To Whatever End

I just finished (literally, 3 hours ago) the Throne of Glass series, by Sarah J. Maas. It took me most of the summer and fall to read all 8. In fairness, I did not read straight through until Queen of Shadows. QoS took me a couple of months to get through, but once I committed to it, I read almost nothing else until this morning when I finished Kingdom of Ash (book 8).

It’s been years since I stayed up all night, reading.
Years since I allowed myself to be so enraptured with a story that it consumed (nearly) my every waking thought.
Years since I dreamed about a story.

I started tabbing in this series. So many moments I didn’t want to lose. I read so fast that I consume vast amounts of storytelling, but it’s with a terrible cost of not remembering details after I’ve read them. Names, moments, words spoken, etc. Tabbing slows me down enough to take in the details and not immediately lose them.

Like the fact that during KoA, when she’s screaming through the worlds to get back to Rowan, she flies across the sky and sees a pair of Fae, one very pregnant and one with wings, in a city against the mountains under starlight. UM HELLO VELARIS at Starfall and that, dear one, HAS to by Rhysand and Feyre during A Court of Silver Flames (ACOTAR series).

What a beautiful touch. I’ve seen posts on different social media platforms and in discussion groups (discord, reddit, etc.) that suggest there are a ton of other SJM book easter eggs, if you know what to look for. I wouldn’t pick up the Crescent City references because I haven’t read those yet.

I’ll take the weekend to rest my brain and then I may do a couple of standalones, instead of jumping back into another series, like From Blood and Ash by Jennifer Armentrout.

My TBR is probably glad I’m putting this one behind me for now, but it has to know I’ll go back to it.

What a story.

logo, Aelin's sword and crown, antlers of the Lord of the North

when will i tell stories again?

I sometimes wonder if I’ve passed through some invisible barrier and all my stories are silent because they cannot reach me to be told.

I come home and my brain is tired. So, I check out for a little while on Elder Scrolls Online, tiktok, or one of my books. I consume other people’s stories like heroin, and I KNOW I have stories to tell, but I find my own ability to storycraft depressingly silent.

Earlier this summer, I picked up my mother’s book, Sisters of Eselgroth, a fantasy story about three sisters and their journey back home. It went through some really bad editing, and she published a wonderful story before it was ready. I told her I’d restructure the book, re-edit it, and prepare it for re-release. I’d like to make some progress before the end of the year, but I find my brain stalls out whenever I go to start.

Then there is DnD. All my life I’ve wanted to learn DnD. I tried a campaign and couldn’t get into it. Like, I didn’t even know what to say from turn to turn. I couldn’t finish the campaign. Maybe some other day.

Sometimes I feel like the stories are just gone. Like all my creativity has been leeched away by whatever skills I’ve developed in data analytics these past few years. I think in incomplete sentences so it’s a wonder I’m able to write this much.

Maybe the stories will wait for me to either pass through the barrier or find a way around it.

…I hope so.

“Peter, you’ve become a Pirate.”

In the 1991 movie, Hook, Granny Wendy (played by Maggie Smith) tells Peter (played by Robin Williams) he’s become a pirate after he snaps at his children for being children while he’s on a work call. While I was a 15 year old kid when that movie came out, it struck me as significant that becoming an adult was a treacherous prospect. Tootles (played by Arthur Malet) has “lost his marbles” and, therefore, forgotten how to fly. And, of course, there’s Hook (played by Dustin Hoffman). I’d argue the climax of the movie is not the big fight between Peter and Hook, it’s when Peter regains his Happy Thought and remembers how to fly. When the lost boys crow and scream, “PETER’S BACK!”

In the *cough* 20+ years that have come after that glorious movie, I have endeavored to hang onto a little piece of my childhood. If nothing else, that I might not become like all the sad adults I saw around me, living their gray, salad-eating lives; content to drive to work and home, sit in meetings, and get excited about spreadsheets and financial futures – all things that sounded absolutely awful in my teenager mind.

Fast forward a bunch of years and, I’ll confess, Excel has become my love language and I spend a LOT of time in the car, shuttling kids from one activity to another. To my teenager self, I’ve become the very thing she was so violently opposed to. But I never forgot my promise to not become a pirate.

I read fantasy novels, play DnD, have a robust online gaming life, and I have a big collection of Harry Potter and Star Wars memorabilia.

When I work from home and have Zoom or Teams calls, I’m routinely asked about my light sabers. I have a replica Elder Wand on my desk at the office, along with McGonagall’s and Voldemort’s wands (depending on which kind of “magic” they want me to work). Avada kedavra I have a prop sword in the corner of my office and EVERYBODY stops to ask about it, and my Ravenclaw robes on a hat tree.

I’ve got quite the reputation for being “quirky,” and I used to be bothered by it, but then CIRCUS-19 happened. Suddenly all of us who worked full-time in an office were quarantined to our homes. The built-in separation between our work and home lives disappeared. I hated it. Don’t get me wrong, there are nice things about working remote. Not wearing shoes, joggers and t-shirts every day, good coffee, having the dog to keep me company, and being in charge of my thermostat – for starters. But I found the ever-present laptop, a whiteboard with notes I couldn’t walk away from, and the living room or the corner of my bedroom being the same place I worked, but also where I tried to escape from work. I was miserable. To limit most of my human interaction (outside of my immediate family) to a 13″ screen for a YEAR was torture.

When we were allowed to come back into the office, I jumped at the chance to get out of my house most days. I also decided life is too short to be anything but myself and I hated the idea of hiding away all this cool stuff, or being separated from it all day long because there’s some imaginary rule that I should have outgrown everything fun by now and work spaces should be these sterile places that are as rigidly designed as brand guidelines.

SO, here I am, closer to 50 than 40 and I think have achieved my goal. Yes, I’m an adult. Yes, I spend a lot of time in the car and my workday consists of spreadsheets and financial projections, but I have a cool office. I wear my fandom around my neck and wrists, and don’t make me show you which wand I prefer.

