Saturday, April 27, 2013

Stories and Toast

This blog, my little corner of the internet, has served me well through the six years that I've used it. 

I started a blog as my creative outlet - not photography, not fashion or cooking or parenting advice, not home decor, certainly not DIY - my creative outlet is writing. Plain and simple. Words, strung together to make pictures.

We've seen an evolution here.
From new mom - freshly minted, battling postpartum depression, fragile.
To part-time student.
To reality TV blogger. Not my most intelligent or insightful moments...
To grumpy pregnant lady, to new mom for the third time.
To harried full-time student without a moment in the world for her much-missed outlet.

I invite you to join me as I evolve to another place in my life.
A new stage.

I'm starting a new blog and She's Star-Crossed will be no more.
{Which does make me a bit sad.}
But I will continue to do the same things I did here for all those years.
Enjoy myself. And hopefully touch a few people in the process.

So, please, follow me over there, at my new place:

And thank you for your love and friendship.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Water.

My heart is full.
Have you ever had a heart so full it seemed impossible to start pouring it out?
I have no idea where to begin in recounting my experience to you.
That's why the two-week silence. 
I've been home from Kenya for two weeks...

Snippets. That's all I can manage.
No big, sweeping, novel-esque tales of grandeur. 
Bite-sized bits.
That's how I'll do it.
And hopefully I'll be able to convey even half of my heart to you.


Let me start with Britt's first bath after my return.
The water poured from the faucet.
Clean, sparkling, clear.
Loads of it.
A bathtub full.
And it startled me like a shock of lightning. 
I'm bathing my child in gallons upon gallons of drinking water cleaner than most kids in Africa have ever seen.
Cleaner water than they've ever bathed in.
Cleaner than they've ever drank. 

The water I saw there...
the water that mothers dip out of the river and bring to their babies' lips;
wretched.
Dark with waste.
Smelly.
Disease-ridden.

I fumbled with the faucet; turned the water off.
I couldn't get it to stop pouring forth fast enough.
Britt took a shallow bath that night.
And I sat there, trembling, thanking God for such extravagance and wondering...
why?
Why is this for me...this tub full of shimmering water.
And that is for them...that river barely moving; garbage lining the edges; filling broken cups with it and drinking.
Water I wouldn't even bathe my baby in...


I don't know why.
God didn't tell me.
All that I know is he calmed my questioning that night.
I know that God holds the whole world in His loving hands.
I know that to whom much is given much is required.
I know that He loves those beautiful babies as much as he loves my beautiful babies.
I know that I don't deserve any of His grace or his gifts.
And I know that he gave me this experience to open me up in new ways. 

The calm that has settled in my heart has nothing to do with having become complacent and hardened to their plight.
It has everything to do with trusting that God has a purpose for it all,
and there is a place for me in that purpose.


...More to come.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sweet Return

I'm back from the experience of a lifetime.
Kenya was more.
 
More beautiful.
More heart wrenching.
More difficult.
More of a gift.
More smiles.
More stretching.
More amazing.
 

More than I ever could have imagined.
 
And there are more details to come...


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Kenya Bound :: Update

In a mere 20 days I will be on a plane headed to Nairobi, Kenya.
{Well...headed to Minneapolis, MN then Amsterdam, then Nairobi.}
I'm not going to lie...I feel a little queasy when I think of being on a plane that takes me far away from my babies, and then getting on another plane that takes me even further from them and then getting on another plane that takes me almost as far away from them as I could possibly go.

I'm giddy with excitement for this trip.
But I'm also feeling that classic mommy-guilt that goes with anything we mommies do that might not be completely centered around our babies.
World travel changes a whole bunch when there's a brood of beautiful people, your people, you've left at home.



I am so grateful to you guys (my friends!) for supporting me in this endeavor.
Because, I am dead serious when I say it, it could not have happened without your help.
I have been floored at the response I've had to my pleas for help.




So...when I go to Kenya to give love and help to the people there, I will look at them through my own eyes but I will be looking at them through a filter of YOU.
You guys will be on my heart as I care for the beautiful people of Africa.
You are my MVP's.
You know who you are.




