The other day I watched a time lapse video of someone using pastels to draw a portrait.
At first, it looked stupid. And it definitely didn’t look like a person.
And if it hadn’t been in time lapse, I would have quit watching, because I don’t have a very high tolerance for random YouTube videos.
But all of a sudden, it seemed like there was a person.
And then It seemed like she was nearly jumping off the page.
And then, I thought, “Wow. That’s a portrait!”
And I thought it was over.
But, no. The video went on. I was only about halfway through it.
For the rest of the video, the artist added little tiny additions of depth here and there, and minute details that improved the portrait until it was a living creation.
And I thought about my life and how I have been so frustrated lately with, well–everything.
I had surgery six months ago. I had a baby ten months ago. I had another baby almost three years ago. Three years ago I almost died. And four years ago I had another baby. And another one five years ago, and another one seven years ago. And eight years ago, Joy went back to heaven.
I have had quite the decade.
So, I forget about that. I forget that I have had stuff. And maybe that stuff might have interfered with having the life I thought I wanted to live and all the Great Amazing Things I was going to accomplish with my family.
And six and a half months ago, I thought that BY NOW I would be totally recovered from EVERYTHING and back into the swing of things and on my way to getting my life back…to getting my family back to where I was before, on a fire breathing unicorn exuding nothing but pure awesomeness.
Today, it felt like I was so not that.
When I first started this journey of rebuilding my life, I thought everything I did looked stupid.
Nothing resembled what I wanted to have happen.
And when it started resembling something not totally horrible, I thought, “Okay, I will give it some more time.”
And here I am not even nearly half way through and there are days that I catch glimpses of the portrait of my life and think, “Okay, well, it looks like a portrait!” And I excitedly exclaim to Heaven:
“Hey, it’s looking good! I think we are done here!”
Heaven sees where the bits of color and depth and detail need to be added and it isn’t even close to done.
So I stomp my foot and demand that somehow Heaven make this part speed up. My problem is I want these hard parts with the “finish” work to be done in time lapse.
I want the hard parts to be a quick two minute montage in the movie of my life, so I can get to the happy endings.
What I need to do is look back and remember that there have been many happy endings already, after the trial of the painstaking detail work that seems to take far too long.
I know there will be many more happy endings and each portrait in the series that is my life will get better and more beautiful until in the end, it is a masterpiece.
I don’t think I will ever quite give up the fantasy that somehow we could just make the hard parts that quick montage with an upbeat, hopeful song that reassures the viewer (and myself!) that all will be well in approximately two and a half minutes.
I still want that.
But what I want more is the creation of something so beautiful that it will be a masterpiece. So, I will be patient and trust Heaven and not give up on myself halfway through.
You know, I think we are all going to be amazing and gorgeous and wonderful and absolutely breathtaking…and we will get through the hard parts. And in the end, it really will be time lapse and all the hard parts will seem like only a moment and we will see the finished product and be awestruck at what we have become.
It’s the first day of spring here and I have thought a lot today about my perspective.
You see, I think spring is a time to shake everything up.
I don’t believe in spring cleaning.
I believe in spring purging.
I believe in a grand and glorious and messy and sometimes intense rebirth. Every spring.
I am thinking about my friend Mackenzie, who has an extremely rare form of pulmonary hypertension. She is young and beautiful and vibrant and she rocks this disease like no one else. She knows how to be reborn, even if it’s a new life that isn’t at all what she expected. (If you haven’t read her blog, Brave Little Lungs, you really need to. And after that, read her husband, Henry’s blog, Dear Mackenzie.)
I am thinking about this guy Beau Heyen, who runs a community kitchen in Kansas. They were doing some remodeling and he thought,
“How about make this like a restaurant instead of the same old soup kitchen?”
It didn’t cost any more money than doing the same old boring way, they just needed a few more volunteers. Now, when homeless people eat there, they are greeted by a hostess who seats them and a wait staff who takes their order and brings them their food. Food prepared by culinary art students.
Kansas City Community Kitchen
It was the same price as doing it the ugly way.
Beau decided to see the soup kitchen with different eyes, and what a beautiful difference it has made in the lives of so many.
I think about Mackenzie and Henry, her husband, and I just feel like she has decided that this is no different from the rest of her life–that it doesn’t cost more to live in an intentionally beautiful way and to continually see life with new eyes.
Henry and Mackenzie, photography by Samantha Broderick
And I think about my life and I think that maybe there is a lesson here. Maybe it wouldn’t cost me more, either.
