Lists. Lists are good.

:: photo courtesy of  decor8 ::

Tomorrow I am going to start something new.  I am going to start making lists.  Not Bucket Lists.  Not a To-Do Lists.  Not Grocery Lists.  Not Schindler's Lists.  Just...lists.

I like lists.  Lists are good.  They create order and structure.  They're helpful.  They make sense.  They're necessary.

I've recently started reading this blog.  It's great. She is a big list maker. She's been writing 52 lists--one each week. Her lists are about all sorts of things like, "things I love about Ava" and "things I learned over the weekend." I don't know who Ava is, but I couldn't help but love reading her list of ten reasons why this little girl is so special.

So guess what?  I'm going to start my own 52 Lists project. I love this idea--and great ideas are meant to be stolen (it's an unwritten rule in the land of blogging.)  Besides, she got the idea from here anyway.

As a mother my calendar year is from August to August anyway, so instead of waiting to start this fabulous idea on January 1st (when starting a year's worth of lists would make the most sense) I'm starting them now.

Now I'm off.  Off to make a list of all of the lists that I'm going to make.

Peace, beauty, and a cup of coffee.

::  peaceful perfection ::

happy friday!

Testing the waters.

::  Ice House Lake, Mountain Camp ::

:: dropping off big brother at summer camp ::

Happy Camper

This past Sunday we dropped the Big Cheese off at camp.   He had waited for it for months and was so excited that it was finally here that he couldn't wait for us to leave.

"Could you just leave now?" he said.

"Why don't we walk around--take a tour--while you're waiting on your cabin mates?" we tried to convince him.

"Uh, could you just go?" was his response.

As you can see, worrying about whether or not the Cheese would get homesick has never been a concern.  That was one of the reasons that we decided to go ahead and send him to camp even at the young age of 8.  But he's always been good that way. Even from the start when I'd drop him off at the church nursery or Mother's Day Out there would be no tears, no stretching his wee little arms out trying to grasp one last goodbye hug.

Nope.  Most of the time, if we were lucky, all we got was a quick wave and a muffled, "See-ya-later."

I wasn't worried about my missing him.  Before you go calling me Mommy Dearest, make no mistake that I will miss my child.  Of course I will.   I guess that I'm just not a mom who gets emotional about those sorts of things.  The fun and experiences that he will be having far outweigh any feelings that I might be having about his absence.

Did I tear up when he first walked through the tunnel of clapping counselors?  Sure I did.  But I teared up because it was a milestone--a new beginning of something fun--and hey, my heart's not totally made of stone (just certain parts of it.)

However, what I wasn't prepared for was the worry that I suddenly felt when I walked away from his cabin.  Not the kind of worry that he would get hurt or miss home (of course not!)  Instead, I felt myself wanting to run back into his cabin for...reminders.  Instructions.  Motherly instructions.

Don't forget to take your glass's case with you when you go to the lake.  And there's your extra pair in your bag.  Just in case.

Don't forget to drink lots of water so you don't get dehydrated. You don't want to get sick and miss all of the fun.

Don't forget to brush your teeth.  I mean really brush them, not just move the tooth brush randomly around in your mouth.

Don't forget to wear clean underwear.  Everyday.  That's why there are seven pairs in your bag.  Please don't come home with six clean pairs.

Don't forget that you have money to spend at the camp store.  Make a good choice, whatever you buy.  

And take lots of pictures.

And write in you journal.

And listen to your counselors.

And eat at mealtime.


And I could go on and on.  Because at my core I am a worrier.  Because this is his first time away from home (without another family member present to handle any emergencies that might arise) and because I'm not gonna lie.   My first-born being out in the wilderness without me makes me a little nervous.

But I wouldn't have it any other way. And neither would he.

Now would you hurry up and leave already?

Happy Hour.

::  cocktails ::

happy friday!

Rabbits are eating my drink condiments.

There's a varmint eating my peaches.  When you're from Oklahoma that's what you call them: varmints.  That's definitely what my Grandaddy would have called them.

var·mint  (plural var·mints), noun, definition: troublesome person or animal: a person or an animal regarded as troublesome, unpleasant, or despicable ( regional )

When we were designing the new landscaping for the backyard, the Golfer had one request: citrus trees.  According to his personal reasoning, it's sacrilegious to live in California and not have some kind of citrus trees.

