Saturday, October 29, 2016

Going Home, 10.29.16

Going home.

I've always been a homebody. The idea of "home" has always been important to me, even as a kid. I was just telling a co-worker the other day that I was the kid who hated being asked to go to friends' houses for sleepovers because I just loved being home. I would find every excuse in the book to get out of going, even going so far as telling one friend, "Oh, my grandma is sick and we have to go visit her in the hospital, so I can't make it to your sleepover", which was a total, flat-out lie. (Sorry, Grandma! And sorry to that "Jesus-knows-when-you-lie", Jesus, who my mom made us very aware of at every turn!)  Another example, I used to clean all of the shoes, clothes and crap out of my side of my sister's and my closet so I could turn it into a little "home", complete with lamps, pictures on the walls, etc.  And I used to turn my pencil boxes at school into little "homes", with folded paper glued to the sides in various configurations to create "rooms" for imaginary little families.

Home, to me, is a place of refuge. A haven. My happy, safe and unguarded place. On first thought, it brings to mind a physical dwelling.  I consider myself lucky to have lived in the same house for the first seventeen years of my life. Since I left that home to make my own, I have called 10 different houses, "home".  Some were more special than others, but still, I gave each one of them my best effort to make them our "home". My husband, kids and I even set up camp in my mother-in-law's one car garage for six months while we built a house. Yes, it was a garage, but we transformed it into our home for the time we were there. When I think back on that time, I am reminded of a scene from Under the Tuscan Sun, where Diane Lane's character says, "Find one room and make it your own", as she finds refuge in one small room of her under-renovation, Tuscan villa. In other words, wherever you land, and whatever the chaos around you, find one small space to call "home", to be your place of refuge to escape from that chaos.  That garage was just one small space, but for six months, it was the only space we had that was just ours.

This house was our reward for living in a garage for six months. My kids and I are still homesick for this house. Lots of memories made there.

This, our current house, called us back home last year. We decided it was meant to be and have settled back in for the long haul.  Lots of memories made and yet to be made here.

But beyond the physical dwelling, there is another definition of "home" that should be considered. Home as a verb.


  1. (of an animal) return by instinct to its territory after leaving it:
    "a dozen geese homing to their summer nesting grounds"
    • (of a pigeon bred for long-distance racing) fly back to or arrive at its loft after being released at a distant point.

  2. (home in on)
    move or be aimed toward (a target or destination) with great accuracy:
    "more than 100 missiles were launched, homing in on radar emissions"
    synonyms: focus on · concentrate on · zero in on · center on · fix on ·

Some people don't have a regular, permanent "dwelling" that they can call home. What is "home" for the homeless? What is "home" for kids in foster care, or refugee families who are shuffled from one dwelling to the next? Sure, they can heed the advice to "find one room and make it your own", choosing any space, no matter how small or impermanent as a space to transform into a "home". But, I'm guessing that "home", to them, goes beyond anything physical.

I started really thinking about that after hearing this story on NPR's Story Corps. To this girl in the story and her siblings, who were taken from their mom due to her heroin addiction, "home" was, and is, their mom.

I'm very lucky to still have both of my parents. To me, they are still "home". We don't see each other often and we sometimes disagree on things and I'm sure if we were forced to live in the same house again, we would probably want to kill each other, but still, they are "home". They were the first ones who gave me a home and everything physical that I needed, they protected me, they took care of me when I was sick, they set boundaries for me, they taught me right from wrong and gave me the desire to work hard and do something good with my life. They have known me since the moment I was born. I am part of them. And I know that, no matter what, in the end, they are on my side.

That same feeling applies to my kids. To me, they are also "home". I was the first to give them everything physical that they needed, I protected them, I took care of them when they were sick, I set boundaries for them, I taught them right from wrong and  hopefully,  gave them the desire to work hard and do something good with their life. I have known them since the moment they were born. They are part of me. And, yes, we also sometimes disagree and if forced to live together again, we would probably want to kill each other, but in the end, they are my "home". And I hope that I am "home" to them and that they know, no matter what, in the end, I am on their side.

Being "home", whether physical or emotional, means being supported, protected and having a steady place to land.  No matter what. 

And on that note, I'll leave you with a couple of songs- Home by Philip Phillips and 93 Million Miles by Jason Mraz

I hope you are having a great weekend!   Juli

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Happy Due Date Day, 10.11.16

Happy Due Date Day to my daughter, Chelsi!  As I've discussed here before, my due date, when I was pregnant with her, was October 11, 1983. Well...she was in no hurry and waited until October 25, 1983 to make her debut. I spent most of my 17th year pregnant and had her two months before my eighteenth birthday. Yes, I was married and a mother before I was even able to vote, so you can imagine how tough it was to begin raising another human being before I was even a "grown up" myself, before I had any idea about who I was and before I had any idea about how to be a mother. (Back then, in the hospital, they offered classes before you took your baby home, such as, "how to diaper your baby" and "how to bathe your baby", etc. Needless to say, I felt the need to attend ALL of them!)  Somehow, though, with lots of support from Gary's and my family, we ended up with a daughter who is the most loving, thoughtful, caring, genuine woman we know. 

