Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Don't Hope... DECIDE

I can take no credit for this post... I am simply sharing a story that really has left an impression on my heart.  My lifetime love read this story and sent it to me while he was traveling recently,  it left an impression on his heart as well!  It is my goal to inspire & motivate others with this blog, so it was important to me that I share something that has impacted me so positively!  I hope you enjoy!


While waiting to pick up a friend at the airport in Portland, Oregon, I had one of those life-changing experiences that you hear other people talk about — the kind that sneaks up on you unexpectedly. This one occurred a mere two feet away from me.

Straining to locate my friend among the passengers deplaning through the jet way, I noticed a man coming toward me carrying two light bags. He stopped right next to me to greet his family. First he motioned to his youngest son (maybe six years old) as he laid down his bags. They gave each other a long, loving hug. As they separated enough to look in each other’s face, I heard the father say, “It’s so good to see you, son. I missed you so much!” His son smiled somewhat shyly, averted his eyes and replied softly, “Me, too, Dad!” Then the man stood up, gazed in the eyes of his oldest son (maybe nine or ten) and while cupping his son’s face in his hands said, “You’re already quite the young man. I love you very much, Zach!” They too hugged a most loving, tender hug.While this was happening, a baby girl (perhaps one or one-and-a-half) was squirming excitedly in her mother’s arms, never once taking her little eyes off the wonderful sight of her returning father. The man said, “Hi, baby girl!” as he gently took the child from her mother. He quickly kissed her face all over and then held her close to his chest while rocking her from side to side. The little girl instantly relaxed and simply laid her head on his shoulder, motionless in pure contentment. After several moments, he handed his daughter to his oldest son and declared, “I’ve saved the best for last!” and proceeded to give his wife the longest, most passionate kiss I ever remember seeing. He gazed into her eyes for several seconds and then silently mouthed. “I love you so much!” They stared at each other’s eyes, beaming big smiles at one another, while holding both hands. For an instant they reminded me of newlyweds, but I knew by the age of their kids that they couldn’t possibly be. I puzzled about it for a moment then realized how totally engrossed I was in the wonderful display of unconditional love not more than an arm’s length away from me. I suddenly felt uncomfortable, as if I was invading something sacred, but was amazed to hear my own voice nervously ask, “Wow! How long have you two been married?  “Been together fourteen years total, married twelve of those.” he replied, without breaking his gaze from his lovely wife’s face. “Well then, how long have you been away?” I asked. The man finally turned and looked at me, still beaming his joyous smile. “Two whole days!”

Two days? I was stunned. By the intensity of the greeting, I had assumed he’d been gone for at least several weeks – if not months. I know my expression betrayed me. I said almost offhandedly, hoping to end my intrusion with some semblance of grace (and to get back to searching for my friend), “I hope my marriage is still that passionate after twelve years!” The man suddenly stopped smiling.
He looked me straight in the eye, and with forcefulness that burned right into my soul, he told me something that left me a different person. He told me, “Don’t hope, friend… decide!” Then he flashed me his wonderful smile again, shook my hand and said, “God bless!”
- By Michael D. Hargrove and Bottom Line Underwriters, Inc. - Copyright 1997

Monday, July 16, 2012

Pinterest Pass or Fail - #1 - Sharpie Craft

Chances are you don't have to know me well, or maybe even know me at all, to know I'm a Pinterest addict.  My poor lifetime love just nods his head as I am continually on the lookout for some new baking pan, craft supply, or just plain 'ole piece-of-junk.  Pinterest is constant inspiration for me, and it seems no matter where we are my wheels are turning thinking of some "project" I have seen pinned. 

This will be a new addition to Goodness Gathering; Pinterest Pass or Fail.  I will try to frequently document my attempts at crafting, diy, & maybe even some cooking pins!  It's going to be a struggle to admit my failed attempts to you - but, I will, simply for the greater good of all involved ;)

The kiddos have been sick this past week, which has meant very little time for creativity, but let's be honest --- for sanity's sake I just had to S Q U E E Z E a little diy time in!

My Pinterest Pass or Fail #1 is an homage to all the recent pins using Sharpie markers on porcelain mugs.  Super fast, super inexpensive, & super cute - it certainly sounds like a win-win!