So we now have a section of our yard that I refer to as The Grove.  In The Grove we have 2 lime trees, 2 peach trees, 1 Valencia orange tree, and 2 pomegranate trees.  Being new the trees are so small that the fruit is hanging pretty close to the ground.  And the varmints are really enjoying the 5 juicy peaches that I was hoping to make a cobbler with.  Because when you're from Oklahoma that's what you do with peaches: you make cobbler.

Either that or peach bellinis.

Luckily the varmints (we think it's a bunny that we've seen in the yard) have taken no interest in the citrus or the pomegranates.

These will eventually be limes that are going to really taste good in a cold beer on the new porch.

This is one of our many pomegranates.  I've counted 6 so far.  It's not like we'll need to hire migrant workers to help us pick them all, but still, that's a lot for a new tree. Pomegranate martinis for everyone!

And this pretty little thing will be an orange one day.  Fresh squeezed screwdrivers.  Yum.

Now if we only had some lemons...

Weekly Column: Toilet Paper Doesn't Grow on Trees

© 2007, Stephenie Freeman

A kid came to my door the other day and asked for two eggs.

“Well, why do you need them?” I had to ask.

“I just need two eggs. Do you have any?” He seemed impatient as he asked.

“No,” I lied. “Fresh out.”

Why, you ask, would I lie to this kid about not having any eggs? The thing is, I just had a feeling. I didn’t wonder if his mother was at home trying to bake a cake or if he was hungry for breakfast. The boy was probably around ten-years-old, and all I suddenly had a vision of this kid chunking my expensive, organic, cage-free eggs at someone’s house. No way would I be an accomplice to such devious behavior.

Now, if he had asked for toilet paper that would have been totally different.

Do kids even get to go toilet papering anymore? Or have we parents become
so strict that we’ve cut out all forms of innocent teenage rebellion? I hope not. It would be a shame for kids today to miss out on all the fun—just as long as they don’t do it to my house.

It would only be fair if they did. It would be payback for all the homes I helped to decorate when I was young and stupid. Actually, it was my one run-in with the law.

All I remember is someone saying, “Let’s go TP’ing!” In high school, that’s all it took to turn a boring Friday night into something awesome! We would scrape our money together to buy enough two-ply to do the job, and if we were lucky, we'd have enough for a double-rolled twelve pack. When it comes to toilet paper, the more coverage the better—in every situation.

When my high school friends and I decided to do something, we went all out. Whenever we decided to vandalize someone’s house, we used a lot more than just toilet paper. We were creative, inventive vandals—the Martha Stewarts of toilet paper sabotage.

On this particular night, my high school boyfriend was our target. Armed with our weapons from the kitchen pantry, with giggled as we wrapped his Mercury Cougar with saran wrap, shoved plastic forks in his yard and tossed the Charmin into his parents’ oak trees. We were just about all done when the cop turned on his lights. During the plotting of our adventure, we hadn’t considered that my boyfriend’s home was on the corner of a busy street.

When his father answered the door, the cop standing behind us trying his best not to smile, made us tell him what we had done.

My boyfriend’s parents were the greatest, so when we went to the door I wasn’t too worried about what they would say. We just hated the fact that we had been caught.

“Well, just make sure they clean it up,” he told the cop not even attempting to hide his own smile.

The worst part was when my boyfriend and two of his best friends brought out lawn chairs and sat on the driveway to leisurely watch us unwrap the car, de-fork the yard, and pull the two-ply out of the trees the best we could. The funny thing was we almost had as much fun undoing our work as we did doing it.

It also helped that all the cute boys were in their boxer shorts.

One day in the not too distant future, I’ll look under the bathroom sink for a new roll of toilet paper only to find that there is none.

Will I be mad to find out that my boys took all of my best two-ply to go TP'-ing? No. I’ll just be disappointed that they didn’t ask me to go with them.

Bob and Courtney have nothin' on me.

Slowly but surely, Bravo has become my new favorite channel. I'll fully admit that I watch all (yes, all) of the Real Housewives. I'm actually looking forward to the new one: Real Housewives of D.C. And then there's Bethenny's Getting Married? and Flippping Out. Goodness, I know I'm crazy, but I so love those shows! I can sit and watch Jeff Lewis for hours and I have no idea why.

Then this spring there was the new show Nine by Design. It follows designers/flippers Bob and Courtney Novogratz and their seven (holy crap, seven!) children. I love design shows, I love design blogs, I love design magazines and books. So it's really no surprise that I would like this show too.

:: ::

But Bob and Courtney have nothin' on me. I mean, sure, they design and remodel multi-million dollars homes in NYC and have their own beautiful design book and fantastic show on Bravo, but still. They really aren't doing anything different than I am.

