ordinarily efficient 2 hours of shopping this morning I assume will be less efficient and a tad more crowded.  The routine is that I drop the Dude off at school and then head straight to the stores.  I'll be doing the same today but I'll be shopping for more groceries than usual, as well as finishing the gift shopping and stopping at the new Goodwill to see if I can find some holiday tops for us.
When I am out on these days I try to keep to my morning time - in the summer I head out even earlier.  Mornings are quiet, the staff hasn't been too stressed at this point and the required "customer within X number of feet away" greeting is friendly and genuine.  I don't feel rushed or crowded, I can offer the people I meet with a friendly hello and get to know them just a bit.  At the checkout lanes, because it isn't busy, anyone with less than I have in my cart gets the offer to go in front of me.   There are little blessings that can be offered as we go about our business. 

Too often I notice the entitlement and lack of courtesy to employees.  Retail workers have the most thankless job.  They are often treated as lowly, they take the brunt of customers frustration for decisions that are not in their control, they have to clean up the messes that people leave because they were too lazy to throw out their garbage (in the clearly labeled receptacle) or put their cart back where it belongs.   Because I do my shopping on the same day and time of the week I see the same shifts of people.  I hear about grandchildren being born, cancer treatments leaving them tired (but still working a standing job behind the register), deer eating up the garden, the stress and pressure of high volumes of customers and not enough workers.....not to mention the attitude of those customers.   I hear the good and the bad, the smiles and the tears.  These are human beings with lives and families and they deserve to be treated with respect.

For me, it is a part of my weekly shopping plan to be as friendly as possible to these good people.  To take care of a stray cart or two, to fix a product or rehang a shirt, ask about a new baby or how things are going.  

Jesus came not be served but to serve.  Make the most of your encounters.  Be responsible with your words and your actions.  Be courteous as you are out and about and remember that if you put something back where it doesn't belong.....someone else has to do it for you. mom's isn't that what we repeatedly tell our kids?   "Put your things back where they belong, I shouldn't have to clean up after you"....if only we all remembered that as adults.

Blessings to you today for the vision to see the unseen, to notice the small and spread good cheer, 
the Mrs.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Weigh in Monday 8 - setback

After a long week of stressing out, grieving my mother's birthday and......well, lets face it....emotional eating.   I am less surprised and more disappointed in myself for having achieved a +.4 this week.

Yuck.  + is ugly.

BUT we don't focus on failure here, mistakes are opportunities to learn and grow, not to dwell on the negative.  It is only .4 and I didn't go back up into the 70's.  That is a GOOD THING.

So.....what have I learned this week?  When I'm feeling bummed and overwhelmed at the same time....I gravitate toward eating.....salty, crunchy and sweet comforting foods.  Mentally, I start to check out and not think about the goal, the big picture.  The prime time for cheating....when I spend too much time alone and there is no one to witness....then it didn't happen.  Actually if I'm really's when Mr isn't home.  "If a tree falls in the woods and there is no one around, does it make a sound?"

Confession:  I had chips and salsa several times, guac too - no measuring or counting.  I ate candy and pretended I didn't.  I didn't drink enough water and not nearly enough fruit. I didn't track my points more than 50% of this last week and I only got on the treadmill 2-3 times and for less time than I would normally.

I know exactly what went wrong.   Now, I need to apply it to this coming week.  I need to get organized and make sure I have some safety nets, meals planned so I don't have to think.  This time of year gets a tad crazy....Mr says I tend to get overwhelmed by whatever area it is I think I'm falling short in.  The season of "busy", preparing and planning, combined with the lingering emptiness of a missed loved one....apparently puts me in a tender and easily overwhelmed place this time of year.

Just one more thing that makes me love that man abundantly.  Even when I am not aware, he is paying attention and trying to piece together what my needs are, even when I am not aware I am in need.  LOVE him.

So, this, TODAY.....I need to spend time making lists.  What to do, what to prepare and what to eat.....It's preparation day.  Time to set up boarders and safety nets.  The more unburdened my mind is the better I do.

And this is a week my mind should be unburdened.  This should be a week of dwelling on my Savior.  Pondering His birth, His choice to come here to this little blue ball He created (and we messed up), to be one of us.  To be among us.   To feel and be like one of us and show us how things could be.  It is a week that should be filled with anticipation for my Lord and every day should be.....but its Christmas....a time when the world participates in celebrating the King of Kings and even if they deny Him.....they are at the party.  They can't fight it or hide it and if they are participating in Christmas at all.....they're still at the party.  Maybe on the outskirts, perhaps the wall flowers but they are watching us.  Live your witness to Him who saved you.....and they will see.

Blessings to you for a week of preparation.....for holidays, for life, for love, for Him,
the Mrs.

Friday, December 16, 2011

an awwwwww for your weekend...

Our littlest dog is Teddy.  He is about 7ish pounds and a total momma's boy.  Last night as we were all hanging out in the living room and he got tired of playing...he nestled himself on the pillow next to me with his toy.

This toy is about 1/3 his size but he loves it....

Yup, he is the cutest.

Blessings for your weekend,
the Mrs.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

help arrived

Sometimes all the little stresses snowball into something big and overwhelming.  They get tangled and jumbled up together, hard to tell where one issue starts and another one ends....more menacing and powerful than if they just lined up nicely as individuals.   Seems they like to attack on just the right days...the weak ones.

