My Refutation as it Concerns Coco

Before I start, I think you should all know that someone searched the term “I hate the letter w” and came up with my site.
I can’t say why exactly, but I’m a little proud.

I also want to bore you a spam comment I received. Someone left one about WANTING to get a heart attack. Apparently, my post on caramel apples seemed to really help them out.

What can I say? I’m here to help.

And now onto more important things: I read a quote a few days ago that affected me in several ways. First, I was ridden with substantial guilt. Then, I was confused. After that, I went into pondering, and I came out the other side amused and little furious.

The quote?
“A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.” ~ Coco Chanel

On first reading, it seemed so breezy and cool -terribly attractive. Immediately, I looked down at my jeans and tee shirt and thought ‘What’s MY deal then? Am I not a girl? Am I “just” a housewife masquerading as a mom?’
I looked at my house. It was littered in yarn and toys and Christmas ornaments.
Was it classy? No. Fabulous? Gag me.

I walked around my house feeling like a huge let down to my husband. ‘He deserves someone classy and fabulous,’ I moaned to myself, ‘Someone thin with perfect posture and long, skinny fingers (as opposed to my stubby farm girl fingers, of course). He deserves a cleaner house, a wife who is up on the latest fashions, and home decor that REEKS of eucalyptus and perfection.’

That’s not what he has, mind you. But you already knew that.

Then I decided to try and imagine my life as a classy and fabulous woman. I laughed out loud -and I kid you not.
Then I imaged an entire WORLD full of nothing but classy and fabulous women and I laughed EVEN HARDER. Can’t you just picture it?

Madness.
Not only madness but… cat fights. and back bites. and holy mother of all drama.

There’s something to be said for variety. Variety gets the short end of the stick when it comes to mentions. Classy, fabulous… they get more than their fair share of mentions. But variety? We don’t hear much about it. I’d like to change that. I THINK there should be great emphasis put on it! Variety is what keeps society moving! It’s what makes one GREAT MASS BALL of wonderful out of a billion individual souls!

Some of those souls are classy and fabulous, yes. And thank goodness. But some of those souls are also dirty because they’ve spent the day in their garden. Others are in their pajamas and haven’t showered in four days because they’re raising four tiny Future Doctors/Teachers/Cops/Mine Workers that have been passing around the flu. A few of the souls are extra special souls that don’t quite have the “fabulous” or “classy” make of body or mind. A few are depressed. A few are so frackin’ filled with joy that they’re busting out at the seams and making so much racket that no one dares label them “classy” (though I’d consider them very much to be fabulous). Some are in wheel chairs. Some are in rocking chairs. Some are in computer chairs. Some are wrapped up in a blanket in the window with their hair unkempt because they’d rather watch birds than take a shower.

And you know what?
THAT is perfect. THAT is what we need. Women in rocking chairs NEED women that are in computer chairs. Depressed women generally benefit from women in rocking chairs. Young mothers benefit from the “classy and fabulous” women that they certainly can’t be everyday. And I guarantee that classy and fabulous women need scads of help! It takes energy, time, and MONEY to be classy and fabulous!

If we were all investing our existence into being fabulous, we’d sure miss out on… everything.

Whilst pondering, I thought back on the days where I DID feel classy and fabulous, and they were rather unremarkable (the day I got dressed up to go on a date with my husband. Prom night #1. Prom night #2… and that about does it). But the days I felt alive? The days that are etched into my burning soul for all eternity?
I was holding a freshly born baby on my chest.
I was watching two physically filthy toddlers sleep on my cluttered living room floor.
I was holding a positive pregnancy test.
I was holding a college degree.
I was holding hands with my soon-to-be husband for the VERY first time.
I was meeting my goal.
I was teaching.
I was dripping in sweat and peach juice, but the box of peaches… was FINALLY empty!

And so I say to you, women in the world, a girl should be two things: happy and very much herself.

If classy and fabulous is your aim in life, best of luck. You’ve certainly out-done me. However, contact me if you need any mopping done. I’m rather a whiz at it despite the current state of my kitchen floor.

