The Experiments

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Creating at a new location!

I have loved having this creative outlet. One day, I hope to start blogging here again. But until then, I have enlisted some blogging help and have started up a blog with my sister. I do some creating, some pondering, some picture-taking and have been having lots of fun. Come check it out!

Two sisters eliminating the Fear Of Missing Out one blog post at a time.  

Monday, April 14, 2014

I Can't Do It Myself Experiment #2: Homemade Amish Cottage Cheese

Community. It's been a concept on my mind for the past couple years. In the last several months, as I have realized how much I can't do myself, it's been suffocating me, weaseling its way into nearly every thought. What is community? What is my community? Do I even have a community? Is community defined by geographic location? Or is community defined by ideals and values and shared interests? Or is it both? Can it be both?

Growing up in the wind tunnel prairie town of Watertown, South Dakota, I was obsessed with trees. No, not forests. Those don't actually exist in South Dakota until you run into the Black Hills National Forest (and by then you're almost not in South Dakota anymore). The closest we get to "forests" are these odd looking things called "shelterbelts" or "windbreaks," unnatural looking, eerily linear groups of trees started back in 1934 to protect animals, people and crops from the extreme wind and snow and the extensive soil erosion exacerbating the Dust Bowl.  They rudely punctuate the smooth flowing plains, looking a lot like someone tried to bury a gigantic comb, teeth side up, and quit halfway through.
I was always a bit unnerved by shelterbelts. The trees seemed so...indistinguishable. To my young, restless and recklessly independent mind, they were a metaphor for growing up in big-town South Dakota [FYI: Watertown (population 20,000) was NOT a small town; that was Bonesteel (population 280)]. While I loved growing up in Watertown for so many reasons, I always felt trapped in what I felt was stifling homogeneity.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Experiment #16: Reusable "Paper" Towels, Fancy Cups and Messy Clothes

Practicing Imperfection

So this isn't one of my typical experiment posts. But I'm having one of those of those months. Where I feel the weight of my responsibilities acutely, piercingly. There is a constant sense that regardless how carefully I consider things, how much I seek and pray and listen, how much I research, analyze and discuss, that someone important will disapprove. Someone whose opinion matters will think I have miscalculated, misjudged, messed up.

Someone will misunderstand me. Someone will think I am incompetent.

I have a fervent need to understand others and be understood. This intense need drives me to ask lots of pointed and direct questions and has managed to cause both the majority of conflicts and resolutions in my life. Consequently, it really bothers me if someone has been hurt by me or thinks poorly of me (or if I even think they might be hurt by or think poorly of me) because they misunderstood something I said or did. I have even been known to get out of bed at 3am to compose an email of explanation and apology to an offended party.

While this may seem like an excellent quality, much of that intense need to clear up misunderstanding is that I am afraid to be thought incompetent. I need people to know that I didn't intend to hurt them. I need them to know I have thought through and researched my decisions. This unrealistic need affects what I am willing to share. For example, "Christian" has come to be associated with so many things unrelated to what I live, I have a particularly hard time discussing my faith without first providing sufficient context. I just need people to understand, if not support, my decisions.

But if I'm really gut-level honest, it's not the fear of being thought incompetent that drives much of what I do, but the fear of actually being found incompetent.

Because then someone will know I am actually incompetent. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The new me!

While I am polishing up my next post, I thought I would share my recently created avatar! See, I have some pretty amazing friends. Friends who have gifts of creativity, generosity and kindness that leave me in awe and inspire me to be more creative myself. Corby is one of those people. I've known him now for...whoa...almost 15 YEARS!? He never ceases to amaze me with his quick wit, insightful and dry sense of humor, and the uncanny way he uses a pen and paper (both through words and illustrations) to represent the world. He noticed that I needed a better online presence. And like magic, here she is. I love

A few years ago he created this amazing Fairy Princess Nora for her 3rd birthday.

I've worked with Corby both as a friend and in a professional capacity. He is truly gifted. And humble. And I think he's genuinely unaware of the extent of his talent. And to top it off, he's a fantastic friend. I always leave an encounter with him feeling better about myself.

He needs to write another play. And a graphic novel. And a collection of satiric vignettes. And I'm going to unabashedly pester him to illustrate one of my future posts.  And when I can compensate him appropriately, I will eventually commission him to avatar-up the rest of my family.

