The Messages

Before I had Alice, I had a housekeeping routine. I ran a tight ship. It was my Jillian Michaels phase -if ever I felt like shirking, I could hear her voice pushing me toward my goals.
You can DO this.
No excuses.

But that’s probably because I was doing her 30-day shred every other day.

I thought I was doing pretty good -my house was clean, my freezer was full of food, you could see the floor in my laundry room…

*ahem*

But after I had Alice and went through some excruciating life experiences, it seemed like keeping my house clean was IMPOSSIBLE. Not only that, but every time I tried cleaning, I was flooded with all kinds of self-hate.
My old cleaning routine started in the kitchen. I’d clear the sinks, dump baking soda down the drains, heat up a bowl of vinegar in the microwave, clean off the top of the fridge while the vinegar was steaming my microwave, and then I’d dump the hot vinegar down the drains with the baking soda and wipe the microwave clean. From there, I’d clean the dish drainer, the counters…
It worked out well.
As I tried to employ my old cleaning habits, it wouldn’t take long for the shame to creep in.
Look at that microwave, you slob.
You’re not even fit to mother with a counter like that.

I would have to STOP cleaning. The Jillian Michaels-ish voice that had pushed me years before was now sinister and judgemental -critical and pushy.
For two years, this was my life. My husband picked up slack, but I knew by then that I couldn’t go on living my life from that awful place.

It seemed like most everything I did was motivated by fear.
Fear of others seeing a mess, fear of not being enough, fear fear fear.

With my cleaning shoulder to the wheel, my shoulders were constantly tense. This way of living bled out into EVERYTHING. The way I ate, the way I dressed, the movies I watched, the trips I took.

A few weeks ago, I faced a hard truth in the mirror. I was trying to have a better relationship with God, but I kept running face-first into some figurative crystal-clear glass sliding door. I couldn’t figure out exactly WHAT was keeping me from standing before God and walking daily with Him, giving my WHOLE self to Him.
Was I just too busy?
Was I “capable” enough to handle it myself?
Did I just not want to bother such a busy God?
Was it pride?

The answer is yes, to all of the above. But it was MORE than those. Those have been my excuses for YEARS, and I can see now that they were simply my “padding” excuses. They’re cushy and comfy and common.
But as I pushed past the padding, I found a REAL reason.

And it was painful and ugly and very sad.

The reason I hold back from God is that I’m positive that if I stood in front of Him completely vulnerable and naked that He would be disappointed. Do you know what that means? It means that I have basically no self-respect.
It means that my room has been dirty since, well, I can’t remember… a very long time. I’ve never bothered to decorate my bedroom fully.
It means that I don’t buy new things for myself. It means that I’m sure that my family will never own a house because I’m undeserving and will not take care of a house.
It means I don’t get my hair cut.

Realizing this was really painful, but it was also REALLY GOOD. Because as soon as it hit me, something wild bucked inside of me and I fought back. That something is my innate, my gut, the little girl inside of me who inherently understands that she is good enough and cool enough and comfortable in her own skin.

So I cleaned my room.
And then I decorated my room! I spent absolutely NO money and just filled my room with things that I loved and that bring me joy because I wanted to.

It was my way of sending a gigantic message to myself -a very important message I haven’t been sending for far too long.
Alicia, you are enough. What you have is enough. What you have to offer is enough. You are deserving of a space in which to breathe, connect, rejuvenate, sleep, and feel safe.

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(thrifted throw, Ross special king-size throw bought at Christmastime that I finally assigned to my bedspreadless bed, gifted and homemade throw pillows, homemade banner made with fabric given to me by my neighbor -she gleaned the fabric from her mother’s stash, her mother was a nurse who helped my mom during her accident when I was a baby. I also got that cool wicker basket from the same stash. The blue vase was once filled with flowers a family friend had delivered when my son was born. The sticks came from my ball willow. Need sticks? I have SO MANY STICKS. The candlestick used to be my grandmother’s. The “Be Still” is written on contact paper “chalkboard” that is imperfect and I love it. The headboard was made by my Dad when he was high school, my parents used it for years -it’s my favorite. I traded a few sock monkeys for the old window -best trade ever. The books are in a basket my sister gave to me.)

It isn’t the fanciest, but I’m not worried about being the fanciest. In fact, the more I’ve worked on healing the LESS time I’ve spent TRYING to be the -est anything -the funniest, the wittiest, the cleanest, the craftiest, the chef-iest.
This means I spend less time blogging and more time in the sun, with my kids…
And I feel peace walking into a space that wasn’t inspired by anything except the voice inside of me that grows stronger every time I give it an inch.

