Monday, June 6, 2011

and he said it couldn't be done.....

Approximately 4 months ago, I expressed some displeasure at ALWAYS being the one family member that had to create and make dinner. It was beginning to feel less like a loving way to nourish my family than a burden of, "I'm hungry and I want you to feed me." Elizabeth, Nate and I created a schedule that included Elizabeth cooking for us one day a week. ONE day a week, and you have thought we called her Cinderella and was expecting a banquet at each meal for the rest of our lives. Needless to say that she despide it and we dreaded eating the food that was prepared with such venom.

I knew though that not asking her to contribute to the family meals and not teaching her how to cook was a disservice to my committment to raise an independent girl. Also, she seemed awfully happy with us fixing her meals which made me want her to be a bit less happy.

I created the challenge that she had to learn a new recipe or dish each week of the summer. That meant 8 dishes over 8 weeks. Nate said, "It can't be done!" I doubted myself too. But to teach her to cook somewhat and to prove him wrong - I was now determined.

After browsing at Borders for a beginner cookbook - I found this.... perfect.

She has now tabbed the 8 recipes (no more no less) that she will be fixing over the summer and started TODAY , the FIRST day of summer vacation!

Told ya Nate, I could do it! smiles

Saturday, June 4, 2011

while I wasn't looking, somehow I found you - carly simon

I truly look at Elizabeth sometimes and have to wonder, who is this kid and where did she come from. She is like a magically combination of silly, wonderful, and thoughtful. With the end of another school year, I feel myself falling in love with her all over again.

When I saw her little red face, 13 years ago - my heart was so full of love for her that it was simply overwhelming. I think that I cried for much of her first hour of life. The tears were of love and a feeling of responsiblity to do whatever I could to make her a meaningful member of our lives and community. Her dad and I both tried to raise someone that was kind, gentle and smart. We weren't looking for her to always be happy - by seldom over indulging and never seeking to overtly entertain her. Instead we sought for her to enjoy each moment, whether she was bored, aggravated, or content.

A few things from her lately....
-Elizabeth had just finished her latest read, "I am David," and asked if I had another recommended read for her. She then goes on to tell me that she didn't use to like the books that I recommended, but now she does.
-As she was packing for her Kings Island trip, she packed her phone into her "fanny pack" (seriously, she did take a fanny pack) and she said that she would stay in contact with me through the day.... guess how many messages I received?? thats right , none! smiles
-Jake and I went to pick her up after majorette practice and she proudly introduced him to everyone as 'her brother.' ahhhh
-Elizabeth started reading a book that she had once started a few years ago. Well, in the book she found an old bookmark where she had written all of the words from the book that she didn't know. She so proudly exclaimed that she knew all of those words now!
- E just got her report card yesterday and she had SIX A's, ONE B, and ONE C. After congratulating and celebrating all of the A's... I asked her about the constant C that she has earned in Algebra. She quickly reminded me that, "as long as I try my hardest, a C is ok." arrgh, I hate when my own words come back to bite me!
- As soon as Nate comes home every evening (or every weekend), she is so happy and ready to be entertained by him. Her laughing and joking just endears us to her over and over.
- E texted her grandmother yesterday and asked if she could come down and visit her for a few days. The first few days of her summer vacation, and Elizabeth wanted to see her Gram.
- Elizabeth still likes us to tuck her into bed. Nate that assures me that as long as we do that, she will stay a little girl and not grow up while we aren't watching. She will close her eyes while we are tucking her in or rubbing her back and I can tell that she is happy and secure.

This new honeymoon of love for her may only last for a day - until she rolls her eyes at my request, or leaves her shoes on the stairs, or doesn't want to sit in the back seat, or changes the radio station the second she gets into the car, or begs me to fix her cereal because the milks too heavy ... but until then and even after - she will always be one of the very best things that has ever happened in my life.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

letters & words & sentences .... oh my!

My best excuses for not spending quality time with my blog...

1. My blog writing wasn't on my daily calendar to check off.

2. My blog doesn't have dreamy green eyes to gaze into.

3. I lost my camera. (but now have a borrowed one to use, so this excuse doesn't count.)

3. A wedding, a honeymoon, a job, 3 kids, and a busy house take up too much time.

But I do love writing and sharing my life through this blog... so I am back - no excuses allowed!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

these things

These things I know to be true..... (idea from Oprah)

Packing is easier 2 days before departure date, instead of the morning of.