Why are you laughing?

It's like this. In one episode Courtney talked about how they loved to pair things that cost $100 with things that cost $100,000.

Courtney, dear, I've been doing that for years.

Ok, maybe for me it's more like pairing something that cost $10 with something that cost $100, but the principle is still the same. Here are a few example for you:

:: my lovely and fantastic dining room ::
  • Blue table: Cheap. Garage sale find, can't remember how much it was, but it was at a garage sale and used to be brick red until I spray painted it this fun blue.

  • Rug: Cheap. From Wall's Bargain Center in Oklahoma City. Cheap for a nice, heavy rug.

  • White modern hutch: Cheap-ish. IKEA (so you know it wasn't super expensive).

  • Dining table: Cheap-ish. A farm table that the Golfer bought at an antique store that was going out of business.

  • Chairs: Expensive. Pottery Barn (so those are one of the more expensive items in the room).

  • Light fixture: Expensive. I bought this from Stray Dog Designs after seeing it in one of the magazines that I like (I think it was Domino.) Let's just say it wasn't cheap.

  • Mirror: Cheap. Hobby Lobby for under $100 and then spray painted it a glossy chocolate brown.

  • Art: Expensive. Was from my grandparents' home and it originally came from an artist here in CA.

:: My guest bedroom. You should have seen the painter when I showed him the color for this room. He thought I had lost my mind. ::
  • Bed: Cheap. My mom bought this for me at a local antique store after I graduated from college. It used to be a creamy white until I spray painted it this glossy black. Yes, I like to spray paint things.
  • Beside Table: Cheap-ish. I found this at Pottery Barn. It was a floor sample so it was sold at a discounted price.
  • Lamp: Cheap. Target. Gotta love that place.
  • Black frame: Cheap. IKEA. For the inside I used an old Life magazine that I had that was all about Princess Diana. I might regret cutting it up one day, but I don't think so because I love the "art" that I created.
  • Tweet pillow: Cheap from Etsy.
  • Bedding and Curtains (that you can't see): Expensive. All came from Pottery Barn. Not crazy expensive, but still.

:: our living room ::
And this is my favorite thing to tell people. Seeing that painting? The huge one? Yeah, I bought that at a garage sale for 15 bucks! An art student was having a sale and was getting rid of some of his "not so great" work. I bought it without the Golfer seeing it. I thought I might be taking a risk, but for $15 I thought it was a risk worth taking. And of course he loved it, which made me kick myself for not buying every piece the guy had! Now it is one of our most prized possessions.
Mostly because it makes for such a great story.

It takes a village--and usually that village is filled with a bunch of creative, hard working women.


I am blessed to be able to stay home with my kids.

In other words, I am blessed to be bored.

I was looking forward to the summer more than anyone; ready to take a break from the schedules and the homework and the PTA responsibilities. Ready to rest, sleep in, lounge about.

But now I'm bored. This week has been the first week of the summer that we haven't had anything to do. The month and a half prior have been booked with vacations and activities and overall summer fun. And this week I purposefully didn't schedule anything to do and now I'm bored.

Yesterday I decided that we needed to leave the house. So we grabbed two empty egg cartons from the recycle bin and headed to the park.

We headed out for an egg carton picnic.

This was something that my mom and my other mother Karen (they weren't lesbian lovers, not that there would have been anything wrong with that, they were just neighbors) used to do for my friend Bradley and I.

Let me explain the whole "other mother" thing. I was lucky enough to be raised my many wonderful women. My mother was the best. The best. But there was also my grandmother, Gan Gan, and my godmother, Mrs. Graybill. There was my preschool teacher, Ms. Sue, and my dancing teacher, Jack Story (okay, Jack was a gay man but he counts). Then there were all of my friends' mothers: Karen, and Cheryn, and Jonella, and Glenda just to name a few. Yes, there's a long list of women who were in my life and made up my cheering section.

And those women created my childhood memories. They were there when I graduated and then on Bid Day. Later they were the ones hosting the wedding showers and baby showers. They helped to create the birthday parties, the dance recitals, the playdates, and of course, the egg carton picnics.

So naturally, I've tried my best to recreate as many of those memories for my own children.


They think it's pretty cool. And I think all of my other mothers would approve.

Recipe for Egg Carton Picnic:
  • Take one empty egg carton.
  • Fill it with all of your favorite snacks (raisins, Goldfish, pretzels, Cheerios, etc.)
  • Close it up.
  • Head to the park.!