I can see where I could tear down a wall or two in my heart and maybe move things around a bit….Maybe I might need a few more volunteers. I know there are angels, and maybe they could help.
Are there more beautiful ways for me to live my life right now? I can think of five or six ways off the top of my head that are boring and sometimes even ugly.
How do I make them beautiful? How do I add color and depth and loveliness to the mundane, the difficult, and the soul stretching moments of my life?
All it takes is a change of perspective, a seeing with new eyes.
” The only true voyage of discovery, the only fountain of Eternal Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to behold the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to behold the hundred universes that each of them beholds, that each of them is…” –Marcel Proust
Whose eyes do I need to look through to understand how to create beauty? My children? My husband? Mackenzie? My neighbor? The homeless?
I wonder if that isn’t probably the point of being here? To see things through the eyes of others in order to realize beauty and then, compassion and love, in every aspect of human existence?
So here’s to spring, and to the hope in rebirth, new life and endless beauty all around and in and through us.
I used to heart organizing. In my mind palace (which currently resembles a WalMart at 11:55 pm on Christmas Eve), I still heart organizing. It’s just that what I envision in the mind palace cannot exist in the temporal state of my home.
I mean, I love all things organizing. The Container Store? Yes. IKEA? Yes. (My son calls it IKEA: THE EXPERIENCE and says he does not have enough insanity to go on that ride). Mason Jars? You betcha. Label makers? Drool. Pantries featured on Pinterest? Butterflies in my stomach.
I have everything it takes to be an organizing queen, folks. There is only one small problem: I have a family and we live here.
I have come to terms with the fact that I will probably never get to spend hours and hours organizing a pantry to perfection. And, even if I did, it would stay that way for .008 seconds. Or less. Because my people eat. They love to eat. They eat all the time. They are little hobbits.
I still have days where I leave the house to wander the aisles of IKEA, daydreaming. But, I have found that there are ways to cope. Here are some of my strategies for coping with my humans and their inability to appreciate my love of organized matter:
Use A Stairs Basket
We have what we call a “Stairs Basket” which is supposed to be a receptacle for things that belong downstairs that have somehow found their way upstairs. It saves us from having to walk up and down the stairs three thousand times in one day, which, even though the children seem to have the energy of supernovas, this energy somehow drains completely at the mention of taking something downstairs.
Here is where you have to cope. You have to realize that the Stairs Basket will become the “I Don’t Know Where This Goes Or I Don’t Want To Walk Another Five Feet To Put This Away So I Will Casually Dump It Here” Basket. And you have to kind of just accept that. Well, I guess you don’t HAVE to accept that, but accepting it is part of my coping strategy.
Our Stairs Basket. Also please ignore the crumbs on the floor.
It also can be mistaken as a laundry basket by my very little children. You may be wondering why they disrobe and run around partially naked upstairs. I wonder that, too. But that is a post for another day.
I think they are trying to make me believe that it actually is a laundry basket by putting laundry in there.
Maybe they think they will eventually convince me, or maybe they think that because I have brain damage from the spinal meningitis, that one day I might wake up, see the laundry in there, and just somehow believe that all is right in the world.
Here is more horrific view. Yes, they tried making the basket with the brachiosaurus and the baseball cap. Clearly, we don’t see anyone being drafted by the NBA.
That will never happen.
But, be that as it may, it is more preferable to have things in a “Stairs Basket” then all over my upstairs floor.
Use A White Board To Organize Your Home/Thoughts/To Do Lists
We use a white board to write down extra chores, things we need to get done, etcetera.
Here is where I have to cope.
One of my children believes that if she erases her name and/or the chore listed next to her name, then it no longer exists in time or space. It simply never was and never will be. She also seems to believe that artistic doodles accentuate that supposed fact.
See? Nowhere does it say “sweep dining room floor.” It never existed, because of the swirly “Wishes.”
When asked if she has done said chore, she looks at the questioner with a blank stare which turns into compassionate concern for the mental stability of the person asking, as if they must be in an altered, confused state for ever even thinking of asking her the question of whether or not she has swept the dining room floor,
“What? What do you mean? What? I don’t understand. [Insert dramatic pause] Are you feeling alright? Are you okay? Do you need to lie down?”
All the while this genuine look of fearful concern…it’s almost convincing.
I also have to cope with the fact that luckily, it’s dry erase, because if I label it “Tuesday Things To Do” I inevitably have to continue erasing the day of the week, because it never really seems to get done. But, when people come over, it looks impressive.
