Growing Up

The other day, Lacy listened to a Pandora Station that wasn’t a kid station.

She’s getting into boy bands. She’s sure she doesn’t want the Disney station anymore.
A few days later, I took her to Sonic and she ordered a NUMBER NINE. The kind of meal that DOESN’T come with a toy! What is happening?!

I know I keep saying this, but I signed up for having BABIES. I’m trying to be excited and while Lacy is incredible and getting to know the person she’s becoming is incredible, after throwing away the remnants of THE NUMBER NINE, I realize that she is halfway out of my house now.

Maybe she ordered a number 9 to remind me that she is 9 and in 9 years, that will be that.

Yesterday, I asked her if she’d like to go for a walk… she hasn’t been out of her PJs in 9 days. She jumped out of a TV induced trance and a few minutes later came out dressed in a cute outfit, covered in sweet-smelling lotion. She had even painted her nails bright orange.
It does so much good to just put jeans on when you’ve been sick! I held her hand as we walked outside, and she chatted on about school and how much she loves nature. We came inside to make dinner. She practiced learning to do dishes and gushed, “I just LOVE being in the kitchen, Mom.”

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I remember when she used to sit in the sink… all bare-bummed and cute.
Why does growing up happen so fast?

While Sick

Since December, we’ve dealt with a lot of sickness. This sick season has been particularly rough at our house. This has been the first year in a few years that I’ve made a point of eating better and taking daily vitamins, and we’re sicker than ever. Is this a sign from The Sugar Gods? To eat more? Not less?

We’ve been trying to visit Danny’s family to exchange Christmas gifts since mid-December. But Alice puked while I was dealing with a bad cold that I shared with everyone in the family, and then I broke a tooth and went straight to the dentist on the same day that Danny broke out in full-body hives that lasted two days -a reaction to a medicine he’d been taking for something else he was dealing with. After the puking kid, we had a dog get sick at 4:30 am and the next morning, Trenton woke up with pink eye which he shared with the other two kids. Just as we were getting better from all that, Danny and I were hit with a stomach bug and in the middle of it, I had to drive Lacy to the Dr. for suspected chicken pox. She broke out in a few spots on her 9th birthday! The diagnosis was confirmed, and now she’s covered in a million pretty scabby spots. We’re waiting for Alice to break out (any day now!). Trenton is immunized. On top of Lacy’s chicken pox, she can’t stop coughing, no matter what we do. Poor kid.
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And so.

We have a few gifts that still haven’t been delivered to cousins. They may not get them until after Valentine’s Day!

But what we have done is watched A LOT of movies. So I figured I’d pop in and do some reviews.

First, we had never seen any of the Nanny McPhee movies. We loved them! All of us! The first movie was on Netflix, and we rented the second online.

After the really crazy, tiring day where I’d battled stomach issues while taking Lacy to the Dr, Danny came home to Alice glued to the iPad, the older two kids glued to the TV and me. headphones in. glued into pbs.org.
He went straight to Wal-Mart to pick up Lacy’s medicines and came home with 5 Doris Day movies and a bouquet of my favorite flowers. Last year, I made a goal to keep fresh flowers on my piano all year long… nothing expensive, just enough to brighten my day and let me know I’m worth it. Around October, I got really bad at it. Danny helped bring in The New Year right, and I fell gratefully into his arms.
“You look like you need it,” he said.
I have to fight self-hate in days like these… worrying that I’m not connecting enough or cleaning enough, but honestly -the best I can do right now is hunker down with my sick family until the storm passes. I just hope no one comes over.

The other night, we watched “The Thrill of it All” and loved it. The kids laughed and Danny and I laughed, sometimes at nothing more than at what used to be “normal” in the 60’s.

I’ve been watching Downton Abbey and Mercy Street on pbs, I’m looking forward to watching the latest Sherlock installment as well.

One movie we stumbled across and really, really liked was “Beyond the Mask.” There are a few scenes where the editing is just… funny. But the story line keeps you interested and everyone in our family enjoyed it. We’ll be buying it for sure!

Another our entire family enjoyed was, “Once I Was a Beehive.” We probably quoted it for two weeks…

Right now, the kids are streaming, “Just Add Magic.”

It is SO nice to have an influx of shows that we can all enjoy together.
We have enjoyed being sick together, and we’ve even been able to laugh about the crazy amounts of physical stuff that has flooded our way.
By Valentine’s Day, we should have amazing immune systems!