BANGARANG

Revive

I’ve decided to revive Where are Your Pants. I miss writing and I believe not writing is part of the reason why my mental health has declined over the past couple of years. Strange, that. People kept journals and diaries for millennia and I’m just figuring out it’s because there are more words than time to speak them, but it doesn’t mean the words go away.

2022, for me, will be about protecting my peace. There are still so many things totally out of my control. The Circus-19 continues to rage. I can’t control that. I can, however, choose to disengage from people who want to talk about it. Politics is still just as toxic as ever; I don’t have to be involved. The theatre is limping along, but still alive. I don’t have to try and save it; just lend a hand to help where I can; refusing to feel guilty about saying “no” to over-extending myself.

Projects for the year:

  1. Rework Sisters of Eselgroth – this was a story my mother and I wrote years and years ago, about three sisters and their quest to reclaim their kingdom. Somewhere between the story-crafting and the publishing of the book, a lot of extra stuff was added that narrowed the audience beyond what the story itself could sustain. Mother has given me permission to rework the story and republish it.
  2. Read 100 books in 2022. I started late last year, after not reading a page (that wasn’t a spreadsheet, report, or ad copy) in three years. I managed to read ~70 books in the second half of 2021.
  3. Clean off all the albums from Facebook and delete my profile. Other than work and my volunteer work, I’m done on Facebook. There is nothing on that platform that I still need and it’s time to make my exit. I’ve stayed as long as I have because the children’s photos from more than a decade of life live there. But it’s time to go.

There are other things I’d like to do like keeping Another Day active, doing the creative journal art I enjoy, and earning my 1 star in my game by summertime, but these are my big 3.

You’re a mean one…

In the Dr. Seuss story, the Grinch is cast as the villain. When we dig into his past, though (as afforded by later versions of the story), we see a pattern of behavior that hardened his heart until it was the tiny little thing introduced in all the versions.

If we’re being honest, 2020 has pretty much “grinched” me. No, I haven’t had it as hard as many and, for that, I am grateful. But I haven’t felt nearly as holly jolly as I usually do come the day after Thanksgiving. It wasn’t POOF insta-perfect decorations, the smell of baking cookies, and non-stop Christmas carols. In fact, day before yesterday was the first day I voluntarily listened to Christmas music.

I guess you can say I’m in a funk.

But this weekend, I broke down and went Christmas shopping. Well, picking out gifts for other people is one of my very favorite things. Before long, I was smiling and laughing (something in desperately short supply this year, it seems). I went home and started wrapping presents and, out of habit, let iTunes pick out a Christmas playlist.

At some point between Bing Crosby and Michael Bublé, the playlist threw me a curveball: Mariah Carey’s All I want for Christmas is You. Y’all, I KNOW this is a super popular song, but I have hated it since it came out. I’m much more of a White Christmas kind of girl. But, this is 2020 and there are no more rules. So, I made myself listen to it. And it was exactly what my dried up little Grinch heart needed. Before the song hit the second refrain, I was tapping my foot and humming along.

Three days later, I’ve got it almost on repeat. I let the kids turn the tree lights to the multi-colors instead of the prettier white lights because it’s more fun. I had a cookie (or three) for breakfast. You might say my Grinch heart … well, you know how the story goes.

I’m still tired and SO over 2020, but at least Christmas seems to have been saved. If you’re like me, struggling to find a little holiday happiness, maybe this is the year to give yourself space to not be all the things to all the people. Maybe this is the year to sit down with whatever this year has thrown at you and recognize we’ve all been changed. And maybe in that, we can find some still small joy that makes it a little more bearable. *hugs*

9

You are nine. You would probably like Fortnite. But maybe you’d rather play drums or read. You probably have red hair, and maybe my green eyes. You might like sports, like your dad…or history, like me.

I wonder what foods you won’t eat. What clothes you like best. Probably cargo shorts like your little brother. If you’re like me, you want soft clothes because the scratchy clothes are distracting to you.

It’s your birthday. We would have a cake; or pizza if you like that better. Or maybe you are like your older sister who doesn’t like pizza?

I know you had to go so Emory could come. But there isn’t a single day I don’t think of you at least once and wish I could say your name and hear my name back.

The redbirds are everywhere and my heart chips a little every time I see one. How that particular symbolism came to be is something to google, but I never do.

This is a hurt that never ends.

When I think of you now, I wonder what you do all day. No school; but I guess you don’t need it. Probably no books up there. (I hope I’m wrong about that.) I always say you’ve probably climbed all the trees and found all the fishing holes with my grandfather by now.

And Cornbread, our dog – by this point, you’ve known him almost as long as we did. Kali and Oscar – I hope they’re there too.

I remember my brother used to sleep in a tent out in the backyard. I like to imagine you doing that too.

I miss you, little boy. Happy birthday, Rylie James. Momma loves you.

One Rule

When I was a little girl, my mother was everything to me. (She still is, by the way.) Even as a young child, I could see my mother struggling to make good choices in her relationships while still diligently working to keep our little family safe. This created periods of great upheaval and instability; some of which were downright scary – stories for another day perhaps.

Despite her personal battle to create safe relationships and make a home for us, she never wavered from telling us our one rule was to be safe at all times. She did not say, “because I told you so,” and always, “the answer is no, but here is why.” She was very transparent in her explanations to us so we would understand the worldview that shaped her parenting.

I guess you could say it was an effective way to parent. 16 years into this gig, I still have ONE rule in our house. Yep. That’s it. Oh, there are different pieces that reinforce the one rule, but it all comes down to this one rule: Be safe. At all times.

Manage from center

If you impress that rules are made to keep us safe, everything else can be managed from there. It gives space for their age, maturity, and abilities. It is not rigid, and it sets a firm foundation upon which to build up a child. You do not have to worry about keeping track of what you said was ok and not ok (super helpful during those tired years). Even tiny children can help decide if something is safe and not safe; they don’t have to lean on maturity and wisdom they don’t yet have.