Use Canvas Bins, Yes, But Please, Don’t Really Even Bother With Labeling
So I recently looked at one of my favorite stress-inducing blogs, “I Heart Organizing” and there she was, a really awesome and gorgeous blogger who writes the blog and takes amazing photos and is totally organized…and she had a tutorial on four different ways to label canvas bins.
And, I used to be the kind of girl who would be over the moon excited about finding a crafty friend who would make labels for my canvas bins IN FOUR DIFFERENT WAYS!!!, but I just laughed out loud a little and sighed.
I have canvas bins. I love my canvas bins. Truly.
No visible proof of the mess except for the poor T-Rex who didn’t quite fit. His feet are probably freezing.
But labeling them? What on earth for? I have learned to be content that the children have put things inside of the bins. It seems to be humanly impossible to put things in any semblance of order. A trains bin will inevitably have a train, a My Little Pony, three half chewed Nerf darts, a light saber and a rotten apple core in it.
Who am I to understand the workings of child geniuses who obviously see some sort of pattern that someone as less imbued as I cannot understand?
And how does one make a label that would identify that pattern?
So, I would rather not go there. It’s not worth the mental effort.
It Is Possible To Organize Silverware!
Yes, indeed, it is possible.
Where Is The Missing Silverware? Wait…let me go to my mind palace…
I cope because the only time it has been possible is when I am missing over half of my silverware, which is somewhere in the backyard.
I have come to terms with the fact that my home is a living, breathing entity. It never stays still and it is always shifting and moving and everything in it shifts and moves, especially when it comes to food.
I will never be able to have an organized refrigerator because people keep opening the door and moving things around and getting things out of it! How dare they?
Also, they often don’t understand the difference between things that are shelf stable in the pantry, things that are refrigerated, and things that go in the freezer.
That could be because many of them are not even old enough for first grade yet, but still.
I have found ice cream in all three places in my home before. And something to point out here is that ice cream is delicious and lovely when it is frozen, but in all other states, not so much.
Calm. Assertive. Coping.
I must cope. I must remain calm and assertive, like Cleopatra. Or Morgan Freeman.
Calm. Assertive. Also, I Really Think He Would Make A Better Real Life President Than Most Of The Candidates This Year….
He is the perfect example of calm and assertive. I mean when he gives me directions on Waze, I never get lost and I feel patriotic (“Exit Right for Freedom,” he tells me.)
I don’t know. It’s hard. But I know I can continue to soldier on. And you can, too. I hope these little things I have shared can help.
It may seem that in the midst of all the scary things happening, you are fighting in a losing battle. It may seem that people look at you and scoff at you, mistaking kindness as a weakness and mocking it into oblivion.
It’s not true.
You see, there is a great secret: And it is that meekness has never been and never will be weakness.
The secret is something that all the great ones have known.
The secret is that love is the greatest power on earth.
All the hatred, power hungry, vengeful, ugliness–no matter how it is dressed up and paraded on the world’s stage–can never be as strong as even the smallest hint of love and kindness.
Oh, people think they have power when they get angry and they can stir others up to anger…but, really, they have lost their power the moment they venture into this territory…they are like ‘cities that are broken down, without walls…’
People may seem powerful when they use money and manipulation to buy fame, fortune, land and nations…but they have nothing if they are prisoners of their own selfishness and insecurities. Fear can never allow for true freedom.
Love is secure in itself. Kindness is power.
You are not alone. Right now, as I am writing this, there are thousands, hundreds of thousands–even millions–of good people who are thinking the same thing you are…
“Am I alone?”
Alone, Elisa Chavarri
But you are not alone.
You are not!
If you close your eyes before you look out at the world and then look with your heart, you will see that you are a light.
And there are other lights shining–some brightly, some flickering, some steady and sure…and they are all small stars lighting up the world. They are what is good and kind and right and they are everywhere.
Even in the darkest hours, they are there.
They have always been there–and although there have been times when there were only a very few, that is not true now.
There is an army of goodness and light and love and kindness out there.
And whenever a light goes out here, a new star is born somewhere to shine down ten thousand times brighter to light our way, so that darkness can never truly conquer.
We will always prevail.
Sometimes it is lonely, because sometimes the lights are spread so far apart that you may not be able to see them.
Sometimes the fog of rhetoric and the smog of confusion that spouts from the few who scream and rant the loudest may cloud your view of those lights.
But do not for one minute ever believe that you are alone.
Even if you were the only light on earth, there are trillions of lights if you look up.
Happiness, Hye Young Lee
There is the great burning sun that shines every day. It shines it’s light on truth and truth reflects brilliantly until it eventually overcomes the lesser light of the fires of the incensed. Their fires will burn and turn to ash. The sun will burn on for as long as humankind lives and it has burned to shine the light on truth all throughout time.
