On Being Gentle With Ourselves

Sep 23 2016

My neighbor invited my family over for the Pringles Challenge the other night. Her husband was away, so it was Pringles and candy for dinner. Obviously. She bought 6 cans of Pringles, each a different flavor, and it was our job to taste and identify them while blindfolded.

In a surprise to no one, I won. I mean, I KILLED it. I tasted faster. I identified more precisely. I hesitated only once, which is, of course, unacceptable for a potato chip athlete of my stature and is a matter I plan to address with my coaches later. Nevertheless — and I don’t mean to brag here, but this needs to be said — I kicked those kids’ butts HARD, and I nailed every flavor. Every. Single. One. The next closest person came in at 67% correct. I have, in other words, found my calling, which, as I’ve long suspected, is to eat deep fried, salt-laced starch. My training for the 2020 summer Olympic Pringles-eating events commences immediately, and I pledge to bring home the gold.

Here’s a truth, though: I’ve been feeling small lately. Small and silly and sort of stupid, and also largely insufficient and wholly unsettled.

I know why, too.

There are Things going on in the world that trouble me, and there are Things going on in my home that trouble me, too. And in my heart. And in my mind. And in my children. And in my community.

Things, guys:

Like, we are facing a world refugee crisis of unprecedented proportions. Sixty-five million refugees in 2015 fleeing violence on an enormous scale. And the U.S. took in 0.001% of those last year, which, when I consider the mamas just like me unable to feed and clothe and seek medical attention and safety for their babies, breaks my heart to pieces.

While this crisis is underway and expected to increase, we U.S. citizens have provided a public, political platform to a presidential candidate who is successfully using it to normalize and promote bigotry, racism, misogyny and xenophobia.

We are somehow splitting ourselves into more bizarre and polarized groups all the time, as though we can’t wholeheartedly support movements like Black Lives Matter, and challenge the systematic, insidious marginalization of entire people groups, and demand timely justice for those who are victimized, and love and support the thousands of good cops out there risking their lives because they so deeply care about creating better communities. #ThingsThatBaffleMe

I have a friend who lost her young son this summer and another friend who has to say good-bye to her marriage.

My kid is receiving incredibly expensive and unbelievably helpful psychiatric care which we, his parents, should have provided sooner. Like… WAYYYYY sooner, man.

There are kids in our communities who need the same care my kid is receiving but cannot get it because they don’t have two highly educated parents who speak English as their first language, have health insurance, and, as a result, are able to navigate an impossibly complicated system and pay for the help they know how to demand.

THINGS, friends.

All these Things and more are happening right now, and I am good at eating Pringles.

^^^THAT’S my area of expertise.^^^ Identifying Every Single Pringles Flavor.

Have I mentioned I’ve been feeling small lately? Small and silly and sort of stupid, and also largely insufficient and wholly unsettled?

I mean, some people promote amazing book lists that expand the mind and make us better humans, more capable of loving one another, and I’m all, “I CAN’T READ ONE MORE MEANINGFUL THING right now. My heart can’t take it. I can’t absorb anyone else’s drama, much less something triumphant about overcoming great oddsLet’s escape into a rad book about a genie, instead, friends! WHO’S WITH ME?” And, while I acknowledge this is truly who I am — absolutely what I’m capable of right now — it doesn’t stop me from wishing I was somehow… better.

I’ve been doing some serious soul-searching following my recent out-of-character behaviour (aka, cleaning house), and I’ve discovered I’m rather desperately trying to make order out of chaos.

I’m trying to control something. Anything, really.

I’m at odds and loose ends, wondering when things will settle in our world — large and small — and so I’m harnessing what I can.

Frenetically.

Maniacally.

Feverishly.

All the Trains are off All the Rails, so I’m over here cleaning my kitchen and making a baking station like it’s the cure for cancer, and I’m beating myself up a little in the process.

Oh, I’m not doing a lot of self-flagellation. Just a little Wishing I Was Better and Bigger and Brighter …and that I had More Answers… and Real Solutions… and a Magic Wand to create More Equity and Less Suffering, you know? For all of us. Less Suffering all around! For you, and you, and you, and YOU. And me. And my kid.