Now, if you’ll pardon me… I’ve got to muck out my kitchen, my son’s diaper, and my brain.
How’s that for class-say?

The Tree is Up

We put our tree up.  It’s fake.  I love it.

That’s the the short version of what happened.

Want The Alicia version of what happened?  Read on if you do/dare:

I’ve always wanted a pre-lit FAKE tree.  Last year, my husband bought me one.  Before last year, we had been using a three foot tree that was shabby.  And not “shabby chic” shabby.  Just plain SHABBY.  When we went and bought a new full-size tree last year, I was jumping for joy.  The only downside?  My kids could unplug it, grab the cord and run circles around the tree and it would spin with them.

While my best friend was visiting during the holidays, I actually had to speak the words, “HEY!  STOP SPINNING THE TREE!”

It’s moments like those that make you slap your own forehead, and then afterward you realize your palm was covered in peanut butter or jello or playdough and you now have a nasty print on your forehead.  It feels about as good as stomping your foot in frustration, only to have it land in dog poo.

This year, the kids have forgotten about the spinning thing (knock on wood), and they had so much fun getting ornaments from me.  I have a few that coordinate and a few collected from the years over.  There’s the fake glass ship we bought on our Honeymoon while touring four historic ship in a harbor in San Diego (one of the ships was used in the filming of Master and Commander.  I nearly peed myself in excitement.  Nearly).

There’s the blue jingle bell that says “Baby’s First Christmas” and the pink jingle bell that says “Baby’s First Christmas.”  There’s the one made out of baked clay (or something): two teddy bears dressed as a bride and groom holding a cake between them that says “our first Christmas 2004.”

While we put the tree up, I put on some Christmas music that was eventually sacrificed in the name of the Suns game. My little brother came over with a box of green apples and a smile.  I busted out the popsicle sticks (jumbo), caramel, and white chocolate and we started making caramel apples.  While they cooled after the first dipping, we finished putting up Christmas decorations and I made some hot chocolate for everyone including my cousin, Jason, who had come to help with the apples (with the simple stipulation: I help, I eat.  Period. And he helped and then did eat).

While the Suns battled against the refs (according to my husband “It’s like 5 against 7 out there!” and “It’s hard enough playing against five guys, but we’re playing 5 guys and TWO ZEBRAS!”), I pulled my husband under the mistletoe to break it in.  My kids weren’t fazed, but my brother and cousin? Thoroughly disgusted.

Tree Spinner #1:

Tree Spinner #2:

So we put up our tree.
It’s fake.
I love it.

On Being Irreverent

We spent Thanksgiving with my husband’s family, and it was wonderful!  It was very small, and the food was (as it always is) SO good.
I couldn’t resist snapping some close-up pictures. The subjects were just too wonderful.

That pup, by the way, is looking right at the Thanksgiving spread on the table.

My daughter was getting impatient for the meal to start and her grammy gave her a deviled egg. She was thrilled beyond belief and brought it to me announcing, “Mama! Look at this Humpty Dumpty Grammy just gived to me!”

I guess as long as he can’t be put together again, we might as well split and share the spoils.

A few snacks here and there weren’t enough to pacify her, and I was happy when she crawled underneath my arms to have me read “The Polar Express.”
We enjoyed a full feast together and tried diligently to talk about things we were grateful for, but it didn’t go over too well.
It turns out the oddball things my husband is grateful for aren’t heartwarming, but they ARE conversation starters. We got off the subject easily, tried to return to it constantly, and enjoyed our meal thoroughly.
After dinner, I happened to glance at a flier and notice that Bass Pro Shop was open. I’ve been on the look out for red heel socks, and I thought they might have some. I went to round up my kids to take them with me because SANTA was there, but the turkey had taken it’s toll on one of them.

But the rest of us packed up and made the short drive. Our first stop was Santa.
He asked her what she wanted for Christmas.
She said, “A DDD player.”

Thank goodness “santa” has an extra one all boxed up in the closet!