The light that you are–the light of stars–is eternal, because truth, love and kindness are eternal.
Do not be worried too much. That glorious sun will still rise, even if for a moment it seems that the powers of darkness have won. As long as you and I take courage, our kindness and love and lives of sacrifice and goodness will conquer all of that.
And, in the end, if you don’t believe me, remember all the best fairy tales have always ended happily ever after and there is a truth to that. I believe it. I believe we will all have a happily ever after if we love. If we are kind. If we have the courage to be kind.
So, it’s up to you.
You can wring your hands and shake your head and fall down in despair and even, sometimes, get angry.
And sometimes that happens. But then, you must always remember to look up.
You can look up and see the brilliance and beauty of millions of heroic hearts who have gone before you: millions of ordinary people who lived extraordinary lives of kindness–small, seemingly insignificant acts, and now they shine as galaxies and you are part of that.
You can look inside and find your eternal fire that is kindled with love and you can have the courage to give up everything for it.
You can have the courage to walk alone sometimes.
You can have the courage to be the one who knows the most significant changes that will ever happen on this planet and even in this universe start with one person who decides to love another. And then another. And that makes a family full of love and hope and kindness.
Little Hearts, Katie Berggren
Nothing else can be as powerful. Nothing!
You can have the courage to give up whatever you have to give up, to risk whatever you have to risk, to be part of and make a happy, loving family.
Happy Birthday, Pascal Campion
You can have the courage to cut off the noise of the world, the din of those who would shout the loudest to be noticed, and instead fill it with laughter, tears of compassion, and the sounds of hope.
You can have the courage to face your loves in the quiet where your thoughts are the only sounds. Where your souls speak and you are close enough to see the flaws and love through them and live with some of them and not ignore it all by living separate lives under one roof.
You can have the courage to find mountain streams, ocean breezes, thunderstorms, the clean smell of fresh earth, and trees.
On The Sea, Majilan
Find the oldest trees and learn from them. And run in the grass and hear the crickets singing in the summer and let fireflies go and fall asleep to the sound of nothing but the wind and the night. Let your imagination soar and play and pretend and never stop.
And never ever forget that when all else fails, faith will see you through. Miracles still happen. And we have the power to create the most powerful magic of all, the magic that will overcome all the darkness on earth and from hell…and that magic is love.
Have courage and be kind. For where there is kindness, there is goodness, and where there is goodness, there is… magic.
Sometimes I am so not sure about this whole marriage thing.
I mean, some days it seems like it is the most magical, wonderful, amazing invention that was ever created in the entire universe.
Other days, well, not so much.
I have finally figured out the perfect analogy to our marriage. It’s like the Saturn V or the space shuttle….It takes so much energy to even get it off the ground. So much fire to get it climbing and then it has to break through the gravity of earth and the barrier of the atmosphere…and if it doesn’t keep going up and up and up the fire will consume it and then it will explode.
Pascal Campion, Blue Grass and Fireflies
But if it doesn’t…if everything goes well and all the energy and fire go in the right places, well then…it’s perfection. It’s touching the face of God. It’s soaring to heights that poets cannot even describe. It’s everything. And it’s breathtaking.
So, yeah. Sometimes we get there and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we explode and have to rebuild from the ashes. And sometimes it’s breathtaking…breathtaking in a this-is-absolutely-incredible-but-there-is-nothing-between-us-and-certain-death-but-a-bucket-of-bolts-and-a-few-thousand-prayers kind of way.
And sometimes, it’s like a dance. I can’t dance, so that’s probably not a good analogy. So maybe it’s more like a song.
Yes, that’s better.
It’s a song, and sometimes I know the words and sometimes he does and sometimes we both do and sometimes we are both lost and trying to find the melody and harmony and sometimes we are off key and…and sometimes it’s scary, because we both know that eventually we need to surrender to the song in order to know our parts.
Surrender is scary, because then we have to give up the idea that either of us is leading, and that’s not fun. It is terrifying to realize that we don’t know what we are doing and that, in the end, our only hope is to surrender to that song.
And I think we have both always known that anytime we surrender to that song, it would sometimes take us to pain. Well, who are we kidding? A lot of the time it takes us to pain. Pain that hurts and sears and aches so much that the only thing that could purify it is something even greater.
Something that burns brighter.
That something is the intense, burning love that makes it breathtaking. And sometimes that’s the scariest part. To get to the breathtaking, you risk everything. And you always lose something.
