Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Just in Case You Were Wondering

For those that have been asking and for those that have not but stumbled across this post anyway, here are some non professional before and after shots of our new home in Michigan taken over the last 3 months of non stop work. I am really pleased with what we were able to achieve on a limited budget in such a short period of time. No doubt there will be more pictures to come as we complete more spaces and tweak what has already been 'completed'. 

*Side Note: I absolutely hate that I can't figure out how to adjust the obnoxious brown border that is now around my photos. I have spent too much of what is left of the technical side of my brain trying to fix this tonight. Perhaps another time, but most likely not.

Kitchen Before

Kitchen After

Breakfast Nook Before

Breakfast Nook After

Another View of Breakfast Nook Before


One More After

Dining Room Before

Dining Room After

Living Room Before

Living Room After

Living Room Before

Living Room After


Thursday, January 15, 2015

R.W. Emerson and I Might Have Been Friends

I find myself with a little time on my hands.  What this really means is that I have forgotten to do something. But, that is neither here nor there since it has been forgotten. Today, I was reading a book by R.W. Emerson entitled Love and Friendship. Ralph Waldo and I have been on first initial terms for years now.  This pretty much began when I purchased the above mentioned book at an estate sale and noted that he referred to himself as RW.  Feel free to look up the book to verify this.  If you do, let me know if the actual title is Love and Friendship. Anyway, RW says that the two things that must be present in order for friendship to exist are sincerity and tenderness. He goes on for pages elaborating in ways that are mostly over my head.  Nevertheless, I think that I concur. In order for friendship to exist, both parties must be truthfully transparent but with a lens that desires to know and love the core of a person. I realize that me and RW have lofty aspirations for friendship, which is why my existence, much like his, is somewhat isolated.

I have no doubt there are a plethora of people out there that consider me their friend. Not because I am so amazing, but because modern culture uses the word 'friend' to mean anyone that you met for coffee and blessed with your presence once or twice. I, however, do not consider these people to be my friends. Although, occasionally, these meetings include sincerity, there is never time for tenderness. Tenderness requires a desire for genuine connection. It cannot be accomplished when there are pressing matters or better 'friends' to rush off to long before a $4 cup of coffee or $15 meal can get cold.

My definition of friendship might be a bit out dated, after all RW has been gone for quite some time now, but it is a beautiful ideal. One that has the potential to bring life and affirmation to all involved.  Two things that most of us, if we are being honest, are desperate for.

In case you are wondering or possibly even worrying if we are friends, just ask yourself three questions.

 (1) Have you and I been sincere with one another?

(2) At some point over the years, have we made time and room for one another in the chaos that is life?

(3) Have we ever had coffee together?

If your answers to these questions are 'no', 'no' and 'what is she talking about?', it is a pretty safe bet we are merely acquaintances. This is not a bad thing; acquaintances are great if you need to borrow something, have a laugh or plan a well balanced party. Feel free to use my little test to see where you stand with others. And, do yourself the favor of making sure you have at least one person in your life that gets a couple affirmative answers.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Unseen Worth

Let me start off by saying that I am very tired.  Not in a "I sure could use a nap kind of way", but true exhaustion.  The kind of blinding weariness that can only come with too much hope deffered.  Don't get me wrong, I have never believed that I am living a fairy tale and that a simple clicking of heels can get me out of this predicament called life.  But, after nearly 40 years of existing and observing, I currently find myself frustrated.  I could go on a tirade about how modern living has created a bunch of sociopaths that whine if they don't get their way.  "I really need a job with more hours making more money, so that I can buy all the things that I deserve" But, then whine even louder when they do get their way. " I hate my job and hate that I have to go to work AGAIN today."  Thankfully, I don't feel like going off on that particular tirade, at the moment.  The masses have been spared my sad little commentary.