Mr knows that sometimes the calendar creeps up on me.  It and some deep part of my mind or spirit get together and have things timed.  Often I am not even aware of the collaboration until I am reacting, feeling, the anniversary.   It's funny how it an ironic, questioning my sanity, kind of way....I start noticing that tears come more easily and for things that ordinarily wouldn't trigger them.  I start wondering if somehow I've completely lost track of time and the PMS monster has arrived...when I realize that it hasn't I then wonder some more.

Mr stayed home with me yesterday.  He knows me well.  Staying home to help me catch up around the house, cross things off my list....might seem like something small but to me it is huge.  Clutter got cleared, things got cleaned, donated and delivered.  Discussions and decisions made.....weights lifted.  I still feel gloomy, tired, and the weather we've had is not helping.  ALL the snow is gone, it's been rainy and yucky out.  No trace of sun - though there was a tiny moment this morning when it showed its radiant face...hoping we get more snow soon.

There was also a glimpse into how some days it's hard to get things done.  One extra phone call can change the overall productivity of the whole day because there is a guarantee that I will have one excessively long call in my day.   No matter how good, wanted, filling and nurturing a second call is.....there is little I can do while on the phone.  Due to the nature of my brain injury, any distraction means I have no idea what the person on the phone said.  So often, if I'm on the phone, I need to just sit and participate, listen actively and focus.  Mr got to witness this yesterday - I'm not much of a phone person and if I do take a call it is always during the day - less distractions and it is quiet - so for him to see me on the phone is rare.

Today I'll be trying to get more done around here....the main goal is to actually get on the treadmill.  I haven't been in the last 3 days.   That's the longest I've gone in more than a month or so, I think.  That's going to make it really tough to hit that 2.9......but we'll see.  I'm heading off to help a friend this afternoon and sit with her twins - one of which is our god-daughter - so she can run some errands and get out of the house.  They are just the cutest girls and such good babies!

I have 45 minutes until phone call time.....I must go run....or at least walk fast on the treadmill.

Blessings for joyful productivity in your day,
the Mrs.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

circuits are overloaded....system shutting down in 3.....2....1.... Something's gotta give.

Ever feel like you need someone to hold your hand just to make it through the day?

What happens when the helper is spread too thin?

As I wound my way through isles and stores this morning, I found myself near tears too often....silently crying out to Him to lift the burdens.   My mind went to that rock Moses struck (Exodus 17:1-7) and water poured out for the people who were thirsty..... Rocks are made of solid, near unbreakable substance....formed ages ago and filled with markers of time.   Moses struck the rock with a staff.....a piece of wood, something so much weaker than the rock itself and it split, pouring forth fresh water to quench the thirst of those who were grumbling and needy.

I can only hope that when I split it is the Lord's living water that pours forth.

While I may be compared to or referred to as the "rock" I am all too aware of my limitations.  Its funny how some things occur to you but not until someone else speaks them out loud does it become a concept real enough to acknowledge.

"Prayer Warrior" is another label people place on me.  I am blessed with gifts that do fit this description but I am more than my gifts.  I fight the label because the label limits me....even more so it limits the perception of how God may choose to use me....or anyone else for that matter.  God has no limits.  For more than a year I was the lone prayer minister at our little church.  The burdens started getting too heavy, combining with the burdens I already have....the ones that accumulate daily and I struggle to keep straight.   I was sharing with a friend about how I felt on the verge of snapping from the weight of it all and that the only answer I felt was coming was that I needed to stop being the prayer minister.  The idea of leaving our congregation without this service left me with the pressure of enormous guilt.  But what good is a prayer minister that is so burdened that she doesn't have the properly prepared heart to intercede for others the way that they deserve?  The way He asks.  One Sunday as I approached to pray with the worship team before service, our pastor came down the stairs and called me to the side....I cracked.  He didn't know that as I approached I was silently begging the Lord to relieve rescue that moment it was like He'd thrown me a life preserver.  He heard my cry.   My pastor was thrown off by my response....tears started to stream down my cheeks as I told him how weary I was and that I was struggling.

I don't remember the time line but at some point after all this my friend who I had confided in said that she was thinking about the situation one day and it struck her how obvious it was that I would be so tired, so burned out.  This thought had occurred to me before but it wasn't until she spoke it that it became worth acknowledging.  She went on to tell me how if anyone needed me, I was there...mentoring and providing wisdom or a listening ear to a neighborhood young man, a friend or whomever crossed my path.  That daily I put in an hour or more with my father on the phone, assessing, listening and checking in with him on how he is doing but the conversation, the flow, is very one sided.  I am advocating for our son, monitoring speech patterns, deciphering what on earth the teachers are seeing or hearing. Caring for our home, monitoring my food and symptoms, caring for my husband, being a step mom to a teenager who is all too quickly growing up pouring into my family to fill them up so that they are better equipped, when they leave our home, to battle the world they encounter......she went on about all the things that pour out of me in various directions.  I got tired just listening to her.  All these things individually are small......but together cause the mind to be constantly in motion....

Pride is my weakness so I've tried to not cling too tightly to the praise of that conversation and instead tried to be more aware of where I am giving the best of myself.  My family deserves my best, everyone else should get the leftovers.  So which is it that I'm providing my family?