Next weekend is a packing date.
All of us almost-nurses will be meeting to stuff our bags full of love for those people.
And you will be amazed at how much of that "love" is from you guys.
I have boxes full of supplies.
It's mind-blowing.
It's beautiful.

I'll be taking pictures during our packing day and show you the bounty.
So fun.
You're going to be with me every step.

And, if you think about it during these few weeks before I go and while I'm gone,
 pray for me and for my sweet family.
That I can let go and do what I feel I've been called to do
and that my little favorites
(and my big favorite, Mr. B.)
will be safe and happy and well while I'm gone.

images via lonelyplanet.com and Kate Mercer photography

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Bachelorette :: One F on One Knee


I'm positively glowing from the satisfaction of watching these two beautiful people.
It's just rightness.

First I need to address the Arie situation.
I have been {quite vocally} a member of Team Arie since the beginning.
I knew Arie was a good one the entire show and I absolutely think his exit from the show and his appearance on ATFR is a testament to his good-ness.
Even with his obvious surprise at getting broken up with and in his confused heartbreak he left as a total gentleman.
I almost {almost. I still have a shred of self-respect.} teared up during his goodbye scene.


Although I loved me some Arie all the way through, watching last night's show I see exactly why Jef was the only choice Emily could have made.
I'm kind of making this all up in my head {with bits and pieces of evidence} that Em and Jef are really compatible in their approaches to family life and spirituality.
And I'm so sure that Jef was the right one for the job when it comes to being Ricki's new dad.


Can we just have a moment of respect for the way Emily handled her season of The Bachelorette.
You guys.
This girl rocks.
{I just used the term "rocks." Hi, 2001, I've missed you.}
She may have kissed like every pair of dude-lips she could find these past few weeks, but she stayed respectfully away from the sticky all-nighter "forego-your-individual-rooms" situation and I was pleasantly un-surprised about that.
{I had faith that she would make a good decision about that one but was still giddy when she actually followed through with it.}
And I adored the fact that One F beat her to the punch when they received their note + key combo that night.


Last night when she made her decision to scratch the Arie date and just let him go I was surprised
{because I really did think his kissing-power was going to overwhelm her senses and she would pick him}
but happy that she didn't do the "Let's Make This A Good Show" maneuvers that so many of the other bachelors and bachelorettes get caught up in.
She told Arie as soon as she knew it wasn't him and didn't let him go any further by picking out a ring and getting on his knee.


When {cutest ever, still babyface, but I like him anyway} Jef dropped to his knee and promised her it was "a forever thing" I was pretty sure my face was going to crack from the smiling.

And I knew this girl would say "yes" without hesitation.

These two mean business.


Really, truly.
Like, they mean Spring 2013 business.

I love:
His little tirade about all of her best qualities.
Her profession that tape on her finger would have made her just as happy {I believe that!}
...until it didn't anymore.
That they're going to Africa.
{Me too!!!}
That they want a wedding ASAP.
That Jef is moving to Charlotte for the sake of his new little family.
That they made a point to say they would have separate living quarters.
{Face-cracking smile again.}


I have one regret:
Making so much fun of One F in the beginning of my Bachelorette blogging.
I mean...probably if I hadn't said all of those things about him looking cute in a stroller and never having had facial hair I would be invited to their wedding.
But now, even if I wanted to crash it {Charleston 2013, baby!} I couldn't because looking him in the eye would be really sort of awkward for me.

One last note.
Their babies are going to be awesome.

The {Happily Ever After} End.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Bachelorette :: ...and My Gramps

Hometowns, baby!
I love hometowns. 
As a certifiably creepy house snooper - 
but I promise, I don't do that looking in medicine cabinets thing...and if you do, you should STOP it now...that's totally weird - 
but I love to know how people live.
The hometowns absolutely shed light on people.
It's a vital part of getting to know someone.
Fab.

Here we go.

Chris in Chicago.
The only thing I loved about this date was Chicago...
and...
Chris' mom.

Um. She told him to get out there and kick a**.
Cutest little lady.


His dad was super sweet too.
Why did I like his entire family 100 times more than I like Chris?
Why?
Why did I see more personality from one 15 minute segment in his family than I've seen the entire season with Chris?
Why, you guys?