As we walked around the store and from thence to Michael’s where I bought YET MORE cinnamon scented pine cones, I got a weird feeling. I watched the crowds of people flock around. I gawked at the shoppers lined up outside of blackened store windows, and I almost choked on the words “Happy Thanksgiving” as I checked out at Michael’s. It felt SO WEIRD to say that to a cashier.

As we drove home, I remarked to my husband that I’d never again shop on Thanksgiving. I then spent the next few minutes boring him with the tedious details of my childhood Thanksgivings in the country. I didn’t even KNOW the day after Thanksgiving was a huge shopping holiday. In my mind, the day after Thanksgiving was the day Dad and the brothers left on their two-day round-up, and the day I stayed up and baked with mom. Mom always made a real gingerbread house, and I stood guard, snacking on leftover bits of gingerbread and candy. Our little town slowed down (even more so. ha.) for Thanksgiving Day and nothing was open.

I then told him that going out and shopping on a day that was set aside as a day of Thankfulness seemed so… so…
I fished for the right word, and finally came up with:

irreverent.

My husband nodded in agreement and spent the next few minutes boring me the tedious details of his big-business-tyranny rant. He was 100% right on all accounts, but I’ve heard it before. Many times. Just like he’s heard me talk about my childhood Thanksgivings before. Many, many times (over).

The day after Thanksgiving, we came home. I knew my Dad was gone on a round-up and I knew my mom was making her gingerbread house. My mom gradually decorates the house after Thanksgiving, but the tree doesn’t go up until December 13th, my brother’s birthday. But WITHOUT FAIL, a gingerbread house is made and assembled the day after.

Since 2005, I’ve been making my own gingerbread house. This year, I lost a screw in my head and made four gingerbread houses. One is a small love shack, and the other three were even smaller -perfect for toddlers to decorate. We spent yesterday baking and putting them together, and I thought warmly of my mother as my kitchen turned from chaos into utter mayhem.

But as I watched my mother’s grandchildren (I invited my niece over) decorate their little houses, my heart just filled to the tip-top. Soft Christmas music played in the background, and the house was flooded with the scent of freshly-baked gingerbread. There was no arguing or fighting. There was only soft giggles and lips smacking and tiny little chatters.

I texted the above picture to my mother and when she called to thank me for it, I said “Look what you started!”
When I think of my holiday memories, I always think of my mom’s gingerbread house. It was unique to our house, and we looked forward to it every year.
Something else I loved about my mother’s decorations was her Nativity set. It wasn’t big and fancy. It was small and plastic. She liked it that way because then all of her kids could play with it without hurting it.
None of us could have anticipated that my little sister would come and along and repeatedly throw one of the wisemen in the trash because he was a “bad guy” but OTHER THAN THAT, we really couldn’t hurt them.

When my husband and I were first married, we used a WalMart gift card we’d received as a wedding present to buy our meager holiday decorations. The only Nativity we could afford was really small and not pretty at all. It was all of $3, but it served it’s purpose for us that year.
and the next year.
AND the next year.
AND the next year…

Finally, last year I was eaten up with guilt. We needed a more reverent Nativity Scene. I vowed that this year would be the year that we’d get one. I’ve been shopping for one for a long time and couldn’t find “the one.” When I did the grocery shopping last week, I had enough money left over to buy a $20 set at WalMart. My hopes weren’t high that I’d love it, but I was determined to set something up this year.
I had to buy a few animals to go with it because it didn’t include any, and it doesn’t have a Shepard either, but that’s okay for now.
When I came home, I eagerly cleaned the house and dusted the top of the entertainment center, I pulled the Nativity Scene out, and I was MORE than pleasantly surprised! The pieces are good sized and beautiful!
My only nagging regret (Shepard aside) was that it was so high up that my children couldn’t play with it. I shook it off and remembered that on top of the fridge I had a teensy TINY set that my grandmother had given me a few years ago. I pulled it out and the kids had a great deal of fun with it. In fact, baby Jesus has been pocketed and taken on a few field trips without my knowing.