Today I feel I've run out of best.  I'm running on left overs.  Yesterday I found myself both exhausted and ravenous.  My mind alternating between filling up with too much to sort out and going blank.   I am capable of so much more.......but find myself feeling like an outlet with too many things plugged into it...drained.  Today I see that was a symptom......

tomorrow would have been my mother's birthday.  

I don't want to feel the burden, every time I go to church, of the absence of the position I filled or have to keep saying no to praying with people.....the look I get in return, questions how someone so "gifted" like me could not.    Which only serves to back why I say no.   It's not about me.  It became too much about me....which was a whole other burden.  My gift should not become my identity.  My gift should not become your god......and in some instances, for some people, it did.  Therefore, I must stand immovable and say no....I feel the guilt, maybe some judgement, heaped on my head like coals but I will not stand in His way.  When the Lord says to step down, step down is what I do.

Juggling is not my forte.  Currently there are too many objects and situations in the air and I can't keep up.  I look around my home and that is always the best indicator of my mind being too overtaken.  A list of people and things.....situations....on a loop in my mind.  Researching school for the Dude next year...home school?  Teenage boy friends, co-parenting and trying to stay in the loop...stay connected.  Senior father who doesn't seem to realize the world doesn't revolve around him....or the 1 grandchild he pays attention to out of 5.  Christmas shopping I haven't done, the grand plans for fun and baking, the 12 days of Christmas surprise I was hoping to pull of for my Mr....  Trying to sort out current school issues....managing symptoms of allergies and trying to figure out how, when and where to get him tested, a dog who is going deaf and possibly having night time accidents...taking care of my own food junk and trying to lose weight.  Holiday parties and gatherings to dynamics and drama and I just don't have the energy for it.  The list just keeps growing and I'm struggling to even remember what all is on it.....I feel helpless with our son...not supportive or encouraging enough of my husband during stressful times at work....I know something has to give.  But what?

Today is just one day.  A day where quotes like "I'm too blessed to be stressed and too anointed to be disappointed" just don't hit the mark....counting my blessings make me smile but don't lift the Lord gives me peace that this too shall pass and that He will help me....but frustration and confusion linger.

Even the rocks cry out.   We are stronger at our weakest.  He is bigger than it all.

the Mrs.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Weigh in Monday 7 - on to the next set of 10s!

My Monday mojo is groovin today, I am SO ready to get this week started off right.  Last week was anything but productive as I still have junk and projects strewn about unfinished and I think we know how my insanity level skyrockets when there is clutter......oh yes, I think we do.

So I've got a catch up list going and I don't know that I can get it all done today but you can be darn tootin sure I'm gonna try.  Yeah....I said can giggle....I am.

SO - on to the main topic of this fine day!

I scored a -1.2 this week!  Which frankly leaves me feeling VERY happy due to my poor decision making on Saturday night.   We made homemade pizza for dinner.  Gluten free pizza crust from a mix and my choice in toppings was great - nice thin layer of sauce, chopped green pepper, diced tomato, sun-dried tomato bits, green olives and a very very thin layer of finely shredded cheese.   What I didn't take into consideration is that portion wise, while it was a small pizza, certainly personal size and the crust was was probably twice the amount I'm used to eating in one sitting and normally at least 50% of what I eat is a vegetable or fruit.

So I ended up feeling like my guts were made of iron for the rest of the night.  The next morning, Sunday, I'd actually gained a pound (from the previous Monday's weight) and spent yesterday thinking I'd messed up my whole week with one meal.  I worked out for about 2 hours - 100 minutes on the treadmill and some wii boxing. I carefully monitored what I ate and when we went out for dinner last night with friends, I asked for: White rice, asparagus and sauteed mushrooms.  When I got it, I cut up the asparagus into small bites and mixed the whole lot together.  It was actually very good!  Filling and few points.

I would have been happy with even one pound lost so to have gone over that is great!  Now this week I need to learn from that and make sure that in every plate of food I am careful to monitor my portions.

Stats so far:
Lost this week: 1.2 - bringing me to 169!!!  Yay 60's!!
Total lost since start of WW (5/23/11):  23.2
Total lost since October 24 (new goal new attitude): 12.2    (well isn't that interesting? I've lost half my total since I adjusted my goals and attitude, in less time than the first half....hmmm)
Total left to go: 39

And the mini goal was to hit a total loss of 29lbs by December 26th, leaving 5.8 lbs to lose in order to meet that goal.   Can I do 5.8 in two weeks? That's a short term goal of -2.9 two weeks in a row!  Holy cow.  I guess we will see!

It is really cool to see the stats like that.  I get frustrated that my middle isn't shrinking as fast as the rest and therefore not exactly showing my progress well.   My support and encouragement is coming primarily from my husband because....apparently its frowned on to compliment a woman on her weight loss?  I don't know.  My poor Mr has been in so many awkward situations where he gets these over the top compliments and I get nothing.  He wants so much for me to be encouraged and he is doing an amazing job of encouraging me!  I am eating up all the compliments he is showering on me.  I love it!  We all know though, that getting a compliment from outside the home - from people who don't see you on a daily basis, the difference should be really noticeable right?  - it carries a different significance to it.  It's like verbal proof of the accomplishment so far.  I guess I just get to look forward to those moments...  So far, they just aren't happening.   I was discouraged yesterday.....well, maybe not discouraged but a little wounded, after one more of those awkward moments.  A kind friend tried valiantly to save it and it was still a tremendous jab.  At some point, someone will have to notice.  Right?