The thing is, I suspect I’m not alone in this space of wishing. Or alone in believing I’m less than I am. This is, I’m starting to learn, simply part of the human condition.

And so I’m going to beckon us closer together as we wander and wonder and wish. And encourage us to be gentle with each other and ourselves in this season of uncertainty.

Let’s be gentle. Let’s be kind. Let’s allow ourselves the freedom to be who we are right now: wild and weird, messy and magical, human and divine and always, always worthy of great Love.

With love,

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(Pringles Champion)

 

P.S. I’m not actually eating Pringles right now. This is because I ate Every Single French Fry this summer, and I gained 15 pounds. And, by 15, I mean 25, but 15 seemed like a more reasonable number to report for a 4-month weight-gain. It was SO FUN, but I’ve done the math, and the Eat Every Chip plan is sadly unsustainable. No one is more sad about this than me.

P.P.S. Betty is in the house! She’s not hooked up yet, but SHE’S HERE.

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P.P.P.S. I have three retreats coming up in the next several months — two Magic in the Mess writing retreats (January and May 2017) and one spiritual formation Grace and Grime retreat (November! TWO Months away). I would love (LOVE) to hang out with you in person one of my favorite spots on earth, so do check them out if you’d like to come, and email me if you have any questions. Click here for the Magic in the Mess Writing Retreat 101, here for the Magic in the Mess Writing Retreat 202, and here for the Grace and the Grime Spiritual Formation Retreat. These are my favorite! And you can read on those pages what previous participants have to say.

I don’t know what to say about this except maybe it’s a drug reaction.

Sep 20 2016

I sat in my room at my desk this morning, and I tried to write to you but my brain was having none of it, so now we’re sitting outside in the sun in my backyard with its overgrown grass and fall breeze and a squirrel up in the Hawthorne tree high-grading the best red berries and teasing Zoey who wants simultaneously to be the squirrel’s BFF and commit squirrelcide. I feel like our Zoey dog is simply channeling what it means to be friends and family; I love you to the moon! and also I want to rip you in two and scatter tiny pieces of your flesh all over the lawn. I love you! I hate you! Both/And, friends; Both/And. As for the squirrel, she seems content to chitter at us from the tree top, eating half of each berry before spitting the rest on the ground. I’m pretty sure she learned to eat from my children.

I did something very out of character this weekend. Or maybe in character, but it would be the character I had before I had kids, and, honestly, I don’t remember that character very well, so it’s probably safe to stick with out of character.

img_1565I cleaned.

And organized.

And cleaned.

And organized.

And cleaned.

I think I’m having a personal crisis.

Or a drug reaction.

Or a mental break with reality.

I can’t think of anything else to explain this behaviour.

I mean, I’m VERY organized at work. Meticulous, actually. Annoyingly detailed. And I’m VERY unorganized at home. This way, there is balance in the universe and I don’t open a black hole or rip the space-time continuum or teach my children I can be trusted to remember their schedules. I am thinking of others, in other words, and teaching my children the life skill of managing their own time. Win/win, I say. Win/win.

But lately, I’ve been frenetically cleaning at home. And taking on projects at a totally unsustainable rate. And thinking thoughts like, “Maybe I CAN learn to keep things clean! Maybe I’m turning over a new leaf! Maybe someday my bathroom will smell like NOTHING instead of like Pee Invited All His Friends Over for a Rave.” <– These are undoubtedly LIES, friends. These are my brain on the campaign trail making promises it will never, ever be able to get through congress.

Still, my brain keeps telling me pretty, pretty things. Like that I can learn from my own history and change and not want to gouge out my own eyeballs when I walk into my dumpster fire of a living room and then spend the evening hiding in my bathtub which is decorated with decapitated Barbies, matchbox cars, and used socks. My brain is selling me the dream right now, and I am the fool who’s buying it.

But learning from history. Right?? Aren’t we suppose to learn from history so we can have pretty homes?