But, Oh My Gosh. 
There was polka and a live band and traditional Polish costuming.
I almost wanted to be polish.
But then I thought about all of those polish jokes my grandpa always tells and I decided...no, I'm good.
I'll stay the weird Swedish/everythingelse mix that I am.


Jef in Utah.
His family ranch is adorable.
Ah.dora.ble.
I don't really do ranchy type stuff. 
{The Chicago date was totally more my style. Hello, birthplace and all-around best city ever.}
But seriously.
Maybe I would marry Jef for his ranch if I were Emily.
I could absolutely overlook the fact that he's probably never grown a facial hair in his life...and that I'm almost 100% sure he's mormon.


But look at that photo above. 
How marvelous do these two look together? 
He gives her all-american perfect features a little edge. 
Cute couple alert.

Um, Emily takes gun lessons at home?
Hilarity.
As if blonde hair and cowboy boots weren't man-bait enough.

Plus, my Polish joke telling Gramps? 
He shoots clay pidgeons. Like a friggin' champ.
It's, like, his thing.
So...
That's the tie in about Gramps on this hometown.

The letter he read to Emily at the end of the date was...well...I would have swooned.
Beautiful.
I hope he really means it. I tend to think he kinda does.


Arie in Arizona
I'm not sure what it is...but Arie is beginning to annoy me.
I wish I could elaborate. But I can't even figure out what it is.
It's just there.
The annoyance.

His laugh. That's definitely part of it.


Grandpa has his fair-share of things to say about the Dutch.
{Gramps was all over this episode.}
My Uncle Kevin - his son-in-law -
{possibly my favorite one...but if the other uncs are reading...he's totally not...} 
comes from a huge Dutch family; and while not all of it is negative, gramps talks about The Dutch.
Like, how tall they are...and...that's all I can remember.
Or, maybe that's just all I want to share on my blog.
Mooooving on.

WHY did Arie's mother begin speaking in Dutch mid meal?
Does she have no clue that it's rude to do that?
I mean, I get it if you're more fluent and comfortable speaking your native language...but not in front of a singularly English-speaking guest.
Not nice.
"Emily, do you want to have a chat with me?"
"Um...yeah, if you speak MY LANGUAGE, lady."
Yeesh.
But I ended up kind of liking her.
I'm pretty sure she was only 1/2 Dutch...the other 1/2 was a combo of plastic surgery and botox.


Sean in Dallas.
AHHHH!!! That bedroom.
I was horrified.
I'm so flippin' glad that was a joke.
Deal. Breaker. Right there.


Gramps wasn't in this date. So I have nothing to say about that.
And really...it was sort of a ho-hum hometown date.
In a good way.
I still really like Sean and his family seemed sweet and {Emily's prediction was spot-on} perfect.
And that little girl's play house in the backyard was bigger and more opulent than my real-life house.
Hum.

Can't say I was the least bit surprised about Chris being the rose-less one tonight.
There wasn't much chemistry there.
And he kind of lived up to his ManBaby term of endearment in the limo exit speech.
But from here on out? It's absolutely any of these three guys til the end.
Arie, Sean, and Jef all seem really well suited to her and I have no clue who her guy is...

I wonder if she'll let any of the boys meet Ricki.
Not sure I would...but I can't imagine choosing a guy without seeing what sort of chemistry they have with my child.
What do you girls think?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Potty Talk

I'm almost positive that I'm not cut out for potty training.
Like, 99% sure it's just not my thing.

I am not a patient person.
And I'm fairly certain training a little person to go poo on the potty requires boatloads of patience.


I wake up most days telling myself: 
"Yes. Today is the day.
Today is the day we learn to potty.
And diapers will be no more."

And we start out quite determined and assured of our imminent success.
And we travel along this path:
to the potty every 15 minutes,
read books on the pot,
warn about going poo in your undies,
bribe with candies,
bribe with stickers,
bribe with new underoos,
bribe with dancing and a "poo party." 


Until.
Oh...around 9:30 I slap a diaper on that butt.
The glowing little biscuits of his cheeks get shrouded in yet another Luvs and I say,
"Today there's just too much..."
{Even though there's not, even though we've planned to stay home all day just for this purpose.}
"We will surely be successful tomorrow."
And I breathe easier just knowing there's a diaper-clad toddler running around happily pooping and peeing himself at will.
And we start again the next morning...
the whole process with the diapering happening at just about the same time in the morning, give or take 15 minutes.

