1:55 PM

Seven Days In Vegas

I am untraveled. I have never owned a passport.  I am very happy at home but I do have a travel bucket list. Vegas is not on it. I wan...

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

My Heart Belongs To A Baseball Player

I don't know where it comes from, this athleticism. Certainly not from me. I'm about as athletic as a lint trap. But he's got this skill that spills into everything he tries and I can't help but be proud every time I watch him do something new.

He tried soccer for a year. He was good at it. I hated it. For a hundred different reasons but mostly because the coaches were idiots and didn't teach them one thing.

When he announced that he wanted to try baseball my reaction was: well, it can't be worse than soccer.

I don't know why, but finding information about our local baseball club was like searching for the lost mates of the socks in the laundry room cupboard.

It didn't exist online. No one I asked had any idea.

I finally emailed the town to say please please direct me to someone who can get us involved. The town connected me to the man who runs the arena and he connected me to some guy who knows something who finally connected me to one of the Rookie Ball coaches.

It was like gaining admission into a secret fraternity.

And I loved it. From the first practice to the last nail-biting tournament game. I loved it.

The coaches were amazing. Liam was a natural. The kids were adorable. Watching each week as they got better and better was exciting. Being around a crowd of encouraging, supportive parents was refreshing.

The tournament was on a weekend that I already had too much to do. I dreaded it. But actually being there on the sidelines, watching them fight their way back after losing their first game to win the rest...sitting on the edge of my seat as they were in the bottom of the last inning, bases loaded with the last batter at bat and four runs needed to win the game. A grand slam never disappoints! {Unless you're on the other team, I suppose.}
We left that diamond sunburned, covered in a layer of dust, exhausted and thrilled.

"Can I play again next year?" he asked me.

"You better!" I told him.

I am a baseball mom. My heart belongs to a baseball player. And I'm pleasantly surprised to find that I really, really love that.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Blog Guilt {3 Things To Tell Yourself When You Just Don't Have The Time}

Blog Guilt {3 things to tell youself when you just don't have the time} - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak
I have found myself struggling to fit in the time to blog recently. We have been so busy. Summer is crazy. I am exhausted. Evening comes and all I want to do is catch up on True Blood and eat peanuts.

Blogger's Guilt is a funny thing. {Ridiculous actually, if you're like me and aren't doing it to feed your family.} Still, I've built up a following of faithful readers and I feel this profound obligation to continue to provide them with the content they've come to expect. Plus it's fun. I really like it. It fulfills some unnamed need within me.

But when life and busy take over there are three things I tell myself to quell those feelings of guilt.

1. I am not my blog. I am a whole person without it. I am not defined by what and when I post. My experiences are vibrant and valuable and self-shaping and they are mine forever whether I write about them or not. I could stop blogging and continue living. I could stop blogging and be as completely myself as I was before. I blog because I want to. I blog when I want to. Life happens and I want to be present in it. If that means blogging takes a space of lesser priority for a season, that's okay because I AM NOT MY BLOG.

2. Quality trumps quantity.  There are everyday bloggers that blow my mind. I know how hard that is and I only attempted it for one month last November. There are multiple-times-a-day bloggers which I generally find obnoxious {unless you're Chuck Wendig because basically anything he writes is gold}. I would rather write out of inspiration than a forced la-di-da...this-is-what-I-had-for-lunch-today kind of way. Sometimes this means I have something to share every day. Sometimes this mean a whole week or more might go by and that's okay because QUALITY TRUMPS QUANTITY.

3. Being missed is a blessing. My last post was 10 days ago. TEN DAYS!!! I've been getting personal emails and messages from readers asking me if I'm okay and letting me know that they're missing my blogs. How AMAZING is that?!?! It reaffirms that what is fun for me is also fun for others and that's something I am cherishing. Sometimes a little break is just what you need to reignite the fires and get the ball rolling again. Absence makes the heart grow fonder which is wonderful because BEING MISSED IS A BLESSING!

Remember that everything beyond obligation should be something that makes you happy. It should not be forced. It should not add to any burdens. Live your dreams. Follow your heart. Seek joy.

Special thanks to Paula from Beauty Through Imperfection for featuring this post!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Seven Days In Vegas

Seven Days In Vegas - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

I am untraveled. I have never owned a passport.  I am very happy at home but I do have a travel bucket list. Vegas is not on it. I want to see beauty - not hype. However, when opportunity knocks, should you not open the door?

My husband plays pool.  Every year the winning team is awarded a trip to Vegas. And this year his ship came in.  He gets a free flight and free hotel stay. For seven days in August. And I am going with him. Because Vegas. Because Sin City. Because we don't get enough time away together.

