Twinner Collages

Here’s some twinner weekend collages -two pictures related to one little story, all wrapped and ready for your reading pleasure.

Lacy pulled her tooth out in the middle of Wal-Mart. I screamed, she giggled. She always leaves notes and thoughtful gifts for “T-fairy” so T-fairy paid her back with an origami heart.

We hit up Dairy Queen for some classic Dilly bars because I’m a cool mom… a cool mom who made Alice angry by “helping” her eat. So maybe “hungry mom” is more fitting.

After attending the open house for the community center on Main, I came home with a door prize: a super soft throw blanket. The kids love it. On Sunday, Alice curled up and fell fast asleep under my arm and there we stayed for TWO HOURS on the blessed day of rest. Sometimes I just need two hours of listening to her breath, feeling her warm little body next to me, and letting the world pass by while I do it.

There’s one other member of our little family unit who loves the blanket and will -I found out the hard way -FIGHT for it.
Meet Apollo -our new pet. Believe it or not, he IS a puppy. Throwing a 15 month old dog into a family with an almost-two-year old is akin to adding hail, fire, and brimstone to a blizzard.
What can I say? I like to live on the edge.

Before signing off, I want to pass on a recommendation. If you have Amazon Prime, pull your throw-loving kids and puppy close and stream, “Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street.” It’s kind of a great mix between “Pushing Daisies” and “The Buttercream Gang.”

Gortimer Gibbon's Life on Normal Street (2014) Poster

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).