Sour cream and onion potato chip dip is worth the stinky breath.

Sit ups and crunches are never fun.

My mother-in-law loves completely & unconditionally, all the time to all people.

Bed time is a child's enemy and a parent's pleasure.

Humidity will always make my hair crazy big and out of control.

Marriage proposal memories are always sweet, no matter where or when.

Julia Roberts smile always makes me smile.

Sisters are like roots, they provide you with a foundation and supports new growth.

Losing your Dad is never ok... whether you are 25 or 41.

Puerto Rico only looks good.... all of the time!

Gray hair will never be a welcomed guest on my head.

BLT's are better with mayo on both pieces of the toast.

Hubs is a nickname for a chubby hubby that is cute and has green eyes.

White sheets are all that matter.

The @ symbol is beautiful in its simplicity and structure.

Red fingernails are perfect for vacation.

My students have a love/hate relationship with me - of course.

An organized closet is symbolic of an organized mind.

Dehumidifiers need positive affirmations everytime I empty the water.

Surprise dinners with neighbors are god's gift to me.

Anyone that has a 5 year old that reads with them is blessed. Thank you Jakey!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I have married the man of my daughter's dream.

She dreamed of a few new siblings to love and boss around.

She dreamed of someone to dance and sing with.

She dreamed of dinners together.

She dreamed of someone fun.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

lights on a Thursday night

What a fun Thursday evening! Girls evening in the circle, so we decided to make it special...

We started with a fire in the pit in the back yard, though with wet wood and only math papers to burn - we were slow on the start.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

top 10 reasons

Top Ten Reasons that I wish

"Julie from California" was

"Julie from Charleston."

10. Julie chats with Elizabeth that makes E feels like she has something important to say.

9. E and I could have hugged Hannah on her birthday a few days ago.

8. Julie is smart, pretty, interesting, and always up for an adventure!

7. Julie is inspiring me to be meat free again. Our friend Marceen was the first vegetarian that I had ever met, so now that Julie is going in that direction.... hmmmm

6. Julie can read a poem with such emotion as if she actually wrote it.

5. She has long brown hair too, thank goodness Bob likes that too.

4. Julie makes me laugh, almost nonstop. I am truly so happy around her.

3. Viv and E would play little polly pockets well into the night while Julie and I hang out.

2. Nate now understands why he will have to buy me a plane ticket to CA every year.

1. I have learned how to be a friend from Julie - circa 1996.

Monday, May 2, 2011

bragging... only after being shamed

Very few people would be bragging about their curbside when it looks like this!
But not me! I am so proud to be showing you this picture because it illustrates our family mission this month, (ok, maybe more my mission) but we are all on board.

It all began with my arrogance of being a 'recycler.' I wore a glittering tiara made of recycled milk cartons and alumimum cans because of my recycling pride. Yet, instead of being a true model of Green - I was only half way working the system. Little did I know that I would be called to the proverbial carpet (though a carpet made of cork or other renewable resources).

Cody, Missy, Julie, and Kathy were hanging out with Nate and I, exactly a month ago. So, as Cody begins to place a glass brown bottle into our trash - I quickly announced that WE recycle and there is a special container for brown glass bottles. Boy did I sound pretentious as I said that to our friend. Though how wrong this whole conversation would turn. There on the edge of a Green Lecture, did he begin to pull out items in our 'trash' that should be in the recycle bin. A few key quotes from that night....

"Tortilla chip bags are recyclable, oh, so are potato chip bags."

"Bottle caps aren't trash," Cody had good reason to point that out since he contributed about 5 to the trash can.

"Why are you putting your veggie peels in the trash and not into a compose pile?"

"Your city recycling program doesn't make you separate?" Huntington resident Missy asked.

"Half of this 'trash' isn't trash at all."

"Styrofoam can be taken to another recycling plant."

"I have more recycling than trash," braggart Julie stated.

It was mutiny! So, after a careful analysis of my trash and recycling habits - I vowed to turn over a new green leaf. So this last month, our goal was to have more recycling than trash (take that Julie). To use less packaging and to recycle everything that we could.

