Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Better than before

Something about leaving made me want to bless the next tenants. My cynical mind went right to, "managers just gonna rip 'em out!" because its been an uphill battle trying to leave with good graces between our manager and us. That story shall be told another day. Anway, I persevered and decided that no matter what the managers decide to do I have a responsibility to God and to my own well being. 
So I took my beautiful and beloved mums which have thrived and are soon to bloom and planted them along the fence. I wish I remembered what colors they were so I could attempt to landscape them properly but alas, they'll be beautiful no matter what. 
And with dirt under my nails and sweat on my brow I leaned back and thought, "I should have had these here when I lived here. " and that is EXACTLY how I want to leave. 
With things better than they were when I moved in....

Saturday, May 18, 2013

In this moment (take 2)

When I was young I made the mistake of thinking things never changed and that goodbyes weren't necessary. I never said goodbye because in my precious little world goodbyes weren't a part of them. 

I left my childhood home and never said goodbye. I didn't take my beautiful best friend and lifesaver in so many ways face in my hands and look her in the eyes and say, "I wanna thank you. Thank you for helping to shape me for who I am. Thank you for laughing with me at life and into life. Thank you for being by my side through thick and thin. For crying with me in break ups and being loyal when no one else was. Thank you for sitting by me in junior high when no one else would and lets be honest I didn't deserve anyone too! Thanks Sarah for being my best friend. And things are about to change and we're gonna change but I'll always love you and I'll always consider you one of the most influential people's in my life. Thank you." 
That's what 18 year old Joanna would say. But 18 year old Joanna thought life and people would stay the same. 

So now I am taking the time to appreciate and love the little things from California. I'm taking California's face in my hands this week and looking into it's eyes and telling it that things are gonna change... But that I'll always love it and be grateful for the time we had together. 

Here's part of how I said goodbye to Japan... I always thought I'd go back and maybe I will... But here's the goodbye I wrote the night before I left.


I really don't like goodbyes.

I'm terrible at them. I either don't cry or I cry too much.  I either am laughing and making it seem like it won't tear my heart a bit to leave OR I'm blubbering too much, snot dripping down my face and people are wondering if I'm going to be okay.

I do not like goodbyes.

There is so much to say and to do... so many last moments and before I know it they have all passed me by and I didn't relish in the beauty of those moments.


Life has not happened like I thought it would.  It has been harder in ways I couldn't have predicted and a HUGE blessing in other ways.

I have lived in California longer than any other place minus my childhood home.  Isn't that crazy?  It's a bit sad to me to be honest.  I didn't think I would be in California for a long time and I had a hard time adjusting so I pretty much rebelled against putting down any sort of roots for the first two (maybe more) years.  But then life happens. And babies happened.  And plural amounts of babies were not part of my plan.  Thank the Lord because I am forever changed and blessed by them.  But in the unpredictability of said plural amounts of Love Bugs I was in a good way forced to put roots down and appreciate the little roots that had grown in my heart without my knowing.

And I prayed at the beginning that I would cry leaving this place because although I couldn't see it and didn't think it would happen, I wanted to be sad to leave the place that was so hard to get used to.  I've never felt like such a foreigner in my own land and never so out of place and out of sync and like... a nerd in a place quite like I have living in California.

California has dug up the ugly parts of my heart and for that I hated it.

But now I am sad to be leaving it.  Weird, how that happens huh?

California, thank you for changing me.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Granola: family style and Paleo

Before Hubs wooed me and won my heart I was a single gal living in a large foreign city and loving life.  I also was not a consistent cook.  I had my moments of glory.  Moments where it seemed domesticity was my middle name and I was going to conquer all cobwebs and dirty toilets   I had blissful glimpses of what being a wife would look like and I dreamed of it daily.  I wanted to be a wife and mother.
But those were fleeting glances.  I was definitely a bachelorette living like a bachelorette with fleeting moments of wife-hood...ness? Wifehoodness? 
Anyway, the thing that shocked me most about marriage was that my adorable Hubs wanted meals... big meals, like three meals a day, with all food groups present.  Seriously? I have to give you vegetables? And protein? And carbs?.... Three times? Well, maybe twice he wants a full balanced meal and breakfast can be easier.  What can I say? Marriage has changed him too! But if Hubs had his way he'd be eating Chinese breakfast aka soybean soup, Chinese "donuts", pork buns, and rice porridge.
Anyway, I could eat (and do eat when Hubs is gone) cereal for 3 meals a day. It's got your fruit, your dairy, and your grains. Cereal is all I require to survive.  Well, cereal and popcorn. But my love for popcorn is another topic for another day.
With cereal, I especially love granola! I love love LOVE granola. It's got this tangy saltiness, tart dried fruit and sweet undertones of the honey melting into one beautiful dish. I love granola!

