Heartwarming Turned Horrifying

A while back (years?) I read “Charlotte’s Web” with the kids. I read with gusto and employed different, distinct voices for each character. The kids adored Charlotte and wanted to have their own sweet, talking spider for a pet. One night, I noticed that “Charlotte’s Web” was on Netflix. I promised the kids if they’d get all of their chores done, we’d watch it together.
It was stupid.
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
Why? Because we hadn’t finished reading the book. Meaning the kids didn’t KNOW THAT CHARLOTTE DIES.

I didn’t even THINK of that. I just turned it on and watched in glee as the kids saw their favorite characters come to life on the screen. About halfway through the movie, I realized I’d truly made a mistake. Halfway through the movie is when I remembered: CHARLOTTE DIES, ALICIA.

I really realized how much I’d mucked up when the movie ended and Lacy cried out through her precious tears, “REWIND IT TO WHEN SHE WAS ALIVE!”
She ran to the bathroom where she could safely put her feet in the sink and her head in her hands.
The children that come from my genes are VERY tenderhearted.

You think I would have learned. YOU’D THINK.
(you were waiting for that word, weren’t you?)
I mucked up again last night.

I found “The Mailbox” on youtube, so I streamed it as part of our Family Home Evening last night. About halfway through the short flick from 1977, I REMEMBERED.
“Danny,” I looked over at him in a half-panic, “Does the sweet old woman…?”
“Yeah, pretty depressing.”

And 15 minutes later, I was cradling TWO sobbing children.
“IF I WERE THERE I WOULD BE WITH HER! I WOULD WRITE HER LETTERS EVERY DAY!” Lacy sobbed and sobbed and resolved at that minute that the next day’s most important TO DO was write her grandparents.

If you’d like to scar your children as well, here’s your chance:

Maybe let them know ahead of time that the adorable and utterly love-able woman dies at the end?
My sentimental children may very well perish from repeated shock.

Beautiful Differences

When God has a message for me, He sends it SEVERAL times in several different ways -because He knows me. He knows that I’ll hear it once and shrug, twice and shrug, three times and then go, “Wait… maybe I should pay attention.”
God has to use 2x4s with Alicia. I accept this as truth.

Throughout this last week, he has let me know through different faucets that He NEEDS me to be the way I am.

I always thought that my openness -the way I talk about myself and my life so MUCH -was a terrible weakness.
As a small child, I literally -LITERALLY -used to chant to myself, “children should be seen and not heard… children should be seen and not heard…” But it didn’t help. I still talked openly and vulnerably to everyone. Anyone!
To this day!
(evidence: blog)

My brain doesn’t think in compartments or in any kind of organized way at all.
I assumed it was one of my “to be conquered” weaknesses.

But this last week, the Lord has shown me that while there is definite extremes to talking to everyone and letting my colorful brain take over, HE NEEDS ME TO BE THIS WAY.
What’s more: I need to STOP trying to change my God-given personality traits so HE CAN BEGIN TO USE ME for His work.

In Corinthians, Paul teaches the people about unity -a unified body. The foot functions as a foot and the ear needs it. The ear can’t be upset that it isn’t a foot because the body needs an ear.
The body should rejoice at the triumphs of the legs!
The body should mourn with the trials of the arms.

How can we function at our full capacity if we’re worried about being something we are not?

These are things I KNOW but don’t always FEEL, but to have God send this message to me FOUR TIMES in two weeks? That’s pretty incredible. He really wants me to be vulnerable -the way He made me.
He really wants me to be animated.
He really NEEDS me to have the brain I have because my colorful, disorganized creative brain works all kinds of magic (especially on kids) when I slack the reigns on it.

Life is hard.
It’s impossible when you reject your true self.

Be an ear.
Be a foot.
And BE FULLY THAT TODAY AND ALWAYS, and you will glorify God therein.

In other news, I’m longing for THE WEEK where I didn’t have to AGGRESSIVELY FIGHT FOR TIME WITH MY FAMILY:

My crazy brain rejects schedules and routines.
And wants Disneyland and uninterrupted family time… my phone only ringing because my husband is holding a spot in the Peter Pan line while I’m crown shopping with the girls.

Witchy Woman

Sunflowers are dying. It’s officially time for my annual mourning of late summer which involves decking my walls in black and scorn for light and life.
Okay, actually it’s just Halloween time.

I actually REALLY hate modern horror films but LOVE Halloween time. I love putting black bats on my wall.