This picture demonstrates our effort. Note that 5 of the bags are yard waste that will be sent to the city compost pile to be used to make new, black healthy soil. The cardboard boxes will quickly decompose and the plastics/aluminum will be melted down and reused.

Now I can brag a bit more sincerely and with a bit of a smaller (recycled) tiara.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

57 circles of potential

We have exactly 57 of these white lanterns in our basement. The ideas keep popping up of what could we possibly do with all of these. The basement has an infinate amount of space for objects that don't exist for camping or storage containers. Then out of the mouth of Wild Man Jake.... "Let's paint them for our room!"

So he is wild AND creative! smiles

Friday, April 29, 2011


I have been making a conscious effort to be more deeply connected to the kids.
I am very good at managing, fixing, arranging, creating, - those things they would agree.
Yet, my desire to be very good at listening, loving, looking, and feeling deeply - those, I am not always sure they would agree.
I want to spend my evenings looking deeply into their eyes as they tell me stories. I want to touch their hand with full presence as they walk with me. I want to smell their sweet kid scent and treasure that as I inhale deeply and slowly release the concerns or thoughts of anything that is not deep and loving.

One night a few days back, I was tucking Elizabeth into bed. A recently added ritual that we had dropped a few years back. Anyways, so I am kinda making a little sweet game of tucking her covers in all around her, as if a mummy being taken to her final shrouding.

She looked up at me gently.
E: Mom, you are warm.
M: Thanks babe.
E: I don't mean your body is warm, You are warm.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dear Nate - on your day off...

"Dear Nate,
I understand that you have a day off from work? Hmmmm.
Are there no elevators that require your lovin? again, Hmmmmm.
Well, there are a few things that are calling your name outside..... "

"The fire pit needs moved and the gathered wood needs to dry out."

"The bulbs for our porch need replacing after the storms... because it is hard to have an impromptu guitar jam session without lights, so that the chord cheat sheets are too dark to use."

"But leave the purple ground cover that is attracting all of the bees, though it scares the kids - we need bees to pollinate our food resources (hippy ish I know)."

"Yes, Nate - I know... these look like it should be weeded out but I promise they will have pink blooms in about a week."

"Ok...I do understand that many consider these darling little daisies to be weeds, but just look at them! Plllllleeeaassee don't spray them with Roundup!"

" The plants, the grass, and even the weeds love the tender touch of your hands hands callused from hard work that helps to brighten our little patch of Nature."

" Oh PS..... Please trim sooo carefully around the yellow iris'. I know, I know they are much too delicate for our backyard, but I love them so trim carefully."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

have you ever....

Have you ever had a BFF that makes you want to be the best person that you have the potential to be? That BFF that holds you to a standard that they know you are capable of - being bigger and better than you ever thought imaginable? That BFF that holds you accountable to be authentic to your words and intentions? That BFF who bitches you out when you stray from your work that will create new opportunities?

Well.... I have one.

She is funny, succint, sly, and crazy intelligent.

Our standard of winning at "Words with Friends" is to beat her.

She loves music, even with lots o' guitars and she aint afraid to play it!

My BFF listens to my hopes and big dreams then holds my feet to the fire to make the step to get there. She loves Nate as much as I and sees the good that he brings to my life.

How did I find her? She wondered into my life without any preconceived idea of how much havoc I would raise and how I would drive her crazy several times a day!

She blindly allowed me into her family circle to eat turkey and stuffing at all of her holiday dinners. I know that I am a forever BFF because her mom just said I was her "adopted daughter." How did that family know that I needed someone to love me just for being me, quirky and silly as I am? Well.... I am in good company! Because they are even more authentic and genuine that I would have ever imagined! Just as I like it!

Cheers to BFFs and all that entails.

Monday, April 25, 2011

she's happy - I know because she sings

Three years ago Elizabeth and I bought a quiet house.

When we first walked in - though it was quiet and still - we could see a secret glimmer of happiness under the layers of quiet that bore down like worn carpet upon the long covered hard wood floors. The quiet wasn't a generational sadness, but rather a situational sadness.

I now realize that I was also harboring a quiet sadness. On the outside the house and I looked fine. Our siding was well kept and the roof colored to the perfect shade of brown - yet the inside kept secrets of long buried sad.