Yes, we still talk about being kind, empathetic, patient, respectful, on time, tidy, etc. The key is that choosing to ignore our one rule creates unsafe situations. It allows tremendous freedom and flexibility in our parenting because we can adapt to the situation and where our kids are at any given moment. We never move off of center and that gives our kids tremendous stability.

It also allows for a LOT of grace; both with the kids AND with mom and dad. Look, we all have bad days. I yell because sometimes these people seem to be unable to hear me at a sane tone of voice. But this makes everybody’s head hurt and it’s not the way I want to parent. Coming back to center helps the fog clear and we can get back on track. I am less likely to take it to an 11 if I take a whole second to decide if it is not safe, or just annoying. (be honest.)

Realtalk

I don’t have all the answers and there are LOTS and LOTS of days when I’m almost positive I interfered when I didn’t need to, hovered a smidge closer to helicopter than I ever want to, or was more permissive on stuff that I deem inconsequential, but others may not. But isn’t that parenting? Getting up every day and trying to do better, love more transparently, be more authentic and present, and never (ever) stop letting your kids know you’re doing your best because they are worth it, and you wouldn’t change a thing. Yep, that’s what I think too. ❤

Finality

There is something so final to saying I am done having children. In a couple more weeks, The Boy (the youngest of the bunch) will be 5 years old and I’ll be out of the baby business. And, while that’s a good thing – I have three beautiful children that are growing and learning more about themselves and their world and one in heaven watching over us – I will never again experience the wonder that are those first flutters. Hiccups in the middle of the night, from the inside out. Heartburn so profound I’m surprised it didn’t melt the enamel off my teeth (ok, I won’t miss that at all). Writing lists of names and arguing with the stubbornest man I’ve ever met until we come to just the right one. Final.

There are no more bottles and binkies, formula and diapers. Primary colored blocks and noise-makers have given way to trucks and trains; stuffed teddy bears have given way to Barbie dolls and make-up palettes. And even those seem to give way to the incessant spread of technology; play replaced by time on tablets, laptops, and smart phones.

And, while I can look at and even hold a newborn baby or tiny child without the slightest longing for “one more,” somewhere deep, I miss it.

The soft cheeks, the smell of their hair, the sound of them as they sleep. Fighting invisible spiders on the wall (a thumbtack in the ceiling where her butterfly once hung); tip-toeing ever so quietly by the baby’s room, or smoothing back the hair from the finally still face of the oldest one as she sleeps; the only time of day when she isn’t halfway rolling her eyes at me, “Moooom, I’m SOOOOOOOO busy….”

I worry every day that something will happen. Something bad. Those fears that surely lurk in the back of every parent’s mind; fear that is too horrible to express for fear of breathing truth to it. Fears that morph from age to age, but stay the same.

I worry over scraped knees and fevers. Bad dreams and math anxiety. Too much time in front of a screen and not enough time at church. Balancing equipping them to face the realities of the world in which we live and protecting them from as much of it as I can until they are “ready.” Figuring out what the hell ready looks like. Because I certainly am not some days.

Parenting is tiny heartbreaks, smoothed over by overflowing joy.

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Be honest

If I have learned ANYTHING in 16 years of parenting, it’s how good I am at doing what I said I wasn’t going to do.

I said I wasn’t going to give in on screentime. Welp.
Yelling…that won’t be me. Um. (see above)
My house will be clean. LOLZ

So, if I’m honest enough to admit I get it wrong as much as I get it right, why on Earth would I think my kids aren’t going to screw stuff up as much or more than I do?

Yeah, I know.

But admitting this gives them AND me a much needed break. Don’t we all need some grace? Don’t we all need somebody to come alongside and say, “You didn’t do that very well. Do you need a do-over?” 

Today, I will try again. Look again. BREATHE again. And realize that these small (and not so small) people need me to put my hand out to them, pull them in close, and tell them whatever is happening is most likely not the end of the world and that we can work it out. Together. 

I won’t always get it right. Hell, I’ll probably screw it up 10 more times TODAY. But the other thing I’ve learned is how powerful trying again can be. Never give up, y’all. We can do this. 

this is my momlife

Where are your pants?

So, I started a thing. For years, I’ve been speaking through pages to audiences about things they care about (or I want them to care about), but never really as myself. Sure, I’ll come out from behind the curtain to give a human touch to the brand on whose behalf I’m speaking, but it’s still very much the brand message.

Until now. (and that scares the bejeebles out of me, TBH.) Because what do I have to offer that so many before me haven’t already said? Does the world really need another mom blogger who complains about how tall the pile of laundry is in THAT chair, or that she’s asking for a friend if caffeine-induced eye twitches are normal?

But then I remember that EACH one of us has a story. It’s what I do for a living; help people tell THEIR story and connect to stories (aka jobs) they care about and can be part of. Why shouldn’t I have a story too?

So this is my story. After half a lifetime making stuff up on the fly, I have decided to get serious about letting people hear my story. Giving people access to the very structured and highly cultivated brand I maintain. You know, “she who has all her collective people and @#$ together.

So, add me on facebook, highly caffeinated ones, and we’ll talk. https://www.facebook.com/whereareyourpants

-regina (aka fridaynightgirl)

Something to say

The post about the worst part of parenting is getting some attention. Now, instead of sleeping, I’m playing with settings on this blog that’s been just sitting here, waiting for all the things I think, but don’t think anybody will read. (Yes, Mama, I know you read it.) I realized there are 15 draft posts that I started, but never finished; dating all the way back to Christmas of last year.

That’s the longest I’ve gone without writing (I think) since Madygirl was born. And that should tell you the state of affairs right there.

Don’t get me wrong. Life is great. Better than great most of the time. Madygirl’s a sophomore at T-High, the Prime Minister is in 3rd grade, and The Boy is in Pre-K.

