The Storm

I believe that God puts us where we’re supposed to be when we’re supposed to be there. That is, IF we will let Him, God will put us where we need most to be.

There’s a storm swirling and circulating around each of us -it’s tailored and fit to our individual needs, but the steady and constant thing in each of our lives is that there IS a storm. I’m going to tell you about mine.

There’s a barrage of SHOULD swirling around me, threatening to throw me to the ground, choke me, chain me, and break me. The Storm is loud, so loud -deafening.
Your skin should look like the skin of an 8 year old, even though you’ve had three kids and are pushing 30.
Your house should be completely orderly -there’s no excuse for clutter or dust or acting like you live there.
Your car should be shiny.
Your clothes should resemble 2014 because CLOTHES are the very MARK of your worth.
Your eyelashes should look bigger.
Your waistline should BE smaller.
Your boobs -honey, there’s no excuse for irregularities in this day and age!
Your linens should be crisp.
Your children should match.
Your snacks should be free of anything cancer causing and this means EVERYTHING.
You should be at the store.
You should be practicing piano.
You should be cleaning.
You should be cleaning.
You should be thawing meat for dinner.
You shouldn’t be EATING so much meat.
You should be going through clothes, putting aside what doesn’t fit and getting out winter clothing.
You should be shopping sales, buying spring clothes on clearance.
You should be clipping coupons.
You should be doing family history.
You should be doing visiting teaching.
You should answer your phone.
“What’s that? Oh, I totally forgot! I’m so sorry -I’ll be right there…”
Alicia, you SHOULD be picking YOUR SON UP FROM SCHOOL.

I’m reminded of my favorite apostle (am I allowed a favorite, Storm?) Peter who stepped out onto water:

In the middle of an ocean, in the middle of fog and lapping waters, Peter focused on the Savior and stepped out of the boat.
With his eyes LOCKED on the Savior, he performed a miracle -he walked on water! But we all know what happened next: he faltered. He took his eyes from his Lord and looked down and around and his head wanted to explode because
and Peter fell into the water.

The Lord watched Peter make the choice. He didn’t play Coach and coax him, “Hey, hey… eyes up here, Peter… don’t screw this up…”
He watched and let him make his own choice.

I have this same opportunity each and every day, and like Peter, Christ allows me to simply MAKE my choice. I can focus on my SHOULDS, and I can get a planner and a white board and a million different apps with a million different capabilities to do a million different things that SHOULD be done! or
I can just look at the Savior in amazement as I come to grips with the reality that HE IS WALKING ON WATER JUST TO BE WITH ME, and I can perform miracles.
I learned last week that the Savior’s miracle of walking on water reaches far, far beyond what I thought. On Monday, after feeling prompted and then having a close friend straight up SAY, “I really think you need to stay off the Internet,” I logged off.

I -are you ready for this? -read scriptures from the actual books and I -are you sitting down? -listened to my CDs (I literally had to dig for them and DUST them off). I spent the week off of social media and stayed off the Internet except when my work required me to be on.
When I logged back on Saturday, I sifted through 100 notifications to find that I hadn’t missed anything. But what I learned while logging off was FAR MORE important.

Each day, I tried to focus on my Savior. I waited on Him, “What next?” I would ask, sometimes picturing myself with a black apron around my waist and a pencil hovering over my sketch pad… another pencil holding my hair in a bun.
It was all very, “would you like fries with that?”
Sometimes it was dishes. Sometimes it was a nap. Sometimes it was reading a book.
Yes, I found that when I wasn’t on social media, I had a void to fill. I remembered that I used to LOVE reading -I was the kid with a flashlight under my blanket, finishing “Matilda” in one solid day of sneakery (reading under my desk when I should have been listening…) and somewhere between marriage and children, I’d just given up the whole idea of imagination.
Because I SHOULD be cleaning.

I picked up a book my grandmother gave me when I was in Junior High.

My algebra teacher saw it sitting on my desk and raised his eyebrow, “Egotistical?” he asked.
Boy, the comebacks I would have had if I’d known what that word meant…

In Junior High, the book read almost like fiction. Sure I knew people died in WWII. I knew there was pain and anguish and horror, but like cancer -those were the kinds of things that didn’t happen to me or anyone I knew or loved at all in My Happy Untouchable World of Teenhood and Rainbows and Boy Bands.
But now I know more about pain and I know more about things happening to you that weren’t ever supposed to, and I’m reading “Alicia: My Story” with new eyes.

Alicia might have died if she followed her Storm, but she followed her gut instead. She ran from a mass grave, watched her mother take a bullet for her, pulled her brother’s body from a hangman’s noose, saved lives, was pulled unconscious from a pile of dead bodies and nursed back to health after being fed water intentionally infected with typhoid. Broken ribs, broken teeth, broken heart, broken soul.
She came to be the ONLY surviving member of her entire family.
Time and time again, she was EXACTLY where she needed to be to hear the things she needed to hear and get the things she needed to get and see the things she needed to see.

Was it chance? Of course it wasn’t. It was God.

