Who I Am

Last night I went up to mom’s “real quick” to look for a pair of old dancing shoes I’d worn in a high school play. When I’m looking through closets, I never get away “real quick” and I ended up finding 2 boxes (which I condensed to one) full of my stuff, a bag full of the scraps from the prom dress I made my Junior Year of High School, a pair of old boots, my kindergarten promotion certificate… and the list goes on. I hauled my boxes out of the closet and into my car -I honestly had NO idea I’d left them in my old closet. Once home, I sat on the couch and opened a box marked “etc.” which could only mean one thing: it was a box full of old trinkets I’d end up throwing out.

Of course I meant it to say “ect” but I was around 12 when I wrote it, so I was probably feeling pretty good about the fact that I even new what “ect” meant.
I found the very first (and only) newspaper I’d ever written for:
My very first column:

My very first published poem:

Golly, I must have thought it was SO good. The box was full of my writing from 6th grade. After 6th grade, I entered puberty and lost all sense of myself. After puberty came adolescence which brought on a whole slew of “finding myself” journeys. Funny: if I had just stumbled across this box, all of my problems would have been solved. Then again: I wouldn’t have had to endure my black nail polish phase, which I actually LOVED. Journeys are never all bad. Through my many journeys, I discovered things about myself I thought I’d hate… but ended up loving. For example: somewhere around 10th grade, I realized that I couldn’t match clothing if my life depended on it. I couldn’t put an organized outfit together. I couldn’t do my make up well. I couldn’t do cute hairstyles.
And all at once, I completely gave up.
I literally rolled OUT of bed, into some clothes I’d picked up at a second hand store, and walked to school. I didn’t even TOUCH my hair before leaving. Make up? Please. I gave up on the idea. I was happier that day than I’d been in a LONG time, and thus began The Phase of Weird Clothing and Stomping on Lady-Likeness. THAT was a fun phase. Here was me before that phase, though I’m sure you wouldn’t be able to tell unless I pointed it out… I was actually TRYING to match:

I still have those glasses somewhere…
That picture was on the tip top of my goals I accomplished in Primary:
I always worked side-by-side with my best friend on goals like that. Well, we worked side-by-side with EVERYTHING when we were in 6th grade. We even went through a cross-stitch phase together. I have to ask… Tia, do you still have YOUR half?
I found a few of these from Tia and some others:

Although this one was my favoritest note find:

Wouldn’t YOU like to know what it said? Well it was a heartfelt confession of undying love… next to it was another note from the same boy, telling me he DID NOT like me.
Ah, fickle school yard romance.
At that age, I ended up with a bad bout of shingles. I had a “fun” habit of never crying because I thought I was too strong to cry. I also worried like NO other, and I still do. But back then, I didn’t think to pray and ask for help, so I was miles of grateful when my Aunt Julie Clifford gifted me with worry dolls. I found a little bag full of worry dolls. I used to talk to them before bed, tell them all my worries, and then tuck them under my pillow before drifting off. I haven’t had shingles since, so there MUST be something there…
Around this time, I started getting really into writing. I had my newspaper, and my sixth grade teacher -my favorite grade school teacher -encouraged me to keep writing. I wonder if Mrs. Nelson is on facebook. I’ll hafta search. Anyway, she asked the class to write a poem about one of the biomes. I chose the tundra. And I got really into it…

I still remember my teacher handing my poem back, looking me in the eyes and saying, “Girl, you are a WRITER.” I took the poem home to my parents who were equally encouraging. Later on in that year, we were asked to write a short story. Most kids handed in a 2 or 3 page story… again, I got REALLY into it. By the end of the assignment, I had 11 hand-written pages. I made a neat cover for my story and lovingly stapled it all together:

My first book. As silly as the story was, it was a huge accomplishment for me. I realized while I was writing it that I LOVED writing. I mean, I could have done it all day! My imagination ran rampant while I composed the story. I wrote for days and days, and when I was done I was hungry for more writing… so apparently I kept going…
And going…

Half of my ETC box was full of writing. My research paper on Sweden was extensive for an 11-year old:

I even made a Swedish cookbook:

There’s a construction paper and crayon flag in there too, but I’m mildly suspicious that you’re sick of seeing pictures.
That year I also won an essay contest titled “What America Means to Me.” My essay won first in my district and second in State. When I received the news on how my essay had done, I was happy. My Dad sat me down, told me he was proud of me, and then asked me not to get a big head.
“A big head?” I asked.
“Don’t get to thinking too well of yourself to the point that it’s bad for you. People don’t like it,” he explained. I had a hard time connecting my essay winning a contest with The Big Head concept. I was too young to understand. I was just happy, and that was the end of it.
When did I quit seriously writing? When I actually started caring what people thought of my writing. When I was 11, I didn’t care. I just did it because it made me happy. I think I was smarter when I was 11 than when I was (am) 26.
There were funeral programs and wedding announcements. I always saved things like that. They seemed so important. The funny thing is: I still save them.

