Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Thank-You Quilt

The last five months have been pretty tough at the Carey household. Jamie has worked so much, that the girls and I have nearly forgotten what he looks like. Last month, when he had a two-week trial out of town, and Eliza was in the worst part of the separation anxiety she's been going through since all of the craziness began, I almost lost all sense of sanity. I called my mother-in-law, Jill, in Chicago and asked her if she might be willing to come out and help me with the girls for a few days.

Well, God bless that woman, she came out TWO DAYS LATER...NO QUESTIONS ASKED...AND STAYED FOR TWO WEEKS!

It blew me away that she would be willing to drop her life to help us like that and for that long.

So, I made her a little token of my appreciation. My first-ever quilt is for her, and here is a photo to show you how I personalized it for her.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Good Luck Mom

When I got home from work today, the girls had made me these fabulous posters wishing me good luck in my competition this weekend.

by Caroline, age 10

by Eliza, age 7

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ol' Gus

Captain Augustus "GUS" McRae, Texas Ranger
Born Feb. 6, 1996. Died Aug. 21, 2010.
May he rest in peace.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Never an Athlete?

I stand 4 feet and 11 inches straight up. I weigh 98 pounds wringing wet. I've never been what a person would call athletic.

All through grade school and junior hugh, I was ALWAYS the last person picked to be on a team, whether it be softball, kickball, volleyball, soccer -- it didn't matter. Nobody wanted me holding them back from the big win.

I found something to do with all my energy, though. I became a cheerleader. Now, in the 80's, cheerleading was not considered anything close to a spor
t. No, being a cheerleader did not make me any more of an athlete. It just was a way to be a part of something I was relatively good at. In rural Mississippi where I grew up, there weren't pottery classes, children's theatre or professional ballet prep classes. It was pretty much just sports and the marching band.

Now fast-forward many, many years later. I'm 39 years old...knocking on 40's door. I decided this year I wanted to do something athletic and healthy and fun before I turn 40. Now, I looked into endurance sports, like marathon running, but I got bored just thinking about all those hours of nothing but putting one foot in front of the other. No thanks. Not to mention, I have very short legs. I don't think that would be fair.

I thought about a triathlon, but I can't swim better than my self-taught dog paddle move. so, I guess triathlons are out.

In the meantime, I hired a personal trainer, Jennifer, to help me get in general good shape. Jennifer competes in body building competitions. After a few months of working out together, she starting telling me that I should consider being in a physique competition. She said, "There are different divisions. You can be in the bikini division, which is for women who are toned, but don't have huge muscles. They are judges on a great physique as well as a pretty face and personality. I'd have to take my training and diet seriou
sly for a few months.

Here were all my excuses to not do it:
1. I'm too short!
2. I'm too white and I can't tan because I've had melanoma twice!
3. I have no boobs! I mean NO BOOBS!
4. I carry all my extra weight in my butt, and no matter how skinny I've been in the last 20 years, I've still had a cellulite butt!
5. I have terrible stretch marks on my hips.
6. My hair is so thin you can see through it. I can't pull off all that big hair stuff.
7. I can't imagine my body looking like those bodies in a matter of months!
8. I'm older now. Nearly 40. Wouldn't it be crazy to take up a sport like this at my age?

So there they all are...and were. Laid out there. Plain as day. It just wouldn't work. Not to mention, the end result would be to walk on a stage in those ridiculously high heels and a bikini in front of God and everybody!

Then I started to think about it more. And it began to nag at me. Because I love to be on stage, and I have been all my life. (I'm usually fully clothed, however.) I love lifting weights. I love feeling strong. I love activities that allow me to do something new every day (and in body building, you have to keep it fresh to keep your muscles guessing). I used to be in beauty pageants when I was a kid, and loved it.

So I asked Jennifer if anything can be done about the other issues I had.