Pinterest has pins featuring multiple kinds of porcelain mugs being used, even an adorable tea pot.  I chose to use these great dishes found at a thrift store.  As long as it is porcelain, it should work!  The list of ideas I had after completing the project were rather lengthy, so put your creativity to work here & don't limit yourself!

You can select porcelain pieces from a thrift store or even Dollar Tree!  Just be sure to select a color that you are going to be pleased "writing" on.  Most pieces can be found for between 25 cents and $1 each.  Be sure to wash & dry the porcelain pieces thoroughly before starting the project.

While there are multiple pins on Pinterest that use specialty markers or paints to customize dishware, I was specifically drawn to the tutorials that simply used a Sharpie marker....something you likely have on hand.  The two Sharpie's shown at top are what most crafters would consider "standard" - they are labled fine point.  The Sharpie at the bottom was an extra fine point, I found it to be a no-go.  It would not write on the porcelain, so I am recommending the standard Sharpie.

Time to have some fun!  Write a message or scripture, draw, trace a child's hand - you do what YOU want!

Next, place your completed porcelain pieces in an oven on 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  ((This is the part where you completely ignore how my oven was not sparkly clean for pictures... recall, my children were sick  I'm a Mom, therefore it's never really clean)).

If your children are assisting you, please be super careful removing the HOT pieces from the oven.  They will need to cool for at least 15 minutes.  Important!  These are hand wash only  - but, they did PASS as they held up fine!

My Rooney is always talking about his "Uncle Rarry" & "Aunt Weezer," so we thought we would make them something special!  ((Yes, it's really Larry, and yes it's "Weezer" cause she's both a Steel Magnolia's fan and C R A Z Y ! Ha!  -----pic below))

We love you guys, now come pick up your GOODNESS!

Friday, July 13, 2012

14 on the 14th

1.      When staying in a hotel ALWAYS check the alarm clock before going to bed.  I’m not sure I have ever actually set one in a hotel (with the option of a wake-up call or using your cell phone I can’t imagine ever using one) BUT – apparently some folks do.  Or, rather some folks take great pleasure in setting the alarm and adjusting that BEEP to BLARING in hopes of really getting you moving when it’s your turn to use the room.  Sage advice I tell you – check the alarm, you’ll thank me later ;)
2.      Have you seen the “pin” on Pinterest for homemade granite cleaner?  I LOVE it!  I consistently use it to clean my granite and have found that it also works great on glass stovetops.  In a hurry I have used it on my stainless steel and been pleased also, although I would say Pledge (furniture polish) is still my go-to for cleaning stainless steel.  To make the granite cleaner simply mix 20 drops of Dawn (standard blue) with 2 cups of rubbing alcohol and 2 cups of water.  You can mix it directly in a spray bottle, just gently rock the bottle side to side to mix together so you don’t suds up the Dawn.  I also recommend writing the “recipe” on the side of the bottle with a Sharpie, it will save you the time of going back to verify it again when you are ready to re-make.
3.      As a parent, remember, the days are long, but the years are short.
4.     We are a leftovers  eating kinda family.  I know lotsa, lotsa, lotsa folks are not, but we just try not to let much go to waste around here.  Have you ever tried sitting a small (i.e. 1-2 ounces) cup of water in the microwave when you are reheating foods?  Be sure to use a microwave safe container, I recommend glass instead of plastic, but we typically find leftovers are discarded because they become dry & hard when reheated.  Adding a small cup of water adds moisture and allows the food to become rehydrated.  This also works great for bread that may be freezer burned!  We simply tried this one day needing to “revive” something out of desperation and it worked great – so great that we continue to do it!
5.     Are you addicted to your dvr like I am?  Did you know you can connect your dvr to an external hard drive and back it up?  Dish Network suggests doing this once a month.  I suggests following Dish Network’s suggestion!  I had a rather extensive ‘library’ of cooking & crafting shows and oh, I don’t know, like every episode of Backyardigans ever created on there – yes, lost ‘em all!
6.     God gave us mouths that close and ears that don’t. – Kay Halliburton, a sister in Christ recently shared this!
7.     When crafting, forego the “self threading needles.”  Trust me.  I have a pack if anyone wants them!
8.     Discovered almond butter yet?  Yum, yum, yum as Sister-girl says!  For a treat try almond butter cookies:  1 cup (unsalted) almond butter, ¾ c. Splenda brown sugar, 1 large egg, ½ tsp. baking soda, ¼ tsp. sea salt, 3 oz. dark chocolate broken into small pieces.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and stir together first five ingredients until blended well, and then stir in the chocolate.  Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper lined baking sheets.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned.  Place on cooling racks and allow to cool 10-15 minutes.  (I kinda love them warm!)  This recipe from Clean Eating Magazine is both Paleo friendly and gluten-free!
9.      Per my toddler… just because your finger will fit in the jet on the side of the pool/hot tub, you should probably pass on that!  Thanks Rooney for teaching us all that fun lesson!
10.  Do you use Colornote or a similar app on your phone?  I’m addicted.  I always have my cell with me, so when inspiration hits I start typing!  Grocery lists, scripture I want to read frequently, prayer list, clothing sizes for everyone in my family, measurements for places furniture is “needed” in my home, favorite quotes, to-do list, cards to send (wow, so many lists!!) – you name it, it’s all there, always at my fingertips!  It is more eco friendly then having paper lists floating around everywhere and super convenient!  I will add that Colornote is free and if you really want to know how crazy I am I will tell you that I even have a list of all the (homemade) freezer meals I have ready!  No more digging through the freezer for me trying to decide what is for dinner!
11.  Do you use Instagram?  Discovering Pinterest & Instagram made me want to jump up and shout, “I have found my people!!”  Chances are you know about Pinterest if you are reading this, but I still have loads of friends who have yet to get on the Instagram bandwagon.  In my experience, Instagram has a huge network of women who are parents, bloggers, crafters, collectors, photographers, entrepreneurs, etc. They are a huge inspiration to me and frequently share supportive comments when I am not even expecting it.  Find me on Instagram:  goodnessgathering à simply click “follow”!
12.  Teaching a toddler “good manners” is exhausting and frankly makes me want to lose my manners some days, but don’t we all run into people who make us wish that their parents kept the faith, were consistent, and taught them some manners?!  Keep teaching this, friends… it may feel like a battle at times, but it is so important!
13.  Spend your years ripening instead of rotting.  Wow, right?  I think I need to write this on my bathroom mirror…
14.  I’m rather convinced that baking soda and vinegar can solve all the world’s problems, and chances are there is a pin on Pinterest for it, too!