I say "we" because I know that even though Gary isn't here to show it or say it, he believed it. And even though he is gone, I have to believe that he somehow sees her putting flowers, flags and updated photos of herself, her brothers, her sons and her nieces at the cross where he died, at the change of every single season. And how she visits his grave and tends to the area around his memorial bench on every special day (and sometimes on just ordinary days) throughout the year. I have to believe that he knows how dedicated she is to his memory and how she will never let anyone forget who he was.

Sister, you have no idea the light you bring into our lives by your thoughtfulness and the way you are, in a way, a "mother" to all of us. It is what you were born to do and you are perfect at it. And you were most definitely worth the wait. Looking back on it, maybe you somehow sensed that giving your young momma a couple of extra weeks to prepare could only be a good thing for you! In any case, little did we know, on October 11, 1983, we were about to win the lottery.

Have a great week!  Juli
P.S. Our 'Little Man' (Colbey) has a blog! Check it out here

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Lately, 10.8.16


Making: I have to say, my mind has been so completely occupied with other things and planning art projects for my students that I haven't been making much time for my own art. In the meantime, though, I am completely inspired by other artists :)

I have been chipping away at this tray, very slowly, adding a layer here and there, when I have time. I do have several "gift" paintings in the works, leading up to the holidays, so stay tuned for that!
Claus Oldenberg at Pulitzer Arts Foundation, St. Louis

raumlaborberlin: 4562 Enright Avenue at Pulitzer Arts Foundation, St. Louis

Some amazing ceramic work and weavings by my Adaptive Art students.

Drinking: Two Hearted Ale, Grenache and dark chocolate (which, when consumed together, tastes just like chocolate covered cherries! Have I mentioned that here before?!) and my very first Gin and Tonic, thanks to the newly 21-year old, Little Man.

Eating: M. and I have been splurging on really good cheese lately. If M. had his way, we would be buying the Feta, but since I think Feta tastes pretty much like vomit, we compromise on the sharp cheddar. We like the kind with those crunchy little bits in it ( I think this has something to do with the protein??)- SO good!

Watching: Real Time with Bill Maher, Yoga Is  (a documentary by Suzanne Bryant), Amos Lee

Listening to: more podcasts, which, lately, consist of Elena Brower and Seane Corn on Soul Feed and Good Life Project, Amos Lee, Paul Teodo (acoustic guitar) and another oldie, but goodie 'Wildfire' by Michael Murphy

Reading: Carry on Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

Crisis is a gift. Love, love, love this.

Thinking about: Family. And how a crisis can sometimes make a family stronger and closer. And yet another crisis can completely turn it on it's head. And, how the only power you ever have in any situation is how you react to what is going on around you. And how, if you've reacted badly in the past, the only way to make it right is to own it, apologize for it, realize the lesson you learned from it and make it a point to respond in a positive way in the future. And how easy it is to, then, stand up, brush yourself off and make it your mission to turn a really crappy situation into a positive one. Because in the end, if  a family ends up stronger, wiser, kinder and more understanding of each other, then it will all have been worth it.

Laughing at: the Presidential debate last week. Oh, my! Looking forward to more tomorrow night.

1) This quote by Rick Warren ( and re-quoted by Seane Corn in the movie 'Yoga Is') :
"Find your wound and you'll find your purpose".
2) Watching the students in my adaptive art class interact with each other. I am not exaggerating one bit when I say that for that one class period each day there is nothing but love and kindness in that room. It really is an amazing thing to witness.

3) My job. New administrators, new programs, new routines, etc. have completely transformed the climate at our school and I am seriously loving it. So far, this year, I have received three kind and encouraging notes from administrators, and it is not even the end of first quarter!

4) Spending the evening watching and listening to Amos Lee with two of my favorite people in the whole, wide world.
Amos Lee at The Pageant, St. Louis

5) And having a lunch date with another one of my favorite people in the whole, wide world.

6) And finally, I love the fact that I have so many things in this category that I have to number them!

Spreading joy: Currently in the process of sending out some kind and encouraging notes of my own.

With what I have: So, this is an embarrassing thing to admit, but when we moved back into our house last year, we decided that we didn't want to continue using our heavy, bulky antique bed frame and armoire. So we ended up pulling dressers from other rooms and putting our box spring and mattress on the floor, just for the time being. Well, guess what? The box spring and mattress are still on the floor. I've whined about it for over a year now and M. finally told me that he actually prefers it that way because we don't have to worry about our dog jumping on and off of it and hurting herself again (torn ACL a few years ago!). He had a point. So, although I still intend to get a legitimate bed frame, I am now looking for a platform frame that will keep the bed closer to the ground. Kind of bohemian looking, I guess. Right?! I like bohemian!  So... in the meantime, just to keep myself from whining about it, I pulled an antique bench from the living room and placed it at the end of the bed, then hung a wool rug ( a gift from my parents' trip to Mexico in the late 80's) tapestry-style, above the bed. Not perfect, by any means, but I think this will keep me happy for a while :)

Once the bench was taken from the living room, it left a bare spot. So... I bought two new end tables. But, even though they are new, I got a great deal on them. Originally 89.99 each and I got them for 26.98! They are a little quirky (gold finished metal with leather tops) and fit perfectly in my "happy place" on the 70's couch!.

My happy place- right there, perched next to that pillow, watching Netflix, blogging, drinking my coffee in the morning or working sewing projects. 

Have a great weekend!  Juli