Valentine’s

I used to hate Valentine’s Day, but that was when I regarded it as a strictly romantic holiday. It always carried some ornery pressure with it -expectations aren’t always wonderful things, am I right? I hated the red and pink grocery aisles filled with commercialization, the overpriced flowers, the songs (ugh, the songs).

But a few years ago, I quit focusing on THAT.

I took a step back from The Calendar Year and began to see a pretty sort of flow through the holidays.

Halloween reminded me of darkness, death. It brought about in me a reminder of the hard times, the valleys of life.
Thanksgiving is all about gratitude, and it seems like I begin to pull out of the valleys by practicing gratitude while in the pits.
Christmas rolls around, and there we find HOPE. Hope always follows gratitude, doesn’t it? Hope for a better tomorrow.
New Year’s springs forth and I feel the darkness losing. I feel a fresh start. Fresh Starts often follow hope.
Valentine’s Day is all about LOVE. It isn’t about exclusive couple relationships, not really. It’s about my neighbor. It’s about the love I exhibit and exude as I cultivate love within. I often find love carries a trail behind it that goes something like: fresh start, hope, gratitude, trial.
Valentine’s is followed by Easter. Isn’t that great? Easter! Rebirth! Redemption! Surely, this follows love. When I love myself, I find rebirth in so many areas. Surely when we love ourselves and others, we lay down our lives. We find personal crucifixions within. Our trial taught us what we WANT to live without -pride, fear, hate, vicitimization, control -and we crucify that part of ourselves, offering it to God. Take it, for I had no need of it. What need have I of fear when I’m filled with love and hope and gratitude?
What follows Easter? Independence Day.
Freedom. Sweet freedom.

And so came I to believe in Valentine’s Day. It holds a very sacred place in my heart, and I celebrate it with everyone I love.

Our family carves that night out as “ours.” We eat a truly wonderful meal together -we decorate and use the fancy cups. I invest CASH into the food, and we let our family know that we are worth FANCY.

But in 2014…

I had spent more than I’d ever spent (and we all know what a low roller I am). I’d purchased new fancy cups (glass!) and matching napkins. There was sparkling cider and SALMON. It was a beautifully set table, candles and all. I put on a dress.
And then Alice screamed through the entire meal, the older two fought and Danny took a phone call for a long, long time.

I washed my hands of the feast.
“Next year,” I vowed, “There will be no feast.”
Danny laughed it off. He thought I’d get over it and make a feast in the end.
Well, I’m always up for a good challenge. And last year, Danny took us all out to Red Lobster and proclaimed it The Valentine’s Feast. I suggested we make a tradition of Mom and Dad trading years.

Because of health issues, I haven’t been able to do as much as I’d like. What I’d like is to cut hearts out of vintage sheet music and sew them together and drape my house with them. I’d love to hang crochet hearts everywhere and spruce up the place in reds and pinks and fresh lilacs. I’d love to have dishes of candy hearts set out for everyone to enjoy.
But mostly my days are spent in survival mode, both for health reasons and “mothering a toddler” reasons.
And it’s still good, it’s really good.

I signed up to do the Valentine’s Party for Lacy’s class, and it will be simple and enjoyable. I need to plan it since there’s exactly one month left. I’m excited about it, even though I’m no party-planner. I think Lacy and I will have fun putting it together.

Today I’m thinking a few things:
1) What should we eat at our feast? Turkey? Homemade crab legs and lobster tail?
2) What should the third grade party look like?
3) I can’t wait to design this year’s Valentine’s… which I’m much better about sending out than Christmas Cards.
4) I hope everyone celebrates love in their own way.
5) Someone called Valentine’s Day a stupid holiday today and it made me write.
6) On a completely unrelated note: our family has been battling various sicknesses since mid-December and there’s no end in sight, and I’m stuck between wanting to feel sorry for myself and wanting to celebrate because we are cut off from civilization, and there’s something incredibly adventurous about that.
7) I’m sad about Snape dying. I hate it when talent leaves us. There’s no replacement for him. It reminds me that there’s no replacement for me either and that I need to celebrate the talent in me.  Even if there’s no big screen for the world to see it, God sees it. And the same goes for my family and my friends and you.
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8) Today, I will take a nap.