I think we’re technically supposed to learn from history so we’re not doomed to repeat it, but I’m not sure that’s a real thing, anyway. If this U.S. election is any indication, we may be destined to repeat history anyway, even if some of us have learned from it. You know why? Because of other people, that’s why. SOME of us can learn from history and clean out our cabinets and organize them beautifully, but then the OTHER people in the house will come along and shove a half-eaten candy bar, a pair of pliers, a Bandaid box the dog chewed on, two Lego people, an ice cube, and a half-dozen broken crayons in there, and pretty soon it’s another junk cabinet. History, repeating! I’m beginning to suspect the real reason we need to learn from history is so we can hunker down, knowing the damage is coming.

In conclusion, I believe I have ruined myself by buying Betty and thinking I can live the kind of elitist lifestyle where I not longer have to start my stove with an ice pick. I failed to recognize it, but I was at the top of a Slippery Slope, and I’m sliding down the hill now at an alarming rate. I have no idea where this is going to end, but I recently purchased Goo Gone and Magic Erasers, and I know where the Soft Scrub with Bleach is, so there’s no telling. No telling, friends.

You can pray for us.

With love,

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P.S. Don’t worry about us too much. Greg’s “shop” still looks like this:

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When I casually mentioned it’s impossible to walk through his shop area in a straight line without tripping on stuff and dying from a broken neck (because doing one weekend of cleaning has given me the right to be self-righteous and judgmental about Greg’s lack of cleaning, and, no, the fact that I’ve kept you busy building me shelves and crap does NOT excuse you for not magically ALSO cleaning your shop at the same time, GREG), Greg said you can, too, walk through the shop in a straight line. “You just have to step really high OVER things,” he said. Which… is a reasonable point and how I intend to justify the totally scalable mountains of laundry from now on.

P.P.S. I’ve done a TERRIBLE job of letting you know about the three retreats we have coming up — two Magic in the Mess writing retreats (January and May 2017) and one spiritual formation Grace and Grime retreat (November! TWO Months away). Despite me, the retreats are filling up; I would love (LOVE) to hang out with you in one of my favorite spots on earth so do check them out if you’d like to come, and email me if you have any questions. Click here for the Magic in the Mess Writing Retreat 101, here for the Magic in the Mess Writing Retreat 202, and here for the Grace and the Grime Spiritual Formation Retreat. These are my favorite! And you can read on those pages what previous participants have to say.

P.P.P.S. I recently discovered my friend Melissa keeps a House Notebook wherein she records things like what kind of paint she used in which rooms and all the paint details — store, brand, finish, pigment info, what kind of toothpaste it uses — so she can buy more of that paint. A HOUSE NOTEBOOK, you guys. PEOPLE HAVE THESE THINGS. I am afraid THIS is what may be at the bottom of the Slippery Slope. House Notebooks with paint information and no enormous, rusting, dried-up pile of dead paint cans in the garage with no discernible way to ever figure out exactly which paint was used for what so we have to start over from scratch and duplicate our efforts every time. Is it? Is this what’s at the bottom of the Slippery Slope??

 

Making Progress (A Group Remodeling Project: Part 8)

Sep 14 2016

img_1509There are holes in my walls, and this time they’re supposed to be there instead of spontaneously appearing as precious surprises from my teenage boy’s fist.

We are making progress, folks!

Things are a mess. They’re chaotic and jumbled. There’s a sheen of dust and debris over every surface. None of which is different than normal, actually. But WE ARE MAKING PROGRESS.

I wish I could remember that every day. That it’s a series of steps toward progress, not instant completion. Like when my dad used to tell me I didn’t have to clean my whole room; I just had to pick up one thing at a time and keep doing that over and over until the room was clean. Of course, my dad underestimated the appeal of sulking on my bed and muttering into my tape recorder about how mean and horrible my parents were instead of cleaning, but he’d have had a point if my actual goal had been to clean my room instead of make my parents suffer. I mean, I made my parents suffer one step at a time until they suffered totally and completely, so I feel like I understood the spirit of what he was teaching even if I ignored the letter of it, you know? Like, my dad taught me to make slow, deliberate progress toward the larger goal of making them utterly insane, and I’m still good at making people nuts today, so WAY TO TEACH LIFE SKILLS, DAD.