Jeffrey R. Holland said, “Love is what you go through together,” and John and I know it.
And sometimes I think we are afraid of it.
Pascal Campion, Tough Day
I think sometimes we would rather drown out the song that calls us to go through Something Else because the Something Else is probably going to be thrilling and terrifying and painful and beautiful and everything else.
But, the song is strong and we are passionate and we really do love each other and we think it’s worth the pain and the going through it.
And we get to a place where we don’t care anymore about the “what ifs” or if it’s our “fault” or if we could have done something more or different or better. It’s where we realize that together letting the song lead us makes none of those things that usually stress a marriage that relevant anymore because we surrender all of those feelings to the song.
And if we can just do that…well, then we are in a place where we are free of all the worrying and fear and loneliness from feeling misunderstood and “what about me?” or “what about you?” because it isn’t about me or you anymore, it’s about us. Us.
Pascal Campion, Warm
Letting go and following the music wherever it leads us.
And, sometimes, I have to be honest…we stall. We bicker and quarrel and get annoyed and irritated because we are stalling. Waiting. Because if we really follow “our song” we really do lose everything. All this mortal baggage we pick up and the comfort of carrying it with us. We lose it all and then…we are kind of afraid of what lies beyond that.
And what lies beyond it?
Everything. Everything that matters.
Pascal Campion, Little Wonders
Everything that is breathtaking and so amazing that there aren’t words in any language on earth. Everything that is beyond what tethers us here to all our mortal cares and worries. Everything that transcends our childish need to be validated. All of a sudden, none of that matters anymore.
Right now, we have liftoff. We hear our song and we are afraid, but we will follow it anyway.
And, yes, we will even dance.
Because, somehow, even though I really didn’t think I could, somehow–when we let go and let the music lead us–I remember how to dance.
I was sitting on the chair in my bedroom at the end of the day and Daniel skipped in looking like he was about to be up to something.
The other chair in my room was precariously close to a side table which was dangerously close to the bed. To add to the excitement, I was rearranging my entire upstairs because we had been sick for a month and I was stir crazy. I had a fever–cabin fever. So, in addition to the normal places to jump to and from, Daniel had an additional would-be adventure: a stack of plastic storage bins.
The chair was piled high with pillows and blankets and right in front of it was the stack of bins. He looked at me, and he knew. He knew I was too tired to stand up. He knew that he could climb on whatever was in the room and it would probably take me at least 30 seconds to stop him.
Thirty glorious seconds!
He began his ascent. First to the bins and a jump to the pillows and blankets on the chair. There he was, perched high atop a mountain of fluff. He was right. I wasn’t stopping him.
Daniel took a moment to survey his kingdom. Glorying in the unexpected freedom brought on by my exhaustion, he looked mischievously at the side table and the bed. A quick hop and a jump and perhaps a small flight would land him onto the bouncy surface of what he declared was his pirate ship in the sky.
Still unable to move or speak, I sat and watched him, weighing the possibilities of him missing the bed and landing on the floor. The odds were in his favor. I felt like he was going to make it.
As he got ready to jump, his little sister wandered in. Seeing him on his way to the pirate ship without her was too much.
“Wait for me!” she said in her most adorably bossy two year old voice.
Daniel looked at the pirate ship, then at me to see if my energy was coming back, then at Jayne. He was hesitant. Jayne, after all, is a girl.
Jayne started to climb up the plastic bins, which Daniel had arranged stair step fashion. In no time, she was at the chair, attempting a lopsided ascent to the top of the mountain.
“I want to go on the pirate ship, too!” she said, as she struggled.
He sighed and went back. I don’t know if it was because he thought the hopping and jumping back to the chair would be fun or if he was just being kind to his sister. It was probably a little bit of both.
He reached out his hand and said, “C’mon, Pirate Jayne!”
“Thank you so much!” she said, and then, very grandly, “I am not Pirate Jayne! I am Princess Addie Jayne.”
Princess Addie Jayne
“Okay,” he shrugged, nonchalantly as he pulled her up to the heights.
He held her hand tight and said, “C’mon, Jayne! We’ll fly to the ship!”
And as I sat on that chair, I couldn’t help but think about that faith, trust and pixie dust and that little boy who will never grow up, and how two is the beginning of the end, and how glad I was that I was too tired to tell them no, and that I got to see him holding her hand…
And I was in a place where there was no time, and Heaven engraved that memory into my heart where it will always and forever be…a perfect moment when two of my loves were innocent children holding on to each other as they flew across my room to Never-Neverland where pirate and princess could laugh and fight and battle Captain Hook and crocodiles and make friends with fairies and sail away on ships in the sky…
And I felt like Mrs. Darling, as she put her hand to heart and cried, “Why can’t you remain like this forever!”