I think I’ve mentioned before how I’ve come to embrace the Japanese tradition, “wabi sabi” which states, “Nothing is perfect, nothing is finished, and nothing lasts forever.”  It helps remind me that I’ll never be fully at home on earth, which is exactly how I want to be.  My bedroom has been missing siding and floorboards since we moved it, and that’s okay.  Nothing is finished.  Someday I might pay to fix that, but for now…

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(floral wire, nails, and tons of clothespins left over from my sister’s reception)

The empty wall was filled with things that make me happy.  In no particular order and in no particular order:

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(piano pedals, empty frames -one from a wedding gift, one from my grandmother.  Knobs from World Market, an embroidered bird popped out of a thrifted frame marked “Holland” on the back, an embroidery hoop missing it’s middle (it needs me, right?), and a wood slice from sister’s reception.)

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(a white doily from my wedding, lotion from my kids -Mother’s Day gift, a glass bowl filled with papers I’ve jotted down the things I can’t control -usual topics are myself, the past and others, a framed doily made by my great-grandmother.)

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(My shoe collection! It makes me so happy! The Christmas one was my great-grandma’s, the rest have been picked up along the way. The crystal clear shoe was a gift from my husband on our 10 year anniversary at Disneyland)

There’s more to the room, but I have a personal rule about not cleaning up Danny’s stuff.  It’s a figurative thing that I take literally. Buh dun dun. *cymbal crash*

Last Monday, I decided to try my routine again.  After getting my room in working order, I decided I would try to move the clean chi to the rest of the house.  I was wary, afraid The Jillianish Voice would come out and start chasing me around the house with big girl panties and boot straps.  But I had new microfiber cloths, and I REALLY wanted to try them out. So I put one foot in the front of the other and picked up my cleaning routine…

I was thirty minutes into it before I realized I wasn’t cleaning the kitchen.

I wasn’t cleaning the kitchen like I ALWAYS cleaned the kitchen first when I started my cleaning routine.
I was cleaning my room! I was cleaning my room first naturally!

DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS?! The message I sent to myself the weeks before -the I mattered enough to have my own clean haven and retreat in my room -was SENT BACK! The body and brain got the message, and they reciprocated! Even though no one sees it but me and my family, it was given attention first.

I started feeling a little slow, but I pushed through -mostly because I wanted to use my new microfiber cloths. It’s like when you don’t want to workout but you have new yoga pants, so you do it.
I made it through the entire house, minus the floors. Also: my house is tiny, so making it through “the whole house” isn’t too crazy. It helped that Danny was gone for training.
The shame voice crept in here and there, and I got upset with the kids at the end of the day… but inasmuch as we are striving for PROGRESS not PERFECTION, I’d say it was a triumph, Mrs. Pierce, a total triumph. Minus the part where I washed a red pen with my white king-sized throw… and the part where laundry was left in the washer the night before -MILDEW… and the part where the toddler pooped so much even SHE said, “HOLY COW!” when I changed her.

And thus we see that the road to good intentions is, indeed, paved with hell.

And at 5:30 pm when Danny texted me, “What are you up to?” I texted him back THIS PICTURE from the flat of my back on my bed.

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I think there’s a reason I chose “Be Still” as my Chalky Contact Paper Mantra.

Actually, there’s THREE reasons.  Two of them are here -the way they gravitate toward my bed now is 85% endearing and 15% grating.

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At the end of the day, I got the kids in bed and I took time to bathe by lamp light.  Then I watched “Austenland” one more time before it expired (Danny rented it for me on the Playstation before he left), and paint my nails.  I used my lotion from the kids to lotion the legs I’d shaved just for me, and wrapped myself in a soft nightgown my friend gave me.

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My bath was just another little message sent to myself… self-care is my life line.

With my 30th birthday approaching, I decided to take it and make it the birthday where I send a grand message to myself that the next 30 years will be spent making sure I send the RIGHT messages to myself.  I’m making a pile of things to burn (old clothes, make-up, self-help books that ONLY MADE ME WORSE) and a list of things I’m buying for myself (like books that actually help and my first new pair of tennis shoes in 7 years).  My 30-day shred DVD has already met her demise. I burned her last year, and it was glorious. #lighterfluid

It’s going to be a landmark birthday!

 

 

 

 

 

Building Towers

I don’t remember Heaven, not really… but it seems that part of me -perhaps a bigger part of me than I can grasp -suffers from severe homesickness. It’s an ironic sort of homesickness -the more I feed it, the more it grows.  And I realize that it isn’t actually a sickness at all but a HEALER in every way.

When I first sat down and really talked with Danny, it felt as if something deep within me was all at once excited and rested to be… could it be?… reunited.  I didn’t know Danny.  I had never met him.  It was simultaneously the weirdest and most natural feeling in the world.

The part of my brain that’s forgotten Heaven was confused and scared.  The part of my brain (? soul?) that remembers Heaven sort of exhaled, as if it had been anticipating my meeting Danny for years.  His voice was strange and familiar.  His hands were new and also home.  His hug was the hug of a newly-found friend and also the hug of someone I’d sung, “God Be With You ‘Til We Meet Again” to.

It felt good.

It felt scary.

It felt natural.

It made no sense and complete sense all at once.