(that’s an old picture. The kids aren’t allowed to help me with bats this year until their room is clean.  There’s a good chance there won’t be bats this year.)

This year I splurged… like SIX BUCKS… and bought creepy fabric which I foresee as doubling as pirate decor in the future.
As a family, we’ve staked claim to Halloween and Valentine’s Day as “OUR” holidays. There’s no traveling on these days, and no family to visit. No gifts to be giving, no hosting, no candles to blow out, no turkey prep.
There’s just us and candy and cold weather.

Valentine’s Day has it’s own fun Deets Family Traditions, but we’re not worried about love right now. We’re worried about DARK AND BLACK AND ZOMBIES and traditions, of course.
We make witch hat cookies together.

We make what our kids have named Carnival Apples (a remix of “caramel” by my son who couldn’t quite wrap his tongue around saying “caramel” but “carnival” was easy as pie).

And we watch “The Wizard of Oz” which Santa brought me on Blu-Ray last year -thanks in large part to our old DVD dying in the middle of the poppy field. Cause of death: scratches. or kids. probably both.

The kids and I love decorating together, and I’m not afraid to make a mess with them. I’m not a perfect mom, but I’m perfect at letting them make messes. They help me paint jars and blocks of wood:

They help me eat chocolate and bake pumpkin seeds. We stuff pumpkins full of food and bake them and EAT RIGHT OUT OF THEM. We make homemade hot chocolate and sometimes float ice cream in it.


It’s great. I love doing stuff like that with my kids.
But I have a little after-hours secret… during this creepy month where the sun goes down earlier and earlier over wilted sunflower stems, I wait until everyone is in bed and then I stream old horror films… then laugh-cry myself to sleep.

Which of these traditions is best? ALL.
If sunflowers have to die, I’m glad October’s stepping in to fill the seasonal void.

Free Halloween Printables I know I already have this quote but I also like this typography!
(via Pinterest)

Fantasy Octoberfest

It’s deliciously overcast today, and I’m spending my morning in a fantasyland where I get to keep these guys home for the day and spoil them to the core with apple cider, a movie, board games and gingersnaps.

But this isn’t fantasyland. It’s reality. And they are at school and I have a job and piano lessons to teach.

But overcast, drizzly October days really ought to be treated with respect, even if we can only access it in fantasyland.

If your time is your own today and your day is deliciously overcast as well, drink some cider and wear a sweater. Tuck yourself up in a blanket, hang a quarantine sign on the door and make time for the connections that really matter in life:
Connect with God.
Connect with yourself.
Connect with someone you love and treasure.

And watch this movie:

(It’s on Netflix right now)

And even though I can’t live out exactly what I feel SHOULD be going on today, I can still bake some gingersnaps and wear a sweater.
Reality might be able to rob me of time with my children and blankets, but IT CAN NOT ROB ME OF MY SWEATER.

In other news, Alice inadvertently taught me a new way to enjoy my tortilla chips.

Unrelated: I’m going to the store for chips today. Chips and cider.

I Think I Can

I made and canned a very small bit of salsa yesterday, and I don’t know why but canning makes me feel like I have super human FARM QUEEN powers.

Probably because when I can, I don’t just CAN. I also take on the task of managing water bath canning while the house, world, and planet somehow manage to fall apart simultaneously. FIVE MINUTES before I started the process of canning, everything around me was fine.
No wind, quiet background music…

I rinsed a few tomatoes, and the calm world around me screeched to a halt.
Trenton fell outside and gashed in the inside of his palm, Alice pulled everything out of every cupboard and emptied everything she pulled out in some bizarre and stress-inducing Matryoshka doll-style game, the water began to boil, and the phone rang.

So I got 2 quarts and one pint of salsa canned, but it feels like so much more.
I sort of feel like I fought the unbeatable foe, and now I have salsa as a prize.
I even managed to wash the dishes when I was done, just so Alice could use the cutting board as a canvas for her freeze-dried raspberries.

Admittedly, I couldn’t have even done all of that if it wasn’t for the help of a kind friend who helped me can and then proceeded to clean my kitchen while I cleaned Trent’s flesh wound and stopped Alice from slapping him (to keep him from screaming while the rubbing alcohol kicked in? I don’t know…) and Lacy made an artistic representation of the family tree that conveniently didn’t include her younger sister.