On to the next 2 pounds!  Last week is behind me and it's time again to strive forward toward the next goal!!

Blessings for a motivational kicker Monday!
the Mrs.

Friday, December 9, 2011

expectations of normal.......

.....I reject your "normal" and insert my own.

If there is one thing that can both bring me to belly grabbing laughter or tongue biting anger, it is the expectations people put on others.   The standards of normal or the boxed stereotypes we try to put people in.

No one in my little family fits in those boxes.  My normal doesn't look like yours.  My season in life, does not look like yours or any other 35 year old woman I know.

Most people who are the same age as the Mr and I are having babies, dealing with toddlers and are in that hard season where everything is in constant transition and you are just trying to figure out when and how to wear the wife hat, the mom hat or both and wondering where on earth you went and who is this current person who replaced you and doesn't get near enough sleep....and where did my waist go?

The Mr and I are both 35, have been married for 13 years, we have Wonderteen who is 15 (she was a part of the awesome package that is my Mr) and the Dude who is 10, soon to be 11. We typically relate to couples who are 10 or more years older than we are.  We are an odd mix.  The Mr is a tall, dark drink of water at 6'6 with a look that mingles Brad Pitt and Brendan Frasier in a pleasantly awesome way.  His stature and presence combined with standing next to a tall 15 year old make people assume he is older than he is.....well, that and the liberal streaks of silver in his hair, brought on by said 15 year old, that I personally find distinguished and kinda hot (he thinks I'm crazy).   If I'm caught alone, people think I'm in my late 20's by appearance and then when I talk they think I'm older, if I'm with Wonderteen they think she's my sister (she has 8 inches on me!) and when we are all together....people either assume I look much younger than I am or I must have been a teenage mom.    It's really all over the board.....apparently I'm confusing.   Which I find awesome.

Our kids are not average and don't fit into the stereotype for their age and gender either.  WT - she is confident, articulate and refuses to fit any stereotype or label.  She is her own kinda girl and has her own style that totally embraces being different.  She is outspoken and brash, a rule breaker and a rebel who refuses to let you see her cry but if anyone dare take advantage she will stand for truth and justice like a Mac Truck you do not want to mess with.  She is as messy and disorganized as the Dude is orderly.   Now the Dude....he is this sensitive, altruistic hero type who has no shame in dealing with emotion, shedding tears and telling it like it is.   Truth is all he is and rules are for following.  He doesn't have a deceptive bone in his body and he is so comfortable in his own skin that even with a speech challenge he will not hesitate to speak in front of a crowd.  He OWNS who he is.

My Mr, a semester of college under his belt but that's it, worked his way up into a good career in mortgage and has been known to be referred to as Sweden due to his ability to not take sides.  He is sensitive and intuitive, driven and strong with a faith people have referred to as being just as King Size as he is.  Quick to apologize with humility when he is wrong and assertive enough to address, with grace, when you are but just as wise to know when to overlook an offense.  Steady and dependable as an oak; gentle and sweet as a puppy.  And just as hilarious....maybe more, but not nearly as hairy.

Together we are this odd little family of conundrums.  We very purposefully set out to raise a family that is counter-cultural.  We don't want to fit in.  We live here on this earth but it's not our home.  In it but not OF it. There are some people that can't figure us out and they don't care because they just love us as we are with all our little surprises.  Then there are those who can't figure us out....and just must be the one who finds the cure.

Like the Dude's teachers.  Drives. Me. Batty.   Brings out the defensive momma bear who wants to just roar and swipe until they back off.   School is not a realm that comforts me.  Public school is like a whole other universe to me.  My elementary experience was in a one room school...less than 40 kids k-6.  Jesus was steeped into every aspect of my education.   My class materials and how we dealt with classmates.  It's how I deal with everything and I don't know how to speak the language these teachers use.

I feel ignorant.  Incapable.  Flat out stupid.  Which only angers the bear further....don't poke the bear.  Don't get me wrong, I know I'm not stupid.  I am very aware of my intelligence and have the tests to prove it, thank you very much (yes, I'm brilliant - no my grades didn't prove it, much to my mother's disappointment and my frustration that she now had proof of my brilliance and my laziness).  And now these people want to test my boy to see why he's different.  There is no proof or sign that there is anything wrong other than that he likes to take up their time.  He gets that from me.  His grades are great, his regular test scores show he is above average in every subject and is extremely smart.  So I don't get it.

He's annoying, so there must be something that needs fixing?  That's what I a mom.  They bring up little things and all I hear is a description of myself and as I smile, they look at me like I'm a nutbag.  That kinda makes me smile all honesty. I usually sit there relishing that we've succeeded in a "yay he's not like the other kids" way and then I realize that we aren't there for a "your kid is so wonderful" talk...