As my week went on and I felt God telling me to pick up my book or pick up my kids or pick up myself, I began noticing my storm less and less.
I began listening more and more to my gut.
Soon after, a bag showed up on my door step FULL of clothes for Alice. I needed them! I truly did! In fact, my storm had been stressing me to white board an organized plan to sell crafts to make money to buy clothes for Alice! using coupons! and apps! and online deals!
But my storm wasn’t my focus this last week -Christ was. And while performing the unfathomable miracle of desiring me to walk on water toward Him, HE managed that part of my storm.
Boom. Clothes.
This strengthened me, and I looked firmly at the Savior despite the head cold that made me feel like my neck was suddenly too weak to hold my 50 pound head up. That’s when four young girls came into my house and said, “We’re here to do whatever you need.”
My house was quickly cleaned and vacuumed -a book read to my son.
Boom. To do list checked.
The next day, my neighbor gave me food. I needed food, you know, because I have these people around me that keep eating it. And I knew Thanksgiving was coming, and I knew we needed a turkey because our freezer is dwindling on the meat side. I didn’t know how we’d afford it.
“By the way,” my neighbor said as she passed cabbage and potatoes into my arms, “Safeway is having sales and I need a lot of the stuff they’re selling. I’m going to spend $100 easily which means I’ll get a free turkey. But I hate turkey… can you use it?”
Boom. Turkey.
That evening as I walked from her house to mine with a frozen turkey in my hands, I looked up at the bright Northern Arizona sky (where the stars can be seen so clearly and beautifully) and I just said, “Thank you.”

God will let me choose. He will LET me clip coupons and download apps and CONTROL AND MANAGE ALL OF THE THINGS. I will keep my head *just* above water as a tread effectively and efficiently.
I can stay on top of the water. WALK on it.
WALK ON WATER in a house that looks less like a SHOULD and more like Alicia.
WALK ON WATER in clothes that look less like a SHOULD and more like Alicia.
WALK ON WATER with kids who look less like a mold and more like THEMSELVES.
WALK ON WATER with simplicity and peace and serenity, letting go of control and focusing on God, asking my gut and my God what my Next Right Thing should be.

What now, God?

And then DO it. Miracles are behind the swirling storm. Miracles.
But I can choose the storm, and I’m here to tell you that I DO. I DO CHOOSE that stupid storm sometimes.
But I’m also here to tell you that I’m finding the courage to tap into my true self and delve into a world full of simplicity, truth, peace, and a beautiful miraculous CALM.

This means I’ll be checking facebook maybe ONCE a day, right before bed and never on Sundays.
This means I’ll be reading more books.
This means I’ll be doing The Next Right Thing for now and always, letting the future sit in the hands of Him who stands before me.

What next, God?

Yes, I Love Technology

I’m lying.
I actually hate it. I sometimes love it, but for the most part, I can’t stand the mess of it all.

The good news is, I can get my computer sort of working kind of sort of kind of. If I breathe right and the stars align and it’s a month ending in “R.” The bad news is, it heats up and wants to die pretty quickly, so turning it on and committing to a few minutes of writing is me engaging in some sort of warped time war with an unseen enemy -I WILL BEAT YOU.

I can’t transfer my photos from my phone, and this is a problem because
1) I take a lot of pictures. A LOT. No really. I annoy myself.
2) They’re pretty cool.

Meaning: my kids are pretty cool. And life is pretty cool, if you’re willing to pay attention to the little things, like grandma using her walker to walk to grandpa -who is leaning on his walker and working on a tractor -and grammatical errors on posters and honest kids in shopping carts and sunsets and sunrises and Tevye (on the other hand).

I have a stack of Halloween pictures… pictures of the 30-minute Batman costume that won’t make Pinterest but will make a 6 year old feel super human. Pictures of The Toddler running around with a grocery sack open wide, embracing this THING they call “Trick or Treat” where the Trick is all on the big people with the candy… handing it out like FOOLS. FOOLS! Pictures of Lacy as an EVIL QUEEN (moment of silence for the year we officially lost her girlish desire to be a princess and nothing scary -ever). Pictures of me snuggling up with the thrifted linen throw I found for 2 dollars and TWO BITS (“and two bits, and two bits…” ~Jud Fry) that everyone else now wants. But I win warped time battles with my dying computer, so… ain’t nobody stealing my linen. Pictures of Lacy and Alice staring at the mechanized Santa at Wal-Mart and wondering what it all meant. Pictures of my mom’s cat forcing my Dad’s eyes to do funky aerobics to see his work computer. Pictures of Alice sitting on TOP of the couch where heads usually rest because… well, it’s the closest thing to a throne this place has to offer. Pictures of the day I hit housekeeping rock bottom and covered my wall paper in, erm, paper. Because if it isn’t bad enough that I can’t keep a thing clean, at least I shouldn’t have to look at DARK BLUE PLAID that reminds me of just how powerful hate can be.
“We call this print ‘hate ya more’n Hilter‘ and we can get it in ANY shade so long as it’s heavy royal blue.”
Pictures of the ketchup I made at 9 pm tonight which is just ONE hour shy of the tomatoes hitting their Not Even Chickens Will Eat These stage.