Check out his illustrations and animations. He's pretty awesome.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Experiment #15: Snowbet - How we enjoyed this crazy winter

While I probably should be, I am not the least bit annoyed that the relevance of this blog post will be nearing nil in the next two days. But, as we are slated to get another inch of sloppy snow tonight, I thought this would be an appropriate post. Hopefully for the last time this season!

As Nora stepped into the 31 degree sunny warmth today, puffs of breath just barely visible as she exhaled, she exclaimed, "Ahhh...I love summer."

Yes. I remember the first "warm" days in college. There would be pasty white legs sporting shorts and lounging on blankets amongst the shrinking snow piles. Today, Madeline ran to pick up Nora from school wearing her sundress with some grudgingly clad leggings underneath. It was 42 degrees. I'm still baffled daily by the ridiculous similarities between college kids and actual kids.

Growing up in South Dakota, my winter (and large chunks of fall and spring) activities were built around cracked, dry hands, below zero temps, constant biting winds, traveling with winter survival kits in the car and shrinking snow piles into May. I even remember it snowing one year during homecoming in September, the swirling snowflakes gently landing on my nearly frozen fingers, which were sluggishly attempting to squeak the fight song out of my flute.

A couple years ago, Nick and I decided to make a concerted effort to not complain about the weather. We are trying to cultivate an overall attitude of gratitude for what we have rather than fixating on the imperfections in life. So we figured the best way to start is with the can't control it anyway. In most of the places we have lived, the weather is only ideal for a month or two a year, so we can either spend 10 months lamenting the imperfect weather or find ways to enjoy it. I even made a resolution to spend time outside every single day, which, I'm proud to say, up until this winter, I have mostly kept.

Friday, February 28, 2014

I Can't Do It Myself Experiment #1: Family Cleaning Night and Indoor Slip and Slide!

Cookie Dough Eating after Family Cleaning Night

I have noticed a trend in my blogging. Have you?

It's here. And here. And here. Oh, and here, here, and here.

I say I am going to write consistently. And then...silence.

This has been a lifelong trend. Excitedly, enthusiastically overcommitting. I get involved in too many things all at the same time, then fail colossally. Recently, in my quest to be more intentional, I have started to examine this trend so that I can intentionally target the problem.

Part of the problem is just me. I have ADHD. Yes, surprising, I know. Passionately jumping into projects without a single thought of how they will be completed is a classic symptom.

But over the years I have become aware of this tendency and have gotten much better at stopping, thinking, then committing. I don't think that committing to writing two or even four blog posts a month is unrealistic for me. So I can't blame it all on the ADHD. I think an even larger part of it is this tiny little bit of controlling, obsessive-compulsive personality streak that, thanks to the strong-willed stubbornness I got from my dad, manifests as a resistance to asking for and accepting help.

Interestingly, I wasn't diagnosed with ADHD until after my freshman year of college, much, much later than most. The psychiatrist said that I was able to be successful for so long where other ADHDers were not was partly due to my extremely organized, routine-oriented, engaged and concerned mother and the beensy bit of her personality I inherited. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mom. Without you, I would still be writing my college application essays.

While I hate schedules, forget to fill Madeline's milk seconds after saying I will, can change my plans with zero notice, read 8 books at the same time, and never follow recipes (or directions) exactly, this little bit of OCD allows me to mostly function like a responsible adult. With the expenditure of lots of mental energy (and a smartphone that bleeps at me), I can maintain appointments, give my kids their medicine, keep appropriate amounts of food in the house and remember to pay bills. However, these OCD tendencies also manifest in really weird ways that are getting weirder the older I get:

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Experiment #14: Dry Hand Help, i.e. I really can't do it myself

Sad. So so very sad.

I started typing my blog address into the browser and my computer didn't even recognize my own blog domain. 

Maybe pathetic is a better word.

After nearly two years of treading water, I feel like I finally reached the part of the pool where I can just barely touch the bottom with the tips of my toes. A bit of a respite. Not much, but enough. While I am very glad we chose the spacing of our children the way we did, lately, there have been many days where I have screamed, "Three kids in four years?! What were we thinking?!"

While my last year has been blog-silent, it has been an incredibly crazy, busy, fun, intense, exhausting, exciting, cathartic and agonizingly wonderful year. The girls are so fun. And so irritating. And so loving. And so screamy angry.

