Grace Under Fire

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Image courtesy of Kimberly Muller

In 10 days, I will be 47 years old…

WHAT?

How did that happen?

I don’t feel almost 47 years old… Well actually this morning I did… as I stared at the whisker growing out of my chin in the car rear view mirror.

Oh and last night when I was cuddled next to my daughter, she said, “It feels so COOL…” (she was referring to my skin, as she kneaded the small pool of flesh that rested at my elbow in its particular position).

A few weeks ago, I woke up to one of my 5 year olds, near tears pointing to my wrinkles as I opened my eyes and lifted my head from the pillow, slowly revealing a map of Wisconsin on my face. Thing is those sleep lines hang around ‘till the afternoon these days, and some are permanently etched in my almost 47-year-old face.

“Mommy why do you look like an old lady?”

Do I look like an old lady to them?  I remember thinking my mother was ancient at 40. I am not ancient… I am young.

Hard to age gracefully when I am being fired at from all directions…especially from the mouths of my babes.

I live in LA.  I drive around town and pass drugstores selling Botox and billboards saying they can melt away years by melting away all my fat.

I hear about Limelight’s and Red Lights at a lunch and think we are revisiting our clubbing days in NYC.

I remind myself that the key is to age gracefully — not get caught up in all that.  It is not easy as fountains of youth are dangled in front of me at every turn.

My 92 year old grandmother often refers to the words of Sophia Loren who said, “There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”

This is my kind of fountain! This takes courage. Courage… I try to muster it up everyday all day, because courage is what enables me to live in the moment and not future fuck myself.

Hemingway said, “Courage is grace under fire.”

Grace… what I want to walk with, talk with, be with everyday, all day.

Deepak Chopra describes grace: “When the rhythms of our body-mind are in synch with nature’s rhythms, when we are living in harmony with life, we are living in the state of grace. To live in grace is to experience that state of consciousness where things flow effortlessly and our desires are easily fulfilled. Grace is magical, synchronistic, coincidental, joyful. It’s that good-luck factor. But to live in grace we have to allow nature’s intelligence to flow through us without interfering. To be whole is to live in Grace.”

That’s what I’m talking about!  However, living in Grace does not come easy.

And that’s just it, that’s why courage is grace under fire.

I have 3 little girls who I want to teach to walk gracefully through life. To live in grace regardless of what is happening around them.  Easier said then done.

I shall take the advice of the great George Bernard Shaw:

“You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.”

So, I laugh at my pools of flesh and whiskers in rear view mirrors and I will show courage as I take on aging gracefully while under fire.

Like Bette Davis said,

“Old age is no place for sissies…”  and I ain’t no sissy!

This post originally appeared on Kimberly Muller Words.

Egg Carton Print Painting

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Easy, fast and a great way to recycle and get creative all at the same time! This egg carton print painting craft creates unique, color patterns on any surface. We love it for homemade wrapping paper and frame-worthy wall art. Or try it with fabric paints and make a masterpiece out of an old T-shirt!

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What you will need:

Empty egg carton

Acrylic paints

Cardboard trays (one per paint color)

Plain paper

Scissors

Instructions:

Step 1: Cut egg carton into thirds (you’ll be working with one at a time)

Step 2: Pour paint into trays. Dip egg carton into paint.

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Step 3: Apply paint to paper, creating an allover pattern.

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Step 4: Repeat with additional colors. Try rotating the paper or layering colors for a unique effect!

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How to Make Puffy Paint

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“Can I please have my gloves from way up high?” He asks.

His voice and his frame and his stance slight, but his eyes — shaded by a shock of blond hair messed by the kind of play that I’ve learned only little boys are capable of — is familiar. They’re glinting.

“Sure!” I say, my voice threading with my husband’s, who – at the very same time – says, “What for?”

“And that right there, is the difference in our parenting!” I say.

And we laugh at this truth that we both know – surely, and comfortably — as I get up to get the gloves and Jason holds his ground to find out how those gloves will be used on this mid-July day. (As part of a doctor ensemble, of course.)

Later that day, the kids and I gathered in the kitchen to make homemade puffy paint which has nothing to do with the story above except to explain why I would dive into the mess and why my husband ran to the store “to get things for dinner” just as we got started.

We make a good, balanced team and we own it.

And this homemade puffy paint? Also a perfect blend of (controlled) crazy fun, no questions asked.

Four Ingredient Puffy Paint

You will need:

½ cup flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons salt

½ cup water

Food coloring

Cardboard or thick drawing paper

Zip lock bags

Instructions:

Mix the dry ingredients and separate the mixture into four zip lock bags

Add a little bit of water to each bag, close it, and knead it until it’s the consistency of paste

Add 9 drops of food coloring (for bold colors, 5 for lighter shades) to each bag and keep on mixing

We also added a fun amount of glitter to each bag because we’re crazy like that

Snip a small corner of each bag and, using it like a pastry bag, puffy paint a pretty creation

Once complete, either let it sit out to dry or pop it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes depending on how thick the paint is, and how patient your crowd is

Guess which one I would choose to do? How about Jason? Balance, people. It’s all about balance.

Mason Jar Succulents

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Gardening together is a great family activity. We love these gorgeous and hearty mason jar succulents, which are easy for kids of all ages to plant and take care of! For backyard entertaining, try a display of these cute plants in varying sizes for a beautiful, natural centerpiece.

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What you will need:

Mason jars in varying sizes

Succulent plants (try your local home and garden or hardware store)

All purpose potting soil

Instructions:

Step 1: Fill jars two thirds of the way with potting soil.

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Step 2: Gently insert succulent plants.

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Step 3: Add additional soil as needed, pressing firmly so that the plant is secure.

Step 4: Find a new home for your succulent garden and enjoy!

Personalized Party Favors

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I am not a fan of the typical birthday party favor bag. We have piles of cheap, plastic toys in our house collected from the various parties my four year-old daughter has attended.

That is not to say I don’t appreciate the thought and effort the party hosts put in to those goodie bags. I do. And my always daughter enjoys receiving them. I have put bags together for some of her parties myself.

I was thrilled to have goodie bags at my daughter’s third birthday party. I had failed to follow my own party tip #4; having forgotten that bowling requires a good amount of sitting around waiting for your turn.

The three year olds were getting restless, so I passed out the party favors early and managed to avoid complete disaster. In between turns, instead of melting down, the kids had fun playing with their cheap plastic toys.

I really loved the item we were able to give guests at her second birthday party, however. It was a unique, special keepsake the kids were proud of and their parents treasure.

My daughter’s second birthday party was held at a local pottery studio. We are frequent visitors there, having created many personalized gifts at the location. When I found out they hosted birthday parties, I booked a date.

It was an awesome day. The kids had so much fun painting and putting their hand prints on their masterpieces. And the results were fabulous:

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My daughter’s plate hangs on a wall just outside her bedroom door. We will all treasure the plate and the artwork she painted for her room for years to come.