31 August 2009


I have recently been told that I "am a good writer, but nothing ever good comes of it".


First off, let me say, that, personally, I have never claimed to be a self-professed anything. Writer, advocate, juggler, seamstress. You get the idea. I belong to the school of thought that there are all kinds of people. Some are really good at one thing, some are a little good at a lot of things, some are blessed with excelling at all they turn their hands to, and still, others, float through this life not really mastering an expertise of anything, and are perfectly okay with that.

I never set out to write on this blog in the hopes of curing cancer, ridding the world of hunger or poverty, changing people's minds, or turning them onto God. I started for, I suppose a selfish reason...calm the storm of my own mind during a difficult time. Not because I was invariably depressed or miserable. In fact, I am, generally, a content, satisfied, happy sort, who loves to love and be loved, and be surrounded by those that care about me, and I, in turn, care about bunches.

I started to write to try and reach someone who understands what it's like to have a child like our Betsy. I was encouraged to join groups here in St.Louis, to mingle at special education classes and seminars, but I am, also, quite introverted with new people and situations. It takes the right kind of person and personality to put me at ease and crack my exterior. In the place my heart was in, I wasn't up to the challenge of finding that person in a sterile meeting room.

Maybe that was a mistake, maybe I should have taken advantage of the resources Delta Gamma and our special school district offered, but I hadn't the energy for it. The mommy face I wore all day, and the broken-heart, unsure face I wore alone at night depleted my energy and its reserves.

One day, at random, I discovered a blog.

It didn't really have anything to do with my situation, but it was a mom, just like me. She seemed to have an affinity for many of the same things as me, she had a wicked style, her life and her family's were spelled out in pictures, ideas, and recipes. It was brilliant. The blog was Design Mom.

Let me say, here and now, I was never a computer person (blogging has since changed that). The big ole dinosaur sat in the basement for, at least, a year without internet service, basically, an over sized typewriter. I could have cared less about email, social networking, or shopping on the web. But, that one blog changed me.

From there came Nie, Whatever, Little Bit Funky. All mothers, all inspirations, all present in what they were doing at this pivotal point in their lives. They were thinkers, bakers, theologians, philosophers, chefs, carpenters, crafters, novices, experts, and somehow, were all these things together, at the same time, and still are.

So, I started to blog. I wrote in the beginning through tears. Just putting my family's story and Betsy's story on the screen was therapeutic. I was certain no one would read it, but I didn't care. With every word, every tear, I felt lighter, brighter, better.

People tried to understand my initial grieving over Betsy, but no one I knew got it. No one could really understand how I felt, not even my mother. I felt lost, and those around me felt lost, too. We all just kind of milled around each other, never knowing what to say, what to do.

In that year, Pete & Jake learned what it meant to take second seat, and, now, there has been damage done. With any luck and God's good grace, it's of the reversible variety. They seek out Jake's and my attention, sometimes in inappropriate ways. They are learning how to move on in the wake of that time. We all are. Everything was about Betsy. Not intentionally, but that is how it had to be. Therapists in and out of the house 4 days a week, doctors appointments, diagnostics. Blech!

So, I wrote, and I wrote. Some days about nothing much at all, some days it was all heaviness. But, I got rid of the 'junk'. Gave it away. To anyone caring to listen, but most of all, God.

I started getting emails, and comments from readers expressing their gratitude. Their thanks for simply making them be more grateful than they ever have been before for the children they were given. How my story helped them learn to ask friends questions if they were going through something similar, to not be afraid, to just lend an ear, or a squeeze.

Then, one day, I got a comment from an amazing woman who had a daughter with cerebral palsy. A blogger. Oh, the surprise, the relief, the happiness. She knew. She cried at things I, at some point, probably cried about. She felt the same grief, but also the same joy, in having a child with special needs. Her blog is a lot like mine. Family, crafting, sewing, cooking, photos, life. Daisy & Dots (check Trish out).