My ticket is purchased and my passport is on order. This will be our first real trip since our honeymoon in 1998.  We've had hotel stays here and there over the years but we've never really gone away, child-free, for honest-to-goodness grownup alone time.

For that I am excited.

For so many other reasons I am anxious...

1. This is a trip with other people.  Barf!  Not that I hate people - I don't - I love people.  But I view myself as a complete nerd traveler.  I want to go to museums and walk through nature and take photographs of the desert. I do not want to go to night clubs and hang out in casinos and SHARE A HOTEL ROOM WITH MY HUSBAND'S SINGLE MALE FRIEND!

2. Beggars can't be choosers.  If he wasn't getting this trip for free we would not be going anywhere farther than Niagara Falls. If we want a room to ourselves we have to pay for it and a seven-day hotel stay is not in our current budget.  {But we're going to try really hard to pay for our own room for at least one night or two.}

3. I'm trying but I can't think of one single thing that might make Vegas a romantic getaway.  I've seen The Hangover.  I know the truth.

4. This is a trip for a pool team. They are entered in a tournament. They will be playing pool. The better they do, the longer they play and the more time I'll have on my own.  This is good and bad.  How often do I get quiet time in which I have no obligations? I have full intentions of the using the pool tournament time to read and write and swim and NAP! But what if I'm lonely or resentful? I need to prepare myself right now, mentally and emotionally to get through it and enjoy it.

5. I have guilt regarding the children - not in leaving them behind for a week but in pawning them off on others because I worry that it's a huge inconvenience and that yeses were said out of duty and not a genuine desire to spend time with them.

6. I don't drink. Like not even a little bit. Not because I think it's evil or anything - it's just a choice I've made and I have no regrets surrounding it. I have gone into a bar and ordered a tea - I'm that weirdo {I also had to walk the bartender through how to make a cup of tea which was ridiculous and entertaining}.  Vegas is basically the party capital of the world.  But it's also probably the weirdo capital of the world so...

7. I don't gamble. Like not even a little bit. And I kind of think it's a bit evil - and sad - and annoying - and potentially destructive and the idea of hours among the whir and squeal of those machines makes me squirrely. 

I am a square. Not a prude but not the kind of girl who needs to say, "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas."  But I will vow to make the best of it in hopes that perhaps our next travel opportunity will not involve 8 of his party-hardy friends.

What about you? Have you ever traveled to Vegas? I'd love to hear some suggestions for sights to see and things to do!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Your Ultimate Guide To Drive-In Movie Fun

Ultimate Guide To Drive-In Movie Fun - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

Tires crunch against the gravel as you pull away from the old ticket kiosk. You drive around the barricade and it's a little like slipping through a time warp and you feel like Olivia Newton John when she was Sandy Olsson and the only thing more perfect would be if a group of greasers stood on their hoods and sang 'Grease Lightning'. The air hangs with exhaust as people vie for the perfect central space and children bounce in the backseat, already unbuckled, waiting for the moment the engine stops and they can rush from their automobile confines...

I never went to the drive-in as a child.  Mom and dad thought they were for necking, not for families. I was sixteen before I ever experienced that dusty air.  We pulled in, us a pile of too many kids in the back of Dan Jolly's pickup truck and {Mother, I promise} not one neck got nibbled! It was magic and immediately became a summertime staple in my activity arsenal.

pros for a drive in movie

  • It's cheaper! A double-feature costs less than one film at a regular theater and children are generally a reduced rate ($2 at our local drive-in) or free.
  • It's social! Unlike a theater, a drive-in makes it easy to carry on conversations and share your plot theories without bothering the people around you.
  • You can bring whatever snack strikes your fancy and save on the overpriced concession treats.
  • Children don't have to sit still and be quiet - they have room to move around, play and talk.
  • It's comfortable. Compare a theater seat {in which an usher will snap his fingers to get you to take your feet down off the seat in front} to a hatchback stuffed with pillows and blankets {on which you and your heart-partner can snuggle}.
  • You are the master of your own volume.  Is it too loud? Turn it down. Is it too quiet? Well then, turn it up!
  • Pajamas are a socially acceptable public clothing choice.  

cons for a drive in movie


Drive-In Movie Essentials - 10 things you don't want to leave at home - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

You can show up at the drive-in, just you and your car BUT there are things that can make your experience so much better...

1. Comfy clothes. Whether it's pajamas or yoga pants, you're going to want to be comfortable. Jeans are not conducive to a cozy drive-in experience.  

2. A warm sweater.  Even though it's summer, nights can still be damp and cold. Come prepared with a sweater for everyone.

3. Blankets & pillows.  Cozy is your goal! Quilts are great to wrap yourself up in and pillows will be helpful when the kids get tired and want to snuggle up in the back seat.  

