The fog is rolling in, the battle rages on

e2bccc471bf4e7c3c4a5989cd3cd6a3e

The fog is rolling in.

I sense before I see,

the clouded mist

that comes again –

coming again for me.

Wispy tendrils

whorl round my feet,

readying for war.

Creeping, crawling,

reaching, searching,

finding me once more.

I’ve naught but gossamer veil

to hide myself beneath,

I’ve no stronger shield,

no bullets, no bow –

I’ve no weapon to unsheath.

But lo, perhaps I do –

I’ve words at my command.

With parchment as my coffer

and quill within my hand,

an army lays in wait,

for me to take my stand.

Whispered words

become my battle cry,

they cover me like armor,

they give me wings to fly.

As the battle rages,

the fog is failing, falling –

raining down in pages,

scattered in defeat.

I lift my veil,

and watch

as the

vanquished fog

retreats.

Crystal R. Cook

Review – Lose the Cape: Realities from Busy Modern Moms & Strategies to Survive

LosetheCape-BlogBanner

Entertaining, honest, and practical advice from real moms. I’ve read a few parenting books over the years, and by few, I mean three . . . The first two books completely contradicted each other and the third left me feeling like I’d read a manual on how to make certain your children will need intensive therapy by their late teens. Each were filled with do’s and don’ts and harsh judgments about your parenting skills if you weren’t doing things according to the advice they’d laid out.

I guess you could say I’m a bit skeptical when a new parenting book hits the shelves. When I saw who the authors of this one were though, I was intrigued. I’m familiar with their blogs and didn’t hesitate when given the opportunity to read for a review.

Lose the Cape was nothing like those books. Alexa Bigwarfe and Kerry Rivera aren’t telling you what will or will not work, they’re telling you what worked for them. They’re telling you they get it, what works for one family may not work for another, they’re telling you you’re not alone in your quest and the same questions you have are the same kind of questions we’ve all had at some point in our parenting journey.

The book is filled with the voices of real moms, sharing their own bits of wisdom and advice. The underlying message is that moms are human. We don’t know it all and we shouldn’t beat ourselves up for it. There will be triumphs and trials and we will learn and grow right along with our children through each one.

From breastfeeding to meal planning, bedtime to mommy time, marriage and mom squads and so much more, Lose the Cape covers so many topics facing moms today. The book also includes a fantastic selection of online resources concerning the topics they cover as well as some fantastic mommy blogs.

I’ll definitely be including this in every baby shower gift I give from now on . . .

Get Lose the Cape – Realities from Busy Modern Moms and Strategies to Survive at Amazon now!

Lose the Cape Blog

Lose the Cape on Facebook

Lose the Cape on Twitter

Lose the Cape on Pinterest

Lose-the-Cape-Sized

Celebrating TToT with 110 Thankful Things

c3ef4af482e44bf220bc9a091eb498ddTToT is in celebration mode! 100 link-ups and going strong! I’ve been reading the Thankful Things posts longer than I’ve been participating, this is only my third time joining in and since we’re celebrating, I added 100 random things I’m thankful for to my ten things.

Lizzi’s lists have always made me smile, they’ve reminded me to be thankful for things I may have forgotten to be thankful for. Thank you for that my friend, it’s done my heart good.

Sometimes at the end of a long week it’s easy to forget the moments that touched our hearts in the midst of all the hustle and bustle, taking the time to sit down and think about them has left me with a grateful heart. Stopping to read what others have taken the time to share has also been a lovely reminder of the things in my life I’m thankful for.

Often it’s the big stuff I think about – family and love and all the good and wonderful things I’ve been blessed with, and sometimes it’s the smaller things, like the gentleman that held the door for me at the gas station or the blue jays that sometimes stop to visit me in the yard. This week my list is filled with the big things as well as a bunch of the little things.

Thank you all for reminding me to be thankful.