Ok, you have stuck with me to the end of 14 on the 14th for July!  Now take a minute and send someone an actual card, you know, the one that lands in the real mailbox – a “just because” card… we can all use a little encouragement at times!

Raising Rooney

No, I did not name my child “Rooney,” well – at least not on his birth certificate.  No, I did not intend on my blog being all about my children.  BUT, I did name him Jack….which quickly became “Jackarooney” -his beautiful little eyes lit up and his wide S M I L E appeared everytime it was said,  while rocking & singing & loving & doing all those things Momma’s do to their littles.  In time the name just stuck, and if you know him, then chances are you agree that Rooney was meant to be the child’s name.  Perfect fit.  Oh, and that part about my blog not being all about my children?  It won’t be… eventually.  I am a stay-at-home-and-in-town-and-anywhere-else-they-are Momma afterall.  Getting to know my children is getting to know me, so consider this more of the “welcome to Goodness Gathering” yada yada.

Our Rooney was not supposed to happen, at least according to the doctors.  God had other plans.  He rooted my faith by gifting me with this child and I am forever changed.  Raising Rooney is a blessing far greater than I could have ever imagined on my own.

Our Rooney is nearly THREE now ((completely in denial about that)).  His speech was slow to develop at first, but now it seems my genes have kicked in and some days there is no hushing him.  Indulge me as I share a glimpse of my Rooney since the beginning of this year…
I explain a “do” or “do not” scenario and ask, “do you understand?”  His response is always, “stand me.”

“Hold you?” Bless him.  He always wants to be held and this is how he asks.
When his dog, Jare, (I’m sure you will eventually meet him as well…) runs across the pasture leaving us he yells, “hold back Jare, hold back!”  His Daddy leaves for work and you hear, “hold back Daddy, hold back!”
Our Rooney is an eater.  A little foodie in this foodie filled family.  During lunch one day when I ate what was on my plate (only), he looked at my empty plate and said, “Mom, you fooled around and ate all the food!”  I’m sure he’s never heard me say “you fooled around…” – nope, not me!