On Sunday, I made my way to our storage unit and got all of our Christmas decorations out. I sent our old three-foot tree with my little sister so her college house could have a little tree all their own (shabby as it is), and I popped open our biggest plastic tub to find a world of merry and bright.
Mistletoe!
Stockings!
Hanging Holiday Signs!
Ornaments galore!

And there, on the very bottom of the tub… was a brand new Nativity Scene that I had purchased on clearance last year after Christmas.

And COMPLETELY forgotten about. I pulled it out and laughed and laughed and laughed. As I unwrapped my decorations, I found my dilapidated Nativity Scene from our first years as a married couple and family. I found a beautiful Willow Tree Christmas Ornament that depicted Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus. And I watched in pure joy as my daughter opened the brand new box of porcelain Nativity people and began to stage them. She rearranged them. She rearranged them. She rearranged them.

She gave them voices and plot lines and all manner of adventures. A few times, the wisemen ended up on the roof of the manger scene. Baby Jesus fell out of his manger and the donkey started to talk!
My son followed her lead and began to play with them as well, and as I glanced around my house I saw a teeny TINY Nativity scene. I saw a dilapidated old Nativity Scene that was well used and not at all pretty. I saw a brand new beautiful Nativity on top of my entertainment center. I saw a decoration depicting Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus. I saw the Nativity felt hand puppets I’d made the day before.And I saw my children, side-by-side, playing with a very breakable Nativity Set to their heart’s content. I realized that my house was now fully equipped to take on the Holiday season, and I breathed a sigh of contentment.
And then I saw this.
It turns out that being irreverent?
Hereditary.

What’s This… Behind?

It’s true.  For the first time in years, I’m behind in blogging.  I have no excuses to make (I’m only saying that because it seems like a noble thing to say.  I actually DO have a few legit excuses like “I’ve been crocheting so much I’ve forgotten how to do anything else” and “I’ve been busy eating”).

In fact, I’m only hopping on to tell you this:

I’m not blogging tomorrow.  I tried to SQUEEZE it in somewhere with my husband’s ardent help (“I’ll sleep in the living room so you can get up early and type!”).  Fact is, tomorrow I’ve got to get up early and make gingerbread and put it in the fridge.  Then I’ve got to hie to the computer desk and get my lesson plan worked out for preschool.  Then I’m going to teach preschool.  After that, it’s lunch and rest time during which I’ll bake and assemble my gingerbread house (along with two mini gingerbread houses for the childrens).  Once rest time is over, it will be time to decorate houses.  After that, I’ve got to get everything in order for Family Home Evening where we will discuss the Nativity and made gingerbread ornaments for the Relief Society party Tuesday night.  I’ll probably scrounge up some Hamburger Helper for dinner. Then I’ll hit the couch and crochet until my husband pulls out our scriptures and reminds me of our goal to read the Book of Mormon before the end of the year.  I’m light years behind.  Light. Years.

But the good news is this:

I’m going to share with you my gingerbread house makings.  I’ll give you patterns (hopefully) and directions.  They aren’t polished or fancy, but they’re enough to get you started!

I’m also going to share with you some decorating I’ve been doing that hasn’t cost me a friggin’ penny.  I’m cheap like that (my cheapness is also prompting me to MAKE ornaments out of gingerbread instead of opting to BUY one from the store for the RS party).
That’s a drawer. I hung it on the wall. All by myself.

I’m also going to share with you how to make Nativity hand puppets out of felt. My mom had a set when we were growing up and I remember them so well! I learned the Nativity using them. Because I bought the supplies on a whim, without knowing exactly what I would need, my puppets aren’t as great as my ma’s. And my husband has informed me that Joseph looks less like Joseph and more like a ninja.
I’m only telling you that because it’s remarkably true.

I’m also going to tell you about our Thanksgiving holiday and how my daughter met Santa.

And I’ll need you to remind me to tell you the story about my Nativities and how I have them coming out of my ears (thanks to my Mom Brain).

Today we decorated our tree and (thanks to my little brother) made some more finger-licking GOOD caramel apples. I’ve got pictures and stories to share. I’ve got so much to tell you.
And miles to go before I sleep, let alone blog.
You know I love you, you know I’d do anything for you… just hold on a little longer. In the words of our most favorite cinematic couple, “I’ll never let go.”