BrotherWord-Thankful-Thursdays1

1. Faith – God is the cornerstone of my life. He is the floor beneath me, the roof above me, and the walls that surround me. He is my shelter from the storm. Faith keeps me going when I am sure I can go no further. It is the promise and the hope I cling to when I feel I am falling. It is my light in the dark places, it is my anchor when I am adrift, and the wind in my sails when I haven’t strength enough to row. Faith is the hand that steadies me when I falter, it is my compass when I am lost. It is the voice that tells me I can when I think I cannot. Faith is the foundation on which I stand when my solid ground turns to quickly shifting sands beneath me.

2. Family – The ones who’ve surrounded me with love since the day I was born. The ones that have cradled me in love and acceptance and unconditional love throughout my life. The ones who still do and the ones who continue to fill a place in my heart even though they’ve parted from this life. I see their smiles when I close my eyes, I hear their voices in silent moments, and I feel the love they’ve given me, always. My Grandparents, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews will always be a part of me.

3. My Mother – My teacher, my protector, my inspiration, my mentor, my friend. She carried me within her and then held me in her arms, she took me by the hand and by the heart and led me into life. Sometimes I followed her, sometimes she let me lead. She sacrificed and she gave, she sheltered and she pushed. She gave me wings and she taught me to fly. She has been my hero, my guardian, and my guide. She’s picked me up when I’ve fallen and she’s found me when I’ve been lost. She is everything I could ever hope to be.

4. My Father, My dad – My father planted the seed of life, my life. The twists and turns life’s journey sometimes takes placed us on different roads and he loved me enough to travel another until the day came when our paths would meet again and we would walk together as he’d one day dreamed we would. Now we know the way to where the other resides. My dad was not the man who planted the seed, but he lovingly tended to the garden in which I grew. He tilled and toiled in the soil as he watched me bloom and blossom. He nourished the ground beneath me, he made certain my roots were planted firmly. Those twists and turns led him away one day, but the care he took when he had it to give left me strong enough to continue to grow in his absence.

5. My Husband – My first love, my forever love. I wasn’t going to fall in love. Ever. I decided it when I was just a little girl, and then, when I was still a little girl in many ways – I fell in love with him. They said at 16 love is something you don’t fall into, but I did. He changed me and he changes me still. Something in his eyes told me love doesn’t always hurt, it doesn’t always end in pain and it wasn’t something I should deny myself. Even when I thought ours wasn’t going to be a story with a happy ending, I was still glad to have been a part of it, and as the pages continued to turn, the story kept unfolding and it has yet to end.

6. My Children – They are the reason every breath I take has meaning. They are my sun and my moon and every beat of my heart. They each came into my life, little pieces of love and completed something in me, they filled voids I didn’t know were hollow. I thought I knew the true meaning of love and then they looked into my eyes and I realized love was so much more than I’d ever known it to be. My life began the day theirs did, a new beginning with each tiny heart that began to beat. Never has there been a more beautiful sound. I used to hold their little hands in mine, and now they hold my hand in theirs and each of them carry a piece of my heart wherever they go.

7. Friends – I’ve been blessed by friendship. Somehow, through some miracle of love, I’ve chose and been chosen back by the best of the best and I’ve not words enough to describe the joys they have given me. I don’t surround myself with them, yet they surround me always. I’ve known some for nearly a lifetime, some for what seems like the blink of an eye, and yet, in my heart – they all reside. I’m so very different from most of them and they are each different from the others, but we have a connection that bridges those differences and leads us to a beautiful place. I don’t know if I am a good friend, I hope I am. I sometimes go for long spells without reaching out, I don’t chat on the phone for hours or hang out, but I’m there if they need me and I know they are there when I need them. Some of us have held hands, we’ve shared hugs and tears and laughter. Some of us appear to each other as letter after letter beneath the blinking cursor on a screen or visit each other through inboxes and emails, but I can feel the hugs we sometimes share just the same.

8. Words – I reside in a world of words, the characters that come together to form them, creating sentences and paragraphs; chapters and verses. Words are my safe place, my way of reaching out to the world beyond me and the one within me. Words come into my soul, they release or they capture what resides there. Words written on a page transform me, they become a part of me, they bring me solace and comfort and healing. When I read them I’m transported to the magical place where they were born and when I write them, they become my own magical place. Without words I would wither on the proverbial vine, without voice, without escape. I find sanctuary within them, they offer me respite when I am weary and they provide company when I am alone. Words have been my constant and faithful companions in life, words have never failed me.