From last year’s Valentine’s Feast:
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Holiday Help

On Friday, I had a neighbor girl come and help me clean my house for 2.5 hours. This was the greatest decision in the history of holiday decisions.
Last year, our Christmas season far outdid any other Christmas season. It was tear-jerking and magical and sometimes I’d sit down and just soak up the peace and joy like a parched sponge on the beach. This year has been different.
I’m numb and also lost.
I am so busy that I don’t feel true joy, neither do I feel true pain or sorrow. I just am.
I am also so busy that I keep messing stuff up. The first batch of fruitcake didn’t get the spices at the right time, the second and last batch got baked at 365 for one hour instead of 265 for four hours. I once lost my phone, used my husband’s phone to call mine and heard it ringing behind me, behind me, behind me.
I did two full circles before I realized it was in my back pocket.

I’m working three part-time jobs, and while managing them all NOT in the holiday season is pretty easy, right now it isn’t. Next year I’ll make changes to simplify, but this is a learning year. And that’s okay. Sometimes I need weeks like this to learn from, to help me simplify and appreciate the present moment more.

We all know where my cleaning skills sit. I can’t hide them or fake them, especially in our little house. On top of working my jobs, I’ve also still been dealing with chronic stomach issues. I don’t remember what life was like NOT sick.
But for some reason, I still think I should have a clean house.

Last week, it hit me pretty hard: it’s not possible. With everything going on, including health issues, my house looks exactly as it should! In fact, I can’t possibly think of a way for it to look differently at all.
Except…
The glorious prospect of cleaning help.

There came an eye-opening moment of acceptance when my husband was rubbing my back. He’d said he felt prompted to run me a hot bath and give me a massage. It was really nice, and it was the first time I’d felt anything since before Thanksgiving. The self-care given to me (since I’d been too busy to TAKE some myself), had opened up a rare window for my emotions to be FELT.
I felt peace and warm and calm. I felt grateful.
But I also felt my body SCREAMING FOR ATTENTION.

I haven’t been feeding it right or listening to it.
As Danny ran his hands over my spine, it HURT. My inflammation is bad right now.

That’s when acceptance hit me.
I’ve spent YEARS trying to get rid of my inflammation, trying to discard it and go on my way. But you know what? I’ve never accepted it as part of my journey.
So I took a breath and I realized this:

I have to pay extra attention to my body… Yoga is a non-negotiable, as is meditation. I have to eat differently.
Instead of pouring time into figuring out where the inflammation comes from, I can pour time into taking better care of myself, knowing that inflammation is part of me now. This means more water, more walking. This means saying no to things I used to be able to say yes to.
My dirty house has been part of the result of my LACK of acceptance. I keep thinking it will get clean when I feel better, when my stomach stops hurting, when my joints feel normal.
But how about I just PAY someone to clean it instead? I feel better, the kids feel better, and it frees up my time to do things like yoga. I can hear myself better in a clean house.
I don’t expect it to stay clean, but I am okay hiring help once a month. That’s the upside to my three little jobs. I have just enough to pay for help, and it feels like God gave me that gift.
Paying someone is FREEING for me. When folks come and clean for free, I apologize and apologize and never ask for what I really need. But if I’m paying? Shoot. Give me two hours and I’ll have a ready list of what I need.

This morning, I woke up to a clean space. I can effectively work all three jobs from home -since on top of the usual health stuff I’ve also got a holiday head cold -and when I’m done easily clean up my space. Maintaining is easy. I imagine Christmas Day will bring all kinds of crazy house work back into the picture.
So I will set aside more cash.

And now I’m going to stretch out on my yoga mat, drink some water, take more vitamin C, gargle some apple cider vinegar, meditate and then get to work.
Do you think that taking care of myself counts as a 4th job? It feels like it.

I hope your holiday season is reminding you of what’s important, whether because you’re able to actually tap into it or because you’re so far from it, you can’t wait to find your way back.

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Tree Decorating and Sinterklaas

On Friday, we went into the city and picked up a real Christmas tree. Danny has always loved real Christmas trees covered in bright, multi-colored lights which is sad because that’s what I always grew up with and couldn’t WAIT to have my own fake tree covered in plain white lights.
But I’m selfish and his reasoning is always, “for the kids” and I can’t argue with that.
This year, I watched Danny plug in our lights and make one long strand of LED multi-colored lights.
“What about white?” I asked (I always have to try).
“Whatever the kids want,” he shrugs.
“Lacy, what kind of lights to do want on the tree?”
“COLORS!” She chirps back. And so it is.
Game, set, match, Mama.