Recently, I started doing paleo and was a bit sad to realize that I couldn't eat cereal.   Well, I recently discovered this beautiful website full of glorious recipes and one of them being GRANOLA.
So I adapted it (didn't need that much sweetness) and have made my own combining my Grandmother's wisdom and my desire to cut back on refined sugars and processed carbs.
So without further ado; Schupbach Style Granola and Joanna's Adapted Granola!
Make, Eat and then softly sigh knowing that all is right in life when one can enjoy a bowl of cereal

Schupbach Style
7 c. oats
1 c. sweetened shredded coconut
1 c. almond slivers
1/2 c. honey
2/3 c. oil
1 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. vanilla
Place in 2 jelly roll pans and bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally   When cool, add 1 c. raisins.  Store in air tight container.

Joanna's Paleo Adapted Granola
2 c. almond slivers
2 c. chopped pecans
2 c. sunflower seeds
2 c. unsweetened coconut shredded
1/2  c. honey
1 c. melted coconut oil
Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, and sniffing the sweet air of deliciousness. When cool, add craisins.  Store in air tight container.

Now, if you don't mind, I have some granola to take out of the oven, cool it and eat it.
What do you like in your granola?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

i'll admit it

Okay, so I'll admit it. There are days when I'm a "better" mother than other days.  Days when I rise early, get showered, dressed and cleaned... make pancakes from scratch with blueberries, bounce up the stairs to get my rising babies while birds are chirping alongside me and woodland creatures folding the laundry downstairs....

Side note: they should make a disney princess who's married and has a kid. I'd love to see her whistle while she sweeps up cheerios for the 16th time that day. ;)

Anyway, I do have the days where I am thankful and grateful and my God-cup is full so full that I am overflowing and spilling all the blessings onto others.
I hear ya sister. Some times we do better than others...
and then. there are other days. Days where I can't sing because I'm selfish and I don't want to sing. :) 
Days where I feel like I'm a performer at a dinner and show kind of place because no eating will be done unless I am doing "wheels on the bus" with full motions...
Days where Baby Beluga turns into 30 verses instead of 3.
Days where mommy says, "blah blah blah" because it makes her feel like a little victory after having read the same book forty-two times. ha ha ha take that! I'm reading the book but I'm reading it MY way, suckers!
Days where I can recite all of winnie the pooh and baby einstein rhymes because I've read them forty-two times.
Days where I drive laps around the pike in downtown long beach because they're taping my favorite show and I am hoping for a sighting of a star (yup, true story) and babies are crying in the backseat because they should be napping and I respond with, "Don't you know how important this is to me?" Baaah! (just airin' my dirty laundry people!)
Days where pigeons attack my stroller because I've let the snacks spill all over and I'm too scared of catching fleas so I try to combat the pigeons with a coffee cup.
Days where poopie diapers are like nuclear bombs, destroying everything in their path and making it seemingly impossible for new life to grow there ever. again.
Days where snacks explode all over the car.
Oatmeal gets rubbed in hair.
Days where I feed my Love Bugs cookies for breakfast lunch and dinner because... well, because there's oatmeal in there?!
Days where I lay my head down for a sweet night's sleep and Elmo's song runs through it to lull me to sleep... and Lord love me, I can't keep my toes from tapping.
Days where I think Elmo is passive aggressive and manipulative...
Days where I think Elmo is so stinkin' cute and I wish he were real...
Days where I can't remember the last time I showered... and come to think of brushed my teeth.
Laundry sits in the basket till I'm forced to empty it on the bed so I can put the next full load in.
Blueberries wind up in ear canals and Love Bugs trying to pick their boogers or clean their own bottoms during changings...

life is messy.
but life is also loads of fun.
I'm never going to end up on a magazine cover or walk a Hollywood red carpet ... but I'll admit it. I'd take my cheerios-ground-in-and-accident-stained rug any day over that fancy shmancy carpet, anyway!
As my good friend Jamie hashtagged, "good play makes a good mess" and I couldn't agree more.