A piece of homesickness was given remedy that day.  It was proof of Home.  I’d felt for some time that there was a Home for me out there.  Meeting and marrying Danny was a piece of my Home Puzzle… but there’s SO MUCH MORE.  I can feel it.

There’s a part of me that hungers -ever hungers -for something MORE.  I don’t mean materially, don’t mistake me.  I mean -emotionally?  Is it emotion?  Or is there something out there that is MORE, even, than emotion?

I’ve always had this hunger.

I’ve always been a deep-feeling, passionate person, and as such I’ve always felt a constant dissatisfaction with the world at hand.

That’s not to say that I’ve dismissed joyful moments or failed to live and bask in the present -though at times, many times, I have.  I’m only trying to say that I’ve got a hole in my heart.

I’ve heard some refer to it as a “God Hole” and while I believe that, I still feel like my hole is more aptly titled, “The Home Hole.”

I am not at home, no matter where I go.  I used to pity Christ when He spoke of having no place to lay his head, but pity isn’t what Christ sought at all… Christ simply spoke truth of how He felt about Earth.  It wasn’t His home, and He wasn’t at home in it at all.  Earth was where He went for a mission.

I’ve sought to fill my Home Hole in so many ways -SO many.  I’ve sought out intense emotions, trying desperately to reach a level of unearthly emotion, trying to feel ANYTHING strongly, powerfully.

I’ve sought for years for more and more proof of home, and in so doing I’ve developed My Vices.

My Vices, unlike my Home Sickness, are ACTUALLY sicknesses who also grow abominably the more they are fed.  They bring no healing.  They are malignant.  Instead of leading me to God, they tore Him from me… often going so far as to leave me wondering if there WAS a God, and if so: how could He ever stand the sight of me let alone take a chance on loving me?

The more I shop, the more I eat, the more I tear down others, the more movies I watch, the more I dive into the Earth and try and make it my home… the larger grows my Home Hole.

I think of the descendents of Noah, building a tower toward Heaven.  So often I was taught that the Tower of Babel was a symbol of wickedness.  But yesterday as I looked up in the darkness at the ceiling over my bed, I thought about those inherently GOOD people building what they felt was a needed and necessary building.

They sought to muscle their way back home. This I understand!

They gathered up their friends -they all spoke the same language and they all had the same hole in their heart, and they built a tower to home!  To Heaven!  But they forgot -again, let’s hold hands with irony -about God. They formed and fed vices with their tower. Their tower became their house of worship, but they had replaced God with their own selves and in so doing had built up A House of Vices.

But God didn’t forget about them, just as He’s never forgotten about Alicia.

God took from them their unity of voice which they were using for desecration, and He cursed them with the inability to understand one another, thereby saving them.

My Vices look like theirs, though their story is ancient and mine is circa 2010.  My search for home often (or eventually) lacked a God-center and by default was mortal-centered.

So often I’ve reached for food, for money, for beauty and validation -so that I might reach Heaven in some way.  I didn’t understand Heaven, really, and that’s why I did it.  My innate was crying out for home and I sought out home as best I could with where I was and what knowledge I had.

And God, in His familiar mercy, is saving me.  Though my saving doesn’t involve a curse, it does involve a lot of pain… and therein I can empathize with the descendents of Noah.

Glennon Melton has said:

“People think of us addicts as insensitive liars but we don’t start out that way. We start out as extremely sensitive truth tellers.”

I built my vices from a hungry place -I was starving for Home.  I sought it out in the wrong places, but I sought it out regardless.

I built my Babels and they all failed me.

I love C.S. Lewis’s thoughts in The Screwtape Letters.  He speaks at this point as a Devil:

Prosperity knits a man to the World.  He feels that he is “finding his place in it,” while really it is finding its place in him.  His increasing reputation, his widening circle of acquaintances, his sense of importance, the growing pressure of absorbing and agreeable work, build up in him a sense of being really at home in earth which is just what we want. … The truth is that the Enemy, having oddly destined these mere animals to life in His own eternal world, has guarded them pretty effectively from the danger of feeling at home anywhere else.

As I am facing my 30th birthday next month, I find that I’d much rather be 30 with the knowledge that has come with 30 than be 21, sitting in the dirt with my building blocks, trying to muscle my way back home.

It is a really yucky and hard place to be.

Ironically (yeah, we’re still there), the most rested place I’ve ever been is completely racked with homesickness.

Give me not of this world, God, but offer up pieces of Home on Earth that I might make myself Fat upon my Longing for Home.

Give me a rose, a breeze, a baby’s curl.  Give me a song filled with strains of Home, and a evening spent in the company of those who kept company with me at Home.

Give me meat and bread of body and soul.

Shower thy blessings upon me as I reach my hungry, childish arms up toward Thee.

I cry unto Thee for comfort, for love, for peace.

Give me no place on Earth to lay my head for therein lies risk of losing my peace-giving sense of Longing.

This is my Sabbath prayer,

Amen.