My mom always covered our tree in homemade ornaments we’d bring home from school along with ornaments we received as gifts, and I always felt like our tree was sort of less-than. It didn’t match like Grandma’s tree.
So when we moved into a house big enough to hold a decent-sized tree, I took a CHUNK of money and bought matching decorations: red and gold balls, ribbons! I decorated the (fake!) tree with a sort of triumph that year. And never have I been so dissatisfied… it was an empty kind of tree, it looked commercialized.

Saturday night, the kids pulled ornaments from our Christmas bin with the kind of crazed Christmas Kid energy we’ve all given into at some point in our childhood… and there was glee and smiles and, “Remember THIS?!”
The ornament from Kindergarten.
“Aw, THIS ONE!”
The Iron Man ornament from Grammy.
“Hey, Alicia…”
Danny dangled a dainty gold trolley in front of me, we’d picked it up on the wharf in San Francisco. We placed it next to the ornament we bought in San Diego on our honeymoon and the “Our First Christmas” ornament from 2004.
We put up the shoe ornament I’d bought at Disneyland, a few branches up from the shoe ornament Danny had bought me at the hospital when I was giving birth to our little Christmas season baby, Alice Michelle.
In a fun in-your-face turn of events, no one wanted anything to do with the red and gold matching ornaments. I had to beg them to hang them up. Once the ornaments with sentiment and memories were up, they were happy campers! The red and gold ornaments were just a pain in their little behinds.

Before bed on Saturday night, I sat next to the tree and inhaled. Guess what?
I actually do prefer real trees and multi-colored lights and homemade ornaments. How ’bout that?

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The bottom half of the tree is covered with tough ornaments… the kind toddlers can handle without Mom sweating it. 1205152138

Alice helped put the star on top!
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To finish it off, we added candy canes all over… that’s a must in Danny’s book. He bought about 7 boxes of candy canes this year.
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Aaaaaand it didn’t take him long to say, “maybe candy canes aren’t the best idea…”
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We’ve already uncovered one hoard of half-eaten candy canes hidden behind the tree.

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The kids are so much fun. Lacy wrapped the tree skirt around her waist and put an elf hat on -she makes us all laugh with the little things she does:
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She has finally forgiven me for teasing her. When we brought our tree home, it was in a big tree net. I didn’t know that Lacy didn’t know the net would come off until she said, “Mom, it’s just… I really like the way the tree looks WITHOUT the net.”
“You’ll be surprised at how good it will look once the lights are on,” I said.
We kept the ruse up for a few minutes. Lacy was adamant about losing the net, and I would calmly reply, “You’ll be surprised at how good it will look.”
Pretty soon, I couldn’t find her. I looked around our little house and found her face-down on her bed.
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When she finally came out and saw the net-less tree up, she burst into tears. Having parents who tease is the WORST. I know by experience.
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We had waited all week for Saturday to come -not so we could put up our tree, but so we could celebrate Sinterklaas with the goodies our good friend, Martha, gave us. Every year on December 5th, Martha celebrates Sinterklaas with her family. They sing and eat Dutch goodies -she wanted us to share in the goodness in our own home.
“I’ll make them Dutch children yet!” She says about my kids. And you know what? It’s working. She’s spoiled us with rusk and chocolate shavings on top. She’s given us big loaves of Dutch Christmas bread. This year, she spoiled us rotten with Dutch Chocolate Coins and a bag filled with Christmas Dutch Treats!
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Martha is full of fascinating stories (and we all know how I feel about people like that!) -she lived overseas during WWII. Lucky YOU can actually read her stories for not much money! Give yourself a little Christmas gift and buy her book. It’s only 99 cents for the Kindle version, and you can read it in one sitting. It’s a great perspective-shifter when you feel caught up in things that don’t matter.

She just announced on Sunday that she’s finished her second book, so I’m really excited to get my hands on a copy.

We were so exhausted from setting up the tree that we fell asleep before having our Sinterklaas celebration, so we celebrated a day late on the 6th. We watched the LDS Christmas Devotional and then gathered around to enjoy a few stories about the Dutch Holiday. They make the children royalty for a day which I think is really the best thing ever -isn’t that the beauty of my personal beliefs? That we are all children of a King?