Work is amazing. When I stop for a second and look around at all we’ve already accomplished, it’s humbling and more than a bit terrifying. No wonder I’m exhausted.

But, as my mother says, “good stress is still stress.” (I’ve probably written that here before.)

My sweet father in law is very ill and we’re all holding our breath for those baby steps back to whatever normal is going to look like, and I miss my mother and brother so much it hurts some days.

So, in the midst of all this mostly good stuff sprinkled with laundry that will never be finished, brakes on a car that I can’t even deal with right now, and trying to keep my children from driving me completely over the edge (just kidding), I stopped writing it all down.

Until the other day when a mom-blogger I follow (https://www.facebook.com/MomBabble/) asked to publish something I wrote in response to a picture she shared in a group. I was, naturally, excited and said “well, YEAH,” and then I called my mother. Well, I called and told Coach first, but he wasn’t going to be over the top “oh honey” like I knew my mama would, so…

These bloggers are people who are actually doing part of the life I want to do. They are real. They are funny. And they want to share what I’m writing. What in the actual.

Maybe I still have things to say.

Parenting is the Worst.

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I think there is a little bit of hell in each stage. When they’re tiny, they cry, and cry, and cry, and you are supposed to be some kind of @#$%^& wizard to be able to tell WHICH cry it is. You are constantly worried about what goes bump in the night, trying to survive sleep deprivation worthy of a POW camp, never knowing what that spot is on your blouse (and being too tired to care).

When they are toddlers and preschoolers, they are messy, smelly, potty training accidents waiting to happen. They are loud. The incessant whining makes you seriously consider packing your bags and leaving.

When they are in elementary school, there is the girl drama, the beginnings of male posturing and the heartbreaking struggles of learning how to read, do 3rd grade math, and all the “not quite a teenager, not a little child anymore” pain.

Then comes middle school. Oy. Like, awkward. (and they smell weird TBH) You get to have the detailed “talk” with them which is SO AWFUL. You watch them take first notice of each other and their own bodies, and you panic when you realize you’re halfway done but you still have SO much you have to teach them.

Here comes high school with all its “who do I want to be,” and the “you’re so out of touch MOM” business. And relationships *GAG* that are here and gone faster than I can learn their names so we’ve quit trying. They’re having their first big failures and you want to rescue, but you don’t have time to baby them any more. You can see the end of the sand in the hourglass; you’re racing the clock.

I can’t imagine what her senior year will be like. The last of everything. Saying goodbye at college move-in day. And beyond. I cry just thinking about it and we have three of these to do.

Parenting is pretty much awful. 

But. There are also the snuggles and the miracles. And laughing at silly jokes, watching them discover their world, and conquering their own mountains; sometimes with you and sometimes on their own.

There is watching them learn to fly, helping them up when they fall, making it better with kisses and ice cream, and being present and silent when they finally open up.

Screaming with joy when they run the ball into the end zone, stick a hard stunt, throw a tumbling pass, stand at center stage, or pass that test they worked so hard on.

There is the overwhelming joy at silly songs, quiet play, watching them sleep, the spontaneous hugs, their boundless energy.

There is the tremendous chest-splitting pride when they make good choices, rescue a friend from danger, stand up for the small, play games with their siblings instead of on snapchat. Text you in the middle of the day how much they love and appreciate all you do for them.

Every stage is awful. And wonderful. 

Holly Jolly Ho-Hum

The tree is up. The elves have arrived and move around every night, playing hide and seek with the children. I have this amazingly soft buffalo-print raglan that I wear as much as I think I can get away with that says, “Merry & Bright.”

And yet. I don’t really feel merry and bright.

I LOVE Christmas. It’s – hands down – my FAVORITE time of year. I love making cookies, and wrapping presents; coming up with fun, thoughtful gifts for my family and friends. I love candlelight church services, and the music. Absolutely my favorite part of Christmas is the music.

What is wrong with me?

Maybe it’s the pace we’ve kept this fall finally catching up to me.
Maybe it’s the negativity that seems to pollute my social media channels.
Maybe it’s too many nickles and dimes and not dollars in the bank when I, once again, under-estimate how expensive “doing life” is.

Whatever it is, I don’t feel like Christmas shopping.
Don’t feel like listening to Christmas music.
Don’t feel like making Christmas crafts.
Don’t feel like doing anything but laying down.

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Maybe, like Cindy Lou, I myself am having doubts about the meaning of Christmas. Maybe, like the Grinch, I realize that it’s not the cookies, or presents, or lights, or even the music that makes Christmas special.

Maybe I’ve allowed being busy and doing things to smother the true joy of Christmas that only comes by stilling your heart, listening for the angels, and rejoicing at the humble birth of that little one who would change everything.

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I will try and quiet my heart.
Still my thoughts.
Shut off my phone.

Come they told me
A new born king to see

In dreams I find him

As today passes into tomorrow, I will whisper his name. Riley James. d. October 6, 2009

I wonder what he did today. Do little boys get dirty in Heaven? Will I ever stop wondering why it happened?

One day, I know I will finally ruffle his hair; like I’ve done to his little brother a thousand times. Until then…sleep tight, little one. Momma loves you.

Just Keep Swimming

For the thirtymillionth time this week, “just keep swimming,” is in my head. It’s August and that means summer is officially over. Not that we have much summer here, in Crazyville.

Coach is off, but he gets pretty tired of being “off” after about a month and the Cheerleader is back at daily workouts and practices after the 4th of July. So, we stay pretty busy even when we’re not so busy. Our normal “not so busy” looks like a lot of other families’ super busy. #sportslife

Margaret Thatcher and The Boy have both asked to play soccer this fall, the Cheerleader’s booked us up every evening but Saturdays, and of course Coach practically lives at the school now.

So. Hi.

My last post was right before the election. And then THAT happened. I am still so speechless at the utter circus in the White House right now, I don’t even know where to start.

twitterblocked(amiright?)