There’s a lot going on around here, folks.
A lot.

Life isn’t ALL about pictures -which is why I’m holding down the fort on the I Don’t Instagram, Latergram or Hashygram Island. There are so many things that pictures can’t capture but which words can.

Scene: Night. Mother is driving home from the store with her two daughters.
Lacy, 7: Mom?
Mom: Yeah?
Lacy: You know that movie where she’s all, “LLAMA!”
Mom: The Emperor’s New Groove?
Lacy: Yeah, yeah! And there’s Kronk and he’s having that -those -when he gets -you know the tiny devil that’s all, “Look what I can do.”
Mom: Yeah, and the angel?
Lacy: YEAH! And the angel! And the angel tells him to do good stuff and the devil tells him stuff doesn’t matter?
Mom: Yeah, it’s funny, right?
Lacy: Wellllllll, sometimes that happens to me.
Mom: It DOES?
Lacy: Yeah! Like at recess when I saw some girls stomping butterflies and I saw some girls WATCHING the other girls stomp butterflies and then the devil was all like, “Just watch… the butterfly is fine. It doesn’t matter. Who cares?” and then the angel was all, “That butterfly has a family and eggs and seeds, and when they kill it, they could kill a WHOLE FAMILY.”
Mom: So what did you decide to do?
Lacy: I told the Principal. He said he would talk to them about it, and I feel like I did the right thing.
(At this point, I want to hear the Principal’s take on the situation. And the Butterfly’s. But I digress…)
Lacy: But sometimes, I just don’t listen to the angel. Like in activities. FOR EXAMPLE (her new favorite phrase, very growed up), if I bob for apples and the water is SUPER cold, the angel tells me, “NO! NO!” and the devil just says, “Aw, who cares?” so I do it.
And that’s when the giggles erupted.
Lacy, folks, is… naughty? I don’t even know. She’s incredibly adorable, for all her fire-starting and antics.

As we waited to check out at the grocery store, she pointed very bravely at the model on the cover of Cosmo.
“LIES!” She cried out, “LIES!”
“What lies? Where?”
“Legs aren’t really THAT skinny,” and then she pointed to her very obvious breasts, “And those are lies too.”
“Why?” I asked. She had no answer, but I clued her in on the fake quality that a computer tailors to, moving my finger over the flawless skin and pointing out my very own perfect skin’s fluctuation in color and spots.
What a girl.

I am finding myself more and more teaching my kids about lies around us rather than turning things off or running another direction. My first time doing this, I shocked myself by PAUSING a movie during a questionable scene.
I thought I should turn it off, but something stopped me.
I had turned the movie on because it appeared safe, and I wanted to curl up with Lacy to enjoy a fun chick flick.
I paused it. The screen held a still of a lazy man with little respect or connection to his life and the lives around it. A woman in thigh highs and a frilly corset was FANNING HIM and feeding him grapes. Her heels made her look uncomfy. Her hair and make-up were pristine.
“He is treating her like a toy,” I said, “Is she a toy?”
“Why not?”
“She’s a person, a daughter of God.”
“She IS a person, with parents on earth and parents in heaven, and he is treating her like a toy. And THIS IS A LIE.”
And then we watched three more scenes before turning the movie off. Because corsets aside, the plot was so shallow, even my 7-year old suggested we watch something with a little MORE to it. Like Care Bears.

Technology. I SWARE.

Before I go, I will share with you ONE picture that made it from the wide icloudy space between my phone and my computer. I call it The Mercy because it is full of MERCY.
Last year, I bought some Pyrexy dishes at Savers in Flagstaff, AZ. There was only two, and they weren’t LEGIT Pyrex, but they had the Pyrex feel to them. I picked them up and put them back about 4 times before finally deciding that my heart needed them and it was worth breaking my $5.
I love those dishes. They’re the perfect receptacles for salsa, yogurt, pudding, marshmallows, and water to rinse off water paints.
They’d make GREAT and cute chicken pot pie homes if I only had a few more…

On Saturday, our family took a day trip to Payson, Arizona. We stopped at antique stores along the way. It shall here be noted that Lacy reported to her cowboy grandfather that, “We stopped at cowboy stores!”
“Um, Dad… they were actually ANTIQUE stores.”
Wonder how much his hat is worth?

As we wandered around one really great thrift shop, I found FOUR. FOUR! of the exact same dishes. It was mercy, looking down and smiling on my general COVET of all things kitchen that I don’t need. But need.
So there’s chicken pot pie for our entire family PLUS ONE which means our cats will eat like KINGS.

Also making an appearance: my paper wall paper. The anti-Hitler.

There’s no technology in thrift stores, just cheap pearls and double-knit threads and 200 CD changer stereos (my iPad got the biggest kick out of that).