Our remodel is coming along, though. We have a make-shift camping kitchen set up in the backyard on an old, peeling brown vinyl table, and inside, everything is ripped to pieces and being slowly put back together.

AND I think we’ve picked our countertops.

When last we chatted, I asked for your advice thusly: Can I do laminate or MUST I consider something else?

Guys, I was pretty set on laminate. Not gonna lie. It’s cheap, getting prettier all the time, EASY to care for, and hard to ruin. That’s a Woolsey Win, right there.

So if you wanted me to consider something else, you were going to have to talk me into it. Like, serious, sit-down, come-to-Jesus chat. I did, however, make a commitment to listen to you lest I end up with another green and orange kitchen, and what you said surprised me!

Here are the results, by percentage in favor of each option:

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Given the choices of Laminate or Other:

  • 37% of you were all, “Sure! Laminate’s great!”
  • 34% of you were all, “STOP, BETH. LISTEN TO US. Quartz is what you actually want. We SWEAR.”
  • 17% of you adore Joanna Gaines, and she loves concrete.
  • 11% of you like your Corian counters (but others detest it, so…)
  • And less than 1% of you suggested other options like granite and marble, which doesn’t fit our budget.

Honestly, that’s a huge showing for quartz, so I looked into it more thoroughly.

Now, Greg thought we ought to source Phenolic resin countertops, typically used in laboratories, which are difficult to find, very expensive, and indestructible. Let’s be honest, indestructible lab counters are PERFECT for our house. We Woolseys are TOTALLY a Mad Science Experiment one foaming beaker away from setting the world on fire; we could use indestructible surfaces around these parts. On the downside, we briefly looked for some, and we can’t find any without making an extraordinary effort, except we have 5 kids so we’re unlikely to make an extraordinary effort for counters, you know? Psychiatric care? ABSOLUTELY; extraordinary effort, here we come! Counters? No. Counters are not now and are not likely in our future to rise to the level of Worthy of Extraordinary Effort. So it’s really not an option.

On the bright side, it turns out lab counters are very much like quartz counters — indestructible, unstainable, unbreakable resin — and so, while Greg, Mr. Cheap Pants, would normally put the kibosh on quartz due to cost alone, quartz is actually cheaper than lab counters, so he already self-prepared for this kind of upgrade. In our Christian house, we call this the Leading of the Lord. The Preparation of the Holy Spirit! In other words, Jesus wants us to have quartz counters!

(Please note: Jesus does not want us to have quartz counters. That’s offensive.)

Now, we don’t technically know yet if we can really afford these countertops because Greg told the countertop guy we wanted the countertop we definitely did not want so he sent the wrong bid. Greg says this is my fault because I told Greg earlier the same day that the Countertop We Did Not Want was the Countertop we DID Want, but Greg was clearly not listening when I told him the Countertop We Did Want had become the Countertop We Previously Wanted, leaving room for the Countertop We Did Not Want to become the Countertop We Now Definitely Want.

I don’t know why Greg can’t keep these things straight.

In short (too late), I’m fairly, almost, approaching-definitely certain we’re going for quartz counters. The type we’ve picked, installed, look like this:

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And like this:

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I tried to find pictures that show the counters with white cabinets, subway tile backsplash, and dark wood floors like ours. I think the pics above are as close as I’m going to get, except you’ll need to imagine them with perpetual paperwork, piles of sticky dishes, and an unidentifiable puddle of gelatinous goo by the sink.

In conclusion, construction is underway, I think we’ve made all the major decisions so we can actually proceed with the project, and you can say All the Prayers for Greg.

Sending love,

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We’re Back On! (A Group Remodeling Project: Part 7)

Sep 11 2016

Alrighty, folks; it’s been a little while since we’ve discussed this, so for those of you who’d like a refresher, feel free to check out the first 6 installments our Group Remodeling Project:

In short, we were TOTALLY UNDERWAY for our kitchen remodel in April/May before we fell rather dramatically apart and basically are just now, 4 months later, getting our crap together enough to dive back in.

We ARE, however, diving ALL the way back in, as we’re wont to do, and so we’ll commence torturing Greg together again STAT.