And I thank the little star that shines, the second from the right, for allowing me to catch a glimpse of Neverland when I need it, through the eyes of my little Lost Boys and my Peter and my little darlings….
Everyone wants to know what I have been doing to keep me from writing on my super famous blog lately.
Well, grab some popcorn ladies (and gentlemen), and get cozy because you are going on a madcap, wild journey into the mind of a mad genius (me).
Ready? Okay, here we go.
I walk into the office, determined to pour out my soul to the internet. I sit down. I stare at the screen.
I realize I have to pee.
I do that. I come back. I sit down. I realize I need to refill my water (I am working on a secret project that involves drinking the equivalent of the Indian Ocean every single day…more on that later).
I refill my water. I go back and sit down again.
My Favorite Snack
I realize I need a snack. I go get a snack.
I come back. I stare at the blank cursor, blinking, mocking me in a sadistic ‘Net kind of way. Then I think of the movie, The Net, and I shudder and nearly gag on my snack thinking of the white crop jeans (!?!) whatever insane costume designer had Sandra Bullock wear throughout the ENTIRE MOVIE. Ugh.
I Couldn’t Find a Full Length Photo Anywhere…It’s Probably Been Removed from the Internet Out of Shame.
I think about how I have some white maternity denim capris that I like to wear to the beach and wonder if Sandra Bullock looked that bad in white “crop” jeans, how much more awful must I look in maternity capris at the beach?
But, I tell myself it’s completely different because mine have on purpose fraying at the end…so it looks more natural and beachy. I wonder if this is really true or just a delusion. I briefly think about taking a picture next time I am wearing the capris, but decide against it because, my self-esteem.
I look back at the screen. Nothing.
I use the stupid laptop mouse to try and move my pointer on the page and instead it opens three additional windows, turns on an autoplaying YouTube clip of a cat on a Roomba, and then it closes the window I was “working” in. I think about how much I greatly dislike the laptop mouse and wish I had a cool wireless mouse like my husband has. After all, I AM a writer. He is merely a successful businessman. I have a famous blog. I should be entitled to first dibs on a wireless mouse.
But, no. He took his with him and I am left with the laptop mouse which now has made it to where my screen is upside down.
So, I fix my screen and decide to look on Amazon “really quick” for a wireless “nano” mouse (whatever that means). I go to Amazon. I type in those words and the screen pops up with ugly, boring mice. And then, what do I see? A mouse with a colorful design on it? What is this? Designer mice? I NEVER KNEW.
So, of course, I have to look at every single designer mouse on Amazon. There are only about 2,000 listings…I scroll quickly. I narrow it down to a cute girl and boy with a balloon, a fox or an owl…I spend an additional twenty minutes calling all my girls to see which mouse they think says “me” better. They don’t care that much, so it’s not very useful feedback.
I can’t decide and then the cute girl and boy get nixed because the description is in Chinese English, “It is our pleasure to inform you of this computer mouse of delicate origin.” Etcetera. Sounds sketchy.
After much prayer and deliberation I decide to go with the owl.
My New Mouse
So, I am out of time. I think, “I will write later, after I get home.”
I go out. I come back. Driving into my driveway I notice a pick axe sticking out of a mound of snow next to the road. And two sleds. And some light sabers.
I get upset. I do this sometimes. Especially after I have told the boys NOT to play with the pick axe in the snow, or in the driveway, or basically at all. What will be next? Garden shears? Ugh.
Now that I am upset I don’t feel like writing. I go back to the pantry for another snack and wonder why is it that I go to Costco and spend a small fortune and come home and put it in the pantry and it doesn’t look like I really bought anything.
But, then I see a column of Kirkland Signature Skipjack Tuna and think, “Well, there’s something. We have plenty of skipjack tuna.”
And then I think why does Costco always have to sell the weird flavors and stuff, like instead of selling the almond granola bars, they only sell the peanut ones. And instead of cheesy flavored pretzel crisps, they only sell plain. And don’t even get me started on the weird bagged popcorn flavors they have.
And why can’t they just sell regular tuna? Why “Skipjack”? It sounds questionable.
So, I come back to write and I sit down and stare at the cursor, and then I open a new window and do a google search for “skipjack tuna.”