And now it's the coldest (snowiest?) winter in 20 years. Sigh.

I actually love winter. I love snow. I even love the cold, crisp, fresh air that takes your breath away. But not when I'm trying to bundle up and keep an infant warm. Thank you, God, that this year was NOT when I had an infant. It may take 45 minutes to get everyone bundled, but this year we can actually stay outside for at least 45 minutes!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Experiment #13: Homemade powdered sugar

Routine and organization do NOT come naturally to me (stop laughing, Dad).

Somehow (magic?) my professional life is really scarily organized and planned and detailed. But most of the rest of the time, my modus operandi is:

Why plan? Just improvise! It will probably be good enough. It may even be better than if you had planned.

I like to tell Nick that this is called being spontaneous, but we both know the truth. It's just too much work for me to get my brain in the right mindset to plan ahead (translation: I'm lazy).

Some (ok, most) times, my attempts are colossal failures. But then I hit the jackpot and my "spontaneity" is validated. A shining example happened whilst making the candy I described in my last post.

The facts:
It was 4:57pm and I was halfway through a recipe for candy hearts that needed to be made for Nora's Valentine's Day party the following morning. No dinner cooking (was dinner even planned? nope.). Three hungry kids who were sneaking tastes of aforementioned candy in process. I walked over and opened the container holding our powdered sugar, only to realize that instead of the 2lbs of powdered sugar required, there was a scant 3/4 lb staring sassily up at me. What to do?

Option 1: Panic, abandon the project, leaving child in distressed puddle of tears on the floor & me with the inevitable task of creating valentines at 11pm.

Option 2: Call a friend and hope they are home and have 1.25 pounds of powdered sugar just sitting around. If they do, bundle up three hungry, sticky kids and shlep them over to gather the powdered sugar.

Option 3: Google "homemade powdered sugar" and hope.

I took my chances on Option 3.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Experiment #12: Homemade Conversation Hearts

Our "conversation" Japanese flower blossoms

Well, hello again. I thought with the pending holiday that it would be a good time to start my virtual conversation up again with my aptly chosen DIY project. Clever me.

So with that, Happy almost-Valentine’s Day! I almost made this post in enough time to be useful on the holiday. As I don't yet have Christmas cards out from 2011, I consider this an vast improvement. 

And Happy Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, for that matter. Since that’s how long it’s been since I last posted. Good grief.

No excuses. I’ve just been attempting to rediscover some form of balance in my life again. And put a lot of miles on the car. A lot. We managed to travel close to 8000 miles through 9 states on several amazing (but not relaxing) trips to visit friends and family. All five of us. Three carseats. In a Toyota Camry. Oh yeah. But that’s another story for another time.

Today, we’re talking about talking. And candy.

Over the past year I have fallen back in love with Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Much like The Cosby Show, Little Women has a whole new level of awesomeness when you revisit it as a parent. Hilarious anecdotes disguised as fiction along with brilliant nuggets of timeless wisdom that previously flitted way, way over my head. And FYI, I’m fairly positive that Cliff Huxtable’s character was based almost entirely on my dad. It’s kind of eerie, actually. But I digress.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Living through a Microscope: Experiment #11 - Delicious bits of simple energy (Homemade Larabars & Energy Bites)

Butterfly Bush Flower

If you had asked me a few nights ago (or about a month ago) if I loved having kids, I may have thrown something sharp and heavy in the general direction of your head. Or something wiggly and squishy. Something that looked like a toddler. A toddler who woke up every 90 minutes screaming for her “taggie” that was hiding somewhere in the midst of the chaos that is our house.

But, on most days, I will be able to answer without the use of projectiles. Sure, as I sit in the bathroom with four fists pounding on the door and 2 squeaky voices screaming, “Mama! Mama! Mama!” I wish I could be like Tracy Jordan in 30 Rock and have a standing semiweekly hotel reservation for one hour to be able “to poop in peace!” Sure, it’s frustrating that 8 of my waking hours are spent sitting on the bathroom floor waiting for someone to poop, wiping someone’s poop or spraying someone’s poop off a diaper. Sure, it would be nice if the only poop I had to wipe was my own.  (Can you tell that Madeline is potty training and my world seems full of poop?)