So.
I'm failing at potty training.


"But." You say, "But haven't you trained two other children previously?
What can be so different about this one?"

I did, my observant friends, I did live through potty training twice before.
And you want to know how that went?
Do you?
When Beck and Evie were three and two respectively, I tried The Potty Training with the same frightfully inept strategy.
Start with hopeful anticipation and putter out by mid morning.
And then I went away to Jamaica with my husband and left those two diapered toddlers with my mother-in-law for 5 days.
And when I got home...well...something extraordinary had occurred.
That dear mother-in-law of mine had trained those two babies and I didn't see another diaper {or hideous pull-up!} on their rear-ends ever again.
I almost wept.
I'm not kidding. 


I'm reaching out to my very accomplished set of readers out there...
I know so many of you are card-carrying members of the Successful Potty Trainers League
{only a precious few, ridiculously lame mothers are not}
What was your favorite, most fool proof potty training method?
And don't tell me he needs to be ready, because, you guys, this kid is ready.
I just know he is. This is all my problem.
Hit me with your best shots.

And...well...I'm going to try really hard with what I'm given.
But I'm going out of the country again in a couple of months and that very same mother-in-law is coming to stay with the spoken of bediapered toddler while I'm away.
I'm not trying to be presumptuous...
but if we had a repeat display of her potty training prowess I would not be upset.
Just throwing that out there into The Universe.
I'm not sure The Universe reads my blog, but I know for a fact that my mother-in-law does.
So...


Other tales of my potty training woes:
{well...now that I go back and read this post I guess I actually did potty train Beck.
I forgot.
I guess it was so terrible I've blocked it from my memory.}


Monday, June 25, 2012

The Bachelorette :: Pretty Prague

Kid's in bed. Check.
Comfy, stretch pants. Check.
My spot on the couch. Check.
Red wine in hand. Check.

Prague. Check and check.

Em's date with Arie.
Awwwwkward.
So much of the awkward.
Em: "I just...well...you know, I really like when people are totally open and honest."
Arie: "Well, what else do you like?"
Em: "You know, when people don't lie and there are no secrets."
Arie: "Okay, yeah, that's a good idea. Anything else that's important?"
Em: "Loyalty. Honesty. No secrets."
Em. Really.
How about YOU start with being open and honest?
It could go something like this: 
"I know something you don't know I know.
I know about you and what's-her-name. Wish you woulda said something."
That's it. Problem solved.
Lordy, I hate games.


It seemed like things were worked out well by the end though.
And I think that circumstances like this bring a couple closer together. 
Emily went through the swing of emotions from wounded to pissed to enamored with him again and that will absolutely strengthen her ties to him.
Like a real, live relationship.

Things are looking good for old Arie.
Real good.

I loved the Lennon wall and all of the history Emily treated John to on this date.
I wanna go on that date with Emily!
Pick me! We'd have so much fun.
But I was kind of dying when they were painting on the wall...
"Don't paint over history!"


Here's a funny thing: 
John has had two dinner dates.
One was in a cave and one was in a dungeon.
I'm gonna go out on a limb and say: TMI on the girlfriend cheating story.
I really don't think she needs/wants that depth of info on your sad, failed relationship.
Not at this point in the game.

Note to moody booty Chris:
Hey, ManBaby, you signed up for the Bachelorette.
This girl is supposed to go on dates with other dudes.
Re.Lax.
I don't like him. There. I said it.

I want to know how many times Sean really shouted "Emily!" in the dark streets of Prague and how many times they dubbed it over.
But, the little girl princess-wannabe inside of me was glowing at the thought of him running through the streets looking for her. 
: ) 
*Giggle, giggle.*
He's dreamy.
And I blushed when they kissed.
And Mr. B. saw me blush.
So...that was fun.

Group date:
Oh Doug.
Oh, oh, oh.
That kiss. Way too little, waaaay too late.
Sad.
He was a good one...just, not on Emily's speed.
Maybe in the real world, buddy, but not in Bachelorette world.
Really though? It's hard to blame the guy.
There are cameras in your face...how are you supposed to make out in those conditions?