I'm not sure why I never read this in high school. I was even in AP English. I would have rather been reading this than say, Beowolf (Lord help me!) or The Invisible Man (I know that he was an Oklahoma author but it took me forever to finish, and come to think of it, I'm not sure that I actually ever did.)

Oh the literary guilt of it all! I'm embarrassed that I have never read the one book that's is, like, the American novel. And a Pulitzer no less! So last fall I bought a beautiful copy.

And it has been sitting on my bookshelf ever since.

I had a good reason not to immediately start reading it. My "to read" list is pretty long. And I feel badly for the books that have been sitting there for a while. Last year I tried to make a promise not to buy any more new books until I was done reading all of the ones that I already owned.

Yeah, that didn't work so well.

Great authors keep writing great books and I can't seem to keep from buying them. The Golfer is fully aware of my book hoarding habit and chooses to love me anyway. Two more just came out today that I want to read: Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner and Red Hook Road by Ayelet Waldman. I thought I did a pretty good job today at the store only buying one of them.

Of course I'll go back next week and buy the other.

I'm up to reading about 2 books a week. I go in spurts, always reading a lot more during the summer months, but I am always reading something: magazines, newspapers, blogs, websites. Always reading. Always.

And always at least one book. But usually more than one: a novel, a parenting book, a book on faith, a memoir. Yes, I like to think of myself as a well-rounded reader.

But a reader of the classics? Yeah, not so much. I've never read Austen, Twain, or Steinbeck. Never in high school, never in college. Never. Reading a classic isn't my first choice when I pick up a book to read. There are so many good novels that I'd rather be reading. But I don't know if I can ever call myself a true reader until I tackle some of the greats.

I decided that Mockingbird was a good place to start. I'm not sure which classic will be next. Maybe I'll read Huckleberry Finn aloud to my boys which is probably a pretty good idea. I have seen so many Jane Austen books as movies it'll be hard to actually read the books and not compare. And eventually I have to read East of Eden; the Cain and Able story will probably speak to me since I have two boys. Either that or scare me half to death.

For now I'm really enjoying To Kill a Mockingbird. I just wish I didn't start singing the James Taylor/Carly Simon song every time I went to pick it up. Mockingbird tell me have you heard...

Rock On, Steve!

:: print created by Patrick O'Brian ::
During the 4th of July parade this year there was a van with signs plastered all over it that said, "Rock On, Steve!" And behind that van there was a man in a motorized wheel chair.


Steve Wampler has Cerebral Palsy. And Steve Wampler is planning on climbing El Capitan in Yosemite.

This is El Capitan.

I couldn't climb this thing and I have two legs that work. Could you?

What if someone in a wheel chair told you that he was going to climb that. Only doing pull ups. About 20,000 pull ups. And that it was going to take him 6 days to do it. You'd think he was nuts, right?

No, you wouldn't. You'd look at him and say, "Rock On, Steve!"

Being in a wheel chair isn't stopping Steve because it isn't about the climb. It's about raising money--hopefully a cool 2 million--for his foundation, a non-profit that sponsors camps for children with physical disabilities. They're called Wampler's Kids.

The Cheese is going to camp (not Steve's camp obviously, but a camp that is in the same area) at the end of this month. He's so excited and we're excited for him because we know that he will experience things that he never would otherwise. He'll run and play and swim and have the time of his life.
Kids with disabilities want to experience the same thing.

So when some kids came up to me at the parade selling bracelets that said, "Rock On, Steve!" we bought several. I plan on wearing mine until Steve makes his climb this September. He'll be the first on to do it with Cerebral Palsy.

Guys like Steve inspire me. Not because he's disabled, but because he's a man that believes. Because he's a man that wants to make the world--the world of kids with disabilities--a better place.
Just looking at the bracelet reminds me that all things are possible.

You can learn more about Steve and his campers (and buy your own bracelet!) here.

Rock On, Steve. Rock On.

My personal best.

I am proud to say that I am almost finished with my 4th week of the Couch to 5K program. And I am even more proud to say that I completely disregarded the running schedule and ran my first 5K last weekend! (That would be 5 weeks ahead of schedule, thank you very much!)