Things have, since, snow-balled over here at 'Odd Girl Out...?'. I have sold invitations, tu-tu sets, onsies, tees. I have been asked to write on other blogs, asked to share pictures of my home, and since asked for decorating advice, gift giving advice, recipes. I have inspired other women I know to begin blogging, too. Sure, it makes me feel good, but that was never my intention. My life is as mish-moshed as this blog indicates, NOT perfect. And, I love that.

I blog for myself, and my kids. That one day, when I am long gone, my babies might have a bit more insight into who their mom was. Not just a mom, but a friend, a daughter, a sister, a wife, even, I suppose, a writer. They will have these memories, a scrapbook of what we did together, what they said that I thought was funny, or insightful, what made me angry, or, simply, that, they, themselves, plain and tall, have always been enough for me. They will gain a better understanding of what their father and I went through with their sister, and they will, maybe, hopefully, forgive me for those difficult first years. They will not only know, but SEE that I loved them. With everything I am. That is why I blog. All of those rewards by only spending 10-15 minutes a post.

If something else 'comes' of it, good or bad, that is, really, just secondary.

30 August 2009

The demo has begun.

The chair (above) is my first, official basement project. It isn't quite done, yet, but, I love how it's turning out. Jake's Great-Grandmother needle pointed the old upholstery, so, I am framing it for Rosie's new room. And, someday, I will probably use it to recover the chair. Although, it is pretty rotted in some spots. I don't know... I am sure I will think of something. For now, I think the chair is instantly updated, and really cheerful. I love taking something old, and adding the unexpected to it. It makes you see an old chair in a whole new way.

Happy Sunday!

27 August 2009

Off the radar.

We are, currently, undergoing a pretty big home transformation. Since having made the decision to stick it out in our 1000 square feet of heaven, we have also decided to overhaul the basement.

Yes, it was already finished with a full bathroom, but since when has something like that stopped me before? In my defense, it was choppy and not exactly conducive to my vision. I view it as a place for the boys to lay their bristly heads. A gathering spot for the kids for the next handful of years to play video games, have movie nights, sleepovers, and arts and crafts pow-wows. It will increase the livable space in this house greatly.

But, let's get real, give me more to clean on a regular basis.

However, there is a bright side. The girls will have their own separate rooms which will mean quieter nights with them unable to wake each other up for no other apparent reason than to irritate the tar out of me. In turn, the boys' 'garden apartment' dwelling will be larger than our master.

Needless to say, there will plenty of room for activities (please tell me someone got that reference).

With walls knocked out, new flooring, paint, and fabrics, the living side of the basement will be fresh, modernized, and just plain fun, complete with a barn style door to the boys' room.

Don't even get me started on the bathroom transformation.

And, as everything goes in this house, it will all be done on a strict budget, that will leave many of you wondering how, and possibly wanting to spit in my eye upon our next meeting. My one splurge will be wallpaper for Rosie's room. She's never had the privilege of a room all to herself, so, that's how I'm rationalizing it.

But, what can I say? This is my bread and butter. My carrot sticks and ranch. My peanuts and M & Ms. My ice and water.

I cannot wait to show after pictures, which will include the three kiddy bedrooms, the basement rec room, and the basement bathroom.

This is why I've been off the radar.

My creative juices are, otherwise, being employed. I'm thinking of ways to repurpose things I've dug out of the trash, specifically, 2 wickedly boss old doors, and 1 sick with cool vintage child's desk. I've been choosing scrap and 1/2 yard fabrics off of etsy, and I'm trying to come up with a way to display all of our family photos down the staircase (a long time dream of mine).

There will be lots of spray paint, sewing, and paint rollers. But, we are always up to the challenge. I will certainly keep everyone posted.

Stay tuned...

25 August 2009

Betsy's 5th...take 2.

In true 'Nie' fashion, we had a balloon release. It was magical.
Everyone wished, prayed, or hoped for Betsy, and we all released our loons to the heavens.