I started Camp Gladiator and I’m already down a pant size. But, more importantly, I realized this morning I can’t remember the last time I took Advil in the evening because I was achy and creaky from sitting in my chair all day at work; carrying all that stress in the back of my neck or back. Work is still a barrel of monkeys every day, but I no longer dread feeling like I’ve been drop kicked in the face every night.

I’m also using my standing desk more often, drinking less coffee/more water, and making myself leave the office and go home for lunch.

Ah, work. Still a great job. Still love what I do, love the team, love what we’re accomplishing. This is the Empire Strikes Back part of the project so we’re all working really hard, feeling like we’re not exactly getting anywhere, but it’s just a plateau. We’ll push through and then we’ll be back off to the races. We’ll work it out.

I feel myself coming to a bit of a crossroads with work. There is so much still to do/build/accomplish. But the past few months have felt like a total grind and I’m really missing building, training, and COMMUNICATING. I have done this work thing in this brain, and with this heart long enough to know that communication and training other people how to communicate is where my passion is. In the words of Tigger, “it’s what Tiggers do best!” As important as pulling and analyzing metrics IS and as much as I’m 100% committed to what I’m doing RIGHTNOWDONTLOSESIGHTOFTHISPROJECT, I know I’m going to have to get back to training/communicating or I will begin to atrophy those muscles I’ve worked so hard to build over an almost 20 year career. God did not create me to be a Commander type for nothing.

Since my last post, I promoted to Director with Thirty-One Gifts. Something I don’t post much about here, but it’s become a really important part of my life. I truly feel part of something with Thirty-One that I don’t have anywhere else. Yes, it’s one more thing to do, but it’s as much part of my day as coffee.

 

I’m certain there’s more. But, this is a lot in one update. For my friends who follow me on facebook, none of this is news, but I miss writing (see my bit above about not creating content).

Later, gators.

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put your shades on, turn       up the music, &        DEAL WITH IT. 

 

 

 

 

 

Why #imwithher

The decision who to vote for this election was incredibly hard. There were, however, several deciding items that tipped my decision to Hillary Clinton.

I realize putting this out will not sway any hearts. And it’s not really intended to. This is so I can go back and reflect on it later. For now, I’ll walk through the battleground issues.

The big one: Abortion

I do not believe outlawing it will stop it. There are many reasons a woman would take such a drastic step; none of which will be solved by making it illegal. I have spoken to women who’ve made that terrible choice and not a single one made it lightly.

I also no longer believe Pro Life means anything; it is a device of politics. The same party that rages against women for electing to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, has voted to deny the expansion of Medicaid for low income families and failed to fund early education which is absolutely critical to changing the conversation around success rates for children in poverty. They failed to support efforts to provide safe, inexpensive access to reproductive care and contraception, adequate availability to affordable childcare, and support and resources for women in vulnerable situations. The party that hangs its entire moral outrage on the innocent death of the fetus seems to have no compassion or interest in the quality of life of those children once they leave the womb.

I think abortion is a heinous act committed against an innocent. I do not support the use of it as anything but a catastrophic intervention to save the life or future reproductive capacity of the mother.

I also know the phrase “late term abortion” is a political invention to crudely describe an extremely rare procedure that is absolutely never used but in the most dire circumstances. I whole-heartedly agreed with HRC when she said in the last debate that she doesn’t believe the government or politicians are qualified to interfere in a decision that should only ever be between that family and their medical team.

Immigration

Regarding immigration: immigration laws have always been intended to keep undesirable people groups out. In our history, that included the Chinese, then unescorted women who were not met by a man, eastern and Southern Europe, etc… We have created a system so cumbersome that poor families in dismal circumstances have little chance of ever getting through the red tape.

This country has always been a place for a second chance, a fresh start, and boundless opportunity. We must find a way to simplify the process so those who pay taxes and contribute to the betterment of their communities are given the chance to obtain citizenship. Existing immigration laws must be enforced, and penalties for illegally entering this country (only once the process has been simplified) or committing a crime while a guest of the United States must be strengthened.

Refugees

In regards to refugees fleeing horrific circumstances: We have been the rescuers, the heroes, and the good guys for generations. To now turn our backs on these people because we don’t like their religion or politics is repellent. To make a blanket judgement because their worship doesn’t look like ours decries the great commission. To close our hearts and refuse to offer aid likens us to the priest in the story of the Good Samaritan. We fail our calling in the name of fake safety. We were never called to be safe. We were called to be instruments in the redeemer’s hands.

LGBT

Finally, in regards to LGBT protections under the law. And this is where my heart quakes because this is where I am so at odds with where I am personally. The day we write laws that deny the protections of the constitution because we don’t agree with their morality, our republic is doomed. If the government offers legal provision to the civic contract which is marriage, our government must offer it to any marriage. As the Church, we are called to be in the world; NOT of it. Behind these issues are PEOPLE. It’s so tempting to pick up that rock, stand on our moral high ground, and stone the issue – forgetting there is a flesh and blood heart, a soul on the receiving end of our blows. What kind of witness are we providing when we say Jesus came for all…but not “them?” The only one who should be outraged here is Jesus. Because that’s not what he said.

Nobody should have the right to persecute, abuse, or discriminate another person – FOR ANY REASON. As believers, we above all others should be the most vocal champions of this; not the loudest opponent. Showing grace and extending a hand of compassion and welcome to ALL is how we demonstrate the love of Christ that we have been shown. “For while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
—-

There is never going to be a perfect candidate or party. And each citizen has a responsibility to make their own EDUCATED decision.

I have watched the Republican Party tear itself apart in the past year. I have watched a candidate rise who spews filth and stirs up hatred with nearly every address. A candidate comfortable in the use of fear and intimidation. A bully. A man who makes no apologies for his xenophobic rants and his utter lack of self-control. I will not align myself with a party that seems to be run on hate and fear.