Afterward, we all went to my grandmas. Alice took her precious pouch of coins with her and unfortunately lost most of it to older kids. She was sad, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I kicked myself for letting her take it, but I also knew it wasn’t the end of the world. Well, last night we stopped by grandmas again to see if she had some Cream of Tartar (we needed it for our gingerbread house frosting), and she didn’t… but she had one rather big Dutch chocolate coin. Uncle Gary had come to rake grandma’s leaves earlier in the day and found one of Alice’s coins.
She was THRILLED -what a blessing. We called Uncle Gary immediately and thanked him.
I tried to get a picture because she was so cute and proud, but she wouldn’t stop wiggling.
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Our holiday season is so busy, and I can’t seem to keep the house cleaned or my head cleared this year… but that’s okay. Good memories are being made, and even if I’m not doing my best to simplify, good is still coming out of the season.
I love seeing the lights, smelling the gingerbread cooking in the oven (with melting Jolly Ranchers, mmmmm!), and feeling the feels.
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First Comes the Food

“Alice, you have LOTS of TEETH!”
“YEAH!”
“That’s so great!”
“YEAH!”
“Where did you get them?”


“From food.”
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Broken Hearts

We are deep feelers in our house. We’ve staked our house out as a SAFE ZONE for emotions because we all feel them lots and deep and loud. I do, Danny do’s, and the kids?
Well.

Last night, I went to bed early. Danny came in to visit before I shut my eyes and we were about 5 minutes into a conversation when we heard WAILS from the living room. We thought someone was hurt. Trenton was REALLY upset. Tears were streaming down his face.
Danny ran to the living room and then I remembered.
Oh yeah… the kids were watching a BBC version of “Robin Hood”, and I had read ahead (because I do that -I like to know where I’m going to end up, okay?) and found out that Maid Marian dies at the end of season 2. And they were watching the last episode in Season 2.

Minutes later, Trenton was under my arm.
“I HATE THAT SHOW,” he said, “and I hate the guy who killed her and I hate the Sheriff and I don’t want to watch it anymore!”
I hugged him and bit my lip. He was so upset and I couldn’t help but be touched by how cute it was.
“He’s not the only one…” My husband came down the hallway with our 8-year old in front of him.
“SHE DIED!” Lacy’s tears matched Trenton’s.
And then, on cue, Alice started in.
“What’s wrong?” I asked her.
“I DON’T WANT GUYS TO BE SAD.”

We talked through it, said family prayers, and then I woke up this morning to find Lacy thus:
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She had stayed up to pencil her feelings out. It was adorable, and I’m so proud of her for GETTING HER FEELS OUT instead of shoving them down like I have been known to do.
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1202150715bAnd I solemnly swear that Lacy Gayle has my full heart.

What Went On

I’m physically back from my social media break. I gotta say: life without facebook is decidedly happier. I’m going to set some much-needed boundaries with how I use it and WHEN I use it.

The last few weeks have been filled with yoga, vitamins, meditating, eating and crafting. Toward the end of my break, Grandpa Max passed away unexpectedly. My yoga wavered, but I carried on. At his funeral, I gave my Granddad a big hug. A few days later, Dad called at 6 am (are those calls ever good calls?) to let me know that Granddad had also passed away unexpectedly. At that point, something snapped inside of me. I haven’t been able to get my brain back. I haven’t done yoga in 8 days. And I’m eating whatever is close and easy. Hardly a recipe for health -my stomach issues aren’t loving me for it.

So I’m back. In a way. I’m sure as time goes on, my mind will slowly kick back into gear. It would help if people would quit asking hard questions like, “What’s for dinner?”