Betsy takes a much needed water break!

I cannot even begin to describe how excited she was to be sung to!

Present time! She L.O.V.E.D. her spinning stool from 'Mama' Mel. It was bedazzled and personalized!

A BIG thank you to all who were there!

24 August 2009

Betsy's 5th...take 1.

Some of Betsy's birthday decor.

Homemade party bunting.

Little apple shaped cake balls.


the cake!

The cake was, by far, my favorite thing that I made for the party.

Stay tuned tomorrow for 'Betsy's 5th... take 2' .

Happy birthday, Betsy!

17 August 2009

Is it sick that this excites me?

Because it does.
It really, really does.
I have discovered that power washing, may just, in fact, be better than vacuuming.
I know, I was just as surprised as you.
But, holy Fredricktown, it is stupendous!
And, to think, I didn't even think our concrete was that dirty!

Water + power = cool!

14 August 2009

THE party dress.

This the fabo dress that Miss Betsy will be wearing for her big 0-5 party! It's my favorite thing I've made yet. The fit is great, the fabrics are great, and she looks fantastic in it! Best of all, she seems to know it's something special..the way she looks down at it and sways from side to side. I cannot wait until her party next Saturday. She's going to have a blast!

8 more days 'til party time!

12 August 2009

pretty please...with a cherry on top.

I recently entered a contest on stltoday.com about breastfeeding and what it means to you. I tweeked an old blog post, and used that as my entry. (Gosh, blogging really comes in handy sometimes, no?)

I just found out that a panel of St. Louis Post Dispatch journalists have chosen my essay as one of 15 finalists. Now, it is up to the internetting public to vote. You are allowed to vote one time per day per email address. It takes, literally, 7.987352 seconds to register, and you won't get any stupid spam. Aaaaaand, you can vote EVEN if you don't live in the lou. Yipee!

To help this blogger out...go HERE. (My essay is the second one. First row, on the right side of the screen, entitled 'Aunt Mo and Breastfeeding?').

After you register, and click to fill in the vote circle, you must scroll back up or down and click 'save vote'. That's it! Then you go back for the next several days (because you love me) and vote again, until I am declared the awesomest breastfeeding 300-word essay contest writer ever! See how that works?
I have the utmost confidence that you will all help me out, so, in advance...
Thank You!

11 August 2009

Basement reno.

We've settled on flooring for the basement renovation project.
Can you guess what we're getting?
Now, what color and/or combo?
The possibilities are, seriously, ENDLESS!

07 August 2009

a, b, and c.

As we all know, the beginning of a new school year is fast approaching. Some kids have already begun. I was thinking about how magical it is to get new school supplies. Even now, being the mom, I love it. Those fresh crayons and notebooks are symbolic of a new beginning, a fresh start. I am especially enamored with Jake's new backpack. It hasn't arrived, yet, but I am smitten.
I opt out of getting them cheaper packs every year, and they get a new, higher end pack every 3 years. Jake will be entering 3rd grade, so, this was his year. These packs last longer, and it is a simple way to avoid the whole commercial/character thing. Plus, they get super excited (so far) when it's their year.

I am really considering making a quilt. Lots of bloggers, recently have done it. And, in all honesty, I've thought about it for a couple of years. I am confident enough in my sewing abilities now, and I think I would like the quilt even more if it had imperfections. Choosing who to make the quilt for has proven to be quite difficult because of 'even steven' mom guilt. Ultimately, I think I'm going to make Betsy one first. For several reasons. First, her coverlet on her bed now, is old, old, OLD! Second, I've already bought a killer comforter for Rosie's new room. It's yellow, white, and grey, is fluffy and scrumptious, and it was $14.99 to boot! Finally, if I make one of the boys a quilt, I'll have to make 2, because they will still be sharing a room when the basement is finished. I really need to start with one, ya know? Choosing fabric is also a major problem.