Well, I found out that I could have a bikini custom made with boobs built in!!! And spray tan is the way to go, keeping me safe from the sun's rays and it covers up stretch marks and even a little bit of cellulite! They make fabulous clip-in hair extensions that add thickness to your own hair! And with a high-protein, low-carb diet, anybody can lose the fat IF they are willing to be disciplined. Oh, and lastly, at my age, my muscles are mature and there is no extra layer of fat on my body now like we all had in our 20's. That's the cause of wrinkles, sure, but it's also the way to look ripped.

So. There you have it. I was talked into it. I needed a goal. I love a challenging project. I was in!

Three months later, I'm six weeks away from an IFBB National Qualifying Body Building Competition (Bikini Division) in Spokane, Washington. And guess what...I'm looking great.

I've been told several times lately that it's obvious I'm "very athletic." Ha! If they only knew.

It's never too late!

Check it out:

Friday, July 16, 2010

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Michelle Shocked

Michelle Shocked performed as the headliner for the Mount Helena Music Festival last night, and I was so excited, since I've been a fan for nearly 20 years.

When she walked into the park with her guitar slung over her shoulder, I said to my sister, "Oh my Gosh, that's Michelle Shocked! She walked right past me!!! If I had the guts, I'd ask her to take a picture with me." My sister responded, "Just ask her," and I said, "Okay!"

Jennifer took this picture of Michelle Shocked an me with my phone. She did several old tunes she learned form her dad growing up in Texas, she did several of her own older ones. Then she did some of her more popular tunes. Then she started singing "Anchorage, Alaska," probably her most well known song. It's a song that captures letters between her and a friend who is "anchored down in Anchorage, Alaska" with her husband Leroy, who sends greetings to her through his wife. It's a great song.

To make it even better last night, Michelle Shocked said she had special guests with her, and she brought the couple on stage! Kelly and Leroy, who have been married for 27 years! They are Montana Blackfeet Indians and they live in Billings, Montana, now. It was pretty cool after spending time over the years picturing what their friendship was like based on that song.

She also did the song about the the struggle of coal miners that says, "The L & N don't stop here any more." She followed that one up, appropriately, with "Paradise" by John Prine.

She did several more of my faves, including "VFD," "Old Woman" and "Memories of East Texas."

Then she ended the night with "Goodnight Irene," a song my grandmother loved. Her name was Irene.

Check this out:

Friday, June 11, 2010

Happiness is not so much in having as sharing. We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

- Norman MacEwan

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Love This

This is what Caroline made for me for Mother's Day.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Embarrassed at the Gym

I've been at this hard-core training now for a few months and it's beginning to show in my strength, but unfortunately not in my butt!

Anyway, my trainer, who is a figure competitor and is totally ripped and has not an ounce of fat on her body was kind enough to give me a pair or weight-lifting gloves as a gift. Very considerate, I know, and also practical, sice I'm developing unsightly callouses on my hands.

Now,I should explain that I am a member of a gym that caters to senior citizens and families with young children. The hard-cores work out in an entirely different gym with state-of-the art equipment and a TV on every cardio machine and a juice bar that boasts a nutritional menu of protein shakes and supplements, etc.

My gym has old equipment, a pool filled with people between 70 and 90 years old, and a play area for kids. I feel more comfortable at my gym. I can look cool without trying too hard.

Then again...

I went to work out last week and brought along my new work-out gloves. Since I make a point to never match when I put on workout clothes and to never look too put-together, because that would be UNcool, I was hesitant to wear my new gloves. Now if I looked like a true body builder, I would also feel like I could pull off the gloves, but with my jiggly backside, I just don't. So I was struggling with donning the new gloves.

Don't you sometimes look at people who are fully outfitted for what they're doing as sort of uncool? My husband certainly does. He makes fun of tourists fishing on the Missouri River in the summers decked out in their brand-new Orvis shirts and hats and rods and reels, looking like they stepped out of a Cabella's catalog, except for they can't cast a fly rod to save their souls. He insists on wearing his Bears jersey and a ball cap when he fishes, and he knows what he's doing.

Anyway, I digress...