One Giant Step for Momkind

When I saw a simple step-by-step guide to getting kiddos to clean their room, I thought I’d stumbled onto some kind of buried treasure.
“Clean Any Bedroom in 10 Minutes” it professed.

I knew I needed it because I’d JUST walked in the door from work at 11:30 am and found all three of my children still in their PJs in a dark living room watching television while they ate cereal.
I flung open the windows, and they shrieked. I took away the messy bowls and they moped. I turned off the television and said something very mommish about chores and broken brains. I pulled up the NEW PLAN for cleaning and they bought into it. After all, according to The New Plan, they’d be back in TV land within the hour.

Step One is to clear the bed and make it. Easy enough! It approximated 1-2 minutes for this process.
They went into their rooms and flung off toys, papers, old candy (? ew), crafts and all manner of kid-nesses.
A pile began forming in the middle of the room.

One minute passed.
Two minutes passed.
Fifteen minutes passed.

After their beds were cleared off, we were supposed to make them and we WOULD HAVE had my mother not instilled in me a sense of propriety.
“Get those blankets and sheets OFF your beds,” I shook my head and held my nose.
Baking soda came to the party, and we found (surprise!) MORE STUFF after the sheets were off. More papers! More crafts! And OF COURSE there was a grocery sack filled with empty toilet paper rolls because DID YOU KNOW you can use them to make a CHESS SET?!

One hour passed.
The washer ran, the dryer limped -I had to run each batch through TWICE to dry anything at all.
The sun rose high and hot over our green tin roof, and another hour passed.

Things were thrown away, things were salvaged, things were found (ohmygosh, MOM! Look! I FINALLY FOUND MY hackey sack/pen/feather/apple [ew]).

We had a few visitors pop in and out -the piano tuner came and found the mouse that had died inside my piano forte. It was as if God sent that little piece of death to knock any housekeeping pride the NEW PLAN had given me right outta the junkyard.
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Another hour passed.
I sauteed some summer squash my neighbor had left on my doorknob and poured Ragu all over it: dinner was served. My fragrant lilies opened up plump and wonderfully, filling the house with their distinct smell -one I’ve acquired since a sweet friend brought me some during a very low time in my life.
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As I pulled blankets out of the dryer, the 8 year old argued about the POINT of them.
“It isn’t winter,” she said.
My son immediately wrapped himself up in his and refused to take it anywhere near the bed because he needed it with him in ALL of the rooms at ALL of the times.
The kids were brought some craft supplies from a dear friend and as I flung open the front door to play my piano and impress my neighbors with my SUDDEN AND VERY OBVIOUS IMPROVEMENT IN PERFORMANCE (much the same attitude I had with a new pair of shoes in grade school), the kids threw caution and self-preservation to the wind by opening up toll paints and having a field day.
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That’s my great-grandmother’s cup, and I couldn’t help but think how she was watching the whole scene and unfold and loving every bit of it. I even held off on washing it out for as LONG AS I COULD which was about 67 whole entire seconds.

I tossed the kids into the shower -the eight year old loved it, the six year old threatened mutiny and the toddler screamed, but nothing so bad as when I brushed her hair afterward.
I braided the girls’ hair and had them put on clean pajamas because they WERE, after all, going to sleep in clean beds. Blankets or not.
We ate the kettle corn I’d scorched, watched some Mormon Messages, watched “Matilda”, said a few prayers to ward off nightmares of The Trunchbull, and we all went to bed.
In CLEAN beds.
With clean sheets.
And clean PJs.

As I laid me down to sleep, I renamed THE PLAN:
THE JOURNEY.
And as we all know, the journey of the impossible dreamer begins with a step.
Even when that step lasts ALL day.
And involves scorched popcorn, lilies and a carcass.
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Rainy Days

The smiles Monsoon season brings to Arizonans is equal to the smiles sunshine brings to Washingtonans.
Washingtoners?

That said, trying to fit ALL of our rainy day activities into one Arizona downpour is pretty anticlimactic.
“Mom! It’s raining!”
“Okay! Everyone, start picking up! As soon as the living room is clean, we will make playdough and while you guys play with it, I’ll mix up some dough and we’ll bake!”
“The power went off!”
“The power is back on!”
“The rain stopped…”

And that’s when we all go back to what we were doing.
But my hopes hold out for a good, solid storm… long enough to at least mix up sugar cookie dough. That way when the sun comes back out, I can eat the dough to pacify my sorrow.