Do I go big and bold or soft and subtle? I'm leaning towards the Amy Butler. What do you think?

We have opted out of sending Rosie to pre-school this year. This will still leave her with 2 complete years of early childhood instruction before she enters kindergarten. So, I've been wanting to sign her up for something fun, yet instructional in some way. I am trying to find something beyond the typical dance or gymnastics class. I am going to check out some programs at the St. Louis Zoo and maybe COCA. The problem is she's only 2 1/2, but she is potty-trained. Most programs are for ages 3 and up. Maybe, I'll just sign her up for every last class at the St. Louis County Library. If anyone has any unique suggestions, please leave them in the comment area below.

06 August 2009

etheral poms.

all images via Martha Stewart

I plan on whipping up about 50 (or more)
of these bad boys
for Betsy's birthday party.
All in beautiful turquoise and apple green.
They are so heavenly.
Cheap, too.
That always helps, no?
Beautiful, fluffy orbs everywhere.
Lets's pray for no rain!

04 August 2009


It's a candle kind of day in the lou. It is overcast, and rainy. The air is so thick, I am convinced it is not oxygen at all, but some soupy gas that has the reverse effect of O2. It sucks the air clear out of your lungs. The house is pretty clean, and I just wanted a little ambiance and candley happiness, so, I got out a bunch of candles that my friend, Lisa, made for me in a craft swap. (Do any of you swap your wares? I love doing this!)

Anywho, her candles are what wax in heaven must be like. Assuming heaven has wax. Their smell is continuously strong, but not overpowering, and they burn long, and clean. Come to think of it, she should really be sellin' these bad boys on etsy.


I really like Lisa. Yet, another reason I am thankful for the computer, at times. Lisa and I would, probably, have never had more than a handful of exchanges in 'real' life (our husbands are friends), but now we chat all the time.

Hmmmm, if only we could put our shyness in our pockets, and catch dinner and a movie!

And, yes, believe it or not...in real time, I am painfully shy. True story!

Now, go light a candle and chill...

...even if you have to fold laundry, while doing so. ;)

03 August 2009

the social networking debate.

Can social networking on the internet or blogging get out of hand and cause more problems than either are worth?

Honestly, I'm not sure.

I used to really enjoy Facebook. It was a way to socialize with people I haven't see in ages, to reconnect with those souls I have longed for over the years. It was a big recipe swap, a craft sharing party, a way to get recommendations for photographers, plumbers, pre-schools (alliteration at its finest). It was fun!

And, now, it is a place where it always seems tense and stressful, the junior high school cafeteria, if you will. I need to be careful about what I say and think. And, the issue is this, I don't post things that are specific to one person. They are generalizations, and my own opinions. Nothing I write is meant to be intentionally hurtful. Agree or disagree, they are what they are. I don't feel like I should have to apologize for the way I feel. Nor, do I expect anyone else to do the same.

Paranoia and the internet don't mix. If someone is going to constantly wonder if what 'Suzie' wrote is about 'Johnny', then the technological social world probably isn't for you. My Facebook 'friend' list comprises mostly of mature, good-natured adults who are always up for banter or grown-up dialogue. I've debated with several of my friends on Facebook over a gamut of subjects ranging from politics, to cloth-diapering, to the best way to make a buttercream frosting. And, it's cool. The beauty to agree to disagree. If someone takes what I say personally, then maybe it's time for a bit of self-reflection, soul searching, and cleansing of a guilty conscience. If you don't like what I write, simply, don't read it.

The computer is cause for a lot of misinterpretations and misconceptions. There is something to be said about hearing someone say something, and reading what someone writes. If the cyber-world does it for you, then this principle needs to be considered at all times. I am not perfect, nor, do I claim to be. Do I love my life? Yes. Am I, generally, a happy, content person? Absolutely. Do I have sad and painful times? For sure. Should I have to be sorry for the life that God has graciously bestowed onto me? I hope not. Do I understand that at any moment this can all change? Of course.