I'm not in denial.  We are letting them go ahead and see if they can solve the riddle that is the Dude.  Frankly I'm expecting a scenario where they discover that he's a super genius and has already found the cure for cancer but they missed it because he was repeating himself and it was annoying (because he 'preseverates'....I had to look that word up...and I do it too....did you know spell check doesn't think its a real word?  Me either.).  Then they will humbly apologize and ask us to help them make sure he doesn't take over the world and use his power for evil.....which will make me smile smugly because they don't understand that he doesn't lie and is incapable of being deceptive or breaking rules so it is much more likely that he'll end up wearing tights and a cape and figuring out which area of the brain makes us capable of flight so he can more quickly arrive at locations where people need saving and because I'm his mom, I'll totally mock the tights and borrow the cape.  And  after I say I'm sorry for mocking his tights (because "it isn't nice to make fun of people, MOM"), he'll let me borrow the cape because he rocks and he will belly laugh until he cries watching me try to fly around in a cape which really isn't a whole outfit but he knows I wouldn't be caught dead in tights no matter what he says to try to convince me.........because he's a good boy and he loves his mom.

Blessings of delirium and hilarity for your weekend,
the Mrs.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

hidden in the secret spaces.....blessings richer than gold

I love words.  They get under my skin and into my head...changing my spirit, my words.

In my home there are words everywhere.  Some are visible, some are hidden.  Some are quotes, many are scripture.  Some words motivate and encourage, other words guard or bless.

As a manager or "keeper" of the home my work is more than keeping a clean home and caring for the day to day activities, schedules and meals.   Beyond the work of managing, I am also monitoring the heart of our home.   Some say that the wife is the heart of the home and is some ways I suppose that may be true...but I think it would be more accurate to say that I set the stage and create the environment for the heart of our home.  As wives and mothers the environment we create may be one of the most important aspects of our work.

"If momma ain't happy, ain't no one happy".....I've always hated this phrase.  To me it has always evoked thoughts of a cranky, controlling woman who has to have it her way or the highway.  Yuck.  The fact is though, you can replace "momma" with any member of the family and the statement is just as true.  The effect that a negative attitude has on the people around it is powerful.  Have you ever noticed how even one sour person in a room of 10 or more can bring the whole room down?   The atmosphere we create in our homes can either encourage or dissipate negativity.   We send our family members out in the morning and over the course of the day they encounter many people and situations.  When they come back home they can still be carrying that with them and bringing it right into the house.   If your husband is in a particularly stressful season at work, the stress he brings home can be transferred to everyone in the house.  If the perspective of Dad's home coming is "watch out, dad is going to be cranky" the tension will mount and when Dad comes home...his  stress is then encouraged to stay, fed by the tension and apprehension in the home.   But if the perspective of the home was "Dad has had a tough day today so lets try to encourage him when he gets here", his stress is melted away and doesn't have a fighting chance of sticking around.  The home is a secure, united, sanctuary where all are refilled and refreshed to go back out into the world when it is time.

One of the ways that I nurture our environment is through prayer and scripture in our home.  Most of the artwork on our walls includes words or scripture.  The unseen is what has the most powerful affect though.

Years ago, when I was on my very first prayer team, I was introduced to prayer walking.  The team would meet before, during and after a class at church.  We prayed with the leaders, we prayed for the participants and while they gathered for dinner we prayed in the room where they would worship and listen to the nights speaker.  While they listened to the speaker, we were in the rooms where they would soon meet in groups to discuss the evening topic.

We prayed for them as individuals and as groups.  We prayed for the environment - that there would be grace and safety to be vulnerable, we prayed for their faith, their protection, for the work the Lord was doing in their hearts, for their conversations and for their leaders and families and the people they would encounter during the week before they came back for the next class.   In some rooms we even prayed away the burdens that may have been left there from previous groups - grief and divorce care groups that met there earlier in the week.  We covered a range of prayer and concerns I'd never have conceived of before.   What I learned there, I eventually started to apply to my own home.

In my kitchen I would pray for our nourishment - that our food would be protected and that He would guide me to making healthy choices and meals for our family, but also that they would be financially smart choices for our budget.  I didn't limit it to the food we ate....I would pray about His nourishing our family relationships, blessing the conversations and interactions that happened there.   I asked that He would use meal times to feed our family spiritual nutrients as well as physical and relational nutrients.

As I folded laundry I would pray for the person I was folding for.  When I made a bed I prayed for their rest and refreshment, their dreams, comfort and security.  In the main gathering rooms I prayed over the relationships and the conversations that happened there.   The social gatherings of friends and family...the conflicts between kids and tensions between spouses, the opportunities for ministry and joy and laughter.

Friends, I saw change.  The Lord bends down to listen, He hears our prayers. (Ps. 116:1-2)  I saw change in my family and I felt change in me.  I saw arguing diminish and conversation replace it.  I felt peace in the absence of tension.  And people notice....  They can't put their finger on it, they can't identify what it is but they comment.   "Your home feels so good."  "Its soft here."  "I love coming here, it's like a vacation." "I feel so at home, so welcome."

This is the work of the Lord.  Flawed as I am I am not capable of creating that.  Obedience to His prompting always results in great blessing.

What words hide in the secret places of our home?  In the four corners of our property there are either rocks with scripture on them or a steak driven into the earth.

I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.
John 10:9

The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.  The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.  The Lord will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.
Psalm 121:5-8

He will love you, bless you and multiply you.  He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your wine and your oil, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock, in the land that He swore to your fathers to give you.
Deut. 7:13

The main entrance to our home is our kitchen people enter into blessing.