Hollywood should make a movie about heroes like us… heroes with a toddler AND enough canned salsa to feed two whole people.

God Gave Me

Sometimes God smiles down on his children and gives them moments that make their faces split with joy.

Like this beautiful, wounded butterfly that fluttered into our lives as my son and I walked home from school.

And like this n@ked toddler sitting in the middle of dirty living room on her potty reading The Hobbit like it was the most natural thing in the world to be doing.

God’s gifts aren’t limited in their nature, and for that I’m eternally grateful and have the laugh lines to show it.

Alien Brain

In 2006, I was 20.

I was in college, working part-time as an English tutor. I was married and pregnant.
At 7 am on weekdays, I would drive to the local women-only gym and work my body into a heavy sweat because I was determined to be thin and pregnant. I was determined to be healthy and pregnant and only drink vitamin water and only eat bran and spinach and not ever gain any weight at all.
Because ew.
I also knew somewhere down deep in my bones that I wouldn’t have the kind of issues OTHER women did with pregnancy. For me, it would be a flawless sort of performance I orchestrated to the world through my blog. I would have a basketball under my shirt, for all anyone else knew.
No swelling.
Adorable cravings.
And my baby would come into the world calm and plump and labor would be my crown jewel. I would master it like a natural.

These were my thoughts as I pumped my feet up and down, in and out, twisting them in ways God never intended… even for the Pharisees.

At 7 am, the only other women in the gym were retired women. Every other women in every other stage of life needed to be home by 7 am, except for 20 year old married college students and 76 year old grandmothers.
I wrote down the conversations I overheard in those wonderful mornings, and I’m so glad I did. Nights like tonight, I’m glad I did.

From my old blog, with a few slight clarifications:
“You know what’s sad about these 16 year olds? The day they turn 16, an alien steals their brain and replaces it with theirs. The only good that comes from all of this is that the kid finally gets it back when they turn 22!” I didn’t dare reveal my age -20.
I’m thankful to have heard this conversation as well, a Hispanic grandmother spoke (please read her lines with an accent, it makes all the difference in the effect…) “My daughter, is, you know, pregnant.”
Group of women: Oh! How Exciting! Is this your first grandchild?
Woman: Oh no. This will be my third.
Women: Well, you must be happy.
Woman: Oh. I guess. Yes and no. Yes because it is happy, and no because she is not married.
Women: Oooohhhh.
Woman: But then again, she is 30.
Women: Ah!!
Woman: I know. She needs something.
This is the part where the sweet Hispanic woman leaned forward -she was about to let us in on a big secret…
Woman: I mean, soon she will be 35!
Women: Of course! She needs something!

I think about that conversation now, about how at the time I’d felt like I’d been spared their time-line for brain kidnapping. I felt like maybe they should know that I was 20 and of a perfectly sound mind.
No alien brain going on with me at all! Psh.

I miscarried.
Miscarriage is different for everyone, but for me it changed my life because it made me realize that looking cute while pregnant isn’t important at all. BEING pregnant, though. THAT is truly something.
My focus shifted from knowing for sure that my baby would be calm and wonderful and perfect to just… hoping someday I’d have any kind of baby: screaming, giggling, plump, scant, loud, quiet… I didn’t CARE so long as it belonged to me.

Tonight I’m sitting up in bed.
The house is silent which is thrilling me and making me nervous all at once. Naturally, I’m eating cookies to help myself grapple with the mix of torrid emotions (should I be excited? clean while a toddler isn’t hanging on my pants? watch a black and white movie? Are they breathing? Is the window locked? Will they come out at any given moment? Coughing? Feverish? Or I could do family history… I think I need cookies to help me solve this riddle).

I spent some time today looking for something on my blog, and I found pictures from just 3 years ago and I felt weird looking at them.

I can’t write like I used to. I’m not who I was 8 years ago, even three years ago.
I’ve learned a lot in my little lifetime, and I can safely say that the list of what I’ve learned gets smaller each passing year.

When I was born, I knew who my parents were. I knew when I wanted food, and I knew that when I was uncomfortable I should send up a cry to my parents until either I was taken care of or exhausted into sleep.
As I grew, I added to my list of what I knew.
By the time I was 20, that list was as long as the solar system… I could wrap it around the world and THEN some.