And, I'm definitely not the first or last person who has issue with social networking sites or cyber-communication at large.

Am I the only one who recalls Megan Meier. Her suicide, it's speculated, is a direct result of cyber-bullying. A loss of life over something that could have very likely been solved by simply ignoring cryptic posts and/or comments, or 'hashing' it out face to face, with parent or school involvement.

The Catholic Church in England has it's own position on cyber-socialization, too. Catholic or not, it is pretty profound. “Friendship is not a commodity, friendship is something that is hard work and enduring when it’s right,” the ABC quoted Archbishop Vincent Nichols as saying. “I think there’s a worry that an excessive use, or an almost exclusive use of text and emails means that as a society we’re losing some of the ability to build interpersonal communication that’s necessary for living together and building a community.”

I couldn't agree more.

However, that being said, I enjoy using the computer as a social tool. I take it for what is. I try not to read between the lines, because, more often than not, I may just read it wrong. I love being able to write and journal on my blog. I love being able to express myself to a willing audience. I know there are going to be readers that dislike me. And, all I can say is, whatever. I can dig that. I like Facebook. I'm not gonna lie. My 'friends' make me laugh and inspire me. In both cases, I've formed friendships and connections to people that I never would have gotten to know in the "real" world, and my life is richer for it.

Should I have to give that up because I may have (unintentionally) hurt someone's feelings?

Think about it...

01 August 2009

good and bad. at the same time.

Okay, so, I've been thinking a lot about this, lately. The whole good vs. bad thing. Are people more inherently good or more disposed to being bad? This is what I came up with. And, please keep in mind, this is strictly a Beth philosophy. It's what works for me and the way I live my life.

image from moddb.com

I have concluded, after 31 years of life, that we are both good AND bad. (Wow, now that is an original take, huh?) From birth, we have it in us to lean either way, more bad or more good. This tendency depends on many factors.

Above all else, I am convinced it has to do with how you were raised. I would say, 9 times out of 10, if you were raised to feel safe, secure, loved, and in a clean, warm, nurturing environment, one in which you were able to express yourself while still maintaining respect for your parent(s), who always were emotionally present and available, you probably tip more to the 'good' side of the scale. This idea can best be articulated like this, your folks weren't your friend, but your parent. They were not your equal, but your superior. Shocking, I know, but that, after all, is what a parent/child relationship should be. You know they loved you because you felt it through their actions. They didn't just tell you when they tucked you in, but they lived it. You were disciplined, you had expectations placed on you, yet, you knew if they weren't always met, it would be okay. No one is perfect. You learned that universal truth early on, and were able to apply it to others, and their lives, learning a very important lesson on empathy. We are all different, we all have a story. We don't all have to be best friends, but acceptance is key.

Neglect, hate, prejudices, jealousy, stress, anxiety, extreme intolerance, cluttered minds & homes, lack of humility...it all breeds a certain level of insanity. Insanity on any level can lead to all kinds of nastiness.

That being said, even if you dealt with any of the aforementioned 'nasty' factors while growing up, doesn't mean that you don't have good in you. Or vice versa. There is a point in all of our lives that adulthood kicks in (or, at least, SHOULD kick in), and you are left with a decision to make. You can chalk up all of the bad stuff and not be a victim, or you can continue down the path of despair with an overly deserving attitude. Change your mind, and you change your life. Difficult situations, often times, have simple answers.

The bottom line is this. Honest to goodness kind of folk still can, on occasion, do bad things, act with lack of good judgement, and bad people have the ability to change and act in ways that might surprise you. We are all just cogs in the wheel. We all start out on an even playing field. Just cogs in the wheel, my friends.

I will leave you with, yet another wonderful quote. (Listen, quotes have been getting me through the summer.):

"Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first." -Mark Twain.

Sorry, for the rambling,

it's been a loooooong summer.