Yet now, I catch Elizabeth, me and the house humming with waves of joy and contentment. I spot Elizabeth dancing and singing her way from the dining room to the living room and back. I whistle, "You are my sunshine," while I am folding laundry. The house creaks and sings with each step that we ascend. I hear a slight inhale of breathy happiness from our home when the boys hit the purple walled foyer as the shoes are kicked off and jackets are thrown.

The house now smiles from the inside out. Just like me...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Great Demonstration

I had the privilege to teach the 3, 4, and 5 year old class today at Unity.

How do you explain that today is a day of celebration beyond bunnies and candy?

How do I convey that life and renewal is possible, even after being driven through the city beaten and spat upon? How do I share that life emerges even after hanging on the sacrificial cross till death frees the body of bondage. Instead I teach the hope that is

The Great Demonstration.

Today is a day of rebirth and renewal. It symbolizes to me that all is possible.

after a long dark night - morning does come

a week of planning and packing - emerges as a great week of camping

bearing a long difficult relationship - reminds there is love once again

through the winter - spring still arrives

waiting through the rain showers - flowers bloom

death in a cave of several days - rebirth is possible

the body that is dead until Jesus can arrive - rises and walks again

an evening of household chaos - relaxes into a blissful night of sleep

an extended family that is distant - a new loving friend's family fulfills that need

No matter what - the divine lives within us all and everything good is possible.

That is spring and Easter.... all is possible in love and the rebirth.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

view from the circle

We absolutely love our neighbors here on Forest Circle. They all seem to spend time outside gardening and weeding. It is inspiring to see their bags of yard waste and incoming compost to nourish their yards. I catch myself gazing off the porch at everyone else's yards in almost dream like wonder - at how it all looks so alive.

Our neighbors across the street give us this to look at all spring.

Our neighbor (and best bud) gives us this plus forsyntheas and snowball bushes.

Yet, all we can give them is a newly organized this....

and this.....

Friday, April 22, 2011

ahhh spring cleaning

Not sure that you can hear the sigh of relief that the living room and dining room are now clean. Not just surface clean - but deeply cleaned! Nate, Elizabeth and I spent most of Sunday evening clearning those rooms until we were satisfied that we were ready for spring.... all dust bunnies freed, all spring chickens kicked out of the kitchen, and all the materials free of lint, pollen, and allergic fibers. Yes, the sound of freedom is long and celebratory.

a big week of logistics

I am 40 ish and have never had a will. There have been no provisions for my finances, my home, and most importantly my daughter. The thing that I love the most - I have made no arrangements for, if in the event that I shall pass on before she is an adult.

So, to remedy this oversight - Nate and I have been changing beneficiaries and updating wills. Its all a big decision and yet hopefully none of our decisions will ever need come to fruition. Yet, we have signed, given blood, notarized, spit, and seconded all of the necessary forms to be sure that our children and our loves are taken care of.

I realize that my chance of dying is 100% but I pray to any god or spirit that is lizstening to at least give to me until our children are old enough for all of this custody/and will stuff doesn't matter. Allow me to love their tender hearts and to nourish their growth until I am old and gray.

Notarized and approved by Mindy S. Allenger

Thursday, April 21, 2011

writing timeline

Having coffee with Kathy this morning cleared out my thoughts of work and worry. Instead, within those few hours - we replaced those worried brows with laughter in Lowes while we hauled six boxes of ceramic tile for Mickey. We talked about our fav counselor and how incredibly strict she forces us to be with our thoughts and actions. We sipped coffee and ate glutten free pretzels while catching up on cheerleading, wedding memories, our mothers, flippers, acrylic nails, our cats, and most everything else imaginable.

Within those hours of bliss, her final parting thought was, "So whats the timeline on this writing?" Ok, back to reality.

My timeline is...
Chapter 1 finished by April 30
Chapter 3 finished by May 30
IRG over the summer
Chapter 2 concurrently over the summer
Research in September
Chapter 4 in October
Chapter 5 in November
Christmas in December (heehee)
Defend in January
Graduate in May

Sunday, April 10, 2011

ahhhh.... back to real life

The Wedding Whirlwind is past..... the detailed planning, the constant questions, the decorations everywhere - all over.