I saved little gifts from my friends and cousins. The minute I picked this little canvas cube up, I instinctively shook it. I had to laugh at myself. I remembered I used to keep my teeth in it when I lost them. Of course I don’t NOW, but my hands didn’t know that. They only knew that they loved shaking the canvas cube and hearing my teeth rattle around in it. Of course the cube came from Tia:

There was a certificate from my cousin Kimmy. Her mother nursed me at the same time she was nursing her own daughter. My mom had been in an accident and couldn’t nurse me. Hence, BOSOM buddies.

Best. Certificate. Ever.

Who would have thought you could contain an entire personality in one shoe box? What a find! The dance shoes I originally went looking for, however? Vanished. That’s one mystery that may never be solved.

Hangin’ Out

“Mom,” the girl burst into my bedroom, “GrandpaisoutsideIjustsawhimcanIgoandseehimpleasepleasepleeeeeease?”

“Grandpa is outside?” I repeated it back to clarify that was for sure what she was talking about.
“Yes and I just want to see him PLEEEEEEEEASE can I go outside?!”
“What did Daddy say?” I asked, knowing her Dad was in the living room.
“He just said, ‘ask mom.’ so I am,” she replied and I LOVE the voice she uses when she quotes her Dad and uses her “dad” voice.
“How about this… you can run outside and say “hi” to him. He’s working though so don’t bug him. Just go say hi.”
“THANKS MOM!” She called out as she ran out of my room.
And that’s where my story ends. She didn’t come right back inside like I had expected.  Later on, my Dad let me know… the REST of the story.

“Hi Grandpa!” Lacy called out, running toward him.
“Hi, Lacy,” he waved back.
“My mom said I could just come out here and say hi to you,” she said as she climbed up next to him.
“Are you going back inside now that you’ve said hi?” he asked.
“Nope. I just like hangin’ out with you.”

May your grandpa be as cool as the one in our family -cool enough to *hang out with.
*boots suggested but not required.


Have you ever thought about the word “discourage?” It’s so dismal sounding. Even “dismal” is dismal sounding. It makes you want to sigh and eat something comforting… like doughnuts.
You know my husband? I’ve mentioned him a time or two.
He is a goal setter. He’s driven by his goals, and he’s accomplished some very important ones.
And then there’s me. I have goals here and there, but I’ve given up on the whole “New Year’s Resolution” idea because the only person I’ve ever met who actually consistently accomplished their Resolutions was my biology professor in college… and his goals were a little, well, whack.
He walked the state of Arizona from bottom to top.
He spent an entire day and night on the top of his house.

I’m not totally hopeless. I do have goals. I even reach for them. The problem is: I don’t ever accomplish them. It isn’t for lack of hard work, believe you me. I don’t know what it is, actually. My best guess is rather pathetic: bad luck.
I have two culinary goals: to bake a beautiful pie that tastes wonderful AND to take a dead chicken, pluck it, gut it, chop it and fry it.
Noble, aren’t they?
Well… I’ve been baking the HECK out of pies. I’ve baked cherry pies, butternut pies, pot pies, meringue pies… and they’re all uglier’n sin. I’ve tried store-bought crusts, several different home made crusts, but I have never let myself try the kind you buy ready-made. I HAVE to do it myself.
Yesterday, I got to spend most of the day in my kitchen. I had an extra little one at my house, so I skipped over my cleaning day and replaced it with cooking day instead. I LOVE cooking day. I get a thrill out of putting on my apron and MAKING things. It just makes me so happy to create things for my family.
I took what was left of the rotisserie chicken, shredded and froze it.
I made and froze snacks for the kids.
I filled the crock pot to the brim with a hearty beef stew.
I made two loaves of wheat bread and chuckled as I set them on the warm stove to rise… all I could hear was Indigo Montoya’s voice saying, “There will be [bread] tonight!”

And there was bread. And there still IS bread, and it is delicious.

In the middle of it all, my husband came home and I whipped him up a filling and healthy lunch. I was feeling SO GOOD about myself.
I decided, given my streak of kitchen luck, I’d try a chocolate pie. Not just ANY chocolate pie.