Tomatoes, Zombies, and Super Sarah

First, I’ve been getting THOUSANDS of SPAM comments each day, so I installed a plug-in to block them. The trouble is, it blocks ALL comments. I deactivated it and installed a different spam blocker and have the same problem. Comments aren’t coming though -I’m sorry. I promise I am working on it!
Second, my computer is dying on me and hasn’t been working. I’m not going to be able to send out the CDs requested by a few of you until I revive it. or throw it against the wall and buy a new one.
Sometimes you just need to throw things.

I’m happy to report that yesterday was a beautiful, fire-less day. Alice stayed out of the middle of Main Street. I even made a hot dinner and went for a long walk in the crisp evening. It was a beautiful day. I was able to spend hours talking deeply and genuinely with people I care about… yea, even until the late hours. So many beautiful people in my life. So many.

Today is going to be busy with Halloween preparations -throwing costumes together, heading into town for some more candy for the trunk or treat, homework, music lessons, laundry. And somewhere in all of it, I’ve got a few tomatoes to put away.
Jury’s out on how I’ll actually be putting them away: ketchup, straight up bottling them with lemon juice and salt, giving them away or throwing them at a wall.

Sometimes you just need to throw things.
My counter is covered in tomatoes right now. Tomatoes and GREEN APPLES waiting to be smothered in caramel and white chocolate. I can’t wait. The kids can’t wait.
Lacy’s lunch notes range in variety from bland (“Have a fun day!”) to crazy (“This is the worst lunch I ever had.”) to creative. They get creative when I get excited.

I’m taking tomorrow off work to help the kids at school with their festivities and then I’ll take on my favorite part of Halloween by making the caramel apples. We’ll trick or treat, we’ll watch The Wizard of Oz, and we’ll eat so much candy we’ll get sick.
I’m hoping we’ll be able to make it to this:

I hope your Halloween is full of festivities and creativity. I hope you wear a costume. I hope you hand out candy. I hope you eat candy.
If you need a costume idea, I’d like to offer up this quote from my high school friend, Sarah, for inspiration:

“When I was little, I loved myself so much and was happy with who I was that all I ever wanted to be was myself. I loved myself and everyone else all the time. When Halloween came around and my parents asked me what I wanted to be, I told them I wanted to be myself more than anything else. So my Mom made me a cape, and I went to school as Super Sarah.”

Probably the best costume idea I’ve EVER heard of.


You know the days when you wake up with a lump of coal in your stomach and you try to shake it off but then the screaming baby soaks through her diaper and then sits on you just as the medical bill debt collector calls… again?
I just knew yesterday was out to get me.

I got ready for work and packaged up my screaming baby to take with me (I like to play a game called No Sitter Tuesdays). I brushed out the door a few minutes late to find the tire on the truck very VERY low.
Thank goodness I work for a man who makes a living out of very very low truck tires. We drove slowly to work where Alice screamed more and I typed and told my Mom about my morning.
As she left she said, “I’m headed out -think of the absolute worst thing that could happen to you today and then call to tell me when it happens.”
Around that same time, Dad let me know that I needed two new tires.
And around THAT time, Alice decided she wanted a treat and just… started heading that way. A nice man rescued her from the middle of Main and Grandpa decided he’d better TAKE her himself since she was obviously determined to make it to the convenience store right across the street.

(Can you spy Alice holding hands with her Grandpa? She’s tiny.)

I went home from work and took a nap, hoping it would somehow RESET the day -morph the coal in my stomach into rainbows and sunshine.

I woke up and found The Screaming Toddler still asleep (I can only sleep when she sleep, according to “What To Expect”). I could have cleaned or something, but I decided to work on the Disneyland scrapbook -that’s safe right? I’m no pro at scrapbooking. I mostly trim the photos down and paste them to cardstock and journal next to them. It goes along with my “done is better than perfect” mantra.
The afternoon slipped away into four scrapbooked pages and a few music lessons. I spent some time on my knees while my husband mowed the grass and my prayers were interrupted by, “Mom, Grandpa needs a lighter…”
I looked down at the farm and saw my Dad’s truck parked in it’s usual spot. I gave my son a lighter and went back to my prayers. A few minutes later, the sun set and I donned a small flashlight and sweater. I took a walk in hopes that my moving around would break the coal into bits and it would fall into the cracks of the pavement.
I usually walk at top-speed but yesterday I walked through some kind of invisible molasses. Each. step. took. grand. amounts. of. effort.
I walked in the door and found the older kids in bed.
“They,” my husband pointed in the direction of their room, “Are in BIG trouble.”
It turns out Grandpa wasn’t at the farm. They lied to get a lighter, and when the lighter wouldn’t work… they snuck some matches and STARTED A FIRE on my Dad’s farm.
Lies, sneakery, ARSON!


We set up some consequences that went along with their actions and held our hands up every time they started a sentence with, “but.”
“But Trent told me to…”
“But Lacy told me to…”
“But we wanted to surprise you.” (that was probably one of the best sentences I ever pretended not to hear from my children. SURPRISE ME?! Well, a farm fire will definitely do it!)

For Grandpa, they would have to face him and confess, tell him they would make it right by picking up trash and pulling weeds on the farm. They would them give him a note of apology.
For Mom, they would read the story of George Washington and his cherry tree, draw a picture of it and then tell Mom what they learned from it. They would also memorize a scripture that begins with, “lying lips are an abomination.” They would also write an apology note.
For Dad, they would write an apology note for sneaking matches behind his back.