4. Camp chairs. If it's more than two of you going, bring along some chairs so you can sit outside your car.  {Many bodies will fog up your car windows and no one will be able to see anything.}  With your windows down and the volume turned up you'll have no trouble hearing the movie and the kids will be happy to not be confined in a vehicle for hours.

5. Activities. To guarantee yourself a good parking spot you may want to show up as much as an hour early.  Bring along your ball gloves to play catch, a frisbee, a soccer ball or anything else that might fill the time and occupy the kids.  There's always room in front of the screen to toss a ball or play tag.

6. Bug spray.  There have been times that the mosquitos and blackflies are horrendous - especially if you're planning to sit outside - bring along some bug spray to keep those annoying critters at bay.

7. Window cleaner.  We generally spend the first movie outside on our chairs and then get in the car for the second {in hopes that the kids will fall asleep}. There is nothing more annoying that a giant bug-splat right at your eye level. Bring along some window wipes or glass cleaner and a rag to give the windshield a quick cleaning.

8. Snacks! No movie is complete without snacks! And the sky is the limit.  It can be as simple as a bag of candy or as awesome as a crockpot full of pulled pork.  Just remember to bring whatever necessary dinnerware you need.

9. Drinks! I always bring myself a coffee and for the kids either drinking boxes or a thermos of juice.

10. A sense of wonder.  Every experience is only as good as you make it.  The drive-in is the perfect place to approach with the eyes of a child.  Oooo and aaaahhhh through the movie.  Laugh out loud.  Search for new constellations.  Peak through the control room window and watch the reel spin.  Make shadow puppets on the screen during intermission.  Watch for shooting stars.  Cuddle.

And finally...

  • One car per spot.  Don't be a spot-hog and don't sprawl.
  • Know where your children are and don't let them run around unsupervised! Once the sun is down they should be at your vehicle with you.
  • Don't compete with the music. If you arrive early, be content with the drive-in station - don't try to drown it out with your own mix, that's just annoying to everyone around you.
  • Don't honk your horn - it's obnoxious.
  • Turn your headlights off and keep them off!
  • If you've backed in and plan to sit in the back of your minivan, be sure the rear lift-gate is not raised so high as to obstruct the view of the vehicle behind. 
  • While the drive-in is a social place and conversation is okay, please don't be too loud and please don't use profanity - there may be children all around you.
  • Don't peak in others windows {mom & dad weren't totally wrong}.
  • Pick up your garbage.
  • If you can avoid it, don't leave in the middle of a movie. Plan your departure during intermission so you're not disrupting others.
  • When you leave, drive slowly.

There you have it. Your ultimate guide to the drive-in. May your summer be rich with exciting movie-going experiences!

Do you have any advice to add? Share it in the comments! I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Liamless Limits {And How To Pack For Summer Camp}

"and I want that chaos right here beside me...drowning me in a swelling dam of love-mayhem..." SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak
I have them.  Liamless limits. 

They surprised me when I found myself missing him desperately last summer while he was away at his first summer camp experience. 

He's got this heart that spans the world I know and when it's out of reach it leaves a hole. 

But camp feeds a piece of a child's soul that I would be selfish to keep from him.

We sat over dinner one night a few months ago and he announced, "I don't want to go to camp this year."

"Yes you do," I argued.


"Liam, camp is important. You make friends. You learn independence. You have fun. You try new things."

"I don't want to go. I want to play baseball."

I'm not sure where he got the idea that it was one or the other.  "You can do both!" I told him.

"Oh. Okay, I want to go to camp then."

And now the time has come to pack for another year...

How To Pack For Summer Camp - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak - includes a complete packing list!

1. Be intentional about the laundry. Begin early and have a clear picture of what exactly is needed so you're not digging through the hamper hours before you have to leave, searching for that lucky t-shirt he has to have. {see the list at the bottom of this post}

2. When the laundry is all done and folded {because you're amazing and focused} sort everything he needs into piles. DO NOT just throw things into the suitcase haphazardly - this will undoubtedly lead to you digging through that nicely packed luggage because you'll be sure to second guess yourself before it's all over.  Find a clean surface {I used my bed} and makes your piles: t-shirts, shorts, underwear, etc. That way, you can see and count everything before packing it, and know that you have what you need.

3. Label everything.  Once my piles were complete, I went through item by item and made sure everything had a RUSNAK label.

4. Explain items to your child.  "Liam, this is a drawstring bag. It's for your dirty laundry. You're not going to put dirty socks into your suitcase with your clean clothes - you're going to put them in this bag. Okay? Okay."  *mime putting stinky socks into the bag and sealing it up while child rolls their eyes* 

5. Pack the suitcase so that the less important things are on the bottom - things like rain-wear that may not even be needed.  I packed by item but some children may benefit from packing by outfit {because Liam is going to an all boys camp and the whole intention is really just to get dirty, matching outfits were a little high maintenance and unnecessary}.