We’re celebrating Monsoon Season anyway, even if that means we’re just playing inside because it’s too Arizona HOT to play outside.
Lacy and I are hooked on “Monarch of the Glen” which is predictable, clean and Scottish.
We’re also hooked on hooking.
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There’s been a lot of redecorating going on, mostly because when you don’t feel good, you sit and stare at your walls and it doesn’t take too long for things to change. And what else am I going to do with those piano pedals? and that lonely embroidery hoop, missing it’s inner self (I can’t just throw it away -it needs me)? and that bird embroidery art tossed out of a thrifted frame? and those World Market knobs? and a few frames?
Let’s throw them on an empty wall! Randomly!
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Did I mention how fun it is to run out into the pounding rain to bring in the dogs… only to have it stop five seconds later? Juuuuust long enough to muddy up the kennel. And juuuust long enough to make me suspicious of it starting again.
So hey! Three kids with cabin fever plus two alpha male dogs = A cure to anyone thinking of buying a Belgian Malanois after watching “Max.”
Seriously, just come over. I’ve got enough Maxes to go around.
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This last week, I’ve had more good days than bad, so I’ve been cleaning the house. You know that glorious feeling that comes when you feel good enough to muck out the muck that mucked up high when you were mucked out on the couch?
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
I even vacuumed my mattress this morning.
Who knows what tonight might bring? I’ve got my eyes on a Magic Eraser… I’m gonna have my way widdit.

Nook for Books

I’ve always wanted a library in my house, but the closest I’ve ever come to owning a house has been a camp trailer. I love words and books, and I have always held high hopes for a room dedicated unto them… a quiet haven of education painted white -the books would be the paint on the canvas. There would be soft chairs and lots of natural light. I’d always pictured little kids in it, and I realized a few days ago that my kids are scooting OUT of little kid land.
I made a quick decision to bring my little dream into something of a reality. If they can’t have a literary haven, they shall at least have a tiny Book Nook.
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I went to the hardware store and came out with a shelf bracket (is that what they’re called? I don’t make enough shelves to know. Or any shelves at all) for $2. After staring at it for a few days, I finally got brave and put it up.
There’s something really empowering about drilling things into the wall, even if you have to spend 30 minutes scouring the house for a dead drill to get there.
I tossed on a burlap table runner and remnants of a lace tablecloth we’d cut up and used in my sister’s reception. I secured the burlap on the ground with a brick broken in half, found at Grandpa’s farm (compliments of Lacy).
We hung a little shelf that my grandmother gave Lacy (and which Lacy painted). We threw in a pretty pillow -again, compliments of Granny. The rug is one I purchased because I fell in love with it… but it went NOWHERE in the house, so it sat sadly in the closet until yesterday (I KNEW it was right to keep it, I just knew it).
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My brother Jim found a broken little bottle, and we filled it with fractionated coconut oil and lemongrass essential oils, threw in some skewers to soak up that good smell, aaaaaaaaaand lastly, we took a basket given to our family by our friend, Laurel Anne, and filled it with some of our favorite books.
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The kids LOVE it. Their corner is cozy and snug and hides behind the big recliner. I’d like to add some twinkle lights someday, but that day is not yet.
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(That picture is not staged at all. It came after a “why are the kids so quiet?” moment. And they WEREN’T using my nail polish to paint on the walls! Aw.)

I made Hawaiian Haystacks last night, and as we dished up dinner I said, “Daddy and I used to make this dish for dinner all the time when we were first married and it was just the two of us.”
“Where was that?” Lacy asked.
“Thatcher,” I said.
“What’s a Thatcher?” Trent asked.
“No, it’s a place,” Danny said, “We LIVED in Thatcher, Arizona.”
“But actually a thatcher is someone who fixes roofs,” I said, “Like in that movie…”

AND that’s how we went from Hawaiian Haystacks to Heath Ledger in less than 45 seconds. We curled up together and watched, “A Knight’s Tale” for the first time as a family of 5.
Trent said, “I LOVE THIS. Are there more episodes?”
If only, man. If only.

This morning he jumped on my bed with the DVD case of said movie in hand, “Alice wants to watch this,” he said.
Ha! Don’t try that old trick on me! I use it ALL THE TIME.
“Alice wants this chocolate. Alice wants this movie. Alice wants to nap.”
Using the BABY to get what you want is the OLDEST TRICK.

We’ll probably watch it again tonight though -because that movie truly is one of the best.

Tent Reading Nook Inspired by THIS POST.

Doctors, Fishing, Shopping, Repeat

Last summer, Lacy and Trent had a sick mother. I had my gall bladder removed last July.
This summer, Lacy and Trent have a sick mother. It feels like my gall bladder is still in.

So we’ve been making the best of things… hitting up the lake after Dr. appointments, hitting up Sonic after sitting in waiting rooms.
The last time we went fishing, we were rained out. We ran to take cover under a big tree, and we waited out the storm together. There’s something really adventurous about hunkering down together under a tree, waiting for the worst to pass. We felt like we owned the lake that day -everyone else abandoned ship except one couple who hid in their truck.
We marveled at the lake as it was pelted with rain -and a little bit of hail. It looked like static on a television -too bad my kids don’t know what that looks like. Their childhood is a little on the deprived side. I’ll still never forget the pit in my stomach when Lacy asked me what a radio was.
Oh darling girl! The RADIO!
It’s enough to make a mother unplug everything.