 Today, my tirade is about myself. I once again find myself dealing with the aftermath of a less than stellar parenting moment.  The details are sad. But, the real sadness lies in their repetitive nature.  On the surface, it seems to come down to me having to face the reality that my 14 year old son doesn't seem to value education.  He seems caught up in a world of his own making, where Minecraft servers and imaginary Skype friends trump real life. Who is to blame for this? That's a rhetorical question, because I know that I am.

Even as I write this, I know that Minecraft is not the problem. He has always viewed education as something to be endured, something that was created to point out how stupid or less than he is.  Actually, he hasn't always felt this way.  I remember him running or at least walking on his own free will into kindergarten eager to see what the day had in store.  It wasn't long though, until his teacher sat me down and began to explain that he wasn't getting 'it'. She encouraged me to hold him back.  She was the first of many professionals to point out that something wasn't right.  I could share the details of the next decade of both our lives, but I don't think I have the strength to relive that kind of pain again.  Just know that many years later, I have a young man who doesn't know is own value and worth.  I have tried so hard to let him know how amazing he is.  But, I am flawed and every time I have come across a proud parent bragging about how smart their child is because they are writing novellas in the third grade or teaching themselves Chinese, I find it a little harder to convince him and myself that he is 'amazing'. These proud parents have never gone away and thanks to social media I am inundated with them much more often than my psyche can handle.  I understand that they mean no harm and want to give their kids their due or accolades for jobs well done.  But, it has made it nearly impossible for this parent to keep looking at her son and see someone of value.  Oh, I know he has value.  He has a kind heart and a quick whit.  He doesn't care about outside appearances and can spot BS a mile away.  He is wise beyond his years and has a beautiful old soul.  But, I don't 'see' his value, because in the world's eyes he has none.  He has had to fight for every ounce of success that he has had.  And, his success hasn't been measured in how fast he can read, but the fact that he can. Nor can it be measured in spelling bees or poetry contests or dean's lists.  His success is that he can now quietly blend in the background, so that no teacher will again approach his mother and say something is wrong. I am so proud of all his accomplishments.  We both fought so hard for every single one.  But, I can't brag about them.  No, on a good day I get to hide them so that no one sees his flaws or what him and I refer to as his successes.

My son knows he has no value in the world's eyes.  He knows his parents have nothing to brag about.  He hides his hurt and his own reality with the grace and dignity of someone many times his age.  In actuality, he has become so gifted in this deception that I rarely see his pain.  So rare is my glimpse that I too begin to compare him to all the people with visible value out there and see how short he comes up.  I forget about all his hard won successes and tear into him hoping to pull out something that the world can value.  He quietly takes it never voicing an ounce of emotion.  So, I press even harder.  Hoping, that this will finally be the moment when he becomes like everyone else.  I am relentless and cold in my battle for his worth.  Then when it is too late to stop or fix it, I see his brokenness and hurt staring at me.  I see in his eyes sadness and shame. He knows his lack has, once again, been exposed to the one person that was supposed to protect and encourage him, the same person that fought so hard with him for all he has managed to accomplish. The raw pain staring at me rips through my chest and I know that I can't fix what I have done.  I can only give him the space to once again put back on his mask of indifference.

So today if I seem a little tired, it's because I am.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Revisiting the Past

Due to my current state of lack lusterness, I posted a version of my annual Christmas letter on this blog, yesterday.  The only reason I did this was so that I wouldn't have to stuff, address, sign and mail some 40 odd envelopes this holiday season.  As a result, I find myself reading over some interesting older posts and some pretty poorly written newer ones. If I were a different type of person, I would delete anything written post 2011.  However, I am an honest person and feel that all versions of myself should be on display for the general public's viewing pleasure.  That being said, do me a favor take the time to look back over anything written in 2011. I was quite well versed and insightful that year.  For anyone feeling as lack luster about this as I was about my Christmas letter, I will repost one of my personal favorites.  Feel free to sit back and enjoy.