To date, we’ve agreed the old, crappy stove we start with the ice pick has to go, along with the orange counters. We’ve agreed I cannot be trusted to make ANY kitchen decisions without you (reference: orange counters). We’ve decided we’ll put subway tile up the walls in the kitchen area. We’ve met Betty, our new old stove and the Hero of this Tale, and we’ve decided to put her against the wall between the fridge and the sink where she’ll shine without blocking the window.

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We left you hanging when it came to the range hood, but we’d previously agreed either a stainless hood against a tiled wall…

RangeHood1

…or a hood mounted under a cabinet…

RangeHood4

…would be fine, so Greg and I left the decision up to the expense.

The contractors tell us the former option (stainless steel hood against tiled wall) is cheapest, so SOLD.

NOW, ANNOUNCEMENT TIME!

Are you ready??

CONSTRUCTION HAS BEGUN, and Betty’s new home is being prepared.

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Please note, for those of you not yet convinced of my inability to decorate in any way that resembles a grown-up with, say, taste, that mint green wall you see with the cabinets removed is, in fact, the original wall color I picked on purpose… wait for it… to go with the orange counters. DO YOU SEE WHY I NEED YOU?

Yes. Yes, I need you to the moon.

Which brings me to the latest.

We, um, have started construction without all our decisions made. Like counters. NO IDEA WHAT TO DO ABOUT COUNTERS. And Not Knowing will hold up construction since they can’t tile ’til the counters are in place. But the construction guys were ready to roll, and I’ve been procrastinating the heck out of this project, so I told them to go ahead and start, and I’d try to catch up.

That’s what I said.

Go ahead and start, and I’ll try to catch up. After all, if we don’t start by doing something, we might end up doing nothing, and I CAN’T START MY STOVE WITH AN ICE PICK FOREVER.

Guys, this is totally like life. Because Oh My WORD, friends; oh my word. Sometimes we just have to START ANYWAY, you know? Even without knowing the end goal. And even if we’re fully aware others will outpace us. Sometimes we have to just GO AHEAD and say all the Hail Marys and hope we can catch up. Amen? AMEN.

Which is why today’s subject is Belated Counters. Specifically, what type of material to use and what color.

Here are the factors for type of countertop material:

  1. We can’t take care of stuff. <– We can’t. We’re terrible at maintaining things and treating them gently, so if there’s a type of counter top has to be handled carefully or must be babied, polished, sealed, oiled or sanded, it’s out, friends. It will die a horrible, terrible death at my house, and no one wants that.
  2. Due to #1, we’ve ruled out granite, soapstone, wood and tile.
  3. Confession: I’ve loved our orange countertops. All except the color. They’re laminate countertops, and they are so easy to clean and maintain! They don’t stain. You can’t break them by sitting on them. They’re easy to wash with soap and water. And we never have to polish, seal or oil them.
  4. So we’re considering laminate again… I hear laminate’s gotten better. Prettier? Less plasticky? With lovely edges now? So I want to seriously consider laminate unless you all are, like, NO WAY, BETH; WE ARE HERE TO SAVE YOU FROM YOURSELF. Check out these pics at Decor Chick, though, before you yell at me, K? I think you’ll see what I mean.
  5. …or maybe stainless steel? Now, I’m not actually sure we can afford these, but I like the idea in theory — countertops that can take what a lab dishes out can surely take what my kids dish, right? Plus they don’t stain. I have heard I won’t like all the fingerprints on them before the years it takes to develop a nice patina, and my friend, Emily, who’s weighed in, says they’re too cold for the space. Emily is good people with a pretty house, so I tend to believe her. Added to the possible high cost (we did rule out whether the steel shop in town was willing to make them — they’re not 🙁 ), and I’m not certain this is high enough on the list but wanted to throw it out there.

So, Question #1 is countertop type. Can I go ahead with laminate? Or must I consider other options?

Next, we have to discuss color. I do like high contrast looks like our dark wood floor with our white cabinets, but I’m wondering if the counter should also be a contrast to the cabinets (dark brown? dark grey?) or if it should blend in with the cabinets (lighter gray, maybe?). I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING, FRIENDS. HELP ME.