Apparently, skipjack tuna reproduce at astounding rates, so no worries about overfishing, also Costco dropped Chicken of the Sea for this tuna because this tuna is caught using ecologically friendly means, instead of fish aggregation devices (which can sometimes capture sea turtles and other animals and kill them). So, yay for me buying sustainable but cheap Costco skipjack tuna.
i also read it may be contaminated with some sort of paint residue from boat hulls, but you can’t have everything, I guess.
I stare at the screen again, thinking that I probably saved a ton of money buying tuna at Costco instead of at Harmon’s and then I think about how they always ask me if I prefer paper or plastic at Harmon’s and I always feel caught off guard when they ask me, and I always pause for a bit before responding, and I thought about why.
I realize that I think there should be a third option, which involves merely walking past the register, and all my items will be totaled magically, and then they will be teleported to my fridge and pantry and put there in a neat, logical fashion. Why don’t they ever offer that?
Instead it’s just paper or plastic, and I am thinking to myself, “Should I say plastic? Do they want me to say plastic? I don’t want to hurt birds.” But on the other hand, I think, “Paper bags always rip on me, but I love the way the look and feel so nostalgic and retro.” So I get overwhelmed and ask for half paper, half plastic…
I close the computer and walk by my teapots. I love my teapots. They look like they are lecturing me on how I wasted a whole bunch of time today instead of writing. But, then I laugh. Because I always laugh when I see them.
Looking for ways to simplify this Christmas season? Here are some of the Christmas traditions we are giving up this year in order to try and not get overly hustley and bustley.
Financial Hardship/Job Loss/Major Illness
What could be more fun than finding out you are going to lose your job or take a financial hit in December? Or what about a few days in ICU? How about the church delivering a frozen Christmas turkey in front of your non-member in-laws who have no idea you are struggling? I am here to tell you, there is nothing like it!
This year we are substituting this tradition with Gratitude For A Great Job/Financial Solvency/Recovery. It’s going to be bittersweet to say goodbye to this longstanding tradition, but we will try not to cry too hard about it.
The thing that I will miss the most about that tradition is visiting with the hospital nurses. They are some of my best friends and it won’t be the same this year without them.
Making Gingerbread Houses
After seeing what my friend’s family did, I thought, “We can do that….How hard can it be?” We have actually destroyed all photographic evidence of our attempt. It was horrific.
After a brief period of delusion, I have also retired this fun filled event. Nothing says Christmas like mom saying Mormon swear words because she can’t get the graham crackers to stand up in a square.
The Colors Are Vibrant Going Down AND Coming Up!
And it’s just not the holiday season if your four year old didn’t eat four boxes of Dots (which were really meant to decorate the gingerbread houses), and vomits up in technicolor. That is celebrating, let me tell you!
Making The Holidays Healthy
If Only You Could Smell That Through The Computer!!! Mmmmm…
What an awesome tradition! What better way to celebrate than with a Celebration Loaf and a Curried Quinoa salad? Who wants a decadent dessert when you can have raw brownies made out of date paste? It tastes soooooo much like the original that you can’t even tell the difference!!!!!
And who needs greasy chips when you can have your fill of deliciously dehydrated kale chips?!!!?!?!? And nothing says comfort food like Grilled Chikun (not to be confused with actual chicken) covered in a delicous cashew Cheeze Sauce with a side of mashed cauliflower!
Don’t forget to wash it down with some of that delicious non-GMO, organic, free range, gluten free, dairy free, paleo, low carb, Beach body approved water!!! Or maybe some Eggnog Shakeology!!!! Or even a Christmas Green Drink!!!!
THAT’S NOT EGG NOG!!!!! For a better taste experience, DRINK REAL EGG NOG.
While we will never go back to a really processed diet, and we really don’t eat a ton of meat or anything, there is no substitute for a delicious Christmas roast and comfort food.
Annual Holiday Fight
Oh, how we will miss the Annual Holiday Fight between mom and dad or mom and teen or dad and young adult, or between mom and dad and everyone. It’s always so enjoyable to watch everyone get pulled in to the drama and hear all the children crying at once!!
What holiday wouldn’t be complete without two or seven of your family members getting into the ring to duke it out over whether or not the fifteen year old has a crush on someone, or trying to find out why your husband decide to buy you snow tires as an “early” Christmas/birthday present, or why the younger kids are more loved than the older, or whether or not they should run away, or any number of life altering, major questions that need to be battled out, to the point of drawing blood, slamming doors, or making holes in the wall, if necessary.