While I was away, I did a lot of reading about health. My health has been so shaky and weird… I want to get it sorted out and I want to do it wisely. I made good progress, incorporating vitamins, chia seeds, protein, and meditation to minimize stress. I also dialed down my sugar intake, though I didn’t take it away completely. I made meatless enchiladas with black beans, corn and butternut squash. I juiced a lot of green veggies. I found myself drawn more and more into the kitchen -it’s my favorite room in the house. It’s my artist’s studio, my chemist lab. It’s where I put things together and watch to see what happens.
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We feasted on Eggplant Parm -my Grandma’s most-requested dish. It’s vegetarian and delicious. Though I learned that hard way that if you’re going to eat at Grandma’s do NOT let Grandpa babysit the dolly. He will fall asleep. Boy howdy, if there was a Babydoll Protective Service…
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I tried sauerkraut for the first time and absolutely loved it -my Granny made it herself, and I’ve got to figure out how she does it!
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We stuffed our traditional pumpkin! Lacy set the table for the pumpkin meal.
“What should I do?” She asked. This is a new thing she does where she doesn’t trust her cute little gut like she used to.
“I trust you to do whatever,” I said.
“Mom!” She lit up, “THANK YOU!”
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She’s losing confidence these days because she’s been burned. I mean literally. She once pulled some cookies out of the oven and slightly burned herself and since REFUSED to get anything out of the oven. A few weeks ago, she asked to make brownies and I said, “Sure, but you have to go through the WHOLE process. You have to get them out.”
I’m happy to report that she DID. After crying for over 15 minutes (we left the oven door open during this time to prevent burning). She wasn’t the only one crying. Trent soon lost his cool and burst into tears, shouting, “DO NOT LET MY BROWNIES BURN, LACE. DON’T YOU DARE.” And then Alice joined in because she was thoroughly and completely freaked out.
I left the room to escape the bargaining going on.
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What a brave girl! She doubled up on hot pads. And you know what? She’s pulled a few more things out of the oven since then. It turns out, she CAN do scary things!
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Last night, I gave her a little gift I’d had lying around. I said, “I just want you to know that I notice how much you help and what a good big sister you are. I see you, and I appreciate how hard you work to help and everything you do.”
She hugged me tight and looked up at me with her big, hazel eyes, “Mom, I always thought it would just be me, you and Dad. But then those other two party-poopers came around.”
Devastation Station, people.
She SAYS that, but she also made a bow for her brother (probably because she felt bad about deliberately breaking the one Uncle Mike made for him?) and spent hours outside playing with him:
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And this happened last week:
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Just last night, she dressed Alice up in heels and lipstick and they danced all over the house. So she says “party poopers” but she doesn’t walk the walk.
Lacy isn’t the only one putting make-up on Alice. Alice has been putting make-up on Alice.
“I’m just a kitty now!”
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For Halloween, I bought some face make-up and that was IT. We made several costumes with whatever else we had on hand. Everyone was happy. We made our traditional “carnival apples” with caramel and white chocolate. We watched movies and ate too much sugar.
And scared people.
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We simplified our pumpkin carving. Last year we bought one of those fancy kits the rich people buy, so our entitled children were confused this year.
“What about pirates and Batman and princesses?”
We told them we had a new, free kind of pumpkin carving kit and handed them a spoon. Dad helped with the knife. The results were retro, am I right?
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Alice doesn’t actually need a reason to dress up. Dressing up is what she does daily. Also fit throwing.
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I call that one, “Diva in Distress.”

Although she dresses up, we have this very ironic problem: we can’t actually KEEP HER DRESSED. We will NEVER forget the time she undressed and crawled into the sink to bathe herself and it FLOODED the kitchen. I was down the hall, people. I was just DOWN THE HALL. But our kitchen slopes, and it only took a few minutes.
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Our pantry is now clean. Very clean. My piano is also very clean now because I went to the bathroom once and Alice did her Alice-est to NEVER LET ME FORGET THAT GOING TO THE BATHROOM IS A PUNISHABLE OFFENCE.
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Good thing I’m flexible. I’m only bringing that up so I can tell you how flexible I am now. After doing a few weeks of consistent yoga (minus the last 8 days where I counted “getting up” as a pretty big stretch) I found victory in this:
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I can grab my foot without bending my long leg for the first time since 4th grade. Miracles.

Also? It snowed.
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That -minus the beautiful funerals -brings us up to date. So I’ll see you after Thanksgiving, okay?

Forty Day Hiatus

Last week, I was unfortunate enough to click on an entire forum attacking me personally. It was public, it was harsh and it was so full of cynicism and hatred that it shocked me.
They called me manipulative, controlling and a vile mother. They ripped apart my values and even went so far as to have vulgar assumptions about my sex life (what?). They used ugly language and ugly words, and they were sure -SURE -that Danny’s life would improve exponentially as soon as he cut ties with me. Our marriage would end wonderfully for him.

Now.
This all would have been much more painful had they been nice people -meaning, I would put more stock into their opinions if they were having an intellectual discussion criticizing my personal life. But it was just cynical hatred spewing, spewing, spewing. It was so hateful it only took me 12 hours to pretty much feel the reality of the situation: it wasn’t about me at all. In fact, in their mind, our inevitable divorce was synonymous with Danny’s leaving The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
See that?

It’s THE CHURCH. It’s religion they’re upset over. I’m just a temporary punching bag.

I’m floored at the amount of hatred the world has, and I feel sadness. I feel sorrow -I feel A LOT of sorrow. There’s sorrow every time I turn my computer on, log onto my Facebook account, every time I listen to the news on the radio.