I will not make fun of Jef. I will not make fun of Jef. I will not make fun of Jef.
I adored the Jef date.
How did that guy know how to work marionettes?! He had marionette Michael Jackson moon walking!
Mind officially blown.

This is a family blog, but this was the only picture I could find of those two!
Hubba hubba.
The library was unbelievable.
Dream date.
And I thought it was romantic when Mr. B. took me to Barnes & Noble.
The Bachelorette: making men step up their game since 2002.

But seriously, these two mesh.
They're adorable together.
100%.

Wardrobe notes:
The cream, sparkly, lacy lil shorts she was wearing on the Arie date?
Gorge.
And completely right with the menswear shirt and blazer.
Beautimous.

I love something my BFF sister-in-law said in the comments on my last Bachelorette blog:
She said she loves that she's not feeling like yelling at the TV with every rose Emily is giving out.
Like...ahem...Ashley's season.
{Bentley, anyone?}
Emily is so unannoying in her choices.
So spot on.
I just feel comfy watching her...not freaked out like past seasons.

A Midsummer Evening :: A Tutorial

Kid's are so easy.
They require very little planning and agonizing...just the simplest of ideas can set a party in motion.

Really, all you have to do is pack a basket with some blankets...
and whisper a sweet secret in their ears:
"It's the longest day of the year...called the summer solstice.
Magic things happen on summer solstice night.
Fairies come out to play. 
We should go and celebrate.
We should watch the sun set.
You can go to bed late."

I tell you, those are party words. 
Their faces will brighten with expectation and, I swear, you will see the fairies dancing around in those luminous eyes.


Bring those children to a pretty place.
A nature-y sort of spot that feeds the soul and makes the Mama happy.
{Because when Mama's happy...}



If your chosen spot has sand...all the better.
Sand is fascinating to little hands.


The children will probably begin - with very little prodding from mother - to create a fairy house, complete with garden and rock wall, for the magical fairy romp that will happen after the sun falls behind the trees.




A simple word of instruction to the mothers hosting this party.
Be sure every child is in one of your most loved outfits. 
Even if it is a beast to wash and involves lace or tule or linen or white or...ripped jeans.


Because, if you are sitting at a beach or a forest preserve or a trickling brook or a backyard deck that speaks to your soul and calms you...and then you gaze at your beautiful children and their sweet, expectant faces and what you see is Dora grinning ridiculously back at your from their dirty t-shirt all you'll hear is,
"Swiper, no swiping!" 
or the backpack song
or, "there's a party in my tummy, so yummy..."


And these intrusive thoughts are not conducive to a happy mommy and breathtakingly gorgeous children.
These ugly clothes will cause you to become grumpy and sour-faced.
So, suck it up and put your kids in pretty things that you bought because you loved them.
Leave the play clothes safely at home and drink in the sight of your offspring just the way you envisioned them when you were pregnant with them and your world had yet to be soured by cartoon character apparel.

You can do laundry tomorrow.



On the same note, pack the books that you've always dreamed of your children thumbing through.
Not any of these atrociously written, hot pink, "Barbies can be a Veterinarian" poor excuses for literature that they've been so adamant about bringing home from the library.

Bring Laura Ingalls and Gyo Fujikawa and Maruice Sendak.





Be sure to kiss little sun-browned, sand-dusted shoulders.


And, bring your good camera, so you can capture all of the beauty around you.


The iPhone photos will serve their purpose...and actually capture the night's events quite nicely.



But it's really best to bring the big daddy camera with you for the real stuff.


The peaceful toddler taking in the gentle loll of the waves.
The grass whispering and bending to the breeze.
The handmade quilt crafted with love by your own Mama.
The miniature sailboat drifting far.
The pastel backlight of a muted sunset.


The big brother "losing" to little brother in an impromptu sibling race because, "Britt, you're just so fast!"


The airy movement of a neon-green tutu as she really does beat her big brother in a foot race.


The determination as they hoist the biggest log they can find to the fairy camp...
"The fairies need firewood for their bonfire."


And, when the glow of the sun is disappearing behind the trees, light your candles and watch the golden little faces take in the enchantment and know that, for a night, you have created magic in their hearts.

They've been bewitched by the summer solstice...
and so, probably, have you.