:: my step-dad, Pop, me, and the Golfer on the morning of our run ::
Now don't go thinkin' that I've become some exercising overachiever because I haven't. But this was a run that I just couldn't pass on.
Every 4th of July, we head down to Coronado Island for the festivities. My Mom and Pop have a condo there and so along with the celebrating the holiday, we get to spend some quality time with our family. Coronado is an awesome military community--there's a Naval base on the island, complete with hunky Navy SEALs running on the beach! The patriotic parade rivals any in the country. So when I remembered that there was a 5K on the 4th on Coronado which is a very flat and small island, I jumped at the chance to run.
Okay, maybe I didn't jump. But I did sit at my computer and get very excited.
I talked the Golfer and Pop into running with me and conned my mother into getting up at 6 AM to watch the boys. I think they all knew how much I needed to do this run because luckily it didn't take much convincing.
I had no expectations going into this run. I fully expected that I would be stopping several times throughout the run to walk. But then the gun went off and something happened. I got totally swept away by all of the running enthusiasm. Suddenly I was at mile 1 and hadn't stopped--didn't even feel the need!
I can do this. I thought to myself. I can do this. I can run this whole damn thing without stopping.
Being married to a coach I know all about self-talk and having a winner's attitude. I just have never personally experienced it first hand. So I just kept talking to myself (which isn't really that much of a stretch for me.)
I can do this. I'm gonna do this because I know how good I'll feel if I do. I can run this whole damn thing without stopping.
And then I had to pee.
At about a mile and a half I felt the urge. Most 5K people can run the whole way and never stop to pee. But this newbie had drunk a lot of water before the race (and a little wine the night before) so I needed to go. And I wasn't about to pee on myself.
Lucky for me there were some port-o-johns right on the trail. I've never peed so fast in my life. It wasn't so much that I was worried about wasting time, is was that I didn't want to stop for too long in fear that I wouldn't be able to start again.
I came out of the john running. I felt like such a stud.
At about mile 2 1/2 the Golfer and I separated a little. His pace was just a little faster than mine, but I waved him on. I figured all along that he would get ahead of me a little, I mean he is an athlete after all.
But I was bound and determined more than ever.
I can do this. I can run this whole damn thing without stopping.
There was a little girl in front of me, jogging along next to her daddy. In most situations I would think, "That's so sweet." But not this day. All I could think was, "There's no way. I'll be damned if I'm gonna let some 7 year-old beat me." So I passed her. Take that cute little girl with your daddy.
And then I passed the man with the prosthetic leg. And then the woman carrying her purse.
Yeah, I was on a roll.
And before I knew it, I could see the finish line. I'm not gonna lie, it was pretty emotional. I wanted to scream, "I'm doing it!" But I figured the hundreds of people that finished ahead of me might laugh.
Instead I saw the Golfer, clapping with his hands up in the air, cheering me on. Because he, more than anyone, knew what a big deal this was for me. And then I blew past him and tried not to cry.

My results:
Runner Details Race Results
Bib: 1956
Name: Stephenie Freeman
Gender: F
Age: 37
Hometown: Valencia, CA
Overall: 699 out of 964
Women: 391 out of 581
F 35-39: 39 out of 63
Age/Grade: 40.97% Place: 700
Finish: 36:50 Pace: 11:52
Tag Time: 36:50
Gun Time: 37:30

My personal best.

"It keeps you runnin', yeah it keeps you runnin'..."

photo credit :: sunrise runner

I've gotta go run.

As the Golfer said, "Be careful. This might become a habit."

How weird is that! Running? A habit? It's a mind boggling thought actually. That running might possibly become something that I regularly do? I even ran--twice!--last weekend when I was on my girl's trip. Now that's just crazy,

This Couch to 5K program has been the best. I'm the kind of person that needs instant success when it comes to working out. If it's too hard or makes me think things like, "I really suck at this!" with each step, then I just won't continue to do it.

But this program isn't like that. It's...doable. And with each week I'm progressing. I'm running a little more, walking a little less. And I know that in just a few weeks time, I will hit my goal.

Not my weight loss goal mind you. Nope, that's gonna take some time. A lot of time. But for whatever reason, this time I am bound and determined to get there. I'm tired of this weight robbing me of my happiness. I'm tired of seeing pictures of myself and only noticing how big I look. (That is, of course, when I actually allow someone to take a picture of me. I'll do anything to avoid the evidence.)

This weekend, on the 4th of July, I'll run in my first 5K. I've never ran in an actual race before and I'm kind of excited. I won't be running the full 3 miles; there will be plenty of walking no doubt. But the Golfer and Pop, my step-dad, will be running with me and have no intention of running the whole time either (although they both could without a problem.)

So this 4th of July, when you're sitting in your lawn chair, enjoying your cold beer and hot dog, think of me. Running.

And then try not to laugh.