But even then, the wifi works on my phone…

Once the storm passed, we tried fishing again. The fished jumped and jumped all around, but they didn’t bite even ONCE. We did catch a snake and Alice dumped out our trail mix, much to the delight of three chubby chipmunks who came back for more, more, more!

I took my notebook and wrote one thoughtful metaphoric poem and one ridiculous lyrical about fish not biting. All in all, I was pretty satisfied with the afternoon.
Alice peeled her shoes off and made herself at home, and I tried to shake off the image of her stepping on a fishing hook. Alice will do what she will, and that’s that.
I love it about her, really.
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And I even love her… what should we call it? Stamp? Brand? Seal?
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Earlier that day, we’d been to see Trent’s cardiologist. He hooked him up on a 24-hour monitor, just to double-check his heart after his seizure. He was told not to get it wet, and he was VERY diligent. He cried with worry under the tree as he shivered and hid the monitor under his shirt.
“I’m supposed to be VERY CAREFUL,” he lamented.
And he was, very much to his credit.
After we’d been fishing a few hours, another little boy showed up. He quickly bonded with Trent, and Trent quickly whipped his monitor out.
“Hm,” he said very loudly, bouncing his monitor in his hand, “I bet you’ve been wondering what THIS IS!” He emphasized that last two words and thrust the monitor out.
The boy hadn’t even given it a second thought.
But to Trent that monitor WAS the ONLY THOUGHT. It made him special and cool and slightly Iron Manish.
“A GPS?” The kid asked, disinterested, “A phone?”
“NOPE!” he pronounced, victorious, “A HEART MONITOR.”
It was a big TO DO. I mean, have YOU ever had a heart monitor?

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Waiting rooms have proven to be a bonding ground for our kids and their parents. Our love for each other is tested, tested and tested. In a quiet moment last week, Lacy brought me a magazine filled with victorian-ish treasures and I don’t know but that I NEED a subscription.
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Just like great-great-great-great Aunt Agatha used to have!

I’ve spent my downtime trying to use up yarn scraps and  started making this beaut.
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And THREE CHEERS for the fact that the kids are madly in love with their three staples these days: cold cereal, cheese and tortillas in all of their glorious forms.
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All in all, not QUITE the summer we’d had in mind, but it’s proud in it’s own right.
And I wake up every morning to this which improves the quality of my life by 99%
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Broken Down

I work part-time as a secretary in a mechanic shop, this we know.
What we don’t know is that this mechanic shop is exactly like something out of the movie, “Cars.” It’s just off I-40, plopped in the middle of a town that used to bustle with the traffic of Route 66.
I can’t tell you how many interesting people we meet who break down in the middle of nowhere (read: here).

Today I find myself in their shoes, figuratively.

Lots of things in my life are broken right now: my cars, my house, my body, my computer, my phone.
It’s a domino effect thing, really. My computer is crashing and burning slowly which means I can’t move my data from my phone to it which means my phone is FULL. No more room in the inn. No more pictures! No more Google backups! No more apps!
My wrist is slapped with every on-screen warning.
And it’s a real pity because I’ve been spending A LOT of time with my phone because I’m spending a lot of time with my recliner because my body has HAD it. I don’t know exactly WHAT it’s had, but The Good Doctors are passing me around, Hot Potato Style, trying to figure it out.

My car is slowly limping me to every appointment, faithful until the end.

And I’m just tired. Tired, tired. Tired because I’m sick. Tired because this has felt like the story of my life for the last few years.
I’m also grateful. Grateful for the help we’ve received. Grateful because God is very aware of my life, and I’m more aware of it when I’m in pain than any other time.

So let’s raise a glass to tourism -may I only be passing through!
And if I’m here to stay? Let’s toast to the amazing people who live in the middle of nowhere.

Also, here’s a few pictures from my life these days:
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Our first fishing trip in over 2 years!

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Is there anything sweeter than a boy and a fishing pole?
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Brownie Baby

“Mom, Elly can make brownies and cookies without her mom’s help.”

I knew where this conversation was going. It was going the way of The Ear Piercing Conversation from last month.
“I am ready to get my ears pierced,” Lacy said.
“But I thought you were scared to.”
“I WAS. But my friend’s been wearing her earrings and…”
“And you’re feeling jealous?”
“Wellllll a little,” she scrunched her face up in the little grin I love so much.
“Do you think the BEST way to get rid of feeling jealous is to pierce your ears too?” I raised one eyebrow.
She looked me dead in the eyes, “It is for me!”

That’s when I lost all sense of sense and actually said the words, “If your friend jumped off a cliff…” you can guess the rest.

