Pretend Primary

When you’ve lived with someone infected with chicken pox, you don’t get to roam around much. Mom calls it, “precautionary” but I call it “bunk” because my house stinks. Sometimes literally. Sometimes literally as a direct result of me.
And when it keeps me from going to church, I bring church to me and my babies.

“Listen, babies. I do the lesson from my phone.”
20160124_145414_resized

January 22nd Went Like

It is a truth universally acknowledged that I have the makings of a decent mother and a wretched housekeeper. Lots of people who love me accept this, and I think I’m getting there.
But let me tell you about today.

I started to. Earlier. I started two posts. I tried to make some stuff funny that wasn’t really funny at all… like the toddler dumping Gatorade powder all over the carpet. Wait, that’s not exactly accurate. She was dumping Gatorade on dried up food that was on some crayons that were in the hole in the bottom of the sea on the carpet.
I also tried to joke about how much sleep I’m not getting, but that’s not very funny either. I erased everything because I was crying at that point, and I decided to try again. I started writing out life’s present mysteries, but… that sucked even more.
Because I don’t know lots of stuff about stuff, probably because I don’t remember what life with sleep looks like. And then I watched a commercial online, one of those heart-string tuggers, you know? and I cried again.

I felt failure packing up all around me.
I decided I was falling short in every possible area. Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, socially. My parenting? Please. Don’t. Don’t talk about it, don’t bring it up. I’m the worst. I’m just sure of it. And my housekeeping?! I don’t think it is possible to be WORSE than I am at housekeeping.

It was a sad place to be. For like, an hour.
After that, I morphed into some kind of emotional gladiator. I felt proud of my messy house because it is just PART of me. I began sort of strutting around, like, ‘yeah. this is me. this is how I do. or don’t do. or something.’
I took the kids to the store for milk and while buying milk, Lacy.
(I have to pause here and mention that she is not contagious anymore. She is scabbed over. Scabbily Scabs. She said, “okay mom, I’ll go in the store and if ANYONE says ANYTHING I will just say, “it is zits, I have zits.” And I smiled big and told her she was funny. I remember lying to people about my zits though, “I fell…” so I guess she gets that from me?)
Lacy stopped me in the middle of pulling milk from the cooler and said, “I want to cook something FRENCH for dinner.”
Today is Friday, and we loosely follow a tradition called “Fancy Friday” where we eat dinner off of real plates and use a tablecloth and candles. Lacy decorates the table and we make dinner as a team.
Earlier this afternoon, while I was reveling in my messy -sitting next to but doing nothing about clean laundry on the couch -Lacy made French Toast for lunch. I guided her, but she did it all. It was delicious. SERIOUSLY.
20160122_143418
Lacy loves to bake and cook -she loves the kitchen. As I took huge bites of the two gluten free pieces she made me, I wondered if maybe something else I should strut around with -aside from my mess -is the cool stuff I pass to my kids, like cooking. I’ve spent hours in our kitchen with Lacy in the sink, on the counter, at my feet. I love it, and she saw me love it, and now she loves it.
“This,” she said, as she ripped up gooey pieces of syrupy bread and munched, “Is so good. I want to clean the kitchen and cook for THE REST OF THE DAY.”
She remembered this very ambitious vow right next to the milk at the grocery store.
“I want to make a FRENCH dinner,” she said, though her tone was mostly, “We are going to make a French dinner.”
I googled, “easy french dinners” and found a recipe I couldn’t pronounce but had about 1/2 of the ingredients at home. We bought what we didn’t have and hauled our loot to the park. I meant to go home, but it was warm outside and the park was there and…
20160122_162249
We finally made it home, cleaned up and made a french dinner. A Fancy French Dinner.
20160122_181052
I had to Google how to pronounce what that is.

Alice loves that video. She calls it, “Coco Blah.” I heard her watching it and saying, “What?” after the first pronunciation and then, “oh, Coco Blah.” after the second.
We loved the Coco Blah and started making plans to make it again as soon as possible. like tomorrow.
Lacy and Trent decorated the table, and Lacy said, “I hope you don’t mind. I didn’t ask, but I set out chips and salsa too.”
Because nothing goes better with Coco Blah than chips and salsa, don’tchaknow.

In the middle of the meal, Lacy pointed out that the sparkling cider looks just like pee. Trent giggled about that while Alice reflected on her own cider and affirmed that YES IT DOES. And then she went pee and came out without pants. or underpants.
She handed a diaper to Danny.
“No,” he said, “You’re a big girl.”
“But I want to be a baby,” she said.
“Life is hard,” I shrugged, “I mean, we took her away from nursery and now we are taking away her diapers.”
“I don’t like primary,” Alice said, “I’m a nursery gwil.”
Gwil = girl.
“But you’re a big girl, and you can use the potty,” Danny said.
“I want to be a baby and I want to be a nursery gwil.”
“You know why she hates Primary, right?” Danny looked at me.
“Why?”
“Structure.”
I won’t bother you with where she gets that, I will only say that two days ago Danny rearranged all of the clothes in my dresser drawer and now I can’t find anything in all the organization… so the clear offender is him, right? Because that’s just crazy making, right?