Blessed you shall be when you com in and blessed you shall be when you go out.
Deut. 28:6

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place - the Most High, who is my refuge - no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.
Psalm 91:9-10

Whether words are spoken at our kitchen table or not....blessing is present...

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be satisfied.
Matt. 5:6

Our living room hides teaching and encouragement...

On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with  greater honor and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this.  But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member that there maybe no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another.  If one member suffers, all suffer together with it, if one member is honored all rejoice together in it.
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
1 Cor. 12:22-27

Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.
1 Thess. 5:11

All over the house there are scriptures......the laundry room is not so subtle.  On the main wall (painted red by previous owners) the first thing you see when you enter the room is Proverbs 31:10-31 in white, hand written in paint pen from one end to the other.  On the cupboards printed out verses are taped that speak of controlling the tongue and what a wife should be.  The freezer speaks of managing harvest well, the ceiling speaks of where a husband who has a nagging wife is better off...

A good deep clean of a house, goes so much further than the corners and the nooks and crannies that only we can see.........a true deep cleaning goes to the depths of the heart and then pours out the mouth, laying every negative at the feet of Jesus and leaving behind only the fruit of His for those we encounter.   For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Matt 12:34b  It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth that defiles.  Matt. 15:10-11

My kitchen window bears the lessons that need to change my heart or the focus my mind lacks.  It changes as  He prompts.  A black permanent marker to write and a green scrubby to remove. So when I wash dishes I don't just see the yard but His Word.  Bathroom mirrors often have a scripture or message on them....where ever the eye naturally rests....where we spend the most time standing sinks in.  It encourages.  It transforms.

The Word is powerful.  For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  Hebrews 4:12

Blessings for a clean heart, transformed mind and an unbridled passion for Him, 
the Mrs.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Mommy bumbles it

My boy is home today.  We've been dealing with a random and mysterious sore throat for a few weeks.  When I say that I feel so delinquent. It has been here today, gone tomorrow, sometimes just annoying and other days making him feel yucky enough to stay home.....then mysteriously, he's fine.  No fever, no runny nose or cough....just this one mysterious symptom.  I thought it was a cold that just wouldn't let go...until yesterday.  I got a call from the nurse at school.  He'd been there twice...but "no fever".....this time he was in tears, he wanted to come home.  I arrived to pick him up and he was clearly miserable, crying but trying to be brave...."but I don't want to miss school". heart.  

He is 10.   The sweetest most un-10 year old boy you've ever met.  He is an odd jewel of a person.  It is captivating watching him grow, seeing who the Lord has made him to be emerge from childhood and into this boy......dare I say, young man.  Perhaps I'm biased....but he impresses me, simply with being who he is.  Uncomplicated, totally transparent, honest to a fault, give him a rule and he will live and die by it.  He impresses me.

He then tells me that his face hurts, just beneath each eye.  This is new.  Sinus infection??  He's a kid....I've never had one myself so I can only go from the descriptions of others.   We went straight to urgent care.  I asked the Lord to please let us not have to wait for hours, let the freezing temps keep people home and let us get in quickly.  I stashed bunny crackers and an apple juice box in my purse before I left the house, knowing this is where we would end up.  The Lord is faithful and there wasn't even one person ahead of us.  We got in less than 20 minutes from walking in the door.

Another negative strep test and a quick look in the nose.....massive sinus infection.  She even grunted a half gasp at how bad it was.  I could have crawled in a could I have missed this.  We talked.   I asked a million questions.  The result; he has allergies and the drainage down his throat has been causing the sore irritated throat.  Laying down relieves things which is why he feels so much better after laying on the couch for a day.  A few days later it's built up again and he doesn't feel well.  Mystery solved.  Kinda...  Now we have a whole new mystery.

I explained how I was reluctant to bring him in because he gets a sore throat every time he gets sick, no fever ever but he doesn't feel well and we get sent home, "drink lots of fluids, rest and wait".  So that's what I did this time.   She comforted me saying I couldn't have known what was going on, that doctors wouldn't have looked at allergies as the cause due to his age.   The Dude's calm, laid back demeanor told her that he is clearly not a complainer and is a tough kid.  She pressed on all his sinuses and his reactions were minor but he did say it hurt.   I could tell from her comments and reactions she was expecting more drama from him.

"Anyone in your family have allergies?"  again, I feel like I should shrink.   How could I have missed this?  I had allergies as a kid.  So badly that instead of seeing a regular pediatrician I saw an allergy specialist for every sniffle and complaint I had.   I was constantly sick with something or other and was at the doctor so often we had a close relationship.  He took me on as one of his youngest patients, because he'd begun treating my mother while she was pregnant with me.  He gave me tongue depressors to take home and I would bring them back to him decorated and drawn on, I would draw him pictures and name my stuffed animals after his nurses.  When I was older, he was at a conference so I had to see a colleague of his. When he came in to see me he brought my folder, full and heavy.  When he sat it down on the desk, he looked at me and said I must be by one he pulled out every tongue depressor and picture I'd brought him over the years.

Now I need to pull those memories back out of the archives and find someone to bring the Dude to.  Once the sinus infection is cleared up.  Time to test and see what he is allergic to.....and I'm curious to see if there is a food connection.   Granted I see a food connection to everything......but still, it is the one constant source of input the body has that can trigger adverse affects.   It has been true in my life and I know that it can be true for him.  Has been since he was an infant.