I just need you to sit tight until Tuesdey.
Much obliged.

I Believe

Do you ever have the feeling you’re not alone, even when you are?

I had that feeling a lot when I was a teenager. When I took Developmental Psych in college, I found out that was a normal part of being a teenager: feeling like someone is always watching you. Thankfully, I grew out of that.

I guess what I’m talking about is something more. When my first child was a newborn, we were left alone most nights because of my husband’s work schedule. She wasn’t the easiest newborn, and I had a difficult time managing a new lifestyle AND a colicky baby. She didn’t want to sleep in her bed, and I couldn’t sleep in my bed with out my husband, so I would air up our air mattress and camp out in the living room with my baby in my arms. One night, I was too tired to air up the mattress, and we feel asleep in front of the TV on the floor.

I’m a great floor sleeper, and the older my daughter gets the more I realize she’s pretty awesome at it too.

Anyway, as I drifted in and out of sleep I found myself near-tears. I was SO tired. I was SO tired and I didn’t want to sleep because I wasn’t putting my baby to bed the RIGHT way (according to all of the experts). I tried forcing myself to stay awake to check on her, but I’d spent the day holding a screaming baby. I hadn’t gotten any good food or any good rest and I couldn’t think straight. My NEWBORN baby girl was lying, tightly swaddled, on a blanket on the floor next to me. What kind of a mother leaves a NEWBORN on the floor? Well, I did. I wasn’t more than a foot away, but mothering guilt is enough to do anyone in.

Then -right then -I had one of those “I can’t do this anymore” moments. The guilt, the screaming, the lack of food, the lack of sleep… it was all mounting and sending me into an infinite fit of irrationality.
What I mean is: OF COURSE I could handle it. OF COURSE I could do it. Looking back, I can see that now. But right in that moment, it felt like my little world was just caving in on me. And that’s when I felt it.
Right then, I felt the presence of something. I felt instant relief over not being totally alone, and I drifted off to sleep somehow feeling that everything would be all right.

And it was.
And it is.

That little newborn is three now, and she STILL sleeps on the floor. In fact, if I move her to her bed she will usually find her way to the floor. More often than not, I’ve fallen asleep there anyway. It’s hard for moms not to crash at the end of the day.

Actually, last night I crashed on the couch. We sat down as a family to watch “Two Mules for Sister Sarah” (a movie I recommend to the masses, so long as they don’t mind some swearing). My husband fell asleep. I started to fall asleep. My daughter fell asleep. My son fell asleep. I pulled myself off the couch and put the kids in PJs and into their beds. I turned off lights and ate a few things I shouldn’t have. I thought about crawling into bed next to my husband, but our bed creaks loudly when someone crawls into it. He was tired (only a few days into the week, and he had already worked 40 hours), and I really didn’t want to wake him up.
So I pushed my crocheting I had been working on off the couch and I crumbled into the thick blankets we had been snuggling in.

Just before I closed my eyes, I could tell I wasn’t alone.

I only mention all of this because I’d like to think I’m not the only one -and I’d also like to think I’m not the only one who isn’t royally creeped out over it. I guess it’s because there’s something comforting about the presences I feel. I don’t feel like “someone’s WATCHING ME” so much as I feel like “someone’s watching OVER me.” And I’m really okay with that, because I need help! I know there’s got to be a swarm of folks helping our family out. All of the falls that should have been… the head-bonks that should have been… that one time my husband should have hit the deer that ran in front of him on the road… someone had to have stepped in and helped out.

I’ve always believed that we’re not alone.
I just wish I knew who to personally thank when I get up there.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Pumpkin Pie Night

When I was growing up, Sunday dinners were a big deal.  There was no such thing as three meals on Sunday because our lunch/dinner after church was so BIG that it counted as two meals at least.  Anyway, if we got hungry later on Grandma always had (has) ice cream at her house.

