Friday, March 20, 2015

Easy crier

Did you see the clip of Jennifer Garner crying during a Today show interview? She was talking about her family, and she got overwhelmed with emotion. Here it is, if you want to check it out. I like her a lot, and I think it's very sweet that she obviously has so much love for her mom and siblings. But it gave me a sinking feeling of dread at the same time. Imagine you are giving an interview on national TV, and you can't stop crying. Imagine losing control of a fluid leaking out of your body, and since it's on your face, everyone can see it.

I'm an easy crier, so I know the feeling all too well.
Just yesterday, we went for a hike, and another family let me pet their beautiful dog, who had reddish brown fur just like my sweet Izzie. I petted that dog a couple times and had to practically bound away, calling out a choked "Thanks!" over my shoulder as I did. That's a sad cry, related to a specific sad thing that I'm dealing with. My Izzie just died two months ago, so maybe that's a pretty normal reaction.* But I cry in a variety of other situations, and sometimes it's highly inconvenient.

Once I was having a performance review at a job, and my boss reprimanded me for something I had been doing wrong. He was kind, but matter-of-fact, and I should have said, "You're right. I apologize. I'll change it." But I was embarrassed, so I started crying. I honestly wasn't trying to minimize my responsibility, and if I could have chosen not to cry at that moment, believe me, I would have. The whole situation made me feel like a child getting in trouble, rather than a young adult with an actual adult job.

I also cry sometimes when I'm angry. Do you know how frustrating it is to unintentionally cry when you are angry? It's the worst. You want to convey, "You did something wrong, and I'm mad about it" NOT "You hurt my feelings, and I'm sad about it."

Beautiful performances can move me to tears. And not even serious, emotional scenes meant to show the beauty of the universe. In fact, it's often fun stuff. Once Matt and I went to see 42nd Street at UT's Bass Concert Hall. When the curtain slowly rose on a stage full of tap dancers, clicking away in unison, I smiled wide and started crying. I cried at a bunch of legs!

This clip makes me cry happy tears almost every time I watch it. I think it's a combination of my love of dance, the joy and fun you can feel from the participants and spectators, and nostalgia for a movie that my mom taught me to love.

And finally, it's quite common for me to laugh so hard that I cry. The worst was on the day I had tried out liquid eyeliner for the first time. My sister and I started to laugh about something, and at one point, she looked over at me and cackled, "You look like Gene Simmons!" I looked like an absolute crazy person, and I had to excuse myself from a big group of friends to go clean up my face.

I don't know if Jennifer Garner is an easy crier like I am. She mentioned that her mom is sick, so maybe it was just bad timing. But man, I felt for her in that moment. I imagine she was like, "Dang it, eyeballs, I'm trying to work here. Knock it off!"


*To make matters worse, on the drive to and from yesterday's hike, Mason was listening to a story about a boy who enters a dog sled race in order to earn enough money to save his sick grandfather's farm. His faithful dog does his best and is about to win the race, when his heart explodes and he dies. The book actually used the word "exploded". The heartbroken boy then carries his dead dog over the finish line to win the prize money and save the farm. I cried, well...a lot...at the end of that story.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

My lucky day

It's spring break, and the forecast for the rest of the week is literally 90-100% chance of rain. Hooray for rain! We spent all day outside yesterday, first wandering at the Natural Gardener (one of my favorite places in the world), then putting our new plants into the garden.

 I think this beautifully blooming tree was labeled a "peachcot".
The photo above looks so sweet, like the boys are enjoying a swing together. But it was really an increasingly violent shove fest for butt room. "I was on it first!" etc.
Sorry to be gross, but this goat pooped, and none of us had seen that happen before. It was like black beans just fell right out of him; we were all pretty fascinated. The boys were jealous that he doesn't even need to wipe.

The bluebonnets are just about to pop. I can't wait.

 Labyrinth, giant teepee, mulch guitar...this place is so great.

We got our tomatoes, swiss chard, and strawberries into the ground just in time for an overnight rain. How likely is it that my boys will eat swiss chard? Not very, but I'll give it a try.