A Most Selfish Creature

I think if I had been left to my own devices, I could have been a most selfish creature. My days drift in a pattern of serving others. It begins often before I am even awake. Somewhere between 1 and 3 a.m., when my 6 year old crawls into the bed and I slide over to make room. Even my smile seems selfless at times. I often bestow it wearily in my attempt to hide my worry for one of my children. Daily, I practice giving of myself. Despite being decades into this practice, I still, at times, find it unnatural. Which leads me to my current mode of thought: I could have been a most selfish creature.

I imagine I could spend hours lying in bed each morning, too exhausted from thinking of myself the previous day to get up. I believe that I could spend an additional few hours powdering my nose and meticulously hiding my flaws. I suppose I could prepare a meal with only me and my desires in mind and then leave the mess to clean up itself. Indeed I have no doubt that I could talk endlessly about myself with such flourish that those around me have no choice but to be silenced. I know that this could all be pulled off with amazingly little effort on my part.

Thankfully, I was not left to my own devices. And, although at times I resent my responsibilities and find my mind in a state of unrest, I know that these same responsibilities and 'stressful' thoughts are what keep me from being the anti-heroine in my own novel. They are the catalysts moving my story somewhere, in my humanness, I was never meant to go. A place of wholeness that can only be found in losing myself. At the end of this exhausting day, I am grateful to my family for helping me become what I should never have been.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Happy Holidays

I am pretty sure the Christmas card gods have been trying to warn me against putting my greetings out into the world this year. However never being one to heed advice from people that I haven't actually met, I have chosen to send my salutations anyway.

What happened to the LeBlanc's this year?  Well, not a whole heck of a lot. But, for fun I'll recap. First and foremost on the list is that after months of searching and lots of arguments we have finally found a Mexican restaurant that we will all tolerate here in North Carolina.  This was no small task and brought about a semblance of peace sometime around mid summer.  I will now move on into our standard individual accomplishments.

Marty has enjoyed earning lots and lots of frequent flyer miles this year and has enjoyed visiting his second family in Tampa, FL.  In case you are wondering, Rosita and the girls are doing fine.  Okay there is no second family, but that is where he works most of the time due to a small mishap regarding our current relocation with his company.

I have spent the last year sampling many wines from around the world.  You'd be surprised at some of the fine wines that now come from those tiny islands off the coast of Indonesia. When I am not preoccupied with my new standing as a wine connoisseur, I find time to continue homeschooling Chandler and Kendall. This has brought us all endless pleasure and relaxation. Well, maybe that was a slight exaggeration, but the boys are both adequately educated for their current grade levels, at least according to the standardized tests that the state of North Carolina requires. As you can tell, I am quite busy, but when a dull moment presents itself, I usually turn to treating my 15 year old cat with homeopathic drugs that our new vet keeps doling out in excesively large quantities.

Chandler has managed to turn 14 this year.  That pretty has much taken all of his energy and focus, so unfortunately, he's unable to accomplish much else.  When he finds himself with a little extra boost, he will usually attempt to speak a complete sentence and then head off to manage his Minecraft server.  Kids today are just under so much stress.
Indian ugly pot

Kendall has had the busiest year of all the LeBlanc's.  When not participating in his cultural art class where he creates amazing master pieces like his Indian ugly pot, he spends his time jumping on our newish trampoline.  I don't know how he does it, but children under 10 have so much energy.  If only we could all keep up with him, there would be no end to what we could accomplish.

Well, that is 2013 for the LeBlanc's. I am not sure if this will be my last Christmas letter.  But, rest assured that as long as exciting things continue to happen for us that I will keep on recapping them for my expectant audience. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,

The LeBlanc's

Friday, May 10, 2013

What I am Really Thinking Most of the Time

I have been challenged by a person dear to me to save my readers from yet another deep post with a touch of humor.  I apparently have been catering to what I think my 3 readers, because let's be honest the other 11 stopped coming by years ago, would like to hear from me.  Not that my thoughts aren't real or genuine, but honestly if I was that deep all the time I would probably have commited suicide years ago.  More like attempted suicide, everyone knows that women only attempt in the hopes of  getting a little attention from those in their life that are clearly neglecting them.