So today I let him stay home....perhaps out of guilt.  Though I know that one more day of letting his body rest and the medication do it's work will only help, not hurt.  He looks so much better today than last night.....last night he looked like he'd been in a fight.  His eyes were puffy and dark.....the light hurt his eyes and he was uncomfortable....but he didn't complain.   He would just answer honestly when I I know I need to ask more often and better questions.....because he won't complain, not unless it's bad.  

What a kid.   He is the epitome of a living breathing answer to prayer.....his name means "God has heard".  I asked for him, begged for him....and I do mean himjust one.  He did and I am blessed.  

I love the Lord because He hears and answers my prayers.  Because He bends down and listens, I will pray as long as I have breath!  ~Ps. 116:1-2

The Lord is so faithful.  He has answered so many prayers.  So many custom orders slowly revealed in His perfect timing.   He hears.  He knows.  

Blessings of abundance, peace and the encompassing awareness of His presence and love,
the Mrs.

Monday, December 5, 2011

thinks too much and too often......would make a seriously awesome monk.

my mind seems to have it's own steering wheel and GPS system that it refuses to share with me.

I am fiercely protective of people I care about....or people I've just met who happen to hit just the right note in my soul.   Though frankly I doubt that I make that great of a friend.   I am a solitary, lone wolf kinda person who rarely craves the company of people.  Unless you are my Mr, he is the one and only person in the whole world whose company I crave like lungs crave oxygen......and I would still need time alone.  Even as a child I preferred to be alone.  This worried my mother and when she was irritated enough, she would simply tell me that I was grounded and if I wanted to come out of my room I was required to play with the neighbor girl.
Really?  There's barbies in there.  Sounds cool.  See ya when I need food.
When she realized that was a massive failed experiment, she just started telling me that I had to play with her.  That worked....until I figured out how to make her want to go trying to force feed her peppers....which she didn't like.  Or the time I convinced her that the beetle made of iron (I think it was for taking your boots off) near the fireplace was actually a family pet.....and alive.....and I tried to make her pet it.....she kinda freaked out....and ran home....screaming.....      I only chased her a little...
Oh come on!  I was like 6!   ....okay maybe 8...or 10...but still.

It's always been there.  A few years ago I thought I'd just be honest (cuz that's the best policy right?) and say out loud that I really didn't like people much.  Didn't quite go over how I thought.....a tad awkward......turns out only other people who don't like people tend to like people who say that.   Transparency apparently has limits.

Yes, I do have friends.  Friends I love dearly but frankly I'm not a great communicator so they totally get the short end of the stick.  I get lost in time.  I forget when the last time I talked to someone was and could go months without speaking to them and think it was just last week that we had that great chat.  I forget I have friends.  I forget that they might need me.  I forget that sometimes people need their friends to initiate contact or even ask questions instead of just assuming they will spew out all their thoughts without a prompt.....which means I'm probably a crappy friend more often than not.   Unless it's email or facebook....I don't reach out.   I'm not trying to be a jerk or avoiding people.....honestly, it really just doesn't occur to me.  Fortunately I have a few friends who really see me for who I am.  They have an abundance of grace for me and either accept or tolerate my massive many negative qualities.

Change is something I strive grow, to weed out these negative character traits.   Unfortunately, I forget them more often than not because I do spend much of my time alone.....I simply am not out of touch or irritating to me.  My friends are angels...they understand that they will have to initiate conversations, phone calls or visits.....I wish I was better at that but honestly I just get all kinds of awkward and it really is better for everyone if they take the lead.

The solitary life of a monk, I would rock.  To be silent, in silence and have no one but God to talk to....THAT I could be successful at.   He knows me.  He loves me and He understands all my crazy and my serious.  He gets me.  I forget to talk to Him too.....but He doesn't get mad or feel neglected.  I know He's always with me....I think He's probably laughing at me many times, simply enjoying the random awkwardness that I provide a situation.  That makes me smile to think that lowly me could actually bring a smile or a chuckle to His face.  I love that He loves me in spite of my darkness, my faults and maybe He even loves me because of it a, God doesn't do things little.  He does things complete.  If He loves, He loves completely.  If He is present, He doesn't just "show up a little bit", He is there in ALL His fullness and glory.  

God does not do things half way.   

I love Him and He loves me......and He knows I would totally shave my head for Him.  Cuz I've done it before.  Yup.  He knows me.  But He also knows I love pants.  I would hate to live in a bathrobe.  He knows me.

yeah.  I know I think too much and too often....and usually it's fairly random or highly daughter calls it OSD.  "Ooh Shiny! Disorder".  
Yup, she's awesome too.

Blessings for friendships as deep and wide as the love of Christ, 
the Mrs.

Weigh in Monday - 6 Sweet mammajamma!

Well, howdy doo to you this very fine morning!

Currently there are beautiful fat snowflakes drifting down from the sky here.   Which only adds to the sweetness of a goal matched and smashed.   Ready?


Yes, that's right, after a couple of off weeks I think I'm back on track.  And you know what else makes it sweeter than sweet?   I am but mere ounces from seeing numbers in the 60's.  