I sat with them as they wrote:

And then. Right then, the coal in my stomach burned hard and bright and then dissipated into thin air.

Today my stomach woke up empty.
Today I believe will be much better, and will hopefully include a drawing of George Washington and NOT a fire.

Did I tell you they also flooded the neighbor’s shed? It was all pure and good intention (kind of like wanting to light a fire to surprise their mom?)… they were caring for the neighbor’s pets while she was away, and they accidentally left the water faucet running. Neither of them remembers who did it.

I hate to ask, but what’s next? Flood, fire…
Hold me, Mother.  And oh yeah, while I have you on the line… the worst thing I can think of happening is my kids lying to me and starting a fire on property that doesn’t belong to us and is IN FACT next to a barn.

And it’s yours.  How’s that for awful?    :)

Lost Art

A regular customer came in yesterday. He told me when he was first married gasoline cost $.29 a gallon and his monthly income fell somewhere around $250 a month.

It’s no secret how I feel about those times, how I wish we could take a sliver of that simplicity, hard work, and American-made wares and plug it into The Present. I have a personal tradition I try to keep up each week to keep me in touch with those days -I stay up (if I can) after everyone is asleep on Sunday night and watch a ridiculous old movie. There’s a VAST difference between awesome old movies and ridiculous old movies.
This Sunday’s edition was Diary of a Teenage Bride. I knew it was going to be good from the get-go.

I try to keep it simple at our house, try to dial out things that don’t matter and soak up things that do so my family will have an honest-to-goodness juicy life.
But it is SO hard. I find that after school, after homework, after teaching piano lessons, after Alice has thrashed the entire house from my bathroom to the counters of the kitchen, I’m doing good to curl up under a blanket and let my brain ride on auto pilot while I watch old movies about teenage brides. Truth: sometimes I run out of steam before the kids’ get to bed, and WE ALL curl up and watch movies.

I’m fighting a losing battle though. Society seems against me. Simplicity is a lost art.
Proof -Lacy brought this home from school yesterday (she’s 7).

“I don’t know these words, Mom. I just copy…”

I try to balance out the craziness of the outside world INSIDE my home. I encourage Lacy to help me decorate the house with seasonal nature. She brought me a big bundle of the tassles from our dried out corn stalks. We put them in a basket and Alice is having a Tassle-Day (as opposed to Hay-Day because my puns are a little sad on a Tuesday):

Sometimes amidst all the business and the craziness of the outside world, it’s nice to have a few HOME things that help you feel centered. Dinner in a pumpkin is something that our entire family loves, and we make it every year. This year I made a few changes to make it gluten-free, and it was still hearty, delicious, and HOME.

We ate out of a pumpkin and then carved:

And I made an executive decision in the Name of Simplicity that next year there will BE NO PATTERNS. We’re going back to the old days of creative thinking… the days where Mom doesn’t end up doing 75% of the work.

And to round this post out like a pumpkin, we’ll bring back old movies for 200, Alex.

Halloween is also the night I revive a personal tradition of watching a ridiculous old movie. I’m hoping someday someone (anyone) I live with will latch onto my love of ridiculous old movies.
Here’s this year’s choices:


And if all else fails, there’s always Arsenic and Old Lace.  I hope your Halloween finds you rejecting the busy and embracing the simple… and maybe, just maybe, it will find you on the couch with a movie about a woman who morphs into a gigantic fly and terrorizes EVER.EE.ONE.




For a few months, I’ve been working on a “Happy” playlist… songs that you want to crank when you’re waking up (or trying to and can’t), songs you want to crank when you’re cleaning (or trying to and can’t).

This morning, I polished it off.
It’s an hour and 40 minutes long -that’s alotta happy. I know there’s songs missing. The playlist will shift constantly -just like me. But this morning is the FIRST time I’ve put down my paintbrush and took a step back and sighed, “It is finished. Probably. Mostly.”

Believer American Authors
Beverly Hills Weezer
Big Girl (You Are Beautiful) Mika
All About That Bass (feat. Kate Davis) Postmodern Jukebox
Respect Aretha Franklin
Brave Sara B.
Button Up Your Overcoat Music from the Prohibition Era
Lemonade Alex Boye
I Will Survive Gloria Gaynor
Fidelity Regina Spektor
You and I Ingrid Michaelson
Wishful Thinking The Ditty Bops
Sister Kate The Ditty Bops
Shake It Off Taylor Swift
Chicken Fried Zac Brown Band
Come On Get Happy The Partridge Family
Down Came a Blackbird Lila McCann
Get Happy (Summer Stock) Judy Garland
Good Morning (Singin’ In The Rain) Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly
Honey Bun Music From South Pacific
Pea Rabbit
Grace Kelly Mika
Roar Katy Perry
Unwritten Natasha Bedingfield
The Weight The Band
If You’re Wondering Balkan Soul
Why’d You Come In Here Lookin’ Like That Dolly Parton
Folding Chair Regina Spektor
Hey Man (Now You’re Really Living) The Eels

There’s really so many more songs I can and and will add. So many I’ll take away. So many that take me right back to when I was 5 years old and dancing the day away in front of CMT (I’m looking at you, Dolly Parton).
But right now, it’s done.