9. Books – My first friends in life. Stories real and imagined. Histories, heroines, and heroes. Underdogs, villains, and victors. I’ve been to far off places, made up lands, and real life destinations though I’ve never travelled far. I’ve had adventures, I’ve been on quests and crusades, I’ve loved and I’ve lost and I’ve taken fantastical journeys and come home again. I’ve battled monsters and I’ve been where angels have tread. I have read my way into the future and travelled into the past. I’ve soared above the clouds and I’ve explored the depths of the earth. I’ve seen more than I ever knew there was to see. I became a part of every story I’ve ever read and there are still worlds and words out there, waiting for me.

10. Technology – It seems an odd way to end my list of thankful things, but without it, I wouldn’t have some of the friends I have today. I wouldn’t know some of the things I know. I couldn’t have done some of the things I have done, so it is certainly among the things I am so very thankful for. The world I grew up in was quite different from the one we now live in. In some ways I miss the days before computers connected us, and in other ways, I cannot imagine life without them. Vast amounts of knowledge are just a few keystrokes from me at any time, friends and family can be reached with the touch of a button. Books and music are just a mouse-click away.  But still, the excitement of receiving a letter in the mail or the anticipation of who’s on the other end of the line when the phone rings are things I sometimes miss. I often tell myself I’ll take the time to sit and write to someone the old-fashioned way, but I don’t do it often enough. I love the sound of a pen gliding across a piece of paper and the smell of ink before it dries. I still prefer the feeling of paper pages and revel in the sound they make when I turn from one to the next as I read. I do love this little world I have found behind the computer screen though . . .

100 Random Things I’m Thankful For

today-im-thankful-for

  1. coffee
  2. things that smell like coconut
  3. the sound of my dog’s nails clicking down the hallway
  4. the sound the wind makes
  5. raindrops
  6. rainbows
  7. fresh sheets
  8. hearing from an old friend
  9. naps
  10. smiles from strangers
  11. nights that turn into mornings
  12. days that turn into nights
  13. paydays
  14. crisp apples
  15. ripe avocados
  16. remembering something
  17. finding something I thought was lost
  18. Pinterest
  19. dictionary.com
  20. the thesaurus
  21. moments of silence
  22. getting a great idea
  23. learning something new
  24. sweet tea
  25. earplugs
  26. bottled water
  27. new books
  28. old books
  29. blogs
  30. Facebook
  31. friends
  32. memories
  33. silver change
  34. cake
  35. insulin
  36. fluffy clouds
  37. candles
  38. DVRs
  39. Nutella
  40. good hair days
  41. starting something new
  42. finishing something
  43. comfortable shoes
  44. shirts without tags
  45. empty journals
  46. filled journals
  47. gel pens
  48. unbroken fingernails
  49. ceiling fans
  50. digital cameras
  51. ladybugs
  52. butterflies
  53. sale prices
  54. art
  55. epiphanies
  56. moments of serendipity
  57. music
  58. snuggly blankets
  59. blooming flowers
  60. Wifi
  61. funny jokes
  62. cell phones
  63. body pillows
  64. cotton t-shirts
  65. stretchy jeans
  66. waterfalls
  67. blessings in disguise
  68. old photo albums
  69. comfortable chairs
  70. memory foam mattresses
  71. freedom
  72. people who write books
  73. self adhesive stamps
  74. bookmarks
  75. squishy stress balls
  76. bookstores
  77. piggy banks
  78. comfy bras
  79. gift bags
  80. dreams that come true
  81. window shades
  82. crackling campfires
  83. reusable grocery bags
  84. nice people
  85. banana walnut muffins
  86. home
  87. floss toothpicks
  88. sharp scissors
  89. comfortable pajamas
  90. junk drawers
  91. flash drives
  92. empty roads
  93. sticky notes
  94. bookshelves
  95. cream cheese frosting
  96. closet space
  97. good lighting
  98. Olive Garden breadsticks
  99. reading glasses
  100. thousands of other things

ten-things-of-thankful-100

And now I’m not allowed to burn candles without supervision – again.