I can remember the last time I saw numbers like that......approximately 11 years ago Mr and I did the Atkins diet and I got there.   Then I got pregnant with our son and didn't see that number again until I'd nursed away the baby weight.   Granted as soon as the nursing stopped the weight seemed to come on like someone had opened the hoover dam.

It's funny how we remember certain things and their association to certain places in our life.  I was certainly not this excited about those numbers the first time around.  I am relishing each new destination this time.  Each week I am getting closer and closer to a new version of me.  A healthier more confident version.

My treadmill TV show was Felicity. I just finished that series up.  What I will miss is the theme song that they adopted for the final 2 seasons.   "I need a new version of me" is one of the step picked up each certainly was appropriate.   Time for a new series to walk/jog my way through.  I'm testing out "Parenthood".  

Anyhoooo....thanks for being here for my little celebration because now it's over....there are new goals to accomplish people!   One of which is picking up speed on that Mill of Tread.  I managed a sustained run at max speed for about 3 minutes.   I so impressed myself that I am starting to incorporate 1 minute bursts of running into my treadmill time.  Time to bump up that intensity right!?

Blessings to you wherever your journey finds you, right now, here in this moment,
the Mrs.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

When I remember my potential for hilarity, I smile because God loves the world enough to know it couldn't handle me without brain damage.

I'm always trying to find the positive in things.  You for a lovely thing and you will find it.  This morning I was reminded how much God love me/us and how well He knows us.

First, when I savored a half a bavarian cream doughnut at 3 points this morning for breakfast.  Yes, just one more thing to add to the whopping pile of evidence that God loves me and wants me to be happy.   Yes, I believe God cares about even the little trivial delights in my life.

Secondly, when I all of a sudden realized through a random crazy-train of thought, that perhaps my brain damage was a gift to the people who would enter into my life.....because without it, I would just be too much to handle.  If left to my own devices, unhindered.....I have the potential to be completely hilarious....even if only in my own mind.   But, due to a serious knock on the head at 15, I get so sucked into being a serious adult and trying to keep track of what is going on (and lets face it, trying to appear totally "normal") that I totally miss the funnier things.....until way later when all of a sudden I realize that making my 6'6 husband try on the red leather moccasins at Nordstrom's Rack (because they carry size 16 canoes for mammoth men like him) was totally a picture worthy moment.  I missed it.  Granted I may have missed it because I was having too much fun trying to get him to put on all the crazy looking shoes.....and laughing hysterically.   But still.....had I realized that I should be taking pictures I could have forgotten all about it, found the pictures later a relived the hilarity all over again.   Now, I will just forget it and then miss out in the future.  That is lame....but it's my cross to bear.

Perhaps I should take a page from the Bloggess (a completely and totally crazy profane woman who has a mass of health issues but somehow maintains an incredible sense of humor - I can only assume that if I weren't  ultra conservative and didn't have a brain injury that I would be exactly like her, and the world just couldn't handle two people like Jenny Lawson.  If you have no tolerance for poor language, do not read her blog.) and use my disabilities as opportunities for humor........which brought me to another thought on my crazy-train this morning.

I accepted my short comings long ago.  Brain injury and weird diet....but perhaps I should just face the label of disabled.    It might explain why I keep getting mail from the Scooter Store.....and a scooter would be seriously fun.  I'd like flames and lots of chrome on mine, thank you.

Other than in random moments when I totally let my guard down, I'm a fairly uptight, insecure chick who has allowed the fat lady to take over.   I haven't recognized the fat girl in the mirror for years.  She ate the skinny, energetic, confident girl I once was.....the one who was funnier and didn't care what other people thought.  The fat girl thinks WAY TOO MUCH about what other people think......but I have a feeling that says more about me than other my head I still feel like the skinny girl, until I see a mirror and realize the fat girl is keepin her down.

Then I pondered how I would evolve once the fat girl is gone and the skinny girl is re-released to the public.  Will I drive my husband batty?   Will there be more laughter in the house?   Or will there just be a whole lot more crazy......and eye rolling and head shaking....the kids do that a lot already....

What I do know for sure is that we would most certainly own something like this:
I once saw a teapot similar to this at an antique place and have regretted not buying it ever since.  Ugly? Yes, in the most delightful hilarious way that would bring serious joy.......I mean for someone like me, who would forget that I own it.  I could rediscover it over and over in random places in the house providing repeated outbursts of laughter.   Seriously, this is how my brain works.  I forget stuff, all the time, probably more than other people realize cuz I'm awesome at hiding it and the only consistent thing I remember is I used to have an awesome, nearly perfect, memory...and sometimes I forget that I don't anymore.....yeah, that gets confusing.   (but movies are awesome cuz I get to watch them over and over like it was the first time....SEE silver lining! You can always find the lovely if you look for it!)  If anyone actually knew how many times a day I forget something and totally question whether I have the signs of early onset Alzheimer's and then freak out a little until I forget that I forgot something and then just move on like it never happened......true story.

I should probably tell you that my husband made the coffee this morning.  Normally that's my turned out kinda strong.........and I forgot that I got my Green Tea supplements this week so I tossed back my vitamins this morning -  which included a green tea cap - with a double cup of extra strong coffee.   I might be just a little jacked up.  Maybe.

I'm sure I'll work it off on the treadmill later.

See ya tomorrow, less jacked up, for weigh-in Monday.

Blessings for a groovy kind of love on this blessed day of rest,
the Mrs.