Because our dad raised his own cattle (read: beef), we were pretty spoiled.  We ate steaks and roasts and fresh hamburger to our heart’s content, and we feasted especially well on Sunday.  It placed a pretty big burden on my mother’s shoulders, and we would do what we could to help out.  One Sunday, my dad offered to make Sloppy Joes.  I jumped in to help.  It shouldn’t have been complicated because Dad had TWO cans of Sloppy Joe Mix on the counter next to the stove.  We browned the hamburger, drained it, and added the cans of sloppy joe mix.  We sniffed the mixture and taste-tested it.

It needed salt.

Oh, and pepper.

“What other spices does your mother have up there?” Dad asked.  I read what spices I could read out loud to him.  When I got to lemon pepper, he stopped me.

“Let’s put some of that in there,” he said.  And so we did.  The ending result was a Sunday tradition between my dad and I.  We never did write out exact recipe down, but I DO remember that we never failed to add the lemon pepper, and it never failed to taste absolutely wonderful.

About a week ago, my dad told me that he’d bought a hand mixer to puree butternut squash and pumpkin with.  He wanted to make pie, and he wanted my help.

I don’t know if I’ve ever told you, but I LOVE it when people need my help.  It makes my heart do front flips.  I’ve often been referred to as “overbearing” so when someone comes to ME and asks for help, I’m basically a wreck of excitement.  Yesterday I made five pie crust (three flaky-plain and two gingersnap), and I took them, along with my family and two pie plates, up to my folks’ house.  After crashing their dinner (thanks again, Mom.  I really wasn’t up to cooking last night!), we started making pies.

I can’t express my love for my parents in words.  I really can’t.  Last night was so much fun, and I know I’ll remember it forever.  I loved bustling around my mom’s kitchen, handing Dad the sugar canister and teaspoons, washing dishes here and there, teaching my little brother how to make Flat Apple Pie, and pressing pie crust into pie tins.

I loved listening to my dad figure out how to cook a recipe in his wife’s kitchen.

“Where’s the teaspoons?” He asked, fumbling through a drawer that held measuring CUPS but not spoons.  I handed him my mother’s Pampered Chef Adjustable teaspoons:

He was impressed with how handy they were until it came time to adjusting them.
“How do you move it?” He’d ask. I’d show him, and we’d go on cooking. My Dad is infamous for leaving out the end of his sentences. Everyone in his family EATS it up, and we love it when he does it. If you spend enough time around him, you can usually figure out what he wants without him having to say it, and last night was no exception.
“Leasha, can you hand me the…” he said. I looked up to see him holding a nearly-clean bowl full of squash puree. I could see that he needed a rubber spatula. I held one up.
“This?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he took it from me, then asked, “What are these called?”
“Rubber spatula,” I said.
“Spatula!” he said, “That’s it.”

Then, after the pie filling was 100% ready to go, he remembered that we forgot to preheat the oven.
“Oh, turn it on!” He said.
“Mom already did,” I replied.

As we worked through making four butternut squash pies and one apple pie, the kitchen became a swirling vortex of cheery mayhem. Fresh eggs were cracked, tart apples were peeled and sliced. Ginger was spilled. Pie Filling was splattered all over Dad.

And I won’t hesitate to admit that I felt a twinge of delight in my father’s lack of confidence in the kitchen. I bet he felt about how I feel in his mechanic shop.
“Dad, where do you keep the hammers?”

After his first pie came out, Dad surveyed it with an expert eye.
“It looks just like the picture on the paper!” He said, holding up the online directions he’d printed off the Internet.

Mother made fresh whipped cream, and our pie was complete.

It really was the BEST pie I’ve ever had, and I don’t like pie at all.

Here’s to many more Pie Nights. And here’s to cooking with my Pa.

A City in the City Makes Me a Mom of Self-Pity

I don’t know what went on at my house in the wee hours of Saturday morning -nor will I ever.

I spent the entirety of Saturday in the city with my family. I was looking forward to a day away from it all (I think because I had actually FORGOTTEN that I have a two and three year old). The day wasn’t full of family fun and togetherness. It was more full of lectures and chasings (not the fun kind) and full blown exhaustion. In fact, I’m still recovering. I can count on one hand the number of times I smiled yesterday. I was just plain too tired to even pretend to have any energy.