I’m telling you this because
1) I’d love to hear what you’d add to the list
2) I’d love to give you a copy of my MiTunes

Just let me know if you want one -leave a comment.

Now I’m jetting off to have breakfast with one of my favorite people in the world -one of my Young Women who isn’t a Beehive anymore but a full on cheerleader who dates and everything. She’s getting a CD. Because high school is HARD and she needs to Shake, shake, shake it off.

Taking Care

Once upon an evening, I was left alone with 7 cats (one sick), 1 dog, 3 stinking (I mean that literally) children, two loads of laundry, and one unmade dinner.

It sounds typical, I know. But for some reason, I couldn’t shake the overwhelming emotions that were hitting me from all angles, and as the now-bathed-and-not-stinky kids ran circles around each other both fighting and laughing at the same time… I pulled a load of wet laundry from the washer and moved it to the dryer. It seems simple enough, but I had an outright BREAKDOWN.
I can’t do this.
I can’t do this.

My emotions took over reality, and I bought it. I gave into them and sat in the OVERWHELMEDNESS of it all. It felt something like this:

(PS: anyone want a cat? It’s obviously adorable?)

I stepped over the clothes left on the floor by the kids, the pencils, crayons, toys, dolls, and various kitchen utensils left on the floor by my littlest and I pulled dinner out of the oven. Dinner was tostada shells covered in cheese with a slight sprinkling of green chili because HEY! veggies.
Gotta feed the dog before the sun goes down. Gotta get the kittens food away from the bigger cats… gotta keep the –
“HEY, get the kitties OUT of the house!”
Make sure the reading is done. Did we read? Did that happen? Check homework. What’s for breakfast? Remember to check the cupboard for applesauce for Lacy’s lunch tomorrow.
“Alice, no choking… the kitty is sick.”
Pick up the bath towel… what’s it doing on the table?
“Turn the TV OFF. I didn’t say we could turn it on. Is your homework in your folder?” I repeat my rhythmic instructions, “Homework in your folder, folder in your -”
“Back pack,” the two older kids drone out methodically.
Open the door to feed the dog, the kittens run inside. Put them back out. Close the door quickly. Don’t step on them…
Gotta let the dog out, hope Alice isn’t choking the kitty inside.
Open the door to go back in, the kitten sneak in. Catch them, put them back out.

I put a tostada on a styrofoam plate and put it in front of my son.
“Oh, EW,” he shook his head.
The sick kitten cried out from her box.
The healthy kittens cried out in reply from their cheeky little hiding spot between the screen and front door.
Alice cried out. Because that’s what Alice does always.

I can’t do this.
I can’t do this.
I can’t do this.

I washed dishes because there weren’t any clean and promised the kids they would FINALLY have a pair of clean jeans in the morning. They rejoiced.
I stared at the wall, unable to either eat or ask the kids what their favorite part of the day was.

“I want to go to bed and not eat,” my son said, turning his nose up at the green chilies, which AS WE ALL KNOW are FAIRLY FATAL.
I looked at the clock. 7:30.
“Okay, but you can’t get out or get any kind of treat,” I said.
“That’s fine!” He popped up and bounced into his room.
I don’t understand boys…

I sprayed the girls’ hair with detangler and brushed. They hated me. I hated hair. They needed to get in bed, and Alice refused to sleep. But it was 8 pm and I NEEDED SLEEP. If you put Alice in her play pen (her bed), she will climb out. She will kick one little leg HIGH up until it catches on the top bar of her play pen, and then she’ll hoist herself up and slide right on out. She’ll walk proudly into the living room, VERY awake and say, “HI, HONEY!”
Who can put her right back to bed after THAT? I’m not able to, as yet. I decided to buckle her in her high chair and put a movie on until she drifted off. She KNEW what I was doing and openly rebelled. Kick, scream, flail.
She reached her perfect little hand up and FORCIBLY PINCHED whatever she could get it on, and all I’m going to say is that NO MAN will ever understand the pain a child can inflict on a woman’s chesticles.

I can’t do this.
I can’t do this.
I can’t do this.

Kids were finally in bed. ish.

I needed to email my husband…
We try to “check in” with each other every day. We run through a list.
How are you physically, emotionally, spiritually, socially? What victory have you had today?

He’s out of town, so I email tonight’s check in.
I can’t do this. Children. Kittens. Cheese.
Laundry. Out of baby shampoo. Pencils.

I let out a ragged breath and signed off.
Then I took a deep breath back in and reread what I’d written, and everything became clear. The cat pee, the art supplies, the microwave dinner. I highlighted My Gigantic Rant and hit “delete.” I started over.

Physically: I am overwhelmed and haven’t done anything to take care of myself. When you’re home tomorrow, I’ll need you to take the kids for the evening so I can go away.