Visiting Friends and Family and Going to Parties With Anyone Who Cannot Go To The Bathroom Completely By Themselves
Ah, the joy of visiting strange relatives you haven’t seen anywhere but on Facebook!! How enchanting to spend an evening in the home of dear family members who have more breakables and stairs than Buckingham Palace!!
What fun to see the fifteen month old nearly knock a tooth out falling down the stairs, or your ten year old break the neighbor’s Star Wars action figure!! How lovely to try and carry on an adult conversation with fifteen toddlers screaming and running around you in circles.
How I will miss those evenings that could rival the decibel level of the space shuttle launch!
We are replacing this tradition with Adults Only Parties and Visiting Friends and Relatives With The Kids In Five To Ten. Years.
Here are some traditions we plan on keeping forever, though. We just couldn’t give THESE up:
Annual Family Christmas Play/Program
We love to perform for ourselves and laugh at our own apparent wit and ingenuity. Put us in front of a camera at home, and we are content to ham it up with reckless abandon! We love a good reboot of such classics as “A Christmas Carol,” or “The Scarlet Pimpernel.” (We changed beheading to Chauvlin wanting to cut off people’s hair. Aren’t we clever?)
We like to eat at Christmas. This tradition will happily continue. We will eat almost anything. If you have food, there is someone in our family who will probably try it. Last year, after Christmas, my son went from house to house around dinner time offering his services to “take care of” pesky Christmas leftovers.
We will not, however, allow any of our children to eat Dots. Multicolored vomit is “out” this year.
We will always and forever play Christmas music at Christmas time.
We listen, we sing, we hum, we dance. It is wonderful to be joyful with song. We have a wide and varying collection of favorites including “Feliz Navidad” by the Three Tenors, “Jingle Bells,” by Michael Buble (the kids love to repeat when the girls say, “Merry Christmas, Mr. Buble” over and over and over and over again. Because his name is funny? I don’t know why.), the hilariously grating and migraine inducing “12 Days of Christmas” by the Mormon Youth Chorus. And, there is of course, Joseph’s favorite “Cluck of the Bells,” as sung by chickens.
Please don’t even get me started on the song stylings of “Disney Princess Christmas.” You haven’t lived until you’ve heard fake Snow White singing about Christmas Eve Dinner. It’s truly unforgettable. I will leave you with another favorite…the classic croonings of Justin Bieber in “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”
These are just a few of the mind blowing traditions that we have decided to keep for the coming years. And even though we will miss the old ones, we feel that truly, we are making room for more!
It’s Christmastime. And I have decided it’s a perfect time to begin again.
So much has happened to me over the last six months.
For one, I had my very last baby. It was beautiful and bittersweet and I realized I would have never stopped having babies if there was any way that I could have. I love babies and I love children and I love the people they turn into when they grow up. I will miss that part of my life, and it was hard to come to the end of that chapter.
Peter, named after Pan. I never want him to grow up!
And why does no one really let you know how difficult marriage can be? John and I are complete opposites. Like from different ends of the universe. And we are both passionate and we are both full of fire. And I know that the fire we share is going to make us diamonds, but sometimes it just feels like it’s incinerating us.
We always get through and we love each other fiercely.
We have been through hell. Again, and again and again. He is my one and only and my One True Love. I am his. And it is fine, and I am not saying there is anything wrong with our marriage, because I don’t know that there is. I think we are just in the fire. And I think we are ebbing into the part where the fire is warm and crackling and comforting and we are sipping hot chocolate and it’s wonderful and toasty, but before it was…not that.
I love that even though we have those epic firestorms, we can come together again and sort it out. I love that no matter what, we are in this and we aren’t going to give up. I really love that.
So, now we are here again, in the fire and Christmas is upon us, and we can’t help but think of Joy, and there are some December days when I wonder if I will be able to get through it and there are other days when my heart soars and I feel so close to Heaven that it doesn’t hurt the same way.
And who knows what the 25th will be like? It’s scary, this part. The holidays. Not knowing how it will be. Hoping it will be wonderful. Fearing that it will, and that you will feel guilty for not having a bad day. But we will go forward with faith and know that it will all be alright.
Joy’s Last Christmas
I love Christmas. I love that it’s helping me begin again. Even in the midst of my pain, I can’t help but feel that wonderfulness that Jesus was born a baby and there is something so beautiful about that.
Isn’t it wonderful that because He lived a perfect life, I will see Joy again?
That we can try again if this Christmas doesn’t turn out wonderfully? That there is always hope? That we never have to give up? That there is forgiveness?
And that His healing light and love can make it so the burning fire doesn’t incinerate but purifies us til we are pure? Isn’t it all so amazing?