I broke down and wore the gloves two times this week. I made sure to wear my Beastie Boys T-shirt and a pair of paint-stained stretch pants, just to be sure! And I went about my weight training as if nothing were out of the ordinary.

Once a little old man approached me while I was doing pull-ups and said, "Pound for pound, you're the toughest guy in here."

Maybe I pulled it off!

Friday, May 7, 2010


My home studio space has been a complete disaster for months and months and months. I haven't done much in the way of art because the mess became too big for me to even think about. It is the space my husband used to assemble the new ping pong table, which necessitated moving everything aside for space. Then it was the place where my children and their friends have chosen to do some projects of their own...some art, and some not so artistic projects. More like destructive ones.

Well, today, inspired by my artist friend Rinay, I tackled the overwhelming task and conquered it! feels so good. I mean REALLY GOOD.

I can, of course do more detailed organizing, but ....naaahhh. I'd rather do art!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Truth Art

This is my latest piece of art, which was inspired by "The Truth Project." I gave it to my friend Jessie Curtis for her birthday after she went through the study with me.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pumping It Up

After three months of pumping iron, I was not seeing any difference at all. Oh sure, I could lift more and more weight, but I could not see visual result in my body. so my trainer took some picks of my back while I was doing pull ups. And lo and behold, there is a little bit of definition. I am so proud, I thought I'd share it with you here!

Godspell - The Good News

Caroline auditioned for a musical for the first time. The musical is Godspell Jr, and she got the part!

The musical is based on the Gospel of Matthew. It covers the last few years of Jesus' life and acts out many of the parables and teachings of Jesus in a fun, energetic way.

She was so excited to go to the read-through last night. I went to pick her up and they were just reading through the last scene, which was Jesus and the disciples at the last supper and then the crucifixion. As I sat and listened, a few of the older kids were giggling and kept asking questions about Jesus as if they just thought the whole story was some ridiculous paperback plot. They made fun of everything they could, including Jesus offering his blood for them to drink and his body for them to eat.

My heart broke for those kids who have no idea who Jesus is. It's hard to believe that a kid can grow up in this country and be that clueless about Christianity. But the worst part was how much it upset my sensitive little girl. And I have a feeling that she's not the only one in the group that loves Jesus with all her heart and was not thinking the Jesus jokes were very funny. You could feel it in the room.

I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying anything, but I kept my mouth shut for Caroline's sake.

This is a rude awakening into the real world for my precious little girl. We spent a long time discussing it last night, and we prayed about it and we prayed for those kids who don't know who Jesus is.

Caroline knows that it is okay for her to inform them that they are being disrespectful and ask them to knock it off if it gets too bad. She said she just wanted to give them a Bible and say, "Here, read this. It's all true."

Caroline and I will use this opportunity to learn the Gospel of Matthew and to understand and not judge others.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Never a Dull Moment

I got home from Artfest and hit the ground running. The pregnancy center where I work is in transition, which requires a lot of my mental energy at least 20 hours a week.

My house is always a wreck and as soon as I get it clean enough to feel like I can relax and enjoy an art project or a trashy magazine, I've run out of time to relax and enjoy anything.

My two girls think they must be entertained every waking minute of every day. If I sit down for one second, even if it's to tie my shoes, they are immediately hanging on me -- wallowing and wanting something.

I spent one weekend in Billings with a good friend at the Women of Faith conference. this last weekend was Jamie's birthday weekend. Next weekend is Caroline's theater performance and Eliza's ballet school's company performance of "Sleeping Beauty," which we can't miss.

I have made myself a promise to be more diligent about working out...warding off not only butt jiggle, but also osteoporosis and pure ol' doldrums. Fitting that in is like putting 100-pound JEB in 4-pound Rey Ray's kennel. Some part is going to get left out.

Then there's the other part of my house: downstairs, which I haven't even seen for weeks. Oh, but the kids have. They have been down there with no adult supervision. I'm so scared to see what is left for me.

Oh, and did I mention that Rey Ray is not potty trained yet? Oh yea, I woke up to a turd in my bedroom floor this morning.