LORETTA LYNN’S FAVORITE CHOCOLATE PIE. The story behind her pie is hilarious. She made it for an event and mixed the sugar and salt up. She made a salt pie. Her soon-to-be husband took one bite of it before spitting it all out.

I take comfort in the fact that even Loretta had trouble with her own chocolate pie. What I do not take comfort in is that she was 13 when that happened.
I’m 13 + 13. I should know better.
I started out with bright gumption. I made a flaky crust. It didn’t roll out well, but that was okay! I made a decorative edge and it boosted my spirits even higher. Never before had I been able to make decorative edging… that’s progression! I popped the crusts in the oven to bake them, and the decorative edging was too heavy. The crusts caved in on themselves. There was nothing I could do to save them.

There were cracks in the bottom of the crusts, and some of the sides had caved completely. My gumption’s brightness began to dim, and as I tried unsuccessfully to make the chocolate pie filling thicken, it flickered. After an hour and a half, it went out completely.
I had one hand on the hand mixer and the other on the wooden spoon stirring the puddin’ pot.

At this point, my apron was wearing a streak of chocolate pie filling across the center -war paint if ever there was any.
My counters which had been dutifully kept clean all day were suddenly a dumpster dive.

I began shoveling cornstarch into the chocolate filling in a desperate attempt to thicken it.
In a last ditch effort, I dumped the filling into three separate bowls to speed the cooling (and hopefully thickening!) process and then I put the containers into the freezer.
In the end, I took the somewhat thickened filling out of the freezer, resigned to defeat and dumped it haphazardly into my pitiful pie crusts. I topped them with meringue and baked them.

I hauled the pies to my mother’s house where I had promised to take them. My brother was visiting with his wife and I thought chocolate pie would be a good idea, but I realized as I loaded the hot pies onto cool baking sheets that chocolate pies were a terrible, awful idea. Even the baking sheets I was loading the hot pies onto were filthy -covered in years and years of the consistent torture they’d endured at my own hands as I taught myself how to cook.
How did the pies ultimately turn out?
Well, the meringue pulled away from the edges somewhere between my street and mother’s, and as I cut and took the first piece from the pie… the rest of the pie vomited all over itself.

The flavor was fine. ish.
The discouragement I felt over hours standing over a hot stove and oven was… well, dismal. My make up had been steamed away, and I was tired. I went to bed tired. I woke up tired.
I went to zumba anyway.

On January 9th, after a doctor’s visit, I began working out consistently.  At the doctor’s, the scale silently told me that I’d gained 10 pounds in one year.  The next day I worked out and I kept it up.  I worked my way through Jillian Michael’s 30-day shred.  My thighs screamed in pain.  It hurt to sit. It hurt to stand.  But I kept at it.  I added to my workouts: pilates now and then, yoga now and then, bouts of running, and an hour of zumba each week.  After THREE MONTHS of this, I weighed myself again and guess what?  I had actually gained a little weight.  I cried.  That very day, I began actively keeping up my sparkpeople account.
After painstakingly tracking my eating habits and fitness habits for the last week… I weighed myself again and was told by the silent scale that I am a one-pound heavier failure.
The scale and the chocolate pie MUST be cahoots. I’m suspicious that they HAVE been for many years now.

I came home and broke the news to my husband who advised me to stop weighing myself.
I told him that was part of the program I was following. I also told him I wanted a doughnut. I choked down green drink instead.
Want to know why?
Four years ago, I couldn’t bake bread to save my life. It always ended up coming out the oven resembling a steel brick. This morning, I toasted a slice of wheat bread I’d made myself and it was really good.
Four years ago, I couldn’t even THREAD my sewing machine. Yesterday I made a sheer apron of my own design in ONE hour.
So maybe. Just MAYBE, in four years: I’ll have lost the 10 pounds I gained 2011 that had nothing whatsoever to do with child growing and bearing and everything to do with my grappling with a life-changing trial.
And maybe. Just MAYBE, I’ll celebrate by baking a beautiful pie and serving it to my patient family. They’ll have waited 4 years for that perfect pie, and I’ll have to make it worth it.
They’re worth it.

And I’m worth it too. Even if my make-up IS steamed off and it looks like I have a giant straw protruding from my teeth.

For the status of my chicken plucking/frying goal, please check back in eight years.

Conference Weekend

Our weekend was filled with:
Also: naps, of which I have no pictures… mostly because I was the one sleeping.