Track #14. Jackson.

I am slightly obsessed with Johnny Cash. And his music. I might even go so far as to say I’m a radical fan. His mug is forever inked on my left forearm. (I’ll get to that.) Needless to say, I fell in love with that raspy, sometimes off-tune singing of his...And never fell out of it. Don’t know who I’m talking about?? Watch the movie Walk the Line. (And, yes, I loved him before I ever saw that movie. But it did re-affirm my obsession.:)

Since my kids were tiny babies, they have fallen asleep to some sort of noise. In those first months of their lives, it was always the hum of my treadmill. (I use to put it on for nap times. Sometimes I wasn’t even on it. It just did the trick.) When we moved to our house, and the treadmill got demoted to the basement, I played music at bedtime. Specifically, Johnny Cash’s At Folsom Prison album. (It’s my favorite.) His grandpa voice just sort of lulled them to sleep. It’s a funny thing, when your three year old daughter can sing Folsom Prison Blues word for word. My little girly girl singing, “I’m stuck in Folsom Prison...and time keeps draggin’ on...” Too funny!

Of all my Cash favorites, my very favorite song has to be Jackson. (I really like his songs with June Carter.) From the lyrics that sing, “We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout...” (us) to the one up-ing the both of them do throughout their lover’s spat, it is all so real and wonderful. I remember my mom telling me a very long time ago, “the person you’ll love the most, he’ll also be the person who makes you the most angry.” I never understood that motherly advice until I was married. Maybe not even the first year of marriage, because we still had some degree of “Awwwww...you’re so cute. SWeeeeetiE!” (Often said through gritted teeth.) I understood that feeling after we’d been married a couple years...and , in the heat of an argument, I knew there was nothing to keep me from loving this guy. The same guy I wanted to strangle punch kiss (ehem.)—but this wonderful, amazing guy all the same. I could appreciate that he loved me the same way, despite all of my short comings (oh. and there are tons of those.) That’s why this song is my favorite. Threatening each other to leave. But threatening to go to the same place (do they really want to be apart?;) It’s funny and real and full of love. You’ve just gotta listen for it. It’s there. At least for me it is.

Back to my left arm. I’m not sure what my mom thought when I came home with Johnny on my arm forever. (She takes my tattoos surprisingly well for not being a tattoo enthusiast. But I can tell she gets a little squirmy. Just cause I know her so well.) But it isn’t for Cash. It isn’t for his music. Or his story. It is my tattoo for Phil. He is my worst argument. My best day. My only love. I might want to threaten him with Jackson sometimes. But he better be down there to meet me. Or I’ll kick his butt;).

So, friends, that is why I have Johnny Cash tattooed on my arm. It says much more to my heart than having Phil’s name inked somewhere. It’s like our inside story. (He has a tattoo for me, too. I’ll share someday. Might even take a pic if he says yes.) Cash’s music isn’t made beautiful by the melodies or the voice. Even the rhythm of those songs can be funky. Johnny Cash songs are beautiful to me because you can hear his soul. All of the struggles. The good, bad, and ugly. It all resonates in the words and the imperfect way it is sung. I love it. Because it is beautiful in the same way that life is beautiful. In the same way that love is really beautiful. He sounds honest and real and a little gritty.

So, if you ever see the four of us jamming like goofballs in the truck at a red light, chances are we are enjoying a good old Cash song. We all have a favorite. Some songs, we even have specific lines assigned to certain family members (yeah—we’ve crossed the line. It’s bad). I think we get the most fun out of Jackson, though. Someday, we might just have to take a trip there. Just for memory’s sake. The four of us. On that note....

Good bye,
That’s all she wrote...;)


This Place.

Have you ever tried to explain a blog to someone who is not blog savvy? It is harder than it sounds. For a long time, I answered in a mumble-jumble of well, um, it's kinda like, aaaaaa....hold on, let me think about this. Yeah, not concise. Or interesting. Definitely not a pitch to come read my blog!