I'm going to let everyone lucky enough to stumble onto this page into the true streaming of my brain.  I'm not really worried about offending anyone, since basically this blog is a black whole used mostly by Europeans looking for ways to improve their abilitly to read English.

At this very moment, I am thinking that most people are idiots.  Really, I feel this way most of the time. I also do not consider myself one of these idiots. I am actually quite brilliant.  Yes, I am brilliant and full of wisdom and logic and all other things that make one superior.  Unless you count my spelling and grammar skills, but I mean even Superman had kryptonite. So, why then am I afraid to put my brilliance out into the world and help a universe that is being run by people whose IQ probably is smaller than my shoe size, which happens to be a 7-71/2 depending on the style and brand?

Seriously, what the hell is keeping me in my little bubble?  Hmm? . . . You know it really is a great bubble. One with soothing colors and just the right amount of serendipity combined with dramatic touches that only a true visionary could have created. The stress level here is fairly low, especially after my 3:30 cocktail has kicked in.  If I were being honest which I always am, just another perk of being here in my perfectly decorated cocoon, is that I like being alone with my brilliance.  I don't want to have to fight to convince all the idiots that my superior thought process is the best way for perfect success.  I mean let's face it, idiots don't know they are idiots and they wouldn't listen to me anyway.  Then I would be forced to start a coup d'etat and well, that would just be exhausting and a waste of my much higher intellect.

  I don't have a clever well placed conclusion for any of this.  After all this is only a blip into the streaming of my brain, which is now onto a completely different course that involves a possible sensitivity to caffeine.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Price of Boxes

I find myself at war with modern day existence. I have repeatedly over the years jumped out of the boxes that life has lined up, only to find a maze of new ones laid out before me.  Each has had a title like 'Achievement' or 'Happiness''.  A few have even had the tempting label of 'Fun' boldly written on them.  I mean who wouldn't want to try out a box that basically guarantees a good time.  But, before entering each box there is a price to pay.  While the price varies due to inflation and supply and demand, the accepted form is always the same, time and sanity.

 Early on in my life, I didn't mind parting with these currencies.  After all, I had such a plethora of both that I couldn't imagine a scenario when I would be without either.  I willingly plodded through the maze of modern life with both the optimism and ideology of youth. I believed there would always be choices that would lead me to my own personal greatness. The demanded price always seemed reasonable for the promise of a future of my choosing.  The problem is that neither time or sanity is something that can be replaced once gone.  I'm sure there are a few that would like to argue with me about the sanity piece.  But, you will most likely lose because, as everyone knows, insane people are never wrong.  I have spent my adult years slowly bleeding the two things most needed to exist or at the very least to select the next option in this twisted board game that is life.  

As I find myself at the half way point of my human existence, I am comforted by the thought that I still have some time left in which to continue this journey.  However, I no longer have nearly a fraction of the sanity required to execute the rest of my time here.  I now find myself hoarding the little bit I have left, saving it only for the moments of the upmost importance.  This has created a bit of a quandary for me because as I have so clearly explained I cannot move forward without first paying the toll.  So, here I sit in my latest box, entitled 'Solitary Confinement', gazing out at all the driven souls as they leap from one chronological cube to the next without hesitation.  I could join them and there are moments when I almost do, but something always pulls me back.  Usually, it's a thought.  One that urges,"Wait! You may need me one day." And, I am reminded again that my thoughts are my greatest resource as I carefully plot a way to move off the path toward the expansive openess that lies outside all the boxes.  At the moment, it appears that I am stalled as the rest of the world goes by.  But, in reality I am waiting for the time when I find the one truly brilliant conscious stream that allows me to escape the rigidness that is life and run into the quiet vastness that is beyond the path formed by others' wasted time and sanity.