So when Elly made brownies without help, I knew Lacy must make brownies without help as well.
“Just as soon as the counter is cleaned off,” I said, pointing to the kitchen counter covered in dried flowers, crayons, papers, bags full of stuff taken from the car, a few socks (compliments of Alice who has made a great hobby of playing saboteur in many-a-sock-couple relationships)…
As we cleared the counter off together, I could FEEL her excitement.
“What’s the first thing I do?” She asked, bouncing on her toes.
“You find a recipe,” I handed her my over-stuff 3-ring binder, filled with my favorite recipes.
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“What next? Bowls and a mixing spoon?”
I had her turn on the oven. She melted butter, measured out sugar. With every ingredient she moved farther down the counter.
“Don’t measure salt over the bowl because it always spills over.”
“It does?”

It does:
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The mess did my heart good:
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And her mouth good:
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They turned out really good (from what I hear -they are packed full of the kind of flour that makes my joints breathe fire). She shared with everyone who walked through the door!
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Lacy and the kitchen have always been together:
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And something tells me they will continue on like that unless Alice manages to split them up like a pair of old socks.

Take Care

In the past few weeks with all the wedding stuff and seizure stuff and ulcer stuff, I let the way I take care of myself fall by the wayside. I’ve picked my sugar habit back up, and because I’ve been nauseated off and on (never quite knowing when a spell will hit) I’ve quit taking my daily walks. My scripture study has halted, my prayers have become Spare Tire Prayers.
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Two days ago, I tried to pull out of my funk by using Alice’s nap time to paint my nails and listen to Conference talks. I felt such a difference in how I felt that it helped inspire me the next day to say my prayers more Steering Wheel Style. During Alice’s nap time, I sat on my bed and took some time to listen to affirmations and color.
Lacy asked to join me.
“Sure,” I patted the bed next to me, “But you can only color if you do this with me.”
“What IS it?” she cocked her head and listened to the strange voice floating from my iPad, saying things like

I am happy.
I make my own decisions.
I have everything I need.
I create my own satisfaction.

“Brain exercises!” I said, and then repeated after the man, “I feel joyous.”
She giggled and then joined in.
“I learn from my mistakes,” she repeated after the man and then added, “HEY! That’s what Dad says about when I play chess!”

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We took an evening walk before dinner in the which Alice refused to walk unless she saw an ant by her feet… in which case, she RAN.
“Bugs NASTY” is her main motto.
Also, lizards nasty.
This is the girl who FROZE when a stink bug happened to crawl past her, narrowly missing her tensed up little feet.
“DAT NASTY DAT NASTY DAT NASTY!” She shriek-chanted as it calmly meandered by, completely unaware.

And as there is no such thing as a peaceful evening walk, so I ended up bug-bitten and achy from carrying the toddler. So when Lacy argued with me about something I’d asked her to do, I snapped.
I walked the toddler back home, put her in the house with her brother and went back to apologize to Lacy.
She cried a good cry, and I told her I messed up and was really sorry. She told me she wanted to run home and hide in her bed. Oh, how well I know THAT feeling!

After dinner, I lit the oil lantern, smothered us all in bedtimey essential oils and the kids joined me for a round of bedtime yoga which means Lacy very earnestly did the moves AS BEST AS SHE POSSIBLY COULD while Trent giggled and complained and truthfully only did it because I promised him he could put his feet in the foot massage bath Danny was using. And Alice jumped on ALL of us.
And scratched us.
And bit Trent so hard he ran to his room and cried.

Say it with me, “Namaste.”
During the final stretches, Trent cried out, “YOGA IS PAINFUL” and Lacy gushed, “I think I should teach this yoga.”

And so we see that Alicia MUST NEVER slack on her self-care. Because if I do? I cease to live fully and begin to get lost in the blankets by the couch.

Even with all the self care in the world, I still snap, still find it hard to surrender my will to God. I still bump hourly into my defects of character that keep me from running to God with ALL of me.
Isn’t it ironic? Since it’s those very defects that bring me closer to Him, if I’ll let them.

Today I’ll give it another go. I’ll work on being present -to enjoy whatever is in front of me, acknowledge it as ENOUGH, accept myself as ENOUGH and then I’ll do whatever my gut says to do next.
But I do want to go on record as saying:
The affirmations worked.
I learned from my mistakes.
The sun salutations happened BEFORE the children woke up.

Namast THAT, Universe.

Sister Wood

For over 20 years, I’ve had a sister named Julianne Hansen, and it’s been one of the most blessed blessings in my life. Yesterday, after returning from her honeymoon and attending her last reception, she officially CHANGED her last name.
Official meaning -of course -she edited her Facebook Profile.
She’s now Julianne Wood, and I keep staring at it. Julianne WOOD. The more I stare, the more surreal it seems.
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We woke up (slowly again) Saturday morning and got us all to the Temple on time.
As I waited for Julianne and Steven to come into the sealing room, I was plagued with “Sunrise, Sunset” playing on repeat in the back of my cultured mind.
I literally prayed for the song to LEAVE LEAVE LEAVE while I tried to absorb the beauty of the sealing room in the Brigham City Temple, and while that helped… all I could really focus on was.
“When did she get to be a beauty?”
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“Swiftly fly the years…”
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I barely made it through, man. BARElee.
After the sealing, I was in charge of helping Julianne Wood get all fixed up for pictures outside of the temple which means I got to play in the most gorgeous bride’s room I’ve EVER seen and only had to put up with one person thinking Ju was my daughter.
I almost shouted, “I’M TWENTY NINE!” but decided in the end to take the lady-like route of complaining about it later. Also, I’m trying to adopt the higher thinking of James Allen.
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I’m also working on the whole, “no man can hurt you without your consent” thing. I’m going through a growth spurt of sorts.