Invite some mess into your life. Let your little ones discover and adventure and yes, probably rip off the cover off a book (or two).  But let them know they are more important than whether anyone else thinks I look like a good mother or not. And this goes for all you married with no kids and singletons too! Enjoy the freedom to make messes and learn from them or just live in them. Life isn't perfect! Enjoy it!

How do you invite "good mess" into your life? 

Friday, February 01, 2013

recharging the batteries

*Thanks to everyone who responded to my last post! Love you all and praying for those who were honest about their own struggles!

I talked about my trip down "postpartum depression lane" and one thing that helps me when the days get hard is to do things that recharge my batteries. And recharging my batteries was one of the best pieces of advice I received when I was in the throngs of babyhood.  I'll never forget when a dear friend and fellow twins mama told me that I needed to take time every day for myself and do what was good for me! She went on to explain that for her, it was drinking a small glass of wine just to relax.  She laughed and said she'd even had a glass of wine at eleven a.m.  Judge all you want... but it helped her to face the day and relax.  Actually, better that you don't judge, cause that's just a bad habit to develop, encourage and entangle yourself in.

Anyway, I love my friend and I loved her advice.

So I'd like to talk about things that can recharge our batteries and I'd like to hear from you; what recharges your batteries when you need them filled. I especially want to hear from you introverts. I feel like introverts will have some great insight into "unplugging" and "recharging"! So let me hear them.  What are some ways you recharge?

For me... there are a couple things...
1. reading a good book.  I always try to have several books around. When I expressed to my bestie Kelli that I always read my books too quickly she suggested that I check out several books at one time.  Kelli's so smart. :) If you're stumped about what to read I suggest getting on this site Goodreads to see what your friends are reading, read through reviews and get suggestions as to what to read next.  I currently have six books to read in the month of February.  Everything from spiritual encouragements to raising chickens in your backyards.  You can't go wrong with reading a good book!

2. a night out with friends.  While I still have my flaming "extrovert" moments those are further and farther between.  So even a night out with 1 friend is still a good and necessary recharge to my batteries.

3. doing something for someone else. I need to write down a list of things I want to do and budget for them because when I take time out of my day and think of someone beside myself it helps me remember that there are others out there besides me. Disclaimer: this is different than thinking of my Love Bugs. It's good for me to think of fun ways to love them, new stickers, trips to the park, spontaneous trips to the aquarium, etc. but I'm thinking of doing things for others who aren't in my every day schedule. :) This includes care packages for friends, crochet projects for new babies and sending a beloved piece of snail mail to someone I'm thinking of.

the small things in life make me so happy
Something I've been trying to do recently
4. is to record at least one thing from the day. Something special from the day like something I saw, people I was with, things I did, moments.  Trying to capture those moments help me to not get too focused on the upsets and frustrating times.

Finally for now,
5. taking 15 minutes every day to pamper myself. Some times I do a mask, sometimes a glass of wine, sometimes I literally make a cup of tea and STARE out the window. I don't talk to anyone, I don't get on my computer, I don't do anything but relax.

What do you do? How do you relax and recharge?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

responsibility & realization

I love this picture because it shows that even though I was about to enter a dark time I was at first, very excited and very full of love for my Love Bugs.
When the girls were first born I had postpartum depression.  I hesitated for the longest time calling it that because I felt like it wasn't the kind of pd that you hear about on the news.  But it was bad. for me. I would cry waking up in the morning dreading another day. I ignored friends phone calls because I didn't want to make petty conversations and didn't want to hear their cheerful voices.  I wanted to be alone and felt alone.  It was dark. I told Hubs we needed to prepare ourselves if this was the "new me". I was concerned that this would be the "mother Joanna"... always anxious, scared and weepy.  I cried every day for the first five months of the girls lives.  Every. Day.  And that is not an exaggeration. I cried every day.  My thought life went wild with crazy thoughts and I have lingering moments that can still can take me down a bad place if I'm not careful. 

Mostly my feelings related to wanting to run away and imagine "what if" things had been different.  I could rationalize away my desire to run away with the thought that if I were gone, Hubs would find a better wife.  Sounds crazy, doesn't it? And yet, I fantasized those thoughts all the time.

One of the hardest things about motherhood was the realization that I was totally responsible for two very little lives.  I wasn't able to separate the decisions of feeding and napping and swaddling or not from the decisions to homeschool, potty train, spank, let them drive a car, have cell phones, etc.  All the decisions I would be making came swooping in on me all at once and I was very overwhelmed (and very tired).