On the fourth night of our Gospel Meeting this year, the preacher walked to the pulpit and my Rooney looks up and says “oh no, I sad.”  Yes, this still makes me laugh.  Laugh hard. 

Our house tends to be messy during the week (gasp now).  We play, we learn, we have fun…we make messes, ya’ know!  We pick up most evenings. Most. Ok, some.  Primarily because, well, lets be honest, if you pick up the toys at night and make them drag them all back out the next day it is like all new toys each morning and therefore it entertains them longer.  True story.  So, one night we were slackers (we, being me), and the next morning when Rooney came down the stairs from his bedroom he sees the messy living room floor and yells, “oh NO, Mom!  The house is broke-ed’d!” 

We work hard on manners here.  Yes, we are in the South, but I would like to think regardless of where we live that yes mam, no sir, thank-you, etc. would be essential training for the littles, and teenagers, and oh I don’t know, all red blooded American’s, but I digress… as usual.  Our Rooney is great about saying “excuse me” when he burps.  I suppose one day at the “lunch table” I was paying Sister-girl (you meet her soon!) more attention than him so he proceeded to pretend as though I was taking part in his little antics.  He fakes burps, says “excuse me,” then fake burps again, looks at me and says, “excuse YOU!”

I was really desperate for a nap one day when Sister-girl was really little, so I attempted to bribe him by allowing him to take his afternoon nap with me.  I still have no clue to this day where he had heard this, but I do know he had tried EVERYTHING it seems to talk me into getting up and skipping the nap….that’s when he sits up and yells, “Momma, a fire, a fire!”  Yes, we do need to read The Little Boy who Cried Wolf.

Sister-girl is not so carseat friendly, oh, 98.7% of the time.  While traveling to see their Aunt Weezer (apparently we are all about nicknames) recently Sister-girl was wailing away and interrupting his “ddd”.  Rooney shouts to me from the center seat, “give her sippy Momma!”  That was not an option but fortunately she hushed on her on just a minute later.  In my rear-view mirror I caught sight of him - he leaned over and looked at her and said “thank you!”

Rooney has a horse named Elmer and it has thrilled me to watch him speak to him every morning when he wakes on the farm.  It has not been too long ago when I watched as he ran to the window and said “Good Mornin’ Elmer, come in and say neigh!”

Nearly finished, I promise.  This is good stuff to a Momma, friends!  Many of my close friends will recall this-  When Sister-girl was just a few months old I laid her in the floor and told Jack to “let her kick around”.  Terrible choice of words for me to use with a two year old!  He looked at me with panic, said “ok, Momma” and then lightly kicked her leg!  He has such a kind heart and tries to obey so well, I could see the dilemma in his eyes but couldn’t respond to explain fast enough! 

He says Excodus (Exodus) and I can’t even attempt to spell Leviticus how he pronounces it! He eats “cancakes” and wants nearly everything served “wif cheese!”  He has a lot of favorite foods, but especially loves everything Mexican so he tells us he wants to “go to Mexico” when he wants to eat at a Mexican restaurant.  He says some things are “territable” and his job is to tell me if he sees “waps” (wasp) on the farm.  He loves going to “Hobbly Lobbly” and thinks every time we travel we are going to AldaBana (Alabama).  FYI, we have been to AldaBana once this year and he informed me “it’s spooky up in here,” when we checked into the hotel (which it wasn’t, promise, but it was midnight-ish).  He tells me “good idea” and “no worries,” and everytime a light switch is flipped on he says “good mornin’” with excitement!  He loves to use the adjectives cute, perfect, awesome, and beautiful.   He asks to “hold it?” when he wants to hold his sweet Sister-girl.  He refers to her as “trouble” or “T” frequently and I will never forget him telling her “hi baby, I Jack” when she was tiny.

I frequently hear parents predict what their child will grow up to be.  We are leaning towards cruise director.  He is a “planner” by nature, loves traveling & adventures, and does roll call ALL.THE.TIME.  Momma?  Daddy?  Sister? --- Momma? Daddy? Sister?  Yes, Rooney, we are all here.  Still here.  Yep, all of us…still here!