As I followed Julianne through the Temple as she prepared to see her brand new husband and greet the crowd outside, people kept talking to me. They handed me an umbrella because it was raining outside. They gave me directions. They told me where to stand and why to stand there.
I blinked and nodded and grinned like a fool and listened to NONE OF THEM because I was too busy watching my gorgeous sister. I was able to see her husband’s eyes when she walked in and he beheld her in all her bridal glory. How could I listen to PEOPLE when I was too busy living in the present? I ASK YOU!
As a result, I totally bunked at whatever it was they wanted me to do and wherever it was they wanted me to do it. But hey. Life goes on.
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I want to share so many photos, but the best ones belong to my sister -my brother Mike and his wife, Brittany, took the pictures. They are pretty amazing. I’ll ask permission to share them later! But this one is mine. The picture, the girl, the awesomeness… all mine:
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We got in a few really good ones while the rain drizzled around us, and then we ate a luncheon in an old church while the rain poured outside. With the few hours between the wedding and the reception that night, we slept at Tia’s house. We ate ice cream. We packed up and headed toward Riverton, UT.

It was so good to see family we haven’t seen in years and old friends from good ol’ Joe City. We met Julianne’s mission president who we’ve heard SO much about.
“I’m so glad to finally meet you,” I said. Lacy came up and tapped on me and I added, “We feel like you’re part of the family.”
“Is that your daughter?” he asked.
“Yeah,” I stroked her pretty blonde hair.
“We’re already friends,” he smiled, “I know all about her baptism and her school and everything.”
Lacy reminds me a lot of Will Rogers. She never met a person she didn’t adopt, or something.

Julianne designed a sign and Danny’s sister, Darah, brought it to life. We displayed it at both receptions. And I loved Julianne’s cake -cheesecake!
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I got as much Steve Time in as I could:
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And then Danny and I took a Prom Pic:
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By the end of the night, Julianne was tired from getting up early and greeting people, so she gave up on the bouquet toss and gave it to the little girl who was stalking the “toss” bouquet with eagerness:
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And she shared because she’s Lacy and her heart is made of pure gold mush:
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Julianne sent her bouquet home with me, saying, “I know it’s just going to get thrown away, but I can’t bear to do it.” And I thought as long as it was getting thrown away, I might try pressing it. I’ve never pressed flowers before, but I took on my mother’s well-taught, “Why not?” mantra and googled a bit. I ended up pressing the flowers and greenery between coffee filters, and I used an iron. It sizzled the moisture out of the flowers, and quite frankly: ended up COOKING them. But hey! As long as it’s being tossed into the trash, why not? I spent a few hours pressing, pressing… watching Netflix and pressing, pressing. Because I didn’t get ALL of the moisture out, I left the flowers in their coffee filters and smashed them in some cookbooks. Friday night, I pulled them out and arranged them in a frame, clenched my eyes shut, took a deep breath and opened them up for the big reveal:
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I’m so happy with how it turned out (and RELIEVED that I didn’t ruin it!) and now I want to iron ALL OF THE FLOWERS.

Julianne and Steven left their reception in proper style:
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We stayed the night with friends and then headed back to Sunny AZ in my mom’s new van. It has a built-in DVD player which means we watched what Alice wanted to watch 70% of the drive.
I can quote “Despicable Me” from memory now.
Alice calls it, “Bee doe’s.”
You know… BEE DOE BEE DOE BEE DOE:

Danny was a champion driver and my brother, Jim, kept Lacy and Trenton entertained with Pokemon.

One week later, we set up the Joseph City reception and I had a good laugh about it all. Seriously, we planned for MONTHS. We crafted, schemed, shopped, dreamed and THEN! We set up for 6 hours, partied for 2 hours and then took it all down. Ha! And it’s ALL WORTH IT. Humans are crazy, folks. Plumb crazy.
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Julianne designed everything, so it made it all the decor really easy!
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I burned their names and initials on wood slices, and they turned out good! We used them for centerpieces and decorations:

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There was ice cream and TONS of toppings.  Julianne and I giggled when our niece walked by with her BOWL full of goodness.  “Go show your dad,” we said.

He didn’t laugh as hard as we did.  Dads…

0530151832Alice dug in, ran around and crashed hard that night.alicecollageAnd where food is, there boys are also:

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It has been such a wonderful experience all around -being around family and celebrating is definitely at the top of my favorites list.  Family, celebrating, eating… something like that.