Here's a wider shot so that you understand what a job it was to get that corner planted. I'm feeling accomplished! Lots more work, though, to reclaim the other 3/4 of the garden plot.
Our lovely, green St. Patrick's Day ended with a rainbow right out the front door. The boys were pretty convinced that we could find the end of it.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Gallery wall

What a lovely feeling it is to finish a project! I've just put up a collection of pictures in our previously boring front entry hall. I chose one photo per year since our wedding in 1997, with the idea that this tells the story of our family's growth. I collected frames that I already had, added some more from thrift shops, and spray painted a bunch of them. It's the crazy quilt approach, and I think it works. 
I've positioned the whole thing a bit high, for two reasons. One is to leave room for another row of pictures, and two is to keep it out of toddler reach.
That brown drawer thingie has already been moved. Seems too temptingly climb-able.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

See a need; fill it. Meet Molly.

During the Christmas season, I often make a mental note to "do something good" for others, something that will be helpful or bring joy.  What that usually translates to is plates of home baked goodies delivered to friends and neighbors.  Last year, we delivered the sweets ding-dong-ditch style, and my kids got a real kick out of it.  If I have to introduce them to charitable giving by coating it in mischief, so be it.
Anyway, I want to tell you about someone who took her desire to help others and turned it into something big and awesome.  This is my friend Molly:
She and her husband Tom have put on a board game convention the last two years, with all the proceeds going to Safe Place here in Austin.  I'm going to let her tell you more about it.

Sarah: Please tell us about Game for the Cause and how you came up with this idea.
Molly: Game for the Cause is a charity board game convention. All of the proceeds go to SafePlace which strives to end sexual and domestic violence. This year, you paid $20 at the door and then played board games all weekend. There were raffles and a silent auction which, all totaled, helped us raise just over $4,300 dollars.
I was inspired to help out women's issues after reading "Half the Sky" by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. The book discusses the various issues that plague women worldwide. I told my husband that I wanted to do something since I have experienced almost none of these issues first hand. He suggested I start local because there are plenty of things that can be fixed here in Austin, TX. 
Around the same time, we were debating on going to a game convention ourselves in Dallas and calculated the cost. My husband suggested that we throw our own game convention instead, with the money we would have spent and just give all the money to SafePlace. So we did that and had our first convention in October of 2013 and had our second one in October of this year.

Sarah: Tell me about the community involvement (donations of the space, games, prizes).
Molly: So many people have been very generous to our cause. We contacted local game stores, who were more than willing to donate. Tribe Comics and games, Whose Turn is it? Games are two of our recurring game store donors from here in town. We also contacted a lot of national game publishers who sent a game or two each, plus we got donations from Steve Jackson Games and Fireside Games, both local game publishers. 
These games made up the bulk of our silent auction, which brought in over $2,000 itself. This year, we actually had quite a few people donate used games, which we had a dutch auction for where the price decreased every couple hours. Individual people also donated a variety of crafts to be paired with the games that increased the value of the bundle.
I have been continually amazed at the generosity of these publishers, game store owners and individual people who help us make a successful event. The Parker Lane United Methodist church was one of the only churches in town to donate their space to us free of charge so that 100% of the money went to SafePlace. They donated their space two years in a row.

Sarah: Who attended?  What's the atmosphere like?
Molly: Around 100 members of the board game community attended. Most attendees were from Austin, with a few from out of town but close by. The atmosphere was relaxed and fun. You came in, found a group or a game and played. Game groups were being made and broken the entire weekend, so it was easy to find a game to jump in on and have fun. There were some Play-to-win events that happened, where you played a certain game and then had the opportunity to win the game at the end of the convention in a raffle.

Sarah: Do you have any plans to expand or change next year?
Molly: I would love to get more people to come out and since we have already had it for two years, word is getting out. It grew by at least 20 people from last year to this year and we raised just over $600 more. We are excited about the possibilities and are excited that our first two years have already been huge successes!

Sarah: Give us some general info about Safe Place.
Molly: SafePlace offers a variety of relief for those affected by sexual or domestic violence.  http://safeplace.org/about/programs-and-services/ that website in particular highlights some resources provided by SafePlace. A lot of the relief is available because of volunteer work. SafePlace strives to educate the community about these issues knowing that is the only way this type of violence will end.