It felt like our life was open for public comment for two months. Every step of the wedding was being worked out over and over. Altered, modified, and reworked again.

The time was wonderful and full while I still linger in the wedding glow.

Yet, the relief of being back to real life is almost surreal and dreamy. A quieter weekend has followed up the wedding whirlwind. Our quiet week-a-versary consisted of; naps in the afternoon, relaxing around the xbox, regular trips to the grocery for milk and apples, laundry being put away and a sweet quiet that settled over our home.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

summer plans....

Loads of Camping

Running the summer Reading clinical and WRITING

Beach with Louie, Debbie, Steve, Sandy, Brian, Cynthia and SEVEN kiddos.

Elizabeth to California

Monday, March 28, 2011

stressed yet in love

I cannot believe that I (we) will be married in five days. 5 DAYS! That is 12o hours! Plans are all coming together but each little piece is creating stress. Stress is just my body's response to handle external (or internal) "difficulty that causes worry or emotional tension" ( As much as my cognitive understanding allows me to see the situation objectively - my inate worrisome personality screams, "Mindy Mindy Mindy, get it together." Though each step of the way I have been prepared and organized, there are now hundreds (literally, I am not exaggerating) decisions to be made. My current job at MU allows me to cruise along with very few sitations that question or seek explanation of my decisions.... yet this wedding has given me numerous opportunties to grow and allow my decisions to be questions, opionion to be altered, and discussions to ensue. All of life is allowing me to grow and expand my thoughts by questioning and full discovery. Maybe thats why I am orchestrating this celebration of my wedding... it to grow. God, give me the patience to get through this week, so that next week will allow my life to resume to normal. What is normal? Who knows, but it is about planning a wedding 24/7 while still happy and living in the moment! Mantra.... The celebration of the wedding day event is simply to welcome us into the married world. The marriage is the imporant aspect, not the ceremony.

All that I know for sure is that I adore Nathan.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

wink wink

I have a secret... wink wink

here's a sneak peek

Saturday, March 26, 2011

one wish

If I had a wish....
I would take a giant snowglobe,
Fill it with sprinkled magic dust,
Insert this stone statue from the Carriage Trail,
Place this special memory of three happy kids playing and laughing,
Swish and shake to keep it forever.

Friday, March 25, 2011

these things I know

These things I know today....

- cottage cheese taste better with peaches on top

- the last few cold days of spring are the hardest to bear

- the remote is always lost when I am most tired and just want to watch tv

- Missy ordering porkchops just to be sent home with me is heavenly leftovers

- two little fellas starting baseball tomorrow is all American

- reminder that I am to marry in 8 days is delightful

- hugging Harry after a month of missing him tonight was worth the wait

- white wine is the only wine to be enjoyed with popcorn

- the purple crocus reminding me to just hold on for warm weather does help

- seeing Nate carry a chair for another woman makes my heart warm with his chilvary

- making up the guest bed for Julie would have been easier had I not been skipping and whistling

- our home feels warm with lots o'kids packed in

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

just breathe and relax

i am waiting for the day that i can sun with reckless abandonment.
nothing required and no worries allowed.
chance created this whole experience based on his idea
how do we lose that reckless abondement that allows us to just do what feels right?
It is a constant struggle to do what society says is right and what I deeply feel is right?
So... I challenge myself to be as Chance.... what feels right?
What exactly exemplifies my beliefs? I will strive to demonstrate that!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

WV Times.... best sellers list

Possible Book Title from the Allenger/Eplings best sellers List...
NonFiction Feature List
= How to Potty Train and Still Have a Life
= Learning to love your partner's Ex
= Top Five Places to Picnic in Charleston
= Wedding Planning for Dummies
Fiction Feature List
= Life without Mom or Dad on Monday's at 8:00 pm
= Duh?
= Diary of a Wimpy Cat
= Are you there God, It's Me Mindy?

Monday, March 21, 2011

going bold

If I were brave, what would I be doing?
Would I be hiking the Apalachian Trail with Nate?
If I were brave, would I be speaking in front of even larger groups about my love for reading?

If I were brave, would I be sky dive in the cool mornings?

If I were brave, what would I be doing?