Given this last very personal attack of hatred, I immediately logged off. I haven’t logged back on, and I won’t. My immediate reaction was to never ever log back in again EVER, but as that reaction has faded into a RESPONSE and I’ve had time to process, I’ve decided to take a 40-day fast from social media.
Forty days without Facebooking, blogging, instagramming.
I’m still checking emails and using my voxer app.

Meanwhile, I’m going to be doing a 40-day yoga program by Baron Baptiste.

As we journey inward we reflect our light outward - Baron Baptiste:

He’s pretty smart. I’m hoping to absorb some of that wisdom in my meditations.

Life has handed me a lot of mental opposition these days, and I know there’s something I’m supposed to learn.
Here’s a TED talk I’m streaming now… and hoping to find that subliminal place where Christ is in my center, where hatred glides quietly by and love sets up a permanent camp.
See ya on the other side of lots of sweat.

Pain Shame and Rug Sweeping

A few days ago, I came across a post on facebook that was being shared like wildfire among mothers -particularly young mothers.  A sweet sister had lost her baby just before delivery.  She wrote out her pain on social media which I’m not against, but I began to feel my own pain when she asked the readers who were complaining about being up with their own baby at night to remember: she had no baby.

I watched in sadness as my fellow sisters shared, shared, shared the article and shamed themselves.“Such a good reminder to me to quit complaining.”
“I needed this.  I’m such a whiner, and I need to shut up and be grateful.”My heart began to burn and I closed out of facebook -my serenity vanished and my heart swelled and ached in that uncomfortable, unmanageable way.
I’m all for gratitude in trials, I am.  I AM.  As a friend so succinctly put it, “We aren’t meant to feel gratitude INSTEAD of pain, but to learn to feel gratitude in the midst of pain.”
I am NOT for using gratitude to sweep pain under the rug.  Pain does not belong under the rug, especially when the hands holding the broom are coated in shame.

“I need to shut up and be grateful,” sweep, sweep, sweep.

Using gratitude to shove pain in places where I can’t see it for awhile or feel it for awhile is simply my way of trying to deal with my own pain… the VERY pain that Christ died for.  Sometimes I feel like He shouldn’t HAVE to take it because it is so very “small” compared to other pain, but Christ doesn’t care about the size of pain.  He suffered for IT ALL.
And for what it’s worth, in this particular case, the pain of being up with a child at night while I’m sleep deprived, post-partum, nervous, confused, and trying to see straight through a blur of hormones that haven’t balanced and sit on a bottom that does NOT want to be sat upon… IS INCREDIBLY HARD.  Not small pain by any means!

So many of my sweet friends who are battling post-partum depression, sleep deprivation, exhaustion, depletion, and anxiety were in tears over their own lack of gratitude when they read her post, and I wanted to hold them tight and say, “Give me the broom.”
Because I know.  I KNOW that their own individual pain will come out from under the rug very soon and it will be bigger, more angry and probably out for revenge.

And the beautiful part about pain is what a wonderful, necessary gift it is.
Pain is the opportunity to turn fully to Christ, to have a conversation with Him about how it feels because HE HAS FELT IT.  He is the ONLY Man to know the pain of birth, hormones, sensitive emotions… He knows!

A dear friend of mine once told me, “Suffering is like gas in a chamber.  It just fills the space, no matter what.”
I reverence gratitude in it’s pure form, but I do not reverence gratitude in it’s piggy-backing shame form.  I can’t.
God doesn’t want us to shut up and be grateful when we’re up at night with a baby who won’t sleep because someone else CAN’T be up with a baby they lost.  He suffered BOTH pains, and He desires BOTH PAINS.
Not just the “bigger” pain.
I’ve had so many frustrating conversations with caring folks who just don’t GET the pain I’ve felt in my life because of my husband’s addiction -they WANT TO, but they don’t understand what it’s like to live in a marriage like mine.  But you know what?  GOD DOES, and when I talk to Him honestly and say, “THIS HURTS!”  I don’t feel God telling me to sweep anything because someone else has lost a husband or is going through a divorce.
My trial isn’t the kind I can take to social media and say, “Please remember when you’re celebrating an anniversary by posting pictures of how great things are that my anniversaries have been incredibly painful.”
Does that make seeing posts with couples appearing happy hard for me?  YES.  But that is MY PAIN, and I WANT IT.
It’s part of my journey and process.   I don’t want others to stop posting their happiness.  Even when it hurts, even when I THINK I want them to be miserable with me, I don’t.  Not really.
What I really want is to turn to God and say, “OUCH” and then learn what I need to from my own pain, because there IS SOMETHING THERE for me.
I have asked Him why.  I have asked Him if I’m not worthy of an easier marriage.  I’ve hashed out all there is to hash for now -and I’m sure I’ll find more to hash today and tomorrow!
I’ve tried to sweep my pain under the rug.  I’ve tried to numb it out with food and business.But the only truly healing thing I’ve done is taken it to God when I’ve been ready.  Sometimes I feel a release from the pain, sometimes I feel God nudge me toward work that still needs done.
Pain is a gift -a bridge in my relationship to God, and a teacher!  It isn’t the nice, sunny, posh sort of teacher who speaks softly and has twinkly eyes… but I’ll be danged it if isn’t one of the most effective teachers I’ve ever had.So many sweet women I’ve met have held back from living genuinely for fear of hurting others, and I must say: you are robbing the world.
Satan’s trademark is taking truth and warping it -here a little, there a little.  I see him taking on the compassion that so effortlessly becomes women and using it for his gain.  He takes our desire to not hurt those around us who are struggling and morphs it into self-censorship of the vulgarest kind.  We are censoring our authenticity -we are hiding our lights under a bushel.