The darlings fell asleep in the car seats on the way home, and I happily put them into bed. My husband and I dumped ourselves on the couch in front of some mindless television shows in an attempt to escape the reality of our exhaustion. One hour into it, our daughter came out asking for water. My husband took care of her while I took myself to our bed and cracked open my brand new book filled with Robert Frost poetry. Literally two lines into it, I fell asleep.

Sunday morning, I cracked one blind eye open and reached for my glasses. As I reached, my hands knocked over my poetry book and something else. Something paper. Something I hadn’t remembered leaving on the pillow next to me.

Three index cards, written on by a child, rolled up scroll-style, and held together by a hair tie taken from my bathroom vanity.
I rolled over to see if my husband was awake. I could ask him about it.

But he wasn’t there.

My daughter was in his place.
“Sweetie,” I whispered, “Did you do this?” I held up the papers.
“Oh!” she wiped the sleep from her eyes, “Yes! For you to read!”
“Thank you,” I replied, “Did daddy help you?”
“Nope! I did it to myself!”

That’s what I was afraid of. I threw my glasses on and instantly starting scanning my room. I looked that the computer desk. My favorite pen was lying out on, obviously the one used to make the faux scrolls.

A pile of papers had been thrown off the computer desk.

That was it. Nothing much more. I crept out of bed to see the rest of the house.
As I passed by the kids’ room, I found my husband curled up in my daughter’s Tinkerbell sheets.
Next to him was my daughter’s tot-sized wooden kitchen playset. I keep all of her kitchen dishes and gadgets in a three-drawer organizer. All of the drawers were completely open and completely empty.

“Sweetie!” I whispered, “What happened last night?”
He sat up and rubbed the sleep from his eyes.
“I fell asleep on the couch,” he said, “And when I woke up, our daughter was sitting at the table playing with a huge jar full of buttons.”

I had managed to buy enough buttons at Michael’s that day to fill my button jar to the tip top.
It runneth over.

“I got her down from the table,” he continued, “And put her into bed. She refused to sleep in her bed because she was scared, so I put her in bed with you and I slept in her bed.”
“Oh,” I said, understanding, “Where’s the kitchen stuff?”
He looked next to him at the empty bins.
“I have no idea.”

About then, our daughter made her appearance wearing a floor-length flannel night gown.
“I sleep in you bed!” She told us.
“Yeah,” we nodded.
“And I just did! And I got in bed and wiggled, wiggled, wiggled!” She said.
As she re-enacted her wiggles, I watched a few of my make-up samples fall out of her dress.
“Hey!” I said, “Is that my make-up?”
“Yeah,” she grinned, “I got it to myself.”

I have no clue what went on in my house.
None at all.

I’m still looking for the kitchen toys and I’m still finding bits and pieces of make up all over my house.
But what can you do?
With a girl THAT cute, what can you do?

Simplicity and Small Towns

Do you ever have days where you’re overcome with gratitude? I do. I had one yesterday, and although Thanksgiving is less than a week away, that had nothing to do with it. Sometimes I just get all fired-up with how grateful and blessed I really am.

It started with dinner. I had a long day and didn’t want to cook -as we sat at the local pizza store and waited for our order, I was SO GRATEFUL that my dinner was being made for me. I looked around the pizza shop and watched people from town file in and out. I looked at the mural paintings on the wall, painted by a former local that has since passed away. I watched a member of the recently-crowned-state-champs football team take and make orders. He was helped by an athletic high school girl and a soon-to-be sister missionary. But it wasn’t enough. Apparently, nobody in town wanted to cook last night, and our poor little pizza shop was flooded with orders. The owners called in help from down the street: a mother of a large family. They paid her in gourmet ice cream. I watched as her children and husband sat in the dining area, eating ice cream and watching movies.
The owners of the store were smart enough to build a party room onto the store. It seats a pretty good crowd, and there’s always ALWAYS a kid friendly movie projected onto the far wall.