I spent the next evening lapping the track at the school, shaking off the emotions that had piled over the course of a week and a half of no self-care. I went with a buddy, and we laughed and talked and laughed and talked. I drove away feeling the wonderful effects of the emotional detox and then drove straight to a convenience store for chocolate.
But when I pulled up, I realized the inside of the truck was SILENT. So I just sat there. I took a breath and no one hit anyone. I closed my eyes and no one pinched anything. There were no hungry kittens, no dinner needing to be made. NO ONE NEEDED ME BUT ME.
I opened up my gospel library app and read Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians, took screen shots, texted them out. He is wonderful with words.

There’s a few authors that are SO WONDERFUL with words that my heart speeds up when I read them: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, Nora Ephron (why are all of these people dead?!)… Paul is one of those people.
2 Corinthians 5: 6-8
6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:

7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

Does anyone else laugh when an emoticon shows up in ancient books? For we walk by faith, not by sight. SMILEY FACE.
Reading those words brought on a sort of pep-rally from inside of my soul, and I decided to go home WITHOUT chocolate. I knew what I really needed, and it was dinner. I went home and ate steamed broccoli and baked chicken. I drank filtered water. I went to bed by 10.

And the world makes sense again. I’m BOSH at remembering to take care of myself, and when I don’t, my emotions take the driver’s seat and I end up having a melt down in my sweats in the middle of the laundry room while the baby chokes the sick kitten and my two children choke each other.
Or something like that.

My goal this week is to spend at least 30 minutes each day taking care of myself: eating something healthy, going for a walk, taking a shower (yes, that counts. These days, that counts).
What am I going to do today? A nap. Why? Because I stayed up past one watching an 80′s cult flick.
It happens.

In other news, here’s some words to make your heart speed up:


Makes me think of my sweet little Lacy who tells us each night who she gave smiles to :)

Thomas Moore--inspirational quote

Flannery O'Connor

#BiggestLoser motivation!

Mother Teresa

Anais Nin


There's no place like it.

one of my favorite quotes


Okay, I need to stop.  I could go on like this forever.  What is it about words that makes me go nutsy?  There’s so much magic in words.  So many right answers.

Maybe for self-care I should WRITE instead of sleep?  Survey says? YES.

(but because I want to add a million more, I’ll pacify myself with linking up to my pinterest board with ALL THE WORDS.)

Language Arts

Communication is what holds us together around here: finding out what one person needs, how they are feeling, who got kicked at recess. It’s all vital. All vital.

Alice has been pretty good at communicating. As an infant, she had a special way about her that made it somewhat easy and clear to understand exactly WHAT she was wanting or needing. As she’s grown, her vocabulary has blossomed. She apologizes, thanks, asks, and even, “okey-dokey!”s. She sings and screams. She fights and fits.
The thing is: she is VERY particular. She likes to have certain things JUST SO, and if you don’t get the message, she blows a frustrated raspberry, pancakes herself onto the floor and shakes her little head and back forth.
See, SOME kids would just say, “no.”
But Alice? She wants to make darn SURE you know she asked for a sippy but didn’t want THAT sippy nor did she want WATER.
Raspberry, pancake, shaking, crying… Mom puts the sippy next to her and quickly walks away because she will not be manipulated by raspberries or pancakes only to find that as soon as she leaves, Alice has quit shaking her head and is sipping a sippy.

As hard as she tries (my great-grandmother would say, “bless her heart”), she still can’t get some messages clearly across.
Like, “meh meh.”
WHAT does that mean? Can you translate? It took me awhile…

Alice is very selective (this we know) and her TV choices are no exception. First, it was ONLY the movie “Frozen” and then it was ONLY the television show, “Good Luck, Charlie.” Since coming home from Disneyland, she would only watch, “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” and now it’s moved on to “meh meh.”
Please watch the first six seconds:

It took several sessions of
and me scrolling through icons on Netflix and watching her reaction (tossing herself as far DOWN as she could in her high chair when I pulled up Mickey and Charlie and perking up and wiggling her little legs when the penguin popped up).
“Is THIS meh meh?” I asked, clicking on Pingu. The theme song rolled and she cried out in joy, “MEH, MEH! MEH, MEH!”

Translation victory.

In Kindergarten, Trenton was given a little stack of “heart words.” They are heart-shaped flashcards with words on them… words he will learn by heart.

He’s been working diligently to memorize his heart words by heart, and two days ago he sat at the table mumbling and writing and giggling.
He’d only peek over his shoulder at 20-second intervals to call out, “Don’t look, Mom!”
And the ending result? Only one of the MOST ADORABLE LOVE NOTE I’VE EVER GOTTEN:

I’ll be one sad lady when my kids get too old for construction paper.

We all know there’s more going on around this place than just PEOPLE. And even the pup struggles sometimes with how to communicate.

His eyes pretty much got the message across. Poor, gently puppy who just wants his food but not as much as he wants to NOT HURT THE HUNGRY KITTEN.