I believe we are better than we have behaved. I choose hope. I choose Her.

Ain’t no sun

There are days when the sun just won’t shine. Days when it hides behind clouds, or the sky is darkened with rain. 

It’s rained a lot lately in Texas. I would say too much, but it’s so nice to have it, I loathe to disparage it too much. 

There are other days, though, that have little to do with the sun in the sky. Days like today. No matter how pretty this day might turn out to be, the sun has hidden its face from me. 

Today, like I do every summer, I walked part of my heart to the gate and watched her until I couldn’t see her any more. 

Today, she cried. She hasn’t done that in a long time and it tore my heart out. It was all I could do to stand there and keep it together. 

I’ll wait here until she’s off the ground, and then I’ll go home. And wait for my sunshine to come back. 

the MOST wonderful time?

This is the time of year when my favorite music plays on more than half the stations, non-stop.

The time of year when it’s ok to have “one more” cookie, or truffle, or Martha’s rum cake.

The time of year when it’s so easy to get overwhelmed by all the stuff you want to get done.

  • Gifts for the kids’ teachers
  • Cakes for the Athletic Director and Coach’s Assistant Coaches and their families
  • Decorate the house
  • Tell stories
  • Make cookies
  • Church programs
  • Driving around looking at lights
  • Starting a new tradition
  • Elf on the Shelf (don’t hate – it’s fun)
  • Christmas PJs
  • Christmas shopping
  • Wrapping presents
  • Eat cookies and drink milk on the Santa dishes
  • Hit monthly targets with Thirty-One
  • Book January parties
  • Recruit another team member
  • Deliver all those orders!
  • Oh yeah, and all the other stuff that has to happen in a normal house with three young-ish children and a dog
  • And let’s not forget it’s cheer season
  • And soccer season
  • And…

I have a headache just typing all that out.

The time of year when we are reminded of the infant who left Heaven to come and live among us and die for us so we could be saved.

The time of year we think about a teenage girl and her young husband, desperately searching for a place to give birth; picking a barn because there was nowhere else.

The time of year we remember the journey of wise men – across the sands and maybe mountains – to follow a hunch.

The time of year we think of solitary shepherds and how absolutely terrified they had to be when the sky opened up and the glory of God and Heaven was revealed. What it had to have sounded like to hear angel song through human ears.

The sound of an infant cry and how the universe had to sigh at the sound, because they knew, even if we did not, our Savior had finally come.

Oh.

 

 

The dog

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Remember Poppy? She’s made herself right at home with our little crowd and now we aren’t sure what life was like before she got here. True to her advertised size, she’s about 40 pounds and she’s just about done growing –  I think. We’ve given in and she now sleeps on the bed with us. At one point last night, she had wiggled her way up between Coach and me and kissed me on the nose. Her head was on MY PILLOW.

😐

She is whiny, she won’t stay outside for longer than 46 seconds at a time, and she likes to eat paper. A LOT. And, she steals The Boy’s chips, animal crackers, cookies, or whatever else he has in his hands if he doesn’t keep it away from her (which, most of the time, he doesn’t).

She’s mine. Really. My dog. What!? I’m not a dog person, remember? I like cats. But she’s my dog. My very own Poppy Calypso. And I love her.

So much to say

I love Dave Matthews Band. Well, I used to love their stuff – I have no idea what the new stuff sounds like. *mental note to skim iTunes later* (I kind of lost touch with them after .. well, after.) But Under the Table & Dreaming, Crash, and Before These Crowded Streets are three really awesome albums. So what? I don’t know – it made sense a minute ago.

Oh yes.

My listening to DMB is a handy metaphor for my life right now. One minute, it’s all I listen to. It’s my go-to band. I sing it in the shower, in the car, while I’m cooking, working, whatever. Then, nothing. They are just one more album in my vast iTunes library. In fact, I almost forget about how wonderfully complex the music is – start forgetting those rhythms and lyrics that used to set my entire life to a really great soundtrack.

Like poor DMB, I’m in a moment of forgotten-ness. An afterthought. Not that it’s a bad thing, necessarily, but I suppose I haven’t all together outgrown pouting. And, I don’t feel like being all that grown-up right now. It’s exhausting.

See, I’m rambling again. Where was I?

It’s a vast playlist and I can’t be listened to all the time. Or something. Shoot, I’m not even listening to myself anymore.

 

Poppy

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Six months ago, our Great Dane died. I took the loss harder than I thought I would. Some months later, I realized I had learned some very important things from Cornbread and I wanted another chance to be a better dog parent.

The first few times out to look didn’t go so well. Somebody inevitably left in tears. Or with a shrug of the shoulders and a, “we’ll eventually find the right one..”

On Memorial Day, we went to visit a new puppy. She and her brothers had been rescued by our local vet, when the mom was hit by a car. She had little black eyes and a cute little face. She’s got little white socks and a white streak on her face. If she was a boy, she’d definitely be Harry Potter. She was the smallest of the siblings and I liked her right away. She seemed spunky and sweet. My brother said she looked like “a little s**t,” (and he was mostly right) but I was smitten. She’s a lab/border collie mix. Our vet says she shouldn’t be as big as a full lab; that she’ll likely stay on the smaller side.

It’s been about six weeks with her and she’s made herself right at home with our little crowd. We named her Poppy Calypso. Poppy, because it’s the traditional flower of remembrance for Memorial Day. I wanted to honor that day AND remember what we learned with Cornbread. When I inevitably get frustrated at the irritating puppy phase, or feel a bit overwhelmed at having another baby in the house, I remember. The Calypso is what Coach came up with for a name “in case we ever wanted another baby and it turned out to be a girl.” I told him the puppy was as close as we were ever getting to THAT, thankyouverymuch.

She’s good with the kids, playful, and (mostly) house-trained (as long as we’re paying attention). She throws herself at the door when she wants to come back in like she’s running from the zombie apocalypse, and you can count on her to start whining to get out of her crate at 6am-SHARP. But, she’s funny. She loves to fetch, and she’s gentle with the kids. Doc is conquering her fear of her and I’m really proud of the progress she’s making.