6. Don't forget a special quiet time item. Most camps have an afternoon quiet time {those poor counselors need a break!} and most kids aren't really interested in taking a nap. I told Liam to find whatever he wanted to take for that time and put it on my bed with all the other packing stuff.

This is what he chose:

Books to read and a notebook to journal in, already titled with 'Second Year of Newlif Champ' {translation: Second Year of New Life Camp}

He's ready!

And now he's so excited he can't sleep.  It's 10:30 at night and he's been up four times.

"Is this harder than Christmas Eve?" I asked him.

"I don't know," he said. "I just can't get to sleep."

And to double his anticipation, tomorrow morning - before we leave for camp - is his debut performance with my worship band and he is over the moon that I'm letting him play the djembe with us for one song.

So it's a big day.  And he's going to be exhausted.

But he's going to love it. All of it.

And I'm going to miss him.


Packing List For One Week Of Boys Camp
  • 6 t-shirts
  • 4 shorts
  • 2 pants
  • 2 sweaters
  • 1 raincoat
  • 2 pairs of pajamas {one for warm nights, one for cool nights}
  • 6 pairs of underwear
  • 10 pairs of socks
  • 2 pairs of shoes
  • 1 hat
  • 1 bathing suit
  • 2 towels {one for showering, one for swimming}
  • pillow
  • sleeping bag
  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste
  • shampoo {an all-in-one children's product that works as soap too}
  • sunscreen
  • bug spray
  • quiet-time activity
  • flashlight {with fresh batteries}
  • $10 for tuck shop

Thursday, July 3, 2014

My Missing Computer Gave Me Phantom Limb Syndrome

When you've been together long enough you become that beautiful kind of union that people write songs about. You may be a full entity on your own but when you find yourself without the other you suddenly recognize your dependence and think, for a moment, that perhaps Tom Cruise really had it right when he stood before his love with his heart leaking out his eyes and said, "you complete me."

My Missing Computer Gave Me Phantom Limb Syndrome - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

My computer and I, we've been through some hard times. I've known the benefit of her therapeutic keys while she sat and listened and spell-checked and never grew too tired.

Until she got too tired.

And J K and L just gave up like somebody poured coffee on them though {hand to God} that never happened.

I wanted the best care for her.  I took her to the best doctor. 

It was going to take one week.  She needed a whole new keyboard.


For seven long days I was without her.  I would reach for her and she would be gone.  I sat at the basement kids computer, trying to force some creativity through those sticky keys. I tried typing on the iPad but that was just frustrating.  I answered emails from my phone - yuck!

I've read about phantom limb syndrome. About how a dog-sledder might lose their foot to frostbite and still reach to scratch the itchy ankle that isn't there. That was me - searching for the piece that was missing when I reached out to scratch.

How very sad - this dependence. 

How desperate.

How typical of the world we now live in.

I remember fifth grade and how the school had ONE computer - a grey beast tucked away in the smelly E.A. office at the top of the gymnasium bleachers - and how the days when it was my turn to type something were like a giant cherry on top of a bulging banana split with sprinkles and how I thought 'someday I will have a computer of my very own and I won't have to finish cursive writing drills to be able to use it!'

And I remember the typewriter and the chip-chip-chip and the ding and how very heavy it was and how hard you had to hit those keys and how I'd feed the paper slowly to get it perfectly straight only to have it come out perfectly crooked and how my dad would say, 'use all your fingers when you type!'

And while my computer friend was gone I thought about all these things but all I wanted was to have her back in my possession {because the moment she was gone I was awash with inspiration for new tales to tell}!

When my phone finally sounded with the email saying she was ready for pick up I gathered the children and left the dirty dishes where they were and drove the hour and twenty minutes to where she waited down the leg of a mall just off the highway.

Oh, was she beautiful! {And God bless Apple Care because the cost was exactly $0 and a great big grin from the Genius Bar guy.}

you have filled my heart with greater joy psalm 4:7

Reunion is a beautiful thing. A new keyboard is a beautiful thing. And I can only hope beautiful things come out of our continued relationship as I seal my fingerprints into each of her shiny-fresh keys and continue on in the narrative of my stories because {heaven only knows why} people like to read them.

{This post is dedicated to my baby sister who seemed most perturbed by my lack of posting due to my lack of computer. My apologies, dear one - I will strive to regularly ease your boredom with my witty repartee!}

Put a little JOY in your morning! Get a happy mug like mine by clicking one of the photos below!

{these photos contain affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on them} 

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