Candle_flame_(1)

I’ve always had a thing for fire. It’s beautiful, mesmerizing, terrifying, and . . . it gets me into trouble. Some people in my family may have accused me of being a bit of a pyromaniac, but I’m not. I never was. I could have been, but I wasn’t. Don’t listen to them, they just don’t understand.

Fire has always been one of my greatest fears and yet, I am drawn to it like the poor clichéd moth is drawn to a flame. It’s fascinating to watch, it moves, it breathes . . . it lives. It also burns and destroys and melts stuff.

The melting of stuff is why I am currently banned from enjoying the aromatic and softly glowing comfort of candles.

It’s not as though I set out to incinerate things. I’m not inattentive or irresponsible, stuff happens, you know? I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s ever accidentally set fire to a book – or a hand towel, or a wispy curtain, a television, or a treehouse . . . right?

Okay, the treehouse was bad, but it’s not like I meant it to go up in flames. Sometime in the early eighties, I accidentally discovered the incendiary joy produced by aerosol hairspray and a Bic. By the way, I blame Aquanet for many bad decisions in the eighties.

I blame Aquanet

I blame Aquanet

The treehouse happened to have been built a little too close to where I was testing out the awesomeness capacity of my newly found flamethrower. Hindsight – I should have stood further back, and by further back, what I obviously mean, is I should have never been using a full bottle of aerosol hairspray as a flamethrower. Fire bad. I know. I learned a valuable lesson that day. And I swear, I don’t recall doing it again. Wait, I did spray a smiley face on a neighbor’s garage door and lit that up. Again, lesson learned. But seriously, after that I only used hairspray on my hair.

The other stuff just sort of happened over the years, none of the flaming, scorching, or melting was done with the intent to flame, scorch or melt. Like I said, stuff just . . . happens. Aside from the treehouse, melting our new TV was probably the worst, in terms of actual damage. I really did think the shelf the candle was sitting on was far enough below the TV. The new TV. It wasn’t. But that was a long time ago, we have a new new TV now, no candles anywhere near it.

11245328_10205192041294162_230411629_n

 

I don’t think an outright candle ban is necessary, I am a grown woman and shouldn’t have rules and regulations in regard to my use of, what I deem essential to my well-being, candles. It’s not like I burned the place down. I have become quite good at removing candle wax from furniture and floors and carpets and clothing. I realize the prowess I’ve gained from having to remove wax from all those things does little to help my case, but I thought it necessary to point out.

I have no idea how long it will be before I am trusted again, but I’m still going to light my candles. I’ll do it with the utmost care and keep a watchful eye one them. I’ll just have to extinguish their flickering flame before the man gets home.

a11244876_10205166050164400_2853458_o

This is the direct result of a defective candle. It was obviously more melty than it should have been.

 

 

 

 

Identity – Like a rose

Untitled

If you truly want to find yourself, you’ll need to give yourself permission to be who you are. So many of us are simply playing roles in life, roles we may not even realize we are playing. When we look in the mirror are we really seeing the reflection of our true self, or is the person looking back at us merely what we think the world wants to see? I wonder how many us can honestly answer the question, who am I? We know what we believe in, what we stand for and who we are supposed to be, at least we think we do. Life often dictates the path we will follow even though our hearts may have made different plans.

It seems we are always on some valiant quest to find our true self; it’s not an easy task. Many of us have hidden away the hopes and dreams we once had, we’ve sacrificed certain wants and desires for the sake of those we love most, without hesitation. I have. I don’t regret setting those things aside in hopes of finding them again someday, but sometimes, I wonder if they are still worth finding.

Some of them certainly are, but I’m not the same person I was when I first wanted them. Some of those hopes and dreams have been realized, perhaps not in the way I’d thought they would be, and some were realized in ways I never imagined they could be. There are still a few though, tucked way somewhere inside of me, waiting to be rediscovered.