You don't even know how many times I started a blog. Made two posts. Erased the whole thing. Started again. Post. Erase. And so on. I was so nervous to just write that I never liked anything I wrote about. Then, when I started blogging here, I started to realize that this is my place. It is everything I make it and nothing I choose not to make it. (double negative. sorry.) That is when blogging became something I enjoyed. I really, really look forward to it each day. The world of writing is wide open-- and I can choose any topic. Any day. And, hopes are, someone will relate. Or smile. Even disagree. That is what I like most. Connecting in whatever way with people I may never meet in person, but now share a little of life's experiences with. It's rather lovely, I think.
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The other day in Target (I'm in that store way to much. But so is every body else it seems. I run into the same people all the time. You know who you are:) , I was looking for a little journal. A pretty one that I could tuck in my purse. Keep by my computer. Basically, carry everywhere. A journal to write ideas in right when they pop into my head (blog ideas, book ideas, art ideas...they are all swirling around constantly throughout my day.  In muh big ol' head:). I've done this for a while, as do many other bloggers/crafty girls/writers. But my journals need replacing more often than they should...My purse is an evil abyss of trash and grossness that seems to ruin many of its own contents:). (Note: this is why you will never see a What's in My Bag post on here. You don't even want to know. Truly.) Anyways, I found this little bird journal. Knew right away it was meant for me. Because the quote on front put blogging in perfect context. "We write to taste life twice..." ~Anais Nin
It's a vehicle to re-live even the smallest moments of my day. In photos. And words. And share the things in life that are important and meaningful to me. It is why I love blogging. Really, it is a lovely part of my day.

On that note, I should have my new blog design up soon:). It is being designed by Kaelah, from Little Chief Honeybee. I love her style and artsy eye, so I'm really thrilled for the final design to be installed! Thank you to the girls who left questions on this post, too. Good questions-- got me thinking! I'll be working on them tonight:). And, I decided to change my header line to "writing to taste life twice". It's a little bit of a derivation from my journal quote, but summed up my feelings about this blog perfectly.

PS...We are headed to Washington DC this weekend for some fun and learning (gonna hit up some museums!)...I am going to schedule my posts for the weekend before I leave. I'll apologize in advance if blogger is rude and decides not to post them:). He is not always a nice guy, you know. That blogger monster;).


Dear Philly,

I sat with my family at a graduation picnic tonight. Listening to my dad talk. And I started to wonder how a boy grows into a good man. What are the ingredients, the recipe? My dad is the greatest man I know. But how did he get there? There is something in him that strives to be a hard worker. Someone who does the right thing. A good husband, father, and friend. I know it starts with the Lord. But there has to be an element of life-- just living and growing. And learning.

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I snapped these photos of Philly during the picnic, intimidating a rather large, industrial-sized fan. Blowing almost hurricane force winds;). (It was hot!!) And there is my dad. In that little kid's face. Strong. Facing the fight. And I felt a little relief, knowing he has a good start on that journey. And a wonderful, devoted father of his own to guide him through it all. The photos made me think of something I'd written maybe a couple years back. You can read on, if you'd like.

Worth Fighting For, to Philly

You love to wrestle Daddy. He is five times your weight, but you still believe you can pin him. Someday he will be the one to say “Uncle.” This is worth fighting for.

There are times when your cousin, though he is your best friend, is tackling you. Mama doesn’t rescue you, because you need to figure this one out yourself. This is worth fighting for.

Someday your sister will be more of a nuisance than a friend. But at some point she will need her little brother to be a big brother. She will need you to hang out for an hour, because you are the only boy she likes at that moment. Through all the petty fights, hang in there. Because this is worth fighting for.

Someday you will be on the field and the score will be big—on the wrong side of the board. And you will still play hard; still get your uniform dirty. This is worth fighting for.

Someday you will do something wrong and break mama’s heart, just for a second. And you will want me to believe in you again. This is worth fighting for.

Someday pop and dad will take you fishing, and you will think about taking a break from pulling in the Monster Fish. But you won’t. Because this is worth fighting for.

Someday a girl will catch your eye. You will want to be like the boys she likes, even though they are not like the boy you should be. Give her time. This is worth fighting for.

Someday you will be given a choice. No one will know if you choose wrong. No one will know if you choose right. You will always know, babe. This is worth fighting for.

Someday you will be a man and have a job and a lot of responsibilities. Remember that in the blur, in the frenzy called life, your family should come first. This is worth fighting for.

Someday it will be much easier to ignore what must be done than to do it. And it may be a really hard thing to face, to finish. You will do it, and Dad will be proud of the man you have become. This is worth fighting for.

Someday you will need to have a catch, take a swing, be a kid again. Always keep your ball glove in a place you won’t forget. Never lose the boy you are now, when a homerun in the living room makes your night. This is worth fighting for.

Remember that mama and daddy will always have your back. We will always be here to lift you up and get you going again, even if the fight has been knocked out of you. We are in your corner. Because you are worth fighting for.

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I love that boy.