Two little lives and little faces stared at me. Sometimes they were silently wondering up at me and sometimes they were screaming or squirming.  I didn't know what they wanted and I didn't know how to give them whatever that was that they wanted.  I felt so much love for them and yet so much fear for screwing them up.  One of my closest friends and fellow twins mama JK told me, "You can not screw them up." and I literally thought of cross-stitching that on a pillow somewhere where I could see it every day.  If I hadn't been sleep deprived and living in a constant fog of "what the heck is happening" I may have actually done it.

With time and sleep has come the ability to realize that I need to face only the day that is before me and not to worry about what may or may not come.  The decision to potty train (and how), to homeschool (or not), to spank, drive, cell phones, dating (oh Lord, be near), etc. etc. etc.  ALL those decisions will come later in life and I will receive the grace when time is needed.

One of my friends once said that God doesn't give us grace for imagined fears.... and what she meant by that was, God isn't going to give me the grace to face the fears of having teenage twin daughters NOW because that is not what God is asking me to walk through TODAY.  He is giving me grace for today.

And boy, did I need it today.  The Love Bugs were in a mood this morning.  The only way to describe the mood is to italicize it.  It was a mood.  I guess bold doesn't hurt either!! And the feelings of running away came creeping up on me.  Being a mother has been one of the hardest journeys God has asked me to walk and yet, one of the greatest.  Don't get me wrong, I love my Love Bugs and I wouldn't trade all the lessons I am learning but they are difficult.

So when I am overwhelmed with responsibility I am reminded that all things are ultimately in God's hand and He was faithful to see me through the first year of the Love Bugs' life so I know He can see me through anything.

I wanted to write this to encourage you that God will see you through whatever it is you are facing.  Even when we don't feel like we are able to be faithful to God... when the road is dark and the way seems impossible. 2 Timothy 2:13 says, if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.  It's God's very character to be faithful.  Trust and rely on Him.  He will not let you down or disappoint you.

There are days when I want to give in to the thoughts and just give up because it seems easier.  But then I do the things that "recharge my batteries" and I am able to face the moment.  If only that moment. I'd like to keep talking about this because it's one of the reasons I haven't blogged recently.  I have these little voices that tell me you all don't want to hear about this season of my life... and you know what, it's okay if you don't but it's also good for those who have been there and may be there someday. Life is good but life can be hard and when it gets tough its good to know you are not alone.  Not only does God give us His people who have gone through similar circumstances but He has also given us His Spirit who comforts us in our times.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

a conversation

"Whoever is slow to anger..."
Oh?! See now, You got me right there.  Slow to anger? Slow?!?! Sloooow to anger? Are you sure you meant slow, Lord? What about quick to apologize after being angry? Is that the same thing? No?

"Slow to anger" is not a phrase people would use to desrcribe me.  Slow?!

I'm more like the "sons of thunder" with my "righteous anger" and lightning quick judgement! BOOM!  You mess with Jesus? Boom! You aren't feeding the hungry? Boom!  You called that person a naughty phrase while driving? Bo... what?! Oh, that was me?! Oh, yeah, that was me!

Okay, Lord, so maybe my anger isn't righteous. Okay, so it's rarely righteous. But that's okay cause its something between you and me, right? We're "working" on it, right?

What do you mean by planting seeds? The Love Bugs? Oh, no! They're too young to learn about anger. I'll wait till they're older to start implem... wait, what? Oh, that?!

Yeah, I saw that when Love Bug threw out a full out tantrum and did a "Godzilla" through Grandma's Christmas village.  Yup, I saw that.  I remember saying it was "cute" but thinking I didn't know what to do with her.  Or when the other Love Bug didn't get her toy and smacked her sister in the face.  When one of them takes the book and the other one resorts to pulling her down to the ground.  I can see what you mean by self-control or lack there of but what does this have to do with me?  I haven't hit someone since the last time I saw my brothers.  Oh, so it's my words? They're snappy and full of pain.  And the expression on my face when I yelled at the lady who cut me off?

The Love Bugs saw that?

Wow, now I see what you mean by fruit of Eve.  I see little seeds of anger popping up in the Love Bugs lives and they're still so young.

"Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty,  and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city." (Proverbs 16:32)

Lord, forgive me for setting an example of what not to do, thank you for showing me how to love others and help me rule my spirit so that I can show the Love Bugs how to rule theirs.