I have hopes and dreams now I didn’t have when my younger self started making plans for the future. It’s funny, when I think of those plans I once had, I’m reminded of a song I sang when I was little, “Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold”, we could apply this innocent principle in our own search for self. We don’t have to give up all things past, maybe we simply need to incorporate some of them into our present and on into our future. I can say with utmost certainty, the thoughts I think today will be different from the ones I may think tomorrow. Not all of them, of course, but new thoughts will grow within them, some of the old ones will fall away, leaving the new to grow until they too have served their purpose.

They remind me of a rose. The beautiful bud opens as it blooms, petal atop petal, each delicately filled with life, eventually, the outer petals begin to wilt and fall, some meet the ground with their beauty intact, others have wilted and browned and they fade back into the earth, becoming a part of something greater. Those which fell with color and form can be preserved and cherished – between the pages of a book, their color rich and beautiful still, but to keep that perfection, they must remain between the pages. Even once a rose has seen its final dawn it can remain forever beautiful if cared for.  There is an unexpected beauty in the sight of a perfectly dried rose. It’s color has faded and though it’s petals are brittle and can crumble with the slightest touch of even the most delicate hand, it is beautiful still.

I see my old hopes and dreams as I see the rose. Some of them fell to he ground and journeyed away in the breeze, some fell to nourish the soil where their journey began, and sometimes they are the petals, fallen and preserved. They remain – different than they once were, but they remain, kept between the pages of my life’s story, never to be forgotten. The dried beauty of a once vibrant rose represents those dreams I once dreamed but were never meant to be. Still a beautiful sight, when you look upon it you cannot help but see what it used to be, it serves as a precious memory.

My old dreams, like the rose, are a reminder of who I once was, not of who I have become or who I will one day be. Maybe this is the secret to finding your true self. Letting go of who you used to be and embracing who you have become, different, yet beautiful still. Only when we accept the changes in our life can we find ourselves, only when we have found ourselves will we find happiness.

“Make new dreams, but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold.”

I don’t have to play a role, I am everything I am supposed to be. The light I was once afraid I wasn’t supposed to show needs to shine. I’ve held back laughter and I’ve held back tears. I’ve been serious when I wanted to play and I have given up things I wanted to keep. My light needs to shine. I am who I am, if I accept myself, those I love will as well and that will continue to be my strength and my joy.

I am a child of God; I am a mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend. I am far from perfect yet perfect the way I am. I am someone who knows who I am and accepts whoever I may become with the passage of time.

I am who I am meant to be . . .

Crystal R. Cook

Memories on a flash drive – That last photo – pure gold!

One of my favorite things in life is coming across memories I’d almost forgotten were safely tucked away somewhere inside of me. This one found its way back to me while I was looking for a different memory on an old flash drive, the little file folder on the screen was practically begging to be clicked, and when I obliged the little voice compelling me to take a peek inside, I was instantly filled with the joys of a long ago day and the memories rushed in like a rushing wave, eager to meet the shore.

I no longer recall the occasion, but the day is etched into my heart. The kids explored and played and rode dirt bikes with their dad while I sat with my notebook and favorite pen, recording whatever thoughts I happened to think as I watched the day unfold.

The set of pictures I found in that file made me smile, they made me laugh – the little man captured in photographic forever is now a man, mostly. He’ll be eighteen this month. The last of my babies to step into adulthood. I still see the little boy in these pictures when I look at him sometimes, I have a feeling if he were to stand atop that same hill now, he would no doubt smile that same little smile and take the leap . . .

post_1281_1189226767_med

He stood there at the top of the hill yelling “Mommy! Watch, I’m gonna jump over that cable.” I told him I didn’t think it was a good idea but he was already running. I figured I’d snap a few photos . . . I got a pretty good shot if him at the start of his run.

post_1281_1189226697_med

He was cruising down that hill, you could see that he was going faster than he wanted to, once that momentum starts, it only picks up speed. His little legs were moving so fast.

post_1281_1189226871_med

Gravity got the best of him and he ended his stunt with a face full of dust. He took it like a man though and then he marched right back up there and gave it another shot . . . boys.

post_1281_1189227025_med

He did it. He jumped the cable just like he said he would ~ Stinker.

I can’t help but giggle just a little every time I look at these pictures :o)