I’m glad we got her. I’m glad I’m getting a second chance. I hope Cornbread is proud.

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Do Over

This morning, a friend, who I revere, posted a link for her teacher friends (she is also a teacher) on an alternative to behavior clip charts. I clicked on the link and was reminded why even systems that reward good behavior over negative still miss the mark. 

Here is the link. 

Know what I hate about these systems? The public review of transgressions at the end. The one size fits all “they’ll police each other” mentality (which is complete nonsense because they don’t know how to control their own behavior a lot of the time.). And especially the complete lack of grace. One or two children are enough to spoil it for the whole bunch, leading to ridicule and exclusion by the other children. I’ve never seen the consistently quiet kids “save” the day with their behavior or earn the occasional do-over for other students having a harder day managing their behavior.

By 2nd grade, Munchkin had completely accepted that she would never earn gold tickets, smiley faces, top of the ruler clip placement, or whatever other thing they came up with and she gave up. I watched her internalize the message that there must be something wrong with her, when, in reality, she was just too emotionally immature to manage her intellect. Her voracious need to know everything meant she was always talking, moving, and daydreaming – the exact opposite of the level 0 culture in elementary school.

Now that she is in middle school, she has blossomed. Her schedule has been tailored with all advanced classes to challenge her, and by virtue of it being middle school, she is not expected to be still and silent all the time. And no behavior charts, clip/ruler, or stars/smilies. We have not had a single behavior problem this year and her grades have soared- even doing competitive cheer. And, she’s older and more able to manage herself. Maybe if less time had been spent obsessing on making all children fit into a rigid behavior model, the first six years of Munchkin’s education wouldn’t have been so heartbreakingly hard to watch her go through. 

I know teachers have the mostly impossible task of corralling a classroom full of live wires and I do not envy the task. As a parent who  watched my child broken down, not built up (opposite of a teacher’s calling) by rigid behavior expectations, I urge you to correct one on one, to remember that emotional and intellectual maturity do not grow at the same pace, and that sometimes kids just need a do-over.

Here is an article that seems to get it. 

Thoughts?

Sidenote

It’s Saturday. I haven’t blogged in a while and, if I had more time (duh), you’d be able to see why.

We’ve finished up our first competitive cheer season, Doc is trying to beat CR7’s goal-scoring record this year in *cough* first kick rec soccer, and The Boy is trying to set a record for the number of times he can bang his face on the ground, into the lip of a table, or corner of a bookcase in a single month. Coach is finished with soccer season and has moved full-on into yearbook (which means he’s busy covering every sport, concert, play, and awards dinner at THS). Work is work for me. I love it. Busy, busy, busy. They keep giving me things to do so I’ll take that as a good sign.

I have been feeling the urge to reorganize, purge, and simplify our belongings (again). Realizing the reality is that we probably won’t try and move this year, all the STUFF in this house is making me crazy.

I want to redecorate the Boy’s room. It doesn’t really say anything now that I’ve taken his sports stuff out of his crib. I think we’re doing race cars, but I just haven’t had the time.

*sidenote* I’m writing on Coach’s mac (#love), but I’ve gotten used to my Surface and so now I keep touching the screen. */sidenote* HA.

Doc & Munchkin (can I still call an almost 13-year old “munchkin”?) (and, @sarah, is it more correct to put the punctuation inside the “” or outside, since the “” was to designate a name, not a quote?)

What was I saying?

This is my life. I can’t keep a !@#($% thought in my head for longer than about :25 seconds. So, you see why blogging has been such a hit or miss thing this year. I want to. My life would make a great sitcom. My children are hilarious and I really should be writing this down because [in my most obnoxious, patronizing voice] “they won’t be little forever.” (see, I know I used it correctly there.)

And it’s not all fun and games. There are things I want/need to pour out so I get them out of my head, but I open up the page to write and stare at a blank screen. And then life intrudes and demands my attention. So, in my head these thoughts stay.

Speaking of. The Boy just poured a cup of cinnamon toast crunch out on the kitchen floor. Because 18 months, you know?

Excuse me while I go back to the mess.

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Sadder than I thought I would be

The family dog died this morning. He was at home, and Coach was there with him, so that’s something I guess.

We got him when I was VERY pregnant with Doc. We’d been looking for a bulldog when a friend of the family told Coach her Danes had just had puppies and he could pick one. We went to visit the puppies and pregnancy hormones…well, it was love at first sight.

First impression

We brought him home in September – a couple of weeks after Doc was born. Munchkin carried him home in her lap. We named him Cornbread Mater Corley.

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It wouldn’t be long before he was too big for ANYBODY’s lap. But at first, he was little. Even as a puppy, he was calm. He wasn’t the typical rambunctious puppy. He DID like to dig, and he went through several “indestructible” pillows, but he was the best puppy I’ve ever lived with. It WAS a little like having twins, though. I’d get up with the baby human and Coach got up with the baby dog.

He always had the best Halloween costumes.

Life was pretty good with Cornbread until Doc grew up enough to realize she was afraid of him. Gentle giant that he was, he must have sensed this because he became content to stay in his crate, on his pillow, as long as he was in the living room with us.

Once The Boy was born, I found my hands so full with the addition of the third that Cornbread increasingly became “one more thing” I had to keep up with. And still, he seemed content. The yard was his domain and he was just as gentle and accepting of whatever attention we could ration in an otherwise overflowing life. I knew a year ago that we probably should find him a family who could make him a more active part of their lives, but none of us were really ready to give up.

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The past month or so, however, saw Cornbread slowing down. I’d been reading about how Danes don’t typically have long lifespans, and I know I complained A LOT about him, but even I was surprised at how quickly he declined and how sad it made me to think about him being gone from our life. I tried changing his food and leaving him out more; to the chagrin of Doc. But once he decided it was time, I guess, there wasn’t much we could do.