Me Too

After posting yesterday’s post, I received a host of beautiful responses that while different in the EXACT wording basically said the same thing: me too. It reminded me of Brene Brown’s quote:

"The two most powerful words when we're in struggle:  me too." - Brene Brown | Repinned by Melissa K. Nicholson, LMSW

I’m sure I’ve blogged about Brene before (I just got a tiny thrill from the way that alliteration fell seamlessly into place), but just in case I haven’t, I’m about to. If you haven’t heard of her before, today is the DAY. The day that will go down in your personal history!
You think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not.
I might also spend an entire day waxing rhapsodic about Glennon Melton, but putting references and tributes to BOTH Brene (Bruh-nay) and Glennon in one post would probably make your brain explode from Awesome Overload. And I care about you, so I won’t do that.

Let’s get started with my favorite quick clip… it’s funny and true and will make you nod your head because YOU’VE BEEN AT LEAST-ED at least once or twice or 350 trillion times.

This one is actually TWENTY minutes long, but it’s gone viral. Probably from just a few of us watching over and over and over and over…

If you’ve taken time to watch those, your life will be richly blessed and probably changed.
If not, here’s a few amazing Brene Brown quotes to convince you to scroll back up and watch the videos.

Brene Brown: When perfectionism is driving, shame is riding shotgun, and fear is that annoying back seat driver.

For the non-feeler in me that wants to escape feeling pain, fear, and sadness. | Repinned by Melissa K. Nicholson, LMSW


Some wisdom from Brene Brown | Repinned by Melissa K. Nicholson, LMSW

Courage - Brene Brown | Repinned by Melissa K. Nicholson, LMSW

And just because I CAN’T NOT DO IT… here’s one quote from Glennon:


I don’t think a hearty dose of Brene with a splash of Glennon will do too much exploding…

The Concrete Box

Depression looks different for everyone because everyone is different. Hello, I’m Captain Obvious, your blogger for today.
For me, depression is different on different days because I differ a lot from day to day (say it ten times fast).
Because it isn’t something I battle with on a chronic basis, I always assumed that depression was an Eeyore-state of living where days were gloomy and clouds were grey and all the other people bounced around you on their tiger-striped tails, eating honey, picking carrots, and laughing in the sunshine.

Sometimes it is.
But mostly -for me -it’s feeling like I’m trapped in a thick concrete cube. Accessing the outside world -connecting with my environment and the amazing people around me -takes monumental effort. It is absolutely exhausting, and takes ALL of me.
It’s so much easier to sit in my quiet cube and watch a movie or two. It isn’t rewarding, but it’s much easier.
Of course it’s more rewarding to CONNECT with people… myself, God… the concrete walls keep God out just as firmly and resolutely as they keep other people out. Accessing the heavens feels like running a sort of marathon: my prayers need to be constant, methodical, sometimes giving me more energy, sometimes making me feels as if I can’t. send. one. more. up.

I’ve been taking supplements, this is true. And they help, this is also true. But not everyday. Yea, not every WEEK. And this past week, I’ve been battling The Concrete Cube. And by “battling” I mean pounding firmly against the walls, shouting loudly at my family on the other side, and then sitting with my back against them and sleeping as long and much as possible because IT IS TIRING.
I’m not sad. The skies are not grey.
I’m just very tired, and my box has no door.
I can hear life swirling around me. I know God is out there. I know because I don’t ALWAYS live in the box, and I’ve had powerful experiences with Heavenly Father by my side. I’ve connected deeply with my friends and family.
I hold onto hope that this box will eventually get up and move on. I mean… I have hope TODAY because yesterday I was starting to believe -as the blank unholy walls of the box would have me believe -that I AM LIKE THIS ALWAYS AND FOREVER. THIS IS ME. I AM TIRED. I AM DISCONNECTED. LIFE IS PASSING ME BY WHILE I WATCH DOWNTON ABBEY.

But something popped up in my facebook feed yesterday, and it hit me. I see quotes everyday, read them and think, ‘oh, how nice.’
This one, though, this one -made it through the concrete and touched me.

It isn’t that I’m ignoring God. It’s simply that feeling His hand in my life these days has had more of the “ebb” feel and less of the “flow.” As my day went on, it seemed out to get me and included a stranger showing up on my porch asking for directions to other people’s houses and then asking for ALL OF MY CATS.
No, no. Not even The Horrible Mother can go to strangers. Not Sickie. Not Toothless. Not Cheeky. And please leave my porch because even through all of this concrete, I can feel my gut screaming that I AM NOT SAFE.

After the sun set and the world turned chilly, my phone vibrated.
A text.
It was from a woman I’d briefly met and exchanged phone numbers with five months ago. She thanked me for being me and told me how much she appreciated my writing.
Was that random?
I don’t believe anything is random.

I took her words to bed with me -they felt just as warm as my thick blanket. I checked facebook from my phone and found another message from another precious friend, letting me know that she missed me and loved me.
Was it coincidence?
I don’t believe anything is coincidence.

I believe I can’t evade the presence of God, not even in my box.
And yesterday God let me loudly know that He’s here, His angels are just a text and message away, and The Box is not me.