We were able to visit with everyone who came in, and then we took our order home.
Earlier that evening, we’d gone to the local gas station/movie rental/hamburger joint. I’d wanted to rent a movie, and while I was there the High School woodshop teacher/junior high wrestling coach walked in. I heard him ask the woman working the front desk if they had the movie “Frequency.” She said they didn’t. I said, “I have it!” And so, after we had our pizza and rented movie in hand, I scooped up my copy of “Frequency” and took it to his family.

He answered the door, and his daughter, who’s about three, popped in front of him.
“I have a little brother,” she said. (He was recently born.)
“You do?” I asked, pretending to be surprised.
“Yeah,” she nodded. She was wearing Tinkerbell pajamas that were disguised as a fairy dress.
“Are you Tinkerbell or Hailey?” I asked.
“Tinkerbell,” she sighed. “Do YOU have Tinkerbell ‘jamas?”
I had to admit that I didn’t. I tried to make up for it by telling her that my daughter does.
That satisfied her.

As I drove away, I was even more grateful for small towns. I’m grateful that I know Hailey’s name. I’m grateful that our small town pizza store can call the family a few houses over and have the mom come into work for a few minutes. I’m grateful for small businesses and small towns and the strong sense of community both of them have.

I’m grateful that we’re going into the city today and making a day of it. I love getting caught up in the hustle of the streets and stores, but only for a day.

After that, I’d liked to be plunked back down in my simple stop-light-less town that requires me to return the movie I rented yesterday or they’ll personally call and remind me about their late-fee policy.

As I was going through the motions of getting my website switched over, the man on the tech-help line asked me where I was from. When I told him, he said he’d lived in our state his entire life and had never heard of the town. I was more than happy to tell him where it was, how big it was, how many kids were enrolled in school, and how great it was to live cut-off from busy living. He then asked me how many sites I needed.
“Five?” I asked, “Or maybe six. Hold on…” I started listing them out loud, “There’s the cooking one, and the crafts one, and the home preschool one…”
He stopped me, “You do all that yourself?”
And I laughed, “Yeah, I guess that’s all you can do when you live so far out here.”

I thought about pointing out to him that my sites aren’t polished or fancy or amazing. I’m not a great cook or an amazing crafter. My sites won’t gain a large following. And I’m completely fine with that -I blog for my kids. Someday I’m going to be able to make a book from these blogs, and it will be filled with all of my favorite recipes. The kids will have that book for as long as they live and after I’m worm food.

I really thought about telling him that. But he seemed to think I really DID do it all and do it all well, and I sort of liked the idea being THAT woman.

Yes, Robert -my tech-help buddy -I clean and craft and cook and teach preschool everyday all day AND my house is spotless AND I have makeup on all the time. My clothes match. My visiting teaching is done. My family history is complete, and my children never step out of line… not because they’re naturally good, either. It’s because I’ve TAUGHT them so very well, thanks to my daily rigorous scripture reading that I engage in directly after my intense morning work out. My body, by the way? Looks amazing. No stretch marks. No mom gut. No acne. Hair-free legs. You should stop by sometime. My house and hair are the very mark of perfection.

Ha.
Now I need to excuse myself to take a shower, shave for the first time in 4 days (I heart cold weather), and look in the mirror for the first time today.
Today is going to be prodigious. I can already tell.

The Happy and The Unhappy

Unhappiness is finding a sipper cup lodged under the seat of the car for WHO KNOWS how many months.

Happiness is opening it with a wary nose to find it was filled with… water.

Unhappiness is walking into the living room to find puddles of chocolate syrup on the carpet.

Happiness is Resolve carpet cleaner and BROWN carpet.

Unhappiness is labor.

Happiness is:

Unhappiness happens.
Happiness makes it all worth it.

As It Turns Out, My Son is a Boy

He brought me a headless ballerina Barbie two days ago. 
When I presented the issue to my husband, his chest puffed up a little. And a smile spread from one ear to the other.

His mouth said, “Son, we don’t do that.”
But his tone said, “Son, Daddy’s never been more proud.”

As it turns out, my husband is a boy.