The good news is that spring has finally come to Helena, Montana, and I plan to soak up every ounce of warmth and sunshine until winter comes...hopefully enough to get me through another long Montana winter. It is so easy for a woman to ignore these pressures when she can go outside and enjoy such a beautiful place. Just yesterday I went for a short run (because I haven't run since last summer and I could go any farther!) and an even shorter bike ride. Short but sweet!

Today is supposed to be in the 70's. I am a happy woman!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Schweatty Balls

These funny looking little things are what I've been making lately just using dyed wool and a felting needle. I am going to Artfest next week and found out recently that participants trade with each other. Some trade miniature art, some trade ephemera to be used in projects, some trade antique buttons or pretty ribbons...just whatever.

Well, I tried a few ideas, which were not coming along very quickly, and since they recommend you bring 30-50 trades, I had to move on. Thirty of these little felted baubles may be do-able in a week. I don't know.

I have a good friend who makes GREAT homemade almond roca. If I can talk her into teaching me, that's my back-up plan.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Best Books

I posted my favorite books about two years ago. I thought it was time to do it again, since things have changed a little. I love, love, love a good book! Take a look at my top 20 favorites and let me know what books I'm missing out on. I'd love to hear your recommendations!

Okay, here they are, in no particular order:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe
The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jennette Wells
Plainsong by Kent Haruf
Indian Creek Chronicles by Pete Fromm
Young Men and Fire by Norman MacLean
Truth and Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott
Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Bald in the Land of Big Hair by Joni Rodgers
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I've Got the Joy, Joy, Joy Joy...

How much joy do you experience in your life?

Do you let worry and plans and ought-to's get in the way of your joy?

Have you ever wondered what your purpose is on this earth?

I may be able to tell you what it is in one word: JOY!!!

When you give someone a gift, what do you want them to do with it? I have a feeling you want them to enjoy it, no? What do you think God wants you to do with the gifts he's given you? Don't you think He wants you to use them and enjoy using them? And He wants you to use them to give to others and glorify Him!

Sometimes I think that I just don't know what my "spiritual gifts" are. I really don't enJOY that feeling. It makes me feel purposeless. But I usually come around to remembering that when I am giving from a place that brings me joy, then giving is a true blessing for me and the recipient.

So, when you get in a funk, here is a little exercise you can do that will help you to remember where to find your joy:

1.)List five things you enjoyed doing as a child.
2.)Remember five truly joyful times in your life.
3.)List five things you would do if time and money were no obstacle.
4.)Try to find some commonality among these answers.

If I you gave me a gift and I just tossed it in a corner to collect dust until I got other stuff done or because I just didn't want to deal with it, I would be disappointed. Totally bummed. I wonder if that's how God feels sometimes.

What Font Are You?

This is a really fun personality quiz.

Take a few minutes to do it, just for fun, and see what type of font you are!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010



by Mary Oliver

The poppies send up their
orange flares; swaying
in the wind, their congregations
are a levitation

of bright dust, of thin
and lacy leaves.
There isn’t a place
in this world that doesn’t

sooner or later drown
in the indigos of darkness,
but now, for a while,
the roughage

shines like a miracle
as it floats above everything
with its yellow hair.
Of course nothing stops the cold,

black, curved blade
from hooking forward—
of course
loss is the great lesson.

But I also say this: that light
is an invitation
to happiness,
and that happiness,

when it’s done right,
is a kind of holiness,
palpable and redemptive.
Inside the bright fields,

touched by their rough and spongy gold,
I am washed and washed
in the river
of earthly delight—

and what are you going to do—
what can you do
about it—
deep, blue night?

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Boys

"Come over to my pad."

Girl Pride!

My ears will freeze today because my head is too swollen with pride to get a hat on it after Parent-Teacher Conferences yesterday.

Caroline, my 4th grader, was thanked by her teacher over and over again for not getting involved in the "girl drama" and for always being kind to everyone. I was saddened to hear that the girl drama has started already in the 4th grade. My life was plagued with it for so long, I'd consider homeschooling my kids to keep them from having to endure it! (and that's saying a LOT!) But it seems that Caroline is handling it well, and in the meantime is making straight A's and has a boatload of friends.