About 20 minutes later, Alice emerged triumphant from the bathroom and earned herself a trip to the convenience store for her own pack of gum. Is this prize outlandish? It MIGHT be viewed that way, but here’s the thing: Alice is TERRIFIED of the toilet. She faced the terror, and I’ve been promising her for weeks her own pack of gum if she’d go number 2 in the proper place (it IS Fancy Friday, after all).

And.
Well.
20160122_191434

The kids agreed on helping Mom clean up dinner when we got home from the store. And instead of helping, they fought and teased and got louder and louder. Pretty soon, they were throwing bits of food… and I was cleaning alone.
So I stopped.
“You guys said you would help and you aren’t. We had a nice dinner this Friday, but I’m cancelling Fancy Friday for next week because this behavior just isn’t okay. I’m sorry you’ve made this choice. You need to go to bed now.”

I was bummed. I like hanging out with those kids, especially on Friday nights.
A few minutes later, Lacy came out to cry and apologize and ask for some anti-itch meds. I told her pain is easier to handle when there is PURPOSE behind it.
I’m reading some Viktor Frankl right now, and he’s the man. The Finding Purpose in Pain man.
“Having chicken pox right now is hard, but when we think about how having them now means our body is getting STRONGER -SO STRONG IT WILL NEVER GET THEM AGAIN -then it feels better inside, even if our outside is still hurting a lot.”
“Right,” she nodded, we’d had this conversation last week.
“So you’re hurting right now. That’s normal and we usually DO hurt when we make a choice we didn’t really MEAN to make.”
“Right,” she sobbed a little harder.
“If we can find a reason for the pain, give the pain a job… won’t that help?”
“Like?”
“Like… what can you learn from tonight?”
“To never be distracted by TRENT!”
“Orrrrrrrr to walk away from people who try to keep you from your goals?”
“Okay, yeah.”
“Something to think about, right?”
I looked up to see Trent watching us from the hall.
“I’m feeling sorry too,” he said.
Lacy scooted out of the kitchen and off to bed.
“How are you feeling?” I asked, pulling him close.
“Like tomorrow will be JUST. LIKE. THIS.”
“Like what?”
“Us. Going to BED all EARLY.”
“Yeah,” I nodded, holding his skinny little arms -this kid just won’t EAT, “It will be like that.”
“WHAT?!”
“Did you know that when you think yucky thoughts, yucky things happen?”
He shook his head and looked up at me with those lovely, large brown eyes I just can’t get enough of -so expressive.
“I was doing yoga yesterday and listening to a very smart man say that the most powerful tool in our body is our imagination… that if we imagine bad stuff, it kind of starts happening. Like if we imagine that Mom will be sad and send us to bed early, then it is more likely to happen. BUT if we think about staying up LATE and imagining all the fun we will have, thinking of good and happy and cool things to do, THOSE kind of things are more likely to happen. Does that sound like an experiment you’re willing to try?”
“Just need a paper and pen to make a list,” he said, perking up.

And as they went to bed, I decided something.
1) I’m PMSing. Because so many emotions. It is other-worldly.
2) Dr. Pepper doesn’t get enough credit for its medicinal purposes. But today it got me to a park and through a fancy meal of Coco Blah and salsa when only a few hours before all I really wanted was to have Joy drag me around while I touched everything and turned it sad.
3) Something I said to Lacy hit home as it came out of my mouth.
“I’m glad you’re my mom. You’re a good one,” she said.
“I am!” I said, “I AM a GOOD MOM and a terrible housekeeper!” Lacy laughed.
“And I’d rather be a good mom and terrible housekeeper than a bad mom and a great housekeeper.”

So here’s to today! And being a woman! And being me! And potty training and French and trips to the store for milk that turn into fancy dinner plans because structure really IS the worst!

No.
Hormones are the worst. I think even Jane Austen would raise her quill to that.

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.”

20160119_174611_resized

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.
12469640_1120968241271181_2670541611625193963_o
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.
12509354_1145962925436609_4687301698548461604_n
8) Today, I will take a nap.

From last year’s Valentine’s Feast:
IMG_20150214_162746

0214151443

0214151535

0214151617

0214151617c

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.

1216152117d

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?

1205152119a

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!
1205152140b-ANIMATION

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.
1205152138b

Aaaaaand it didn’t take him long to say, “maybe candy canes aren’t the best idea…”
1205152140
We’ve already uncovered one hoard of half-eaten candy canes hidden behind the tree.

1205152119c
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:
1205152139c

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.
1205151851b

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.
1205151919

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!
dutchtreats

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.
dutchcoindance

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.
1207151842a

First Comes the Food

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


“From food.”
1117151314a

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:
1202150715
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.
1202150715a
1202150715c

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.
foodcollage1
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…
1029152103
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!
1116151325
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!”
1026151939b

1026151939

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.
1018151833
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!
1019152044
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:
1120151456
And this happened last week:
1119150754

1119150750
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!”
1117151313

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.
1031151654

1030150808

1030150809

1030151720

1031151650a

1031151650d

1031151651

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?
1031151825a

Alice doesn’t actually need a reason to dress up. Dressing up is what she does daily. Also fit throwing.
1110151343a
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.
1102151814

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.
1023151916

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:
1112151545a
I can grab my foot without bending my long leg for the first time since 4th grade. Miracles.

Also? It snowed.
1116151037

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