The world needs your authenticity.  They need to hear about how hard (or wonderful!) your children can be sometimes, even if it pains those who can’t have children or who have lost children.  They need to know that your house is dirty -even though there are those who can’t afford a house or who have been turned out.  I can’t go around censoring myself under the guise of compassion because all I’m really doing is trying to manage the pain swirling around me -the pain other people are feeling. But I can’t fix that pain, and I don’t fix that pain.  Because it negates Christ’s sacrifice.
I don’t believe for ONE SECOND that we are naturally out to hurt or cause harm.  Does it happen?  Yes.  That is part of the plan, the path, and the test.   

But to try and manage another’s pain? Can this REALLY be done while being true to ourselves?  No, it cannot.  Because their pain is not ours to manage.  Our OWN pain is barely ours to manage because Christ took care of it already.

I have personally sat with a friend who has suffered infertility, loss, and pregnancy complications who told me how HARD it was to have kids who didn’t sleep and who poured syrup on the floor and then PEED ALL OVER IT.

Her pain needed validation, all of her pain needed validation.

I don’t want to invalidate the pain of the sweet sister who lost her baby -that is unimaginable. I simply want to extend an invitation to the sweet sisters who immediately and so easily set themselves to shame and self-blame because of it.

I messaged a good friend about this, wondering why it was touching me so deeply, and she talked about the problem of “Pain Shame” we have, especially among women.
Yes!
PAIN SHAME.
We feel shame because our pain is “less than” the seen pain of someone online -someone with cancer or loss.

God doesn’t see our pain as “less than” and I don’t believe He sees our pain on individual little strips of paper.  I don’t believe He suffered for “sleep deprivation” and checked it off the list.
I believe He suffered for the deep pain I would feel attending church alone with two small children, little sleep, overcome with anxiety over my husband’s addiction and lack of recovery -those moments when even the slightest irritation felt like Everest.  God suffered for my BIG PICTURE, not just the lack of sleep or the slight irritations.

There is room under the rug for pain.  It’s true.  And it’s as good a place as any to put pain until we’re ready to hand it over.

(I personally have a very sturdy figurative mind-rug.  I like to think it’s the pretty kind the pioneer used to make by braiding all of their old clothes together… sturdy, lovely, and durable.  Built to last!)
I just want to share my love, ladies, and say: your pain is worthy of God’s suffering, no matter if you feel it isn’t.The pain I feel watching my dear friends so easily set to hating themselves for pain that needs validation instead is ALSO something God suffered for, and I’ve talked with Him about it!My pleading prayer for you is this: Live genuinely today, feel your individual pain without holding it up against the pain of the girl next door.  Practice gratitude for what is in front of you right now and leave shame out of the picture.

Christ died for you.
We all have a measure of divinity within us -it is our equalizer.  I am JUST as much a daughter of God as every other girl on earth, and God suffered equally for us all.
I see now -I SEE -that His precious, sacred suffering for me was going, frankly, in vain.  I was semi-pro with my shame hands and my rug-sweeping.  Learning to put my own superficial management tools aside and take up God’s atonement is hard work, but it is the best work.

Pain has gotten me there.

And for this, I reverence my own individual pain.  Today I will honor it, lean into it and learn what I need to learn from it.  I will take it to God, and we will discuss it together.

Pain is the pathway to progress.