On the one hand, I’m a short, round woman, and I’ve always been told not to break things up too much — do not wear a skirt of one color and a top of a totally different color, Beth; it chops you up! — but on the other hand, I’ve never actually heeded that advice, BECAUSE IT’S CRAP, and I’ll defend to the death my kitchen’s right to wear whatever she darn well pleases.

Glad we had this chat.

Nevertheless, my kitchen can’t change her counters as frequently as I change my skirt, so I want to do well by her.

Like, take a look at this photo is from HGTV’s Fixer Upper

hicontrastfarmhouseindustrialkitchen

The color scheme and farmhouse industrial feel above closely match the vibe in our kitchen, from the darker wood floors and the reclaimed wood table top to the subway tile walls and white cabinets. Their counters have that light/medium gray thing going on, which makes me think we’d be on the right track with something similar. Yay or nay??

So Question #2 is countertop color. Light grey? Dark grey? Something else entirely??

In conclusion, help a girl out. You’re my only hope.

Sincerely,

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P.S. In other news, I do not have to murder Greg, after all! Which is, frankly, hours of planning and premeditation wasted. However, because it DID turn out to be a handsaw he let the 9-year-old use and NOT the power saw AND because he didn’t let that child purchase or build a forge for melting metal and also inevitably his own flesh, now Greg thinks I owe him cake.

Ten Things that Happened the First Week of School

Sep 8 2016

It’s Day Three of the First Week of School in these parts. Here are 10 things that have happened:

  1. We’ve put the kids to bed late. Every night. We mean well, I swear it, but the Summer Schedule is hard to break, man. Also, we have to, like, stand up to put kids to bed, and we just haven’t had it in us. By Thanksgiving, though; I’m pretty sure we can have this sorted by Thanksgiving.
  2. I woke up early Tuesday, the first day of school, to a sobbing 9 year old, emotionally destroyed because his mother, who washed everyone else’s backpack because she loves them more than she loves him (and also, has he mentioned that he has to do Everything, All the Time, and No One Else Ever Does Anything?), neglected to wash his, and it smelled like rotten cheese, and 4th grade was RUINED BEFORE IT EVEN STARTED, and, no, I shouldn’t try to fix it because it’s Too Late, and why don’t you ever think of others, Mom? WHY?
  3. I quick-washed and dried a backpack before school started because I AM A MAGICIAN AND DESERVE AN AWARD. 
  4. All my kids — every single one — went to school in clean clothes the first day, without holes, AND in shoes that fit. Minus the kid who wore the same outfit the two days prior, and minus the kid who had holes in his jeans (“They’re FINE, Mom”), and minus the kid who outgrew the shoes we bought him the previous month and so had to curl his toes to shove them in an old, dirty, holey pair of sneakers.
  5. I hid in the bathroom on Tuesday night, hoping if I stayed there long enough, the kids would take their mountains of First Day paperwork to their father who failed to plan ahead as well as me and was thus available, watching TV, in the family room. Listen, friends; listen… I KNOW this is not an Inspirational Blog. I KNOW who I am and what we do here, and I’m sorry for breaking character here, but hiding in the bathroom totally worked! GREG DID ALL THE PAPERWORK. <– In other words, Be Inspired! BOOM.
  6. I woke up early Wednesday and made bacon and eggs, thinking surely this is the year I will make my kids hot breakfast. Surely this is the time for Protein and Grace and not another bowl of Just Go Get Something from the Pantry, kids. Surely this is the season of life I will learn to rise with the dawn like the Proverbs 31 Woman and not rise like the Living Dead after hitting snooze twelve times. Fortunately, my son said the eggs were gross — “like poop, Mom,” he said, *spit* *spit* *spit*ing them back on his plate — so now I don’t have to make breakfast for the rest of the school year, AND I can blame my kid’s lack of gratitude instead of my inevitable laziness. FOR THE WIN, friends. For. The. Win!
  7. Wednesday night, one kid who’s had a very rough time lately, told us we suck and he hates us and he’s quitting school and moving out and walked out of the house and slammed the door and came home 5 minutes later saying sorry and to lots of Sympathy and Love but also Consequences for being a butt. And also, my other kid keeps growling like a dragon.
  8. My husband and I passed each other on the stairs around midnight. Not to brag about our Romance for the Ages, but we made Eye Contact and said, “Hi,” and “Hey,” and “Fancy meeting you here,” and “Come here often?” He brushed my hand. He made it seem like an accident, but I think it might have been on purpose. I hope to see him again someday.
  9. I did not wake up early Thursday because it’s important to Grow and Learn and Change, and I learned everything I need to know about waking up early on Tuesday and Wednesday.
  10. Tomorrow is Friday, which means we’ve almost made it through one week of school. ONE WEEK OF SCHOOL DOWN! In conclusion, praise the Lord God Almighty for Teachers and may we all receive divine amounts of Love and Grace and Patience and Endurance for the next 35+ weeks. WE CAN DO HARD THINGS, friends.