Today I feel like I know as much as I did when I was about 11.
I know that music makes me happy.
I know that writing makes me happy.
I know that I like my blue eyes.
I know that I like kids.
I know that rainy weather is the best kind of weather, no matter what Dad says about freshly cut hay on a field.
I know that God knows me and loves me and LIVES.
I know that there’s endless adventure in imagination.
I know that pistachios are gross and will forever be so.
I know there’s an entire world to uncover, and it is FULL of hidden wisdom from nature to housework to waiting in lines.
I know that adults are the luckiest because they can stay up and LIVE a secret life of cookies and milk IN BED.

As I get older, I hope my list will eventually dwindle down to the core basics and I’ll die knowing simply who my parents are (both earthly and heavenly) and be aware that sending up a cry is the most helpful thing I can ever, ever, ever do.

Apparently, I’ve got my own Curious Case of the Benjamin Buttons.

And I’m glad. I’m glad I’ve blogged through it all.
I hope the person I am in 3 years and 8 years is different still from the person I am now.
I hope the aliens never give my brain back fully because I’m learning so much as I make all kinds of mistakes. Surely, if I had my own brain, I’d never take ONE step out of line, right?

But tonight, I’ll sit in my basic knowledge of what I know, what I love, and what’s important to me in 2014.
and Cookies.

Sledge Hammered

Yesterday, the entire world was made of invisible sledge.
Did you notice?

Everything close felt distant: dogs barking, phones ringing, children asking for food *ahem*
I woke up and felt it immediately. Putting my feet on the ground and willing them to take just. one. step. more. The kids made it to the bus and the sledge put me back to sleep. The baby felt it too and drifted back to sleep in her high chair.
I woke up TEN MINUTES before I was supposed to be at work.
I still hadn’t showered or dressed and THAT’S when the sledge went too far. I shook my fist at it, raged and yelled.

The sledge muffled my words, wadded them up, and stuffed them right back where they came from.

I had THINGS I had to do! Shopping for milk and chocolate, cleaning of mold growing in dishes -flashy, I know.
Part of me wanted OUT of my yoga pants. Part of me never wanted to take them off.
Part of me wanted a shower. Part of me never wanted to get off the couch.
Part of me was incessantly pep-talking, “you CAN! you CAN! MOLD BE GONE!”
Part of me was incessantly snoring on the inside.

I pulled into the drive from work, telling myself THAT I WOULD TAKE CONTROL with my LISTS!  and my COMPUTER!  As I rounded my porch, I found a book.
It was just sitting on my porch.


How did it get there? God? Angels? Sledge?

I put my son in front of the TV for his rest time and put Alice down for a nap. It was the perfect time to beat the sledge and clean! I took exactly four shaky steps and knew.
The Sledge was too powerful. My body hurt. My mind wanted to explode.
I was physically weak and needed down, rest, blanket, stat.

at 12:30, I picked up the book.
at 4:30, my mom called from the store and asked what I needed (milk! chocolate!)
at 5:30, I finished the book.
at 6:30, I got rid of the mold.
at 7:30, I ate two Dove chocolates and read their messages, “It’s OK to slow down” and “Give yourself permission” respectively.
at 8:30, the older two kids gave themselves baths to match the bath the sitter gave my baby that morning.
at 9:30, I watched Jimmy Fallon hashtag videos.

That said:
Everything got done that NEEDED to get done.

I sometimes think I have to control and manage everything with my lists and my computer and my mom powers, but I don’t. In fact, when I GIVE THAT UP, I end up making room for what ACTUALLY needs done.
I haven’t read a fluff book in years, but I did yesterday. I discovered a GREAT author, something I don’t find much of lately. Because of the lack of great writing floating around me, I steer myself clear of anything written after 1950, just to stay safe and only venture out if my family gives it to me or it mysteriously turns up on my porch. I was inspired and uplifted and entertained, and I was STARVED for that.
The Sledge is something physical going on with my body that requires REST, something I don’t allow for in my listy computery life.

If I can’t physically SEE something going on with me, I don’t allow for rest. Naturally stress gives way to sicknesses and sicknesses give way to mold growing in my kitchen and mold growing in my kitchen gives way to Sledge and Sledge gives way to an afternoon spent reading a truly great, fluffy book.

Today I feel better physically, and instead of turning to my lists and inane belief that I HAVE CONTROL OVER EVERYTHING, I’m going to just write.
Write a lot.
And then wind up a rat’s nest of yarn that’s congregated next to my recliner because having a crochet habit and a 22-month old is pretty much stupid.
If I had sense, I’d pack my projects away.
As it is…