Eliza's teacher showed us Eliza's First Grade Journal, and I had to clamp down on my lips with my teeth to keep from laughing out loud at the things she writes. The kid is hilarious. And it warmed my heart to see that all the pictures of her family and her home were happy, smiley, loving representations. (Whew!)

Her teacher noted on her last report card that sometimes Eliza doesn't pay attention in class. But she said yesterday that she may be wrong. That maybe Eliza just looks like she's not listening, but really is, since she doesn't seem to ever have missed anything.

Those are my girls. Thanks for allowing me to indulge in a little pride!!

God has been so good to us!
Don't they look like perfect, innocent children? Who never get into mischief?

Artsy Fartsy

For the last several years, well ever since I heard about it, I have wanted to go to an artists' retreat called Art Fest, which is held every spring in Port Townsend, Washington. I bring it up every year to my husband, who. like most men, doesn't get hints. He often doesn't get clear suggestions. It takes a physical blow or something like it for an idea to sink in, especially when it is one that requires change in his routine or money from his account.

So, while we were out for Thai food a few weeks ago, I decided it was time for my annual Bring-Up-Art-Fest conversation. Lo and behold, y'all, he said, "I think you should just go."

I said, "Excuse me? Do you have any idea how much it's gonna cost? After I pay for the classes and lodging and then meals and supplies and's gonna be more than a thousand bucks." He responded (God love him!), "Well, if I had the chance to go to Alaska to catch salmon, I'd go; and it would cost a whole lot more than a thousand bucks!"

I love this man!

So, I started choosing what classes I'm going to take and figuring out if I should drive the 13 hours or spend a few hundred more to fly. That's when I was feeling a little lonely about it. I mean, why doesn't god give me a friend or two who enjoy creating? All my friends are badass athletes or would never leave their families or have no extra money...none would do what it takes to join me for Art Fest.

But I do have one wacky, zany friend who loves to create. She is a single mom, though, so a lot of obstacles are there for her, but she is at least spontaneous.

I though of her immediately when I saw on a blog that there was an essay context and the winner gets a free trip to Art Fest. I called said wacky friend and told her about it. She called me back 10 minutes later and said she wrote up something and sent it in.

Well...she won! so we are going to Art Fest!!!!!

Today we are going to get together and try to come up with cool little knick knacks to join in the trading that goes on among the participants. I love the feeling of excitement building, getting my stuff organized and ready for something fun.

My one concern is that I will come back form this event and want to quit my job and be a full time artist.

It could happen.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


This is Caroline and Eliza with Macho Rey Ray del Mundo...our new Havanese puppy.

I took Rey Ray to his first puppy class last week, and it was just so cute. A room full of puppies, what would be cuter? Even the most Machismo would use the word "cute" in that room.

So we got started by trying to settle all the pups down so that we could move on with the other things we were there to learn. Rey Ray sat there and looked sweet as pie. I was proud, but a little suspicious...Was he working up a BM? Was he waiting to pounce?

Then we put on their leashes and walked them around the room. A little black lab was howling and yanking on his chain, just as cute as could be. A little Beagle-Poo was cutting flips on his leash, round and round. Two Australian Shepherds were hopping and nipping.

Rey Ray walked nearly perfectly on his leash. Then he sat when I asked him to sit. He allowed the instructors to approach him. At one point a man watching us said to me, "Your puppy should be teaching the others how to behave."

I just smiled and said "thank you" as if this behavior from Rey Ray was normal. Right now he is barking his head off at JEB, who just won't play with him. And every now and then he gets tired of that and attacks the nearest anything, going in for kill. When I try to settle him down, he starts trying to bite my face off and climb on top of my head to get away. All this after he recently went poo and then ate it.

But the people at Puppy Class think Rey Ray rocks!

Monday, February 22, 2010

I'm Fed Up!

Okay, I'm just down right done!