Thanks for letting me interview you, Molly!  I'm sure I'm not the only one feeling inspired after reading about the work you are doing.
Ok, people, if you like games and want to support this worthy cause, 1.) consider making a donation to SafePlace, and 2.) mark your calendars for next October.  I'm going to see if we can get a table set up with the Cones of Dunshire.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Kid contests

Theo and I were at Whole Earth a few days ago, and I let him wander around in the toy section.  He quickly found the kid-sized shopping cart and filled it to overflowing.
When I looked at this picture, I was reminded of the Toys R Us shopping spree contests I used to hear about when I was a kid.  I dreamed of running through the store, filling my cart with My Little Ponies for sixty seconds.  I also thought it would be awesome to run through the Double Dare obstacle course or the Fun House, grabbing flags and tokens for prizes.

I used to think that it was terribly unfair that the rabbit in the commercials never got to eat Trix cereal, so in 1980 when they did a write-in campaign where you could vote on the issue, you better believe I sent in a box top checked 'yes'.

And finally, at the height of my New Kids on the Block mania, I got permission to set up a table in my junior high lunch room in order to get people to sign cards which I had hand written, saying they wanted the New Kids to come to our school.  Whichever school sent in the most cards won a special concert.  Or something like that.  We didn't win.

If you want to waste a few minutes watching 1980s commercials, check this out.  You can see a Toys R Us/Cap'n Crunch toy giveaway around 5:00 and I'm pretty sure my little sister had the popcorn Nosy Bear pictured at 8:25.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Meet my new BFF, Jessica

When Jill and I went to the Goodwill outlet, I was digging through a bin full of books when I came across something amazing:
Somebody's old sticker books from the '80s!
Her name is Jessica, according to the teddy bears on the cover.  Based on the page below, her name might also have been Jennifer, or else they didn't have Jessica in the shiny rectangle ones, and Jennifer was the next closest thing.
I have so many of the exact same stickers; it's crazy.
Jessica displayed her stickers the same way I did, with themed groups on each page.  Here you have food on the left and holidays on the right:
 Chocolate (and, yes, there are a bunch of scratch & sniff stickers here):
 Hearts and bears:
 Cats/braces and birds:
 Adorable animals:
 Angels and butterflies:
Garfield:
Inky, oil slick stickers (including a snork.  A snork!):
Strange stuff that doesn't fit anywhere else, including mimes, currency, and fuzzy pink aliens:
Remember when we talked about Lisa Frank, and how there were some weird stickers marketed to girls in the '80s?  I like "knockoff Wonder Woman teddy bear, wearing a blue bikini and thigh high boots over a full yellow body suit, plus boxing gloves".
Also, "I'm sexy"?  Ok, pink blob thingie with long eyelashes, I guess so...
Jessica and I were both so in love with stickers that we would add things to our collection that didn't really fit with the theme.  As long as it had adhesive on the back, it counted.  See the blue sticker that's kitty corner from "I'm sexy?"  It's for display in a window to show that you are a Police Athletic League booster.  Into the book it goes!

"Beware of owner" sticker, courtesy of Downham & Sons Shooters Supply store?  Into the book it goes, right between the smiling apple and the hippo begging for chocolate!
No sticker book is complete without a unicorn collection, and Jessica's does not disappoint.
 I have SO MANY of these.
The gun sticker says it's from Logansport, Indiana.  We might have grown up a couple hours away from each other.  Jessica, if you are out there, I think we should be friends.  Seriously.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Craft project fails

Back in the spring, we tried to dye some eggs using the cabbage method featured on Design Mom.  Hers turned out great, a stunning array of blue shades.  Mine turned out slightly moldy looking.
 The ones in the middle were dyed with cabbage.  Blech.
Last year we tried Martha Stewart's bubble paint project, and all we ended up with was bubbles on top of colorful water.  I probably didn't use enough paint or detergent or both.

When we replaced our old fence, I took a look at the pile of old wood and started dreaming of all the reclaimed pallet projects I've seen over the years on Pinterest: shelves, coffee tables, benches, play houses.  But then I remembered my dismal track record with hoarding supplies for projects in the "some day" category.  I don't even know how to operate a saw yet, so I sadly allowed the workers to haul away this beautiful pile of potential.
I'll have that colorful bench some day!