Family Beach Day:)

Headed down to Ocean City today. Just for a couple hours. The beach is my favorite place in the world. I love the noises. People chatting and laughing, kids yelling, and all of it brought down a notch by the crashing waves. Like the sounds get filtered, and you end up with a muffled version of it all. Really quite relaxing and lovely. Phil was off, so he joined us beach bums.
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I think this last photo may be the creepiest one I've ever taken! Phil buried them. Giggles and all. The sand was so heavy, they were panting-- so it only lasted a second. But how funny?! Out little sand monsters. Niamh got quite an ear-full...So, I've been re-assuring the poor girl all day that the sand is not getting her brain dirty. Such a worrier. Just like her mama:). Philly, on the other hand, could be plastered in that stuff for a week and not know the difference. I'm kind of fond of it myself. Gets your skin so nice and soft:).

Hope you are having a lovely summer day, wherever you are!:)


Track # 9. Breathing.

Isn’t it funny. You’re driving down the road, lots of noise and chatter in the car. And then a song comes through the speakers—a song that throws you back to some point in your life. And it feels like a memory, for just an instant, is alive. Unfolding right before you.

I’m pretty sure I could write the story of my life out in lyrics. Lyrics from the songs that played on repeat for a month in my life. A special piece of music that marked an event or events way back when. Even the songs I dislike. Like the one that played over and over again while I was counter girl at the local farm and garden store (It’s Your Love, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill)... That one annoys the *crap* out of me—but it’s there. That farm and garden store. The fantastic smell of fertilizer made from every kind of animal poop imaginable. The speaker I hated to talk into. Especially when I stuttered into it. Yeah...all of it floods back.

I love that about music. It really does get into your soul. Kind of weaves its way through your whole person.

I started thinking about the different songs that do that time warp thing for me. If I categorized them, there would be playlists titled everything from Top 20 Country Countdown in Living Room on Friday Nights with Brother and Sisters to Songs I Dance Awesome to in My Head. (Key words there—in my head.) I couldn’t figure out how to share all the more meaningful ones with you in a single post. So, I might re-visit this sort of thing here and there. I like sharing things like this because it’s nice to write something real once in a while. Take a break from cute crafts and outfit posts and share a little bit more. So, the song I am choosing first would be off my playlist called Phil. It is titled Breathing, by Lifehouse.

So...Where to start?

I’m 21.
In my bedroom. In New Jersey.

Never ever been in love. Not ever.

Until right now...talking to a guy. A Marine.
Stationed in California.

Who I ‘ve seen all of once.
But talk to every night. EVERY night.

Phone bills are outrageous. Phone cards last a couple days. And we are always 3 hours off.

Our lives never meet up—not even on the clock. So, he seems unreal at times. Because he is eating dinner, and I’m in bed. And he is fast asleep while I’m going out the door to work. But that phone is all we have. So we spend hours on it. Hours and hours and hours.

Two weeks into our official (distance) relationship, we both know—know—we are gonna get married. It’s not even like he asked me. No proposal. I never asked him. We just were like—yeah, we are soooooo getting hitched. I like that there wasn’t that moment—the question. There was never a question. Not for either of us. So, we just kept talking and laughing. And he was everything to me.

I saw him four times. Four times before September 11, 2001. It had been almost exactly 10 months since our first date. A blind date. I knew I liked him instantly, even then. I can remember clearly thinking, He has terrible fingernails. Bitten down. And a little dingy.

I think I may have loved him right then and there.

We weren’t sure what the following year would bring for his unit. And the phone thing wasn’t cutting it. Not anymore. I wanted to go on dates. Just eating a meal with him seemed dreamy. He wanted to hang out. Just sit. Next to each other. With no good bye looming over us. So.

He got 10 days worth of leave.

And, with the help of my siblings keeping a huge secret and his sister Kim helping us plan, he came home.
We surprised our parents. His dad initially thought he went AWOL. I remember his face. That still makes me laugh. My parents cried. I was the oldest and first to leave.

And we threw a small, quiet wedding in 3 days.

Then we drove back to Cali. Two newlyweds. Ready to start...well, dating;)

I listened to Lifehouse every night after I hung up the phone those months of long-distance love. I fell asleep to my walkman in my ears. Playing the whole No Name Face album. If I could pick one song that summed up that ritual...talking, saying good bye, and then laying there—wishing I could hear him just one more time that night—it would be this one. (I felt like every word in this song was a stolen thought from my heart.)

Breathing. I use to pray that if God would just find a way for us to be together, I would never take Phil for granted. Never.

Well, we’ve been married for over nine years. And he is still my whole world. And, on those days when I forget that prayer, this song reminds me. To be thankful that he is right here. And I can listen to him breathe every night.