I have struggled with anxiety and panic attacks now for nearly six years, and I'm just over it.

I recently picked up Beth Moore's newest book, "So Long Insecurity," and I've decided that I'm gong to really believe what I believe. I'm going to go through what Beth Moore recommends in this book, and I am going to continue to study the Word of God and pray scripture about this thing...I'm going to bind up this anxious spirit once and for it better get ready!

I am taking a new medication that is working really well, except for the fact that I'm eating everything in sight and my hair is falling out. If you have ever had a panic attack, you know that you'd rather be fat and bald than suffer the effects of the panic. But what if you didn't have to trade your peace of mind for your ...well...peace of mind?

God says that He does not give me the "spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind."

I'm ready to claim it!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Our Beautiful Ballerina

Caroline's First Real Valentine

This is Caroline writing in the first real Valentine, which she gave to her first real crush.

Art Fest, Here I Come!

I'm finally going to Art Fest!

And I am so excited to get together with artist from all over and play and learn and laugh together in Port Townsend, Washington.

Go here and check it out:

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Healing Rooms

Yesterday I went to check out a new place in Helena called the Healing Rooms. It is a place anyone can go for prayer and healing. I was afraid of it for a long time, but when I found out that it was a legitimate, Bible-based ministry, I decided to give it a try.

On the form they gave me when I first entered, I asked for prayer for the anxiety that I've been struggling with for the last six years. Then they take the form into a prayer room, cover it so the people praying don't know who it is or what it is about. They pray for God to give them a Word about the person. After my form was prayed over, they came and escorted me to the prayer room where three people anointed me with oil and laid their hands on me and began praying.

The first woman said that God gave her the scripture Psalm 27:1-3, which says:

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? 2 When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh,when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall.3 Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.

Then she prayed away the enemy and the anxiety in the name of Jesus.

The second woman said God gave her a vision of a huge crop of corn -- corn with large, tall stalks. I looked at her completely puzzled, because it didn't really mean anything to me. (I thought of a certain strain of blue corn found by an ancestor of mine, which my father has continued to harvest and purify, but I couldn't find a connection.) She said to her it meant abundance and she went on to talk about the abundance I have in God, my abundant personality, etc. Then she said God gave her a vision of the Holy Spirit "trickling down" into the dry spots of my life. She said, "Then look out because behind it is a flood of love."

The third person praying was a man who said God showed him to put the sign of the cross on my hands and my forehead because everyone I come in contact with will see His light shine through me. He said I will affect many generations for Christ. He also told me that he sees an abundance of joy in me and that he had a vision of me skipping. Yes, skipping.

So, I don't know what all of this means, if anything, I just thought I'd share it with you.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Mom is Welcome!

This is the chalk board on the door to Caroline's room. In case you can't read it, it says, "Caroline's Room - I just need some quiet time with God. Mom can come in."

Ah, I love Caroline being 10. She WANTS her mom in her room. I'm going to enjoy this as long as it lasts!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Mommy Balance

A mother's life is a constant struggle to find balance.

All I did was add exercising back into my life the last few months, and it feels like I can't get anything else accomplished. I feel better. I need to do it, to keep osteoporosis away, as well as other diseases that come from being sedentary, but that few hours in a week seems to be pushing me over the edge of my to-do list limit.

I have considered quitting my part-time job and just volunteering a few hours there a week. But I truly have a vision for the pregnancy center and I have already seen the difference we make there and I don't want to leave it in the hands of someone else. And anyway, I have always felt like God called me to this work.

So, like all mothers, I'm back to trying to find the balance where I can be my best both at home and at work. To make the most of the short time I have with my little girls. It takes focus and creativity; and while I sometimes lack focus, I make up for it in creativity.

This summer the girls and I can exercise together outside. For now I squeeze it in when it least affects them. And I try to hit the grocery when they are in their dance and theatre classes.

And my amazing husband has given me a gift this week. He is going to take the girls to our river house and leave me home for some quiet alone time. Hallelujah!

Don't call me. I'm turning off the phones.