Sincerely,

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This Is My Brain on Parenting

Sep 4 2016

Listen; this doesn’t make me proud. It’s just true.

Here’s what you need to know, where “need to know” is used in the loosest possible sense along with my discretion and sense of decorum:

I just peed part way — like, a smattering — and then I stopped peeing and got up to do other things.

I was seriously standing up, buttoning my pants, before I realized I hadn’t actually finished. Like, I was in such a hurry that I ran into the bathroom, tossed a teeny, tiny bit of urine into the potty like I was throwing a fastball from a pitcher’s mound, my Subconscious said, “GOOD ENOUGH FOR NOW, BETH; NOW OFF TO DO OTHER ESSENTIAL THINGS — GO! GO! GO!,” and I listened and obeyed her.

Allow me to note… this is not OK, friends.

This is NOT RIGHT.

But this rushing and doing and never finishing is so deeply embedded in the mama brain that she runs to the restroom, pulls down her pants, pees halfway, clenches, stands, and is flushing and buttoning before she realizes she has the inalienable right to pee all the way.

DEAR SWEET JESUS ON A POGO STICK, friends.

I was Pants-Pulled-Up and Button-Fastened before I realized I should not only finish what I went to the bathroom for, but that it’s OK to use the additional 5 seconds it would take to fully empty my bladder. Like, I’m allowed to take that time. Pee Completion is an appropriate and wise use of the precious and few minutes in a day.

I realize there are people who say the internet is a wasteland of potty stories and people who share TMI, but THIS IS HOW FRENETIC THE LIFE OF A MOTHER IS, friends, and I don’t know a better way to illustrate the insanity than this.

 

This Life of a Parent thing? It is ridiculous. Also, it is an excellent excuse for being TOTALLY NUTS.

Solidarity, fellow parents. And fellow nut jobs. And fellow humans, because, let’s be honest, we’re all weird weirdos who are weird,

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P.S. I AM, however, totally rocking parenting on other fronts! I was feeling frazzled and frenetic making breakfast for my children without having had my morning cup of coffee. I was trying, man; I swear. But I was vacant-eyed and sluggish and said, “What? What?” forty-five times every time my children tried to talk to me because sans-coffee I cannot possibly be expected to understand words. Finally, one of the nine-year-olds, said, “Mom? MOM. Mom mom mom mom mom,” and I said, “What?” and he said, “LOOK ME IN THE EYES, MOM. ARE YOU LISTENING? This. Is Very. Important. HAVE YOU HAD COFFEE?” “NO, I HAVE NOT,” I said, and, “I AM DYING OVER HERE,” I said, and he replied very slowly, “MOM. HAVE YOU LEARNED NOTHING?? PUT ON YOUR OWN OXYGEN MASK BEFORE ASSISTING OTHERS.” Which is when I realized I am the Best Parent in the History of the World because I am raising a child who sees the needs of others and speaks Love into their lives. I WIN PARENTING!

P.P.S. Full disclosure, though: after I had coffee, the same child told me he watched a YouTube video on how to make tiny drinking glasses out of strawberries and fill them with jello shots. “Naturally, we’ll need a lot of vodka,” he said. So feel free to add or deduct Parenting Points as you will.