Blueberries, Spongebob, and a Skunk:)

Summers are made by the little things in life. That's how I grew up. The things we did as a family...simple moments us kids got excited over. Things like snapping beans and husking corn were fun back then! Who got the grossest worm in their corn-- that was always fun to discover!:)

On Friday night, the four of us went with another couple for dinner and dessert. Just this little place called Pop Shop. It was decorated straight out of the 50's, and there were like 30 different grilled cheese sandwiches to choose from. It was a total blast! Today, I brought the kids to a Blueberry Festival:). Really, I just wanted to get them out of the house for a while-- away from TV and games. And this roadside stand's signs had caught my eye the night before on the way to dinner. So, we hung out for a while on a beautiful, sunny, summer day. And hopefully, our kids are growing up slow and good. Appreciating things like sweet blueberries. And a special jar of apple butter. And a petting zoo (that requires no hand sanitizer!;) It was a good summer afternoon. With plenty of perfect moments.

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Hope your Saturday was full of the little things that make summers from long ago seem like yesterday!


How Many Peace Signs Can You Count??...

I was going to post an outfit tonight, but decided it would be more fun to demand that my Mr. participate in a date night post with me:). It required some convincing. And even then, I was so nervous for him to enjoy our little 3 minute photo shoot that I kept popping out peace signs. (Why nervousness = random peace signs for me, I'll never know.) But go ahead and count them. Almost every pic. Oh well:). I'm pretty sure temperatures approached 100 today, so excuse any sweat...it was brutal out there!
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And I gotta highlight my new Modern Family tee shirt! Phil Dunphy is my favorite. I'm not sure that a day goes by without Phil or myself throwing in a Phil Dunphy quote:). Even at the movies this afternoon, I found the opportunity to interject the "Be cool! Be cool! Be cool!" Yes-- we sneak our own snacks in. Even our kids are pros at hiding food on themselves. Socks, shirts, down pants...you name it; we've tried it. At a 100% success rate:). $4.50 for a coke is ridiculous. Ridiculous!
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I love the feeling of walking out of the theater, having watched a really great movie.  The movies that make it on my top 10 list are the ones that I want to turn around immediately, pay for another ticket, and watch again. Inglorious Bastards, Kill Bill, 300, and Bridesmaids were all like that for me. And now I can add Super 8 to the list. It was so, so good! It reminded me of the excitement I felt as a kid watching ET for the first time. It had a meaningful storyline, a pretty awesome monster/alien, and the main kid looked just like Philly:). There was nothing not to love! I already set up a double date for later in the week to see it again! Gonna make my sister and BIL watch, too! Add it to your must see list!

PS...I'm glad the tote bag seems to be something that makes a good giveaway gift! I am waiting for them in the mail, and I will post the entry rules once I get them and make sure they are great! I'm excited!


Laughter is the Best Medicine

I don't usually stay in that un-inspired rut for too long...you know those days when you really can't get yourself doing anything very creative. I usually spend those off days dreaming up new projects, new artwork, new posts...but lately, I have just been kinda blah. Certain days are just stressful...and that's okay:). And, on the rare occasion that those days turn into an entire week...well, I've got these two little knuckle-heads to keep me smiling:).
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Niamh is not my quiet child:). And she does this super funny re-enactment of the balcony scene from Gnomeo and Juliet...when Juliet does this funky little face. I die laughing every time Niamh does it...Take a look:)
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hippie chick
I probably make her do it for me 50 times a week. It is soooo funny:) And, this little guy--
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hippie chick
Well, he apparently lost a tooth this week. Like, really lost it. He came up to me on Friday night, wiggling his new tooth, saying, "Why isn't my tooth wiggly anymore??" So Philly:). So easy going and nonchalant about life, he never even realized his tooth fell out. Or that he probably swallowed it. He wrote a sweet note to the tooth fairy...and she still left him a little $. (I think she must love him...he is too adorable!;)

The best medicine for an off week is a little laughter:). And, I think I'm cured. I've got some fun posts lined up...a pretty kickin' giveaway in the near future...and am working on re-vamping my Etsy store and art style for the fall. Lots of fun things coming...Stay tuned! And, just on a side note-- thank you for stopping by. And thanks to many of you who leave comments. They are always fun and inspiring to read...and I feel like I've made some new friends through this blog. That is pretty darn awesome! I appreciate all your support and interest in the things I've got to say:)...It means the world!  xo

Happy Fourth...Stay safe!


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