This morning, Coach said he started having trouble not long after I left with the Littles (Doc and The Boy). It wasn’t two hours after that and Coach said he was gone.

 

……

 

I think I’m done having pets for a while. The children need all the attention I can give them and, as I’ve told my sister time and time again, I’m not a dog person. They need the same kind of attention as a human child and I have lots of those already. A dog deserves a family who will cherish him/her and make him/her part of their daily lives. While Cornbread was always right there with us, he was not really a part of our life.

I’m glad he did not suffer long and I’m so glad Coach was home with him when the time came. I’m glad I wasn’t there. I want to think of him as he was before he became so sick. The ridiculous halloween getups we put on him. Sweet brown eyes that could talk you out of that last chicken strip or forgive him for just about anything. How he liked to sit on the hill, in the yard, and take in the breeze and the sunshine.

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Goodbye, friend.

nails

When I get stressed out, I start picking at my nails.

I’ve decided to pass on trying out for Chicago, at TCT. The show rehearsal schedule includes the Jr Cotillion winter semi-formal, two cheer competitions, and a week out of town for work. To top it off, the opening night of the show is the third Jr Cotillion event. Have I mentioned I am chair of the 6th grade for Jr Cotillion and chair elect? Because I’m @@!#%$ insane. I do not need the additional stress of a rehearsal schedule on top of all that – no matter how badly I wanted to sing Mama Morton.

I’ve been listening to Magic Hour (performed by Ahn Trio), The Seal Lullaby (performed by the Eric Whitacre Singers), and Michael Nyman’s The Piano Sings today, trying to get my brain to slow down enough to focus on one task at a time.

I’m pulling images for a corporate presentation, reformatting an HR notice, worrying about a certain coach with a nagging cough, wondering how I’ll get it all done at the house, trying not to have a panic attack over how I’m going to manage three kids at DFW Friday, resigning myself to not sending out Christmas cards – again – and not even caring what’s for dinner. I don’t know why all these people look to ME to feed them. Cereal is a wholly acceptable dinner…isn’t it? And that brings me back to THEM.

I feel smothered. There is so much good happening and I’m grateful. Really. But to sit in silence. Alone. To read a few chapters of a book. To sleep. To have a good, hard cry. I haven’t had time for myself in so long I hardly remember what it’s like.

This is the trenches. It doesn’t even have to be “big stuff.” It’s the day in and out routine: the time in the car, doing the 305th load of dishes or laundry, picking up food off the floor, sweeping up more dog hair, realizing that you have to get up at 5:30 if you want any quiet time at all, sneaking out to the grocery store at 9:30 at night because taking ALL OF THEM is too much.  It’s all too much.

Yes, they are magnificent. Yes, they are miracles. Yes, they are my heart. But do they have to touch me all the time? Can’t they ever stop talking? Do they have to bicker so much?

*sigh*

Yes, I know. They won’t be little forever. I should cherish these moments because I’ll look up and, JUST WAIT UNTIL THEY ARE TEENAGERS. Thank you. I know.

To imagine moments where I am not only not in love with motherhood, I almost hate it because of what it costs.  I feel guilty even typing the words.

I suppose it is all worth it. I’m sure it is. I just can’t really see it right now. So I pick at my nails. And turn the music up.

 (Please, if you would like to comment, be kind. I’m tired and over-sensitive.)

The last year I say I don’t have a teenager

I can’t believe I missed writing your birthday post this year. So, happy unbirthday, Munchkin. You aren’t really a munchkin any more, though…are you? This is the last year you won’t be a teenager. *sigh* I’m not sure I’m ready for how fast it has started going.

You are a voracious reader, a minecraft aficionado, and a Sims4 whizkid. I love your enthusiasm for theatre, your indifference to folding clothes, and even your dislike of eating more than six bites of almost anything at one time. (that drives Daddy nuts, by the way)

You’ve started listening to music that I think is complete drivel and you talk about boys more than I want to listen to (but make no mistake – I’m listening – and checking them out).

You are beautiful. I mean, you’ve always been beautiful, but now you are stunning. There isn’t a whole lot of “little girl” left when I look at you. On one hand, that kind of makes me sad, but not really. Because, despite being in full-swing-drama-queen-adolescence, you are really awesome.

Watching you this year in cheerleading is so much fun. Your confidence level grows by leaps and bounds. You have found an inner strength that has been amazing to watch.

This year you want to be an interior designer. The things you design in minecraft and sims4 are incredible. Scary smart doesn’t even begin to cover how bright you are. I’m watching you discover your intellect and learn how to use it. Stretch. Grow. You are capable of ANYTHING.

I love you so much, Munchkin. Don’t ever think you are too big to sit in my lap or lay your head on my shoulder. Keep inviting me to lunch. I’ll keep coming as long as you ask. I might sometimes act like I’ve got to move things around to make time, but I look forward to seeing you every time. I’m really enjoying middle school through your eyes. I hope it stays this good.

Keep growing.

Watch out for boys. And girls.. Be nice to everybody. Pray a LOT. Eat. I love you, babykins.

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One You

You are one.

You are smiles.

You are snuggles.

You are everywhere.

 

You are light. Your older sisters are wind and water, but you are light. Your smile lights up a room and everybody gravitates to you. We can’t help ourselves but to love you.

You eat just about anything. Well, except blueberries. You’ll drink the milk cold, unless it’s first thing in the morning or the last drink of the night; then it has to be just a little warm.

You like Octonauts, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and Chuggington, but don’t really care either way; you are (by far) the most laid back of the three.

You’re just as happy with a lego pad that is kind of the same shape as my phone as the phone itself (I know that won’t last much longer) and “no, no, no” seems to be your favorite thing to articulate at this moment (probably because you hear it 2300 times a night).

I love you, little boy. You make our little family absolutely complete. You are one. You are mine.

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