Announcing: A Likely Story – The Book Club for Escapist Fiction Fans

Sep 3 2016

Announcing: A Likely Story
The Book Club for Escapist Fiction Fans

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Friends, sometimes the Real World sucks, and right now is a Particularly Sucky time in U.S. and world history. I mean, seriously. I read the news. I see the stories. I do what I can, and then I feel helpless and tired when I can’t do more. This is something I need to work on; understanding there are Hard Things and then releasing the Hard Things so I can still Embrace Joy. Both/And, friends. I need to learn — probably a lesson I’ll be learning forever — that Light and Dark chase each other constantly across the sky and in our hearts, and we live much of our lives in the Dusk and the Dawn when we can’t separate them from each other.

But, I dunno… sometimes I just need a break, man. Like, I need a way to rest. And to live in spaces where Good triumphs over Evil. And where the journey may be long and fraught but Love wins in the end, you know? I need to remember that grace and gratitude rise like the phoenix from grime and grit and love will wend its way around and through and out of loss.

And I wish I could do those things by reading inspired and triumphant literature. The kind of books Oprah recommends! But, OMG, guys. OMG. As soon as I read that someone’s debut novel is “triumphant,” I’m all, “Nope. No. Uh uh. No way,” ’cause “triumphant” is totally code for dark and tragic and sad and thoughtful, and I know in my heart they are going to make me fall in love with a character and then KILL her, and I can’t. Cannot EVEN. I cannot live in a Real World where real things happen like people I love dying and live through it again in my books which are also Very, Very Real.

So I read other books.

And I LOVE them.

I dive into their worlds, and I live there for a while instead of here. I lay down my concerns and pick up my fictional friends’. I help carry their burdens, and they help me carry mine, and it feels like a fair trade because we each carry the magical, miraculous power to help the other live her life — my fictional friend by easing my heart and soul and reminding me what it means to be flawed and fabulous and weak and still strong, and me by bringing her to life whenever I open her pages.

In case there are others out there like me who like to fall down the rabbit hole into wild, weird and wonderful worlds, I’m starting this book club. A Likely Story is for those of us who revel in escapist fiction and long for more stories built in brilliant worlds with strong and flawed heroes and heroines; Young Adult, Fantasy, Dystopian, Fairy Tale, Magical Realism, Legends, Mythologies, and Tall Tales of every type.

At the beginning of each month, I’ll share that month’s book selection for those of you who’d like to join me. Books will be curated along with me by several friends who are as in love with these genres as I am, including two librarians and a bookstore manager who devour every magical YA book that exists. Our goals will be to find fantastical tales that are:

  1. are well-written. There’s nothing worse than reading a series and wanting to take a red pen to it.
  2. have unique, detailed, well-crafted worlds that capture the imagination.
  3. are plot- and character-driven stories that make us want to read far, far later in the night than is reasonable for mothers who are supposed to be responsible for the children come morning.
  4. champion strong women and strong men working together. I cannot stand – cannot stand – books that make men the heroes at the expense of women or vice versa.

AND we’ve picked our book for September!

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The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker.

Now, this is Ms. Wecker’s debut novel, and it’s probably even triumphant, but fortunately none of the reviews use that word so we don’t have to avoid it. Whew! Instead, reviews describe The Golem and the Jinni as enchanting, intriguing and highly original. SOLD!

In The Golem and the Jinni, a chance meeting between mythical beings takes readers on a dazzling journey through cultures in turn-of-the-century New York.

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life to by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic and dies at sea on the voyage from Poland. Chava is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York harbor in 1899.

Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire born in the ancient Syrian desert, trapped in an old copper flask, and released in New York City, though still not entirely free

Ahmad and Chava become unlikely friends and soul mates with a mystical connection. Marvelous and compulsively readable, Helene Wecker’s debut novel The Golem and the Jinni weaves strands of Yiddish and Middle Eastern literature, historical fiction and magical fable, into a wondrously inventive and unforgettable tale.

If you’d like to join the public Facebook group for A Likely Story Book Club, click here! (You can also always join me on Facebook here, where we often wave to each other in the dark.)

Sending love… and the hope for a little escape for us all,

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